Tuesday, July 31, 2018

"Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart." Ephesians 6:6 NIV

It can be the simple things of life, that speak to us of another world, unlike ours. A simple picture of roses on the windowsill, speak of life, here and beyond. Why do I see this you might say?

These flowers will wither and die, but in eternity, nothing will die. Life in God has no end, and no decay.The beauty all around us tells of a time to come but also of a time once before.

In the first garden in Genesis, the Garden of Eden, nothing wilted or gave way to dryness and death. How my soul longs for a place like this! I guess you might long for it too.

All of us do at some point in our lives. We see the devastation of sin, lies and pain and want to be where life never ends, and restoration of our hearts, bodies, and minds will be forever.

Jesus also longs for us to be with him where it is never night, and freedom for our souls abounds. He would have returned to earth long ago to set up His millennial reign but for this:the saving of many who are far from Him.

We are here with orders from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Be my disciples, but be with me first.  Mark 3:13-14"Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. In verse 14 he said: that they might be with him.

You and I need to be with Jesus. This has to be our first encounter of our day, because we don't hold the glory of God in us for very long. We are leaky vessels but His presence covers and guides us into all truth.

With all of our hearts we serve and it is evident that we have been with Jesus. " You have made known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence at your right hand." Psalm16:11 NIV Splash some of God's love on someone today. Surprise those who need to be cheered with a kind word.You are doing the will of your Father in heaven!

Monday, July 30, 2018

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ." Ephesians 6:5 NIV

You may recognize this picture. I have used it before, and it captures my feelings today. The wonder and excitement on this precious child's face reminds me of the joy I feel right now.

Yesterday I arrived home after a Writer's Conference in Charlotte North Carolina. My traveling companion Barbara, and I were renewed and restored by the sessions we attended as all was done in Jesus' Name. 

Obeying the Lord in whatever He has called you has rich rewards. Hard work is honored by Jesus, but maybe not by anyone else. This is fine. We are called to obey Him first.

 I met with lovely ladies at the conference who work for Christian Publishing Houses. I knew ahead of time, my book wasn't unique or captivating. 

My book, Unshakeable- Becoming What You Were Created For, isn't going to cause publishers to fall off their chairs and exclaim, " Oh this is just what I was looking for". The bookshelves in stores are covered with testimonies of God grace and mercy on lives.

For me it is about the journey not necessarily the destination. I was obedience to what I needed to do, and I am glad I followed through.My book will be published after all editing is complete. 

I probably won't be on the New York Times Best Seller's list but
 I'm not ruling it out completely! Who knows what God will do. What I do know is I have been listening to God, and doing what I believe He has said.

Meanwhile, I will hone my craft, listen to good advice and give my all to learning so I can be a better communicator. What has God called you to? Can you find others with a similar calling to guide each other? Bouncing off someone else, in a safe environment, knocks off our rough edges.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

" Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4 NIV

Exasperate means provoke, annoy, or antagonize. If we do this to anyone it isn't right but children are impressionable and easily led astray. If we want our children to follow after God we need to set the example.

I'm sure this isn't the first time you're heard this. Setting the right example means first we have to die to self. OK, now I'll do it! Easy to say impossible to do, in our own strength. As a teacher I thought being a parent would be easy!

Parenting is not only the hardest thing I have ever done, it's frustrating! Ask five people how to handle a certain situation and you can get five different answers.

I was wrong, and to add to this I thought everything I said would be obeyed and not questioned. Why was I gullible? I didn't know what to do if my child didn't listen.

My thought processes didn't take me to the next level, so I was unprepared.  I knew what the textbooks said, but applying it to everyday life evaded me. I don't know if any parent would be prepared for my son Rudy. He tested every limit, brought me to my last nerve, got his way too many times.

I felt I was a failure at parenting. I never got him to be pliable. To this day he can question everything I do, and give a comment about it too. At age 28 he uses these skills in the courtroom to question defendants.  He can cross examine well. He spent years working on this skill with his mother! He's good at what he does.

I no longer feel a failure. Does he try me and others? Yes he does. I can handle it now and show him why he's wrong. He understands, I think. Maybe age has brought a pliable spirit? I suppose time will tell!

Don't give up in your parenting. Some of you are Grandparents. What a crazy world we live in but your love and faith can establish a child's heart and cause it to grow in love every step of their lives. It's hard but it's worth it. Anything worth doing is hard at first. Love will make a way!

Monday, July 23, 2018

"Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."  Ephesians 6:2-3 NKJV

Do you wish you could be held like this baby and be swung back and forth? I thought about this and decided I might be nauseated by the motion. The things we have to think about as we age! 

I used to swing on the swings in our backyard without a problem but lately I feel sick when I do this. I may have to give it up. I will not give up running, jogging or moving fast. It's what keeps me in shape. Even then I have gained weight when I didn’t want to.

Our bodies change and it’s a lot to keep up our usual pace. I won’t give in to slowing down. How about you? Are you caring for yourself in all the right ways? Do you go for check ups and eat as you should? It can make a huge difference down the road.

Our promise today is for those who honor their parents. Did your parents teach you to eat right, and exercise? I think somehow they probably mentioned these things a few times.

What about spiritual things? Did your parents encourage you to pray and look to God for all things? My parents didn’t know the Lord when We were younger but my Mom came to know Jesus as an older woman. She had no choice since she lived with us later in life!

Some of you may have your parents on earth still. Don’t forget to take every opportunity to let them know how much you love them. Once they're gone we don't want to be left with regret. 

Honor isn't something we hear about. Why Not? If we honored everyone there wouldn't be hatred as we have now. Can we honor someone who isn't quite like us? Can we respect another human being because this is God's command? Sure we can, if we seek God first.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

“ So again I say, a man must love his wife as a part of himself; and the wife must see to it that she deeply respects her husband- obeying, praising and honoring him.”  Ephesians 5: 33 TLB

What have you planned for today? Hopefully you can enjoy the summer weather. July is half over already. If you blink summer may be over. Do you feel this way or have I been too busy? 

Respect for others has been lost in our society to some extent. Everyone is so busy chasing their own dreams. I’m not saying this is a bad thing but there has to be balance. What about strengthening someone else in their dreams? 

Marriage has this give and take about it. In the loving and giving we may have to put our own plans on the back burner. Prayer is the wisest way to bring balance to this. Being available to help our spouse is important too.

My husband has put me before himself many times. I can’t remember a time when he put his needs first. I know this is a rare attribute and not everyone can do this. Its easy to love when your husband is wonderful.

What about when life gets hard and a husband is critical, mean and demeaning? This is where leaning on God is the answer. Sometimes leaning can really mean falling on. When you can't stand the abuse and pain but you know you need to stand. 

No one should stay in the same home with a physically abusive husband. God doesn't call us to die at the hands of someone who has pledged to love us! Quite the opposite! Because of the Love God has for us He wants us to be in a safe place.

What if your man is cranky, and insulting. Love him to the love of God. If he is a christian, pray and find someone else who will pray with you about this. Don't give in to behaving badly in return. Certainly this is very hard and my heart goes out to you!

When it is hard to obey God we need the body of Christ to lift us up. Even if you have to go for prayer every Sunday after the service. Do it. Until you find someone who will agree to pray for you every day. Hold onto His hand and don't let go!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

"This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.   Ephesians 5:32 NKJV

This mystery of Christ and the church? If Paul calls it a mystery I can't imagine I could call it anything different. It is a love relationship but it's not quite like anything else.

The Bible calls the church His bride.This is who we are collectively, and the Bible speaks of us in this way. As women we can relate easily to this concept. When I was young, girls in the catholic church had their first communion in white dresses. I believe this was to signify their marriage to Christ.

 The people of God are His. He has committed Himself to us as a loving husband does to his one and only wife. God doesn't have a backup plan. He isn't a foolish husband who makes a commitment he cannot keep.

He has made covenants with His people. Abraham's justification by faith promised him God would be with him and his descendants forever. God is the God of forever. His promises never end or have an expiration date.

His faithfulness is never late according to His time clock. We get flustered and out of sync when God doesn't move the way we want Him to. We may be led to think He has forgotten His covenant but this is impossible.

God is never out of sync with His agenda. His plans rule over everything else. Those who don't surrender to this will never have peace. The ruler of the Universe has made us with free wills to choose Him or not.

A love like this has never been duplicated or copied and it never will. There is only one God who gives grace and healing. He has extended Himself to humanity from the beginning of time. This comes from His love for us.

We cannot understand a love like this. It baffles common sense. It satisfies our hearts and fills it with joy. There are no words to adequately describe its depth and perseverance. You have to grab on Him for yourself!

Monday, July 16, 2018

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." Ephesians 5:31 NIV

For this reason? What reason? Since Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it. A man shall leave his parents and start his own family. He is to love his wife more than his own life.

How far we have come from this simple, loving truth. Many men don't cherish women because women don't want to be cherished. It is not in vogue. It's considered sexist. Women are strong and don't need to be cared for is the thought. 

Why is it suddenly wrong to acknowledge we need help? Women aren't as strong as men in many ways. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and we need each other.

Women want to be safe. This is especially true if you are pregnant and the nesting instinct begins. Don't mess with a Mama ready to give birth! She wants to know everything is set.

Men need the emotional support a woman gives. He needs to know his wife is with him and loves him. This stability isn't discussed too often but it is true. What is wrong with saying it like it is?

The persona of today says we are just fine without anyone else. When a society has too many loners the depression rate also goes up. If marriage is not considered permanent why make an effort to make it work?

Gloria Steinem, a leader in the Women' Movement,  got married. She had strong feelings about marriage being degrading to women. What made her change her mind? 


Friday, July 13, 2018

"For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members {parts} of His body." Ephesians 5:29-30. AMP

This child is viewing the flower with awe and wonder. I suppose this is why I love children. Every new thing brings them such delight! You may never know from one minute to the next what they will find to occupy their time.

There are times though, when nothing will occupy them. If a nap is in order, or hunger has set in crankiness will over take even the calmest little one.We have to allow children to get the sleep and nourishment they need.

It wouldn't be right to limit these essentials. A loving parent wants to provide what is necessary for healthy growth and strength. It is similar for women. If a husband is selfish and doesn't love his wife she won't be able to flourish in the relationship.

Weak relationships do not honor God especially when marriage is God's idea. Loving a wife means the husband will value her opinion. He includes her in important family decisions, and honors her over himself.

Sounds like a good deal to me. Why doesn't marriage work for everyone then? Not everyone understands the value of loving his wife, and the wife may not value and honor her husband.

Value is what God places on our lives. His value of us includes him cherishing us as if we were the only human on the planet. If God holds each of us in high esteem we ought to hold others up in the same way. 

The love of of God is the only true valuable we have besides each other. Pour out love on someone who needs it today. There isn't anyone who is not in need.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

"In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves His wife loves himself." Ephesians 5:28 NIV

Do we live in a selfie world? What exactly does this mean? I believe a selfie world is one where people are caught up in themselves. Google says a selfie world is about your pics being on social media.

What does Jesus say?  He says to forget about yourself and concentrate on Him. He doesn't say this in a condescending way or to make us feel "less than." He wants us to realize there are seven billion other people in this world.

The love of God within us wants to reach out. It wants to be available to those who need it. When we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this the will of God is accomplished.

Thinking of others and acting on these thoughts of love are important.  Everyone gains hope when someone gives of themselves. It is not natural to anyone but it can be done. We learn to walk away from selfish ways when we see the benefits of selfless actions.

How we are brought up probably has a place in what we think of servanthood. If family members felt it was beneath them to serve  we may have picked up similar feelings.  Jesus, who is the ultimate servant never stopped doing what He saw His Father doing.

Can we see the Father pouring down spiritual blessings from above for eternity? I think the Bible supports this theme. Zephaniah3:17
"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

If the All-mighty can function in a attitude of giving how much more should you and I? Giving love, care and mercy are not things we are going to regret looking back on our lives.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she would be holy and without blemish." Ephesians 5:27 NKJV

God wants us to be whole or holy? What if I told you these two are the same? God wants us to be whole. We are talking about our hearts. Only God can do such a thing for us.

In the old testament each family had to bring a spotless lamb to the temple. It represented the spotless Son of God who would come to take their sins. The father had to put his hand on the head of the lamb, as a sign of the sins being transferred to the one who would pay the price.

It was a very real life reminder of sin being paid for by the blood. God uses pictures to remind us of the things we need to remember. I don't think I would forget any of this if it were right before my eyes. This is how important it is to God for us to remember how we got to be pure and blameless before Him.

He doesn't laud it over us in a demeaning way. Never! He wants us to remember so we will know who we are in Him. We are told to remember why He came. We are told told to remember why we are here. It's not for our will but for His purposes.

Because His love for us is genuine, He wants us to be blessed. This is of course in the realm of what's good for us. We don't know what's good for us all of the time.

Listening to the whispers of the Holy Spirit, we learn what's holy and acceptable to Him. Oh how I miss out when I don't listen carefully. I'm sure some of you can relate.

There is no way any of us could present ourselves to God and live. Without the blood of Jesus and the work He accomplished on the cross, none of us would be whole. Live in the victory He has won for you!

Monday, July 9, 2018

"Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,"   Ephesians 5:25-26

Nothing says summer like flowers. You can almost smell these peonies and the color isn't something any man can manufacture. They hold a glimpse of heaven for us to see for just a split second.

The transformation from earth to the heavenly realm can only take place because of the love of God. His love for us defines us and prepares our hearts to be with Him forever.

Can a human love with the love of God? When the love of God is inside of someone it can flow out. Jesus gave Himself up to the cross so we could have an eternal home with Him and bring down heaven in His love.

Why would He do it? His love for us compelled Him to do the unthinkable. Only through the love of God can any of us please the Father. Husbands are called to love their wives by laying down their lives if necessary.

Jesus knew what had to be done to save us from the lies and torment of the enemy. We no longer have to live under the dictates of this world. He has lifted us above this realm to dwell in His presence and walk in the truth.

Live in His presence. How do we do this? Read the Word. Meditate on it day and night. Let it consume your thought life. Listen to worship music. Allow it to wash over you. 

Sometimes a hardship or trial will draw us to God's side. This can be a blessing in disguise. I write about this in my book"Unshakeable-Becoming What You Were Created For."

 I think I will be teaching from this book in September at my church Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle. The book will be made available to everyone soon. Blessings and love to all.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

"For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is head of the church, his body, of which he is Savior." Ephesians 5:23 NIV

There is no denying Christ is the Head of the Church. It is clearly taught through out scripture.  Christ rules with the power and authority of the Godhead. He also rules with wisdom and love.

Christ our Lord is undeniably the Savior, healer and lover of our souls. He comforts, builds up His people and protects us from harm in every way. If correction must be given He choses to bring it in the easiest way possible. He is never overly harsh or uncaring in His correction. 

Correction is given from the hand of God to protect, and save anyone from harm, or destruction. The pitfalls of life are all around us. Sometimes we are unaware. I ask the Lord to please show me my error or wrong doing so I can turn away from it. 

As lovers of God we don't ever want to do things to offend Him. At times we do want to do things our own way though. This is where the rubber meet the road. We will save this discussion for another day.

The point I want to hone in on today: as Christ is the head of the church in all decency and honor so husbands are to be to their wives. "Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." {Philippians 2:4} 

If we think God is harsh, uncaring and cruel to His children, we will treat others the same. The God of the Bible is nothing like this!
How do people perceive Him in such a way? Someone had to teach it to them!

The enemy of our souls is out to distort marriage and God's take on it. He doesn't want women to feel safe and protected. If women are content and peaceful why would they ever look to follow the enemy's lead? He is mad about this, so distortion and lying about God's way is all he can do.

 Many have fallen for his tricks but those who look to the Word of God for direction and truth will find it. Peter said to Jesus when asked if he wanted to go home and stop following Him,"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of life." {John 6:68 ESV}

Peter tends to be looked down upon as if he isn't very smart. He could be led by emotion at times as any of us are. He understood the most important truth: Jesus is Lord of All!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

"Wives be subject- be submissive and adapt yourselves- to your own husbands as {a service} to the Lord." Ephesians 5:22 AMP

I have given this verse a lot of thought and frankly I think it has been over thought by a lot of people. When a verse is taken out of context and used as a weapon it is never what God meant. Just before we read, "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ."

 When too much emphasis is placed one any verse in the Bible it tends to be blown out of proportion. Men usually have a desire to lead. When given the chance, a man will thrive in this role. If the husband is loving and caring for his wife it works well.

It was never meant to mean the husband is to be domineering, forceful or more important. A husband and wife are equal in the marriage relationship. One is never to be subservient to the other.

When there is a decision to be made, and the two disagree on a solution, it should be worked out among the husband and wife. Then, if the solution is not agreed upon the wife should allow the husband to lead in the decision.  "I told you so" is not a fair retort if the situation is not resolved properly.

Why would a wife do this? She has a reverence for Christ. The husband is her covering and the Lord will honor a wife for being under her covering. A problem occurs if the husband doesn't love his wife. It can get confusing from there.

The entire subject can become confusing when other family members try to "help." These things are to be between the couple and not the entire family. When the married couple surrender to one another out of love and consideration life can be harmonious.

Maybe some of you are thinking right now this is too simplistic an answer. This is how I intend to address this. As a devotional writer I have to be broad based and I don't ever intend on answering every aspect of every question.

I hope this has helped you to understand harmony in the home is the intended outcome. God never intended for anyone to feel used or abused. We are never to be doormats or pushovers. In a generation of  much turmoil in the family I hope maybe some clarity on this subject can be found. 

Love and blessings.