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.