Tuesday, October 16, 2018

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21NIV

This is a dramatic picture. The night is over and a new day has just begun. This is our story, as we live in Christ. He is always working to make us new, complete and whole. There is no retirement in the kingdom of God.

The work He has for us is to the last hour. There is usually someone who needs to hear that this world is not it! This realm in which we live doesn't satisfy. Only through Christ does this life make sense.

Jesus paid for our redemption on the cross, which frees us from the grip of sin and death.We are no longer citizens of earth but of heaven. Our King is a benevolent Father which means He rules in justice and love and holds all power and authority.  Paul longs to see Jesus.

Paul isn't interested in dying, although he looks forward to meeting Christ after he dies. Our longing to be with Jesus, and no longer under the curse of this world is real. God has an appointed time for all of us to be on this earth.

I know I said in the paragraph above that we are no longer citizens of this earth and I mean it. The obstacle is the enemy of our souls who wants to disrupt the truth of our freedom in Christ. He lies to us about who we are, and what our destiny is.

Don't believe a word of those lies! God says in John 8:36 "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."Freedom over fear, addictions, sickness and many other things.The Bible also says, "You are the light of the world." God's light shines out of every believer who allows Him to.

We are precious to God, a chosen people, a royal priesthood. He can't take His eyes off of you! Psalm 34:15. His gaze is intent upon us because of His great love for us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Romans 8:35-39 Please read these verses so you can get the full impact of how serious God is about keeping us spiritually safe.

Blessings and love to you today! 

Monday, October 15, 2018

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or death." Philippians 1:20 NIV

Do you know about "Footprints in the Sand"? It is a poem about a christian asking the Lord why He didn't have footprints next to hers during the most troubling parts of her life. He answer was, "It was then that I carried you."

God never leaves us, and especially not when we are hurting!  This is what happens to me, and I believe may be your plight as well. I tend to take my trust off of God and live in the place of trouble. My emotions can take me down and fear can come in.

Paul wants sufficient courage to run the race of living for Jesus without being ashamed of something he may do in the future. God's gives us grace to be faithful, but our flesh can get in our way. As we are aware of our failures we pray for his mercy on us to overcome.

The great Apostle, who penned 1/3 of the new testament is concerned about loosing out on the blessing of walking with God. He knows how easily his old man or sin nature can take over. There are certain triggers I have and you do too. Out of nowhere, we can become angry, defeated, or thrown off course.

 When we stumble and fall, he is right there to pick us up, and as we humbly ask for forgiveness, all is forgiven and forgotten. Our Savior loves us too much to stop at this. He wants to make us over comers.  God will remove the trigger so we are not bothered by it again.

It can be a process! Everything depends on how willing we are to work with Him. We need to get into God's word and find scripture to encourage us to overcome. 

My son Rudy is very good at triggering anger in me, and he knows it. He is a major scooch. Spell check doesn't like this word, but let's use it anyway. Webster's Dictionary says scooch means "to scrunch down, to slide jerkily." It's not a good thing to do to your Mom.

He thrives on getting under everyone's skin. I have learned not to respond. My triggers are no longer triggered. I don't allow hurt to take me for a ride. He is just a kid! Moms want their children to say nice things to them, and Rudy has learned to do this.

I was sensitive, but both of us have learned how to deal with   scooching. Women don't like to be made fun of on a regular basis. We need to know those close sincerely care. Thank God both of us have made progress in our relationship! You can too!

Friday, October 12, 2018

"Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance." Philippians 1:19 NIV

The Apostle Paul is looking forward to the freedom he will gain after his chains are broken. Not just freedom from the physical chains, but the ability to preach and share freely about Jesus.

I suppose he doesn't have too many new faces to preach to in prison. His fervent desire is to make Christ known, wherever he is, or will be in the future. Sometimes God will remove our prison chains and other times he does not.

Peter was removed from prison by an earthquake in Acts 12, but Paul was released by an earthquake and didn't leave the prison so the jailer may be saved. Paul had a greater purpose at hand.

I'm not saying Peter wasn't doing the right thing. His circumstance was totally different. Herod planned on killing Peter and God released him to continue with his work. God had more for Peter to accomplish.

No two situations are the same when we allow the Holy Spirit of God to lead the way. God's plans for each of us are as individual as we are. Our relationship with God will be different too.

Paul's joy while imprisoned is certainly unique. It demonstrates the power of the Holy Spirit working in the Apostle in the worst situations of life. This is not a gift for Paul. It is meant to everyone.

We can have joy no matter what comes our way, because Jesus has promised to be with us. For you and I as christians living in 2018, our joy comes from believing in God's promises as He rolls out one year after another.

No matter what may happen we can stand on the promises of God. He will do exactly what He says He will. He is coming back to earth for us, and while we wait, we can see him move through prayer and worship. Don't give up! He won't.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

" But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motive or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. " Philippians 1:18 NIV

Our friend the Apostle is right. It doesn't matter at all if people's motives were not pure about why Christ was preached. Those who thought to hurt Paul made him joyful instead!

Victory was on Paul's mind. He was overflowing with the truth, and he was not moved by anything else. He did see Jesus in a vision, and I expect he never forgot it. Would anyone ever forget such a sight?

I think not. We have the word of God and the Spirit of God to lead us. We don't need a sign from heaven, or any other sign because God has given us His Holy Word. 

God's word if able to bring us right into His presence as if Jesus were with us actually speaking within our hearing. God spirit and presence are the same. Just different ways of saying the same thing.

The Word of God confirms itself over thousands of years. Old testament scriptures lead right into the new. Jesus used the old testament in his teaching while on earth. We see old testament verses confirmed in the new testament.

Jesus' coming was written about long before His coming. Not only was His coming written about, but the town where he would be born, and all the circumstances before it happened.

Most old testament books speak of the coming Messiah, which can be confusing because of His first and second coming. Some prophecies have been fulfilled and some are still to come. Maybe in our lifetime!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

"The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains."
Philippians 1:17 NIV

Some people are not at all concerned about the welfare of others. Paul is in jail, and we have already concluded a Roman jail in the first century was no walk in the park. Yet, their desire was to cause him more pain on top of jail.

What causes people to be mean? Desperation. Maybe they have tried others ways to stop the gospel from moving ahead, but were unsuccessful. Their thought may have been to make Paul miserable, and he would tell christians to stop preaching.

It reminds me of a national situation last week. Some were stirring up trouble for a Supreme Court nominee with no regard for anyone else. Both the Judge and witness were damaged and it left many with open wounds.

No regard was given for those who would be hurt, and many were. Not just the families in the spotlight, but victims of sexual abuse who thought this was about justice for them.

If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, please know God wants to bring healing where there has been hurt. He isn't angry with you, He loves you and wants you to free from pain and harm. Too many women have suffered in silence, not knowing what to do.

Talking to someone who is trustworthy, and knowledgeable about these things is best, but Jesus is the only one who can heal the brokenhearted, and restore what has been robbed. There are many who care about the wrong being done to women and children. 

Professional Counselors know how to lead a victim out of the lies told them by an abuser. You can believe what God says about you to be true. He will never leave you, and His love is strong and constant. His hand is ever reaching out to provide the answers all of us need. 

If you know of someone who has been abused, let them know you care about them. You might be able to offer help by going to the Police with them, or finding them a qualified counselor.  Love always prevails.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

"The latter do so in love, knowing I was put here for the defense of the gospel." Philippians 1:16 NIV

Who are our guests here? Mary Poppins and Walt Disney. I guess if Mary were a person she would be surprised by the year 2018. How about my friend Fred Rogers? What a sweet, contrite man. His heart was filled with the love of God for the most vulnerable among us.

We are all vulnerable to the torments of this world, because this is not our home. As christians we are not comfortable here. We do not belong. My friends and I were talking about how liberal N.Y. is and having a desire to live somewhere else. It is not much different anywhere else. 

The hearts of men will try to make this life all about themselves.

A life left to itself, will implode, and then there isn't any life. God made our hearts to need one another. When we try to live without others, depression, anxiety and other serious sicknesses try to take over.

My sister asked me this morning why she was having yet another storm come to her area. I told her, "You are not to blame. It's not about you. It's about the fall.

 Our natural man thinks it's about something we did wrong. We are taught to think good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people, but this is not true. The rain falls on the just and the unjust, literally in North Carolina.

Jesus said," These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 NIV

The gospel of Jesus Christ was sent to us so we would not be hopeless in the face of tragedy. God is a miracle working God. He makes a way even streams in the desert, but in this case we are asking for no more water.

Would you add your faith with ours and pray that Hurricane Michael would not hit land. Allison and Steve have had volunteers come everyday to clean out their house. It currently has no walls, floor and a leaky roof. It is not in any condition for another storm.

Thank you for your prayers. Our God is able.  The Wilmington area has suffered enough.

Monday, October 8, 2018

"It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill." Philippians 1:15 NIV

Do you remember being this small, and being held in someone's arms? I don't think I can remember this. It feels good I should think! Make sure you give hugs to the little ones in your life.

Life can become all about busyness, and our schedules, and running from one place to the next. I remember a neighbor telling me the reason she was a stay at home Mom was to drive everyone to different activities. Everything within me wanted to scream out, "That is not a good reason!"

I felt bad for her because she thought this was her vocation. 

Moms are much more than this, and I'm sure she did good things with them too. Children need to sit with us so we can play with them, or make a craft, or whatever they find amusing. Quality time.

Matthew, my third child wanted to wrestle all day, and this wasn't something I was good at. My brother wasn't physical so I didn't know what to do with him, except take him outside. He loved jumping on the trampoline, running through the lawn, and digging forts in the back of the yard.

He was so content, and happy with this so I went with him, as much as I could. He will be 24 in December, but I'm glad for some happy memories. I regret he watched more television than my older two. As Mom we cannot go back and pull apart what we did or didn't do. 

I did the best that I could, and I'm sure you did too. Our friend the Apostle was all about moving forward, and I love this about him. He didn't care much about what was behind him.  He said, "I press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."Philippians 3:14. 

How many of us would be free from stress or fear if we could put the past behind us. We all can, by allowing Jesus to wash over us with His precious Holy Spirit.

 If you can right now, close your eyes, and say to Him Father, please wash me anew from past mistakes or fears. Help me to not go the same way again. Teach me to learn from those failures so you can be glorified in my life in these areas. Amen.
I love you and am praying you were blessed by this. Ann

Friday, October 5, 2018

"Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly." Philippians 1:14 NIV

I don't understand? Am I reading this correctly? Is Paul saying his chains are encouraging others to preach the gospel without fear? Yes, this is exactly what he is saying. Paul is sure his chains will promote the gospel.

He is right. It seems to me others would be discouraged to preach since Paul is in chains, but the opposite is true. It may be others are bold by the power of the Holy Spirit. We can see from other biblical passages fear is vanquished when the Spirit of God takes over.

The same is true for you and I. The Spirit of God is the same yesterday, today and forever! We can be free from fear to share the truth of God's word. How much do we want to be changed by the message of Jesus?

As we resist the lies of this world, and yield to God's ways we come into a deeper presence of His spirit. Yesterday as I pulled into a parking lot I read a bumper sticker on a car. It said"RESIST."

What does it mean? I can say it either says a lot, or nothing at all. If I am to resist everything my life will be miserable. No friends, no health care, no food? If it is a general meaning to resist the establishment, this will cause undo suffering, anger and fear. If we resist God, all we have to do is look at history to see where this will get you. 

Do not resist the Holy Spirit. All the blessings of heaven are for those who yield to His commands. It is not heavy or weary, but life giving and full of joy. True joy comes from yielding to the One who will lift our burdens and set us into a freedom this world doesn't know.

Our dear friend the Apostle, has overwhelming confidence because he joys in the gospel going forward. Let this be our joy as well! This glorifies God, and all of heaven. We agree with the Holy Spirit when we rejoice in what He has said. We are here today on this earth to testify of the truth of God. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

"As a result, it has become clear  throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ." Philippians 1:13 NIV

He was in chains. Have you ever been chained to another person for a number of years? A Palace Guard is a Roman soldier who is powerful and rough. I suppose Paul was able to charm him, and the love of God won the guard over time.

Being chained meant Paul was never alone. Did he have to be chained to go to the bathroom? Probably. Sounds as if the guard was in jail too, or maybe there were shifts? 

Paul says he had joy knowing this church was his partner in the gospel in verse 5. He rejoiced to know the gospel was being preached in verse 18.

Was Our Apostle ever lonely, afraid, or cold? I'm sure he was. He was like us. He was prone to all emotions as we are, but he was not defeated. What makes him different from you and I? He didn't take his eyes off of Jesus. 

I can be fixated on my circumstances so easily, but God has a way of changing me too. Have you noticed how God can bring about different situations to show us our hearts?

Will I trust him if someone I love is hurt or sick? Can I trust God to care for me even when the paycheck is nowhere in sight? Is He still Lord of my life when tragedy strikes?

Yes, He is. He is able to take our worst situations and turn them around. We don't always understand why God allows someone to die and another to live. We don't know why one house is destroyed and another is left untouched. What we can do is know God is good, all the time. 

We can trust His heart even when we don't understand His hand.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Dear Friends,

This is a picture of my sister Allison, her husband Steve, and their children Kim, and Zac. This was last June when my niece graduated from High School.

They live in North Carolina, about 20 miles outside Wilmington. Their house was flooded two weeks ago during Hurricane Florence. Many have come forward to provide household items and gift cards. They did not have flood insurance. 

Since they already have a mortgage, a loan would be out of the question. FEMA may give them some money but not enough to rebuild. If God places them on your heart, there is a go fund me page on my facebook or at gofundme.com. Look for Ann and Rudy's sister and family. God bless you,  Ann

"Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel."

What is Paul referring to here? What happened to him? He was in jail for preaching the gospel, The good news. He must have been an optimistic person to think being in jail brought about good.

Actually Paul's time in jail caused the gospel to spread quickly. News of his stand for the truth of Jesus Christ spread throughout the Palace guard. Those who loved the Lord spread the message, and even those who opposed Paul told of the Gospel, thinking it would harm him.

Paul was overjoyed to know the gospel was being preached, no matter the reason. He was a remarkable man, because he believed God would use everything for his good. I can believe this too, but sometimes I wonder.

Have you ever said to God, "How will you use this in a good way?"
I believe you God, but this? How will you bring any good out of the sadness I feel? How can the loss of a loved one ever be ok?

Loosing a loved one isn't ever O.K., but the ache doesn't hurt as much. Time moves on and so do our lives. Sadness doesn't have to last for ever, if we look to the Lord. He can fill us with joy, peace and love regardless of our circumstances.

Times of deep sadness come to every life. I don't want you to fall into the lie I once did. I thought certain people had a better life than I did.These young ladies who sat in front of me in church had their mother and father with them. 

The parents were blessed financially, so I thought, looking on the outside their lives had to be better than mine.This was not true!
As time passed, they had serious struggles like the rest of us.

It was a lesson I learned well, and I remind myself of it every once in a while. 'The rain falls on the just and the unjust." Matthew 5:45
The difference is, when a christian goes through struggles, they can become better, not bitter.

"And we know that all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 KJV

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

"filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God. " Philippians 1:11 NIV

Do you ever walk and pray outside? Walking while I pray is my preferable way of praying, but not outside. I get distracted easily outside. I want to pray so my attention is only on Jesus.

This can be hard sometimes. It takes concentration and determination, and a plan ahead of time, not pick up the phone unless it's an emergency. My plans don't work out the way I always want them to.

We have a busy household. People coming and going, dogs who need to go out. I'm not making excuses, but maybe some of this sounds familiar to you?

The father of lies knows the truth about prayer. It is a powerful vehicle by which we can stop him. He knows what one woman on her knees can accomplish in an afternoon. If he can convince us that prayer isn't worth the time and effort, he has us on the run.

Jesus is our righteousness. On our own we could never come to our Father in heaven. He is the only way to God, and so our righteousness comes from Him. All of the spirit realm knows this is true. If we don't realize the truth, the enemy may get a foot in the door.

Jesus in perfect, sinless, eternal, and full of light as we have never seen. Will we fall before Him when He appears? Will we jump up and down in excitement, or simply be overcome by His holy and beautiful self? Will we worship for eternity?

It is beyond my wildest imagination how full and complete we will become. If we can sense this through prayer, how much greater the reality will be. For now, we need to be on our knees. Our nation needs us to stand for morality and decency. Blessings to you and your family.  

Friday, September 28, 2018

"So that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ." Philippians 1:10 NIV

Now the days are warm, and the nights cool. We begin the autumn season, as September is behind us and October is surging forward.
I seem to just get a grasp on a month and it's gone.

This reminds me to take some time, and look around, and say thanks. We usually think of thanks in November but we have much to be thankful for all year round. 

As the people of God we are in the palm of His hands. He watches over us no matter what we are going through. His gaze is forever on us. We are safe, but not free from trials. Our enemy wants to take us down, and he plays dirty.

No wonder Paul prays for his church, "that you may be able to discern what is best, and may be pure and blameless." Christian parents pray this for their children. Teachers pray this for their students. One of the best things we can teach anyone is to be careful.

Carefulness doesn't define discernment, but it's a good place to start. If we can quiet ourselves, and allow spiritual discernment to come ahead of our own feelings and emotions, we have gained ground.

Most of the time, my feelings are way ahead of my brain, but not all of the time anymore. Calling on the Lord in every situation can bring His presence into our everyday. He wants to effect even those small things we take for granted.

Once we see God's hand in the small things, we can accept the reality of His hand in big things too. Sometimes God gives us the choice. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight," Philippians 1:9 NIV

Have you ever climbed a rock wall? Some climb indoors, and others, outdoors. Wherever the wall might be it takes endurance, skill, and strength, or at least I imagine it does. I haven't tried it. 

When we think about every move we make, life is usually more predictable. Sometimes we take one avenue expecting a certain outcome, but we don't get what we expected. Life is unpredictable.

How can we be ready when those precarious situations come our way even when we have taken every precaution? Every day, feed your spirit with the truth of God's word. Lies are everywhere, but when we are saturated with truth, we can stand in the storm.

Every trial is an opportunity to grow closer to the Lord. This is one reason God allows trial in our lives. We learn His faithfulness. He is trustworthy, but if we don't have to trust Him we won't. Human nature wants to trust itself. This is one of the biggest lies of the enemy.

Our nature wants to put us on a pedestal. It will place self in the center. When this is the case, everyone else is out of the picture.
Selfish, self-centered people have no regard for others. 

Paul the Apostle writes to his church in Philippi, "my prayer is that your love may abound more and more," When Jesus is at the center of our lives, love abounds, because "God is love."

Forgetting about self, only brings love forward. How do we love a selfish world? We need to see God's heart of love for them.
1 Corinthians 13:4 reads: Love endures long and is kind; love is never envious nor boils over with jealousy; is not boastful or vainglorious; does not display itself haughtily."

Reading all of chapter 13 of 1Corinthians is eye-opening. Do you want to know what God is like? Read this chapter, verses 1-8. 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Loading the Dishwasher and Other Things of No Significance

I am completely off track today but please bear with me. I have to admit I have meltdown days. I don't have them for no reason, but for tragic circumstances. Unfortunately, my emotions don't match up with the moment.

God loves me in the midst of the trauma, and when I have a delayed reaction. When you read my book, you will understand about how this came to be in my life. {the book is a work in progress} 

Jesus, in His amazing wisdom, gives us glimpses of how things are, but also of how things ought to be. I didn't know stuffing my emotions and letting them out at other times was not healthy. I was unaware of this happening. This was how my family operated, or my mother at least.

She didn't know she could change, although she wanted to go to counseling in her 80's but thought it was too late. I used to tell her,"Mom, it's never too late." Love you Mom! 

What does this have to do with the dishwasher? I was loading it this morning and thinking about how trivial it is. Many things we do each day have little significance, but if we ignore them, we would have a huge mess. I would rather do daily chores than have a huge once a week pile to deal with.

 {My daughter Stephanie, a teen doesn't agree with this theory.}

I'm asking the Lord to even out my emotions so I don't stuff them into a big ball of messiness. I have made good progress since my post-partum depression days. What about you? Do you ever feel a delayed reaction to a serious situation?

My sister lost her house and all its contents to a flood in North Carolina last week, just a week from today. She and her daughter Kim were in New York with us when it happened, and her husband and son were at their house. They left as the waters of the Cape Fear River came up through the floor boards.

No one can get close to their house to see what the damage is, but the experts think there was about three feet of water inside at the cresting point. God is faithful regardless of our circumstances, but it hurts when a loved one is away and going through a difficult time.

Thank God I can lean on Him. I can lean into Him, as He surrounds me. I know He is surrounding Allison, Steve, Zac, and Kim as well. How do I know? 

I'm praying. God is answering. 

Love to all and especially those in the flooded areas of North and South Carolina.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

" It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share God's grace with me."
Philippians 1:7 NIV

This picture reminds me of my daughters, Rachel and Stephanie. Rachel used to read to Steph since they are 10 years apart. Before Stephanie was born Rachel used to beg me for a baby sister.

Without going into all the details I told her it was out of my hands, and she needed to pray. She did, and I had given it to the Lord to do whatever He wanted. I wanted another daughter, but my husband wanted two children. 

He was thinking two children was a houseful, but not me! I wanted two girls and two boys from when I was a little girl. We used to have a playhouse in our backyard when I was a child. All the children in our neighborhood came to play. There weren't any fences for a while so the open yards made it easy for others to enter and exit easily.

I was the mother, and I had a lot of children. It fits with my teacher and real life mother mode. It fits with my current mode of writing and praying. As Paul says,"It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart." I feel this way about you, and those in the prayer ministry I organize, and know from church. 

I don't need to know all the details of everyone else's life. In prayer, I can cover you, as the Spirit gives me discernment. This is the greatest previledge

 of a child of God.  Sometimes we don't know when a prayer is answered. Other times we hear a good report.

God is answering prayer for my sister who lost her house to flood waters this week. A friend is allowing her and family to live in an empty condo near the school where she teaches. 

Her husband's employer is offering food and money. My brother in law said he has never worked for an employer who has been this generous, but he hasn't ever been in need like this before. Thank God, for kindness of people in the Wilmington N.C. area, and those who came in from all over the country.

Please pray for those hit by Hurricane Florence, as it will take months before their lives return to normal. Pray for these circumstances to lead people to lean on Jesus, and truly find His strength for everyday. Thank You!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

"There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you will keep at it and bring you to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears." Philippians 1:6 The Message

This is a known verse so I thought you might enjoy reading it in "The Message" version. The interpretation may not be accurate, but for our purposes it works well. Thank God He is working in us, because without Him, nothing would be accomplished!

We cannot change ourselves or others. I thought I could change my Dad, but spent many years of frustration trying to turn him into me.
God has a specific plan for each life, and I knew this but still wanted him to live a better life. There's nothing wrong with this, except he was always bent on being himself.

All of us want to be "ourselves". We can't be anything else, but we can be the best version of ourselves, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God will not make us, or push us into becoming like Christ. 

He moves gently in our lives, and only after we have given Him permission. He, the Holy Spirit, will not usurp our will. If we push Him away, He will go away. If we open to the will of our Father through the Holy Spirit, He will come in and do extraordinary things!

As a younger person, I thought I had given all of me to God, but now I can see I didn't. I didn't realize the depth of His wisdom and love for me, until I surrendered more. There possibly is more I will find to surrender in the future.

It's God who does the work. Prayer is what will change us, and others. I don't know if my Dad changed any, but I trust God heard my prayer for him, and made himself known to him at some point before he died.

One day we may see Him, with our own eyes, here on earth. It is incomprehensible to me to understand this but I know it could happen. I believe it could be in my lifetime. Are you able to grasp what this means to us?

The Creator of our Universe, and any other universes, wants to return to this earth to be with us, and set up his millennial rule here.
Can you comprehend such a thing?

Monday, September 17, 2018

"because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now," Philippians 1:5 NIV

I don't like to share pictures of myself, but today seems like a good day for this one. I don't remember where this was taken but it was a few years ago. We look young, but it's only because this isn't a close up.

I haven't thought about age much until recently. I don't feel any older, because on the inside I am a girl. Do you feel the same way? Sometimes when I look in the mirror I see the girl, and sometimes I see someone else.

It's all me, so I'm not worried. I love me at every stage, and as long as the girl is shining from the inside, I'm not concerned. Age is a state of mind, however, our bodies give way to the corruption in this world.

This past month I have learned to pray a lot, because my body hasn't been happy. Ear and sinus infections, with anxiety, a twisted ankle, and them back pain. All of these things were temporary, but put me on my back for several days at a time.

This has caused me to think about how will I handle pain as I get older. I have come to conclude, I will handle pain as I have always handled pain. With wisdom from doctors, and a lot of prayer, not in this order. Prayer is my daily life line to the Lord.

He can calm the raging sea of emotion in me. Sometimes I have found, my emotions about pain are actually worse than pain itself.I can trust God when I know what is happening, but I need to trust Him even when I don't know the outcome.

Remembering how God went through the fire and flame with me in the past helps. It bring peace because I remember His faithfulness is with me even when the circumstances aren't what I had hoped for. 

Can you relate to any of this? Probably since I know I'm not alone.

Friday, September 14, 2018

"In all my prayers for all of you,  I always pray with joy." Philippians 1:4 NIV

Joy comes from the Lord. I know this is a blanket statement, but I believe it is true." Every good and perfect gift comes from above."James 1:17 KJV What can I say? Having the weight of sin lifted off your shoulders brings delight and peace too.

I can remember when God took all of the extra baggage off of me. It felt lighter than air. I didn't float, but my spirit inside did! I went weeks without a care. Why did I move my attention off of Jesus, and on to this world? 

Something shocked me into earthly reality. I remember it well. My Father was insisting I get a j-o-b. How could he say such a thing! I'm teasing, but at the time it was not what I wanted to hear.

He was right, and he had a job for me at a factory near our home. I worked there for 6 weeks, and got laid off, just before a week long retreat at our church. I was able to obey my Father and go on the retreat.

I had joy at my job, but it took a bit of time. Jesus came with me, to my surprise. I didn't know this was possible. I was a brand new christian, a babe in Christ. Similar to our new Pup. She is silly, falling over herself with her oversized paws, and pouncing.

There is much to learn as a babe. Daisy, our pup is searching out every corner of our house and yard. It is new, and different than the farm she came from. All of her people, and dogs are different too.

I felt as if I had entered a new place. It was different than any other time until this point. Maybe you can relate? 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

" I thank my God every time I remember you." Philippians 1:3 NIV

The storm is lifting and this ship is sailing into the sunshine. Do you ever feel as if you're being tossed up and down, in a terrible storm? 

Many people are contemplating a hurricane in North Carolina early tomorrow morning. Thousands of people have been evacuated, including my sister Allison.

 She just arrived here with her daughter, and two dogs. Her husband and son are staying back in case of flood. If they have to, they will leave as well. It's not the hurricane that causes the threat. It's flooding afterwards.

Allison and her family live very near a river, and it is expected to crest 24 feet above normal on Sunday. Rivers recede slowly, so this may be a long term situation. Prayer is what makes the difference. 

A few days ago the Weather Center said it might be a category 4 or 5 storm, which would have been horrendous. Our God knows all the details. Allison doesn't care about the house, it's the people inside the house.

Maybe you have family who have had to leave as well. Pray for those who stayed. Life is more important than anything else, and I know you know this. As you think of the storm, pray. 

Allison's neighbors, haven't left, and are closer to the river. My brother-in- law Steve is concerned for them, and will help them if he can. Why don't people deal with these things?

There are so many different answers to questions like these. Praying for safety and wisdom for all. Thank you for praying too. Blessings and love,    Ann

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

"To all the saints in Christ Jesus in Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:1-2 NIV

I guess I will have to realize fall is on its way. I'm not ruling out the possibility of 80 degree days, and beach weather though. September and October can be some of the nicest days of the year.

As we embark on Philippians, I want you to think of Paul, chained to a Roman guard. He is waiting for a trial, in jail, but he remembers his friends in Philippi, because they are paying his living expenses while he waits.

He reminds them to be content, and humble, which tells us much about the man himself. He doesn't focus on his situation, but on Jesus Christ, and the ability he has to encourage his friends.

Paul is finding joy in prison. Not because of his chains, but in spite of them. How can this be, you might ask? It's because of who is with him. Not the guard next to him, but the one who fills him with every good thing.

Is Christ's presence this real to you? Do you have the assurance of His presence inside? Even when we do, we can still be thrown into anxiety or discouragement as times. Being close to His side means everything especially in the day in which we live.

Hurricanes, refugee camps, terror attacks, and the list goes on. As bearers of light we can't afford to be away from the Lord. The world needs to see the truth of Jesus, and we need to dig in deeper.

Have you had some trials in your life? Thank God. You are being prepared  to stand. As we studied Ephesians we learned: "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything , to stand." Ephesians 6:13 NIV

Who needs you to stand strong today?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

"Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love." Ephesians 6:24 NIV

In the notes below this verse it says,"or grace and immortality to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ." Immortality isn't a word you find reading the newspaper. It doesn't exist in our daily vocabulary. I don't think it is found in the Bible, at least not in the NKJV. 

I suppose it doesn't matter too much, except one means love and the other means life for ever more. I wish I could go to my logos software and tell you more, but I twisted my ankle. Getting up has been a challenge. Oh, this is frustrating!

Google says: the greek meaning of immortality refers to soul, but english Bibles refer to a living conscious body. Hmm, I don't know if we have anything yet.  Agape love is used in this verse. In greek, we see agape means the love God has for mankind, as well as the love man has for God.

It is an all encompassing, unconditional love. It isn't moved by emotions. It's not an on- again off- again feeling.  It is enduring, no matter what. If immortality means living forever, and agape means love never changing, we could say it's close to being the same thing. God is love and He is immortal. 

God is not like us, except for Jesus shedding his immortality to become a mortal. He was God in mortal flesh. He chose to walk among us. It wasn't for his good, but for ours. He is the perfect example of agape love and nothing else comes close.

There is nothing on earth to compare to God's unchanging insurmountable love. This world is changing all the time. It rains, the sun comes out. Seasons move from one to another and water is always finding its lowest level.

"Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements, and his paths beyond tracing out!" Romans 11:13 NIV

Nothing compares to His excellent greatness, and might. His love is everlasting, and His truth will endure for thousands of generations. Give Him praise for who He is today!

Monday, September 10, 2018

" Peace to you brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 6:23 NIV

Tomorrow will be the end of Ephesians for us. I have grown to love the Apostle Paul, and understand him a little bit better. We have very different customs today, and if he lived today he would be completely shocked to see what the world has become.

I think he would love the technology and the spreading of the gospel, through the internet. I have been aware lately of things I think are OK, but aren't. Where is it coming from? Our society can throw in subtleties, or blatantly put pictures before us as commercials on television.

 The program is good, but some of the commercials, or lyrics chosen for commercials are all together evil. My husband noticed a car commercial played "sympathy for the devil" in the background.

We were shocked, but we shouldn't be. Anything seems to be used as long as it gets attention. How much more should we be bold to witness with love for the lost. If we don't have His love, we have nothing.

Paul ends his letters with much kindness to those who receive them. Love without faith, or faith without love doesn't work! We can only receive anything good from God on our knees in prayer.

We are not our own, because we have been " bought at a price."{1Corinthians 6:20} This means we are favored and loved beyond imagination. We have the Living God inside as believers. Who do we want others to see: Us or Him? I don't know about you but I say, HIM!

Friday, September 7, 2018

"I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you." Ephesians 6:22  NIV

It's not hard to tell what encourages me. I have a sneaking suspicion that it may be a favorite of yours as well. Flowers! It is probably posted on this blog often, more than anything else.

This is not to say I don't love my people. My peeps are more important, it's just that I don't want to embarrass them. Paul is concerned for his people too.

I have to remind myself, there weren't any phones in those days. They didn't have land lines, or even morse code. I suppose the mail system was O.K., but how would you know if someone got your letter or not? I'm sure it was slower than snail mail.

Having a visitor from afar was not an everyday occurrence, but it may have happened more often than in our generation. People were very hospitable, and opened their homes to those from other places.

It didn't seem to matter if you knew them or not. "Do not forget to open your home to strangers, for so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it."

Tychicus wasn't a stranger to these people but it was expected of them to care for his needs. It was customary, and others were welcome with open arms. I wish I could be like this!

I want everything to be perfect when someone comes for a meal. At times I have had an extra, because with four children someone usually has a friend or two. This is easy, but why do I care when it's a friend or neighbor?

Am I concerned about appearances? I guess I am. I like the fact of Paul sending this fellow to encourage others. We surely need a lot more of this. Before we go out, let's ask the Lord to go with us, and purposely bless someone else!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

"Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you may know how I am and what I am doing." Ephesians 6:21 NIV

This picture is of my daughters, Stephanie and Rachel. Stephie is the blond and Rachel is the redhead. They are ten years apart, and absolutely different from each other.

My husband and I stood strong while raising our first two children. A shift came with the next two. I am not happy to say this, just being honest. The shift was leniency to our convictions, and we are reaping the fruit of this.

I am through condemning myself, but moving through prayer to bring about change. God can redeem our mistakes how ever small or big they may be. Raising a teen in a home of  three,  twenty somethings is not easy. Parenting is the hardest thing we have ever done.

I'm sure some of you will agree with us. Knowing how to turn around a situation can be difficult. I'm not saying my kids are doing anything harmful to themselves or others. No, but I am saying God's grace is my constant prayer.

Maybe you are in the this boat with us? Do you want your children to follow in the footsteps of the Lord and love Him with all their hearts? Compromise is a terrible thing, but so is immaturity!

Please excuse my rant. Paul wanted his friends to know he was fine. He was thoughtful enough to realize people cared about him. He had a lot of time to think, pray and write. Maybe if he hadn't been in prison he wouldn't have written what he did, one third of the new testament.

God has a way of making even the worst times into the best times in some way or another. We know it was physically taxing on Paul to be in prison. Perhaps his greatest spiritual growth came about in a prison cell? I don't know, but I wonder.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

"for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." Ephesians 6:20 NIV

Hello to all of you today. I don't know what the weather is like in your town, but here it feels like summer! September can be like August in the beginning. This month and the next can be some of the best days of the year.

Our Apostle Paul, is a fearless Ambassador, yet he feels the need to ask for prayer. We don't usually see him as someone who needed help defeating fear, but in reality all of us need help with this.

Today I was editing a chapter in my book about fear. It's no secret the enemy is the author of it. God hasn't given us fear, nor does He ever want it in our lives. It comes anyway.

How we deal with it makes all the difference.  Fear can take any of us down. If the enemy can get our eyes off God and into this world we can be stung with fear and anxiety.

What can make us stronger? Remember your history with God. He has delivered us from fear, and lies many times. He will do it again! Why can I stand on this? God Word tells us he never changes. 

He is the same today in our generation as He was in the times of Mary, Abraham, and David. We can clearly see God's hands on these chosen followers, so we can be sure He will do the same for us. We are His people in our generation! Say amen, and thank Him for it.

Friday, August 31, 2018

"Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, Ephesians 6:19 NIV

The Apostle Paul is asking his friends to pray for him? If Paul needed prayer, how much more do we. This wonderful man preached all over the ancient world, but he still wants prayer for words.

I suppose if anyone knows about fear, it would be Paul. I don't know what he has faced at this period of his life, but he had some very painful, near death situations during his lifetime.

All of us need to pray however we can in our circumstance. I shared about speaking out loud the other day, but I want to tell you why I know the silence kind are important too.

We can be in places where it's not appropriate to pray!  Have you ever prayed to silently in a doctor's office? I think most people have. We can be sick and not know what words to say. I am recovering from a sinus and ear infection, and I prayed silently a lot this week!

Thank God we can have hope in our Father who hears even when we don't speak. We can get to know Jesus, and who He says He is, when He answers those silent prayers. No one knows but God himself what your request is.

I read Luke 11: 1- 13 last night. You are probably familiar with verses 1-4. It's the Lord's prayer. What I didn't realize, just after this, Jesus shares the story about the traveler who comes at midnight. The house he enters doesn't have any food, so the host runs to his neighbor for bread.

The neighbor doesn't come to the door because the man asks him to, but only comes after much persistence from the host. This man wouldn't give up knocking, banging and so on. Jesus relates this to a father who is good, and wouldn't give his son a snake if he asked for a fish. You can read the rest for yourself.

What struck me was the goodness of the fathers in this story. Of course Jesus is relating this to the goodness of our heavenly Father.
We belong to God, and his love for us is deeper than we can ever imagine.  Verse 13 of Luke 11 reads, "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"  Not one of us can say we have enough of the Holy Spirit.  

Thursday, August 30, 2018

"Pray at all times - on every occasion, in every season - in the Spirit, with all{manner of} prayer and entreaty, To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints {God's consecrated people}." Ephesians 6:18 AMP 

Have you ever felt as if you were a little fish in a big pond? I thought this child may feel this way, but then I thought maybe there are 20 people at the other end we can't see? We don't always have the luxury of seeing the whole picture.

I think she is happy, so I'm not going to be concerned. How our minds can jump to conclusions! I have concluded about others character on very small tidbits of information.

I'll bet you have done this too. Prayer is important when it comes to deciding how we feel about someone. Sometimes first impressions can be deceiving. Do you conclude someone isn't "your type" on first meeting and forget about building a friendship?

I have done this too many times to count! Fear was behind some of these judgements. I have been open to people as I have gotten older. I don't have time to play games. We are all the same on the inside.

When it comes to prayer, God tells us in this verse to"watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints." I'm putting away immature behavior so I can focus on what can make another stronger.

I don't want you to congratulate me or anything, because I don't have it done to perfection! I don't think any of us have. Let's be aware of our judgements so don't push away those who may need our help. Give out what God has given to you. This is a sure way to filled again!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests." Ephesians 6:18 NIV

You might have noticed I have used the same scripture for the past few days. I can't let go of it right now. It is such a powerful truth and I want to drive it home in my heart and yours.

I pray for those who receive my blog, and I care about your spiritual growth.I may have never met you before, but God knows exactly who you are and every detail in your life.

I trust Him to make these blogs personal to you by His Holy Spirit. Only Jesus can minister through my words to your heart and situation. He is beyond faithful to us!

I wish I had a stronger word than faithful to use. It isn't enough to express how wonderful our Father in heaven is to us. Sarah Reeves expresses faithfulness in her song, "Faithful".

The dictionary uses steadfast, unswerving, and committed to describe faithful. We can stack these words together and still not reach the magnitude of the faithfulness our God demonstrates toward us.

I haven't mentioned the picture at the top yet. These are our first two children, Rudy and Rachel. Rachel graduated from Depaul Law School in May. Rudy graduated from Hofstra Law School in 2015. They are precious to us.

They have worked hard for their degrees, and we have prayed. Obstacles came out of nowhere in seemed, but they persevered. We believing God to use them mightily. Prayer was lifted up for them before they were born.

I'm sure most of you can relate to this. When we don't know what to pray, the Spirit intercedes for us. The gift of tongues is able to pray through us to the Father when we don't know how or what to pray. Isn't this amazing?

Monday, August 27, 2018

photo by Ben White-Upsplash.com

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." Ephesians 6:18

This is a mouth-full of a verse and it was supposed to come up on yesterday's post but for some reason did not. It is worth repeating. I cannot say enough about the importance of prayer!

Prayer is our bridge to Jesus. He lives within us as believers, but our verbal declarations are powerful and effective. Lifting our voice is how we reach out to Him. It has nothing to do with space or time, but everything to do with our hearts.

It also involves our minds. We engage our brain in the process through our language and call out to the King of Kings. Our body, soul and spirit have to be involved because this is the totality of who we are.

Without words our brain won't process our prayer as declarations or dialog. Many thoughts pass through our mind throughout the day, but those thoughts that make it in to verbal language are recorded in our hearing as well as our memory.

This process is important. God hears our heart cry, but we need to hear the words.