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Give me a word, Lord: SOUR LEMONS OR SWEET LEMONADE

Phillipians 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

When times get tough, the tough get going. That old saying rings very true. It’s funny how hard times tend to bring out our true colors. When you squeeze a lemon, you will either get a bitter glass of lemon juice or you can add a little sugar and enjoy a glass of lemonade. What about when you squeeze a person though? When someone is put under pressure, stress, or hard times and is squeezed, what comes out? The true heart of the person will generally show. You might see anger or bitterness, or you might actually see love and continued joy despite the circumstances.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. As Christians, we are by definition followers of Christ. We must be imitators of Christ. In Philippians 4:9, Paul is saying, “if you want to live like Christ, live like me. Do what I’ve taught you.” Paul continually lived His life with eternity in mind. He set a high bar for us all to follow. When I compare myself to Paul, I find that I fall so short. When I compare myself to Christ…well I can’t even compare. I wish I could be more like Paul and so confident that my conduct was so becoming of Christ that I were truly a reflection of Christ in all that I do. I mean really, we wear His name in our name as Christians.

So many people fall away from the church because someone professing to be “Christian” said or did something that was totally unchristlike, and it destroyed their faith. But we have to realize that we can’t place our faith in man. Man is totally imperfect, but a saving relationship in Christ makes us right.Today, think on this. We are getting squeezed pretty hard right now. Times are tough. Our true hearts are going to show. Are you looking like a bitter, sour lemon, or are you sweet and savory like a cool glass of lemonade?

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Give me a word, Lord: REFRESHED PHYSICALLY AND SPIRITUALLY

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:10-12

Do you ever get weary? Do you ever feel tired? Boy oh boy, this girl right here has felt some kind of weary and tired lately. I’m so tired somedays that my coffee needs coffee! It’s been a crazy year in the general, and it has definitely been crazy in the medical field. I leave the clinic completely exhausted at the end of the day. Between putting on PPE to go outside and evaluate and screen for COVID 19 to suturing lacerations, splitting fractures, to treating all sorts of chronic and acute illnesses, there isn’t any time to relax or refresh…at least not until I get in the car to drive home. God knew what He was doing when He placed me at a clinic that is a 25 minute drive from home. I get 25 whole minutes to pray and praise Him on my way to work, and I get 25 minutes to unwind while listening to a sermon and praying on my way home. Yep, He rigged it. Today, I’m doing home visits. He rigged that too. I’m going to be working, but it isn’t like work at all. I get to spend time in the home of patients, one on one, evaluating and teaching, unhurried, doing what I love. After a long day today, I may be tired, but I’ll also be refreshed. Not only that, God provides physical refreshment through time with family and friends, and let’s not forget that big old bed we get to crawl into every night and get refreshing physical rest!

Sometimes in our spiritual walk we get weary similar to the way our physical walk wears us down. How do we get refreshed spiritually? The answer is pretty much the same. We have to rest in the Lord! Sounds silly, huh? But it’s true! We try to do everything on our own. We tend to have an “I got this” mentality, when in reality, we don’t have it at all! Without Christ, we don’t have anything. With Him, we have all that we will ever need. When we quit trying to do everything on our own, and we start relying on Christ more and more and on ourselves less and less, we won’t grow weary. Rather will gain strength spiritually. When we get in His word and speak to Him in prayer, we are refreshed and renewed and strengthened spiritually. Yep. He has that rigged too,, for our good and His glory! Let Christ refresh you today! There’s nothing better than sipping a refreshing drink of the living water!

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Give me a word, Lord: SATISFIED

Psalm 63:1 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.

Isaiah 58:11 The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

In this world of “gimme more” mentality, it seems almost impossible to be satisfied with anything. There is always something new that recently arrived on the market. The commercials make it sound like that new thing is something we can’t live without. We become preoccupied with the thought of obtaining that new thing that we just have to have until we finally break down and make the purchase. Oh man, this is just what I wanted! But soon thereafter, the new wears off, and we are out looking for the next new must have item. We keep trying to fill a void that we feel with in us with stuff. Unfortunately, that particular void can’t be filled with stuff. It can only be filled with Christ!
How then do we get satisfied with Christ? You have to seek Him. The best way I’ve found to do this is to pray and stay in His word. Fill your heart and mind with Christ and that void will disappear. Fill yourself up with the Word of God, and then you can take the Word with you wherever you go. Learn to lean on Him, talk to Him, share your praises and your prayers with the One who loves you most. There is no greater satisfaction than having a personal relationship with Christ! Get satisfied today!

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Give me a word, Lord: STILL SMALL VOICE

Isaiah 30:21 Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.

John 14:26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,[a] who will never leave you.

Come on, Lord! Really? That’s a tough one. The words popped in my head the second I rolled over this morning, “voice of God”. How does one explain hearing the voice of God? I’m going to be the first to admit that I have never heard the audible voice of God, and I often doubt in my mind those that say they do. I mean I wish God would just holler at me sometimes, but instead, He politely uses that still small voice. So how does He speak to us? He speaks to us through His Word, the Bible. It’s our handbook for life. You can find all the answers you need right there. He speaks to us through prayer. And He speaks to us through our thoughts. Wait, what? Yep, I said it. At least that’s how He speaks to me on a regular basis. I don’t mean I hear voices in my head. I don’t hear actual sentences or a manly or godly voice speaking, but rather it’s more like a feeling. I get an overwhelming feeling about something…relationships, work, finances, and pretty much every aspect of my life. As Christians, the Holy Spirit resides within us. He guides us and directs us if we will only stop long enough to hear. If you have an overwhelming thought to do something or say something or pray for someone or help someone, well then, that’s very likely God speaking to you. The problem we run into is we have to discern whether its God’s voice or our own. Is it in line with biblical principles, or is what I keep thinking about in line with the world? Ha! That’s a tough one.

How do we learn to recognize the voice of God? First, we have to get all of those other voices out of our head. Clear our minds and make room for Him. We can’t hear the Father over all of that other racket we have going on. Find a quiet place with no distractions and talk to God about anything and everything that is going on in your life. Let Him be involved in every aspect. We also have to get to know Him on a very personal level. He already knows us…everything about us…even the exact number of hairs on our head, but do we know Him? We have to make an effort to get to know the Father. We must study His word, and we have to talk to Him on a regular basis. Just as you recognize the voice of your spouse or children in the middle of a crowded room, you will recognize God tugging at your heart and guiding your way.

This morning, Paw Paw arrived at our house at 6 am because the men are loading yearlings up to sale. He cracked the front door open, and our goofy, Bear, started barking. Paw Paw closed the door quickly. He then cracked it again, and Bear barked louder. Finally, Jeff said, “speak to him, Daddy. He doesn’t know who you are ’til he hears your voice.” We think Bear has problems with his vision, maybe or maybe not, but he has problems nonetheless. He startles so easily, but when we speak, he calms right down. He needs to hear his master speak. Kind of sounds familiar, huh? We run through life crazy busy, worrying, and fretting, but when we finally stop long enough to hear our Master speak, we receive calm assurance that everything is gonna be okay. God is with us. He is ever present. If you aren’t hearing Him, maybe you need to work on your receiver because the transmitter never stops working! Be still and know!

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Give me a word, Lord: STUCK

Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

A couple of weeks ago, we turned our rescued raccoons out. We live on eighty acres in a park like paradise with lots of trees and a small creek trickling through our property. It truly is a perfect place for wildlife to live and enjoy out the days of their lives. The raccoons have been hand fed daily portions of baked sweet potatoes, apples, grapes, bananas, and dog food plus occasional supplements of baked chicken and boiled eggs. Yes our raccoons are quite spoiled. After turning them out, I continue to serve up the same meal on a daily basis until they learn to forage on their own.

Sylvie is my most recent female to release. She has been coming up to the house for treats, tearing up my flower pots on the deck, and making her presence known. This weekend, however, Sylvie got stuck! We have a metal carport cover next to our big shed that is down by the barn which we use for storing feed and equipment. There is a gap of a little over a foot between the roof of the shed and the carport cover. Somehow, Miss Sylvie got onto the carport cover, and then couldn’t get back onto the roof of the shed. There are several trees in close proximity to the shed in which she could use to climb down, but there aren’t any close enough to the carport cover. My girl was stuck. We waited to give her a chance to figure the situation out by herself, but she seemed to truly be stuck. Finally, after realizing that she wasn’t going to get down on her own, my husband put our big 12 foot ladder next to the shed. We placed a heavy board to make a bridge between the two roofs, and I put food and water on top of the shed. It didn’t take her long to get “unstuck” after that. She made her way down, and this morning, the deck flowers have been rearranged again, my front door hanger is on the ground, and evidently, Sylvie has remained “unstuck” for the night!

Have you ever been stuck in a place that you didn’t want to be? Have you ever gotten yourself into a situation in which you couldn’t find your way out? Have you perhaps just felt like you were stuck in a rut? So many times in life we struggle with the thought that life isn’t going the way that we planned, and when we think along this line, we become unhappy about our situation. Life is hard, y’all. It can be full of heartbreaks and disappointments, and sometimes we look around and wonder what happened. How in the world did I get stuck in this rut? How did I get stuck in this situation? Many times, it isn’t our fault, but occasionally we look within and realize that we are totally responsible for the mess we are in, and we are going to need some help getting out of it.

Life is hard, and it seems to be getting harder with each passing day. We have pressing schedules with lists of obligations that we have to meet. We have so many tasks to complete in a single day, and if we dare look at the calendar for the week, we can quickly become overwhelmed. Sometimes we feel stuck in a rut of endless tasks and duties. We want to find a sense of relief and respite, but we can not see any relief in sight. We allow ourselves to dwell on the situation rather than the solution. We long to be rescued.

When we find ourselves stuck and feeling unhappy about life’s situations, we can find great encouragement in scripture. The Apostle Paul always knew exactly what to say. The scripture above was written while Paul was in prison. He tells us that he has learned to be content with whatever he had. He had learned to live with almost nothing or with everything. He was in prison, y’all! He didn’t have anything, yet he was content. How was this so? We read further to see that Paul shares the secret of his contentment. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. It is through Christ that we find the strength to endure every situation. It is through Christ that we too find true contentment. And, it is through Christ that we are rescued!

If you’re feeling stuck right now, you don’t need a ladder and a makeshift bridge to get to where you need to be. No, my friend, you only need “The Bridge”, the Savior. He bridged the gap when He gave His life for your sins, and there is no deep secret here. All you have to do is call out to Him. You don’t have to stay stuck. Let the Savior save you today! And while we wait, even if the weight if the wait is heavy, we can be content knowing that we can do everything with Christ who strengthens us!

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Give me a word, Lord: PUTTING OFF AND PUTTING ON

Colossians 3:16-17  Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Read full scripture text: Colossians 3:1-17

This morning, I would like to review some important instructions found in Colossians 3. In this chapter, Paul instructs believers to put to death or put off the old self and put on the new self. If we are to walk in Christ we must put off the things that are not of Him, and put on the things of Christ. I love Paul’s writings. He gets right to the point, and his love for Christ shines through the words that he writes.

What are the things that we should put off or put to death? The first thing Paul mentions is that we shouldn’t think about the things of earth. Our focus should be heavenward and not on the things of this life. We have died to this life, so we are to put to death the sinful, earthly things within us. Paul doesn’t make any bones about it, and he lists some specific sins that believers should put off. These include sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. We are not to be greedy, as greed can lead to idolatry and worshiping the things of this world. Paul also reminds us to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. We are not to lie to one another. It is human nature to sin. We are imperfect creations, but we can be made perfect through a loving relationship with Christ who intercedes for us with the Father. If we love Christ, we find it easy to put off these things of the world because the things that we put on are so much better.

What are we to put on? We are to set out sights on the realities of heaven where Christ sits on the right hand of God! We are to dwell on thoughts of heaven and not on the things of this life. We are to put on our new nature and be renewed as we daily learn and get to know our Creator and become more like Him. Paul reminds us that it doesn’t matter who or what we are. Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us. We are God’s chosen people. He chose you, and He chose me! Because we are chosen by God, we must put on tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We have to be willing to make allowances for each other’s faults, and we must forgive those who offend us. We all have a few faults of our own which have been forgiven and forgotten by our loving Father. Can we not do the same for those who have wronged us? We must also put on love, for it is love that will bind us together in perfect harmony. And with love, we find peace that comes only from Christ.

We are chosen by Christ. Ponder that thought for a moment, and then recline in it. John 15:16 reads, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” He chose us! And because He chose us, we are new creations in Christ. Our love for Him should overflow into our daily lives so much so that those around us see that we are different. We behave differently. We live differently. As you consider Paul’s instructions this morning, think about your personal relationship with Christ. Is there anything that you need to “put off”? Are there a few things that you need to “put on”? It may seem like a daunting task, but nothing is impossible with Christ. Go to Him in prayer. Seek His guidance and will for your life. I promise you that He will help you put off those things that are not of Him, and He will help you put on the things of Christ!

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Give me a word, Lord: GROWING WHILE WAITING

Romans 4:18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

James 5:7-8 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

And we wait…. It seems like we are always waiting on something or someone. Waiting is hard for me. I’m a “gotta get it done and gotta get it done right now” kind of person. I don’t like to to sit idly and wait. BUT Christ has shown me through the years that He accomplishes all things in His time and not mine. And when we wait on His timing, great lessons are learned and great blessings are received while we wait. Abraham was 100 years old, and Sarah was 90 or 91 when Isaac was born. Talk about a long wait!! And those Israelites, oh those Israelites, their deliverance from Egypt took 420 years. They had to wait 40 more years before God allowed them to enter the promised land. Apparently, they had a LOT to learn!! God’s people waited generation after generation for the Messiah, and now we are awaiting His return! Yes, we wait.

My husband has frequently told me, “Good things come to those who wait.” We wait for so many things in this life. We are now awaiting the arrival of another grandchild this October. We await with excited anticipation. Some are awaiting test results. Some people are waiting for a healing. Some people are waiting for a loved one to return home from the military. We are all waiting for that lost loved one to come to Christ. This too takes time…and much waiting! Even though the weight of the wait is so very heavy, the wait is always worth it.

So, what are we to do while we wait? We can let God strengthen our faith while we are waiting. Use this time to get to know God better. Get in His word. Read your Bible while you wait. And pray, pray, pray! Talk to our heavenly Father. Bend His ear. He truly wants to hear from His kids just as we long to talk to and hear from our own parents, kids, friends, & family. Use this time to get to know God better. Ask yourself, how am I growing while I’m waiting? We’ve all grown immensely over the past year. Think about the wisdom you have gained. God has given each of us responsibilities in certain areas, but we do not have sovereignty in any area. We must remember that we are being carried on the shoulders of our Savior! Wait on Him!

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Give me a word, Lord: MERCY

Psalm 23:6 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Ephesians 2:4-7 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Surely goodness and mercy shall fo-o-ollow me, all the days, all the days of my li-i-ife. I love that song. I giggle when I remember this story that I once heard. Timmy was a little five year old boy whom his Mom loved very much, and being the worrier that she was, she was concerned about him walking to school all by himself when he started kindergarten. She walked him to school the first few days, but one day he came home and asked if he could walk by himself. He wanted to be like the “big boys.” Not wanting to disappoint him, she decided to allow him to walk without her via plan B (which consisted of recruiting a neighbor, Mrs. Goodnest, to repetitiously follow him to school, at a distance far enough behind him that he would not likely notice he was being followed, but close enough to keep a watch on him). Mrs. Goodnest was agreeable, since she was up early with her own toddler anyway, and it would be a good way for them to get some exercise. So, the very next school day Mrs. Goodnest and her little girl, Marcy, set out to follow behind Timmy as he walked to school. Timmy was accompanied by another neighbor boy he knew. As the boys walked to school each day, chatting, and kicking stones and twigs, the little friend of Timmy;s began to notice that a lady seemed to be following them every day. “Have you noticed that lady following us all week? Do you know her?” he asked Timmy. “Yea, I know who she is,” Timmy replied “Well who is she?” “That’s just Shirley Goodnest,” Timmy said. “Shirley Goodnest? Who is she? Why is she following us?” “Well,” Timmy explained, “Every night Mom makes me say the 23rd Psalm in my prayers ‘cuz she worries about me so much. And in it the Psalm says, ‘Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life,’ so I guess I’ll just have to get used to it.”

Well, that little Timmy was right. As a Christian, surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life. We can count on it. We know what goodness is, but what is mercy? Mercy isn’t just compassion or forgiveness toward someone who wronged us. Mercy is not giving someone what they deserve even though we have the power to punish them. That thought always brings me to my knees. You see, God could choose to punish every single sin, every single mess up, every single thing I’ve done wrong in my life, but He doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong. God is still full of wrath, and wrath will come when punishment is needed. But God is so rich in mercy that He sent His son to make a way for us to have an eternal relationship with Him. He sent the Holy Spirit to reside within us to “walk us to school safely every day”. He gave us the Holy Spirit as a comforter, but also to help keep us on the straight path. When we mess up, we recognize that we did so, and we realize the need to repent. We feel regret for sinning against our Father, and instead of Him laying out punishment which we surely deserve, He forgives us with His tender love and mercy. Wow! That’s truly amazing!

We have never sinned so much that God won’t forgive us if we come to Him in true repentance. We can never do anything to make God love us more, and we can never do anything to make God love us less! He loves us. He is so merciful! If you don’t have surely goodness and mercy following you around each day, call out to the Father! It’s comforting to know the Comforter is walking right there with me each step that I make!

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Give me a word, Lord: GRACE

Luke 19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

Grace is the unmerited favor of God. Unmerited means not deserved. Therefore, grace is the undeserved favor of God. If you grew up in church, I know you remember singing, “Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see.” Y’all remember him. He was the little bitty tax collector dude that heard Jesus was coming to town, and He wanted to see who Jesus was. He was too short to see over the crowd so he climbed up a tree. Sounds to me like he might’ve been from around these parts. Jesus saw Zacchaeus in that tree, and told him to come down because He was going to his house that very day.

That little dude wasn’t just a tax collector. He was the chief tax collector. Tax collectors in that time period were scoundrels. They were lower than low. They stole from people and cheated people, and they were considered to be sinners. Zacchaeus was the chief sinner! Yet Jesus, full of love and grace, called him down and said, “Come on little fellow. I want to spend some time with you today.” Jesus could’ve ignored this scoundrel. He could’ve kept on walking. But He didn’t. He met Zacchaeus right where he was and showed him undeserved favor. He showed him grace.

As I look back and remember all the times in my life that I sinned, I realize how many times my good, good Father met me right where I was and gave me grace. All I can do is praise Him! I don’t deserve the blessings God has bestowed upon me. I’ve done nothing to deserve His grace. But He chose me, and He chose you. He found favor in us despite ourselves and our sins. That is grace. We can’t do anything to earn it, but He bestows it upon us because He loves us!

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Give me a word, Lord: TALENTS

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

1 Corinthians 12:5-6 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work,

Yesterday was an extremely busy day in the clinic. I worked hard all day, and after the last patient left for the day, I still had tons of work remaining. My dear husband sensed that I had been stretched too thin, and he showed up at my clinic to share a meal with me. He not only shared a meal, he stayed with me while I worked until after 9:00 pm trying to catch my tail that I had been chasing all day long. That act of love meant more to me that ten dozen roses or 5 lbs of Reese’s candy! After days like yesterday, I can’t help but wonder why I do what I do. Today, this post appeared on my memories. God knows that this knucklehead girl needs a reminder every now and then that He gave me the talents to do what I do, and He reminds me that I am working for Him and not for man. So today, I want to share this timely reminder. God gives every single one of us talents. We need to appreciate those gifts and always continue to use those talents for His glory!

A precious 91 year young lady came to see me in the clinic. As always, she came bearing a gift. With a beautiful bright smile on her face (that could be detected even behind a mask), she presented me with a fresh pint of mayhaw jelly. She informed me that she had just made this jelly the day before and that she called ahead to make sure I was working. I was tickled that she thought of me, and she was very pleased to see that she had made me happy. She never shows up empty handed. Here is a lady, 91 years of age, still using her God given talents to bless others. She is still taking care of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, still driving herself to and from appointments, and still making homemade jelly. She is as sharp as a tack, and she is always like a breath of fresh air. I so want to be her when I grow up!

Our visit got me to thinking about gifts and talents. What talents has God gifted you with? Are you using them for His glory? There are talents that I wish God had blessed me with such as a beautiful singing voice. I guess He would rather hear me make a happy racket instead of a joyful noise because He sure gave that gift to someone other than me. I could sit here and make a list a mile long of talents I wish I had been gifted with and pout about it, or I could sit here and think about the talents that God picked out especially for me. Any old body can sing, well anybody but me, but not everyone could manage a crazy critter farm or write down and record those crazy critter antics to share with whoever chooses to read my ramblings. God sure does have a sense of humor! He also blessed me with a brain and the ability to study and learn and work in the field of medicine. He gave me hands, that although are knotted up from arthritis, are strong and not afraid of hard work. And best of all, He gave me a heart the size of Texas: a heart for people and a heart for Christ. Because He gave me these simple gifts of a brain, and strength, and love, I must use these gifts for His glory.

If that little 91 year old had presented her jelly to me and I had turned my nose up, she would not have been very pleased with me. But because I thanked her profusely and bragged about her gift, she left after our visit feeling pleased. Think about this for a moment. God gave you gifts and talents also. He designed some specifically with you in mind, and He gave us each those gifts because He wants us to use them for His glory. When we recognize that the talents we have are gifts straight from God, we begin using those talents to bring glory & honor to Him. This pleases Him. Not using those gifts and talents for God’s glory would be very displeasing to Him. I’m saved by faith. I know that I am guaranteed eternity in heaven. I know that I am going to walk through those pearly gates one day, but I don’t ever want to show up empty handed. I want to show up knowing that I have worked hard, used my talents for God’s glory, and hear those words, “well done, my good and faithful servant.” Hey, I may even show up with a jar of our homemade mayhaw jelly in hand!

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Give me a word, Lord: I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Philippians 3:8-9 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Romans 10:9-10 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.

A couple of years ago, I received a phone call out of the blue offering me a part time position as an in home assessment nurse practitioner. I wasn’t interested in another job. I already had (have) a full time clinic job that keeps me hopping all day long, and I have reached a point in life that I’d rather be home with family than out chasing the dollar. Yet the call nagged at me for a while, and I prayed about it and talked to my husband who suggested that I at least hear them out. I know that God knows just what I need in life, and when something falls in my lap that I wasn’t looking for, I have to question whether or not this was something from God that He knew I needed. I ended up accepting the position, and I truly love it. We had a hiatus from in home visits last year due to COVID, but I am back to seeing patients in their homes once a week and am loving it. I actually get to minister to patients from all walks of life, and it has been a blessing to me.

Two years ago, I entered the home of a heroin addict. I don’t think I have ever knowingly been in the home of a heroin addict prior to this or since. As I completed his health assessment, I’m pretty sure that a drug deal went down while I was there. I was well outside of my comfort zone. Oh yes, I was praying, and I also had the comfort of knowing that my husband was right outside in the vehicle waiting for me. This guy was scary. He was tattooed and scarred, but his scars were not merely on the outside of his body. His scars were deep inside the very core of his being. He talked very candidly and openly with me. He shared his heart. He didn’t hold anything back. He had stored away a whole lot of evil and hatred in his heart, and as I listened to the words, it was almost frightening. He was hurting badly. He didn’t want to be on drugs, but he didn’t know the way out. He had tried and failed rehab more than once, but he couldn’t find his way out of the darkness. He couldn’t see the light.

I listened to him intently, and after he had finished sharing his story, I asked permission to share my heart with him. I told him that I recognized that he was in a very dark place, and that I wanted him to come out of that darkness and see the Light. I tried to show him that the Light can be found in even the darkest of places. I shared my faith with him. I told him that I truly believe with 100% of my being that any addiction, any problem, and circumstance could be overcome if we only give Jesus full control. He told me that I was wrong. He informed me that his grandfather had told him that he could never become a Christian because he had hate in his heart. Oh y’all, he really had some hate in his heart…so much hate. He truly believed that he was lost forever because of the sins of his past and the hatred that he was holding on to.

As believers in Christ, we really need to make sure that the message that we are sharing with this lost and dying world is a message of truth. This man’s grandfather was wrong. If he were right, we would all be lost. Scripture is clear. If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. We only need to openly declare that Jesus is Lord of our heart and believe that He was resurrected to be saved. This makes us right with God. Jesus was the propitiation for our sins. He paid the price so that we don’t have to. I don’t think I was able to change this man’s mind, but I know that I at least planted a seed that day. I pray that someone waters that seed.

I don’t know where your heart is today. You may feel you have strayed too far from Christ. You may feel that your sin is too big to be forgiven. You may feel that you aren’t worthy. The fact is NO ONE is worthy of salvation. No one is worthy of God’s grace and mercy, but God took care of our unworthiness when He sent His Son to be the sacrificial Lamb. Jesus made us righteous. We only need to accept that tremendously amazing gift that keeps on giving. No matter how many steps or even miles you’ve traveled away from Christ, it only takes one step to get back to Him! Don’t turn away from God’s grace and mercy. We are not good enough, but HE IS!

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Give me a word, Lord: I KNOW THAT YOU ARE GOOD

I Chronicles 16:34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 145:9 The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.

James 1:17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

I was considering a word to share today, when Big Daddy Weave’s song, I Know That You Are Good, came on the radio. Several topics have been on my heart, but when I heard that song, it simply tied everything together and put a big bow right on top of my thoughts. Let me share the first verse and chorus with you: You don’t answer all my questions, but You hear me when I speak. You don’t keep my heart from breakin’, but when it does, You weep with me. You’re so close that I can feel You when I’ve lost the words to pray. And though my eyes have never seen You, I’ve seen enough to say: I know that You are good. I know that You are kind. I know that You are so much more than what I leave behind. I know that I am loved. I know that I am safe. ‘Cause even in the fire, to live is Christ, to die is gain. I know that You are good.

I know that God is good. I see evidence every single day. He has placed good people in my life, good people in my path, and His good undying love surrounds me day in and day out. One of my oldest friends is still battling COVID 19 in an intensive care unit on a ventilator. My friends and my church family have been praying for her daily. I was able to speak with her daughter yesterday, and I talked with her about how God is so good and that He is still working. She answered me saying, “He’s been working in mysterious ways.” I am quite sure that her response was dead on. Our God does work in mysterious ways. His ways are greater than ours. With this challenging illness, two of my other friends and I have drawn even closer together. We have been strengthening and encouraging one another through prayer, phone calls, and words of encouragement. Our good God placed those ladies in my life when we young children, and our friendship has continued to grow stronger through the years. As our faith in God grows, our relationships are strengthened. It is amazing to consider that God is so good that He knows exactly what people we need in our lives, and He provides those people when we are just little children! God hand picked my closest adult friends when I was just a kid! That blows my mind, Peeps!

As Big Daddy Weave sang this morning, I nodded in agreement with is words. God doesn’t always answer all of my questions, but I know that He hears me when I come to Him in prayer. God doesn’t always keep our hearts from breaking, but when our hearts do break, He weeps with us. And on those days that I don’t even have the words to speak in prayer, I feel His presence. I can quietly lean into Him because I know that He is there. I’ve never seen Him but I know Him! I know that He is good and kind, and He is so much better than everything I have left behind. I know that He loves me, and I know that I am safe in His arms. And I know that even though we may feel like we are in the fire, with Christ, even if we die, we gain everything.

Yes, my friends, we serve a very good God. I pray that if you are going through a struggle today, no matter what the situation may be, I pray that you place faith in the hands of our good, good God. Look around for those loving people that He has placed in your life to strengthen you and encourage you. Call out to the Father. Seek His presence. I pray that you know that He is good. Even in our darkest hour, even when the world is upside down, our good God is still at work doing mysterious things for our good and His glory. I know that He is good!

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Give me a word, Lord: REJOICE

Philippians 4:4-9 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Rejoicing is easy when everything is going well, but what about those times when things aren’t going our way? What about the days that we are struggling? Well, according to Paul, we are supposed to rejoice on those days too. Paul wrote these words while he was in prison. He wasn’t sitting at his nice cozy kitchen table or out on the back deck listening to the creek trickle by. No, he was sitting in a prison cell writing to the Philippian church. Yet, he was still rejoicing. How could he be rejoicing from prison? He could rejoice because he found his joy in Christ and not in himself or his situation. If we look to Christ, no matter what difficulties arise through the day, we can still rejoice.

I laughed out loud last night while driving back from the cow field to our home. Jeff called me to see if I was busy and said he needed a hand at the barn. He was trying to separate some cows that he needed to sell today. I was in my bright teal t-shirt, capris, and sandals, and didn’t even consider that I needed to change before heading over to help him. I just jumped in my car and drove over. There was one steer that he was still trying to get into the barn, but there were about 9 or 10 other calves in the holding area that we needed to move back into the field. Me and my sandals chased calves up and down that holding area at dusk. I couldn’t see the ground well because it was almost dark, and I ran through a few piles of what I was praying was fresh mud although I knew it probably wasn’t. I got the calves down to the gate several times, but before we could get them through, they would turn around and run back to the other end of the holding area. I then ran behind them….all the way to the end of the lot….and chased them back to the gate again and again and again. There are several lessons to be learned here. First of all, don’t wear a bright teal shirt and sandals to pin cows. They don’t like bright colors, and my feet don’t like stepping in stuff that squishes between my toes! Secondly, you can’t pin cows at dark. They don’t do well when they can’t see. You can chase them, and they will run, but they won’t go where you want them to go.

I got into my car smelling like barnyard with cow poop on my capris, in between my toes, and all over my sandals. I was hot and sweaty and aggravated, but I laughed out loud, and I prayed, “I’m going to keep rejoicing in you Lord. I’m struggling, but I’m rejoicing.” I washed my feet with the water hose before entering the house and threw my sandals in the washer and myself in the shower, and I thought about this scripture. Those cows aggravated me tonight. I could have let that ruin my mood for the night or even for the whole week, but instead, I remembered that the little aggravating details of my day do not define me or my mood. My joy comes from Christ, and I will rejoice in Him no matter what comes my way. Now, I realize that wrestling a herd of cows is nothing compared to the struggle Paul endured while in prison. I realize that nothing I endure on a daily basis can even come close to the suffering that our Lord and Savior endured on the cross for my sins. But I also realize that because my Savior loves me that much, because He was the ultimate sacrificial lamb for my sins, because of His grace and His mercy, I can rejoice no matter what situation comes my way!

We can rejoice because the King is still on His throne! Death did not defeat Him. He is still our King. We can rejoice because we do not have to fight to gain victory! No, my friends, the victory has already been won by our Savior. We can rejoice knowing what our good God has done all of this for us and rejoice in who He is! I’m not going to say we won’t have aggravations today. It’s Monday. There is a full moon in the sky. Things may get a bit crazy, but even when the world gets crazy, we don’t have to let it get us down. Nope! We can rejoice in the Lord always. Turn that frown upside down and rejoice in the Lord today!

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Give me a word, Lord: LET’S GO FISHING

Mark 1:16-20  One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.

If you know me, you know that I love to fish. Our favorite place to fish is Old River WMA. We take the boat out early in the morning, stop along the way and catch crawfish for bait, and then unload the boat in the river. It’s always a treat to bring home an ice chest full of catfish. We may have to work a little hard, but at the same time we have loads of fun, and if the fish are biting, we get rewarded with supper! That’s always pretty cool! We have usually made several trips to the river by this time of the year each spring, but due to the massive amounts of rain we’ve had, the water levels have remained too high for fishing.

My favorite fishing trip memory involves a vacation to the country I love second to North America: Costa Rica, with the man I love second only to the good Lord! We booked a deep sea fishing excursion. At first it was absolutely BORING! We were on the water a good four hours before that first fish took the line. Jeff said, “This one is yours.” I began reeling that fish in, and then reeling, and reeling, and reeling. It was humongous! I had never caught a fish like this one in my entire life. My heart was racing. I was sweating. My arms were burning. I kept reeling. I asked Jeff if he wanted to take over, and he said, “No. This one is yours.” After 20 minutes, which seemed like 2 hours, I finally saw the fish at the edge of the boat. Our first mate landed the fish for me, bringing him into the boat. It was a 180 pound sailfish! I have never in my life caught a fish even one tenth of that size! After that fish, my husband caught a huge sailfish, and later we each caught one more sailfish. It was exhilarating and definitely a trip to be remembered for years to come!

On our last trip to Costa Rica, we booked an inshore fishing trip. It was exhilarating but not in a good way. The weather wasn’t good for fishing. The water was rough. The boat was rocking up and down and sideways. We actually thought it was going to flip over a time or too. My husband and I held on for dear life, and if a fish had taken the bait, we couldn’t have turned loose of the boat to reel it in even if we wanted to. It was a rough, rocky ride, and when we made it back to shore we were ready to kiss the ground. I think we actually died a little out there on those rough seas that day…or at least we thought we did! We didn’t even get one bite on that entire, crazy, nerve wracking, scary fishing trip!

In Mark, Chapter 1, Jesus is calling his first disciples. Here we see men who had made their living fishing. This was likely a family business and a good source of income in Galilee at the time. Fishing was the life these men knew. Jesus called them to follow Him and explained that He would make them fishers of people. He related their new calling to something that they could easily relate to. I always loved this scripture because as an old country girl, I can relate too. I love that Jesus calls us to be fishers of people. He doesn’t call us to leave our current jobs or vocation though. He wants us to fish right where we are all day long.

Fishing for people is a lot like fishing for fish. Sometimes, you may go days without ever getting a bite. Some days, going fishing may feel scary. The waters may be rough. We may get a little anxious or overwhelmed. But then there are days that you are reeling, and reeling, and reeling. Our hearts race with excitement, but we do not grow weary. We know that we are called to tell others about Christ, and we know that Christ is right there in the boat with us every time we set out to go fishing for men. We aren’t fishing alone. As fisher’s of men, we merely need to share the Good News. The Holy Spirit will take care of landing the fish. When was the last time you went fishing? Now, more than ever, people need to hear about Christ. Let’s go fishing today!

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Give me a word, Lord: THIRST

Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

John 7:37-39 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Have you ever been so thirsty that your mouth felt like it was full of cotton? Perhaps you had been out working in the sweltering Mississippi heat. Maybe you were running a race, or perhaps you were just hot! No matter the cause of your thirst, nothing quenches it like a good old, cold glass of water. I used to hate drinking water. That was back in the days of my coke addiction…coke meaning Coca Cola and then later on a Diet Coke addiction. Praise be to God and my husband’s urging, I defeated those addictions. Now I drink lots of water, way too much coffee, and a little bit of tea.

Let’s consider a different kind of thirst. We sometimes get a thirst that just can’t be quenched. We thirst for things of this world, but when we obtain those things, we still feel empty. It feels like there is a void inside of us, an emptiness, that no matter how hard we try we just can’t satisfy that thirst. Well my friends, it’s my opinion that God put that little void inside our hearts, that little empty feeling, because He knew that we needed One thing and One thing only to quench that thirst. Through salvation and acceptance of Christ our Savior, we are given a truly amazing gift: the Holy Spirit. He completely, unequivocally fills that void.

I’m here to tell you that nothing in this world can fill you up like the saving grace of Jesus. You can search the world over, buy everything your heart desires, feed all of the physical cravings with the things of the world, but at the end of the day there will still be a little empty spot thirsting away. Why not take a sip of the living water today? I bet you can’t just take one sip! Once you feel that wonderful quenching of our Savior, you won’t thirst in that way anymore. But you will soon feel a new kind of thirst: one for a relationship with the One that fills your heart completely! Are you thirsty? Why not go drink from the living well this morning?

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Give me a word, Lord: CONFESSION AND REPENTANCE

Read Ezra 10:1-14 (Focus verses 13b-14) But there are many people here and it is the rainy season; so we cannot stand outside. Besides, this matter cannot be taken care of in a day or two, because we have sinned greatly in this thing. Let our officials act for the whole assembly.

That was a long Old Testament read, huh? If you asked me where my morning devotions come from, the simple answer would be “God”. The long answer is I pray for a word or idea, something pops in my head, then I dig out my Bible and research it. Today’s word was actually rain. I thought we’d talk about Noah and the great flood. You know the story. The world was full of sin. People had turned from God. He decided the earth needed a big old bubble bath to clean it up so flooded the earth and cleaned it up. But as I dove into my quiet time with God, I came across this Old Testament scripture, and I read, “But there are many people here and it is the rainy season; so we cannot stand outside,” and I thought, that sounds kind of like our situation right now. Lol. But I dove a little deeper and read it in context, and then it really started sounding familiar. Not the part about marrying foreign women, but definitely the part about sinning against God. Ezra, the priest, was literally on the ground, crying, confessing, and praying because the people had turned from God. There was sin in the land, and the people had to confess and turn from the sin so that they could be right with God.

We are in a totally different situation currently, and Old Testament readings sometimes seem hard to understand and outdated to us. In reality, there is still important wisdom in Old Testament books. We can learn about what is right and wrong in the eyes of God. God doesn’t like it when we sin. He especially doesn’t like it when we turn away from Him. Our nation has turned so far from Him that it’s time for us to get on our knees, weep, and pray and acknowledge that we’ve sinned and run back to the loving arms of Christ. God desires an up close and personal relationship with each of us. I think He is trying to get our attention right now! Let’s get on our knees!

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Give me a word, Lord: MISSIONS

Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Matthew 28:16-20 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I love Isaiah 6:8. It’s been a favorite verse since our first mission trip abroad. That trip really opened my eyes to the fact that there are so many lost people out there who need Jesus! I grew up in a Christian home with a daddy that truly loves the Lord. I have been in church my whole life…like literally Daddy has us there the first Sunday after we were born! I’ve been surrounded by Christians my entire life. I guess I’ve been living in a big old Christian bubble.

The problem I recognized after our first mission trip to Peru was that there are a whole lot of people on this earth that don’t know Christ. To take it a step further, our pastor conducted an evangelism training course a couple of years ago. This challenged me to ask people more often about their relationship with Christ. In doing so I learned that people I had known for many years were totally lost. I made the mistake of assuming everyone around me knew Christ just like I did, but a lot of folks did not! That broke my heart, and at the same time, it put a fire inside of me that can not be quenched. I don’t want people dying and going to hell. There are only two final addresses for all of us: Heaven or Hell. We get the luxury of choosing our final abode: a mansion In heaven or a burning pit of fire. Christ died on the cross for my sins and your sins, and He rose from the grave. He defeated death, and in doing so He gave us the greatest gift we could ever receive. My friend, Ally, and I were discussing this yesterday and talking about how sad it is to know that people will go to hell. She said, “The saddest part about it is that they just don’t accept the FREE gift that was given.”

Peeps, salvation costs us nothing, nada, not even a penny, but it cost Christ everything! He promises us eternity with Him. We only have to accept the gift. If you haven’t accepted this precious gift, what are you waiting for? Holler at your girl if you need to talk. If you have accepted the Gift, are you sharing Him with others? Let the great commission be your mission!

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Give me a word, Lord: HE LEADS ME

Psalm 25:5-15 Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past. Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord. The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands. For the honor of your name, O Lord, forgive my many, many sins. Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose. They will live in prosperity, and their children will inherit the land. The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant. My eyes are always on the Lord, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.

I woke up with the old hymn written by Candi Pearson-Shelton, “He Leadeth Me,” on my mind. He leadeth me, O blessed thought, O words with heavenly comfort fraught. Whate’er I do, where’er I be, still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me. Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom, sometimes where Eden’s flowers bloom, by waters still, over troubled sea still ’tis His hand that leadeth me. He leadeth me, He leadeth me by His own hand He leadeth me. His faithful follower I would be for by His hand He leadeth me.

I’ve known so many people who have let God lead them through stormy times of life. I know that I have been begging Him to daily lead me for sure. I couldn’t spend one single day at work if I didn’t know that God was leading my path, directing my decisions, and guiding my heart. I want to be a God-worshipper like this Psalmist with my arrows aimed at God’s bullseye. I pray every day that I keep my eyes on God. I still trip over my own two feet (literally), but spiritually I know with Him, my feet are standing on solid ground. God is so loving. God never promised that this life would be easy, but He did promise that He would never leave us. I read a quote this week that said, “Sometimes when I’m having a hard day, I imagine God sitting next to me.” He is there y’all. He is always there. We can not see Him, but we can feel His presence just as sure as we can feel our own hearts beating within our chest.

No matter where you are right now in your relationship with Christ, no matter how far you think you have strayed, no matter how big you think your sins are, He is still a God of forgiveness and love. If you don’t have this kind of relationship with our Savior, I pray you find it soon. There’s no greater peace during this awful time than realizing that even though I can’t control what’s happening, God already has my path planned for my good and His glory. I only have to let Him take the lead. Won’t you let Him lead you today?

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Give me a word, Lord: JOY

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Psalm 118:24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.

I love the song, “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” The words are from Psalm 118. Some days, we wake up, and we don’t really feel like jumping around with glee. We may feel overwhelmed with stress. We may feel sad or unhappy. We may feel tired and worn out. BUT there is always joy to be found within us. Happiness and joy are two very different things. You see, happiness is dependent upon how good life is at the moment. Happiness moves up and down on a scale based on how we are doing in life. Happiness depends upon our circumstances. Whereas joy does not. Joy comes from the remaining presence of Jesus. Once you receive Christ as your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit fills your heart. So if your heart is full of the Holy Spirit, you are ultimately full of joy! How could we not be?

Paul thought is was important enough to make the point twice. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! We must rejoice in our Lord always! We become joyful in all circumstances because even though we may struggle through trials and tribulations, we still have joy within us because we know that we are not going through those trials alone. Joy comes from truly knowing Christ and having a relationship with Him. The closer we become in our relationship with Christ, the more joyful we are. We become able to see past our current circumstances and recognize that “God’s got this.” I don’t know how He is going to work things out, but because I have faith in Him, I know He will work everything out for my good and His glory! I believe that with my whole being. This is the day that the Lord has made! Let is rejoice and be glad in it! Be joyful, today and everyday!!

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Give me a word, Lord: Mission Minded

Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

I heard a quote on American Family Radio that I feel rings true with today’s society. “If all you do is go to the football games, sit in the stands, and cheer the team on, you will never get a work out. You will get fat and lazy, and you will never score. This is the state of our church today.” You can either say, “Amen” or “Ouch!” Think about that for a moment, Peeps. In many cases, going to church has become likened to going to a football game. We get dressed up and attend on Sunday mornings. We sit through the praise and worship service. If it isn’t to our liking, we go on down the road to another church next week. We want to be entertained. We want the praise team and the pastor to put on a good show for our money…that is if we even tithe. We may even let an amen or two slip out if it gets really good, but when the sermon is over, it’s over…over until next week. During the week, we go on about our business as usual without a thought of church, God, or scripture. If that is our mindset, then I really hate to say it, but we are all going to get fat and lazy. We are missing out on a well needed daily spiritual workout. We are missing out on many much needed conversations with out Lord. We are missing out on the score! If we keep our faith all to ourselves and never share the gospel with another soul, we are truly missing the whole point!

Last night, our church went outside the walls of the building to do an outreach at some apartments in town. We asked permission from the managers, which we received, but we were met with some resistance after the fact as we later learned that although the complexes are situated in close proximity, the tenants are not allowed to go off of their property and onto the other property. We finally worked it out so that we could meet in the middle in between the complexes. We prayed over this outreach. Our friend, Nick, grilled and smoked about a hundred pounds of chicken. Eric made a humongous cast iron pot of jambalya. We also cooked up a huge pot of green beans, and the ladies of the church donated desserts and rolls. We made sure to invite all of the people from each individual apartment a week prior to the event. We set up games, tables, and chairs. We sat down and ate with strangers. We got to know these people. We learned facts about their lives, where they worked, and the things that were on their heart. We had several plates left over after the event, and my husband and I loaded these up and drove around our little town to the local gas stations and dollar stores and delivered meals to the workers. Everyone was very receptive and grateful.

When it was all said and done, to an outsider looking in, one might say that we failed. We didn’t have a very big turn out, at least not the turn out that we had hoped for, but we didn’t fail. We shared the gospel. The Good News of Jesus Christ was shared with these people! One woman in particular shared that it had been on her heart to get back into church, and our presence was just what she needed to remind her that now is the time. She told me that she lacked transportation. Another lady and I gave her our cell phone numbers and offered to pick her up and bring her to church. If we made a difference in only one person’s life, if even one person’s heart was changed, if even one seed was planted last night, I think that our outreach was an amazing success.

I don’t say these things to brag on my church, although I love my church dearly. No, my friends, I am sharing this to express that it is important for us to be more mission minded. We can’t sit in the stadium and expect the crowds to come to you. You don’t have to plan a big outreach and pray that someone shows up. You merely need to pray that God puts someone in your path and that He gives you the boldness to speak the truth of the gospel to that person. Plant a seed. Water one that has already been planted. You may not ever see that seed come to fruition, but that’s not your job. As Christians, we are charged with the duty of sharing the gospel, planting the seed, and watering the seed. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. We must learn to daily step outside of our comfort zone and be more mission minded. Get off of the bench. Quit warming the bleachers. Get out there and get in the game! As you plan your day today, plan time to dig in the Word, plan time to pray, and plan time to share the Good News! Be mission minded! Be a blessing to someone today!

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Give me a word, Lord: I’M TIRED, BUT I’M GRATEFUL

Isaiah 40:31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

I Peter 5:10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.

Colossians 3:23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

This past week has been a busy week, but that isn’t anything new. It seems like every day of every week lately has been extremely busy. I feel like we are running ninety miles per hour, and the hours of the day run out before the tasks do. We’ve been rather busy at work for quite a while now. My second job, from which I was given a hiatus due to COVID-19, has decided to pick back up, and now that schedule is full. We’ve redone a few things around the house this year, and oh, let us not forget our regular chores around the house and the farm. Life is busy. It sometimes can even be overwhelming if we allow it to be, but instead of getting overwhelmed, I want to see the blessings in it. I’m tired, oh boy am I tired! Yet, I am ever so grateful.

I can complain (if I said I didn’t, I would be lying), but I have found that complaining never really benefits me at all. All complaining does is bring me down further, and it also brings those we are complaining to down. When my mind goes to whining zone, I try to move it quickly out of that zone and put it into the prayer zone. God hears words like these from this girl frequently: “Oh Lord, I am tired. I am irritable. I am exhausted! But God I am so grateful. I am thankful. Thank you for giving me the ability to complete these tasks. Thank you for giving me this wonderful career. Thank you for allowing me to work for you.” I’m telling you the truth. You may not feel less tired or less exhausted, but you will certainly feel much happier about being exhausted.

I am willing to guess that you are tired this morning too. It is Sunday. It is the day set aside to worship our Lord even more specifically than we do the rest of the week. You may be thinking that you are too tired to get to church this morning. You may have 1001 things on your “to do list” that need to be accomplished before the work week. You may think that this is your only day off, and you are going to enjoy it. Well, my friends, I challenge you to really, truly enjoy your day. That task list can wait. Get up, get dressed, and get to church this morning. My day is full. We have a WMU meeting at 9:00 am, then my husband and I teach Sunday School at 10:00 am, and then we have morning worship at 11:00 am. Our kids and parents are coming to lunch at our house at noon, and I can already smell the crockpot lasagna simmering, roasted asparagus, a fresh green salad with home grown lettuce, and there is a Razzleberry pie for dessert oozing with yumminess in the oven. Later this evening, our church is hosting a block party at two apartment complexes in town. We are going to feed and love on those people and share the gospel with them. Our day is full, but it is full of Christ…not full of me! I can rest in Christ today knowing that although today’s schedule is full, at the end of the day, I will look back and feel even more blessed than I do right now.

If you looked at my schedule, you might say that I don’t have time to slow down and participate in all of the activities of today, but I challenge you to see this. We are placed here on earth by our wonderful, gracious, loving Father. He created us in His image to glorify Him. That is truly our only purpose for being here. He has blessed us greatly with many talents. He has given us good jobs, nice homes, and wonderful families. He wants us to enjoy those things. He wants us to enjoy the blessings of life, but He doesn’t want us to enjoy all the “stuff” or even to wear ourselves down working on doing the “stuff”. He wants us to spend time with Him, in His Word, with His people, and glorifying and serving Him. If you have gotten too busy for God, then all I can say is you are much too busy!

Take today off from the busyness of life, and enjoy time with the Father. Join together with like minded believers. Praise His name. Rest in Christ today! I know you are tired. I feel you! I do! I am very tired too, but I am more grateful than I am tired. Today, I’m going to get out there and glorify my Father because I know that is where I will find rest!

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Give me a word, Lord: HOPE

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Romans 5:3-4Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Psalm 42:5Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Hope: It’s a tiny little word that has a powerful meaning. We use the word hope all too lightly. We say things like, ” I hope you have a good day,” “I hope the garden does well this year,” or “I hope this weather cools off soon.” But hope isn’t just a little term of wishful thinking. It’s not simply an emotion. With hope, we have the power within us to turn to God and know that His promises are true. That’s real hope.

I started sharing these daily quiet time devotions and thoughts because I personally needed to get in God’s word to find hope for myself as I endured yet another crisis in life. This time it is an unseen virus that has been unleashed on us. It has wreaked havoc on our families, our nation, and our world. I needed to grab hold of some hope to cling to as I muddled my way through. I also felt that maybe someone reading my ramblings might be looking for and find a little hope too. I’ve recognized over the past months, as I have many times in my life, that once again I am not in control! I’ve always been one who had to “be in control” of the situation, but there are many things that are simply out of my control.

Having hope in Christ helps me to realize that though I can’t control a situation, I know the One who does. You see, having hope is really a mindset of determination to believe that though everything looks as though it’s falling apart, we can still know that God has everything under control. We can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but God can. Hope is knowing and trusting that God has plans for us. Hope is knowing without a shadow of a doubt that God loves us, and because of His great love for us, He will see us through this situation and any situation we encounter. Hope is knowing we will be spending eternity with our Savior. I truly hope that you all have a good day today! I know that I will because no matter what life throws at me, I know the One who is in control. My hope lies in Him!

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Give me a word, Lord: BETTER GET SOME HELP

Philippians 4:10-13 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Yesterday was a pretty busy day here on the farm, but that isn’t anything new. We sold our sheep. We had so many things to do yesterday so we went out early to separate the goats and the sheep. If you don’t know this by now, let me just share with you that I am kind of a hard headed woman. We were able to get the sheep, goats, deer, and emu all in one stall of the barn. We can lead those critters anywhere with a bucket of feed. That stall was too small for that many critters so we had to separate the other animals from the sheep that were being sold. Jeff, my husband, was removing the goats, deer, and emu one at a time, and I was working the door. I forget (much too frequently for my own good) that I am not as strong as my husband and never will be, but I sure do give it a good try. As Jeff was sorting animals, our normally very sweet, gentle ram, Mr. Man, decided he wanted to slip out of the stall door with the other animals that we were removing. I grabbed him by the horns, and about that time, he rammed my left hand into the stall door and twisted my right wrist around with his big old ram horns. I’ve got a nice purple shiner on my hand this morning, but no major damage to be reported thankfully. My goat guy, Raymond, bought our whole herd. We’ve bought several goats and even a couple of pair of sheep from him in the past, but this is the first time He bought animals from us. He came to pick up the sheep, and we had a nice visit.

After the sheep were gone, we grabbed some lunch in town and ran a couple of errands, and then we really got to work. We put down new flooring in the living and dining room a couple of months ago, and the guys finally worked us in on their schedule to come put new flooring down in our bedroom. After cleaning the rest of the house, we began to work on preparing the bedroom for the floor guys. I already knew this fact (but confirmed it multiple times yesterday) we have some very heavy furniture in our bedroom! We moved an extra night stand upstairs, then we moved the chest of drawers, dresser and mirror, another night stand, and my jewelry armoire into the living room along with lamps and a variety of other items. We dusted, swept, and mopped, and worked our tails off, but we are prepared for the guys to arrive this morning.

While doing the activities of the day, my husband caught me doing more that what he thought I should several different times. He said, “KK don’t pick that up. That’s too heavy.” “KK let me handle the sheep.” “You are going to hurt yourself.” Y’all just have to know my husband. He is a big, strong farmer, and he is tough. He is much stronger than me, and for years, I’ve wished I could match his strength with my own just so I could keep up with him. Even though I can’t match his strength, I still try my best to keep up with him. I try to work just as hard. This morning, I woke up with the evidence that I should’ve listened a little more closely to his loving instructions. I should not have tried to man handle a full grown ram. I should not have picked up some heavy items without waiting for him to put down the heavy item he was moving. Yep, the proof is in the pudding so they say, but it is actually on my left hand, in my right knee, and in my right butt cheek! Yes, my hand is purple. When I got out of bed this morning, my right knee was so stiff, I could hardly walk on it, and my sciatica literally kicked my butt last night.

All of this could have been avoided had I listened to my husband and not been so stubborn. My husband was right there helping me all day and insisting that I let him do the heavy lifting, but my hard head said, “I can do this by myself.” I think that this is similar to our Christian walk many times. We think that we can do everything all by ourselves. We think that we have all the strength that is needed to accomplish the tasks that life presents us with, but just like this arthritic body announced to me loud and clear this morning, the events of our lives will remind us daily that we can NOT do this thing called life all alone. But Paul tells us in Philippians 4:13 that we CAN do ALL things with Christ who gives us strength. We must recognize that our strength does not come from our old tired bones. No, my friends, our strength comes from Christ, and if He ordains it, if He puts something on your heart to do, if He is in it, you will have all of the strength you need to accomplish anything that Christ wants you to accomplish. Just like my hubby, Christ is there to do the heavy lifting. He will clear a path. He will move mountains if necessary just so that you can do what He has planned for you.

We all make great plans. We try to work hard and do our best, and many times we find that our best is not good enough. We get hurt. We fall short. We may even think about giving up. We can’t give up though. We are still running the race, Peeps, but we aren’t running the race alone. Christ goes before us, and Christ goes with us. Don’t be a hard head and try to do life without Him. Life with Christ is so much better! If you are trying to do everything alone, you better get some help! Let Christ help you today.

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Give me a word, Lord: GOD IS GREAT. GOD IS GOOD. LET US THANK HIM!

This is a devotional I shared a year ago, but I thought it was a good reminder that needed repeating.

Psalm 77 I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help. You don’t let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray! I think of the good old days, long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and ponder the difference now. Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion? And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.” But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations. By your strong arm, you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled! The sea quaked to its very depths. The clouds poured down rain; the thunder rumbled in the sky. Your arrows of lightning flashed. Your thunder roared from the whirlwind; the lightning lit up the world! The earth trembled and shook. Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there! You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.

“God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we are fed. Thank you God for daily bread.” I loved hearing my children recite this well known prayer before meals when they were little, and now my heart delights in hearing my grandson, Jude, bless our meals. It is always a struggle as the little ones begin to learn to pray this little prayer. I heard “lettuce is good” instead of “let us thank Him for our food” many times as Jude first began to bless our meals a couple of years ago. Eventually, he got it right. Now, he speaks boldly as he prays, never missing a word. It’s such a simple little prayer, but many times I think as adults we forget just how great and how good God is.

The psalmist in Psalm 77 seems to think that God has withdrawn from him. He is distressed and down, and he cried out to the Lord. He knew he had to seek God, but he feared that God had forgotten him. But then, he began recognizing the greatness of God. He remembered how mighty and awesome God is, the miracles He performed, the redemption of His people, and the majesty of God. Today we are so busy worrying over this and that. We try to fix things in our own power. We put our faith in ourselves. We struggle. We fall. We see our nation falling. We wonder if God has forgotten us.

Whoa, y’all! This is when we need to really remember the greatness of God. We can do as the Psalmist did and start reflecting on all of the wondrous miracles in the Bible of long ago, but we can also begin reflecting on the day to day miracles and blessings our very good God has given us here and now. Maybe it feels like He left us because we left Him. Have you ever thought of that? We desire our human relationships to work so we work at them. We communicate with the ones we love. We talk to them as much as possible. We stay in touch. To have a relationship with Christ, we have to communicate with Him, talk to Him, and acknowledge His presence, His glory, and His goodness. You wouldn’t have a very good relationship with your spouse if you never talked to him/her or if you only focused on the bad things in life without ever seeing the good. God is always good. He is always great. He never leaves us. He is always there. He is still mighty. He is still on the throne. He is still for us. The God that created the heavens & the earth created you and I because He thought the world needed us.

If you are feeling far removed from Christ, start doing as the Psalmist did. Call out to God. Get up close and personal. Recognize how great God is and has been in your life. I realized a long time ago that I can’t even do one day of this thing called life without God. He is so very good to me!

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Give me a word, Lord: TRUST

Psalm 5:11-12 Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. For you bless the godly, O Lord; you surround them with your shield of love.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. 

Psalm 63:7-8 Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.

Trust is defined by Miriam Webster “to place confidence in someone or something and to be confident: HOPE.” As humans, trust is sometimes hard to earn, hard to keep, and it is even more difficult to get back once it is lost. Unfortunately, our human nature is bound up in sin. Although, for the most part, we try to deal honestly and treat others righteously, from time to time we falter because we are human. We aren’t perfect. We all make mistakes. When someone we loves does something so completely opposite of what we believe that person should do, we lose our trust in that person. That person becomes untrustworthy, and once a person has become untrustworthy in our eyes, it takes a lot of work for that person to regain the trust that was lost. Yet, our gracious God gives us a heart that is capable of forgiving and a brain that is capable of forgetting when we learn to place our trust fully in Him.

It is not only people that we have trust issues with. Life in general is filled with roadblocks that cause distrust. I am a very logical person. I think things through. I plan. I want to see the end result. I want to know that in my world 2 + 2 will always equal 4. It should, right? I love it when everything works out just like it is supposed to work out, however, that is not the reality of life. Life gets in the way of the equation. People get in the way of the equation. Things happen that cause us to fret. I like predictability, but I have learned that life is totally unpredictable. No matter how well I plan my future, I know that I must be prepared for a change of plans at any moment.

So how then do we deal with our issues of trust when everything is life seems unworthy of our trust? Ah, my friend, that is when we go back to the definition of trust: to place confidence in someone or something and to be confident: HOPE. But wait a minute! I just reminded us all that we can’t trust anything of this world. We can’t seem to place complete confidence in someone or something with confidence can we? Pay attention to the last word of that definition: HOPE. That is the key to our trust issues. We must remain hopeful. Yes, we can remain hopeful in humanity, and many times humanity won’t fail us, but there is One in whom we can place complete hope and trust in: our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Unlike our human family and friends, Jesus has made promise after promise, and He has never ever broken even one single promise. He lived a perfect, sinless life in human form, and He did the incomprehensible when He took on all of our sins that day on the cross. He did this greatest act of unconditional love for you and for me, and because He graciously suffered and died for our sins and resurrected on the third day just as He promised, we can place complete faith and trust in Him.

For God has said, “I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear.  What can mere people do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6 God said it. I believe it. He will never fail you. He will never abandon you. We can place full confidence in Him. He is our hope! If you are having trust issues today, go talk to the One who gives us that hope!

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Give me a word, Lord: RESCUED

2 Samuel 22:3-4 My God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence. I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies.

Nahum 1:7 The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.

My sweet husband, Jeff, worked offshore in the oil industry for much of his life. People who haven’t lived the oilfield life do not understand, but those who live it understand completely. I’ve had people in the past tell me that it must be wonderful having a husband with such a good job, one that makes good money, and one that is gone from home half the time. He did have a really good job, and he did make good money. I can’t argue that fact, but at what cost? He was gone anywhere from 21 to 32 days at a time only to return home for 21-26 days. The days at home flew by. The days he was gone seemed to last an eternity. He missed holidays, birthdays, and many celebrations. Life of an oilfield man is not the good life most think it to be.

Jeff worked hard for his company. He worked long hours, 21 to 28 twelve hour shifts in a row, but he never complained. He has always been such a hard working man. He didn’t mind the work, but we both hated for him to be away from home. I always knew that there was danger on the rig, but it wasn’t until one dreadful morning that the reality of the danger touched my very core. About eight years ago, at 6:00 am on a Wednesday morning, I received a text message from my dear husband that read, “Well blowing. Choppers on their way. Evacuating.” My heart sunk. I tried messaging him back. There was no response. I immediately sent messages and made phone calls to my dearest friends and prayer warriors and begged for prayers. I prayed. I cried. I fretted. And I waited…and waited…and waited. I didn’t hear back from him for almost three LONG hours. He told me that the problem was temporarily under control. They had evacuated 24 non-essentials, but my husband was not considered non-essential. He is definitely very essential to me! They continued to work on the problem for almost twelve hours, and I finally received word that the the problems was fixed and that the entire crew was safe.

That was a very long, very tiring, extremely emotional day, yet through it all, I was reminded once again of our gracious Lord’s love and protection. I was reminded how important life was, also how fragile it can be. During the long hours of waiting, my thoughts were consumed with memories of previous oil rig explosions, fires, and tragedies. I was reminded of just how deeply I loved my husband. Through it all, I prayed for protection…protection for my husband and the entire crew. But I wasn’t the only one praying. I had a whole army of prayer warriors praying with me, and my God, my sweet, gracious loving God, saw fit to answer those prayers of protection that day. Not one single crewman was injured.

I think back to this day now, and I praise God for answering those prayers of protection. He is so faithful to hear the prayers of an insignificant being like me. There have been so many times in my life that God has shielded and protected me from harm when I didn’t even know that He did it. He has slowed me down on a morning drive and prevented me from being involved in an accident. He has redirected my path over and over again. He has gently whispered in my ear. The Lord doesn’t merely love us, y’all, He also protects us! Psalm 34:19 tells us, “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.” Therefore, if we are right with the Father, if we have accepted Christ as the ruler of our hearts, and we are truly living for Him. we can rest assured that though we will have trouble, the Lord will come to our rescue every time. His means of rescue may not quite look the way we pictured it each time, but He will rescue us for our own good and His glory! If you are struggling today and in need of rescue, call on the Giver of life. Come on, what are you waiting for? He’s waiting for your call right this very moment! Let Him rescue you too!

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Give me a word, Lord: DON’T COMPARTMENTALIZE CHRIST

Romans 12:1-2 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Yesterday, we had a guest pastor at our morning worship service. Bro. Lonnie O’quin brought the message from Romans 12:1-2. Bro. Lonnie is well known in our town. He is a retired pastor who shepherded the flock at a local church for almost forty years. Though retired, Bro. Lonnie is still a great man of God, and he is still on fire for the gospel. He spoke about the problem with many Christians choosing to compartmentalize Christ. It is a hard pill to swallow at first, but I have to admit that I have been guilty of this myself in the past. To compartmentalize means to divide into sections. Many are guilty of doing this in their faith walk. We put our Christianity in a nice, tidy little compartment, and we store it away and only pull it out once a week or when it is really needed. Unfortunately, the drawer pulls on that compartment are sometimes shinier than all of the other compartments of our lives. Peeps, that isn’t how God intended us to live.

This is a mindset of primarily a Sunday morning worshipper. Many times, Christians feel that they must go to church on Sunday. It could be due to a feeling of obligation, or hopefully, it is the calling of the Holy Spirit, but sometimes after that Sunday morning worship is over, it becomes business as usual. We think we need to act or live a certain way on Sunday because, well, Sunday is God’s day, right? So we give Him that day. He is safely tucked away in that compartment, and we pull Him out on Sundays. We serve Him for one day of the week. Then comes Monday. On Monday, we get back into the routine of serving ourselves. We work long hours. We take care of business. We do what needs to be done, but we forget to include the Lord. We forget to talk to Him and read his Word everyday. We forget to share the pits and the praises of the day with our heavenly Father. We live the way we want to live. We do what we want to do. We do all of this without a thought of our salvation. But then comes Sunday, and we give that day to the Lord again, because, well, Sunday is God’s day. We open that compartment up, but we only open it for the day.

I’m not pointing fingers at anyone. If I did, I would have four fingers pointing right back at me. I too have been guilty of compartmentalizing my Christianity in the past. The problem with this is that Jesus didn’t call us to be Christians part of the time. No, my friends, He called us to follow Him ALL the time. We can’t fill up our tanks with the Word of God on Sunday mornings and expect that tank to stay full all week. Our tanks will run on empty within just a day or two. Scripture tells us that followers of Christ will be recognized by our love for the Lord, our love for others, and the fruit that we are bearing. If we spend six out of seven days ignoring the Lord, I can guarantee you that we won’t be producing any fruits of the Spirit. And we sure won’t be showing love to or for the Lord in doing so.

Paul shares with us in the book of Romans that we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord…the kind that He will find acceptable. I’m pretty sure playing church on Sunday and living outside of His will the rest of the week is not what He would find acceptable. We can’t live like the rest of the world lives. We can’t follow the current cultural trends. We must stay true to our Savior. We must stay true to the Word of God. The only way that we can do this is to stay in the Word of God. We must have a true around the clock, real life, heart to heart relationship with the Savior. He’s not a genie in a bottle that we can call out when we need Him. Our Lord wants to be part of our daily lives. He loves us completely. He loves the good, the bad, and the ugly. He took our sins on that day on that cross. He loves us so very much. He does not belong in a compartment!

This week I challenge you to live out loud for Christ. Don’t store Him away in a compartment until next Sunday. Keep His Word close. Meditate scripture. Pray. Talk to our Lord daily, maybe even hourly. Live out loud for Christ! You won’t regret it for a moment.

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Give me a word, Lord: WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH JESUS?

Matthew 27:22 Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

Although this Easter has come and gone, I can not help but continue to dwell on thoughts of my Savior and that life changing event that changed everything for all of us. I can not help but remember the scripture, consider the events, and recognize the awful tragedy that turned out to be the most magnificent, life changing event of all time. Our Savior was betrayed. He was beaten. He was crucified. Life left His human body, but we can not forget that our Savior was one of a kind. He was fully human, yes, but He was also fully God. Death and burial could not keep Him. He arose on the third day just as it had been prophesied.

This morning, let us ponder the words of Pilate. Pilate was in charge of keeping peace, and He searched Jesus and reviewed the claims against Him, but Pilate could not find cause to crucify Him. However, the religious leaders of the day wanted to have Jesus crucified for their claim of blasphemy. Still, Pilate found Jesus guilty of no crime. He wanted to wash his hands of this situation, and he asked a question that we should still be asking today. Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” What should we do with Jesus who is called the Messiah? Well, the people responded to Pilate that Jesus should be crucified. They shouted it. They chanted it. They called for the release of Barabbas. They wanted Jesus to take the place of this criminal. They chose to crucify our Savior.

When asked what to do with Jesus, the crowd crucified Him. They thought that the story would end in His death. Oh how wrong they were! The centurion who witnessed the death of Jesus, the ripping of the temple curtain from top to bottom, the darkness over the whole earth, the earthquake, the splitting of rocks, and tombs opening with saints rising and walking again, recognized the glory of Jesus and who He was. He declared, “This man truly was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:54 The women who came to the tomb to prepare the body with spices were shocked to learn that the Messiah had risen, but they believed. Over 500 people saw Jesus after the resurrection before He ascended to heaven, and when He ascended, He did not leave us alone. He left a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who is with us wherever we go.

Jesus took the place of Barabbas on that cross, but it wasn’t merely Barabbas that He took the place of. No, my friends, Jesus didn’t take the place of Barabbas on that cross. He assumed that place for you and for me. He suffered and died on that cross so that you and I could be redeemed. He took on our sins that day. A sinless Christ took on the sins of each of us so that we may be made right with the Father…so that we may have eternal life in our heavenly home.

So I ask you today, “What are you going to do with Jesus?” Are you going to think of Him as a religious leader who died long ago? Are you going to consider Him a main character in the oldest, most read book of all time? Or are you going to recognize that Jesus is who He said He is…realize that He is the Son of God? Will you understand that He came to earth as man to feel our emotions, feel our pain, and show us what unconditional love truly is? Do you know that He truly is the Messiah, our Salvation, Immanuel, God with us? His death on the cross was not the end of the story. It was only the beginning. Accepting Him as your Savior is not the end of the story. It is only the beginning. When we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, it is the beginning of new life. So what do we do with Him now? We live our life for Him. We stay in His Word. We worship Him. We sing His praises. We commune with Him. We can go to Him anytime day or night. He is always there, ready, willing, and able to take you call. We can get dressed and go to church this morning to hear His word and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We share Him with this lost and dying world. There is so much that we can do with this Jesus. The reality is that everything we do should be done with Jesus in mind. Ponder this question today, and I assure you that it will help bring you closer to this Jesus!

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Give me a word, Lord: IF THE GOOD LORD’S WILLING AND THE CREEK DON’T RISE

James 4:13-16 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.

There is an old saying around our neck of the woods: “If the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.” We say this when we have made plans with intention of carrying those plans out. For example, I am going out of town tomorrow with a friend if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise. I’m going to start a new job tomorrow if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise. Or perhaps, I’m going to start a new diet and exercise plan tomorrow if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise. You get the picture. I know that this isn’t correct grammar, and I am a grammar Nazi, but still it as an old familiar saying, and I have said these very words many times myself.

Last night our creek rose. We live on eighty acres, and a little creek called Whitesand Creek runs through our property. Our back deck overlooks the creek. Most of the time, it is shallow enough to actually walk across. Oh, you would get wet if you did, but you wouldn’t drown. The water flows gently by with a comforting sound that I have enjoyed so much through the years. However, if it rains a lot and the rain comes down fast, the creek swells. Our house is up high, and praise God, our home has never flooded. It would take a monsoon for the water to reach our home, but our driveway, well that is another story. Our driveway is about a half a mile long, and there are two different culverts along the drive in which natural branches of water from the creek flow through. When we get a lot of rain in a short period of time, the driveway floods. This morning, we are flooded in. The creek has risen. The driveway is flooded. My husband ventured out to check the water company that he operates only to call me back and tell me not to leave the house. He said the water nearly came over his hood of his truck as he drove down the driveway. Yes, the creek has risen, and I’m going to stay put for a while. I actually don’t mind that one bit! I am off today for the first day this week, and I’m going to enjoy the little bit of time while the creek has risen!

I didn’t really have anything away from the home planned today so I’m actually okay with my current situation. Yet I started thinking about that old familiar saying: if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, and I started thinking “if the good Lord is willing it doesn’t matter if the creek rises or not.” We are in the habit of making plans. I don’t know about you, but I am a planner. I am a researcher. I like to know all of the details of the events that I am going to attend. I begin researching and planning out a family vacation months in advance. I like to have a plan. My husband on the other hand is a fly by the seat of your pants kind of guy. I plan, and he just goes with it. Planning gives me comfort. However, I’ve learned over and over again that it doesn’t matter how well I plan things out, if it isn’t God’s plan, it isn’t going to happen, and if it is God’s plan, it WILL happen. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the level of the creek or the amount of detail in the planning. If it is God’s will, you can’t stop it, and if it isn’t God’s will, you can’t make it happen.

I don’t think that making plans is a bad thing. Plans are actually good, but rather than saying if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, perhaps we should only say if the good Lord’s willing because if it is His will, it shall be. James explains this clearly. We can make all of the plans that we want, but those plans must include the Lord. We must pray for His will in our lives, and then the plans that we make will be within His will. Let His plans become our plans. Let us make plans according to the will of our Father. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. James 4:16

Don’t worry about the creek rising up to foil your plans, but rather invite the Lord into your planning process and let Him lead you.

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Give me a word, Lord: EVERYDAY IS SPRING

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

Colossians 3:10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I LOVE SPRING! Spring has to be my absolute favorite time of the year. It is the newness of life that I love most about spring. After suffering through cold, gray winter days, new life begins to appear. The trees blossom out with bright new green leaves. The grass slowly changes from brown to green. The birds start singing before daybreak, and they continue to sing their songs of praise all day long. Yesterday, I worked the morning hours in the clinic, but came home and truly enjoyed an afternoon off with my sweet husband. He took me to lunch, and then he treated me to a well past due pedicure. Afterwards, we rode over to feed the calves on the side by side. The grassy fields are beautifully green, and the grass is so thick. We do indeed have some very happy cows here at Hodge Lodge. After feeding and checking in on the cattle, we came back home, made coffee, and went out the the back deck to relax. I laid in the hammock and looked around and just soaked in the beauty all around me. Everything is so pretty right now. The temperature was perfect in the high 70s. The creek below the deck was trickling gently, and the birds were singing their little hearts out. I’ve been to some beautiful places in my life, and I’ve seen some beautiful country, but nothing on this side of heaven feels as good as my own personal little vacation spot on the back deck of our home. All of the worries of the world are gently washed away with the trickling flow of our little Whitesand Creek.

Yes, my friends, spring is the best season for me. It’s not too cold, and it hasn’t gotten too hot just yet. I almost wish it could stay this temperature all year long. I do wish we could enjoy spring all year, but as I think about that wish, I realize that we actually can. With God, every single day we walk on this earth, we can enjoy spring. We can enjoy the newness of life with our Savior. The old gray worries of yesterday can be washed away by the love and grace of our Father. It’s true, y’all. Every day we can enjoy spring when we begin to celebrate our salvation on a daily basis. We should be singing His praises louder than those birds. We should wake up each morning and rejoice in the new day recognizing that our sovereign Lord has given us one more day in this old body to share the Good News. Every day we wake up and are given the opportunity to celebrate the newness of life of one more day. We must not dread the tasks of the day, but rather enjoy the new opportunities that our Lord will present us with each day.

Winter will come again, but we must not dread the cold, gray days. When we have a relationship with the Creator, we can celebrate spring every single day! Do you know the Creator and giver of life? If you don’t, let today be the day that you get to know Him personally. Join in the celebration! Spring is here, and with Christ, every day is spring!

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Give me a word, Lord: STORMS OF LIFE

Hebrews 6:18-19 God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

Early this morning around 2:30 am, a storm blew in. It was not a mere rain shower. No, it was a real gully washer, thunder booming storm. I lay quietly in bed listening to the clashes of thunder and watching the lightning as it lit up the sky. It felt like the whole house was shaking with each boom of thunder. I was waiting for my big Bouvier des Flandres dogs, Sophie and Bear, to jump into bed with me because although they are big brave dogs, they are scared of thunder. They refrained from jumping in the bed, but stayed closely nestled on the floor next to the bed. My sweet husband was lying beside me sleeping quietly through the entire storm. It lasted for at least thirty minutes. God was displaying His power in vibrant strikes of lightning, sheets of heavy rain, and raging winds.

As I lay there listening to the storm around me, I thought about the storms that we have endured over the past year. I’m not talking about the wind, rain, thunder, and lightning storms. No, I am referring to the different storms of life that we have endured since the beginning of 2020. COVID-19 came in like a lion, and we thought it would quickly leave like a lamb. To our great dismay, COVID-19 decided to linger a while longer. We had a presidential election debacle and concern of election fraud. Many have been ill with this crazy virus, and friends and family members have succumbed to it. Jobs have been lost. Businesses have been closed. We are still wearing masks in public. Everything within my medical practice has changed. It has been a stormy year indeed. I venture to say that this has been the most difficult year I’ve practiced in all of my many years as a family nurse practitioner. But even though it has been a most trying year, and I occasionally get overwhelmed, I can still lie down and close my eyes at night and sleep just as peacefully as my husband did last night while that storm was raging. Why? Because I know who controls the storms. Whether it be a vicious thunderstorm or a battle with an unseen virus, my God is in control, and because I know that He is in control, I can rest easy.

God is our anchor in the storm. He is our hope. He is our shield. He is our protection. I know you are probably going through some kind of storm right now too. Storms come and go, but no matter how loud the thunder booms or how strong the wind blows, we have an anchor that will keep us grounded throughout it all. We who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. Grab hold to the hope that is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. The storms may rage, but we don’t have to face them alone. Place your hope in the Anchor!

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Give me a word, Lord: GOD KNOWS

2 Corinthians 2:17-18 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Four days ago was the 17 year anniversary of my mother’s death. I don’t celebrate that with sadness. I know she is in heaven, and I rejoice in that. But I do miss her for sure! This time of year always make me reflect a little more on life and death. I’m not sure why my mama had to leave at such a young age of 59, but God does. People tell me frequently that I’m one of the toughest people they know. No matter how tough I am or how strong I get, I’ll never be tough enough! Farming is the hardest job I’ll ever have! I’m up at 5:00 am and to bed by 10:00 most days while working around here and at the clinic in between, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. A few years ago in April, we were rejoicing in new life as Merida, my sweet Scottish Highland cow, gave birth to our first long awaited little Scottish Highland calf. I had been talking to that mama for months, rubbing her belly, and I was all up in the middle of her Koolaid when that baby was being born. She delivered a beautiful deep auburn colored heifer calf, one of the prettiest calves I had ever seen. It truly could not have been a prettier baby. The next morning, I awoke with great anticipation. I couldn’t wait to get out to the field to check on her and get acquainted. But to my great dismay, when I arrived at her side, I found a very sick calf. Her breathing was raspy. She had fluid in her lungs. She had apparently aspirated during the delivery, and she didn’t make it. I was heart broken to say the least. I don’t know why I had to lose that beautiful little calf that I had been anxiously awaiting for over nine months, but God does. God also knew I needed a twenty minute drive to work so that I could cry some cleansing tears all the way to work that day, and then He must’ve thought I needed to keep my mind busy too because he sent nearly sixty patients for me to see that day. Yes, my God takes care of every detail.

I hear of accidents occurring daily. I hear of many who are sick, loved ones who have passed away, suicides, tragedies, and I still can’t help but wonder why? Although I wonder, I find that the answer is always the same. I don’t know why, but God does. His plans are bigger than our plans, and His ways are greater than our ways. When things don’t seem to go our way, we need not fear and fret. It is in those times that our loving Father wants us to cling to Him even more tightly. Don’t you just love those God hugs? Whenever I lose a critter here on the farm or when I have had an especially tough day at the clinic, I can’t wait to see my husband. I fall into him, and he wraps those big strong arms around me and gives me a great big hug. All the worries of the day just melt away. God hugs are just like that. We may not physically feel those arms around us, but when we take our troubles to the foot of the cross, He wraps us up with all of His strength, grace, and mercy, and our hearts and minds feel an overwhelming sense of peace. All the worries of the day just melt away. That is a God hug, y’all!

We may never understand the why…why we lose the ones we love, why we suffer, or why life doesn’t go as planned, but God does. We do not have to be strong enough to handle all of the troubles that come our way. We must only be strong enough to place our trust in Him. It only takes a little faith. Scripture tells us that we only need faith the size of a mustard seed, and that’s a good thing, because mustard seed sized faith is sometimes all I have, but that little seed of faith grows bigger and stronger with every single day spent with my Savior. We must remember our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. Fix your eyes not on your troubles but rather on the Savior today!

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Give me a word, Lord: SUNDAY IS COMING

Matthew 28:6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. 

Mark 16:6 but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body.

Romans 6:5-6 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.

I know that Easter Sunday has come and gone for this year, but we should never stop celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. This past Sunday, we went to early morning sunrise service. We gathered outside of the church in a vacant field which is the planned area where our new church addition will be built. It was cold…so cold! The temperature was in the forties, but that is nothing unusual for Easter Sunday here. The older people call it the Easter snap. We usually get one last little burst of cold air just before spring really gets sprung into action. We sat out there shivering, but we were gently warmed up by singing praise songs about our resurrected Savior. The sun began peaking through the pine trees in front of us, and our pastor shared the focus scripture of Matthew 28:6. We enjoyed a hot breakfast in the fellowship with our faith family, and then rushed home to prepare lunch. After completing our preparations for lunch, we loaded back into the car to return for morning worship. By that time, the sun was up, and the warmth of the sun could be felt. It wasn’t cold anymore. It was warm. The Son had risen.

I told my husband on the way to church that the temperature change reminded me of how those women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, must have felt on that glorious resurrection day. They went down to the tomb of their dead and buried Messiah to prepare His body with spices. Their Savior had died. He was gone, but they loved Him greatly and wanted to prepare and preserve the body with the typical burial spices and perfumes of the day. It must have felt very cold to them that morning. I bet they even shivered at the thought of their great loss. Their Savior had died, and with Him, perhaps their faith. For the first time since they met and fell in love with Jesus, I imagine that the felt that all hope was lost. Yes, I bet they were cold. I think that their hearts were cold. Their faith was cold. Jesus was dead. But God! Oh, but God! The women made it to the tomb to do their duties of caring for the dead body only to discover that their Savior was no longer there. He had risen from the grave! That cold, dead feeling was no more. Their faith had been restored. Their hope was resurrected. That morning that started out so cold was now full of life because the Son had risen!

One thing that I must point out is that we too have that same opportunity to grasp the love of Christ, hold on to that hope, and keep the faith. Jesus died on that cross for each and every one of us. He could have stepped right down. He could have said no. He could have done a lot of things, but He didn’t. That one extraordinary simple act changed everything! He suffered death on the cross because He knew that His death would bring life to you and to me. Our sins died with Him that day. He was the final sacrificial lamb, and His gracious, loving act of obedience even to death gives each and every one of us unfathomable hope for the future. We are all dead in sin, but we do not have to stay there. We too can be resurrected. We only have to invite the Savior into our hearts, acknowledge that He is Lord, believe that He died for our sins, and confess that He is our salvation.

One fine day, Jesus will return to gather us all home! What a glorious day that will be. Friday wasn’t good. It was a devastating day of death, but just as our Lord promised, He would rise again on Sunday! He did! He is alive! Don’t lose faith and hope, my friends. Hang on! Sunday is coming! The Son is coming again!

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Give me a word, Lord: PATCHWORK QUILT

Psalm 139:13-16 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

1 John 3:2 Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.

This past Friday, my aunt asked us to come to her home, the home of my late grandparents, to go through some of my grandmother’s things. She had a variety of personal belongings that had belonged to my grandmother, and she wanted to share these things with her grandchildren. There was nothing of great monetary value, but oh what priceless items she shared! She gave each of us an old quilt that had been hand sewn by my grandmother. These quilts were not show quilts that one would hang on the wall. No, these quilts were hand sewn together with great love and hard work by my daddy’s mother many years ago. As a matter of fact, they hadn’t only been sewn by my grandmother, they had also been well used over the years. The quilt I received is a beautiful patchwork of colorful fabric woven together so that each piece fits perfectly together to form a quilt. One of the edges is worn and raveling, but I still think it is a work of art because I know that it was created by the hands of my loving grandmother. And though the edges are unraveling, parts of the quilt are completely intact and secure: the quilting stitches. They may be the smallest stitches in the whole quilt, but they are also the strongest, and those simple hand sewn quilting stitches keep the quilt from falling apart.

I hung the quilt over my balcony railing. Though tattered and worn, it represents much more to me than an old bed covering. When I look at that quilt, I see a resemblance to each of our lives. We are like that old patchwork quilt. Our loving Father has crafted us. Yes, He knit us together in our mother’s womb, and He didn’t forget one single, perfect stitch. Just as every quilt that my grandmother made was unique, our Father created us uniquely different. He provided each of us with the perfect shade of color, and He gave each of us a distinct beauty of our own. There is not another quilt exactly like the one my grandma made in this whole world, and there is not another person exactly like you or exactly like me either. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made by our Father.

But that’s not all of the story. Our Father made us wonderfully, but He isn’t finished with us yet. He designed each and every one of us with a special plan in mind. My grandmother had to take a multitude of fabric pieces and place them together, fit the side by side, lay out a design, and carefully stitch the pieces in place to form the beauty of a quilt. Our Lord and Savior created each one of us with a very personal and specific plan for our lives. He gave each of us special talents and abilities to carry out that specific plan. Our Father adds and removes people from our lives that help shape us into the person that He desires for us to be. He may completely rearrange our lives when necessary to shape us for His use and His glory. However, through all of the changes, the shaping, and possibly a nip here or a tuck there, our Father gently puts all of the pieces together to form a beautiful patchwork quilt tapestry of life that glorifies Him.

Yes, my friends, we are all like an old patchwork quilt. We may feel tattered and worn from time to time, but we have to remember that we are gently sewn together by the Master. He gently sews each quilting stitch in place. He holds us together in the palm of His hands, and though we may feel like we are going to fall apart, we only need remember that the Master formed us fearfully and wonderfully, and He will hold us together just like those hand sewn quilting stitches. If you are feeling like all of the pieces of your life are falling apart, go to the Master quilter. He will gently but surely put all the pieces back together again for your good and His glory.

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Give me a word, Lord: THE TOMB IS EMPTY

Matthew 28:1-10 Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.  Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are lookig for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.” The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”

Happy Easter, Peeps! Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Good Friday was a terrible day for our Savior when He hung on that cross. He was tortured and crucified for our sins. He could have stopped the men from crucifying Him. He could have stopped them with a look or even one word, but He didn’t. He could have avoided the beatings, the crown of thorns, the piercings, and oh, the suffering. He could have stopped them dead in their tracks. But He didn’t! He didn’t stop them. It was prophesied long before that dreadful day that Jesus would be the propitiation for our sins. It was foretold that this Messiah would be the Holy Lamb of God. Yes, our Lord and Savior went through pure agony, extreme suffering, awful pain, and even death. He did this for you, and He did this for me. I tear up when I think of the anguish that my Savior endured so that all of my sins could be forgiven. I hang my head in shame when I think about all of the many times I have failed Him. This Savior died on that old rugged cross for my sins. The shear thought of such an act of immeasurable love shakes me to my core.

But we must remember that the tomb is empty. Death could not hold Him. The stone was rolled away. The linen cloth was folded. His body was not there. Just as it was prophesied, Christ arose on that third day. The angel shared this fact at the empty tomb, but we don’t have only the word of the angel. Over 500 people saw the risen Savior after that faithful day. Can you imagine the surprise of the women who went to prepare the body with perfumes and oils? Can you imagine the shock? They believed that He was the Messiah, but their faith had possibly died with their Savior. They thought that He was gone forever, and they wanted to prepare His body for eternity in that tomb. But He was not there. Just imagine how they must have felt! The resurrection of Jesus changed the course of history forever.

That empty tomb is something that we can hold onto. The empty tomb declares that our lives are not merely on a one way trip to the cemetery. No, the resurrection of our Savior and that empty tomb declare that there is hope. We don’t have to fear death. We don’t have to fear the tomb. No, my friends, if we are in Christ, death on earth is just the beginning. We too will be resurrected to live in eternity with our Father. I can only imagine how wonderful that day will be. I pray that you know without a shadow of a doubt that you too will be spending eternity with our Savior. If you do not know this, today is the absolute best day to invite Jesus into your heart! It is resurrection day. Let your dead heart be resurrected today. He will make you new!

The tomb is empty! Let us celebrate the risen Savior!

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Give me a word, Lord: RAISED UP

John 12:1-2 Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him.

Last week in our ladies’ Bible study, we look at John chapter 11, but rather than focusing our attention on Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, we paid particular attention to the four day waiting period that occurred from the time of Lazarus’ death until the time that Jesus arrived at Bethany. We also considered the response of both Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus and the weight of the wait. The wait for Jesus must have been almost too much for the sisters. They knew Jesus. He was a personal friend to them, and they knew in their hearts that if He had been there, Lazarus would not have died. They even sent word to Jesus regarding Lazarus’ illness, but Jesus tarried. He delayed His return to Bethany on purpose so that the glory of God would be made known. There was a belief of some during that time period that up to three days after death, there was some mystical way that breath could be restored to a dead person. Jesus didn’t return on day one, two, or three. No, He showed up on day four. It was too late for Lazarus in the eyes of those in Bethany, but it wasn’t too late for Jesus. Perhaps everyone had given up hope. The sisters who had faith that Jesus was the Messiah had even lost faith. Their hope was dead. But Jesus…Jesus arrived right on time raised up Lazarus from the dead, and at the same time, He raised up both Mary and Martha from a dead place in their hearts. His actions brought their dead faith back to life. Yes, He raised them up too.

When we read chapter 12, we see that Lazarus, the man that was raised up from the dead, is sitting at a table and eating with Jesus. This is a pretty cool thing to consider. Literally, a man who was dead is now dining at the table with the Jesus. That is powerful. This is a reflection of what God still does for His people today. Lazarus was dead, but Jesus raised him from the dead and seated him right beside him at the table. Jesus does the same thing for you and I. Until we come to know Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are dead. We are spiritually as dead as Lazarus was in that tomb, but we don’t have to stay dead. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and invite Him into our hearts, He gives us a newness of life. For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Romans 6:4 Yes, He raises us up, and that is not all. He then seats us in a seat of honor and glory with Him. That even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:5-6

Before Christ, we are lifeless. With Christ, we become full of life, but that is not all. He doesn’t just give us life everlasting, He invites us to sit at the table with Him. He invites us in. He invites us into a close fellowship with Him, a loving relationship, and true communion with Christ. If that doesn’t rock your world, you better check your pulse! So many times in this life, we worry and fret because we didn’t receive and invitation to someone else’s table. We may feel we were not good enough. We may think that the other person doesn’t like us. We may feel that we have done something to offend them. None of that matters to God! He knows who we are to the very center of our beings. He knows us. He knows the good, the bad, and the ugly, and yet He wants to raise us up from the death of sin, and He wants to bring us right to His table. He wants to forgive us of our sins and trespasses, and He wants to wash us whiter than snow. And just like Lazarus, He wants to seat us in a place of honor and glory.

Isn’t Jesus just absolutely, totally amazing, y’all? The love and grace that He has for mankind is absolutely mind boggling. We are such broken people, but He takes the broken and makes us new. He raises us up from spiritual death and revives us. He can take any part of our life that is dead and resuscitate it. If you are feeling a bit lifeless today, call on Jesus. He will raise you up today! He is inviting you to His table. That is an invitation that you really need to accept!

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Give me a word, Lord: HOLY WEEK: CRUCIFIXION FRIDAY

John 19: 28-30 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Today we celebrate Good Friday, a day that was so gloomy and sad, but also a day that lead to redemption and salvation for us all. We continue our reflection on the events that lead up to that glorious resurrection day as we look at Friday’s events. This week, I have been sharing the words of a friend of mine for this Holy Week rather than my own words. The words were written by a friend of mine, Bro. William “Quentin” McCardle. Quentin was not only a friend, he was a pastor and a high school culinary arts teacher. He touched the lives of many during his short time on earth. Bro. Quentin was called to his heavenly home last year. However, he left behind a legacy. Each year during Holy Week, he shared a daily devotional describing the events of that particular day of the week. I have been honoring Bro. Quentin’s memory by sharing his writings in my blog this week. I pray that you have enjoyed these writings. Today I will share the last of Bro. Quentin’s Holy Week devotionals. Let us continue to savor the Word of God each day and realize the great price our Lord paid for our salvation. Please read John chapter 19 as part of your daily Bible readings today, but don’t forget your tissues. There will be tears. The following words are those of Bro Quentin.

I can’t help but wonder how many people truly know the reason we have Good Friday. It’s not about Easter Bunnies or garden planting nor is it “just another day.” Today is the commemoration of an event that changed the course of human history. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” the plan of salvation had been completed. Jesus accomplished what millions of gallons of animal blood couldn’t do! As the Lamb of God shed His blood the veil that stood between the priest and God was opened. We no longer need priests to cover our sins, Jesus is the High Priest and He makes intercession for us! Blessed be the Lamb of Glory. He paid a debt He didn’t owe because I owed a debt I couldn’t pay!

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Give me a word, Lord: HOLY WEEK: MAUNDY THURSDAY

John 13:1-5 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

We continue our reflection on the events that lead up to that glorious resurrection day as we look at Thursday’s events. This week, I have sharing the words of a friend of mine for this Holy Week rather than my own words. The words were written by a friend of mine, Bro. William “Quentin” McCardle. Quentin was not only a friend, he was a pastor and a high school culinary arts teacher. He touched the lives of many during his short time on earth, and left this earth at a young age. However, he left behind a legacy. Each year during Holy Week, he shared a daily devotional describing the events of that particular day of the week. I am continuing to honor Bro. Quentin by sharing his writings in my blog this week. Let us take this week to really savor the Word of God and realize the great price our Lord paid for our salvation. Please read John chapter 13 verses 1 through 20 as part of your daily Bible readings today. The following words were written by Bro. Quentin.

Maundy Thursday is the day Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples. After the meal, he took a towel and began to wash the disciples feet. Can you imagine? The Lord of Glory seen fit to wash another’s feet? This was a job reserved for a mere servant not God incarnate. Yet Jesus told them He came to serve and serve He did! You see, through foot washing we are taught the importance of servant-leadership. So often we are guilty of mere lip service but when people see your humility and unselfish works, they can see Christ in you! The act of foot washing also reminds us that even though my faith is in Christ and He has cleansed me from all unrighteousness, the sins I commit daily hinder my relationship with Him until they too are repented of. Serve Christ today by serving others. John 13:1-20. By the way, Maundy is a Latin term for foot washing!

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Give me a word, Lord: HOLY WEEK: WEDNESDAY

John 12:4-8 But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

We continue our reflection on the events that lead up to that glorious resurrection day as we look at Wednesday’s events. This week, I have sharing the words of a friend of mine for this Holy Week rather than my own words. The words were written by a friend of mine, Bro. William “Quentin” McCardle. Quentin was not only a friend, he was a pastor and a high school culinary arts teacher. He touched the lives of many during his short time on earth. I am honoring Bro. Quentin by sharing his writings in my blog this week. Let us take this week to really savor the Word of God and realize the great price our Lord paid for our salvation. Please read John chapter 11 and 12 as part of your daily Bible readings today. The following words were written by Bro. Quentin.

Today is Spy Wednesday and the belief is that today marks the day when Jesus was anointed in Bethany. The disciples wanted Jesus to rebuke the one who anointed Him believing the ointment could have been sold and added to the treasury. Judas desired to keep the money and after this event he decided to spy on Christ for the Sanhedrin. We are often too quick to pass judgement on Judas for betraying Christ for 30 pieces of silver, but how many times do we also betray our Lord by living for our own selfish desires? Isn’t He worth more to you than things of the world? He should be……..God help us to totally yield to Him.

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Give me a word, Lord: HOLY WEEK: TUESDAY

Matthew 24:3-8 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

Yesterday, I began sharing the words of a friend of mine for this Holy Week rather than my own words. The words were written by a friend of mine, Bro. William “Quentin” McCardle. Quentin was not only a friend, he was a pastor and a high school culinary arts teacher. He touched the lives of many during his short time on earth. I am sharing his Holy Week devotionals this week as a reminder for us to reflect on the days that lead up to the crucifixion and resurrection, but I am also sharing these words to honor the memory of a wonderful man of God. Let us continue to savor the Word of God and realize the great price our Lord paid for our salvation as we study His Word this week. Please read Matthew chapter 24 as part of your daily Bible readings today. The following words were written by Bro. Quentin.

Today is known to many as Holy Tuesday. Traditionally this is the day Jesus gave the Olivet Discourse prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem and his return. Hatred and animosity would be the trademark of society, many would claim to be the messiah, nations would war with others, famines and natural disasters would become commonplace; all this would lead up to his return. The Olivet message was taught to give the disciples of Jesus hope for tomorrow. They would soon see the hatred of the world turn toward Jesus, not long after, they would face much of the same persecutions. All of the disciples, with the exception of John, were martyred for their belief in Jesus. But the Olivet sermon still gave the disciples hope and filled their hearts with joy because Jesus would come again and establish His kingdom! No matter how rough the world is, it’s all part of a bigger picture and purpose, but we have no need to fear! Those who have placed their faith and trust in Christ will rejoice at His return. Christians are admonished to keep watching, keep waiting and keep working! Today is a good day to be thinking of His return. Are you ready to meet Him? (Read Matthew 24)

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Give me a word, Lord: HOLY WEEK: MONDAY

Mark 11:12-25 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city. In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

As we all know, this is the week that leads up to Resurrection Sunday, also known as Easter. This is the day that we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. I think that this is a great time for reflection on the events that lead up to that glorious resurrection day, and I would like to do something a bit different this week. I am going to share the words of a friend of mine rather than my own words. The words that you will read over the next five days were written by my friend, Bro. William “Quentin” McCardle. Quentin was not only a friend, he was a pastor and a high school culinary arts teacher. He touched the lives of many during his short time on earth. He invited me to speak at his church once, and his flock welcomed me with open arms. He also spoke at one of our ladies’ ministry meetings at our church and taught us to prepare some hot and spicy jambalaya. He told us that he planned to have a cookbook printed one day, and he like the title “Praise the Lord and Pass the Biscuits.” That dream never came to fruition as Bro. Quentin was called to his heavenly home last year. Bro. Quentin was a man who loved God, loved his family, loved his church, loved his students, and loved to cook. However, he left us at a young age, but he behind a legacy. Each year during Holy Week, he shared a daily devotional describing the events of that particular day of the week. I would like to honor Bro. Quentin by sharing his writings in my blog this week. The following words are his, not mine. Let us take this week to really savor the Word of God and realize the great price our Lord paid for our salvation. Read Mark chapter 11 as part of your daily scripture reading today.

During Holy Week I want to share the significance of each day. Leading up to the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection. Monday was the day Jesus headed to the Temple and was angered by the thievery taking place there. However, on His way he noticed a fig tree full of leaves. Being hungry, he approached the tree hoping to eat of it’s fruit, but the tree was barren. He then cursed the tree and by the next day, it had withered and died. When asked to explain, He likened the fig tree to Israel. They had the Word of the Law and Prophets but yet failed to realize Jesus is the Messiah. They had a form of godliness, but instead of trusting Jesus, they placed their faith in their religious obligations, thus making them useless in Kingdom work. Don’t be guilty of trusting in your religion. Religion teaches you how to try and work your way into the Kingdom, but only faith and trust in the Messiah will take you there. Don’t be like the barren fig tree, you may look like a healthy Christian, but if you aren’t producing fruit, you are worthless to the Lords work. Stay tuned for Tuesday’s significance as we follow Christ during the last week of His earthly ministry.

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Give me a word, Lord: WHO AM I?

John 1:12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

I venture to say that we all know who Christ is. He is Lord, Master, Teacher, Son of God, Lamb of God, the Great I Am, Yahweh, king of Kings, Immanuel, the Alpha and Omega, the Light of the world, the Resurrection and the Life, and the list goes on and on. If we are His children, we know who He is. We know how wonderful and marvelous our Master and Savior truly is. But what is our identity? Who are we? That is the thought I am pondering on this beautiful bluebird morning. Who am I in Christ?

When we accept Christ into our hearts, and truly allow Him to be the Lord of our lives, we are changed. We become a new person in Christ, and that old person is no more. Scripture gives us many examples of who we are in Christ. Let us review a few of these from scripture to remind us of who we are. We are holy and without blame, and chosen to be His even before the beginning of the world. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. (Ephesians 1:4) We are friends of Christ. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. (John 15:15) We are adopted as His children. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:5) We have been justified. Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. (Romans 5:1) We have been given direct access to the Father. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. (Ephesians 2:18) We are citizens of heaven. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. (Philippians 3:20) We are victorious. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57) And this list goes on and on.

When we look in the mirror do we see this person whom we are in Christ? Do we see a person who is holy and without blame? Do we see a friend of Christ? Do we see ourselves as heirs to the throne, adopted children of God? Do we realize that we have been justified? Do we realize that we have direct access to God because of Christ…and do we take advantage of that direct line regularly? Do we call on our Father in our time of need? Do we go to Him and sing praises and thank Him for our many blessings? Do we truly realize that we are citizens of heaven? And do we recognize that we are victorious through Christ? Do we see that we are wonderful creations made by a loving Father? We were knitted together in our mother’s womb. He knows the number of hairs on our heads. We are so wonderfully and unconditionally loved by our Father. We are His and He is ours.

I fear that when we look in the mirror we don’t see that person. We see someone who needs a little bit of reprimanding. We see a person who has messed up too many times to count. We see a person who is struggling to get through the day. We see a person who is tired and weary, and one who isn’t sure how to make it through even one more day. Well, my friend, I challenge you to go look in your mirror right now and see the person that you truly are! You are a child of God, loved by the king of Kings. You are an heir to the throne of God, and you have been adopted into His family. You have been made worthy by the blood of Christ. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. And you are so LOVED by our God. Can you see it now? Your identity is in Christ. It is not in the world. See yourself as Christ sees you! You were made in His image. You are His, and He is yours!

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Give me a word, Lord: I’M NOT LUCKY

Psalm 145:9 The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Ruth 2:12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.

I have been told that I am a very lucky person to have such an awesome career, home, and life. I beg to differ. I am not a lucky person. I don’t win things. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, and I won’t be winning any grand prizes. I know people who appear to be very lucky. There are people who seem to win every contest they enter. Some people who just seem to have the Midas touch in which everything they touch turns to gold. Not this old girl, though! No I don’t think luck has anything to do with my current situation. I am the person that I am today and have the things I have because of the innumerable blessings of my Father. Yes, it is blessings from God and hard work on my part that has made me into the woman I am today.

People tend to look on the outside. They see the outer package. They see the cover of the book, but they do not have any idea how the story goes. The pages of my life have many twists and turns. There are plot twists and surprises all along the way. There has been tragedy, but there has been great joy. I was once a scared young woman who decided to take on the challenge of nursing school. I aced it, but I didn’t do that on my own accord. The good Lord carried me through. Later, that same young girl decided to be an acute care nurse practitioner, but her good God said no. I then applied for the family nurse practitioner program, and was accepted immediately. I aced that program too, but not on my own accord. My good Savior saved me. He carried me through. I married much too young at the age of barely nineteen. That marriage failed because although God was in me, He wasn’t in the marriage. Little did I know, my good God had a plan so much better for my life. He blessed me with four children, the most kind, loving, sweet Christian husband, wonderful in-laws, and the true meaning of family.

I live in a wonderful little home in which our back deck overlooks a little creek that runs through our eighty acre forest. I am surrounded by many of God’s creations…trees, flowers, and critters of many species. I walk hand in hand with a man I truly love. I have a fantastic career, although for the past year, I haven’t really loved what I do as much thanks to good old COVID-19, but still I see the blessings in each and every day at work. I am blessed with the best husband I could ever hope for, great kids, and the best grandson. I have also been blessed with a great daddy, sibling, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends too.

Yes, to anyone who didn’t really know me, they might think that I am one lucky girl. I am here to tell you that LUCK has nothing to do with it, nothing at all to do with it! It is all God, ya’ll. Everything I have, all of the material possession, I have because God blessed me with these things. All that I am, my ability to succeed in school and then in my career, is because God blessed me with those gifts and talents and a good brain. I am nothing without my Savior, and I have realized through the years that if all of the things I have in this life were taken away, if every single thing disappeared, gone in a heartbeat, I would still be okay because I would still have my Savior. And my Savior is all I really need.

I praise His name day in and day out because this girl knows that she isn’t lucky. This girl knows that everything she has comes from above, and I know that my God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. No, I’m not lucky at all, but I am terrifically blessed by a loving, wonderful God!

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Give me a word, Lord: REMINISCING

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

Joshua 1:8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

Last night, my Aunt Carolyn called me and said that she has been going through my grandmother’s things, and she wanted for all of the grandchildren and great grandchildren to have an opportunity to choose some of the items if we wanted. I thanked her profusely, and I became very excited about looking through some of my grandmother’s things, reminiscing about precious memories shared with her throughout my childhood. I was blessed with two wonderful grandmothers. Both women were extremely hard workers, and neither one was ever rich by the standards of society. Oh, but they were rich in my eyes. The love that was shared by my grandparents to us grandchildren was more precious to me than all of the money in the banks. Those memories are even more precious now. I do not have any living grandparents or great grandparents. They have all been called home to the Lord, but now, God has blessed with with a grandchild. I never knew what a precious gift a grandchild was until I had one of my own. Grandchildren are definitely a true blessing from God.

That phone call from my aunt was very timely because it seems I have been spending a lot of time reminiscing over the past week. I’m not sure if it is because next week is the seventeenth anniversary of my mother’s death, or if it is just because I too am getting older and wiser, and I enjoy times of reflecting on the good old days. Poet Wendell Berry has observed that when we are young, our lives are all time and little memory. As we grow older, we discover that our lives are almost entirely memory and very little time. I couldn’t have said it better myself, Mr. Berry! As I’ve grown older it seems that there is very little time in each day and the days are getting shorter every year.

I love sitting down and talking with my daddy and my father-in-law. Those two men are two of the wisest men I know, and they have lived a very good, but perhaps hard life. They have some stories to tell, and I enjoy sitting down with a cup of coffee and just soaking it all in. I love to hear stories of the past. When I was in high school, I absolutely hated history class. It was probably my least favorite subject, but now, I love delving into history, looking back to a time that was much more simple, a time in which people stood firm on the foundational beliefs of God. Yes, my friends, when we sit down with our elders and reminisce about the good old days, we are not just pulling out old memories from storage. No, we are actually recalling years of God’s faithfulness. We hear and see testimony after testimony of God’s goodness and grace that has been poured upon us through the years.

When we read scripture, we also are reflecting on things of the past, and many might say that those things are of no significance to us. I must disagree. Through scripture, we see the faithfulness of our God in every book of the Bible. We see His power and His might, His goodness and His grace, and His abundant love. Those memories actually act to inspire within us hope for tomorrow. I don’t know about you, my friend, but the past year of my life has been a bit overwhelming. I don’t think we should cling to the past. I advocate for a future oriented mindset. We must keep our hearts and minds focused on the prize…eternity in heaven. However, when we are feeling overwhelmed or we feel like things have gotten out of control, it is then that we must cultivate a spiritual memory. We must continue our journey through faith. God brought us through every single situation we have faced in our past, and He will continue to bring us through any difficulty we face today. All we have to do is reminisce on those times He brought us through with such love and grace, and this will remind us that He will continue to carry us through.

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Give me a word, Lord: BELIEVE AND RECEIVE

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (ESV)

I heard a catchy saying on the radio, “Pray and believe, and you will receive. Pray in doubt, and you will do without.” That little phrase caught my attention because it reminded me of a recent Bible study shared in our ladies’ ministry. The reference scripture is from Luke 1:28-38, but the focus verse is verse 38. And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Let’s reflect a little bit on this very well known story. The virgin Mary who was highly favored in the eyes of God was given the distinguished honor of birthing the Messiah. What a wonderful privilege this was, but it probably didn’t seem like such a wonderful thing at the time. If we put ourselves in Mary’s sandals, we would realize that a woman who became pregnant before marriage wasn’t just a no-no during these days. No, my friends, it was heresy. It was actually punishable by death. In today’s time, the occurrence is so frequent that no one even seems to bat an eye, but in Mary’s day, this was a crime. The young virgin is engaged to marry Joseph, and all of a sudden, the angel of Lord appears to her and tells her that she has been chosen to be the earthly mom of the Savior of the world! Whoa! That was a huge announcement. There was so much to consider. People would find out she was pregnant before marriage. Her betrothed could have her stoned to death. It could turn out to be a really big mess for Mary. But no…how did Mary respond? “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Let it be to me according to your word! I’ve read this scripture a hundred times, but for the first time last week, I read it in a whole new perspective. I love this verse, and I so want it to be my mantra. Let it be to me according to your word! Mary had a whole lot of faith. This was very apparent in her attitude of acceptance of the Lord’s will over her life. She fully believed in God, and she trusted His plan. She didn’t refuse the task that was expected of her. She didn’t argue. She said let it be to me according to your word. This is where our prayer life should start. We should ask God to let it be to us according to His word.

How many times in life do we respond this way to God? When God places something on our hearts, His desire for us, is our first thought, let it be Lord? Let your will be done in my life Lord. Mary is an excellent example of a humble servant of God. We could learn a lot from that young woman. Mary was willing to be the servant of the most High, and she was given the honor of birthing the Messiah, our Savior, Immanuel, God with us. What an amazing gift God gave Mary!

Mary knew scripture, and she had a strong belief in God. She had strong faith and trust well before the angel of the Lord visited her. I have to wonder how I would have responded in this situation. I know it would not have been handle with such grace. Although, I have learned from Mary’s example, and as I have matured in my faith I have learned to have a strong faith in God, and I trust Him completely with my life. Oh, I still try to manage things on my own every now and then, but it never takes me long to realize that I can not do anything in my own power. I have to keep my trust in God.

Now, back to the catchy phrase that I shared earlier. “Pray and believe, and you will receive. Pray in doubt, and you will do without.” I shared the story of Mary to help make my point. Mary trusted completely in God. She had a relationship with the heavenly Father. She was willing to do what He asked because she trusted Him. We too must have a relationship with the Father. We can’t keep God on a back burner. We can’t think of Him as our genie in a bottle. He doesn’t only want to hear from us when we are in a bind or when we have had a bad day. No, my friends, He wants a relationship. And when we develop a trusting, loving relationship with our Father, when we get to know Him, we gradually realize that we can trust Him with everything. We can trust Him with the good, the bad, and the ugly. And more importantly, we can go to Him in prayer and expect that He will answer. When is the last time that you went to the Lord in prayer and expected Him to answer?

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (I John 5:14-15) Scripture reveals that if we ask anything of God and it is according to His will, He will hear us, and if we know He hears us, we know that He will answer. We only have to believe to receive. We must ask according to the will of God, and then we only have to believe that He will answer. If we doubt God’s ability, if we doubt that He is listening, well then, we will likely do without. We must trust Him completely.

It is my heart’s desire to be more like Mary. I want to repeatedly say and mean with all that I am, “Let it be to me according to your word.” And I want my prayers and petitions to God to always be in His will, not mine. I want to mature into the woman that He desires for me to be. There is so much wisdom to be obtained from the holy Word of God. I still have so much to learn, and I am ever so grateful that I serve such a patient, loving God. I will continue to pray and believe that God will continue to grow me to be a woman that lives those words. Let it be to me according to your word, Lord. And let my prayers be in the will of God. Your will God, not mine…

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Give me a word, Lord: HE NEVER LEAVES

John 14:16-17 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

Deuteronomy 31:8 Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.

After my manic Monday this week, I woke up on Tuesday with a new attitude. I was prayed up and prepared for Tuesday. It didn’t matter to me if it was a terrific Tuesday or a terrible Tuesday because God reminded me once again that He was there. He never leaves me. I got in my car to leave for work and caught the tail end of a praise song singing the words “God loves you.” I took this as just one more reminder that God was telling me He was right there beside me and He would never leave me. I looked up and thanked Him once again. I can rest assured that I will never be facing any challenges alone. And then, the very next song that came on the radio was Matthew West’s song, A God Who Stays. I’m telling you that it was if God was saying, “I reminded you that I am with you, but just in case you didn’t get it yet, let me knock you over the head one more time. Do you get it now?” Oh, I got it, and the words to this song really drove His point home!

If I were You I would’ve given up on me by now. I would’ve labeled me a lost cause ’cause I feel just like a lost cause. If I were You I would’ve turned around and walked away. I would’ve labeled me beyond repair ’cause I feel like I’m beyond repair. Oh, but somehow You don’t see me like I do. Somehow You’re still here. You’re the God who stays. You’re the God who stays. You’re the one who runs in my direction when the whole world walks away. You’re the God who stands with wide open arms, and You tell me nothing I have ever done can separate my heart from the God who stays.

The words struck home. I had felt overwhelmed the day before, but God gently reminded me that I am never alone. And the words but somehow You don’t see me like I do reminded me of the words I studied just a few nights ago, and the question that was asked, “How does God see you?” Our identities are grounded in how God sees us, not how man sees us. Mary, the mother of Christ, was referred to as highly favored meaning that she had a divine purpose over her life. It was also said that Mary was given favor in the eyes of God meaning that she was given the privilege to birth the Messiah. Mary was favored by God, but in case you need a reminder today too, let me share some great news with you. You too are highly favored by that same mighty God. We each have a divine purpose over our lives. He intricately wove us together in our mother’s womb. He made us wonderfully complex, and His workmanship is marvelous! Psalm 139:13-14 reminds us of these things. Yes, my friends, we too are highly favored in the eyes of our loving Father. Your identity is grounded in the way our heavenly Father sees us, and He sees us as His children, His highly favored children. We are His, and He is ours!

It is quite amazing actually when we attempt to put these things in perspective. How can God love me like He loves me? I don’t deserve His love, kindness, patience, grace, or mercy. I don’t deserve any of those things, yet He still loves me completely and promises to never leave me. I think back to the times in my life when I have felt completely alone…the loss of my mother, a major job change, a failed marriage. Those were some tough times. I remember back to the days when my sweet husband worked overseas. He was gone 32 days at a time. It was tough being home without him, but even when he was gone, I knew that he was there. He would message me all throughout the day, and we spoke on the phone every single night before bedtime. He was there for me, even when he wasn’t physically present, and I knew that no matter what happened on the farm while he was gone, Jeff was still there to help me handle it. Our God is ever present too, y’all. We may not see him physically, but He is right there beside us, watching over us, moving around all the chess pieces in life to place us right where He needs us to be and placing others right where they need to be so that His great plans for our lives are carried out for our good and His glory. He is there. He never leaves. His word is true.

If you are feeling alone, overwhelmed, or maybe feel like you have lost your way, call on our Savior. He is there. He is waiting and watching, and He is ready to guide your path. He NEVER leaves.

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Give me a word, Lord: DON’T WORRY. BE HAPPY!

Matthew 6:26-27 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Yesterday was a manic Monday. It didn’t start off that way. I went outside at 5 am to hear the beautiful sounds of birds happily singing their spring welcoming songs. The turkeys were gobbling. The goats and sheep were sharing their baa-baaing while hopping and jumping around. The emus were making their gentle whistling noises. Everyone was enjoying the beginning of a new day. However, when I arrived at work, we became super busy from the very first moment. We were so busy that I felt like a dog in an never ending battle of chasing my tail all day…a tail that would never be caught. I always strive to deliver the highest quality care, and I will continue to do that even on the craziest of days. On those days, I must try a little harder, work a little harder, and never forget that our loving Father is right there beside me guiding my path. No matter how tough it gets, I know that my Savior has got me right in the palm of His hands.

I confess that I am a neurotic, type A personality, worry wort, not-enough-hours-in-the-day-to-accomplish-everything-I-want-to-accomplish woman. And days like yesterday sometimes overwhelm me, but my God always takes those opportunities to remind me that He has got me. I am His and He is mine. He sends little reminders throughout the day. My husband stopped by the house long enough to take a few pictures of my new flower blooms and send them to me in the middle of the day. I didn’t ask him to. He somehow knew that I needed a little bright color in my day. I arrived home to a nice hot cooked meal on the table and happy dogs who are always so excited to see me and welcome me with such great delight. God puts these people and critters in my path to delight my soul! I just know it!

Sometimes the big things in life overwhelm us, but we must take time to look for the little things. God places so many little reminders in our paths all day long to remind us that He has got us and He gets us. He knows when we are going through troubled waters, and we must remember that we are never in the boat alone. Our God is paddling the boat. He has got us in the palm of His hands.

I’ve spent many an hour wondering why our good Lord blessed me with so many wondrous things in life. He allows my husband and I to have many wonderful critters that entertain us for hours on end. No bad day can end as a bad day when you are able to pick up a newborn baby goat and cuddle it in your arms. A happy little puppy will take the blues away instantly. And the birds of the air and land never ever seem to have a care in the world. Our critters do not worry. There is not a worry in their little minds. Why? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Their heavenly Father feeds them! God takes care of the tiny little birds of the air. They don’t worry and fret. They don’t wonder how they will get through the day, the week, or the year. No, my friends, their Father feeds them. He takes care of them. Aren’t we far more valuable to Him than the birds or the air? After all, we are created in His image.

When we are feeling weak, He makes us strong. Our strength and our identity comes from our Savior. He has made us a new creation. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17) We are His children. See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. (1 John 3:1) We are redeemed! But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13) We are capable! For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13). We are worthy! But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9) And never forget that we are wanted! So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:15-16)

The next time you are having an overwhelming day or maybe even a no good, horrible, crazy, chaotic day, don’t worry. Be happy. God has got you! God has got me! We are sitting safely in the palm of those mighty hands! We are His, and He is ours, and that is really all that is important! Don’t worry! Be happy!

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Give me a word, Lord: OTHER-CENTERED

John 2:1-5 The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”  “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

I’m not sure who the original author of this story is, but I share it frequently. It is a little long, but definitely worth the read.

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. “What food might this contain?” the mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.” The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The pig sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.” The mouse turned to the cow and said, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.” So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmers mousetrap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmers wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmers wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soups main ingredient. But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmers wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them. The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness. So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn’t concern you, remember: when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another. Each of us is a vital thread in another persons tapestry.

I share this story because it is so very relatable to life as we know it. We hear about problems, but we don’t act on them. We may even tell someone that we are praying for them, but perhaps we don’t really mean it, or we get busy and forget. When we hear of someone else’s troubles, we are quick to think, “that’s not my problem.” Last night in our ladies’ Bible study, we looked at the life of Mary, mother to Jesus. The scripture above was one of the focal scriptures. Mary and Jesus were at a wedding, and Mary noticed that the people hosting the wedding celebration ran out of wine. She didn’t cause a scene. She didn’t call attention to the problem. She realized that the friends who were celebrating would be embarrassed if everyone realized that they ran out of wine during the celebration so she went to Jesus. He had never performed a miracle publicly prior to this event, but Mary went to Him. Perhaps she didn’t have a clue of what He would do to fix the problem, but she knew Him. She knew Jesus, and she trusted that if she told him about the problem, He would take care of it. So much so that without Jesus even saying, “Okay, Mom, I got this,” she went straight to the servants and told them to do whatever Jesus said to do. She had faith that He would take care of the issue.

Mary had a relationship with Jesus. She knew Him as the Son of God, but also, she was privileged with the honor of birthing Him. There was a relationship there. She was able to make her request and trust that Jesus would handle the problem because there was a relationship before the request. But this isn’t the only factor we need to consider. A very important point that we must take not of is that Mary was not self-centered. She was “other-centered.” Mary noticed that there was a problem because her attention was not on herself. She wasn’t upset about the wine running out because she wanted more wine. No, she was worried that her friends would be disgraced or embarrassed because of this issue. She wanted to protect the image of her friends. She showed a love for others, and she wasn’t focused on herself. And she noticed the problem because she was focused on others and not herself.

We live in a “me” society in which it is “all about me.” We have become a self-centered culture. We take selfies for social media. We try to promote ourselves before others. That is not who God designed us to be. The first greatest is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. And the second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-40) Read that again. The second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor. Who is our neighbor? Everyone we come in contact with! That is a whole lot of people to love, and sometimes those people do not appear to be very lovable. So how do we do it? How do we become more “other-centered” instead of “self-centered?” We first fall in love with our Savior. We follow the first greatest commandment and we love the Lord with all of our heart, our soul, and our mind. And when we get this part right, well, the rest becomes rather easy. If will fill our hearts with love for the Lord, we can’t help but have love for our fellow man.

We are all in this journey together. What affects one of us can affect us all. Let us learn to be other-centered today. Love God and love others. It’s very simple actually.

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Give me a word, Lord: STOP RUNNING

Jonah 1:1-3 The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.

Last night, my husband and I were watching a movie in the living room. Our 14 week old mini Schnauzer, Holly, was barking incessantly at her reflection in the glass of the French doors in the dining room. All of a sudden, Holly let out a shrill, loud yelp, and began barking and running like lightening through the dining room and living room, and she ran into the wall of the living room which was on the opposite side of the house from where she started. My husband and I looked at each other and laughed before we jumped up to see who or what scared her so badly. I knew before I even got up that it was likely Jace, my daughter’s Schnoodle. He is jet black, and when it is dark outside, you can not see anything but the white of his eyes. Jace was perched with his paws on the glass of the French door peering in, and apparently when Holly caught sight of him unexpectedly, it scared her fiercely. She was afraid and she ran.

I think Holly responded as many of us do when God reveals a plan for our lives. Many times when God gives us instruction to follow a certain path or nudges us to do something that is in His will, but perhaps it isn’t in our plans, we run. Jonah is a great example of a runner. Yes, God commanded Jonah to go to the people of Nineveh and announce His judgement on the people because of their wicked ways. What did Jonah do? He jumped on a ship and got the heck out of Dodge. He boarded a ship to Tarshish which was going the exact opposite direction of Nineveh. He ran. Why did he run? We get a sense from this scripture that Jonah despised the people of Nineveh. He didn’t want anything to do with these people. He didn’t like the job that God gave Him to do so he ran. Perhaps there was more to it than that. Maybe he was afraid. Maybe he thought that the task was too big for him. Maybe he was scared. I don’t know for sure, only Jonah and God know. However, I do know one thing for sure. God put a wall in Jonah’s path. He hit a wall just like my Holly did last night.

Jonah didn’t hit a literal wall. No, he unfortunately was met with a severe storm which caused him to be thrown overboard, and then swallowed up by a giant fish. Personally, I think I would have rather hit a wall. My head is pretty hard, and as clumsy as I am, I’m pretty good at running into things. But God…God sent a whale to swallow Jonah up. He gave him a nice, quiet place to sit and think and pray for three days before that whale finally spit him out on a beach. When God commanded Jonah to get up and go to Nineveh again, Jonah went.

The example of Jonah is a very blatant example of running from God, but it isn’t always quite so obvious. Sometimes we run by not attending church services regularly. We may feel that we are right with God, and we may feel that it isn’t necessary to sit through services week after week. When we do this, we miss out on so much teaching, community, and fellowship. Our faith walk becomes weaker, and sooner or later, we are going to hit a wall. Maybe we run out of disobedience. Perhaps the task at hand seems much bigger than we are. We tend to forget just how big our God is. Some people run by disobeying. Jonah disobeyed in an obvious way, but many times we disobey in the little things. We fail to tithe. We let little sins creep in and continue because those sins are little and seemingly of no consequence. Sadly, those little sins will eventually put up a big wall between us and our Father. Sometimes, we simply stray away because we are too busy with the busyness of life and we fail to make time for God. No matter how we choose to run, no matter how fast and how far we run, I can guarantee you that just like Holly did last night, we will eventually hit a wall!

We serve a wonderful loving God, and thank goodness He is also full of grace and mercy. Will he take us back when we have run away? Yes! Every single time! But what if we have run too far? We are never too far from God. He knows where you are right this very minute. You can’t hide on a ship to Tarshish. Your Father is watching over you whether it is your desire for Him to or not. Today, let us stop running away and begin running to our Savior. He doesn’t care what you have done or haven’t done, if you come to Him with a repentant heart, He will wrap those arms around you and welcome you home. Are you struggling with a calling that scares you? If God put that calling on your heart, don’t forget that He is bigger than your fears, and He will work it all out for your good and His glory every time. Are you struggling with getting back to church after a long hiatus? Get up and get dressed and go! Your faith family has missed you so much, and so has your heavenly Father. Are you struggling with little sins that are building walls between you and the Father? Get rid of those sins. Hey, you can even ask God to help you walk away from them…and HE WILL!

Stop running from God, and start running to Him! His arms are open. He is waiting to welcome you home!

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Give me a word, Lord: FINDING OUR HOME

Psalm 84:3-4 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises. 

A little over a week ago, my friend was cleaning out her shed, and she gave me two purses: a Coach and a Michael Kors purse. They had been in storage for some time and smelled a little bit musty. I decided to hang them out on the back porch for a few days in the fresh air and “air them out a bit.” Well, I totally forgot about those purses until yesterday when I decided that I would bring them in and wipe them down. I took the Coach purse down from it’s perch, and I reached up to remove the MK purse from the hook that it was hanging on when I saw something in the bottom of the bag. It startled me at first until my eyes focused clearly on the object that was there. It was a bird nest! A perfectly shaped, perfectly formed bird nest. A busy little mama bird had poured her energy into the creation of this perfect little nest in my second hand Michael Kors purse. She has made the purse her home! There were no eggs there just yet, but trust me when I say that she has prepared her home and it is ready for the arrival of her kids.

I have never purchased a Coach or Michael Kors purse in my life. The names don’t really mean anything to me, and I’d rather put my money in my bag instead of spending it buying a bag and not having any money left over to put in it, but that’s just me. It really made me laugh that this little bird has such high standards. I mean, I have beautifully painted gourds hanging in the trees for her to build her nest in. There are trees all over this eighty acres, but, no, not my little bird. She chose a Michael Kors purse for the home of her little ones. She set her standards high. She wanted her home to be perfect and a bit classy too. She apparently has a little more style than this girl.

I can not get over how fast that little bird built that nest and how meticulously formed it is. It is simply amazing to see the shear genius of the nest construction that was formed by such a tiny creature. She poured her heart into building the perfect home for her little babies that will be arriving soon. She is just a bird though…a simple creature of the air, but she built with such precision because she is expecting the arrival of her kids.

A spectacular, eternal home is being prepared for you and I right now. Can you even imagine how spectacular heaven is going to be? If a bird can find such high class lodging and construct a beautiful nest in a matter of days to prepare for the arrival of her children, can you even fathom what heaven may be like? Our heavenly Father has been preparing our home for a while now. He is getting it all ready. He wants everything to be absolutely perfect for the arrival of His kids. The gates are pearly, and the streets are gold. When He calls us home we will sit at the throne of our heavenly Father singing praises to Him all day long. The songs will be sweeter than those of the birds that I now hear singing the songs of spring on this beautiful day. The praises will be glorious. Oh what a joy it will be to reside in the house of our Lord and sing HIs praises forever. There is absolutely nothing on earth that can compare to the home He is preparing for us.

Are you ready, my friend? Are you ready to see that eternal home and sit at the feet of the throne? You don’t have to build a nest to get there. He is taking care of all of the construction, but you do have to make a decision to follow our Lord and Savior. You have to make a choice. Do you want heaven, or do you want hell? We are all bound for hell if we do not choose Christ. Why would a loving God send us to hell? It is not His desire for any of us to go to hell, and He sent His only Son to take on our sins to save us from that wretched place. He gave us all a way out. We only have to make the choice to follow Him. We can try to make it difficult. We can come up with all kinds of excuses, but really all we have to do is ask Him into our hearts and allow Him to lead us. The rest will come naturally.

That little bird didn’t spend a penny on her new home that she has found. Someone else paid the price to purchase that purse. We don’t have to spend a penny to purchase our eternal home. Someone else has already paid that price in full. However, no one built that nest for her. She did that herself. She is preparing for a glorious day in her life. We too must prepare for the most glorious day. Jesus paid the price for my sins, and because He did, I will choose to work for Him, live for Him, and prepare my home for His arrival. I can hardly wait! And just like that little bird, I’ll continue working until Jesus comes and gathers us home!