Happy 4th of July {7.4.17}

So many thoughts have been going through my head as we celebrate this July 4th in our great country – the United States of America. Somewhere along the way it seems the “united” part got lost. When I think of growing up and learning the Pledge of Allegiance,I pledge allegience I remember saying it with pride, hope and reverence. That flag represented our country. The country where we lived, worked, learned and loved together. Those who lived here treated our flag with respect and dignity, not disregard and disdain. We respected our President. He was OUR PRESIDENT – we had a choice and voted him in office. What other country has these privileges? Even if we didn’t agree with choices made by our President and government, we respected the position and whomever “we the people” voted into office. We prayed for our President, our government, our country and those living in it.

1 Timothy 2:1-6 (NLT): “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.”

What has happened? Maybe it’s because we got so used to God blessing our country that we became prideful and thought we had done everything on our own. We didn’t think we needed to depend upon Him any longer – we were “it” in and of ourselves. Then we started thinking about ourselves – not as a united people but as individuals who are entitled. We are smart, inventive – know it all’s. We forgot to first seek God and His Kingdom, we became our own kings and queens. We wanted our rights given to us.

It is so clear that we are in a spiritual warfare here in the United States (and the world). God wants His rightful place again – first place. In our hearts, our families, our communities, our country. Will we fight to give it back to Him? Our lives depend upon it – our life here on earth and our eternal life. God has told us how. We just need to do it. we the people

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) “ Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

So, as we are celebrating with cook-outs, fireworks, etc. this 4th of July I pray we remember The One who made it all possible – GOD! We are lost without Him. He is the air we breathe…He allows each breath. I am truly thankful for God and our country and will fight for both (on my knees). Will you?

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Attitudes and Actions {6.21.17}

Attitudes and Actions. They work together, or rather one fuels or directs the other. Think about it, what you are thinking about plays a huge part in how you act. That’s why God tells us in His word what we are to think of in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

This morning I was attitude - Churchillpraying before I got out of bed and then again in the shower. As I was getting ready for work, God brought to mind some of the things I had been praying about and that they are all part of either an attitude or action.

There are many things going on in my life right now and I have found myself entertaining doubt. I’ve wondered, Will God do this? Will He do that? Am I really in His Will or following after my own selfish desires? Knowing that we’ve prayed and prayed and felt God’s leading, Satan is always around trying to convince us of lies. One of his names is “Father of Lies”. God reminded me this morning of the words of James 1:6 that say “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” So…get on out of here Satan, I’m not believing in what I see, but in what I know – or more specifically, WHO I KNOW! Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” I am going to praise God for the answer I don’t even see yet and not doubt for a minute that He will provide the answers – the best answers! After all, He knows the whole picture, I only see a small portion.

actions speak louderAnother area where I realized Satan was tempting me was with fear. I’m not normally a fearful person but sometimes we can fear the unknown and not even acknowledge that it is fear. I don’t know about you but I tend to like to know the plan. I’m a planner and organizer by nature and maybe it’s a control thing that I have to struggle with to give up. Regardless, fear does NOT come from God. In face this is what God says about fear in 1 John 4:16-19 “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.”  Fear not – My God is With Me!

It all boils down to our relationship with God through Christ Jesus. If we are His Children, we can stand on his promises, recite them to ourselves over and over again. He is true to His Word. God can be trusted. We must have faith and not doubt. We must be courageous and not fear. WITH GOD, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!

BibleSo, if you, like me, have ever entertained doubt or fear – read God’s Word, hide it in your heart (Psalm 119:11) and then stand firm in the armor He provides (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Let’s make sure our attitudes and actions work together for good, for God, for His Glory and His Kingdom! Let’s walk forth in confident joy!

Rain, Rain, Go Away {5.27.17}

Rain, Rain, Go Away – Come Again Some Other Day

How many did we sing that song as children? How many times do we think it as adults?

A few weeks ago it rained and rained and rained where I live. We had no flooding at our house but nearby there were overflowing streams and ponds, flooded yards and roads, and standing water everywhere. I’m sure many of us were at least thinking about that song! Then the sun came out and we all rejoiced. It made me stop and think. If we didn’t have the rain, would we rejoice in the sun or just simply take it for granted?

It seems that in the heat of August we are usually longing for rain. Our lawns are dry and brittle, we have to water plants and flowers once or twice a day. We can’t be outside long without a hat and sunscreen. We “glisten” (I heard that once as a nice word for sweat). But, we all know what happens in the very hot summer sun, we sweat! There’s nothing nice and sweet about it. Then, we enjoy the summer showers. Of course, we don’t want them to last very long. Actually, we probably would rather they came at night while we were sleeping and then the sun would be out in the daytime. Convenience. That’s what we really want, isn’t it?

Last night we had another thunderstorm. It came up quickly and it seemed at times like it was raining sideways. Then this morning, everything looked fresh and clean – refreshed. The grass seemed greener, the flowers more bold in color. There is something about the rain that seems to bring new life – it does actually.

We take the sun for granted and I’m sad to say that often, we take the Son for granted too. When things are going well, we don’t always give either a thought. But, when the rains and storms come, we look to them with longing. drinking rainJesus told us that He (the Son) gives “living water” to all who are thirsty and come to Him. The well never runs dry. Just like the spring rains bring refreshing to the soil. Jesus always refreshes our soul. Michael W. Smith says it well in his song “Let It Rain”.  Let it rain, let it rain. Open the floodgates of heaven. The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad Let the distance shores rejoice Clouds and thick darkness surround Him Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne A fire goes before Him and consumes His foes on every side His lightning lights up the world The earth sees and trembles The mountains melt like wax before the Lord Before the Lord of all the earth The heavens proclaim His righteousness And all peoples will see His glory. We want to see Your glory, God! Let it rain, let it rain. Open the floodgates of heaven

Have you noticed how children love the rain? rain puddleThey love to jump in puddles (and it’s not just boys). I saw a little girl this week in a parking lot, going straight for a puddle to step in it. There’s something in water that draws us. As kids, we didn’t mind the rain, did we? Maybe that’s another reason Jesus told us to come “as a child”. Like a child welcomes the rain and appreciates the sun, I want to welcome the rain in my life so that I never forget to appreciate The Son.

No matter what the weather is in your home this weekend, enjoy the blessing in itself. And remember, if we never had the rain, we would not appreciate the sun. If we never had trouble, we would never appreciate the good times. When was the last time we prayed without complaining or asking for anything but simply gave thanks for God, who He is, and the day’s blessings? I’m going to try to put that into practice. How about you?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Bible Bite – Memorization

Memorizing something seems harder as we get older doesn’t it? We think we can’t do it but we really can. Think of all the things you have committed to memory. Phone numbers, alarm codes, birthdays, song lyrics, nursery rhymes, etc. It proves that we can memorize. I think a lot of it, at least for me, is the desire to memorize whatever it is.scripture memory

Memorizing Scripture seems especially challenging to most of us. I’m not sure why that is exactly but I do know that in my life, the scriptures that I’ve been able to commit to memory are the ones that spoke directly to me in a particular time or situation in my life. Maybe it’s because I kept repeating them to myself. Hmmm…maybe that’s the key – actually working at it. I remember years ago hearing a lady on a video who had memorized an entire book of the Bible. I can’t remember now which book it was but I was sufficiently impressed. So, the question arises, “Why should we memorize Scripture”? Psalm 119.11God has an answer for us in Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” WOW! That is a very important reason.

I’ve heard people say that they have a Scripture memorized and then smile when they repeat the two word verse. John 11:35 “Jesus wept.” Well, I say – it’s a start! This week during my Bible study I noticed another two word verse. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “pray continually”. With these two verses we all have a good start at Scripture memorization. We can do it! There is a total of only four words in these two verses. Think about them; pray about them; repeat them over and over again. There’s a lot we can learn in those four words if we ask God to speak to our hearts and minds through them.  

Bloom Where You Are Planted

This past week I was so happy to see the dogwood trees blooming. Each day on my way to work and back I saw beautiful white and pink trees in full bloom. They were beautiful and brought a smile to my face and joy to my heart. As I thought about them I remembered how God caused Aaron’s staff Aarons staff buddedto bud and bloom (Numbers 17:8) and thought that God can make something beautiful out of anything – even my life. Just like I looked at those trees each day, people are watching us. I wonder what people see in my life. Is it something beautiful or does it more resemble a barren branch with no beauty at all?

I had some post-it notes once that said “Bloom Where You Are Planted”.  No matter what stage of life we are in or what is going on in or lives, we can still “bloom” and produce Godly fruit that will hopefully point others to Jesus. But, we have to give ourselves over to The Gardener’s hands. Connected to God through Jesus Christ, we have the Holy Spirit in us which empowers and guides us. We are connected to the life-giving vine that will nourish our souls and produce visible fruit (or beautiful blooms).

(Isaiah 35)   “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

Enjoying those dogwood trees dogwood trees.jpgalso reminded me to enjoy the blessings as I receive them. They come and go all the time but if we don’t take the time to enjoy them and thank God for them, we are missing out on one of the greatest blessings of all – a loving and thankful relationship with The Creator of the Universe, our Loving Father in Heaven. I don’t know why He showers us with blessings as fickle as we are but I am truly thankful. He has been more than patient with me. His blessings are new every day! I try not to take His blessings for granted.

Ephesians 1:3 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Well, this weekend we had lots of rain and wind with some thunderstorms thrown in. I’m sure when I drive to work tomorrow most of those blooms will be on the ground. But, new blessings will come in their place. I’m going to make a point to look for them and then thank God for eyes to see and a heart to appreciate.  Then, I’m going to do my best to “Bloom Where I Am Planted.” How about you?

What Does Easter Mean to You?

My Easter memories as a child are of many things. Before Easter the department stores in the town where my Grandma lived sold baby chickens and ducks. I don’t really remember about the ducks but yes, the baby chicks were dyed Easter egg colors. The rumors are true. I am sure it did not harm them though because our baby chicks grew up before us with no known ill effects. baby chicksI still can’t hardly believe it but one year our parents allowed us to bring the baby chicks home to our house in town. They lived in a box in the laundry room until they got so big they could get out. Then they were taken to our great grandparent’s farm. It wasn’t until years later that the realization set in that one of those fried chicken dinners was quite possibly our pet chickens.

Other things that said ‘Easter” back then were new a Easter bonnet, dress, white patent leather shoes and white gloves (Yes – that was a very long time ago). It was a special day and I have a memory of going to church all dressed up. Then it was off to Grandma’s house where we colored eggs and then began the process of hiding and finding them. Rain or shine, we colored eggs and had an Easter Egg Hunt. Of course if it was in the house, it was critical to count the eggs before hiding them. You never want to find an Easter egg later by following the smell.

And, just like Labor Day marked the day we put away our white shoes and purses, Easter was when we brought them out again. I don’t think many people observe those customs any longer but it was like a  rule when I grew up. Of course there were always Easter baskets filled with candy and goodies. Sadly though, I don’t remember any mention of Jesus during our Easter celebrations. That’s not to say I never heard about Him but I don’t remember it if I did. It wasn’t until years later that I found out the true reason Easter is celebrated. It’s not just Easter (a time for family dinners, Easer baskets and egg hunts), it’s “Resurrection Sunday” – the day we celebrate the loving gift God gave to humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ.Easter - Love.jpg

What Easter means to me now is love, sacrifice, hope, a future, and eternal life in heaven with God.

These days we don’t find colored baby chicks or ducks for sale in our stores. Easter bonnets, white gloves and patent leather shoes are a thing of the past. But, we still get caught up in the worldly celebrations of Easter rather than focusing on the true reality of what Easter is really all about. It’s about a person, Jesus Christ, who gave himself up out of love for The Father and for all of us. He was our perfect sin sacrifice. The white we can see in Easter now is that our sins can be washed clean and we can be made pure before our God because of Jesus – IF we accept His free gift and follow Him.Resurrection and Life

So, as we celebrate Easter this year, let’s reflect on what Easter really means to us and get our focus in the proper place. We can still share chocolates and hunt eggs but let’s remember that day so very long ago when the stone was rolled away and the Savior had risen.

Luke 14:1-8: “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,  but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen! He is RisenRemember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:  ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.

 

 

Planting Seeds for the Harvest {4.4.17}

Two weeks ago my grandson and I planted some radish seeds in our garden. The soil had been well prepared. It was fed, tilled and ready for seed. The seeds were pretty small and we had to be careful not to let several fall into one spot. God brought the rain shortly after but I didn’t even think to check on the seeds until my husband asked about them. He’s the vegetable gardener in the family but because of a recent injury, I’m the backup plan. Anyway, sure enough – those little seeds had sprouted through the ground. Those tiny leaves were a beautiful sight. Only problem is that there are huge weeds mixed right in there with the seeds. It’s frustrating that the weeds grow so much quicker and larger than the plants! The dilemma…do I pull the weeds and the plants along with them since they are so fragile, or wait a bit. It made me think of God’s Word (seeds planted into our hearts) and the weeds that come in to crowd it out. radish plants

Matthew 13:3-8 “Then he (Jesus) told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Then Jesus explains the parable…

Matthew 13:18-23 “Listen to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

God’s Word and God’s Love are seeds that we should plant into our lives and the lives of others. I’m sure most of us have been recipients of seeds planted by others. The question is, what have we done to bring those seeds to harvest? While God will provide all we need to make those seeds grow correctly, we still have to do our part. Just like planting the seeds in the ground, we must plant God’s Word in our hearts.

Back to our vegetable garden – We also planted several rows of onions. Those were not seeds at all, they were what look like dried up onion bulbs. Those have not sprouted leaves yet. They are still soaking in the nutrients of that well fed soil. That’s what we need to do with God’s Word isn’t it? Soak it up, immerse ourselves in it so that it’s in our hearts and minds. Then the Holy Spirit will bring it to our remembrance when we need it in our daily lives. About those onion sets though…I realized as we were covering them up with dirt that some of them had been planted upside down. So, we had to go back and plant them correctly. Another reminder to treat God’s Word correctly. We can’t pull something out of it to make it fit what we want. It doesn’t work that way and we certainly won’t produce a good harvest. God tells us not to add to or subtract from His Word. We are also not to twist it around. The one who does that will be thrown into the pit of fire at the end. You can find that truth in God’s Word. Read it through to the end. It’s the greatest story ever told – a true story – a promise we can trust in – GOD IS FAITHFUL AND TRUE. He will produce a good harvest if we plant correctly.

Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Now, I think I’ll go pull up those weeds – very carefully.