Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Did you have a Merry Christmas? Not everyone does, you know. Sometimes holidays can be hard. When I was in my 20's, I spent Christmas eve with my father, and Christmas day with my mother. When  I met my husband Rudy, we spent time at his parents before we went to my father. It was confusing, and not much fun, but it was what we had to do. 

When I look back on these memories I thank God for his grace to see me through. It was one step at a time, one day, one hour. The scripture gave me evidence of who I was on the inside. If we look at Ephesians  chapter 1, I will show you what I mean. 

The apostle Paul wrote to this body of believers and he assures everyone of their spiritual blessings. He tells them to praise God, and that he had "Blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." Ephesians 1:3 This is a huge promise, and we can't even begin to unpack it here, but I will try a little.

The earthly kingdom we live in is governed by the heavenly one above. Everything that happens here is either from God's hand, or he has allowed it, or it naturally occurs  because of the fallen world in which we live. All dominion has been given to Christ by His Father, so that Christ can in turn bless us. 

The work that was finished on the cross  has already purchased everything we need to live godly lives, and to overcome the enemy. How come we don't seem to have victory all the time? We don't always walk in the flow of this reality. The flow is like a river, where we allow the current to bring us along. Sometimes we go with it, and sometimes we get out of the river entirely.

As Christians, we can get in or out depending on circumstances. It is painful for me to admit that I can allow anger to pull me out at times. Surprise circumstances can pull me out, and cause me to walk on my own. When I do this, I am not in harmony with God, and I can choose to fall back in line, or choose my own way. Oh, how I hate telling you this, but I need to be perfectly blunt.

Don't get out of the way of God's blessings! Stay close to him and allow Him to form you into his image. You will forever praise him for it, and be ahead in your walk with Christ. I am saying all this to help you to be an overcomer, and hopefully you won't lose time like I did. God's grace and out of this world love for us covers us no matter what, as long as we choose to go with the current.  Blessings and love, always. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

"In Bethlehem in Judea, they replied, for this is what the prophet has written: 'But you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; out of you will come for me a ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.'"         {Matthew 2:5-6} NIV 

As I think of the birth of Jesus, and the town where he was born, it is a well known place to me. Not so for the people of the day. Judea was the smallest tribe of Israel, and Bethlehem a remote village. Surely King Herod found it strange that a King would be born in such a distant, small place. 

The Jews would have known that King David,  the greatest King of Israel was born in the same Bethlehem. God doesn't make mistakes and so we see a connection here. The earthly King and the spiritual King, had similarities, as David was a "type" of Christ. God enjoys using the so called "weakest or smallest" things to show His power and ability. 

God is good at being God. He has a higher vantage point! Being eternal gives him a clear advantage too. What I am saying is, he is so far removed from our earthly realm, and far greater than our imagination can stretch. God knew exactly the right moment to send His son, as a defenseless, helpless babe.

 The prophet Micah said " out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."Jesus is called "the ancient of Days." He was from the beginning, and always will be, yet he paused to become flesh and blood. What, but love would compel Him to do such a thing?

 It says, "Every Good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights," James 1:17. Certainly God has given the best gift of all time in his precious, only son.What does he ask in return? Obedience. Worship God today just because He gave us his son. I don't know of a better way to obey him than that.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

"When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born."   {Matthew 2:3-4}

The first question that comes to mind when reading this passage is: Why didn't the King and Jerusalem know about the birth that was foretold so many years ago? King Herod, not being of Jewish descent may not have heard of a coming Messiah, the true King of the Jews. What about the Priests and other Jewish leaders? 

Doesn't it stand to reason that the leaders would be looking for the promised Messiah? Yes, however I think these leaders liked the arrangement that was currently given them. Herod listened to them, and most of the time he did what was acceptable to their way of thinking. A Messiah coming as a babe wasn't according to their plans, or what would help the leadership to excel. Oh! the plans of rulers that ruin life for so many!

God works regardless of the plans of even the slyest ruler. Jesus came as a helpless babe, to truly experience life as a human, but also to be totally acceptable to the lowly and downcast. No job could be found in Israel that would be more demeaning than that of a shepherd. Who was out at night watching the stars, but those who tended sheep. Who would be hungry for the truth of God? Those who were satisfied with their high calling, so those who did not dare lift their heads when the Priests walked by?

It is still the same today. Those who find Jesus, and allow Him to rule in their hearts are those who are hungry for the truth. You and I are among the ones who would be standing at the manger, worshiping the new born King! Not because we are outcasts, but because we are among the Children of God. We are among God's finest, and he calls us his beloved. I will take that reputation over any other for sure.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."  {Matthew 2:1-2}

Stars have always been a favorite part of creation to me. I feel close to God when I look up into the sky and see many bright lights twinkling back at me. You can almost imagine anything when looking up.  We are told to keep our eyes on the sky, because our Savior and Lord will return someday from above.  

It makes sense  that the very wise men from the east, scientists, and those who studied the stars would see a difference in what was happening above. The sign of his first coming was foretold by the stars, and his second coming will also be seen in the sky. God, who is all magnificent, completely holy and all knowing will come the second time with a power and authority beyond anything we have ever seen.

The sky will be filled with his marvelous light, and everyone will know and see that our God reigns.  Because of his great power, he is holding back until more people come to know him as Lord. The time is near, but our gracious and loving God, does not want one soul to go to hell. He never intended for any person to go there. It was created for the devil and his dark angels, who still blatantly throw themselves at those who will listen.

The devil does not tell the truth, so those who hear him are believing lies about themselves and others so that their lives are ruined. God is not seen as the Almighty, Benevolent Father that he is, when the lies of the enemy tell the lost that there is no chance for them. Our God, who is rich in mercy, will forgive anyone who will humbly acknowledge him as Savior and Lord. It is not too late, until we breathe our last.

I am curious how the magi knew about the promised King of the Jews? I suppose it is one of those details that I wrote about yesterday or before that we will never know. Many ideas are shared among bible scholars that there was a link between these magi and ancient Israel, and so the story was handed down. This sounds plausible, but one thing is for sure, the magi causes quite a stir in Jerusalem.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord said through the prophet :' The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son. And they will call him Immanuel- which means God with us.' "{Matthew 1:22-23} NIV

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." {Isaiah 7:14} NIV

Isaiah the prophet lived about a thousand years before the coming of the Messiah. His writings are overflowing with prophesies about the coming King. Isaiah had no idea the time frame that God had in mind when he was given these wonderful words. This did not change how amazing or important the truth would be. Time has a way of eroding our faith if we are not careful.

The book of Isaiah can be difficult to read at times because the prophet is given words that describe Jesus in his first and second coming. In his first coming, we see Jesus as the suffering servant. In his second coming we will see Jesus as the victorious King.

Just as the people of Israel waited for the coming of the Messiah in his first coming, so you and I wait for his second coming. We have been given the Holy Spirit to fill us with his presence, and so He is "with us" in the spiritual sense, but will also be in the physical. "The with of God" as  Bible teacher Beth Moore calls Jesus, has left the comforter, to give us peace and grace in times of need.
I don't know about you, but I need his felt presence everyday.

I have a feeling you are saying "amen" to that as you are reading this right now. In this world we will have tribulation, and we need to know that Jesus will never,{No never} leave us. Leaving is not in his DNA. It is so foreign to God that he cannot do this. If we feel distant to him, guess who moved? If you need to, make things right with God right now.

We don't know what a day may bring. Life in God is not about our feelings, but the gift of the Holy Spirit is freely given so that we know we are never alone. Allowing God to move in us brings joy and peace to us and many others that we touch everyday. Say yes to whatever He may be saying to you.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."  
{Matthew 1:21}

 Joseph must have thought that his ears were not hearing what the angel said. "You mean, this child will be the long awaited Messiah?" I can't imagine the expression on his face! Thousands of years have gone by, and I get to be the one to raise the Savior of the world? He will be thought of as my son? I think he probably thought about this for a minute, and then ran to find Mary.

"Mary needs to know that I believe her now. She must know that I will not divorce her, and that we can be safe because God is with us."Peace must have filled his heart, as well as excitement for the life that would be ahead. What a miracle, he might have thought as joy and exuberance flooded his soul. If anyone but an angel told him this story, he wouldn't have believed. Would you have believed Mary?

I don't see how I could say that I would believe such a thing. This was the first move of God in 400 years. The time between the old and new testament was 400 years of silence. God did not speak through a prophet, or do any miracles. Maybe Mary and Joseph were so hungry to see God, and to know him, that their faith was just in the right place to believe. 

Perhaps anyone else would have shuttered in  fear. I think God prepared Mary and Joseph long before this time and of course God knew before each was born the importance of their lives. These parents were ordinary people like you and I. No one would have pointed to one of them as a future leader. Thankfully God doesn't look on the outside, but at the heart.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit."       {Matthew 1:20}

I don't know about you, but having an angel visit is not my idea of a relaxing time. Most heavenly visitations are not of little cherebs with cute chubby cheeks.  They do not look like babies in diapers, and are not a friendly sight! Usually an angel comes with a frightening size, and a deafening voice. This is why you hear each one say, "Do not be afraid."

I suppose having an angel speak to you in a dream may take some of the shock away. This angelic creature only tells Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. Hopefully this dispels any sorrow that he may have had from thinking Mary was unfaithful. What a turn of events for our friend Joseph! 

In the beginning of the chapter he is planning on marrying Mary. He is told by her that she is expecting a child by the Holy Spirit, which he doesn't believe. Now, he is planning a divorce. The poor man must have been frazzled, but wait, we don't know that for sure. Maybe the voice of the angel was peaceful, and reassuring and he felt calm. We may never know because scripture doesn't tell us.We know that as a rule an angelic visitation is no laughing matter.

We can guess that Joseph went for an emotional roller coaster ride. I think he may have needed to stop and take a deep breathe before he found Mary to tell her about his dream. I would think she breathed a huge sigh of relief when told by Joseph that he believed her  initial report. 

God is good at turning around the worst circumstances and making them complete. Both of our precious friends are tried to the max with this situation. Mary and Joseph are amazing people, but were also human like you and I. God knew each would need to really lean on Him to get through the situations ahead. Can we lean on Jesus in our circumstances? We surely can, and God wants us to look to Him in every aspect of life. Thank God for His indescribable gift!

Monday, December 11, 2017

"Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her  to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  {Matthew 1:19}

Joseph was considered Mary's husband. It is a bit confusing but that was the culture of the people. A marriage was a betrothal, and in our thinking that would be an engagement. When researching this I found that it is almost the same. Why was the word husband used here, I cannot figure out, except that it is the original word used.

Sweet Joseph thinks that Mary has betrayed him with another man. This must have been heart breaking for him. Even in his pain, he is a good man and doesn't want to harm her. He truly was a good husband, one that would be able to handle the rigors of raising the Messiah.

 Joseph couldn't think of having Mary stoned for her betrayal. Public disgrace would make her a fornicator, and her family would also live with that label for a long time. If she had done such a thing, would she even be allowed to stay with her family?

I shutter to think what the consequences might have been for this young girl of 15. Her maturity far outweighs what a teen in our culture would be at this age. She was considered an adult, and all of her upbringing prepared her for the life of a wife in Israel at that time.

 I have tried to put myself in her shoes, but I know so little about what life was like in that day. We know that God's grace was upon her, and he held her steady through all that happened. Maybe one day I will ask her to explain it all to me, when I get to heaven. What would you like to ask her?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Watercolor Christmas Floral Set - Illustrations - 7

"Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit."   { Matthew 1:18}

There is no story that can match the story of Jesus's life. How he was brought to this earth, how he lived and what he said are unique to him alone. This could be said of any life, but none stand out in the miraculous power of God like Jesus. No life was born of a virgin, one with God, and yet fully man at the same time, but Jesus.

In Mary's pledge to Joseph, it would have been fine if they had sexual relations before the final ceremony. It was acceptable in the culture of the day for this to happen. Joseph knew that it hadn't occurred, and thought that Mary had been unfaithful. Nothing could have bee farther from the truth. Can you blame him for not believing her story?

Who had ever heard of such a thing, except from the lips of those who had been unfaithful. Every girl in Israel wanted to be the mother of Messiah, Savior of Israel. The work of the Holy Spirit is not something that can be understood with our heads. There is no sensible  way to understand what God does by His Spirit. There isn't a book in the world that can teach us how God does what He does. Faith believes beyond what is seen, into what is not.

Faith stands on its own, because it is not based on anything of this world.The spiritual truths of the universe are true whether or not we believe them. Our unity with God is born out of faith in the unseen truths that hold the universe together. The Holy Spirit doesn't need us to believe. We need the Holy Spirit to believe, to have life, that is everlasting. 
Until Christmas, I hope to take a verse relating to this miraculous time in history and expound on it. Please send it to friends, relatives, neighbors or anyone who you think would be blessed by it. If interested, your friends can receive these e-mails in their inbox by going to wholeheartedlady.com and adding their e-mail to the list on the right side of the page. Blessings and love during this precious time. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

"I will extol the Lord at all times, his praise will always be on my lips."

Some days go along without a problem, and then other days, seem to fall apart.The challenge is to keep my heart from complaining when everything seems to be up side down. God's word is true no matter how I feel or what goes wrong. It is usually "the little foxes that spoil the vine,"as Song of Solomon 2:15 says. These are the things that can get under our skin. 

The grape vines were especially vulnerable  during the harvest, because of their sweetness. Everyone wants grapes that are just right to the taste. Sour grapes ruin our taste for anything else. Unfortunately, the varmints in the land feel the same way.These "little" foxes can run quickly in and out of the vines undetected.They grab here and there, until the vine looks like it has been in a war zone.

We can choose to put aside these small annoyances, or allow each and every little thing chew away at us. Praising God and keeping our focus on Him allows us the pleasure of forsaking every little 
fox easily. Who wants to take their eyes off of heaven to contend with a pesky interference? It happens to me though, when  my guard is down. 

Here I am, writing to you. I'm not paying attention to my little west highland terrier Lena, who has bladder issues. I am not watching her as she urinates at my feet onto my kitchen floor. How is that for timing? I can thank God for a perfect example, or I could get mad. I have chosen not to entertain the "mad" because I enjoy writing to you more than going with that negative. I know I can't always be attentive to my Lena, so I clean the floor, and write some more. You are very precious to me, and I can't get caught up in the foxes. One does not know what a day may bring!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you." {Psalm 33:22}

We had our yearly Christmas Tea last Friday at our church. We transform the school gym into a holiday wonderland, and with the lights down low, you would never know that just a few hours before stinky, sweaty teens were running about with a basketball. Our speaker was Ellie Lofaro, who had been a member of our church 24 years ago, before she "bonded with the blond ladies of Virginia," as she says.

Ellie shared about love, as the world sees it, according to songs that are all familiar to us. The Beatles, "all you need is love", "I love you Babe," by Sonny and Cher, but these fall flat when we realize that this type of love is temporary, and nebulous. Nebulous means cloudy, unclear or vague. If all you need is love,  why did drugs play a major role in their lives? No offense to those of you who are Beatles lovers. My point is, what kind of love did they have, and why was it not enough for them?

It wasn't the unfailing kind of love that only comes from Jesus himself. Today, most of the current music isn't about love, but negative, in the sense of break ups and failed relationships. Where is the happy medium? I guess when it comes to music you have to look at the culture that drives it. Relationships that are based on sexual love only don't last according to statistics, because there is no depth of soul, and lack of true relationship.

The love we long for, every human on the face of this earth, is heavenly in nature. It is unfailing, endures trials, and sin, and comes out on the other side unscathed. It never leaves, never fails, and never falls apart. This love, is given in everlasting waves of goodness when our lives are surrendered to God. The enemy of our souls has blinded many to think that God is all about rules, and that His love and favor is conditional. The only condition he desires is unrelenting surrender, and everything else falls in place.

Monday, December 4, 2017

This fountain is quite different from the one I posted last week. Very formal, as it stands on the grounds of Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. There is a wall of fountains just like this one, that travels about a 1,000 feet or more along the front of the property. Larger fountains cover the top of this wall, and dance to music at night, in the summer.

I suppose you could say I like fountains, but what interests me even more is the power of the a Holy Spirit in how he presents water as a healer and liberator. Water brings restoration to weary bodies in times of drought. It sweetly sprinkles on us in the heat of day. It brings pleasure as people for many generations have basked in its waves floated in boats, rafts,  kayaks and what have you.

Water is always associated with washing, but then we can’t wash without soap, unless we are talking about the Holy Spirit. He has never needed soap to make us clean. His style of cleansing meets us in a way that never had to be repeated. Once he gets hold of us, we are never the same. The work that God does with His cleansing, it lasts for eternity. Once he takes our sin, it is washed even if others try to remember them.

No one can forget like God. Does that surprise you, that God forgets? He does. He forgets sin that has been confessed and made clean, from a humble heart. Sorrow over our sin is a godly sorrow, that is never mentioned again.  Can we forgive ourselves? This is sometimes the much harder thing.Ask Jesus to help you, because he has been helping other for many years with the same problems. He knows.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

"And a voice from heaven said, This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased."

Can you imagine being there that day? Jesus has just been baptized  and had told the Pharisees that their motives are not pure, and why would any one of them bother to come? He said, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee this coming wrath?" A rebuke like that would have been way more than I would need to check my heart,  but this group of religious leaders don't flinch at any of what Jesus says. Why not? They are so sure of their heritage as sons of Abraham, that even the Messiah himself doesn't make sense to their way of thinking.

Pride in their heritage had kept them from the very one whom their heritage spoke of. Many references in the old testament speak of the coming Messiah, but this group  seemingly only wanted to believe the verses that spoke of the Mighty King Messiah who would rule over all. No one wanted the Messiah who would be the lamb of God, who would be the "scapegoat"for their sins. What did the people do with the verses that didn't agree with their theology?

This is a scary question because it can reflect back to us and cause us to wonder, what do we do with parts of the Bible that we don't understand? Do we walk along blindly accepting what we are told, or do we seek out wisdom from other parts of scripture? Do we check with our Pastor, to see what he understands about a certain subject? I don't have an answer, because I have rarely asked this question of myself, but I should, and so should you.

We need to be thinkers, believers, and seekers all at the same time. If we don't understand something, we need to search it out, because this is why God has given us His Word. We learn about Jesus, and his ways, his character and love for us when we look through scripture.With the use of the internet this type of searching has become easier. 

We can have a plethora of information right in front of us at any given time, day or night, but this has its dangers too. Some reliable on-line sources are logos.com, or biblegateway.com. Just click on these resources  and you will be amazed at what is offered. I ask reliable, seasoned christians for help if I get stuck, and I pray for wisdom. God is not afraid of our questions. He says, come, and find the treasures within!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It seems as if Thanksgiving was a long time ago, but it has been a week. I think the emphasis on black friday by the media hurtles us face first into the Christmas season. I hope you had a great time being thankful.

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it, and they are safe." {Proverbs 18:10}

This verse was a song we sang a lot when I was at the Bible School, Christ for the Nations. It has remained with me because of that, but also since it is such an important verse. As we pray, and battle against spiritual wickedness we need to be able to reference verses like this quickly. I have always loved music, and as a christian, I love it even more because of the speed in which it will bring to my memory a verse that is powerful. 

As I look further into Proverbs 18:10, I notice that the New International version uses  fortified,  instead of strong,which in the Webster's dictionary, means to strengthen against attack. Other versions use fortress instead of tower, but the meaning is the same.
These structures were built to withstand many battles, and could be several feet thick.The people who lived outside the walls of the cities, would have to move quickly to get in behind the wall before an attack. It was safer to live within the confines of the wall than to be left vulnerable on the outside.

 Years ago, as I visited Scotland with my Grandmother, we stayed in Castles across the country. One castle just outside of Edinburgh was fired upon when Anne Boleyn was hiding out from King Henry the 8th. After two days of attack, the weak cannon balls hardly made a dent in the 6 foot walls. How much more, is the power of Christ, in us, as we live in the confines of His loving care. I don't want to be on the outside wishing I was on the inside, and I'm sure you don't want to be outside either.

No one who realizes the power of God and the ploys of the enemy would choose to be on the outside. The enemy of our souls can be cunning, tricky, and very aware of our weaknesses, and try to pull us out from behind the wall of safety. Reading the Word of God, praying and regular fellowship with believers holds us strong against any attack.Confessing our failures and asking for prayer for our weaknesses prepares us for anything that the enemy could throw at us. As a woman of God, be sure to include these disciplines in your life as much as possible. 

I remember a quote from Martin Luther that says this:" I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer." Martin Luther knew that he would be most productive in his daily schedule if he prayed before the day got away. Help me Lord, not to be pressed for time to get the most important things done, but help me see that communion with you must come before all things. Amen.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

I was thinking about the past as I looked at this picture, but then I realized how important it is to look forward to the future, and all the good that God has in store. Sometimes we can tend toward reminiscing and thinking about how good it was way back when. God is in the here and now, and he wants us to live in the here and now too. 

It came to me that I should start to pray for the future generation; the ones not born yet. I haven't thought about those to come, because none of my children are married yet, but then I prayed for my children before I was married. It makes sense, especially in the world we live in today. My sons and daughters do not know the world that I grew up in. The world of dial phones, no computers, or e-mail. How about no credit cards, cars and houses without air conditioning, and the milk man. Life seemed to be much simpler then, but the grace of God was there in our lives as it is today.

We have an opportunity to pray the blessings of God forward for our families. My husband and I are first generation christians, but some of you can say you are serving God today because a grandparent prayed or an Aunt.

 With the improvement of technology we can now see a child being knit together in their mother's womb, an impossibility 50 years ago. It is next to impossible to say, because of scientific technology, that life begins any later than at conception, but those who want to be blind to the truth will be blind. Think of the great complexity of the human body, now known to a greater extent with the understanding of DNA and the human genome. As technology continues to take the world to new heights, so it will be harder to deny the existence of The God who put it all together. Our enemy will blind those who choose not to see, but science points to the Savior, not away from him. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." {Genesis 1:1} It is that simple.

Monday, November 27, 2017

"Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever. May the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.
{Psalm 72:18-19}

We went to the New York Philharmonic Saturday night at the request of my son, Rudy. I wanted our children to know about music, so when each of them turned three years old, we started violin lessons. I learned so much myself, since I had to help them each day as we practiced. I'm not going to lie, it was a lot, since I needed to work with each one separately. 

When My third started lessons, I had to be disciplined to keep up with practice. My flesh wanted to forget about the entire thing, throw the violins out the window, and never go for another lesson. I didn't give in to temptation because I could see the necessary order and love of music being displayed in our oldest. Although he wasn't glad to practice, I knew a new muscle was developing in him, an understanding of how music worked, and fit into everyday life.

I wanted my children to use their musical talents to glorify God in church, but that didn't happen. As the High School years came and went, the violin was pushed to the corner, and somewhat forgotten. I knew that all was not lost. Rachel began working with a local theatre company, performing musicals, so her talents were showcased in another venue. Rudy continued to enjoy different genres of music, but classical stayed in his mind. Matthew also had a deep sense of joy from the classics.

As we sat listening to one of the best orchestras in the country, I could not help but think about those early days of music training. It brought to my mind the need for the church at large, to become as one in discerning God's voice for unity in our hour. The little ones, who first put the bow to the string, made sounds that one could not easily define as music. The Philharmonic, once turned to the concertmaster, played melodies that were heavenly in nature. No one dared play a note other than those that were written by the great composers, or tried to define a melody without the help of the conductor.

Isn't Jesus the greatest composer of all time, leading the hearts of men to be in tune with his heartbeat? How is it that God's people are so fragmented from one another, but each of us claim to be hearing from Him? Our only hope is to cry out to Him, and listen, be still as the daughters of God, and do what He says. In the last days, the Bible says that there would not be a lack of bibles, but a lack of hearing what the Bible says. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God." { 1 John 4:7}

Being in tune with our Master, and longing to hear his voice is undoubtedly our greatest need in our generation. Our enemy knows this much better than we do, and fights against unity on every front. We can defeat him in Christ. I'm going to ask him today, to make me stronger and braver. I hope you do too.  We will never know what a mighty God we serve if we don't take him at his word. love and blessings

Friday, November 24, 2017

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And the earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." { Psalm 73:25-26}  

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving yesterday. It is a lot of work, but it is really worth it. Having friends and family together and happy to see one another is a blessing and a joy. When I was young, we used to go to my Grandmother's house for Thanksgiving and I was mesmerized by all of the large dishes of food, and large number of people. Sometimes, depending on how many people, she would have, there would be several cooks in the kitchen so that Grandma could be with us.

This was a special treat, but I often would feel lost in the mix anyhow. My cousins were either a lot older than I, or very young. My brother and I were left at loose ends it seemed. My sister was a baby, so I guess my Mom was busy with her. Lots of faces, some familiar, and some not. It was stressful for me, and I was shy to begin with. Dinner is served, and I sit quietly at the table. No one has pur any food on my plate. I didn't have any words to say, being timid, and feeling out of place. Have you been there? Most of us have, at some time in our lives.

Hot, frustrated and embarrassed tears fall onto my cheeks and into my lap. Someone notices, and tells my Mom. "Why are you crying?" she asked. I couldn't say a word, but I showed her my plate. "Why didn't you say anything"? was her next question. I still can't say anything, but she said, "Stop crying, it's silly to cry."Oh, that didn't help. I ate a little, and then ran to my Grandmother. She welcomed me with open arms, and let me sit on her lap. Everything seemed better instantly. She didn't have to say a word, because her arms said it all. All of my emotions were o.k. with her. She smiled, and the tears stopped.

It is the same way with God. When we call out to Him, His loving arms welcome us, regardless of our emotions and fears. It says in Psalm 56:8 - "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all of my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."Who could love us more than that? There are no words necessary. It is understood, because He sees our hearts. All is forgiven, and set free. His love covers all, when we come with sorrow in our hearts for our sin. My flesh will fail me, but God will never fail to pick me up, and carry me through, to the next destination He has for me. Perfect. Wonderful. Our God.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

"Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."  {Ephesians 5:19-20}

It's only two days until Thanksgiving. I have much to do as I know some of you do too. If I don't stop, and pray, and talk to the Lord, I will lose the peace in my heart. What is a season of thanks if the cook is out of sorts? It kind of defeats the purpose of the thanks in the giving. I can give thanks and I can give, if I am in tune with the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday I wrote about christians giving thanks always out of a joyful heart. It is impossible to do this unless you are in communion with Christ. I don't mean that you have to take communion every day, but that you be in contact through prayer 
and the Word.  This is true even more when we have very busy times, and everyone is counting on that turkey being better than life. It seems the more we think about "the turkey" the better we remembering it tasting. That can be a tall order to fill.

Thankfully, all of the special side dishes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and desserts can make even a not so good turkey seem fantastic. The excitement of having family and friends together for another year can also add to a turkey that might not be the best. It is for the gathering together that the season is for, not the food. I wouldn't say that to my brother-in-law though. He is all about the food. 

Giving thanks, it is a wonderful thing! It keeps our hearts clear of ugly things, that only trap us into believing lies. Our God reigns, and we are His precious children. No one can take this from us, unless we allow it. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and try to keep things in perspective when the cranberry sauce spills onto your good white tablecloth. Lots of love,  Ann   

Monday, November 20, 2017

This is my turkey plate. It sits on the table near our front door. It reminds me of my Grandmother's dishes with the brown design around the edge. It can be odd what memories are triggered by seemingly innocent trivia. It's turkey time again, and yes, I have mine in the refrigerator, or on the table if you want to be literal.

Thanksgiving is a christian attribute. It is part of who we are as the people of God. It becomes part of our everydayness when we see what goodness He has placed in our lives. Why did He save me? Why did He call me to be His own? These are questions we can ask ourselves, but there isn't any answer, at least not now. It is His absolute goodness that we are in His family, and the fact that we chose to say yes to His call.
"I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant', I have chosen you and have not rejected you."  {Isaiah 41:9 }

I am so glad that you said yes to Jesus to follow Him, to listen to Him, to obey His word. Maybe you can't say that you have said yes; there is no better time to do this than right now. The most wonderful gift of saying yes to Jesus, is that He cleanses us from ALL sin. All you have to do is ask Him! He has done the work, and He took your place as the sinless son of God. It is His gift to give to you.

Dear Jesus, I come to you now. My past is yours, my present situation is yours, and I want to spend my eternity with you in heaven some day. Please cleanse me of my sin, my wrongdoings, my shame, and make me free. I know that I have to do my part by staying away from those things that hurt me, and pull me down. Put a christian in my life that will help me to understand more of this new life. Thank you for making me new. In your name we pray, Amen.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Here I am, in my kitchen again. I kind of like this picture because it doesn't show all the dirty dishes, and messy counters. When I look at it I feel there is hope. I'm just being silly, but having a corner of your space looking acceptable is a huge thing. I have piles in one corner or the next, and I feel accomplished when I dissolve one.

 I am trying to dissolve my piles, not move one thing to another pile. This means removing stuff from the house. Clothing,  old decor, things that appear, and you're not sure what do with them. When you have others bringing items into the house, the "I don't know what to do with this"pile can grow exponentially. There are many who need the items I don't need. We have a Mission on Long Island that gives and gives and gives to those in need. Most importantly, they give in Jesus' name.

During this time of thanks, we remember the giving part as well.
One goes with the other,  as the word thanksgiving exemplifies.
"And thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever."   { Revelation 7:12}

Because we have been given much we can give much. And our giving is not begrudgingly, but with thanks. Hopefully you can see my plate. It says, "Let our life be full of thanks and giving." We give thanks to God first, but out of this giving flows; a natural desire to bless, and the cycle continues. It is how God works in us, to do His will. See what you can do to give to someone today. Ask God to put needs into your path, so you can bless someone today. People are hungry for love and positive attention. You may be surprised how easy it can be.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

" A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."  {Proverbs 25:11}

This proverb has given me a sense of completeness, as if now everything is right, and we can rest. You can almost see that shiny golden apples reflecting the deep silver finish of the bowl surrounding them. There is purity, and goodness here. The silver has been through the fire, to remove all the dross, or impurities, so it is ready for service. The apples have been chosen for their vibrant color, free of blemishes.

There is someone I know who is free of blemish, sin or stain. He dwells in misshaped imperfect containers, like you and I. His perfection made Him one with God, and obedient to come to our disgruntled, fallen world. His beauty shines so far beyond anything we have known on this earth, and yet He is humble, and mighty all at the same time. Just a glimpse of His beauty and we are overcome, undone by the vision of His Holiness.

Everything stands still for that moment, because we don't know what to do. Did we see Jesus, or was it a dream? Did He reveal Himself to mere mortals like us, or is there some mistake? Does He do such things today? Yes, He does, and He will if you look for Him. How do we look you say? Let your heart be open to Him, as you read His Holy word, allow the Spirit of God to move upon you as you pray. Live as if you have already seen Him.

One important way we can be His hands and feet is to give. There are so many ways to do this, because the needs are all around us. Ask God to show you what He wants you to do, and do it. Don't tell anyone, so that you get a pat on the back. Let it be between you and the Lord. It will be your own apple in the pitcher of silver, and you will be blessed. Thank Him that you are counted worthy to pour out his beauty.

Monday, November 13, 2017

I know that God has given me grace in many areas, but the one area I notice it most is in my kitchen. I used to get upset easily when the dishes would pile up in the sink after I thought I had cleaned up for the night. I take it in stride now, simply because I'm glad that my kids are cooking for themselves. Should I get after them to clean up after themselves, yes, But I'm glad that anger isn't my first reaction. Someday I may wish they were here again, so I will take this inconvenience in stride.

Most of what I consider an inconvenience may not be a big deal to anyone else. It all comes down to our perspective, and what we think is acceptable or not. We might loose our tempers if someone cuts us off on the highway, when someone else finds it annoying, but not worthy getting angry over. Perhaps it comes from our storeroom of peace within. If I pray in the morning before I start my day, my outlook tends to be positive. My perspective is more other oriented than self oriented, but I can't stop praying about this. Do you find this to be true in your life?

A heavenly perspective loosens us from the grip of self, and causes us to see outside our own little, closed in corner of life. Yes, there is much more going on that we need to explore. This season is one of Thanks, but all you see in the public square has to do with filling ourselves with our own care and desire. Caring and giving only come when our eyes become unglued toward selfishness. God is glad to remove the glue that holds our eyelids shut, by getting us in His word, which dissolves all selfishness and self awareness. 

When we realize that we can influence our world for eternity's purposes somehow our own little world shrinks to nothingness.
I didn't say this would be easy, only well worth it. Peace will cover us in mountains of inner rest and contentment. Following in God's ways here on earth fulfills His plan and gives us a soul that is content and happy.  "Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
                                  Look full in his wonderful face,
                                  And the things of earth will grow strangely                                        dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

Friday, November 10, 2017


"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.  {Psalm 57:1}

Do we understand the difference between mercy and grace? I was told that grace is getting what you don't deserve, and mercy was not getting what you do deserve. In other words, grace is a blessing, and mercy is put into place to keep you from being judged for your sin. Mercy is the picture that Jesus draws for us when He cries out for Jerusalem.

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me."  { Luke 13:34}

Our first verse is a child of God calling out to God. The second is God calling out to His children. This is a perfect picture of how our relationship with God works.We call, He hears and answers according to His plans and purposes. As we grow in this relationship, we begin to realize that His hand is extended purposely to mold us into who He wants us to be, and as we grow, we yield to His hand. My problem, and I think you will agree that it fits you too, is that I have thoughts in my mind and plans about how I think my life should go.

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."  {Proverbs 27:17}

God sharpens us and the pressing that He puts on us will form us into useful servants for the plans that He only has. When trouble comes, and it will, we can rest and be safe under the shadow of His wings. With a world full of more evil, and death than we previously realized, we can be sure of God's will to be done in our lives, whatever comes our way.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

"Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud."  {Proverbs 16:18-19}

I was embarrassed, and a little humiliated last night, which was all my own doing. It was Election Day, and I went to vote with my husband and two of my children. Not a big deal, one would think, except it became one for me. I am not the neatest person around, and I tend to do things quickly even though I might spill, or drop something. I had a relaxed attitude when given my ballot to fill out, and not really giving much thought to it.

As I complete the ballot, I see that I made a mistake. I cross out the mistake, and place the ballot into the voting machine. The machine rejects it. I try again. No good. I am told that I need to get a new ballot, and start over. The 5 people sitting at the table where I had to return my invalid ballot were not amused. They became my judge and jury. They explain the process all over again, and then give me a new ballot.

This time I feel that I will get it right, but I'm still not so careful. I proceed to fill in the little ovals with the black felt pen, Oops, I accidently made a little pen mark in the wrong oval. Oh no, I said to myself. Maybe it will be alright. I place the ballot into the machine. No good again. At this point I am mad, not at myself, but at the silly process. Why can't we have the machines with the little levers that we had for years, I am saying in my head. What about the days when we used pencils and you could erase! I dread having to go back to the judges and explaining again, what went wrong. I get a lecture about how to do this simple task, and this time I am told I won't have another try if I fail to make this right.

One of the ladies in the judgement seat didn't hear that the men told me this was my last attempt. She started to tell me again and I said, yes, this definitely is my last time, because I'm not doing it again, even if you tell me I can! I was mad, and feeling a bit stupid at this point. I got it right, and we were on my way, but I was not happy about my attitude. "Oh Lord, I really got mad about nothing." I said. My attitude was foolish, and a bit haughty for sure. I didn't regard this process as an important thing, and I took it lightly. To make matters worse, one of the men in the judgement seat recognized my husband from his television commercial, and was fawning all over him. Sigh,.

All I could say to the Lord was, "I'm sorry. Please forgive me." When I thought I was something more than I was, I fell, flat on my face. Oh yes, and I am thankful for it. I don't want a prideful heart. I need to be reminded that anything I am is because he paid the price for me. What others think or understand is not important. Only what's done for Christ will last for eternity. Thank you Lord.

BTY- One of the "judges", said that I wasn't the only one who messed up a ballot. That does help.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding." {Proverbs 2:6}

What's a mother to do? A child is sick and cannot do any work, so she claims. One of the dogs continues to wet the floor, or rug and now the sofa? The dog is an easy fix. Since she doesn't use the wee wee pads much, I got her a diaper. Hopefully she will dislike the diaper enough to wait until she goes out. What about the child? The Lord gives wisdom, and this situation may take more than today to fix. What this child may not understand, is work doesn't go away, it piles up.

The wisdom that we need is not new, or revolutionary. It won't entice scholars or professors of any type. It is so simple that most will not think of it as wisdom. Some will miss out on proverbs or the words of Jesus, simply because the words of wisdom aren't found in a Shakespeare sonnet, or a college textbook although I certainly am one of many who want them there. These words are too simple for the cosmopolitan or aristocrat to notice. It would do them good to stick their noses into the center of the Bible once in a while.

Wisdom is not taught, as much as it is caught. I know that may sound cliche, but knowing what is right in a situation can take a lot of years growing in the undercurrent of wisdom. It comes from God's heart. It comes from love, and patience which can't be taught so much as caught. I would have had no idea what to do with a teen who would't do her homework while home sick ten years ago. I would have forced the issue, and made it ugly. She will learn her lesson.

I never understood how much wisdom my mother had when she would leave situations alone, so that the person could find out for themselves about their conclusion. This is wisdom too, knowing when to move and when to be still. So often I say what I'm sorry I said, or did what I later wished I hadn't. Words cannot be taken back once said. I need Jesus so much more than I ever realized. You might be feeling the same way. Seek out a matter, find the conclusion. Look for the words of wisdom in the book of wisdom, that never changes. Far beyond our earthly understanding, seek the treasure, and the gold. It is "far above rubies."


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Today is November 2, and it is warmer today than any day in October. I just love it. I love the way this water fall makes the water look inviting, although I'm sure the store owners nearby would not think that is a good idea. If I think it would be fun to wade through, what does a child think? It would be next to impossible to keep me out if I were 4 years old. It speaks refreshing, and relief on a hot day. It sounds tranquil, and peaceful, as if I am the only one listening to it splash down on the rocks. It compels us to be quiet, as if a sudden hush moved through the area. No one wants to break in on the beautiful sound.

Why is water a common theme in the Bible? It is something everyone can identify with. Without  water we cannot survive, and we can diminish our health by not drinking enough of it. I had been struggling with getting enough water each day, until a friend recently told me about her quart container. She fills with water and lemon in the morning, and refills it at noon. She knows she is getting at least 8 cups of filtered water a day. It is pure, clean unadulterated natural water, oh, except for the lemon. The lemon makes it easier to drink.

When we are thirsty for more of God, we don't need lemon or anything else to make Him more palatable.  He is pure, genuine love, that beckons us to draw near to His heart, for no cost or requirement, except to keep Him at the center. Nothing can quench our thirsty soul like Jesus. This is why He tells us to stay away from those things that seem to fill us for a short time, but we need to be filled again and again, as if someone was playing a cruel joke on us. Who wants to make a mockery out of God's word? The enemy of our souls, and god of this world, who wants us kicked back to being who we were before Christ set us free.

He is the liar, who whispers in our ears, "You can't trust God, He doesn't love you, how could he love you?" And you and I can say to him, "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be removed but endures forever. "{Psalm 125:1} We will also say,"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." {Lamentations 3:23} And we will need to tell him,"He saved us, not because of the righteous things that we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and a new life through the Holy Spirit." {Titus 3:5} The reason why we need to know God's word, and hide it in our hearts is because the devil can trick us and cause us to fall if we don't know what God says.  The power of God's word backs off the enemy, and makes him defenseless. It is our sword that thrusts through the enemy, and gives us victory. Praise God.

Listen to the words from this song:           Let the King of my heart
                                                                   be the shelter where I run,
                                                                   The fountain I drink from
                                                                   Oh, He is my song.
Let him be your song today!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

"The grass withers, and the flower fades, because the breath of the Lord blows on it; Surely the people are grass.The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever."            {Isaiah 40: 8}

This is the time of year when we see the flowers fade, and the vegetation begin to shrivel up and die. It isn't a sad thing, just the cycle of living for our place on this planet.  If you live in a southern climate you are blessed because you don't see this cycle as clearly as we do in the north. If you live farther north that New York you have seen it already, I suppose. What it reminds us is that seasons come and go, and all have a purpose, and a reason. This flower in the picture is from a month ago, today it is brown and has fallen to  the ground in a deep fade of cycle and progression. Jesus said, "Yes, indeed! I tell you that unless a grain of wheat  that falls to the ground dies, it stays just a grain; but if it dies, it produces a big harvest.   {John 12:24}

Fading is something that happens to me too. I stand strong on some things and then I might not feel too concerned about others. I am fallible, and I don't always realise what is most important, but that's when I look at God's word. It is infallible, and undeniably the most read book around. It has been a best-seller for many years, and before that, every home in America had one. This is not true today, but 50 years ago, I think it was close. 

Upholding the Bible, and following after God are not popular things to do in our culture, but then, we are not supposed to be like our culture. The people of God have been called to be like Him. But wait, if we look at our verse for today, we see that God is the one who breathes on His people. Why would He do a thing like that? He may not exactly, but He allows circumstances to breathe on us, so we will know that there is a God in heaven who will meet us at every turn. 

Getting to know God means that we rely on Him, and trust in His eternal goodness. And what about the grain of wheat? It dies so that it will bear more fruit. Jesus is talking here about Himself, falling into the ground in burial, and rising to overcome every human weakness, for us. Have you ever heard of anything more glorious than this?And the incredible truth is, that it was set in motion before the world began. Yes, God knew before He created man- kind that we would fall, and that His only son would have to redeem us, and He made the world and all of us anyway.  What a perfect picture of unselfish love!

Monday, October 30, 2017

My friends and I were talking about my youngest daughter who just celebrated her sweet 16. We were at the party and the subject came up about Stephie wanting her way, and not allowing us to play "our music" at her party. One of them said, "She is not the boss, you are." Which is true, however the other one said, "I think Ann is trying to keep the peace." This is certainly what I try to do when it comes to balancing four children, a husband, and my own desires as well. We did get "our music", and the DJ was very gracious in playing music from my husband's era, the 60's, and christian music which I love. Sometimes it is all in how you approach matters.

I'm not saying that I am a great peacemaker, because I'm not. I say and do things that could be said in a nicer way, or with more finesse. I am better at waiting on the Lord for the right words and attitudes than I was in the past. I am a work in progress, and will be until the day I die. God doesn't have an expiration date, where He will cut me off after a certain amount of tries. He is long suffering with all of us, and will wait for a bountiful harvest. What I know about Him is better today than yesterday, and then other times, I feel as if I don't know Him that well. Especially when I notice the enormity of who God is, I remember that He said He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. In our dailyness, we can forget the vast resources of all that He possesses and how He works in our lives.

He works in a quiet way, and if we don't look carefully, we can miss what He is doing. Our society is caught up in busyness, for the sake of being busy, and not really doing what is best for us or our families. As His children, we need to watch out for the busyness that leads to nothing. I can say for myself, I can spend too much time on Facebook, doing nothing, but 2 hours have slide by, and all I have for it is screen shock. What I refer to as screen shock is the memorized feeling we can have after looking at a computer screen for too long, without anything to show for it.

We need down time for sure, but I can do a lot better at making my down time progressive, and not blank. I want to engage in meaning time like reading good literature that will enhance my walk with God. Let's make our down time effective so that we can experience more of God's peace, and become the peacemakers that our world is longing for. We were bought with a price, and we are here on earth, because God ordained this as our time to influence those around us, and even the world, through the internet. Peacemakers are very important to God, and to us, because we need to see how it is done through those who go before us, in obeying God, and His principles.

Friday, October 27, 2017

"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place."   { 2 Corinthians 2:14}

If you are anything like me, you love fragrances. This time of year, what I smell in the air can make me hungry. I go to a local Farmer's Market and everytime I walk past the apples, the sweetest, deep aroma beckons me to come closer. When I get the apples home, there isn't the same deep smell, and when I take one to eat, it only has a slight fragrance. I wonder if this is the same when Christians are together? Do we give off a deeper scent when we are all together, or are we just a group of people gathering under the same beliefs? Does our worship lift up a sweet aroma to God's presence, or are we just like any other group that sings together?

I choose to believe that our praise is a sweeter aroma when we worship together. This has to do with faith, because we know that faith builds our ability to believe God and His word. As believers gather in one accord, we rub off on one another, because our hearts come with expectation when we meet at church or other events when christians gather. Certain aromas can trigger memories, and feelings from our past. I was at a special event recently and I wore my favorite perfume, that I have had for many years. A very close friend said to me, "Oh I love that fragrance, and they don't make it anymore."She had given it to me, and it brought back memories about our friendship. We shared a special moment of how precious we are to each other.

"For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing."{ 2 Corinthians 2:15} Do we smell different? Not really in the fragrance sense, but there is something about us, that others want. We have a spiritual way about us, that draws other people to us, and many want what we have. Have you ever been told by a person that there is something different about you, but they are not quite sure what it is? This is what the Apostle Paul is referencing to in this verse. It is a sense of well-being , not a scent that we delight in with our nose. It can also be referred to as a confidence, a completeness that beckons others to wonder about what do we have, that I don't have.

When I got saved, I immediately had a sense of being different. I couldn't really say why, except that I felt joy like never before. I thought to myself, "this is awesome, but will it last? It did, although through many ups and downs it wanned a bit. I'm not saying that emotions have to be present when we dedicate ourselves to Christ, but I am saying that we do change, maybe a little quicker at first, and then over time, our fragrance becomes stronger, like the many apples in the box. I have to end here, and eat one of those apples.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

God knows our needs even before we ask Him, but He requires us to ask, so that we know that He answers prayer.  He wants us to know that we are part of how prayer works. He invites us in, as my picture displays, because He desires relationship with us. What an incredible thought. He invites me in. I don't deserve to be invited into His presence, I can't earn being in His presence, It is only by the finished work on Calvary, the work of the cross where Jesus died, that I can enter in.

"He brought me to his banquet hall, and raised the banner of love over me."{Song of Solomon 2:4}  HCSB  This is what God declares over those who will walk with him. It says in the book of Revelation, that we will have a banquet with our God when the earth is no more, but this verse from the Song of Solomon was written with a different idea in mind. This is a reference to the King, loving the beloved. Jesus is the bridegroom, and we are the bride. The people of God are referred to in the Bible as His bride, and she is making herself ready.This is funny to me, since this picture is from a big banqueting hall.

The opened gates inspire our thoughts about being welcomed in. The Father welcomes home His children, through the gates of heaven. The floodgates of heaven can mean God is pouring down a blessing, or judgement. For our purposes today, we want to remember how awesome our God is, in blessing His children. He longs to bless us, but I know I can sometimes get in His way. I try to fix relationships because I want to have someone else do things my way, in my time frame.

God has promised that if we allow Him to work, He will do a good job. He has said He would leave the 99 sheep to go after one that is lost. He will hear our prayers. He will take us to be with Him, after our natural bodies cease. He will wipe away our tears, and He will hold them.  He will give us" the peace that passes all understanding."He will give us "Grace to help in our time of need." He has said that "He will never leave us or forsake us." I can't possibly list all of His attributes here, but you understand what I am saying , I think. He promises that if we trust in Him, that He will be our everything, and He means it. Give Him praise today, because He is worthy!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?"    {Psalm 27:1}

This picture was taken in front of an Inn in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. I like the quaintness of places like this. It reminds me of days gone by. My grandmother took me to these kind of places, and she's been gone for more than 30 years. It's good to have happy memories; the memories that are not so happy, we need to deal with those too. Fear had ruled my life for too long, and now I choose to take on situations that I usually would run from.

A few weeks ago I went to a local Film Festival, and as one of the speakers was talking about his film, I raised my hand during questions, and asked if we could pray for him. He said yes, and the woman in charge said I should come to the front. As I walked down, I said to myself, "I am out of my comfort zone!" I could sense the Lord saying, "Yes, that's where I want you."It ended well, but this is just an example of what I need to do to overcome fear. I'm sure you have your own set of fears that you can overcome, but God's grace.

The Bible says,"The fear of man is a snare, but those who trust in the Lord shall be safe."      {Proverbs 29:25} The victory only comes when we hide ourselves "in Christ. { Ephesians 1} This entire chapter written by the Apostle Paul tells us who we are, as believers. When we are "In Him,"we are chosen, redeemed, beloved, forgiven, adopted,  and given grace. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is a guarantee of our inheritance. This one chapter is so full of who He has made us to be. It's a lot to take in, but you will be blessed and overcome with thankfulness if you study it. It is well worth it.

We learn fear from others, but mostly from our parents. There is a spirit of fear, but God has not given it to us. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind."    {2 timothy 1:7} At this time of year, let's remember that "Fear has torment, and God is not the author of that.