March Madness {3.18.17}

Unless you have no access to a television or newspaper, I’m sure you all know about “March Madness”. We’ve been watching a lot of basketball lately and thankfully, at least three of our Indiana teams are still in the game (Butler, Purdue and Notre Dame). We’ll see what happens today but I am an optimist. One thing is for sure, all the players want the prize.March madness

I’ve noticed that basketball is a lot like life. It’s a battle on the court but the preparation takes place before the game. It takes a commitment first of all, a passion certainly helps, discipline, a will or desire to improve and ultimately win, a game plan and strategy and obviously, a coach and players. I’ve always heard that practice makes perfect and we can certainly see the practice paying off at the free throw line. It also helps to know your opponent and their strengths and weaknesses. This all happens before the actual game. Then even during the game, the coach and players improvise. You see the coach using his slate to give directions/plays to the players as the game progresses. The players have to use their skills in the middle of the action and make decisions quickly because…the ball moves around from one set of hands to another and bounces off of people, floor and basket. They have to be so well prepared that they can react in the midst of it all with quick reflexes.

Such is life. Balls come at us from all directions. Some are good and positive things, others come to distract us from our game and get us to foul out. Our opponent also has a game plan. It’s to get us out of the game and to win our hearts and minds away from God and onto self. He has a variety of tactics he uses. Sometimes he uses our past mistakes, failures, disappointments, regrets, etc. Sometimes he tempts us with things we really like or want. He wants to steal our passion, drive, commitment, purpose and plan. He wants us defeated in the worst way. That’s where our preparation comes in. We have to be prepared to fight off his attacks because they will come.

As Christians, we are part of a team as well. We have the best coach ever – God Himself. We have Jesus Christ interceding on our behalf. We have the Holy Spirit living in us to guide and direct us during the game. We also have teammates (fellow believers) who will come alongside us to encourage and hold us accountable. They can remind us of our game plan, goals and objectives and guide us back to our coach’s instruction (The Word of God).

For all the efforts our opponent takes to get us on the losing end and out of the game, let’s remember…God has a plan for us. It’s a good plan. We need to stay in or get back in the game, keep our eyes focused on our coach and follow His direction and look toward the prize set before us. We can all be winners through Christ.

I say, “Let’s Go Team – on to Victory in Jesus”!

Philippians 3:14 – “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

 

 

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Coincidence or Divine Appointment? {3.16.17}

When things happen that seem beyond the “norm” and a little hard to believe, we often call it a coincidence. I’ve changed my opinion about that over the years. I think of them as divine appointments. appointment.pngTwo such divine appointments happened today. Some friends were over this morning for our weekly prayer gathering and one of them shared something from a book she had been reading. It happened to be about praying for our leader’s counsel.  As she was sharing, another friend had a strange look on her face. Then she told us that the very same thing (in scripture) had been in her devotional reading this morning. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I believe it was confirmation from God, a divine appointment, and we all treated it as such.

The second divine appointment came as my husband and I were in a neighborhood home improvement store. A store employee came to help us and asked about my husband’s injury (long story but he’s in a leg brace and using a walker as he recovers from a ruptured quadricep tendon and surgery). Anyway, this man said, “I will pray for you”. As we talked further, he shared that he asks God every day to bring someone into his life that he can witness to or help. Today, God brought us. So, he prayed right then and there in the store – to God’s glory. As we talked, we found out that he is very involved in a ministry to help veterans and homeless in our community. He’s also involved in a healing prayer ministry.  So, we now know how to pray for him. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I believe it was a divine appointment from God.

There are many such divine appointments recorded in the Bible. Just a few are: Philip and the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-40), Saul & Ananias (Acts 9:1-18), Esther (Esther 4-6), Joseph & Potiphar (Genesis 39 & 47).

I have decided to be consistent and faithful to pray for God’s leading every day and that He will open my eyes to see Him at work around me so that I can join Him. After all, I don’t want to miss any divine appointments He has planned for me. Do you?

Joy and Happiness {3.2.17}

I heard it said once that happiness comes from happenings. I think for the most part that’s true, don’t you? A lot of things/circumstances/happenings make us feel happy. Maybe it’s a surprise birthday party when you didn’t think anyone knew or cared. Maybe it’s a new baby that has long been awaited. Maybe it’s the first flowers of spring or sunshine after many cloudy days. Maybe it’s a hug from a friend. Perhaps it’s a valentine from your sweetheart or an unexpected surprise visit from someone you haven’t seen in a while. Many things bring about happy thoughts. And yes, those do kind of revolve around happenings. happinessI believe that I am mostly a happy person. I love life and I love people. Small things make me smile. I’m easily amused. That does not mean however that I don’t have sad times or even the rare angry times. And, those certainly do relate to happenings.

Happiness though can never replace true joy. A circumstance in a friend’s life brought the differences into the light. Several years ago my friend’s husband died. She certainly was not happy about his death. Oh, she knew he was in heaven and that blessed her but still – she missed him terribly. Her life on earth was never going to be the same. But, she had a relationship with Jesus and that’s where true joy of the spirit and soul comes from. Unfortunately, an acquaintance of hers said something to her one day to the effect of “how can you be happy and just go on with life so easily”? Well, I can tell you – it was not easy and it wasn’t happiness that she was exhibiting, it was the joy of the Lord. That was her strength. What a testimony she was to me during that time. I saw the difference.joy

I have another very dear friend who has endured much heartache in her life, more than I can imagine. However, she is one of the most joyful people I know. She lives out the joy of the Lord and the fullness of life to overflowing that God tells us is possible in Christ Jesus. I love to be with her and so do others. She inspires me.

Isaiah 49:13 – “Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song O mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.”

Romans 12:12 – “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Romans 15:13 –  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” joy-john-15-11

Life is full of positives and negatives, good and evil. However, our attitude can turn our frowns into smiles. God makes all the difference!

Psalm 16:11 – “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Psalm 119:111 – “Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.”

Let’s spread a little happiness and joy today as we truly love one another.

Happiness comes from happenings. JOY COMES FROM JESUS.