Sunday, September 24, 2017

"And they overcame by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death." {Revelation 12:11}

Did you know that your story matters to God? It also matters to the many people that will read it and be touched. John Eldredge, in the book "The Sacred Romance" shares from scripture how God has us on a magnificent journey, and if we follow Him, there will be drama, the unexpected, and great love revealed. The problem comes with us not knowing which way the journey will take us. This is what G.K.Chesterton is quoted as writing in "The Sacred Romance:" "The thing which keeps life romantic and full of fiery possibilities is the existence of these great plain limitations which force all of us to meet the things we do not like or do not except."

None of us wake up each morning and say, Oh great! What fiery trial will beset me today! We want everything in life to go along smoothly, and without resistance, but then we wouldn't recognize our need for our Savior. God, in His divine wisdom knows what calamities will show us what this world is all about, so that we draw near to Him. He takes no pleasure in suffering, because as a Good Father He would never place hardship on us in this way. If it produces fruit in our lives by teaching us a valuable lesson or causing us to grow in patience God declares it sandpaper to knock off our rough edges. He is more interested in our spiritual growth than our comfort.

Our verse today is a well known one, but several versions  use different words to explain the beginning.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"Cast your cares on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. {Psalm 55:22}

Our verse today is rather well know. I tend to overlook the well-known because I know it.  I guess I'm overstating the obvious here, because what often occurs for me is the well-known slides off the plate of my understanding. It loses its effectiveness in my life because it becomes common to me.

I am glad for this verse from Psalm 55, and intend to allow it to bring fresh meaning to my heart. I can't even begin to tell you how many times it has brought peace and rest. I learned it from the King James Version, which reads, Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain thee, he shall never allow the righteous to be moved."  The word care in the Oxford English Dictionary means "A feeling or cause for anxiety." The word burden from the same dictionary means ,"something carried or an obligation causing hardship." These words are similar, but not the same. It may seem like grasping for straws, but looking at these words from different perspectives can help us with understanding.

 The word burden gives us a heavy feeling, when care seems to be lighter. What is important to see here is that God cares for our feelings and our burdens! He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end! No matter what your care, minute, or burden, huge it is under His banner of love. Song of Solomon 2:4 from the amplified Bible reads: "He brought me to His banqueting table and His banner over me is love {waving overhead to protect and comfort me."} I love the extra notes that the amplified gives us. Waving overhead, proclaiming victory and peace to us!

When I proclaim victory over my situation, especially when I don't feel it, my emotions follow victory. Some people may see this as being untruthful about my situation, when actually I am lining up with what God says about me. To think that The God over all creation cares about the smallest needs in my life! This is what I want to proclaim to a lost and dying world!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hello Friends, hope you are having a good week, whatever that means. Our thoughts on what is good can be very objective. What one gal thinks is a good week may end being horrible to another! God has our good in mind all of the time. How many of us really believe this? I didn't feel like that when my Mom was in a coma, after falling in our house. She died three days after. How could this be good for me Lord? It didn't feel good, and some things in life just won't feel right.

What I couldn't see was the bitterness that was beginning to grab her heart. She was angry because we felt she shouldn't drive anymore for her safety. This is a typical conversation that siblings have when aging parents need changes. It is not one that the aging parent agrees with. Mom also needed a walker and she felt it wasn't necessary and with that, she let go of said walker, and hit her head on the floor. Mom was not the type of person who spoke about her feelings. It was a subject that was not discussed in the family setting, but when you live with a family member you can sense their anxiousness, or hostility.

My Mom's desire for life to go on as it always had is one that we can all relate to. Not many people look forward to being incompasitated later in life. Her quality of life would be greatly diminished in her estimation. When she fell, and died three days later, God was showing  both my Mom and I mercy for our relationship. We had a good time together, and when she was taken it was as if Jesus said, "You know Ann, let's allow you to remember Mom in a positive way." I understand this now, and I am grateful for His perfect timing. I didn't have to become the parent to my Mom, and tell her what to do. 

God's grace and mercy extend far into our lives when we need them. I am so glad that He doesn't do life the way I might think is right. In His mercy He doesn't allow me to go my own way. He sees what's ahead and wants to prepare us for greater blessings. I am so short sighted, selfish and impatient. His best is what I need to be healthy, well and prepared in every way. Petfection still evades me, but I am learning and so are you, I am sure!

Monday, September 18, 2017

When was the last time you were by the ocean? I have to say that I thought I would have more "ocean time" this year, but somehow it didn't happen. I had the pleasure of visiting the ocean in North Carolina with my sister, at Shell Island and at Topsail Island. These beaches are clean and the water is a light blue. They aren't crowded with people, or boardwalks, just natural sandy beach to walk and look at. Even in the hight of summer you can be alone and enjoy all that's around you. You have to get wet, because it is so hot!

Our New York beaches are not like this. The ocean is never warm, and the Sound is full of rocks. I don't mind the rocks when I wear beach shoes, but the rest of my family won't go with me. I think it's great to have a beach 10 minutes from my house. When I was in Elementary school my Father would take us to the local beach in the summer. He was a teacher so this was his time to get fit, so we were there 3-5 times a week. He used the summer beach experience to lose weight with swimming and my brother, sister and I had the best time ever. It was the happiest time of the year for our family.

When I am at the beach, looking up into the skies seems like the natural thing to do. I remember my husband's Aunt Connie saying when she moved out of New York City, that "the sky is so big out here!" Her sincerity made us laugh, and she was so cute! The sky didn't change, only her perspective did. She got to see more of the sky because nothing was blocking her view. Do you have something blocking your view? "The heavens declare the glory of God, because it goes on for ever. God, has no end and no beginning, and the skies tell us the same. One can only have this revelation at the beach, or on top of a mountain.

Whether you are at sea level, or high in the mountains, your comprehension of all the earth is one of awe and majesty. At these times, we see more of the reality heaven.Who is like our God, who can compare to His matchless grace and love? Do you know of any that can equal His divine wisdom and power? Can someone else create all out of nothing? You could spend all of your life looking, and all of your relatives after you for hundreds of years and come up with nothing. No one can match the one and only, sovereign, Holy, maker, creator, divine One.

Friday, September 15, 2017

"Regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic all purpose garment. Never be without it." Colossians 3:14  {MSG}

Suppose all that people saw of you were your spiritual gifts?  What if your outward appearance didn't show but only what was inside your heart? I would be so scared for others to see what is inside! I want to hide some anxious, bitter thoughts away because I may feel I deserve to hold on to them. Oh, I feel blah just writing about it!

Maybe you can remember a time when you were sure that you had conquered a certain fear, but it seems to have found its way back into your heart. I hate when that happens, but it may need just another nudge to leave you alone for good! God knows our hearts better than we do. Jeremiah 17:9-10 tells us that we don't know how wicked our own hearts can be, but God sees all and loves us anyway. God searches our hearts, and know our thoughts, and still He continues to work to get us free! He knows a little push here or there is what is necessary to release His unfailing mercies and truth in us.

How do we put on love as a garment? We choose love. We push away from anything else.We have a choice to walk in love or fear, or hatred. These emotions can be a stronghold on us, and may seem as if we cannot choose something else, but that is not the truth. "Whom the son sets free is free indeed." {John 8:36} Remember, it's not our strength but God's that we should rely on. How do rely on Him? We read His word, and if need be, take it as medicine. Our hearts are sick from sin, so he is the only remedy.

We are all tried by fire, to see what we are made of. At times we need to dig deep to find Jesus, because we have pushed Him away all too much. I for one can attest to this. Why don't I take Him at His word? I am learning, and so are you, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this. Fight for love to be the first thing to come out of your mouth!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
{Proverbs 31:3} NIV

I wish I could say that I painted these flowers, but I didn't. I can't take the credit for it, but it shows exactly what I feel in my heart. Bright colors, flowing lines, and subtle shades. These are not real, but I could imagine that some flowers arrangements look similar, but then there are real flowers that look fake. No matter what, flowers display a beauty that is heavenly.

The beauty of heaven can be seen all around us, although it is a faded view, a distant image of the reality that is beyond. It reminds me of the beauty in our faces, which some may see as fading, but I say it gets better with age. The wrinkles may not be welcome, but the wisdom that comes from being older is a wonder to behold! Most of us who are older, {which includes everyone, because we are older than we were yesterday,} understand the seasons of life as just that. We can't stop one time from flying into the next.

Most of us feel that our beauty was in the past, never to be restored. God is not one of us and He says that a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised, not the one who stands out in the crowd, not the one who has the right words at the right time. The best thing in God's estimate of life, are those who know their God. Plain and simple. I'm glad for that because I was never known for anything when I was young. I didn't stand out, and I felt left out, picked over sort of. I wasn't great at anything, especially school.

I didn't have a subject that I could look forward to because I really knew it well. What brought about tremendous change in me, was when I gave my life to God. It was as if someone turned my life into technicolor! Life seemed entirely different. I felt God's love all over me, and I knew I would not be the same again!I left behind my insecurities , but truthfully it took a while to work this one out. Doubt and fear began to fade, as I saw Jesus walk into every area that I allowed him into.  It isn't easy but it is worth everything!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

"Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might." {Ephesians 6:10}

Do you want to live on this private island, by yourself? Sometimes I think it might be nice, but not most of the time. We are social beings, especially if you are a woman. It's the way God intended for us to be. Otherwise who would ask for directions, find out what the neighbors are doing or make sure everyone has used the potty before a long trip? It's our way of relating to the world around us, and keeping our families safe. We have to be "in the know."

I don't mean we have to know about everything in a gossipy way. No, we need to know how to care for our loved ones, as Jesus cared for those around Him. He made known to His disciples what would be necessary so that they could please God, which is at the core of every person's soul, whether the person knows it or not. All of life's journey is about filling the inner absence of God. Those who know Jesus as their personal Savior has the void filled, but still there is a process of letting go of the old ways, and grabbing hold of the new.

We become stronger as we hold on tighter. As we push aside the temporal, and lay hold of the eternal we grow, and we let God do the work, which by the way, He already accomplished on the cross. Why do I go around and around, like Moses and the Israelites when all I have to do is rest? I think Moses was never more than a day's journey from the promised land, but the people were not ready to go in and take it over.

Sounds like a waste of time, but possessing the land took the strength of God in their hearts, which wasn't something most of them had grasped. The song goes like this, "It's not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord of Hosts. It takes God's power to overcome the enemy. It takes God's power to change hearts. It takes God's power to bring us to the cross.