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Give me a word, Lord: CONNECTED TO THE LIGHT

Genesis 1:11-12 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds,

Genesis 1:27-28 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

The week of Thanksgiving is definitely a time that we think about all of the wonderful connections that we have made in life. We are connected to the many lives that are intertwined into our homes and hearts. We make new connections every day, and each connection becomes a part of who we are. We grow in love and fullness of life as we continue to make these wonderful connections.

I read an analogy about connection that put it in a whole new perspective. The writer is unknown, but the point is definitely worth sharing again. We must go back to the beginning: Genesis. We recognize that when God wanted to create fish, He spoke to the sea. “God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kind.”

When God wanted to create trees, He spoke to the earth. “Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

When God wanted to create man, He turned to Himself. “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

The fish of the sea are connected to the water. If you take a fish out of water, it will die. The trees are connected to the earth, the soil. If you remove a tree from the soil, it will also die. Man is designed to be connected to God. If we become disconnected from God, we too die. Just as the fish need the water of the sea, and trees need the soil of the earth, we need a relationship with Christ. God is our natural environment. We were created in His image to live in His presence. It is only in Him that life exists.

The sea without fish is still the sea, but a fish without the water is nothing. The soil without a tree is still soil, but the tree without soil is nothing. God without man is still God, but man without God is NOTHING! We are nothing without God. This world around us is changing rapidly. There is so much discontent regarding election results and so much fear related to COVID-19. Now more than ever, we need to be connected to Christ. We can’t survive without Him. We can muddle through each day, but we aren’t truly living if we aren’t experiencing that connection with Christ. How do we stay connected? We must plug in!

I decorated for Christmas early this year. I traditionally wait until the day after Thanksgiving, but I decided that I wanted more Christmas this year. I want to spend time really celebrating and reflecting on the greatest gift we ever received. We put up our big 12 foot tree and slowly decorated it while still feeling a bit under the weather. It took a long while. I’m a bit OCD with my tree, although you wouldn’t know it with it’s eclectic mess of ornaments collected throughout the years. Our tree is pretty with all of the sentimental ornaments and ribbon and mesh covering every single branch. But when the lights are plugged in, that tree absolutely glows. It is a reminder of the Light that came into the darkness. We celebrate the birth of our Savior this season, and that’s something that deserves much more than one special day to celebrate!

We plug in by remembering Christ, remembering the birth, remembering His life, and remembering the sacrifice on the cross, and remembering the resurrection. We plug in by reading and studying the Word, and we plug in by gathering together with our faith family to worship and praise our Lord and Savior. We need Christ. We need that connection. We can’t live without Him. Are you connected to the Light? If so, let that light shine brightly through this holiday season. Are you feeling like you are in the dark? Don’t fret, my friend. The Light is available to you too. You only have to plug into the the source. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

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Give me a word, Lord: SLOWING DOWN

Jeremiah 2:25 Do not run until your feet are bare and your throat is dry.

James 4:14-15 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

I live life to the fullest, and for those that know me well, you know that means that I am constantly on the go. I’ve been referred to as “Wonder Woman” because I tend to accomplish much in every given day. But I like to think it’s because people wonder what I’m going to get into next. I find myself so busy that I actually have an ongoing schedule in my brain in which I allot certain time slots for specific tasks that I must complete.

For the last ten days, I have been forced to slow down. The schedule inside my brain has been turned off…completely…off. Over the past ten days, I have found that there really is a silver lining in everything…even COVID 19. I do not get sick very often, and my husband will vouch for me that I am a terrible patient. My job is to take care of everyone else who is sick. My job does not entail time for me to be sick, but it is what it is. I have been sick for ten days now, and I have really slowed down.

It started with cold symptoms. I actually thought it was just my allergies until I developed a low grade fever. I went for testing fully expecting to be negative, but it was positive. The symptoms have been crazy confirming my thoughts that this was likely a man made virus. We have experienced cough, congestion, severe body aches, nausea, diarrhea, loss of taste and smell, tachycardia, fatigue, and weakness. I even developed a touch of pneumonia. My initial thought at the time of diagnosis was, “Wow, I have ten days off work isolated at home. I’m going to get so many things accomplished.” I was so very wrong. I’ve not accomplished very much at all this week. I had made a whole list of tasks in my head that I would complete, but those tasks are for the most part still incomplete ten days later.

I may sound as though I’m complaining, and truth be known I have done my share of complaining this week, but I truly am thankful. God has worked so many things out during this mandatory ten day rest period. Originally, my husband and I had planned a hunting trip at a friend’s ranch in Texas. We had to cancel because of COVID. Had we gone to Texas, I would not have been here to check on my daddy daily. I wouldn’t have been able to lay my eyes on him. Being positive for COVID also allowed me to make a couple of house calls on positive friends from church. It afforded me the ability to spend some leisurely time at home with my husband who has been battling this awful virus by my side. But of all the things that this virus has taught me, it has shown me that God is ever faithful. Although there is so much fear surrounding this virus, I haven’t felt fearful at all. I have felt the very presence of my Savior through it all. He has lifted me up and carried me through each and every day of my life, and He did not forget me these past ten days. Each day I’ve grown stronger physically, and I’ve also grown stronger in my faith and my walk with Christ.

James says it best. “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we do know who holds tomorrow. Our life is just a mist, a vapor. Christ is still on the throne, and sometimes He slows us down so that we can reflect on His mercy, grace, and love. I have slowed down, and I have reclined in the love of Christ this week. I pray we can all slow down and see the glory of our Father no matter what set of circumstances we find ourselves in. Slow down. We aren’t promised tomorrow, but we can shine brightly for Christ today! Slow down and shine the love of Christ today! Fear of this virus can stop us in our tracks, but we can not allow it to do so. It can slow us down, but it can not stop us! God has a plan. We only need to slow down and listen to that still, small voice!

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Give me a word, Lord: HELEN KELLER

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” Psalm 28:7

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Today I am sharing an excerpt from my latest book, “Inspirations from the Funny Farm.” I hope you enjoy.

Because we are the crazy animal people, we get calls from people all over the county asking us to take an animal in need of rescue. A few years ago, we got a call asking us if we could rescue a calf. We did not know the owners, but they had found out that we were suckers from someone in the community and called us requesting an immediate rescue. Their cow had delivered a calf, and the calf was blind. They were concerned because the calf couldn’t see the mama cow and wouldn’t follow the mama when she moved about the pasture. The calf wasn’t nursing, and she was staying out in the full sun all day long because she couldn’t see to move into the shaded areas. There was also a large pond in the field, and there was a concern that the calf would drown. Because we are suckers for any kind of animal, and we love cattle, we jumped in my Subaru Forrester and headed over to the farm.

We had intentions of just going to check out the calf, see if we were going to take her, and then come back with the cattle trailer to pick her up. We drove up and saw this beautiful red calf with a white face. Its eyes were glazed over with a white film. It was obvious that this poor baby couldn’t see. It was love at first sight and without any discussion, we agreed to take her home. I wanted to take her home immediately, and that’s exactly what we did. We loaded her up in the back of the Subaru and started back to the house. She had never been in a car before, and she couldn’t see where we were going so she started jumping all around. I was afraid that she was going to hurt herself. I climbed over the seats of the car and sat down in the back of the Subaru with her. I tried to soothe her as Jeff drove the short distance to our house. She wasn’t to be soothed and she tromped all over me. We finally made it to the house and got her settled into her stall.

She was only a few days old so she required bottle feeding.  Of course, she had never had a bottle, and it took quite a bit of coaxing to get her to suck. Within 24 hours, she was sucking the bottle like a pro. After a few days, we realized that she was not only blind, she was also deaf. That’s when I chose the name Helen Keller for her. We name all our critters, and I try to find names that match the personality of the animal. The name Helen Keller was fitting for this sweet blind, deaf calf.

We had to feed her twice a day, and when I entered her stall to feed her, she couldn’t see or hear me, and I would try to alert her that I was there by touch. She couldn’t hear me or see me, but she quickly learned what a bottle was though, and as soon as I got the nipple to her mouth, she would suck the bottle down without any problem at all. She would finish the bottle and look for more.  The “more” became my knees. She would lick and try to nurse my knees after every feeding. It became a regular ritual with her. I would leave the stall with a full calf and wet knees and a big old grin on my face.

Helen was a strong-willed little calf. She was a fighter. She couldn’t see her food, she couldn’t see her caretaker, and she couldn’t even hear me coming, but she quickly learned that I was there for her. She trusted me. She had complete trust in a total stranger who took time to feed and love her. I suppose it was easy for her to trust me because she really didn’t have a choice.  And it was super easy for me to fall in love with her and care for her because I knew that she needed me. I have a soft spot in my heart for all of God’s creatures, and an even softer spot for those who need special attention.

There is a lot to be learned from a blind, deaf calf. Helen Keller never physically saw my face. She never physically heard my voice. Yet that little calf trusted me with her whole being. She knew that I was going to be there like clockwork to feed her and provide the nourishment that she needed to survive. She knew that I loved her and that I was there for her good to offer help where it was needed. She knew that she could trust me sight unseen.

As Christians, we have to have a faith like this. I have never physically seen God. I have never audibly heard the voice of God. Yet I trust in Him with my whole being. No, I can’t see Him physically, but I see his majesty all around me: sunrises and sunsets with beautiful glorious colors, mountains and valleys, flora and fauna, oceans and rivers, and oh so much more! I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins because He loves me. It’s unfathomable that He could love me this much! Even though I can see and I can hear, I have recognized through the years that without Christ, I am totally lost. I need Him even more than that calf needed me. I need Christ to guide me through this rough and rocky world. I need His love. I need the nourishment that only Christ can provide. I pray that I continue to trust Him more as I walk through this crazy life and that I learn to lean on Him more and more with each passing day.

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Give me a word, Lord: HE KNOWS ME

Psalm 139:1-6 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

I’ve lived in this small town most of my life. I moved away to a bigger city after college to chase my career dreams, but that only lasted about six months. I missed home terribly, and my heart is here. We have travelled to so many wonderful, beautiful places, but that old saying is true. There is no place like home. A lot of people don’t like small town life, but this girl loves it! There really is no place I’d rather be other than the streets of heaven. The thing I love about small town life is the thing that a lot of people hate about a small town. Everybody knows everybody. I can not tell you how many times I have been pumping gas or getting groceries or just running errands, and have had an older gentleman walk up to me and say, “You are Dempsey’s daughter. You look just like him. How is your Dad?” And there have been numerous times after introducing myself to a new patient in the clinic that I’ve been asked, “Hodge. What Hodge are you related to?” I proudly answer that my in-laws are J.B. and Donna to which I receive a smile of approval. People know me. They know my family and my extended family, and they care about us as part of a tight knit community. Small town life is a place where a name means something to people. People aren’t in your business. People are in your hearts. I love being a little fish in this little pond, and I’d choose it over being a big fish in the biggest ocean any time!

However, in this great big ocean of life, I can still rest assured that I am known to the Father. He knows me. There are billions of people on this earth divided between tiny towns and huge metropolises, but even with that humongous number of people living today, I have a promise that God knows me personally. It’s just like small town life. God knows me. He knows my family. He knows my extended family. He knows when I sit down and when I rise. He even knows my thoughts. He is familiar with all of my ways. He even knows the words that I am about to speak or write before they escape my tongue. He truly knows me. He gets me. And even though He knows every detail about my life, He loves me!

I have to wonder though, when I bump into a stranger, do they recognize who my Father is? Do they see a resemblance to Christ in my attitudes and actions? Do they realize that I am a child of God? I’ve been told that I look just like my Daddy. I usually respond with, “I guess I’d be good looking if I was a man.” I know I look like him, and I really don’t mind that at all. The genetics are strong. But what about my heavenly Father? Oh, how I want to look like Him. I am so thankful to be known by Christ, and I want the world to know that I am His and He is mine. I am blessed to be known by my Father.

In this great big old world, whether you live in a huge city or a tiny little town, God knows you too. He knows you personally. He knows every little thing about you. He knows every detail about you and even the number of hairs on your head. Isn’t it great to know that we are known! We are known by our heavenly Father. He knows you, and He knows me. Let us let the world know that we are His!

Side note: My dear Daddy has had COVID-19 for 15 days, and he has had a fever for 15 straight days. He developed pneumonia, but follow up x-ray yesterday shows that this has improved. Other than the fever, he is doing well, but that fever is making him feel so bad. Please lift him up in prayer today. I love him so much, and I know that God is in control. Pray for the fever to leave his body for good! Thank you for your prayers! I pray that you all stay safe and healthy as we enter this holiday season!

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Give me a word, Lord: THANKFUL

1 Chronicles 16:34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Thankfulness…that’s a word I could write about all day long, especially this time of year. We are just a few short days from the day we recognize as the day to be thankful. Thanksgiving looks different this year. I don’t know if we’ll be able to have our big family meal due to having family members with COVID-19, and I probably won’t be able to taste the food anyways. LOL. But is this any reason to be less thankful? Absolutely not! We have so much to be thankful for. Thankfulness should be a state of mind. We should be a daily attitude of gratitude.

When should be give thanks? We give thanks before every meal even if we are eating out in a restaurant. That is something that we don’t see very often anymore, but thankfully, I am married to a man who is not ashamed or afraid to grab my hand and pray aloud before every meal. I’m so very thankful for that man. But, we can’t limit our giving thanks to meal time. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us that we should give thanks in all circumstances. We should be thanking God for everything even the trials that come our way. That’s a bit harder than thanking Him for a delicious meal, but in reality, we must thank Him for all things. For it is in those trials that we cling closer to Christ, and we feel His presence!

I love the month of November. I’ve played the game of thankfulness a few times in which you share something that you are thankful for each day for the entire month of November. I know it seems silly because I am truly thankful every day for all the blessings in my life, but I think that it is a good habit to actually take time to list the things you are thankful for. This helps keep things in perspective, and it helps us as we develop and strengthen our attitude of gratitude. Also, as our list lengthens with the many blessings of life, our thankfulness grows immensely.

Today I challenge you to look past the worries of the world, look past your own circumstances and troubles, and look up. Look up to Christ and raise a hallelujah. Sing praises to our Savior, and truly thank Him for each and every blessing that has been bestowed upon you. Corrie Ten Boom once said, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.” Look at God today with a heart of thankfulness. Rest in Him today and every day!

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Give me a word, Lord: A NEW HEART

Ezekiel 36:26-27 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. 

This scripture stood out to me in our nightly Bible reading this week. To understand the meaning of the scripture, we have to look at it in context. In the book of Ezekiel, we read about the perilous state of the Israelites. They had been turning away from God for far too long. They were chasing foreign gods instead of the one true God. They had multiple kings who were evil in the sight of the Lord except for a good righteous king every once in a while. The whole nation had become spiritually dead. Oh how this must have disappointed God. Because of the people had turned their back on God and drifted so far away, they were being sent off to a period of captivity with the Babylonians and Assyrians. Although God was placing them in a period of captivity, He continued to promise that he would bring them back and transform their hearts.

If we fast forward to present day, we look at the perilous state that we find ourselves in once again. I look around and I see that much of this world seems to be spiritually dead. Everyone is living in a world of doing whatever they must do to make themselves happy. It’s all about “me” rather than being about God. Evil is no longer considered evil if it feels good. We may not be worshipping false gods, but people are worshipping everything but God, and I fear that God is getting disappointed once again. Even in this perilous state that we find ourselves in currently, we don’t have to lose hope. We can still stand on that same promise God made to the people of Israel. God can still take hearts of stone and transform them into new hearts. God has a desire to change His people. He desires a close connection with His children, and He wants to transform us. In fact, Christ is the only one who can transform us.

Christ can bring the spiritually dead back to life to live in fullness with Him. After He transforms our old stony hearts into new hearts, He puts his Spirit within us. This is when the magic occurs. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we begin to willingly walk with Christ. We want to live a righteous life. We want to follow the path that Christ has designed for us. We recognize sins in our life, and we repent and walk away from those sins. He puts within a a desire to be obedient. We can truly walk in an newness of life.

Christ loves us so much that He continuously seeks us out. He loves us so much that He can take an old hard, stony, stubborn heart, and He can make it new. He can change our hard hearts into tender and responsive hearts…hearts that respond to Him. Isn’t that amazing? The love Christ has for His children continuously amazes me! I’m so thankful for His love and patience, and I’m so thankful that He gave me a new, tender responsive heart! Let Him break down those stony walls around your heart today!

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Give me a word, Lord: SWEETER THAN HONEY

Psalm 119:103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

Since contracting the COVID-19 virus six days ago, my husband and I have experienced a full gamut of symptoms. My husband, Jeff, is a couple of days behind me on symptoms, so he hasn’t had all of the same symptoms yet, and I pray that he won’t. I started off feeling extremely fatigued, and my neck was aching. It didn’t click at first. I had just completed a very busy work week, and I’ve been having intermittent numbness in my right arm for a couple of months from some disc issues in my neck. I just figured that I had aggravated my neck. But the next day, I developed some mild cold symptoms and a low grade fever. I immediately went for testing, and I began my quarantine period. I’ve had cough, congestion, headaches, severe body aches (like my hips are being pulled out of socket simultaneously), nausea, massive diarrhea, and now loss of taste and smell. I have had every symptoms listed on the symptoms screener except for shortness of breath, vomiting, and rash. I sound as though I am complaining, and I’m sure I have done my share of complaining this week, but I am extremely thankful that our symptoms have been no worse than they have been. We are walking daily and doing incentive spirometry to keep our lungs strong. God has continued to bless us graciously, and although I feel puny, I really shouldn’t complain. I know that I am blessed.

I have to tell you though, of all the strange symptoms I’ve experienced, the complete and total loss of my sense of taste and smell has to be the worst thing. It’s so crazy, y’all. Yesterday for lunch, I ate a delicious bowl of homemade vegetable beef soup and some summer sausage and sharp cheddar cheese. It tasted so good. If I had known that meal would be the last thing I would be able to taste, I would have savored it a bit longer. I bit later, I fixed a cup of coffee. In case you didn’t know, I LOVE coffee, but my coffee didn’t taste that good. I could taste it, but it wasn’t as flavorful as usual. I went to check on my Daddy and visited with him a while. (He too has COVID-19 and could really use your prayers.) I returned home from his house, and just like that, my sense of taste and smell disappeared. I opened a container of minced garlic from the fridge and stuck my nose all the way in the container. Nothing! I sipped some coffee. It tasted like brown water. My husband saw my distress, and he said, “Try a Reese’s.” That’s my favorite candy. I slowly chewed up that candy trying to capture some of the sweet flavor. Nothing. It’s gone. I don’t know for how long, but I still have no sense of taste or smell today. I now impatiently await the return of these two dear lifelong friends.

Until yesterday, I had taken these two senses for granted. I’ve had an excellent sense of smell my entire life. It’s a blessing and a curse. And I love to taste and savor foods. I’ve always been able to taste and smell, and I didn’t appreciate these senses for their true value until now. When something is readily available, we take it for granted, and unfortunately, we tend to do this even with the Word of God and God Himself. When we have heard the Word our whole lives, much of the scripture becomes all too familiar, and when this happens, the scripture loses its sweet flavor. We tend to glaze over scripture that we have read dozens of times, and we don’t let the true meaning speak too us. Or perhaps, with the busyness of life, we leave the Bible on the shelf, and we don’t even crack it open to savor those sweet words. We tend to take for granted that God will be there when we need Him, but we aren’t enjoying that sweet relationship with Him that He intends for us.

There is so much sweetness in the Word of God. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” If you haven’t tasted that sweetness lately, all you have to do is open the best book ever written, find a quiet corner, and slowly begin to savor the flavor of those precious words that are sweeter than honey. You aren’t tasting the sweetness? Pray and ask God to speak to you through His Word. Ask Him to open your eyes and heart to receive His message, and read those words expectantly. Expect to hear from God as you read and savor the sweet flavor of each word. Once you taste that sweet flavor, you will see just how good our Lord really is. Won’t you taste and see how good He is today? It truly is sweeter than honey!

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Give me a word, Lord: NOT EASY, BUT WORTH IT!

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

Revelation 21:4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Oh the Christian life, it is one of roses and daisies and milk and honey, right? Wrong! Anyone that thinks becoming a Christian will end all sufferings hasn’t read the Bible yet because it is right there in black and white and red. Oh yes, the Bible assures us that suffering will be a part of our lives, but why? Scripture tells us that in this world we will have trouble. We are going to suffer. It’s a given, but why must we suffer? One reason of course is because there is sin in this world. So do we bring on this suffering ourselves? Sometimes we do. Suffering may be the result of poor choices, foolish decisions, and sins in our lives. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but it is the truth. While suffering can be a result of sin, all of us, even the righteous, will groan under the weight of sin and suffering. “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Romans 8:20-22)

But suffering is not random and without purpose by any means. When we go through challenging times in our lives, our sovereign God uses those difficult circumstances to teach us lessons and to accomplish His will through us. Suffering brings us closer to the Lord. When we are in the midst of a challenge, we recognize that we are not in control of the situation, but we know who is. It causes us to decrease reliance on self and to increase reliance on God. Suffering causes us to worship and to praise God and to trust God even when the answers are unclear.

Suffering teaches us to seek and trust God. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.” (Psalm 119:67-68) “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” (Psalm 119:71) Have you ever thought about it as the psalmist did here? It is good to be afflicted so that we may learn the decrees of the Lord. It is often very difficult to find affliction and suffering as being a good thing, but we must remember that anything that brings us closer to Christ is good, even when it seems bad. If we learn to truly seek and trust God, and rest in His promises, we can respond to our suffering in a godly manner. And after enduring the challenging circumstances, we come out on the other side more mature and wise in our faith, and God can use us to do mighty things for His kingdom. We have to trust the process. Just as we prune our vines to bear more fruit, Christ prunes us from time to time. The pruning process is painful, but oh the fruit is so sweet!

If you are going through a challenge today, don’t give up and don’t get angry. Talk to God. Ask Him what He is trying to teach you through the circumstance. I bet He will show you that He is working behind the scenes, and it will all work out for our good and His glory every single time! Recite John 16:33 as you go through challenging days: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” You are not in this alone, and Christ has already won! I’m praying with you today my friends! May God bless you in each struggle!

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Give me a word, Lord: FOXES AND GRAPES

Song of Solomon 2:15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.

I don’t think that in all my years that I have ever heard another sermon preached from the Song of Solomon 2:15, but an interim pastor, Bro. Wiley Abel, did just that a few years ago. He first caught our attention by showing a slideshow of adorable baby foxes on the screens. He did this to distract us for a moment, and it worked. Who could not stop and oooh and aaah over adorable baby foxes? Not this girl! I’m an animal lover, and I tend to get very easily distracted when I see an animal of any sort. But what can we glean from this little verse about foxes and grape vines? Quite a lot, actually.

When we as Christians blossom in life, everything is grand. It looks like everything is coming up roses (or grapes if we stick to the text), and we don’t realize that sneaky, sometimes quite adorable little foxes can sneak in and seek to destroy us. No, not some adorable little thing like a baby fox?! That can’t be. Oh yes, it can. It can indeed. For you see, the little foxes are the little things that distract us for Christ. These things can be the the tongue, an attitude problem, self love, self-centeredness, opinions, or perhaps it could be a habit of turning minor trouble into major problems, the lack of love, lack of acceptance, or lack of forgiveness. These little things seem harmless at first look, but when we let them sneak their ways into our lives like a sneaky cute little fox, we slowly start to wither away from our connection with Christ. The things that distract us begin to turn our focus onto self and the problems, and this causes us to take our focus off of Christ. As we lose our focus on Christ, we forget to cling to the true Vine, and we wither. We can’t produce good fruit if we aren’t fully connected to the Vine.

So what do we do about this? First and foremost, we must cling to the Vine always and in every area of our lives. If we are clinging to Christ, the distractions of this world won’t be able to pull us away. Second, we must defend our hearts and our churches against the little foxes just as a farmer defends his farm from foxes and other predators. We have to stand guard against the evils of this world that try to attack us and steal us away from Christ. The foxes may steal the grapes, and those vines may wither, but nothing can steal us away from Christ when we cling to Him. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29) Nothing can snatch us away.

It’s hard. Life is hard. There are a million and one distractions in every single day. I get it. There are many days that I feel like a dog chasing my tail, and just when I grasp those sparse hairs at the tip of the tail in my mouth, the tail slips out, and I begin chasing again. We can’t keep living life in the fast lane. We have to slow down and take time to grow in our relationship with Christ, establish a firm foundation, and be truly rooted in the Spirit. Those strong roots will keep us firmly planted in our relationship with Christ, and those sneaky little foxes won’t stand a chance! Cling to the true Vine!

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Give me a word, Lord: SUNDAY BLESSINGS

Philippians 4:19-20 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Good Sunday morning, Peeps! This Sunday looks a little different than usual. Most of the time, we get up early, start preparations for a big family lunch, rush around to do last minute chores, get dressed up, and go to our home church to enjoy worship with our faith family, but that won’t be happening today. Thursday, I began to feel a little under the weather. I didn’t feel horrible. I just felt like I was coming down with a cold. Friday, the cold symptoms continued, my neck felt more achy than usual, I felt overwhelmingly fatigued, and kept a low grade fever most of the day. I decided I better go and get a COVID test to be safe. I felt sure it would be negative and that I was just being paranoid. My husband said that I was being “para-smart,” meaning paranoid-smart. I thought for sure that it would be negative, but it was not. My husband did test negative thankfully, and so far, he is feeling well. My youngest, Crystal, is also still at home with us, and she too feels well. So for the past few days, we have been practicing social distancing in our house and spending more time outdoors on our eighty acres as I quarantine from the world. There will be no big family lunches this Sunday or next, no getting dressed up and going to church, no spending time fellowshipping and praising with my church family.

However, just because we are doing things in a different way doesn’t mean we won’t do those things. Well, we won’t have all the family over for lunch. That’s a definite no, but we will have lunch at home. We conveniently have a 10 foot rustic farmhouse table, and I can sit all the way on one end and eat with my husband and daughter at the other end. We are still managing family meals “at a distance.” Our church services will be watched live on the internet today. It’s not the same as being there, but God is still giving us a chance to worship, and I refuse to miss that opportunity. I am even able to tithe on-line today. It’s not the same, but I am so thankful that God already had all of this worked out so that I can continue to worship Him today. I give the glory to Him!

God takes care of us and supplies our every need. He even takes care of the details. We have tons of food in the freezers and pantries. We have eighty park like acres to roam as we quarantine. He even worked out my work details. I was only scheduled to work one day this coming week because I was going to use some vacation days to go on a hunting trip to Texas. Thankfully, my employers only have to cover one of my shifts. Isn’t it amazing how God works it all out!

I don’t feel well, but I do feel incredibly blessed. I have been truly blessed by hundreds of prayers and kind words from friends and family. My husband and daughter are still well. Yesterday I took a two mile brisk walk with my husband and our dogs on our property. It’s easy to get some sunshine and enjoy nature while quarantining when you live in the middle of eighty acres. In the afternoon, I went for a slow walk with my daughter and the dogs, and I took my camera along to take pictures of the beauty that God has so graciously placed all around us. Y’all God is good! I could sit here and pout about being sick, or I can keep moving and keep looking for the blessings. I’m choosing the blessings.

Friends, I pray today and every day that you will choose to look for the blessings too. If we focus on the negative, sickness, bad circumstances, or whatever is going on in our lives, and we forget to focus on the blessings, we end up missing out on the blessings. But, if we keep an attitude of gratitude, and we keep our eyes and minds on Christ, we begin to see and feel innumerable blessings. There truly is goodness in every day with Christ. I pray that you aren’t missing those blessings today!

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Give me a word, Lord: LIMITLESS

Zephaniah 3:17 For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Isaiah 55:9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Ephesians 3:19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

As humans, we have a limited understanding of God, and because of our limited understanding, we tend to put God in a box. When we do this, we limit Him. Yet, the Word of God assures us that we serve a limitless God. The God we serve has unlimited power, knowledge, compassion, grace and holiness. You can’t put that kind of power in a box and only reach for it in your time of need. That kind of power can’t be held in a box! Just think for a moment about trying to bottle up all of the water in the oceans. That would be impossible, yet we continue daily to try to bottle up our Lord and Savior.

We all know that God is omnipotent, all powerful. We recognize His sovereignty and power, but when it comes to our individual lives, we tend to put limits on that power. When God places a calling on our hearts, our first thought tends to be, “I can’t possibly do that.” But actually, our first thought should be, ” I can’t, but God can!” Last March, I started writing these daily devotionals. I only planned to write for a little while to encourage myself and others at the onset of the COVID pandemic. My sister and my husband challenged me to write a daily devotional for 365 days. My first thought and reaction was “nope! I will run out of things to write about. I can’t possibly do that.” But each morning I have prayed for God to give me a word to write about, and each day, He has been faithful. He also put an urgency in my heart to not limit my devotionals to my Facebook page, and this computer illiterate girl set up a blog page (with the help of the good Lord). Here I sit writing to you this morning. I have written a daily devotional each day for the past eight months, and I haven’t run out of words yet. God keeps giving me the words, and I’m going to keep sharing them.

I am nothing special, y’all. I’m simply a country girl who works as a nurse practitioner and has a true love for the Lord and others. I want to relay to you that God is capable of doing anything through us if only we would stop placing limits on His power. Through this blog, I have reached people in twenty countries outside of the United States! That’s not me. That’s God! When God puts something on our hearts, rather than saying “I can’t,” we must start saying “God can.” He will not ask you to do more than you are able to do. The Word tells us that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. When we allow Him to increase and ourselves to decrease, we slowly begin to recognize the limitless power of God. Don’t place limits on God!

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Give me a word, Lord: YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE LONELY

Proverbs 18:24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Matthew 28:20 And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Loneliness has been a critical illness this year. That sounds strange, but it is so very true especially for our elderly shut-ins and our long term care patients. With the staunch efforts that are being taken to protect these individuals from contracting COVID 19, we have isolated our prized possessions…our elders. Everyone that is doing their part in the prevention of the spread of this virus is staying home much more than usual. We can’t shake hands or share hugs, and y’all I’m a hugger! It’s been hard! It’s a big old lonely world out there, and loneliness is a killer! Today, I want to remind you that there is hope for the lonely. I have hope that this virus won’t last forever, but whether it does or not, there is hope for the hopeless, and hope for the lonely!

For we know that our hope is in Christ, and scripture reminds us over and over again about the love of Christ. Proverbs 18:24 says there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. That friend is Jesus! We may not feel the comfort of human hands and hugs, but the Word reveals to us that we are never alone. We have the truest of all friends, one that sticks with us through thick and thin, and one who will be with us until the very end. His name is Jesus! Although we may feel alone and isolated, when we look up instead of around, we realize that we are not alone. We are never alone!

Yet, there are still those among us who feel that unrelenting sense of loneliness during this time of isolation, and it is up to us to shine some light into those lives. We may not be able to visit in person, but phone calls can provide great comfort. With the invention of facetime, we can even see the face of the person we are calling. We can see smiles on the faces and the light in the eyes of those we are talking to. We can send cards, texts, and emails. But most importantly, we can send love! We can share the love of Christ with those that are feeling lonely. It is so very important to share that love today and everyday.

I have a challenge for you today. I want you to think of at least one person (I’d be honored if you wanted to be an over achiever and think of more than one). Think of one person who you haven’t spent time with in a while. It could be a grandparent, a parent, and aunt or uncle, or even an old friend. Pray with specificity for that person, and then reach out. Give that person a phone call, a text, or even drop off a gift at the door. We have so much to be thankful for. God has blessed us so richly with his mercy, grace, and love. Lets share some of that love today! We don’t have to be lonely!

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Give me a word, Lord: ANSWERED PRAYERS

Psalm 138:3 When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.

Psalm 66:19 but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.

1 Chronicles 5:20 …He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.

John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 5:14-15 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.

About three months ago, I shared a devotional on expecting answers to prayers. Today, I want to share a testimony of an answered prayer. In my post yesterday, I shared the heaviness on my heart of two beloved family members. My daddy has COVID 19. I didn’t share that I was talking about him in my post, but he assured me that he didn’t mind if I shared that the prayer requests were for him. He says that he is doing well. He has been sweeping and mopping and changing linens on the beds, busying himself during quarantine. I truly appreciate all of the prayers, Peeps! I love this man so much more that he will ever know. He poured the foundation upon which I stand, pointing me daily to Christ, not only in his words but also in his actions. Thank you for your prayers!

The second heavy hearted concern I shared was my aunt’s diagnosis with a return of cancer after being clear for the past four years. Let me explain to you that the doctor didn’t just call her and say, “I think your cancer is back.” No, he emphatically assured her that the cancer was back. He even put the ball into motion scheduling a PET scan as soon as possible, lining up surgery, and planning chemotherapy and radiation. My aunt asked, “Is there I chance that when you get in there it could be benign?” He told her no. He was absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt certain that she again had cancer. We cried, and we prayed. Friends on social media began to pray. I prayed for peace. I prayed for God’s will to be done. My aunt called me at work yesterday, and she said, “KK, you aren’t going to believe this!” She went on to say that the doctor called and said that he was embarrassed to make the call, but he was very happy to call her. He said that a mistake had been made. He received her cancer marker labs back, and they were unchanged. (If you have a recurrence of cancer, the numbers should go up.) So he decided to ask a different radiologist to review her CT scans. They compared scans from this year and last year, and on further review of the scans, the new spot that was described on Tuesday’s film wasn’t a new spot of cancer at all. It has actually waxed and waned on the films, had not increased in size, and thought to be a bowel loop. She will still keep the appointment for the PET scan so that we all have peace of mind, but at this moment we are standing on the fact that she does not have cancer! Talk about a rollercoaster ride of emotions! Was this simple human error, or was it divine intervention? I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m going to say it as probably a little bit of both. That human error of misreading the CT could have resulted in a major, unnecessary surgery. But God, He intervened.

This morning I awoke praising God and thanking Him for His many blessings. In the whole scheme of things in this big old world, I’m just a tiny little speck. I’m nothing. God is so BIG! Yet God hears the cries of this insignificant little speck. He answers my prayers. He comforts me. He reassures me. And He HEARS me! He hears little old me! I will always be amazed at that thought. My faith is not big, but my God is. I only have to trust in Him and ask that His will be done….and He answers my prayers! Do you pray with expectation? When you talk to God, do you expect answers? Are you even praying? If not, I plead with you to start an immediate conversation with the Father. He wants to hear from you. He already knows the heaviness of your heart, and He wants to lighten you load. Lay those things at the feet of Jesus and wait. Let go and let God have control of every area in your life. I guarantee you that you will soon start seeing answers to the things for which you have been praying for when you simply pray, “Your will, not mine, Lord.” He will answer your prayers too! Give God a chance.

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Give me a word, Lord: HOPE AT THE END OF THE ROPE

2 Corinthians 1:8 We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.

Last night, as I unwound from yet another very busy day, I read this meme that a friend shared, “Have you ever just cried because you’re tired? Not sleepy tired but tired of just being tired. That ‘I’m done trying but I don’t know what to do tired,’ that ‘I just need a long hug’ tired, that ‘I don’t want to cry but I don’t know what to say either’ tired, that ‘God, please just tell me what to do next’ tired. Just tired.” As I read those words, I thought to myself, “yes, Lord, that’s me. I’m that kind of tired.” Sometimes at the end of a really trying day, we feel as though we are only hanging on by a thread. We feel that we have reached the end of the rope, and we try to tie a knot an hang on, but hang on…there’s a lot of Hope at the end of that rope!

We were busy at work yesterday. That’s nothing new with my dear, sweet friend COVID visiting us in the clinic daily. I’ve learned lately to keep an attitude of gratitude, and that attitude is making every crazy chaotic day much more pleasant. Yesterday wasn’t a bad day, but bad news happened. Someone I love dearly was diagnosed with COVID. He’s doing great, and is very healthy so he will likely fair well. Most people are recovering rapidly and doing well, but that old devil is our fear monger and reminds us of the ones who didn’t do so well, and he tries to get us to take our eyes of of Christ and fill our heads with worry. I’m reminded of Ms. Clara’s statement (from War Room) from my post yesterday. I’m claiming it! I say look out devil, you are about to get your butt kicked. I’m keeping my trust in Christ!

Later in the day, my aunt, who is much more like a big sister, called. She was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma four years ago. She had a liver resection and treatment, and has been doing so well. She is the picture of health, but yesterday her CT showed a tiny little spot at the incision site. The doctor’s feel that the cancer has returned. They are fast tracking her for a PET scan, surgery, and putting together a treatment plan. At first glance, we see the bad news, and it seeps into our hearts and heads and we experience a full range of emotions from anger to fear, but then, God jumps in the middle of those emotions and He reminds us that we are not in this alone. There is hope. The tumor is tiny…the size of a Cheerio. It can be removed surgically. Advances have been made in treating this type of cancer over the past four years. The physicians are better equipped to treat my aunt now than they were four short years ago. Maybe…just maybe…God put that cancer at bay for four years until a complete and total cure could be given. I say look out devil. You are about to get your butt kicked again. I’m keeping my trust in Christ!

Life gets hard, and when we get to the end of our rope on days like yesterday, we have a few choices. We can tie a knot and hang on to the rope. We can recognize that this struggle is teaching us something that we need to know. Or, we can realize that as God’s children, we are going to endure suffering that is much too hard for us to handle on our own, and we learn to lean on God with all that we are. We can curse God in the storms of life or we can embrace Him. I choose to embrace Him. God has brought me this far, and I’m in it for the long haul. I’m in it to win it. I’ve already proclaimed victory in the name of my Father, and He has always been faithful.

We are all dealing with our own set of difficult circumstances with each passing day. Sometimes it feels like that rope is worn down to a mere thread, but today I remind you that there is hope at the end of that rope. Don’t focus on the circumstance. Don’t focus on the end of the rope. Focus on the HOPE. When we focus on God during these difficult circumstances, He not only sustains us, but He also fills our hearts with joy. Joy? During these tough times? How can that be? The joy comes from knowing that we are saved, and our loving Father will sustain us and carry us through. When we finally recognize that God is in control, we can let go of that rope and fall into the loving arms of our Savior…safe and secure. There is Hope at the end of the rope, and that Hope is Christ Jesus!

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Give me a word, Lord: MY GOD IS…

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

1 Samuel 2:2 There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

With so much doubt, fear and uncertainty, there is one thing that we need to keep reminding ourselves of daily. That one this is remembering who God is. We try to run through life either fixing problems or fueling the fire, and too often we forget who is really in control. If you haven’t ever watched the movie, “War Room,” do yourself a favor and watch it tonight. There are so many good quotes and so many godly truths spoken in the movie. One clip that I really love is when Ms. Clara is shouting praises to God for a victory and answered prayer. She is shaking her fist and shouting, ” Oh devil, you just got your butt kicked! My God is faithful! My God is powerful! You can’t fire Him, and He’ll never retire! My God is faithful!” That kind of puts everything in perspective for us, doesn’t it? God is faithful. He is powerful. He can’t be fired, and He will never retire.

What if during these trying times everyone stopped being upset and angry, and instead we remembered that GOD is still in charge. He sits on the throne no matter who sits in the White House. And His Word assures us that if we pray, really pray, turn away from our wicked ways, and seek God, and ask for Him to do His will, He will! That has been my constant prayer of late. “You’re will, no mine. I trust in You, Lord.”

Proverbs 21:1 reminds us that “in the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him,” and Psalm 22:28 assures us that the “dominion (kingdom) belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.” Once upon a time, Nebuchadnezzar was considered the strongest and mightiest king of his time, but God has a way of humbling even mighty kings. He placed Nebuchadnezzar in a “time out” for seven years, and He got his attention. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to release the Jews to go back to Jerusalem. He even turned the heart of the King of Assyria to aid in the construction of the Temple of the Lord. And let us not forget all the chaos He caused in Egypt with those ten plagues as He urged Pharoah to let His people go. Yes, our God is mighty may we never forget. He is still on the throne. He is still faithful, and He is still powerful. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

So what if we ALL turned back to God and prayed…for our country, our friends, our family, the lost, for God’s guidance and His will…what if we simply ALL began to pray? A president isn’t going to make our country great again, God IS, and if God is for us, who can be against us? God can kick that old devil’s butt again and again. He has already defeated him. The victory belongs to God, not man. He is still in the prayer answering business. Today, let us reflect on who God really is and give all glory and honor to Him! Let us pray as we remember who God is!

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Give me a word, Lord: IT’S TIME TO SHINE

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

The events of the past week have been a bit upsetting. Some are excitedly celebrating the election outcome, while many others are still praying for a different decision. It is quite upsetting when we don’t get what we want. It is even more upsetting when we see that our potential coming leadership of our country are not standing on biblical principles. But as Christians and Believers in Christ, we can not become part of the problem. No, my friends, this is our time to shine!

The problem of today is that we worry too much about tomorrow. When future oriented worry consumes us, we have to recognize that this is not of God. We have to diffuse that worry, and recognize that our Sovereign Lord is still sitting on the throne, and He is with us today, and He will be with us tomorrow, and always. When the worries of tomorrow fill up our minds today, we aren’t allowing God to have full control. We try to handle things on our own, and try to figure out what is going to happen, how it will happen, and what is going to happen to us. However, if we truly place our faith in Christ, our outlook begins to change. That thing called worry doesn’t have that much control over us when we allow faith to take the front seat. We must keep our faith in Christ!

Have you ever thought about why you are right here, right now, in the crazy year of 2020? I know that’s a silly question, but consider it for a moment. God placed you here at this time for such a time as this. He knew that the world needed you, and the world needed you right now. This world is a very dark place. Evil is being called good, and good is called evil. A light is needed. A light that will break through the darkness and shine brightly is needed right now more than ever. That light can be found in Christ. When we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are filled with that same light. It’s time to shine, folks!

When you are really sold out to Christ, a total follower, lover of the Lord, and putting all your trust and faith in Him, you start to see things in a different light, the light of Christ. Rather than worrying about the outcome, you simply learn to trust in God’s plan. We can’t get angry about the election outcome. We can’t spew words of hate and condemnation. We can’t belittle those who believe differently than us. Christians must unify now more than ever before and shine the light of Christ ever so brightly into this dark and sad world.

It’s time to shine! Has your light gone out? Has it gotten a little dim? Go recharge those batteries. Get in God’s Word and refresh and renew. Talk to the Lord and strengthen your relationship with Him. Recharge, refresh, and renew, Peeps. Let your light shine! This world needs the Light. It’s time to shine!

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Give me a word, Lord: DEFINITION OF BLESSED

James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Luke 11:28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Deuteronomy 28:2-8 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

The first thing I do when I wake up every morning is pray and thank God for the many blessings He has given me. I call out my petitions of worries and concerns over sick and lost loved ones, and I spend a few minutes with God before I start the chaos that will surely soon begin as soon as my feet hit the floor. Just before I go to sleep each night, I end my day in much the same way that I begin it: praising and praying. Each day, I think about the blessings in my life, and I give God all of the glory. I recognize that without Him, I would have nothing. I would not exist. I don’t ever want to forget that I am who I am and I have what I have strictly because of the grace of God. It’s true, I have worked very hard to get to where I am in life today, but I didn’t arrive here on my own. All honor and glory goes to God.

Today, I woke up thinking about what it means to be blessed. Miriam Webster defines blessed as: 1) held in reverence, honored in worship; 2) of or enjoying happiness; 3) bringing pleasure, contentment, or good fortune. A few years ago, a pastor defined blessed as “feeling God’s presence in our lives.” According to the Key-Word Study Bible, “The Greek word translated blessed…is makarioi which means to be fully satisfied. It refers to those receiving God’s favor, regardless of the circumstances.” Scripture reveals to us that a blessing is anything that God gives us that make us fully satisfied in Him.

Whoa! Wait just a minute! A blessing is anything that makes us fully satisfied in God? What about our homes, cars, jobs, bank accounts, and our families. Aren’t all those things blessings from God? I thank Him for those blessings every day. I know that I wouldn’t have them without God blessing me with them so they are blessings, right? It’s true, those are blessings too. The problem is when we start boasting in our own selves and taking credit for our accomplishments without giving God the glory. But think about this for a moment. Many times we only see the blessings in the collection of “things” we have acquired through the years, but we forget about the blessings of seeing God in every circumstance and situation.

A true blessing is anything that draw us closer to our Lord and Savior. A blessing is anything that helps us to let go of the temporal things and grab on tightly to those things that are eternal. Many times, it takes a struggle, a loss, a major illness, or a difficult trial for us to let go of the temporal and reach for the eternal. When things are going our way and everything is coming up roses, we start to pat our selves on the back and praise our own accomplishments, but when we start to feel those thorns, who do we run to? We run to Christ! It is in those times of difficult circumstances that we recognize the sovereignty and power of our Savior, and we cling to Him. And in those moments, we feel the presence of our Lord. When we truly feel the presence of the Lord, we know the meaning of being blessed.

We must recognize that everything we have comes from God. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) I’ve often heard the expression, “If you woke up this morning with only the things you thanked God for last night, what would you have left?” We must thank Him for everything. Every gift is from above. Do you feel the presence of God in your life today? If you do, you know the true definition of a blessing. If you are struggling, and you don’t feel His presence, He is not far away. Call out to the Father. He wants to bless you too!

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Give me a word, Lord: HIS WILL, NOT MINE. I WILL TRUST IN HIM!

Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Psalm 27:14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Four days after the election, and it hasn’t yet been called. It is looking like Biden will be the next president of the United States of America. Those who voted for Trump are either holding out and hoping for a miraculous act of God, or they are giving up and realizing the Biden has won. Me? Well, I’m sitting here chanting the same prayer I’ve been praying for the last four days, “Your will, Lord. Not mine. I trust You.”

I’ve shared this story as part of my testimony many times in the past. About thirty years ago, after finishing nursing school, I went to work in critical care and emergency services. I absolutely loved it, but “I decided” (note the “I” in that statement) that I was going to be an acute care nurse practitioner. I had an impeccable transcript. As a matter of fact I only had one B on my entire transcript while in nursing school that kept me from having a perfect 4.0. I had been an excellent student. I was working in critical care. My application was pristine. I was a shoe-in to get accepted into the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program, or so I thought… I applied, and later I received a letter from the University informing me that I had not been accepted into the program. I’m just going to be totally transparent with you here and tell you that I cried like a big old baby. I was heart broken. I didn’t understand. Why had I not been accepted? I cried out to God and prayed. It realized that it wasn’t too late to apply for the Family Nurse Practitioner program, though I felt I knew nothing at all about that because it wasn’t critical care, but still, I applied. I soon received a letter informing me that I had been accepted into this program. It took me a while to realize it, but God was behind the scenes working in my life, and I didn’t even know it. You see, I live in a very small town, and I have a close knit family. I love my home town, and I really could never see myself living in a big city. Had I become an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner all those years ago, I would have likely not been able to find a job anywhere near my home. I would have had to move or do a whole lot of traveling. God knew I didn’t want to move, and instead, He opened the door for an even better opportunity. As a Family Nurse Practitioner, I not only get to work close to home, I get to work with entire families. I get to know my patients and their families, and I get opportunities to share Christ on a daily basis. I absolutely love being a Family Nurse Practitioner! God knew just what I needed even though I didn’t.

The same thing goes for every circumstance in life. God knows just what we need, even when we don’t. He has a watchful eye on this country, and He is still on the throne. I heard the song, “Whom Shall I Fear (The God of Angel Armies)” on the radio this morning. It was written by Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, and Scott Cash. These words spoke to me: “I know who goes before me. I know who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always by my side. The one who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine. The God of angel armies is always by my side. My strength is in your name for you alone can save. You will deliver me. Yours is the victory.” We can’t see the big picture, but God can. He has a plan. We don’t know what His plan is, but right now, He is working behind the scenes working it all out for our good and His glory. No matter who sits in the White House as President, God will always be sitting on the throne. He will always be the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is my salvation. So I will keep praying, “Your will, Lord. Not mine. I trust you, Lord. Your will. Not mine.”

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Give me a word, Lord: GETTING BACK TO CHURCH

Hebrews 10:24-25 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Today I’m going to share something that has been troubling my heart for a while, but it is one of those subjects that is kind of touchy, and I wasn’t quite sure that I should approach it. However, God keeps tugging at my heartstring so here I go. The question that keeps running rampant in my brain is how do we get people to come back to church? The reason its a touchy subject is because of COVID-19. A lot of people have chosen to stay home from corporate worship, and trust me, as a nurse practitioner I get it. I have seen this ugly virus up close and personal, and it is something to be feared. I agreed with changing services to on-line for a while. I liked the idea of parking lot worship temporarily, but oh how I missed worshipping together with my faith family. We are members of a small country church, and the members of that church are truly an extension of my blood family. I love those people. The shut down was hard, and I was delighted when we were finally able to open the doors for corporate worship once more. We did it cautiously with two separate services at first to allow everyone to spread out. We watched the numbers and the cases, and we gradually returned to our regular worship hours and activities. We have continued to do so utilizing much caution. Masks are worn when gathering in close knit areas. The new staple, hand sanitizer, is available in all areas. We aren’t passing the offering plate. We aren’t hugging and shaking hands. We are, however, coming together as a body of believers and worshipping our Lord and Savior as a family of believers, and I can not tell you what a blessing it is to be able to do so after that little hiatus we had to take.

The thing is a lot of people haven’t returned. Before anyone gets mad at me, please hear me out. I completely understand not returning for worship services if you are ill or if at high risk for complications should you contract COVID 19. I get that, and I DO NOT want anyone to put their health at risk. Please hear my heart. I am not trying to shame anyone. If you are chronically ill and high risk, by all means, keep doing on-line worship and stay safe. Please! My heart message today is for those who are have just gotten out of the habit of going to church because of the changes made due to COVID 19 or any other reason, and my fear is that once we get out of the habit, it’s too dog gone hard to get back into the habit. If we can shop in the stores, dine in restaurants, and go to our jobs daily, then probably, if we think about it, we can go to church too…especially when we realize that the church is actively taking precautions to keep everyone safe. And it’s not just COVID 19 that has caused this. As a society we are way too busy, and we tend to fill our schedule up with all of the things that matter to us, but then we don’t have time for church on Sunday. We have a family trip planned for the day, maybe a golf game, a baseball game, or it’s the only day of the week that we have off to catch up on things around the house. I get it. That’s the reality of life. I’ve been there myself. I’m not pointing fingers without pointing four right back at myself.

The thing is, we all get the same twenty four hours a day, everyday. We all get 1,440 minutes, and 86.400 seconds every single day. That is 168 hours, 10,080 minutes, 604,800 seconds in a week. We all get the same amount of time, the question is, how are we using those hours and minutes and seconds? Why do we not have time for church? I think the simplest answer is that we don’t make time for church. Those of you who know me, know that I am one of the busiest people around. I am always doing something. I work like a woman on a mission all day in the clinic on my work days, and then I work like a crazy woman around the house and farm on my days off. I’m up early, and I don’t stop until my head hits the pillow at night. But you want to know something? This family does not work on Sunday. We don’t hunt on Sunday. We don’t fish on Sunday. We do, however, cook a huge family meal to share with our whole family after church, we get dressed up, and we get ourselves to church. And we do it because we make going to church and worshipping our Lord and Savior with our family of believers a priority. We make God a priority. The way we see it is that God blesses us so much more than we deserve all week long. He blesses us with good jobs, food on our table, a roof over our head, a family to love, wonderful friends, and oh so much more. We don’t deserve those blessings, but He gives them to us freely, and we thank Him for them daily. But even more so, shouldn’t we go to the place designated as His house whenever the doors are open and worship and praise Him corporately with our family of believers? Shouldn’t we make worshipa priority?

It is so easy to get out of the habit of going to church. There was a time during my college years that I made school my priority. There just wasn’t enough time for church between work, classroom time, clinicals, and studying. I kept praying and talking to the Lord during those days, but I sorely lacked in the worship department. But somehow, with His grace and mercy, He pulled me through school, and over the years drew me closer to Him. He didn’t forget me during my church hiatus. He drew me back, tugged on my heartstrings, and called me to the perfect church for my family. I guarantee you that He hasn’t forgotten you either. It is true that we can worship alone. We can worship our Savior in a dark closet or in a crowd of a thousand people. Then why do we need to go to church to worship? We go so that we can encourage one another in the Word, glean wisdom from our teachers, preachers, and elders, and in a sense we are showing God that He is important to us and that He is our priority. If you have gotten out of the habit of going to church, how about getting back into the habit this week. I just know your faith family will be so happy to see you, and I am sure that you will receive a blessing! It’s hard to take that first step, but it is absolutely worth it! Take that step this Sunday. Let’s get back to church!

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Give me a word, Lord: COZY IN CHRIST

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Psalm 37:7 Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

I’m not sitting at the kitchen table this morning. That is where I usually sit to do my morning Bible reading and write this devotional blog. Instead, I’m as cozy and snug as a bug in a rug snuggled up under a comfy fleece blanket, sitting in my recliner, listening to the crackling of the first fire in the fireplace of the season. The world of chaos around me continues to roar, but not here, not in my living room. There is the smell of fall in the air. All is well right here in this house.

However, if we turn the news on, we quickly realize that all of life is not well. The presidential election that occurred two days ago remains undecided. Corona virus continues to rear its ugly head. There are murders, burglaries, bitterness, and anger in every news clip. No, life is not good outside the doors of my cozy home, yet here I sit, cozy as can be in the safety of my home. Really though, we should feel that sense of coziness no matter where we are or what we are doing. How in the world are we supposed to feel safe and cozy in a world that seems to be turned upside down? We merely have to remember whose home we reside in…the house of Christ! It is wise to be aware of the current events around us, but it isn’t wise to allow those current events to take a hold of us.

How then can we be cozy in Christ? First and foremost, we must adjust our focus. This may be the hardest part. It is super easy to focus on the tragedies and events that surround us. We quickly get caught up in the drama of life, and occasionally, we lay down and wallow in a pity party of grief. If we focus on the bad, we are going to feel bad, but if we turn our focus onto Christ, we will feel joy, unexplainable joy. Romans 8:28 reminds us that God causes everything to work together for our good.. No matter what is going on around us, God will use those situations to grow us for our good and His glory. We can find joy in knowing that in every circumstance, God is with us. We don’t have to handle anything alone!

Another way to find coziness in Christ is by serving others. What? That just sounds crazy! Nope, I am completely serious. When we serve others, we get that feel good, cozy feeling way down deep in our heart that warms our whole being. What better time of year than now to begin serving others. We can serve others in our jobs by performing well. We can serve others by buying a meal for someone, treating a stranger to a cup of coffee, helping with storm clean up, checking on a lonely elderly person, and a million other ways. You don’t have to go very far to find someone that you can serve, and I promise you that you will feel that warm cozy feeling afterwards. “And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.” (Hebrews 13:16)

When we are consumed with the circumstances of the world, it’s hard to find that cozy feeling. If we dwell on the problem and not the problem solver, we will find ourselves overwhelmed. However, if we give those troubles to Christ, we find relief. You can’t be cozy in Christ if you’re spending your nights tossing and turning, worrying and fretting. But you can rest peacefully in the loving arms of Christ if you simply give those problems to God, and go to sleep. Yes, to be cozy in Christ, we must let go and let God! And…”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.” (Philippians 4:7)

Finally, don’t give in to the trials of the world, and don’t give up! The troubles of the world look huge and loom over us like a big black cloud, but never forget that behind that cloud is the Son sitting on the throne. The Son is shining down on you today and every day, and that type of “Sonshine” will definitely make you cozy! And my friends, that Son has already overcome the world! “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

I pray that today you are feeling cozy in Christ. Fall into the arms of our Savior, and rest with Him. Focus on Christ, serve others, pray and give your troubles to Christ, and never, ever give up! This world is a scary place, but we can rest cozily in the arms of Christ!

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Give me a word, Lord: JUMPING THROUGH THE WINDOW

Revelation 19:7-9 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

Who won the presidential election yesterday? I’m not sure whether Trump or Biden will be president in 2021, but I know who won the election. God did. We had an unprecedented turn out of voters for this election. God is surely up to something, and in a few days, He will reveal His plan. Regardless of the results, we have to remember that God is on the throne. We have nothing to fear. Our God is in control! The church is His bride, and He will care for His bride just as a loving husband cares for his wife.

I was reminded this morning of a mission trip we took a few short years ago to the Dominican Republic. We spent a couple of days up on the mountain ministering and providing medical care to Haitian Creoles. While there, we learned that in their culture, if a young woman and man wanted to be together, the girl would leave her home to go and be with her “husband,” and then the young man was responsible for his new “bride” from that moment on to provide and care for her. They referred to this as “jumping through the window.” After they were together as a couple for five years, they were then considered to be married to one another. While there, we met a young man who had a “jump through the window” marriage, and was working hard to make his relationship right in the eyes of the Lord.

We don’t have to jump through any windows to become the bride of Christ, but people we have to realize that a relationship with Christ is an active, growing relationship that is strengthened each and every day. I fear that all too often there are Christians that have a “jumping through the window” attitude. They jump out and make an emotional decision to become a Christian during a moving sermon, a revival, or perhaps at a retreat. This religion thing looks inviting and sweet. They want a little taste of it. They make a decision to be a Christian in their head, but they never make the decision in their heart. They want to follow Christ at that moment, but when the moment is over, they slowly return to their old ways and previous life. They do not respect the unity of marriage between themselves and Christ. They jumped through the window, but they didn’t stay with the relationship for the whole “five years” needed to make it a legal marriage and the relationship just fell to the wayside.

When we make a decision to follow Christ, it is not merely a head decision. It has to be a head and a heart decision. We have to fall in love with Christ and allow Him to rule our hearts and mind. What are the two greatest commandments? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) We have to love the Lord with our whole hearts, souls, strength, and minds. It’s not a here today, gone tomorrow relationship. Christ’s love for us is eternal, and our love for Him should be eternal as well.

I jumped through the window and became a Christian at the age of thirteen. Oh, I’ve not been a perfect Christian. Many times, I have veered far off of the path that God laid out for me, but praise the Lord, He keeps calling me back. My relationship with the Lord grows closer and stronger with each passing day, just as my relationship with my dear, sweet husband does. How does it keep growing? I keep putting forth effort to strengthen my relationship with Christ. I wouldn’t have a very good relationship with my husband if I put him on a shelf and pulled him down once or twice a week for a visit would I? Absolutely not! We can’t expect to have a good relationship with Christ if we are treating that relationship the same way. We can’t just be Sunday morning, Sunday night, and maybe even Wednesday night believers. We have to be 24/7 Christians, y’all!

We can’t just jump through the window and expect everything to fall into place. We have to have an active relationship with Christ daily. How do we do this? Well, just like in our personal relationships, we have to stay in touch! We need to talk to Christ daily. Spend time in prayer conversing with the one who loves us most. Spend time in His Word. Read the Bible daily. Learn who Christ is as He exposes Himself to you through scripture. Root yourself in your relationship with Christ, and each day, your relationship with grow stronger and rather than just surviving as a Christian, you will find yourself thriving for Christ!

Don’t let the fear of the election results weigh you down. Christ is on the throne, and we are His bride! Lets quit acting like we just jumped through a window, and instead, let us really shine as the bride of Christ as He desires for us to!

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Give me a word, Lord: HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Today is election day in the United States of America. It truly is the most important election of all time. Some have stated that this is the most important election since Abraham Lincoln, our sixteenth president. The presidential candidate’s platforms are the most polar opposite of any time in history that I can remember. One is for sanctity of human life. One is for abortion up until the of delivery. One party is conservative, and the other is extremely liberal. I’ve never seen the candidates have such extremely different stances. There is talk on the news that we should prepare for rioting in the event that President Trump wins again. It is a scary time.

I have no idea who will win this presidential election, but I know the One who does. God has already pre-determined who the next president of the USA will be. He may allow the conservative candidate to win so that Christian values can continue to be honored and restored, but He very well may allow the liberal candidate to take the seat. This country has corporately turned its back on God and Christian values. God may decide to throw His hands up and say, “I’m done!” I don’t pretend to know the mind of God, but I’ve studied His Word, and one thing that is very apparent in the Word of God is that He will get the attention of His children when they have strayed from Him. He has used all kinds of tactics in the past…wars, famine, pestilence. I worry that God may be on the verge of shaking this country up a bit to turn our attention back to Him.

I’d be lying if I said I’m not a little bit worried about the outcome of the election. I am. But I know that no matter what happens, no matter who is elected, my God is still on the throne. God controls the kings and the presidents. He can easily change their direction and path. “The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.” (Provers 21:1) God is still in control. His authority is not based on who wins any election. God is the King of kings and Lord of lords. We may be headed for some trials in the upcoming days. We can probably count on the fact that trials are coming our way. However, we didn’t get here by happen chance, and we won’t face the trials alone.

Just remember that God’s grace is all we need today and every day. We are made strong in our weakness because God’s power works best when we are weak. It is when we are at our weakest that we are made strong through the grace of God. He is our strength. He is our salvation. We can’t boast on our own skills and accomplishments. Those things are temporary, but our God is eternal. Let’s place our hope in Christ today! If you are reading this in the USA, I plead with you to go out and exercise your right to vote. Pray about the candidates. Look at what they stand for, and ask God to show you who He wants you to vote for.

Let’s all pray for this great nation today! “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) God can and will forgive and heal this land, if only we would seek Him! God’s grace is sufficient. Let’s look to Him today and every day!

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Give me a word, Lord: THERE IS POWER IN PRAYER!

Jeremiah 29:12-13 In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Isaiah 43:1-3 But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.  O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;  I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.

How often do we take for granted the power of prayer, or how often do we ignore the most valuable weapon in our arsenal? Sadly, we all too often forget the awesome power that a simple prayer holds. When we look to Christ and wholeheartedly pray, He will hear us. And the most wonderful thing about that is that He will hear us every single time! Christ doesn’t screen our calls and decide which one He will listen to and act on. He hears every single cry no matter how big or how small it may seem in the scheme of things. Prayer changes things. Prayer changes hearts. Prayer changes lives.

Prayer will certainly change things, but we must go to God in prayer with His perspective in mind. Prayer won’t change the perspective of God, but prayer will change the action of God. We’ve seen so many examples in the Bible of times when God had plans to destroy a city because of their vile and evil ways, only to later see God change His action due to the prayer of a righteous person. Oh yes, prayer will definitely change things.

Currently, we are prayer for a change in our country, a change in the health of the nation, and changes in the heart of man. We are offering up some mighty big prayers, and I know that those prayers are being heard. I know that God has a plan, and no matter what He does, it will all work out for our good and His glory. Yes, I am sure of this.

But what about those personal level prayers? The ones we pray for those immediate family members, our spouses, our children, our friends and loved ones. Does God hear those prayers too? Oh yes, my friend, I know that He does. I’ve seen the direct answer to prayers so many times, In fact, I sit here before you today writing a daily devotional blog as the result of answered prayer. God listens. He hears. He acts. He only needs for us to come to Him in prayer, seek Him, praise Him, and ask Him.

Prayer pushes us to our purpose. Don’t you see? Without God, we are just wandering through each and every day, lost, unsure, misguided. But when we turn our lives over to God, and we spend time with Him daily in prayer, He will guide us. He lifts us up and places us on the path that He has designed specifically for each one of us. He gently picks us up out of the pit of despair, gathers us in His arms, and fills us with hope as we walk with Christ leading the way.

I didn’t stumble upon Christ on my own. My Daddy brought me to church the first week after I entered this world. He prayed for me from the time I was born, and still prays for me daily. My grandparents prayed for each one of their grandchildren. My mother prayed for me. My pastors through the years prayed for me. My friends prayed for me. I have been under the umbrella of prayer my entire life, and I am the person I am today because of those prayers. I am forever grateful that the people in my life loved me enough to pray for me. And I don’t take that gift of prayer lightly. I have spent many hours in prayer, crying out to the Lord on behalf of my children, my husband, my parents, my family, and my friends. I know in my heart of heart that prayer changes things, and even though the results are hardly ever immediate, I know that God will answer in His timing. I truly believe that He will.

What or who is on your heart today? Go to the Lord in prayer and share it with Him. You don’t have to pray with fancy words or hard biblical terminology. I guarantee you that God understands the language of your heart. He even understands this Mississippi girl’s redneck lingo. You don’t have to sit in a beautiful church in order to be heard. God will hear you wherever you are. You can pray in your car, your bed, at work, or while taking a nice quiet stroll. If you call on His name, He will hear. You don’t have to wait until Sunday morning to say your prayers. God’s line is open 24/7. I bet He’s waiting to hear from you right this minute. Maybe it has been a while, and you aren’t sure how to reconnect. Don’t fret. It is just like calling up an old friend. Just call on His name, and He will be there, ready to listen, just like the old days. You are never too far to come back home to Christ.

We need Christ now more than ever, and the awesome thing is that He is still right here with us. The same God that parted the Red Sea for the Israelites, the same God that shut the mouth of the lions in the den with Daniel, the same God that brought down Goliath with a sling shot and a young shepherd boy, is the very same God that hears our prayers. There is so much power in prayer. It truly is the greatest weapon we have. Won’t you spend some time with God in prayer today?

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Give me a word, Lord: THANKFUL

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.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Psalm 118:21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.

As we open our eyes this morning, we have arrived at the month of November. Although I am thankful every day, November has been deemed the month for thankfulness. Thankfulness is definitely in the air. There is a sirloin tip roast in the slow cooker surrounded by potatoes, carrots, onions, and mushrooms with a delicious gravy. Rice and a big pot of green beans from the summer garden will sit along side all of this yumminess today at lunch. After church, I’ll bake a pan of biscuits. The house smells like fall with a apple caramel dump cake sizzling in the oven. We get to freely attend our church for praise and worship, and then come home and enjoy lunch with ten full seats of people we dearly love at our family table. I can’t help but sit here and reflect on thankfulness this morning. We’ve so very much to be thankful for.

We were spared from a terrible hurricane earlier this week. Oh, she came for a visit, but she wasn’t severe. We lost electricity for less than 24 hours, and we sustained no major damage. For this we are thankful. We have pantries and freezers full of food that were not damaged by the storm. God has blessed us with much produce this year. For this we are thankful. We have great jobs, a very comfy home, working vehicles to get us where we need to go. For this we are thankful. God allowed us to raise four children, He gave us two beautiful daughters-in-law, and the best grandson ever. For this we are truly thankful. And the very best gift of all, He gave us the gift of salvation. For this, we are eternally thankful!

One of my favorite old hymns is “How Great Thou Art.” I can’t tell you how many times I have been sitting out in the great outdoors, waiting on a deer, and silently singing this song in my head. Read over the words and reflect on how great our God truly is.

Oh Lord my God
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds
Thy hands have made
I see the stars
I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout
The universe displayed

Then sings my soul
My Savior, God, to Thee
How great thou art
How great thou art

And when I think of God,
His son not sparing,
Sent Him to die,
I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden
gladly bearing He bled and died
to take away my sin

When Christ shall come
With shout of acclamation
And take me home
What joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow
With humble adoration
And then proclaim My God
How great Thou art

We have a terrible habit of busying ourselves to the point that we forget or rather we don’t make time to reflect on all of the many blessings which our Lord has so graciously given us. We can’t continue to do this. Every single blessing, every single gift, every single material and non-material thing in our life was gifted to us by our Lord and Savior. It is so important to take time each and every day to count our many blessings and praise God for all that He is doing in our lives. He is so very good to us. Take a little time today to really recognize all that God has given you and spend some time simply being thankful today! I pray that your day is full of faith, family, and blessings!

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Give me a word, Lord: REFORMATION DAY

Ephesians 2:8-9 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Romans 3:21-24 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 

Revelation 3:20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

On this day , in 1517, 503 years ago, a little known (at the time) German priest and professor named Martin Luther came knocking on the Wittenberg door of the Roman Catholic Church. Sin and corruption had escalated within the Roman Catholic Church spreading to many of the leaders, and unfortunately, it had spread into the church practices and doctrines. The church had grown very prosperous, but did not realize how blind to the Word of God they had become. The church practiced selling indulgences to absolve sin. Martin Luther loved the Word of God, and he loved the church, the bride of Christ, and he followed the will of God. On this very day, all those years ago, he took a hammer and a few nails, and nailed a 95 page thesis to the door of the church. This thesis outlined indictments against the Roman Catholic Church. It was a call to repentance.

Back in A.D. 95, Jesus came metaphorically knocking on the door of the church of Laodicea. We all remember them as the lukewarm church. ““Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20) We can picture Jesus standing at the door knocking and inviting the lost to come to Him. Just as we envision Jesus knocking on the church door of Laodicea, we can envision Jesus knocking on the door of that church in Wittenberg 503 years ago. With each pound of the hammer of Martin Luther, Jesus was knocking, and that knocking set off a major chain reaction that we now know as the Protestant Reformation. As a result of reformation, hundreds of millions of Christians all over the world have submitted to the Word of God as their highest authority (Sola Scriptura), to His teaching that salvation is the gift given by God’s grace alone (Sola Gratia), and through faith alone (Sola Fide) in the death and resurrection of their one savior and mediator, Jesus Christ (Solo Christus), so that all glory would always be found to the Triune God alone (Sola Deo Gloria).

The church opened the door to Jesus and repentance and reformation was the spiritual cure for the ongoing corruption and sinfulness. The Good News and spiritual health spread through much of Europe, the New World, Asia, and Africa. A massive evangelism movement was spurred. The Bible was translated into languages for all to read, and a great awakening of the church occurred. Jesus knocked, and many doors were opened.

Today, is considered Halloween. The kids will dress up in costumes and go out for Trick or Treating. Families will join together for family fun as children go door to door knocking. Rather than celebrate this day as Halloween, we should be celebrating a day of thanksgiving! We must remember that great day when Martin Luther pounded on the door of the church as Jesus came knocking for both you and I. How do we celebrate this wonderful day in history? The best way we can observe Reformation Day is by doing some serious prayerful soul searching. Are we allowing a Laodicean lifestyle to seep into the church today? Are we lukewarm? Are we living by the Word of God, or are we living for the world? Are the standards we hold true for our church Biblical or worldly? Is Jesus knocking on the doors of our homes and churches asking to come in? Have we shut Him out?

If Jesus is knocking on our doors, let us please welcome Him in! Now, more than ever, Christians must stand firm in our faith. We need to listen for the gentle knocking of our Lord and heed to his calling. Happy Reformation Day, Peeps!

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Give me a word, Lord: DON’T BE DISCOURAGED

Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Palm 118:14-16 The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things! The strong right arm of the Lord is raised in triumph. The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!

Psalm 27:14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Discouragement. It’s a feeling that we all try to avoid, but one that seems to creep into our daily lives without invitation. Discouragement can even be seen in over and over again in biblical times. Old Moses had to feel discouraged multiple times while wandering through the wilderness for 40 years with all the complaining of those he was leading away from Egypt. They complained about lack of food, and God sent manna from heaven. They complained about lack of meat, and God covered the ground with quail. They complained about lack of water, and God caused water to spew out of a rock. God met their every need, yet they complained and complained. They even built and worshipped a golden calf instead of the one true God. Yes, Moses had his hands full with this motley crew! I can’t even imagine how discouraged he must have been, but he continued to follow the will of God. There are so many other examples of discouragement in the Bible, but each time, we see encouragement that can only be offered by our Lord and Savior.

We too live in discouraging times. If things don’t work out the way that we think they should, we get discouraged. If we don’t get that raise, the job we are hoping for, or even when we are having relationship struggles, we can easily get discouraged. It is easy to let those seeds of doubt overwhelm us, and we allow discouragement to take root within us. Soon we fall into Satan’s trap. Discouragement is the exact opposite of faith, and Satan loves to use any tool and tactic to make us doubt and fear and lose faith. If our minds are overwhelmed with doubt and fear and anxiety, we lose our focus on God. When we lose our focus on God, Satan begins to win. We get so caught up in the fears that we can’t see the grace and mercy that our Lord and Savior so willingly offers.

I’ll be honest, I have been guilty of letting discouragement creep into my life much more often than I desire. However, I have learned to not let it take root. I have found that when I stay rooted in the Word of God, discouragement can’t take root within me. Life gets hard. There are days that I come home from work, and I think, “I’m done. I’m spent.” I feel like I can’t even take one more step. The weight of the world is upon me. But then there’s God. Oh, but God! He gently reminds me that I am not going through life alone. I don’t have to save the world. That’s His job. I only have to be His servant and share His Word. When I feel that I am at my weakest, I only have to remember His promises and His Word. “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

I know that life is hard, Peeps, but please don’t let the difficulties of today bring you down. The Lord has promised good to His children, and He will see you through. He will meet the needs of His children just as a loving father cares for his family. He will not only bring you through, He will do it in such a way that you know that only God could have done so. He always works it all out for our good and His glory. Don’t be discouraged today. Seek the face of God, and you will find encouragement every time. Talk to the Savior. Tell Him your worries and concerns, and then just leave them right there at the foot of the throne, and wait. “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” The weight of the wait is heavy, but the Lord will make your burden light. It will all work out in His timing. Don’t be discouraged. Just wait on the Lord!

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Give me a word, Lord: CALM AFTER THE STORM

Psalm 107:28-31 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,  and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!
Let them praise the Lord for his great love  and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

(I’m a little late posting today….no electicity = no wifi and very little 4G makes it hard to post a blog, but the good Lord helped me through as always. God prevails!)

Hurricane Zeta arrived late yesterday evening. She made landfall a couple of hours to our west in Grand Isle, LA, and she came right over the city of New Orleans, Slidell, and eventually over our little town in Mississippi around 8:30 pm. The rain came down hard and fast. The winds raged. She passed through quickly, and by 9:30, she was gone. Our little creek behind the house was swelling way out of its banks, and the waters approached the corner post of our back deck. Our half mile long driveway was flooded. A large pine tree fell across the driveway. Leaves, small limbs, and debris littered the ground. The electricity went out, and it is still out, but that’s it. The winds raged. The flooding rain fell, but our home, our lives, and our animals are all safe and sound.

This morning we awoke to a cool, gentle breeze. The sun is shining down on us. There is peace and calmness and stillness. There is nothing to fear. The lack of electricity is only a tiny little hiccup in our giddy up. We have a generator running to keep our freezers going, and I can even make coffee. All is well. Praise the Lord!

In our daily walk as Christians, we encounter multiple storms in life, but we must remember, just like a hurricane, the storms of life never last. They rage on for a little while, but sooner or later they pass, and when they pass, there is the stillness and peace and calm that our Lord and Savior freely gives. If you are in the middle of one of life’s storms right now, don’t fret. Seek shelter in the arms of Christ, pray, and seek the Lord. He will protect you and guide you through any and every storm.

“For the Lord is the one who shaped the mountains, stirs up the winds, and reveals his thoughts to mankind. He turns the light of dawn into darkness and treads on the heights of the earth. The Lord God of Heaven’s Armies is his name!” Amos 4:13. Our God shaped mountains. He stirs up and controls the winds. He turns light into darkness. Don’t you think He can handle any storm that you are facing? He can, and He will, if only you place your faith in Him. And oh what joy you will have when the storm passes, and you get to rest in the beauty of the calm after the storm. Let go, and let God have control today! Praise His name for the calm after the storm!

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Give me a word, Lord: THE VOTER GUIDE

2 Chronicles 7:14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

The United States of America will hold probably the most serious presidential election ever on November 3, 2020. I say that because I feel that there is so much at stake. I have heard the worried comments and concerns. I’ve seen friends part ways because of their differences of opinion over who should be president and why. How does one choose who to vote for? You must use godly wisdom and discernment.

I’m an avid listener to American Family Radio, and before each election, they share the iVoterGuide. You can look it up at ivoterguide.com. They ask the tough questions, and look for the candidates’ biblical stance and beliefs. I also follow the American Family Association Action Alerts. At AFA.net, they have posted a party platform comparison which is very helpful. I look for helpful resources like these to help me choose. I don’t know about you, but I want to vote for a candidate whose beliefs line up most closely with mine. But even more important than that, I want to vote for a candidate whose beliefs line up most closely to God and His Word. How will we know if the candidate’s platform is in line with God’s platform? Well, we have to have a good understanding of God’s platform, and to gain this understanding, we must read the Bible.

In 1776, the United States of America was formed as one nation under God. Our pledge of allegiance to the American flag says that we are indivisible. These words were written in 1892. I bet our forefathers would be sorely disappointed if they could see us now. One nation under God? Indivisible? Sadly, I think not. As a country, we have strayed so far from the teachings of our Savior. The words of scripture are twisted to benefit the situations. Bits and pieces of the Bible are held in high esteem, while other parts and pieces are simply ignored because the words don’t follow what popular culture recognizes as okay. We are calling evil good and good evil. This country has strayed so far from Christ, and with the impending election, depending on the selected candidate, I fear that our nation will no longer be “one nation under God,” but rather we will be “one divided nation without God.”

My scripture reading this morning comes from 2 Chronicles 7:14, and it reads, “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” We read this verse all of the time as a stand alone verse, and we take it out of context. When reading the Bible it is always important to understand the context. After Solomon dedicated the temple, the Lord appeared to him and gave him some warnings and reassurances. “The Lord appeared to him at night and said: ‘I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.’ When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” God was talking to Solomon, but we to can gain knowledge and insight from these words. We know that we serve a loving and gracious God, and we know that He hears our prayers. We also know that He rewards and punishes, yet no matter what, He will forgive if we turn from our wicked ways, humble ourselves, and seek Him!

As November 3, 2020 approaches, please study the very best voter guide ever written: The Holy Bible, God’s Word. Look at the candidates, review their platform, and by all means pray! Pray earnestly for God’s guidance in your candidate selection. Review the platforms. Make a checklist. Which candidate’s platform is closest to biblical principles that we as Christians hold dear? After you have prayed, studied the candidates, and studied God’s word for wisdom and insight, go out and vote! Vote like lives depend on it. Vote like our freedom depends on it. Vote! Because quite frankly, there is so much on the line this year, every single Christian vote needs to be cast and counted.

“and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” He will hear us. He will forgive us. He will heal our land!

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Give me a word, Lord: GOD-FI-DENCE

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Jeremiah 17:7 But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.

The Miriam Webster definition of confidence is “a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances, and faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way.” We try to survive day by day with confidence that we place in our own selves and abilities, but we find ourselves coming up short. We can’t do it on our own. We must have confidence in God to get through each and every day. That type of confidence is defined a “God-fi-dence.” I saw this terminology on the internet. The definition for the word “God-fi-dence” is “knowing I can’t, but knowing He will.” I loved it, and I loved it so much that I decided to make a T-shirt with that exact saying on it.

We lose confidence in ourselves on a daily basis. It’s hard to stay confident in our own abilities, especially when there are so many outside forces trying to steal our confidence away. This has been a tough year. It seems that each passing day gets harder, and the roads we are traveling get rougher and tougher. There are bumps and potholes that keep us bouncing to and froe. We struggle. We become weaker. We may even sometimes think that it’s time to give up. Our confidence in ourselves has disappeared along the wayside.

We CAN’T give up! God designed us to be strong in Him. We must realize that we truly can’t do anything without Him, but with Him we can accomplish anything and everything that God wills for us to do. We can have God-fi-dence every single day of our lives. We must train ourselves to be different from the world. The world says, “me, me, me.” But the Word says, “God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.” We are merely weak shells of a being, empty, and hollow until we receive the richness of grace and mercy offered by our loving Father. When we accept Christ as our Savior, and we receive the comfort of the Holy Spirit, we are never alone again. We are not fighting life’s battles on our own. We don’t have to tackle the crazy chaos of the day by ourselves. We don’t have to be confident in our own abilities. We can be confident in God with God-fi-dence. That is the God’s design for us: confidence in Him, not ourselves.

Don’t give up, my friends. When the going gets tough, the tough go to God. He is still right there with you, and even though you feel you can’t do it anymore, just remember that God can. When you finally know that you can’t, but realize that God WILL, you will find your God-fi-dence. We truly can do all things through Christ. He will accomplish much through you. You only need God-fi-dence!

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Give me a word, Lord: JESUS IS COMING SOON

2 Chronicles 7:14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.

Yesterday, we had a phenomenal morning worship service at church. Oh, we always have great worship, but we did things a little differently yesterday. We had a praise and prayer service. Our praise team lead us with praise and worship songs, and several of our members lead us in guided prayer using the acronym PRAYER for Praise, Repentance, Ask, Yield, Encourage, and Remember. First, we praised God in song. Then we were reminded of our need for repentance with scripture from Psalm 66:17-19 and I John 1. Then it got even better. Under the ask portion, different leaders lead us through guided prayer for God to move in our families, in our churches, in our community and state, and in our nation. We prayed corporately for the things that have been troubling so many of our hearts. As we reached the yield portion, tears were shed as one of my beloved sisters in Christ shared how she was yielding to God’s will during her husband’s terminal illness. We were encouraged with more scripture from Joshua 1:9 and James 5:16, and a congregational prayer was help. The service was completed with remembrance and thanksgiving. the scripture reading was from John 14:1-3, and we closed with the song “Jesus is Coming Soon.” What a powerful service! (You can watch the service on Facebook at Oak Hill Baptist Chruch, Poplarville.)

We left the service singing “Jesus is Coming Soon,” and I told m husband that this song has to be the song for 2020. He said, “I feel a devotional coming.” LOL. I said, “maybe so.” Well, my friends, that song has been stuck in my head since. It’s an old southern gospel song that was written in 1942 by R.E. Winsett, but it was made famous by the Oak Ridge Boys around 1969. In case you’ve never heard the song, let me share the lyrics here:

“Troublesome times are here, filling men’s hearts with fear. Freedom we all hold dear now is at stake. Humbling your hearts to God saves from the chastening rod. Seek the way pilgrims trod, Christians awake. Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon. Many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound. All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies going where no one dies, heavenward bound. Troubles will soon be o’er, happy forevermore
when we meet on that shore, free from all care. Rising up in the sky, telling this world goodbye, homeward we then shall fly, glory to share. Oh, Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon. Many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound. All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies going where no one dies, heavenward bound.”

Reflect on those words for just a moment. The first line is what catches my attention: “troublesome times are here, filling men’s hearts with fear. Freedom we all hold dear now is at stake.” The song was written in 1942, and if you remember history correctly, World War II was ongoing. Oh yea, that would be a troublesome time. Here we sit, many years later, and the words still apply. We are not at war, but boy oh boy, are troublesome times here. I speak to a lot of people on a daily basis, and I can tell you, people’s hearts are full of fear. We don’t know what lies on the other side of all of this trouble, but that is okay. God does. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we definitely know who holds tomorrow. We need not fear the unknown because although we don’t know what is coming, God does!

In the USA, we have a very important election upcoming in just a little over a week. It is scary. The two candidates are sitting on extreme polar opposite sides in their platforms, beliefs, and plans for this nation. It’s easy to become fearful of the unknown. It’s easy to be fearful if the man we are supporting who shares our belief system doesn’t get elected. But we shouldn’t fear. We should get out and vote based on our beliefs and the candidate that most closely stands for the things that we stand for, and we should pray. We need to pray for this election like never before.

2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” If we will humble ourselves, and pray, and seek the face of the Lord, and turn away from the wickedness, God will hear us. He will forgive us. He will restore us. We need to pray, yes, pray earnestely and fervently.

But no matter the outcome, God is still in control. Our pastor reminded us of scripture from Proverbs chapter 21, verse 1, “The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.” We aren’t electing a king, but we are electing a president, and God’s word tells us that his heart is like a stream of water directed by God. GOD can guide that stream wherever HE pleases! Just study God’s Word, y’all. There are so many examples of God changing the hearts of kings and leaders. If we continue to be fervent in prayer, God will hear us. He will heal our land. But regardless of all of that, we can rest assured that Jesus is coming soon! There is no reason for the saved in Christ to fear. I’m ready, are you? If you aren’t sure, how about making today the day that you choose to follow Christ? Today is the perfect day for salvation!

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Give me a word, Lord: USE WHAT YOU HAVE, DO WHAT YOU CAN!

Mark 14:3-9 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.  Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly. But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

This morning, I read the following quote by Arthur Ashe, Jr, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” He was a famous tennis player who retired in 1980. I’m sure he wasn’t referring to the scripture that I have quoted above when he made that statement, but it is quite fitting. Jesus was in Bethany in the home a leper. The timing was just prior to Judas making a contract for the life of Christ and just two days prior to Christ’s crucifixion. While Jesus was eating in this home, a woman walked over and poured a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume onto the head of Christ. She was immediately scolded. It was pointed out by some at the table that the perfume could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor. The people had no idea of the coming events, but Jesus did, and perhaps this woman had the sense of urgency to do something right then and there.

The people at the table saw the value in the perfume, but they did not recognize the value of the act that was performed. Christ did, and in fact, He noted five significant things about this act. First of all, Christ saw it as an extremely beautiful extravagant act. The beauty was in the extravagance of the act, and not in the extravagance of the perfume. The people at the table saw the act as one of waste. In their eyes, she had wasted an enormous amount of money. It was an extremely lavish act. So they scolded her harshly. “But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me?”

Secondly, we see that the act was very timely. Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me.” He knew that His time to depart was coming soon. He told the people that there will always be poor among them, and that they can help the poor anytime they wanted, but they would not always have Christ with them in the flesh. The timing of the act was significant because although they could always do what they could to help the poor, Christ would not be around in the physical body for much longer.

Next, we see that she did what she could with what she had. She didn’t have time to prepare an elaborate meal. She couldn’t sew Him a new garment. There was no time for that. She did what she could with what she had, and Jesus recognized the significance of this. As Christians, there are many times that we can do things with what we have on hand to serve the Lord. It is practical application. This woman was practical even though her act was extravagant. And Christ said, “She has done what she could.”

The fourth thing we see was the insight in the act. Jesus recognized the fact that this woman was actually anointing His body before the burial. Jesus had told His disciples, His trusted friends and followers, about His impending death, but they didn’t believe Him. Yet, this woman felt the urgency to anoint Christ at that very moment. Jesus said, “She has anointed my body for burial ahead of time.” What a precious act of love.

Last, we see that her act was one that would be remembered. Here I sit, over 2000 years later, writing about this very woman and the act of love that she showed for our Savior. Christ said, ” I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” And…so He was right! We still remember her gracious, extravagant act.

What can we take away from this extravagant act? Let’s return to the quote that I opened with. Start where you are. You may feel that you don’t have anything to offer, but I assure you, God has gifted you with a talent or ability for His service. You merely need to pray and search yourself to discover that talent. Then, you simply have to use what you have. Put your talents and abilities to work in the service for our Savior. Finally, just do what you can! I promise you that God will bless your endeavors, and although on our own, we can’t accomplish much, we can do anything through Christ who strengthens us!

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Give me a word, Lord: I’M SO GLAD I’M GOD’S PUMPKIN

I could not locate the original author of “Being a Christian is like Being an Pumpkin,” but I love to share this analogy every year in October. It is a quite simple way to share the truth of Christ, and I love simple. Someone once asked the question, what is it like to be a Christian, and the answer given was, “Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin. God picks you up from the patch and brings you in. Then He washes all the dirt off of you. He opens you up and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, fear, hate, and greed. He carves you a new smiling face. And then He puts His light inside of you for all the world to see.” It can’t get much simpler than that! Let’s break it down just a bit more.

First of all, we recognize that God chooses us. Can we even comprehend the significance of this? He picked me. He loves me. We wants me. God knows all the ugly details of my heart and my life, but still He selected me to be His very own. The thought of this always amazes me. I know I’m a mess and a handful, yet our heavenly Father looked down and said, “I want that kinky headed girl. She’ll be a challenge, but I don’t shy away from challenges.” He picked me, and oh how happy I am that He did! “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.” John 15:16

Next, He washes all the dirt away. Yep, God cleans us right up. God knows that we could never earn righteousness, so He devised a great plan to unite us with Him. He sent his Son as a propitiation for our sins so that we may be made right. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we get a heart change. We are changed from the inside out. The changes may be gradual at first as we learn to walk with Christ, but once our hearts belong to Him, we become clean. He shed His blood so that we might be as white as snow. Clean! We become a new person in Christ. We are no longer that old person, and we begin to walk in the newness of life with Christ. “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

When God cleans us up, he gets rid of all that yucky stuff that keeps us down. He will remove all the seeds of doubt, fear, hate, and greed if we allow Him to. We may try to hang on to these seeds, or we may find it difficult to let those seeds go, but with Christ, we can rest assured that He’s got it. Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ. We don’t have to be slaves to sin any longer. We can pray to our Father, and let that stuff go! Doubt, fear, hate, and greed are from the devil. We don’t need those things in our life. As we grow closer in our daily walk with Christ, we can slowly but surely turn away from our old sinful selves, and no longer be slaves to sin! “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.” Romans 6:6

Then He carves a smiling face on us. This is one of my favorite parts. I love that movie “Elf”, and my favorite quote from the movie is “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite.” The reason I love that is because smiling is my favorite too! I love to smile. We have been masked up for six months now, and it’s hard to see a smile, but guess what? Mask or no mask, if someone is truly smiling, you can see it in their eyes. It’s called a Duchenne smile. When someone is truly smiling, their mouth turns upward and their eyes light up. Their whole face smiles. That is the kind of smile that Christ puts on the face of a believer. When I think about all that Christ has done for me, I can’t help but have a great big old goofy smile on my face. The gift of salvation is truly something to smile about! “I will shout for joy and sing your praises, for you have ransomed me.” Psalm 71:23

Finally, we let our light shine. We just can’t keep all of this good news to ourselves. When we are full of Christ, we can’t help but let the goodness of Christ overflow to those we come in contact with. Everyone that sees us should see a light. They should see the reflection of the Son within us. Non-believers should look at a believer, and say, “there is definitely something different about that person. I want some of what they have!” When our light for Christ shines brightly, the world will see. They will know that we are His children, and our light will plant seeds! Let your light shine! “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:16

Today, I ask you, “Are you God’s pumpkin?” If you aren’t today is the best pumpkin picking day I can think of. Go to the Lord, and let Him know you are ready to be picked. It’s time to be cleaned up and get rid of that yucky stuff. Let Christ put a smile on your face that lights up any room! I am so glad that I am God’s pumpkin!

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Give me a word, Lord: JUST AS YOU ARE

Judges 6:11-16 Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” The Lord said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”

Judges 6 begins with “the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight.” The Lord had handed them over to the Midianites for seven years, and the Midianites were very cruel to the Israelites so much so that they caused the Israelites to hide in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. The people were literally stripped of their crops, their livestock, and their homes. When they finally recognized their mistakes, God chose Gideon to rescue them. Where do you suppose He found Gideon? He was literally hiding in a hole. The hole was originally a wine press, but Gideon was in the hole threshing wheat to hide the grain from the Midianites.

I love the story of Gideon because it reminds me so much of our human nature. The angel of the Lord came and told Gideon that the Lord had chosen him to rescue Israel from the Midianites. How does Gideon respond? “But how? My clan is the weakest, and I am the smallest. ” Gideon first looked around and within, but he wasn’t yet looking up. He even gave God a few tests, you know, just to make sure God had chosen the right person. He ran home, cooked a goat and baked some bread, and brought it back to the angel. The angel touched the food with the tip of his staff, and fire flamed up from the rock and consumed the food. I don’t know about you, but that would’ve been enough proof for me, but apparently not Gideon.

Then as God prepares to send Gideon to fight the armies, Gideon starts thinking, “what if this is a mistake. Maybe I’m not the one.” So he asks for God to give him a sign. He told God that he was going to put his cozy fleece blanket outside that night. He told God that if he was the one to go, to let the blanket be wet but the ground around it dry. The next morning, the blanket was soaking wet, but the ground was dry. Old Gideon was still not believing so he asked God the next night to keep the blanket dry, but the ground around it wet. The next day, the blanket was perfectly dry, and the ground was wet.

Finally, Gideon is convinced, and he gathers up a huge army. They head out to battle, and God says, “Whoa. You’re army is too big.” Gideon had to be thinking, “I need a big army!” But God told him, I want the people to know that they were rescued by God and not in and of themselves. Gideon started out with an army of 32,000 warriors, but God reduced the size to 300 men, and He gave the Israelites victory over the Midianites.

Gideon was from the smallest tribe of Israel, and he was a small man. He was hiding in a hole threshing wheat, but God chose him to do a great and mighty work. He picked Gideon out, just as he was, right where he was, hiding in a hole under great oppression. God definitely works in mysterious ways, but rest assured, my friend, when He decides to call you, He will take you just as you are, lift you out of your hiding place, and use you for His glory. God blesses each and everyone with a unique set of gifts and talents, and He desires for us to use these talents to glorify Him. I am willing to guarantee you one thing. If you aren’t using your talent, or if you haven’t yet discovered it, talk to God and He will reveal it to you. When we humbly submit to the calling of Christ, He picks us up, right where we are, just as we are, and He does miraculous things. We only have to be willing.

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Give me a word, Lord: REMEMBERING SALVATION

I Peter 1:3-9 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

I am not a writer by profession, but writing this devotional blog has become one of the passions of my life. I go to bed at night praying and asking God for words, and I wake up each morning asking for words. I feel such an urgency to write. I feel a need to share the gospel. I don’t know how many people are reading my ramblings, but my prayer is that these words could just reach the heart of even one lost soul and plant a seed. I know that my God will send someone else along to water that seed, and the Holy Spirit will make it grow.

I woke up this morning reflecting on my own day of salvation. I was thirteen years old. I had been going to church my whole life, literally. Daddy had us in church the first Sunday after we were born. It was an important part of our lives. At the age of thirteen, I sat in a church pew and heard a sermon and felt the tug of the Holy Spirit. I was lost, and for the first time in my life, I felt the depth of my lostness. I realized at that moment that I was not truly saved, and I recognized my need for salvation. I realized that if I did not ask Christ into my heart at that very moment, the opportunity may never come again. I realized what it meant to be separated from Christ for eternity, and I did not want to be separated for even one second longer. I asked Christ to be the Lord of my life that day. To say I was extremely shy at that time would be a great understatement. I didn’t walk the aisle and make a public profession of faith that day. I knew Christ was in my heart, but I was afraid to walk that aisle. Over the next week, the Holy Spirit gave me the strength and courage. As a matter of fact, I was so excited the very next Sunday morning that I could not wait to run down that aisle to our pastor and let the whole church know that I had been saved by the grace of our Savior. I remember it like it was yesterday. I picked out my prettiest dress. It was white with royal blue flowers and ruffles. I was still scared, but I knew that I had to share my new found faith with my church family.

Now, I could sit here and tell you a bunch of lies and cover everything with sugar and honey, and tell you that life has been super easy since that moment, but I won’t. Life gets hard, and lately it’s been a bit harder than usual. In I Peter, chapter 1, Peter is writing a letter to the people of Asia Minor who are being persecuted. This is the area now known as Turkey. The people were being persecuted for their faith in Christ. There were some women who were married to men who were not believers in Christ, and these people needed encouragement in a big way. He begins this letter encouraging them with praise to God for their salvation. He takes time to remind them of the greatness of salvation and an inheritance that will never fade. He reminds them of the greatness of salvation to encourage them as they are going through the difficult times of persecution. We may not be going through physical persecution, but each day brings troubles of its own, and we have to fight those daily battles remembering our great salvation too.

Jesus Christ took on the sins of you and me that great and dreadful day on the cross. Why would He do such a thing? We weren’t even born, yet He still died for us. It is because He loves us so greatly, and because of that love, He wants us to have the assurance of eternity with Him. Salvation is truly the greatest gift in the world. It doesn’t cost us a dime, but it cost Jesus an agonizing death on the cross in order to fulfill the prophesy and be resurrected to the Father. Many times, we forget what a big deal this gift of salvation is. It’s not merely a “get out of hell free card” that we carry around in our wallet. Our salvation was bought and paid for by Christ, and given to us as the best gift that we could ever receive. Christ died for me. He died for you. He gave us a gift of truly unmerited favor, true grace, true mercy, and it was given from the purest heart of true love.

When things are going good, it’s easy to be joyful, but when the going gets tough, we have a bad day, life throws us great big obstacles, or perhaps we are even feeling the pain of persecution, we can still find joy. We simply have to go back and remember the joy of our salvation. We must remember that no matter what battle life gives us, Christ has already won. He defeated death. He overcame. He is my rock and my salvation, and I am so thankful that He cared enough to save me. Take some time today to reflect on your salvation. Do you know Christ as your Savior? If so, reflect on the wonderful glory of knowing Him today. If you haven’t made Him the Lord of your life, don’t wait any longer. Make today the day of your salvation!

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Give me a word, Lord: BE A SHEEPDOG

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies’ you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:1-6 (ESV)

“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; All the day and all the night they shall never be silent You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.”  Isaiah 62:6-7 (ESV)

The following is an excerpt from my book, “Inspirations from the Funny Farm.” I’ve been thinking about my sweet Daisy May, and the lessons she taught me. She was a true friend to the very end, and I loved her.

The best farm dog we ever had was Daisy May. I loved that girl in a big way. She was a Great Pyrenees. After we began raising chickens, we tried several dog breeds before we found Daisy May. I did my research, and many people told me that the Great Pyrenees breed was the way to go as far as farm protection. However, my research results made me think that this was not the breed for us. I read on-line that these dogs roamed, and by roam, I mean they wandered far away from home even into another county, and owners reported that they frequently had to go and pick their dogs up miles from their home. Well, I didn’t want any part of that. I also was told by other owners that these dogs were not social animals, and that they were strictly herd animals. They were to reside with the animals and tend the animals, and they were not “people” animals. That was another strike against this breed.

However, one day, my husband traded an Eastern Wild turkey for a great big ball of white fluff with a cute little pink nose. She was adorable, and she was a people dog. I knew that we were supposed to pen her up with the animals and house her with them, at least that is what the research said I should do. We named her Daisy May. This was a name that she quickly outgrew as she grew into a massive, beautiful 100 pound ball of white fluff. She didn’t look like a meek little friendly Daisy May, but rather she looked like a beautiful lion with a long flowing white mane. She was a true beauty.

She was our pet, but she was a working pet. She had a job. Her job was to protect our animals.  We did not train her for this job. She never even spent one day in canine school, and neither my husband nor I ever spent even one day training her. She truly had a natural born instinct to be a protector for our animals. Prior to her arrival on our 80 acre farm, multiple predatory animals visited, and we lost animals on several occasions. One day I came home from work and found 29 dead chickens that were killed by a pack of local dogs. After Daisy May came to live at Hodge Lodge, we never lost another chicken or any other animal to a predatory animal.

We pinned her up with the chickens the first couple of days, but then we felt sorry for her, and let her out. I worried that she would roam off our property, but she never did. She roamed all over our eighty acres, but she never stepped a foot in the road, and she never left our home. She knew from day one that she had a job, and her job was to protect Hodge Critter Lodge. Under her fine supervision, we acquired a great menagerie of animals. She never tried to harm a feather or hair on one single critter head. I talk to all my animals, and Daisy May was no exception. She seemed to really understand me, and whenever we brought a new feathered or furry family member home, I showed the new critter to Daisy May, and would say, “Daisy, this is one of ours.” She seemed to understand me, and she would guard that animal as if it had lived here forever.  One Spring, we had new baby chicks, and we were letting them bounce around the yard. Our Yorkie, Diego, was a puppy at the time. He was bouncing around and playing a little too roughly with the young chicks. Daisy May loved Diego, but she also knew her job was to protect the chicks. She gently plopped her giant front paw on Diego’s head as if to say, “that’s enough little buddy. Leave the chicks alone.”

She slept a lot during the day and roamed our property at night. She reminded me of a night watchman keeping guard. She barked occasionally and made sure that all the locals knew she was on duty and Hodge Lodge was secure. She didn’t just protect the animals; she also kept a watchful eye over her humans. I could walk anywhere I wanted at night without a worry in the world because I had my great big old sheepdog with me. While Jeff worked overseas, I felt perfectly safe under Daisy May’s watchful eye. I’m a natural born country girl and walking outdoors during the dark of night has never bothered me. I can remember hearing a noise and walking out onto the porch to explore only to have my body physically pushed back into the house by my great big old sheepdog. It was if she was telling me, “I got this, Mama. Go back inside and let me do my job.”

We lost our sweet Daisy May a couple of years ago. She died protecting one of our cows that was calving. Wild dogs were trying to attack the calf, and Daisy May gave her life doing what she did best: protecting our farm. I have put a lot of thought into Daisy May and being a sheepdog, and I have arrived at the conclusion that I want to be a sheepdog just like Daisy May. Sheepdogs are bred to protect sheep. Sheep are not very smart critters, and they really don’t realize when they are in danger. Sheepdogs, however, recognize danger, and they instinctively know what to do to protect the sheep from the danger. Therefore, farmers put sheepdogs in with their sheep to protect the sheep from predators. When a sheep dog is on duty, the sheep are safe. In the world of Daisy May there are sheep, and in her case the sheep consisted of actual sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, deer, pigs, and so many other animals, and then there are the wolves, and in her case the wolves consisted of any predatory animal that decided to visit Hodge Lodge. Our animals may not recognize danger, but Daisy May always kept a watchful eye over them to keep them safe from harm.

As Christians, we can fall into one of these three categories. There are people who are sheep who are part of the flock of the great Shepherd, Christ, or who are new in their faith, or even those who haven’t yet come to know Christ as their savior. And then there are the wolves. The wolves are those people that try to draw the sheep away from the great Shepherd. This would include anyone who is working against Christ and trying to make a person doubt their faith or doing things to try to persuade a person to do things that are not Christ-like. The wolves work very hard to keep Christians from being all that they can be for Christ, and sometimes, the Christians, also known as the sheep, don’t recognize the danger of the wolves or perhaps the sheep are not prepared to handle the threat of danger. Finally, there are the sheepdogs. Sheepdogs are those people who stand in the gap. The sheepdog stands between the sheep and the wolves. It is our duty as Christians to stand in that gap. The wolves try diligently to draw the sheep away from the Shepherd, and we must stand in as sheepdogs to prevent this from happening. Many times, we will feel ill equipped, and we won’t feel like we are strong enough to be a sheepdog, and we just want to be a sheep. But as a sheepdog, we help lift other Christians who will become stronger in their faith and relationship with Christ, and in turn, that person will encourage us and help us to become stronger. I pray that I can be a great sheepdog like Daisy May one day. I want to stand in the gap and protect people from the evil in this world. I want to help strengthen fellow Christians, but I also want to spread the gospel to others. Yes, I want to be a sheepdog when I grow up!

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Give me a word, Lord: RESTORATION

Jeremiah 32:36-41 “Now I want to say something more about this city. You have been saying, ‘It will fall to the king of Babylon through war, famine, and disease.’ But this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury. I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.

The scripture for today’s passage was a portion of our nightly Bible reading last night. Jeremiah the prophet had been warning the people with the word of the Lord that they would be overtaken by Babylon. The people had angered God. They were living evil lifestyles and worshipping false gods, gods that they had made with human hands. God was tired of the people living evil and corrupt lives, and He had promised to intervene and allow the king of Babylon to overcome the people for a period of time. He said that He would scatter the people. What we see in portion of this scripture, however, is God’s promise of restoration.

When we are in the midst of failures, sins, mistakes, and we are feeling broken and alone, we must remember that Jesus Christ restores. The term restore means to bring back or reinstate. When Jesus restores, He brings us back to Him, and we aren’t taken back to the way we were before we experienced the brokenness. No, Christ does much more than that. When He restores us, He leaves us much better than we were before. Christ will take away the pain and brokenness, and put our lives back together. He gets rid of what is wrong in our lives, and brings us back to a fullness with Him. Restoration is an amazing place to be. When restored through Christ, what is broken becomes whole.

I have heard a great number of times, “I can’t wait for this pandemic to end. I want things to get back to the way they were,” I’m not sure that we want things to get back to the way they were. Things weren’t going so great in this big old world prior to COVID-19 and have only gotten worse since the pandemic began. I don’t want to go back and settle for how things were. No, I want to see the restoration that comes from Christ. I want us to come out on the other end of this pandemic restored in Christ. When we go through difficult situations in life, we can either fall under the pressure, or we can grow from the experience. I pray that we are all growing. I pray that we are learning that God is in control of every situation, and I pray that we see His hand in the solutions.

God will restore us, if only we will turn our hearts back to Him. “I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.”

We can begin the restoration process now. If we could simply turn our hearts back to God. We must stop living for the world and start living for things eternal. We must have one heart and one purpose which is to worship Christ forever. I pray, “please, Lord, put a desire in our hearts to worship You. Please, Lord, bring us back to you. Restore us.” We know that restoration comes through the blood of Christ. Our Savior has already paid the price. We can not continue to take advantage of the love and grace of our Lord and Savior. No, we have to turn our hearts back to Him.

Today, I ask that we pray for restoration. Let us be restored in Christ, individually and corporately. We need Christ now more than the breath in our lungs. We don’t want to simply get back to the way things were, we want to be restored. I know that my God can do that. He is bigger than anything in this world. He’s got our attention now. So what are we going to do? Shall we continue to live as we are, or are we going to pray for restoration? Are you satisfied with the way things were? Are you okay with the way things are now? I pray that you are not willing to settle for any less than God has planned for your life. Yes, let’s pray for restoration today!

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Give me a word, Lord: REFRESHED

Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Go, go, go, go, go….STOP! That seems to be the way we go about each day. We are constantly on the go. I usually wake up around 5:00 am to do my morning Bible study and write my devotional blog. Then it’s go, go, go. On my clinic days, I run for twelve hours taking care of my patients. It’s a great job, and it’s my passion, but it is definitely a busy one most of the time. Then on my days off, there are always a million little projects to complete…clean the house, crafting, family engagements, church activities, tending the critters and the farm. Yes, it is safe to say that we are some busy folks. Don’t get me wrong. I love it. I am not one to just sit around and be lazy, at least not for a very long period of time. I love to be busy, but sometimes, we have to slow down. We need to hit the refresh button in life.

This week, my husband and I did just that. We hit the refresh button. We left Wednesday morning for an archery hunt a couple hours away from home. We treated ourselves to a nice hotel room, a few good meals, and FOUR days in the woods together…just God, Jeff, and me. Oh, my it was so very nice. We did not kill a deer. We didn’t even see a deer that was legal. Only a couple of young bucks stepped out on us, but that is okay. We aren’t starving for meat, but we were starving for refreshment. These past four days have been truly wonderful. I spent time in beautiful hardwoods, lovely white oaks, and a whole bunch of other trees with leaves gradually changing from green to gold. I saw a multitude of birds, and they sang their carols loudly and proudly as I sat there under a big old oak tree. The squirrels were having a convention there this weekend. I giggled inside as I watched them frolic and play. They chased each other around the trees and through the woods. The weather cooled off the last two days, and it was absolutely perfect. I felt all of the tension of the previous weeks leave my body as I sat there with God, nature, and my favorite human in those beautiful woods.

Life gets too busy sometimes. We get carried away doing what needs to be done, and we tend to forget about taking care of ourselves and our relationships. Jeff and I spend a great deal of time together on a regular basis, but it is always good to get away for a bit for a husband/wife retreat. Four days in the great outdoors, away from all of the everyday chaos, was just what the doctor ordered! I can not express how refreshed I feel this morning and how excited I am about spending the day in the Lord’s house.

Sometimes, we don’t simply need to hit the physical refresh button. Sometimes, we need to also need to hit the spiritual refresh button. I think Psalm 23 is a great place to go to get some spiritual refreshment. The scripture I quoted above is from the New Living Translation. It is very easy to understand, and I think we can easily see that refreshment is oozing from these words. Verse one reminds us that God gives us all that we need. In verse two, we see that God lets us rest, and He lead us. In verse three, God renews us, and He guides us. In verse four, we see that He keeps us company, and we see that He protects us. In verse five, God raises us up, and He honors us. Finally in verse six, we see that God pursues us, and that we will spend eternity with Him. Wow! Isn’t that refreshing? Knowing that God is there beside us at all times should renew us daily, but knowing that He is actually pursuing us and that we get to spend eternity with Him, well my friends that refreshes our souls! The thought of it is so soothing. These words were written many years ago, but they still come to life each time that we read them. God’s Word truly is alive and active. God longs to have a close relationship with each of us. He wants to change us for our own good and His glory. We must make time for Him.

Take some time today to sneak away with God’s Word. Go to your favorite quiet place. It may be an old worn out chair, or it could be outdoors under a great big old tree. No matter the place, turn everything else off and tune in to God. I can guarantee that you will walk away feeling refreshed and renewed! God is so very good. Spend some time with Him today!

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Give me a word, Lord: FEELING LUKEWARM?

Revelations 3:17 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 

We stopped at a Waffle House for breakfast early this morning, and as I was asking the Lord to give me words to study and write about today, the church of Laodicea came to mind. It has to be a God thing. Who else can come up with this stuff?

We arrived at Waffle House and the restaurant was empty. It was early and still dark outside. The temperatures dropped last night, and it’s currently in the mid forties. All three employees were outside having a smoke break, but quickly finished up and returned to their stations before we got to the door. The cook was a middle aged man. He had two braids in his hair that fell just below his shoulders. He greeted us with smile, and exchanged pleasantries. The waitress was a good bit older. She was a frail looking, small little thing. The years had worn on her, and her face was laced with wrinkles of a hard life. The other waitress was a young, fluffy lady. She had a rather large white, bouffant hairdo. I’m not sure if it was a wig or not, but it didn’t look like it belonged to her. So here we have our three workers. They are near the end of their night shift. I’m sure they are tired, and they are probably ready to go home.

I bet you are thinking, “Okay, KK. What in the world does this have to do with the church of Laodicea?” I’m getting to that. It was their attitudes that brought it to my mind. The cook greeted us warmly. He wore a smile on his lips. He even danced as he cooked our meal, and he graciously placed our food on our table. Our waitress took our order. She was missing a smile. She was doing what she had to do, but she sure didn’t seem to be enjoying. Her affect was flat, unwelcoming. She was serving us, but she appeared to be just carrying out the motions. She definitely wasn’t enjoying herself. Finally, I noticed the other waitress with the white bouffant hair. She repeated that she was cold a couple of times. She took a seat at the far end table, and played on her phone. She made no effort to interact with anyone. She was just there.

So this morning at Waffle House, I saw the representation of three different images of spiritual behaviors. That last waitress represents a Christian that’s gone cold. She even repeated that she was cold a couple of times. Her attitude was cold, distant. She didn’t interact with anyone except her phone. There was no joy in her heart or her eyes. She was just cold. Cold is a very sad place to be when we are considering our relationship with Christ.

The lady that waited our table represents the lukewarm believer. She was there. She did what she had to do. There was no joy in her actions. There was no smile on her face. She was following the rules of her job, but she wasn’t giving it any extra umph. She didn’t really seem to care. She just seemed ready to go home and call it quits. She wasn’t cold, but she wasn’t hot. She was just lukewarm. It appeared that her fire had gone out many years ago.

The cook represented a believer in Christ. He was excited, happy, and on fire. He seemed so full of joy, and it was contagious. This is the person God desires for each of us to be. When strangers meet us. They should see the joy of Jesus within us. We should be reflecting Christ in our behavior and actions. One should be able to easily see that we are a child of God.

The church of Laodicea was lukewarm. They weren’t hot or cold. They were merely lukewarm. God said because they were lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, that He would spit them out of His mouth. Unfortunately, I believe we all go through different phases of warmth, but prayerfully, each day of our walk with Christ, we become warmer and warmer until our hearts are on fire for Christ.

Remember the two men who were walking and talking on their way to Emmaus in Luke 24 just after the crucifixion. They were talking about all that occurred when Jesus began walking with them. It wasn’t until later that their eyes were opened to who Jesus was and, “They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Can we not be like those men? Can our hearts not burn within us for Christ? Jesus is not physically walking beside us, but He is ever present. His Word should set us on fire each and every day. How can we live on fire for Christ? We can study His Word, talk to Him regularly, serve others gladly, and worship together in a Bible based church. Reflect the Son in all you do. Share the Gospel. Love God and love others. When you heart is full of Jesus, you can’t help but be on fire for Him! Now, go check your temperature. Don’t be cold. Don’t be lukewarm. Be on fire for Christ today and every day!

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Give me a word, Lord: LOOKING UP

Psalm 121:1 I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

Psalm 113:3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.

Psalm 8:1 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.

It’s bow season here in South Mississippi, but the weather hasn’t been conducive the last couple of days, and the deer have been hiding out. Yesterday, it was hot and the temperature rose to 85 degrees. The wind changed direction every hour. This was not agreeable weather for deer hunting for sure. The mosquitoes were plentiful, and the day was long. We excitedly looked forward to this morning. The forecast showed a high of 66. Ahhh, cool weather. My husband & I both thought, “the deer will be moving for sure.” But guess what? We geared up, walked outside to a misty wet dark morning with winds of 12 mph. We know one thing for sure. Deer do not like windy weather. They can’t hear their surroundings when it’s windy, and it spooks them. Today will probably not make for a good hunt yet again.

Even though we know we probably won’t see a deer, we’re still going to be out here all day. Why? First, we are getting to enjoy God’s beautiful creation all around us. We get to see God’s handiwork, up close and personal, undamaged by human hands. The other best thing about being out here is that we get to enjoy spending time together as husband and wife doing something we love. It is always fun to spend a full day in the woods with your sweetheart, even if the deer are hiding out.

I took this picture yesterday as I was looking up and thinking about all of blessings God has bestowed upon our family. He’s such a good, good God. I think we tend to forget His greatness in the midst of our chaos. When trouble comes our way, we tend to look within ourselves for solutions. When the answers don’t come quickly enough, we begin looking around for a solution. Finally, after exhausting all other avenues, we look up to the heavens for the answers.

Why does it take us so long to look up? Our heavenly Father is here for us 24/7. He is never hiding out. He’s better than the postal service. Rain, sleet, or snow will not deter Him. John 10:28 tells us that no one can snatch us out of His hand. He desires our praises, but He also desires for us to lean on Him not just when we can’t figure things out on our own, but always and in all things.

We don’t have our usual hurried agenda today. We are both off work, and we get to play in the woods like a couple of kids. Our only concern is the wind, but rather than get disheartened or discouraged, I’m just going to keep looking up. I’m going to look up and praise God for this beautiful life He has so graciously given me. I’m going to praise God for a few days of no work. I’m going to praise God for His goodness, grace, and mercy that I surely do not deserve. Yes, today, I’m going to make sure that I keep looking up.

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Give me a word, Lord: PEACE, BE STILL

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yesterday afternoon, I went for a two mile hike into the woods. The last few weeks have been a continual rollercoaster of activities. Between working, farming, and family responsibilities, we have not stopped. But I decided to take a vacation day. I was long past due for a day to just be still and spend some time with my sweet husband, nature, and the good Lord.

As we began our hike, we were immediately greeted by a juvenile raccoon. He scampered through the woods without even giving us a second glance. I think we probably saw about a hundred squirrels. They were running about merrily, up and down trees, and barking over our heads. There must have been about 200 birds flying around, and at one point the birds were singing so loudly it sounded like we were in the jungles of the rain forest.

After about two miles of walking, I found the perfect spot. I made a make shift seat under a big pine tree, and I just sat there for a couple of hours taking in the fresh air and the beauty of God’s creations. The leaves are just starting to turn here, and as I sat quietly, I caught a glimpse of a golden yellow leaf turning loose and flittering gently to the ground. I even watched one squirrel race about 20 yards in front of me. He dove into a pile of pine straw and a little golden leaf flew over his head as he landed on the pine straw. I’m sure he was in squirrel heaven as there were white oak acorns covering the ground.

As the sun began to set, a different type of orchestra began. The locusts began their soothing buzzing sound as the tree frogs quietly croaked. Every once in a while, the sounds would get louder, almost deafening, yet extremely peaceful. Yes, this was definitely the most peaceful day I have had it what seems like an eternity.

Twelve hours a day, three days a week doesn’t sound like a tough work schedule. However, when you couple that with four days of working even harder at home, you can bet that a body can get warn down. It’s not the work that wears me down. I enjoy hard work. It’s the busyness that makes it tough. It’s the noise, the chatter, the constant running here and there. It’s the absolute, total lack of “peace, be still.” The distractions of everyday life can be overwhelming, especially when those distractions are distracting us from Christ.

I don’t think that God designed us to be this busy, and my hike confirmed this. I love nature because I can see God in all of it. We have to take the time to slow down and look around and see God’s handiwork. He designed all of the animals, birds, and even the 9000 mosquitoes that I saw. I’m still not sure why God thought we needed those suckers, but I’m sure He had a reason. Nonetheless, when we take time to truly be still, we find peace, and that peace really does transcend all understanding.

If you are feeling lost, overwhelmed, or maybe just tired of all the racket and noise of the day, how about taking some time today for peace? Be still, and know God. We can feel His presence and see Him a whole lot more clearly when we turn off all of the distractions and just be still with God for a bit!

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Give me a word, Lord: HOW DO YOU SMELL?

Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise;  associate with fools and get in trouble.

Proverbs 12:26 The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.”

This morning, I was in the bathroom when Diego, my spoiled rotten Yorkie, walked in. He immediately laid down at my feet. Within a mere second or two, the disgusting scent of death pierced my senses. Diego had just come in from his morning outdoor adventures. We live in the middle of 80 acres, and somewhere out there, Diego found some varmint that was decaying, and he decided to roll all around in it so that he too could wear the delightful smell of decay. Ugggh! The smell was truly offensive, and my beloved dog received his weekly bath a bit early. He now smells fresh as Irish Spring after several scrubbings and rinsings.

I do not for the life of me know why our dogs do this. They love to wallow in the wrong stuff, and then they smell so badly. I’ll never understand the nature of a dog, nor will I ever pretend to understand the nature of a human. I’ve always told my kids to choose their friends wisely because their smell is going to rub off on them. Just like the dogs wallow in stench, and then run around smelling disgusting, we too take on the likeness of those that we hang around. Their nature tends to rub off on us. We may not intentionally choose to take on the behaviors, attitudes, or beliefs of those we surround ourselves with, but unless we are intentionally choosing NOT to, they are going to rub off on us. Before we know it, we are running around smelling bad too!

Before I go any further, let me make one thing clear. I am not saying avoid the unlovable. It is our calling as children of God to love everyone, even the unlovable. We are to hit the highways and byways sharing the gospel, but we aren’t supposed to live in their sin situations. We are to love the sinner, hate the sin. So don’t let my words make you think otherwise.

What I am referring to today is our close friendships and relationships. We must choose our friends carefully, and we must surround ourselves with a network of fellow believers. A wise Christian friend will encourage you, build you up, and impart godly wisdom. A great Christian friend will lovingly keep you on track and keep you accountable. Yet, a bad friend will lead you away from Christ and lead you to sin. When we are hanging around non-Christian friends more than Christian friends, we slowly began to acclimate to their lifestyles. We start to get used to hearing the ugly language, seeing the drug or alcohol consumption, or even sexual immorality. After a while, these things start to look okay to us. We start to accept the behavior as a socially acceptable standard, and before we know it, we are smelling just like our friends.

I saw the meme attached to this post that says, “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” It’s true, Peeps! We become like those we surround ourselves with. God knows this truth, and He will intervene when necessary. Just as a good parent tries to remove bad influences from the lives of their chikdren, God will remove bad influences from our lives and replace those bad influences with good, godly friends. I’ve seen Him do it!

When choosing friends, we need to ask God for wisdom. Bad company will corrupt good character. What do you smell like today? Are you emitting a sweet smelling aroma, or are you stinking everybody out of the room with the stench of decay? Don’t be a Diego! Chase after God and godly friends!

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Give me a word, Lord: KEEP ON WORKING

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

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

I Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Psalm 90:17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

Yesterday was a manic Monday. I work as a nurse practitioner in a small, but very busy medical clinic. Mondays are always the busiest day of the week it seems, and truthfully, yesterday wasn’t really any busier than any other Monday. However, it seemed to be overwhelmingly tiring to this girl. COVID 19 has changed the way we do things. Because our clinic is small, we are seeing all potentially COVID 19 patients curbside. This means that we don all of our personal protective equipment and evaluate the patients at their vehicle. So we are running outside to see the sick patients and running around inside seeing the well patients, and I’m going to admit it can make a body weary. There is hardly time to stop for a potty break, and we do not close for lunch so we enjoy bites of food from our desk in between visits. When I got off last night, I had a little talk with the Lord, and I asked Him if this is what I was truly supposed to be doing because quite frankly, this girl was worn slap out.

I know that my conversation with God didn’t surprise Him. You see, we talk all day long. Well, I talk, He listens. There is a whole lot of distractions and racket going on, so sometimes, I can’t hear Him answering. That’s my fault, not His. I arrived at home after the crazy chaos of the day, and my sweet husband (who also had worked hard all day) had the shower running for me and supper on the table. I slowly unwound with my sweet family, we read our Bible together, and I hit the sack. I talked to God some more, and I think I dozed off praying. I do that quite often. I feel bad when I fall asleep talking to the Lord, but then I think, “what better place to fall asleep than in the arms of my Savior.” Sometime during the night, He woke me up. I never hear the audible voice of God, but I do know when I hear from Him. He reminded me that my job is not just a job. It is my passion. It is my calling. I don’t work hard every day for men, but rather for Him. And no matter how busy or tough the day seems to be, He is always there with me seeing me through.

Peeps, when God gives you a passion and it’s a calling from Him, you can rest assured that He will see you through each and every day. I woke up this morning with a renewed attitude. Instead of thinking, “oh man, I have to go to work again, and it’s going to be a hard day,” I’m thinking, “I get to go to work today, and it’s going to be a great day! I know this because the good Lord told me so!” My job isn’t the toughest one out there by any means. I admit that I get physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted at times, but even on the hardest days, God puts His arms around me and nudges me along the way. I can see His presence. I can feel His strength. I only have to remember that He is there. He reminds me why I do what I do. He reminds me that I love being a nurse practitioner. I love my patients. I love my co-workers. I love that God put me in a job that also doubles as a mission field. I’m still blown away by the fact that in this big old world, God has time to speak to me, reassure me, and strengthen me. God is so very good!

Today, when the day starts to get crazy and chaotic, stop for just one moment and pray. Ask God to guide your steps and control the day. He’s always there, and I promise, if you are working for Him, everything will always work out for your good and His glory! Keep on working for the Lord!

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Give me a word, Lord: BELIEVING WITHOUT SEEING

Luke 18:35-43 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him,  “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” he said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.

John 20:29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Yesterday our sermons were on being a welcoming church. We looked at the story of Zacchaeus in the morning service, and the story of the blind man receiving his sight in the evening service. Of course, both stories are very familiar ones, and we have heard them dozens of times over our lifetime, but yesterday, we looked at them from a little bit of a different angle. Rather than looking at the healing, we looked at the welcoming of Jesus to the blind man and to Zacchaeus.

In Luke 18, we are told about a blind beggar who was sitting beside the road. This man heard the noise of the crowd passing, and he asked what was going on. The crowd told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. Immediately, the blind beggar began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” The people in the crowd told him to be quiet, but this didn’t deter him. He continued to shout, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” Jesus heard him, and told the men to bring this blind beggar to him. He asked the man what he wanted, and the man replied, “I want to see!” Jesus said, “all right, receive your sight. Your faith has healed you.” The man was immediately able to see, and began praising God, and everyone who saw this also began praising God.

I think that sometimes when we have been in church all of our lives, we tend to kind of glaze over when we read a story that we’ve heard so many times before, but Peeps, we can’t do this. Even if the story is one we have memorized, we must remember that it is from the infallible Word of God, and every part of the Word is important. As such, when we dig a little deeper into this old familiar passage, we can still gain some great new nuggets of truth. First, let’s look at the blind beggar. Here we have a man who has been blind likely all of his life. He couldn’t work, and he lived off of handouts from other people. He had a need, and his need was to see. In those days, afflictions such as blindness were thought to be the result of some sin in the person’s life or in the life of their parents.

Then, we see the crowd. The crowd consisted of the twelve disciples and many followers who had seen the recent miracles performed by Jesus. They were hanging close, waiting to see what He would do next. Jesus had been performing miracles. They were surrounding Jesus waiting and watching, but at the same time they were keeping the very ones who needed Christ most away from Him. This poor blind beggar was calling out to Jesus, and the crowd was ssshhhing him.

Finally, we see Jesus. Little did this crowd or blind beggar know, but Jesus was on His way to the cross. Jesus knew. He even told his trusted disciples, but they did not understand. Though He knew what pain and agony and suffering was soon coming His way, He still chose to show love to as many as possible along the way. The blind man asked what the commotion was about, and he was told that Jesus of Nazarene was coming. The crowd identified Jesus as a man for Nazareth. They didn’t acknowledge who He really was, but the blind man called him “Son of David.” He identified Jesus as the Messiah, and he begged that Jesus would show mercy on him.

Jesus knew that He was on his way to the cross. I’m quite sure that He had a whole lot on His mind. I’m sure He had a few more things that He wanted to accomplish before His earthly body departed. Yet, He heard this poor, blind beggar calling out to Him, and He listened. He didn’t ignore this man’s need. He asked what he wanted, and the man said that he wanted to see. Notice what Jesus said next. “All right. Receive your sight. Your faith has healed you.” Bro. Louie pointed out last night that the crowd could see Jesus, but they were blind to what was going on. Jesus had even told the twelve about the crucifixion and resurrection that was about to occur, but they didn’t comprehend what He was telling them. Even those closest to Him couldn’t see. But this blind beggar, who could not see, believed. He believed in Christ, and He believed that He could be saved. He believed without seeing.

In our culture, we put too much into the “seeing is believing” mindset. We don’t have the good fortune of walking in the crowds with Jesus. Oh, His presence is here, but we can’t physically see Him. We can, however, see the effects of His presence. The joy within each one of us should overflow and ooze from us in such a way that everyone we come in contact with sees Jesus in us. Just as the moon reflects the sun, we should reflect the Son. We need to get in God’s Word, and re-read all of these familiar stories, and re-learn how to live like Jesus. He gives so many examples, y’all. We just need to follow the lead of our Savior. He sets the example for how we as Christians should live. So many people in this world are blind. No, I’m not talking about those who are physically blind. I’m talking about the ones who are figuratively blind. They have never seen Jesus. They have never felt His love, grace, mercy, or the peace that can only be received from Christ. How are those people going to believe without seeing? They have to hear the Word. They have to see the reflection of the Son in us. Who is going to be that reflection? Who is going to share the gospel? How are they going to hear? “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.” (Isaiah 6:8)

We all are super busy. That’s a fact. But we can’t be too busy to show the love of Christ as we walk through each and every day. I’ve never seen Jesus physically, but I’ve seen Him. I see Him in my daily walk. I feel His presence. I feel a simple nudge to go in a certain direction. I hear a still small voice making me aware of those around me that are in need. Oh, I believe without seeing. Do you? If not, there is absolutely no better time than the present to believe and fully trust in our Lord and Savior. If you do believe, share the love and joy of Christ as you walk through this crazy day. Let others believe by seeing Christ in you! Don’t be too busy to be about loving others to Christ!

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Give me a word, Lord: LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Psalm 16:11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Colossians 3:23-24 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

About six years ago we traveled to Tupelo, MS, to pick up a couple of Scottish Highland cattle. I fell in love with the breed, and researched them diligently before making the purchase. I searched high and low trying to find them, and finally came across a judge in Tupelo who had a small herd. I called him up, and he said that he wasn’t selling any of his cattle, but after I gave him my spiel, and explaining how badly I wanted them, he conceded. He sold us a ten month old heifer and a thirteen month old bull. Scottish Highlands stand out in the crowd with their long hair and distinctively long horns. They are a beautiful breed. We halter broke Merida, the heifer, within the first two weeks, and she became my baby girl. She would follow me all over the place, especially if I had a bucket of feed. We kept her behind the barn area for the first couple of years. She even learned how to turn the water faucet on to take a cool shower on hot Mississippi days. She has always been the sweetest cow.

We no longer have the bull. They outgrew our little holding area behind the barn, and we moved Merida into the large fields with the other cows. We couldn’t put the bull with the other girls as we already had a bull, and we couldn’t have the Highland bull breeding all the commercial cows. But, my husband knew my love for Merida, and we agreed to keep her. To this day, we can still go out to the cow field, and that girl lets us rub and pet all over her, and she will take us down for a bucket of pellets. This week, Merida had a pretty little calf. She is adorable, y’all. The calf is red with a motley face, long fluffy hair, and so cute! We went to check on the cows yesterday, and I told Jeff that I had to hold Merida’s calf. She is just so cute! He said that the calf would not let me catch it. I proved him wrong. It took a couple of minutes, but I finally got my hands on her. She didn’t really want to be held, but I was so happy to have her in my arms. I fell back onto the ground on my behind, and I laughed so hard as Jeff took pictures with his phone. Merida just looked on patiently. She knows me well, and she knew I wouldn’t harm her baby. We’ve been through a lot together. She is such a sweet cow.

I posted pictures on social media last night, and a friend commented that I always look happy. Now, truth be told, I may not feel happy 24/7, but I do feel happy most of the time. We live a pretty good life her at Hodge Critter Lodge. God has blessed us generously with great jobs, lots of critters, and a love for life. We continually live life to the fullest. We work hard at our jobs, work hard to take care of our home and our critters, and we enjoy doing it all. That sounds crazy to some people. How can working hard be fun? When you work willingly at everything you do as though you are working for the Lord, you can’t help but enjoy the work you are doing! Plus, we have baby critters to play with, and there is always so much joy to be found when playing with new babies.

I truly love my life. I love the ups and the downs because even during the downs, I know that my Lord and Savior will see me through. He always does. He has never failed me though I’m sure I fail Him daily. Do you want to know my secret to enjoying life? I look for Christ in everything. I’m not kidding. If you look around and look for evidence of God, you will see Him, and when you see Him, you can’t help but enjoy life as you recognize all of the blessings that have been poured down on you. It’s true. You just have to look around and recognize the blessings and not the stressing. Having a bad day at work? Can’t find any joy in it? Pray and ask God to help you through your day, and just watch! He will show up and show out. He does it every time. It doesn’t matter what the situation is that is getting you down, if you turn it over to God, He will see you through. When you see God work everything out for your good and His glory, you will likely be amazed, and I bet you will be over joyed.

You have to take time to have fun, Peeps. Working hard is important. We are not to be lazy sluggards. We have to work, and we must work hard, but we can still have fun. Find little ways to enjoy your work day. Have cake and coffee with your coworkers. Whistle while you work. Sing praise songs as you tackle the tough things. And maybe chase down a baby calf that doesn’t want to be caught just so you can hug a cute baby calf. (But don’t do this if you aren’t on really, really good terms with the mama cow! LOL) Most importantly, look for Christ as you walk through each one of these crazy days. Live life to the fullest as you fully live life for Christ!

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Give me a word, Lord: PROVING OURSELVES

Matthew 25:34-40 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’  “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

This morning as I was sitting down to write my devotional, Jeff called my cell phone and asked me to come help him at the barn. Yesterday, we bought a new fainter buck named Big Boy. He’s a cutie with nice long horns, and he can faint at the drop of a dime. He is also very gentle and was hand raised by our goat guy, Raymond. He will make an excellent breeder buck for our little herd of fainters. He is our only buck currently, however, we do have a small flock of blackbelly sheep out there too. The master of that flock is Mr. Man. He too is a very gentle, hand raised male, and he has an astonishing set of curling horns. Even though they are of two different species, they are the only intact males in the barn, and naturally, each one feels the need to prove himself. They needed to prove themselves so much that they broke out of the barn this morning. Mr. Man was right on Big Boy’s tail at the far end of the field when I arrived on the scene. They were both completely fine, and neither was injured in the least. I shooed them back to the barn where Jeff was waiting with a bucket of feed, and Mr. Man was placed in a stall with two of his concubines for a little time out. These two will get used to each other eventually when they realize they aren’t competing for the love of their girls. They each have their own little herd to attend.

That brings me to thinking about humans, and what we feel we need to do to prove ourselves. People will strive to be the best at their job, the best spouse, the best friend, and even try to be the best Christian. This proving of oneself looks different depending on the person that you are asking, but really we needn’t try to prove ourselves. Jesus never asked us to prove ourselves. In fact, we can never do anything to earn salvation or any higher honor in the kingdom of God. So how do we prove ourselves as Christians? There is a great hymn that answers this question, “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love’, and God too will know we are Christians by our love. Our pastor frequently shares this point with us: “You can gauge your love for God by how well you love others.” You can either say amen or ouch, but folks, that’s it. We prove our love for Christ by how well we love.

In fact, Jesus tells us that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and He says that the second is equally important which is to love your neighbor as yourself. We are commanded to love God and love others, and others will see Christ in us through this love for God and others. Thankfully, we don’t have to go out in a field and try to prove ourselves as king of the mountain. We merely have to love. And how do we do that? Well, we just have to fall in love with Christ, and once we truly love Christ, we can’t help but love others.

We love others through our actions. Love is an action word. Take a look at Matthew 25 for a great example of how to show love. We need to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, invite the stranger into our homes, and clothe the naked. That sounds easy enough, right? But what about those people we don’t like? Do we have to love them too? Well, of course we do! We may even need to love them a little harder because those are generally the ones who do not know Christ, and they really need to see the love of Christ in you. You may be the only reflection of Christ that person ever sees.

We can try all day every day to prove ourselves to Christ, but there is no need. Christ knows our hearts. He already knows His children, and He knows each and every one of us individually. There is nothing that we can do to make Him love us more, and there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less. However, we can show Christ how much we love Him but showing His love to others. If we are being inspected under the magnifying glass, is our love for God and others shining through? You don’t have anything to prove, Peeps. You just have to love! They will know we are Christians by our love…by our love!

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Give me a word, Lord: PEACEMAKER

Romans 14:19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

Hebrews 12:14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.

Matthew 5:9 God blesses those who work for peace for they will be called the children of God.

James 3:18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

The first thing I saw on social media at 4:00 am this morning was feedback on the vice presidential debate. I won’t try to stir anyone up with my opinion here because I do like to keep the peace. A peacekeeper can be a good thing. A peacekeeper is one that avoids conflict by avoiding touchy subjects and arguments. It is a natural tendency for most people to try to avoid conflict, avoid arguments, and sweep the conflict under a big rug. Out of sight, out of mind so to speak. Yea, it’s safe to say I like to keep the peace, but do you want to know what is much better than a peacekeeper? It is a peacemaker. A peacemaker is one that actively gets involved to resolve conflict and reconcile relationships.

Most of my life, I’ve been a peacekeeper, but the older I get, the more I have developed into a peacemaker. I no longer want to just avoid conflict. I want to settle the disputes, work out the differences, and solve the problems. I no longer want to sit on the sidelines when two people I love are hurting. Nope, not this girl. Are you mad at so and so? Does so in so even know you’re mad? Well, come on girl. We are going to work this out. That’s right, we are going to pull up chairs, grab some coffee, and have a pow wow.

The truth is that most conflicts can be worked out if both people involved in the conflict would simply talk to one another, share their hearts, and maybe apologize for goodness sake. How many relationships have gone by the wayside merely because someone failed to talk about the problem? I’m betting the number is vast.

James tells us that those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. What exactly does this mean? Well, we all know the old saying, “you reap what you sow.” When you plant a seed, fertilize it, and water it, you will always get much more than you planted. One tiny cucumber seed will produce a multitude of cucumbers. Our spring garden generally produces enough to feed our whole community. Yet when we plant cucumber seeds, we know we are going to produce cucumbers. We don’t expect to grow a tomato plant from a cucumber seed. That wouldn’t happen. You reap what you sow, and if you plant cucumber seeds, you are going to get a cucumber or two or maybe even a hundred. Therefore. If you are planting seeds of conflict, guess what you are going to harvest? Yep. You got it. You will reap lots of conflict. You will likely end up getting a whole lot more than you planted, perhaps enough conflict to affect the whole family and maybe even the whole community.

However, if you plant seeds of peace, your harvest will be ripe with goodness, kindness, and peace. Oh, but how in the world do we plant seeds of peace? Bear with me. It’s going to take a little effort, but it is very doable. First, you must identify the conflict. Just look around and you can spot a conflict. That’s easy enough. Then, and this is the most important step: pray. Talk to God before you even get involved in this gardening adventure. Tell God that you see this conflict, and ask Him for the wisdom and words needed to plant the seeds of peace in this situation. If you caused the conflict or are personally involved, now might be a good time to go to the other person and apologize, share your heart, and lovingly try to work it out. If you aren’t part of the situation, now is the time to bring the ones in conflict together and lovingly tell them that you care about them and their relationship, and ask them to talk it out. A lot of conflict could be resolved if we would just learn to talk it out. You may not be able to resolve the conflict every time, but if you try to plant these seeds of peace by showing the love of Christ, peace will eventually be harvested.

God will bless your efforts. He loves peacemakers so much so that Jesus calls the peacemakers the children of God. Wait, what? The peacemakers are called the children of God? But aren’t all believers called children of God? Yes, we are so I suppose that means as chikdren of God we are all charged with the duty of being peacemakers. As Christians, we are all called to make peace. Get out there today and make some peace. Don’t be satisfied with merely keeping the peace. Be a peacemaker!

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Give me a word, Lord: ONE MORE TRIP AROUND THE SUN

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Well, Peeps, God has blessed me with one more trip around the sun. Yep, I’m officially one year older today. As I look back on this past trip around the sun, I could easily get discouraged. If I allowed myself to only reflect on the bad things of the year, it wouldn’t seem like I had a very good year, but I have to admit, 53 was a pretty good year for me. I’m willing to bet that 54 will be even better. Oh, but my body is trying to get old before my mind, and I have to keep it in check. My fingers are knotted up with arthritis to the extent that my right index finger points only to the right, even if I’m pointing it to the left. LOL. My right knee has started making this cute little creaking noise when I walk up and down the stairs. Just for fun, my neck decided it would join the party. For the past three weeks, my right arm has been going numb from my neck to my fingertips. A c-spine x-ray told me that I need an MRI, and oh yea, just for giggles, let’s go ahead and get a bone density because the x-ray also showed osteopenia. My bones aren’t the only things that are getting thin. My hair is falling out by the handful, and it seems to be turning more gray every single day. Yes, I think it’s safe to say that my body is trying to turn against me, but I won’t let it win. People ask me how I get so much accomplished in a day, and I have to say part of the reason is because I know that if I stay down too long, I might not be able to get back up with these decrepit joints of mine. But the real answer is: Jesus! I can’t accomplish anything without Him, but with Him, I can accomplish much.

Now, I could sit here and whine and complain about my ailments, but I’m not going to do that. I like to laugh at my crooked fingers and creaking knee, and I learned a long time ago that complaining doesn’t make anything better. I find it just makes me feel worse. Besides, even though my exterior may be falling apart, my interior is becoming more put together every single year that passes. I really love the person that I am becoming. Over the past few years, I have truly drawn closer to my Lord and Savior, and in doing so, I have learned to love me a little bit better. After all, I am God’s masterpiece! It says so right there in the Bible, so I know it’s true. I don’t know exactly why this masterpiece has all these arthritic problems, but I’m pretty sure God thought I needed this to bring glory to Him. So I’m just going to glorify Him.

Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Read that again. We are His masterpiece, and He created us anew in Christ so that we can do the good things that He planned for us. He created us anew in Christ. He did this so that we can do the good things that He has planned for us. Isn’t that amazing? It is so reassuring to know that no matter how bad or challenging the day looks, God has good things planned for us, and He has created us anew through Christ so that we can accomplish those good things. I have absolutely enjoyed watching God’s plans unfold in my life. He has really shown out over the past couple of years, and I am so thankful for the goodness He has given me.

I may be 54 years old today, but I still don’t feel like I’m a fully grown up Christian. I still have so much to learn. I have so many things that I need to do. I feel that I fall short every single day, and I think that is one reason God keeps giving me another day….every day that we open our eyes, we are given one more day to glorify our Father. We are given one more day to accomplish the plans that He has for us. I’m so thankful for second chances…third chances…fourth chances…and a million other chances. Each day, we are given one more day to rejoice in Him, serve our Father, and glorify Him. Yes, my friends, this is the day that the Lord has made, and I will most certainly rejoice and be glad in it! How about you?

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Give me a word, Lord: MY HEART SINGS

Zephaniah 3:17 For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Psalm 89:1 I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever! Young and old will hear of your faithfulness.

What makes your heart sing? Many days we wake up without a song in our hearts, and we don’t feel much like singing, but there is always something to be thankful for, and there is always something to sing about. With the thanks in our hearts, we can sing songs of praise and rejoice in the goodness of our Lord and Savior. I’ve been told by my family that I can’t sing, but that doesn’t stop me from singing. I have an awful singing voice, and though I know that I don’t make a joyful noise, I know that my Savior is still glad to hear my happy racket, and I make that happy racket just as often as I can.

I love to sit outside to do my morning devotionals. Our farm is one of the most joyful places I know. This time of year, the songs of the morning are nothing short of pure delight. Hummingbirds take turns buzzing up to our feeders. The birds are joyfully chirping away singing praises to the new day. The sheep are baaing. The emus are whistling quietly. Occasionally the turkey will let out a gobble. She doesn’t know that she is a hen, and she likes to gobble and strut like a dude. The coatimundis are chirping and the raccoons are chattering away. In the distance, an occasional lowing of the cattle can be heard. Wow! All I have to do is walk out of the door of my home to hear God’s creatures singing praises to Him. If all of these creatures who don’t even have a soul realize the need to sing praises, shouldn’t we mortals who have a soul find reason to sing?

Oh, but you may say, what is there to sing about? We have an election coming up next month that has everyone fired up and split in two polar directions. Our president and first lady have contracted COVID 19. The economy isn’t looking so hot right now. And don’t forget, there is another storm that once again appears to be headed our way making landfall this Friday night. Not much to sing about there, huh? Maybe not, but still we have so many reasons to sing this morning. Do you want to know what makes my heart sing? My critters, my farm, my family, my friends, my career, good music, serving others, living life, and loving Jesus, and oh so much more. Y’all, God did not create a bunch of humdrum robots. He created each of us uniquely with our own set of talents and skills to serve Him and to serve others, and He gave each of us a spirit of joy, love, hope, and faith!

We can sing for freedom. Even though politics seem to be really messy right now, we can still rejoice and sing for our freedom. We can sing for gratitude. We have so much to be thankful for. We can sing for joy. Sometimes we have to dig a little deeper to find the joy, but I promise if Jesus is in your heart, joy is residing there also. We can sing of the love of God. Oh my, that’s a good reason to sing. When I think of how awesome and magnificent the love of God is, I can’t help but sing praises to Him. We can even sing in times of trouble or sadness. God wants to hear from us at all times…not just during the good times.

Are you singing this morning? If not, take a few moments to reflect and ask yourself, “what makes my heart sing?” If you don’t know, if your heart isn’t singing, you may be missing the song of the One who can give you everlasting joy! Ask Jesus into your heart, and I can guarantee you that there will always be a song in your heart! “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17) Let your heart sing!

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Give me a word, Lord: SPIRITUALLY DEAD?

Revelations 3:14-20 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation:  “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.  “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

I read this story a little while back, and definitely think it is one that is worth a share today. “A new Pastor in a small Oklahoma town spent the first four days making personal visits to each of the members, inviting them to come to his first services. The following Sunday the church was all but empty. Accordingly, the Pastor placed a notice in the local newspapers, stating that, because the church was dead, it was everyone’s duty to give it a decent Christian burial. The funeral would be held the following Sunday afternoon, the notice said. Morbidly curious, a large crowd turned out for the “funeral.” In front of the pulpit, they saw a closed coffin, smothered in flowers. After the Pastor delivered the eulogy, he opened the coffin and invited his congregation to come forward and pay their final respects to their dead church. Filled with curiosity as to what would represent the corpse of a “dead church,” all the people eagerly lined up to look in the coffin. Each “mourner” peeped into the coffin then quickly turned away with a guilty, sheepish look. In the coffin, tilted at the correct angle, was a large mirror. When it comes to your spiritual life, are you still alive?”

Wow! How many of us today are guilty of being spiritually dead. Is the church of America becoming like the church of Laodicea? Are we lukewarm, neither hot or cold? Oh, I pray that we are not, but I do worry that we are headed in that direction. We remember the church of Laodicea from Revelation chapter 3. The angel of the church wrote, “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!” Are we becoming lukewarm? Is church not as important to us any more? I mean really, people, look around. This COVID pandemic has changed our country in more than one way. Churches were closed for a while, and that closure has prompted some to continue to stay home. It’s very convenient to watch the sermon on the internet, and I’m thankful that we have that availability. There are many who shouldn’t be getting out and joining in large gatherings at this time, and I completely understand that, but what about those of us who have decided that it’s just more convenient to worship at home in our pajamas? Is that convenience making us a bit lukewarm? Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely thankful for the availability of online worship. We were traveling yesterday, and we were able to enjoy our church services live online, but it’s just not the same. I, for one, need that personal interaction.

I don’t think that it is merely online worship that is causing this nation to become lukewarm, though. There are so many different components. Society in general has become one of acceptance. We are expected to accept what the rest of the world is doing. We are expected to turn our heads and ignore the evil that is being committed around us. We are expected to either accept evil as good or look the other way. I’m a sinner saved by grace. I’m not perfect. In fact, I’ve been pretty lukewarm myself in the past, but God, oh but our God, He deserves so much more than a lukewarm attitude. When we consider the love that our heavenly Father has for each of us, the mercy and grace He has shown us, and the magnitude of His power, there is no way that we can remain lukewarm. We can’t continue being spiritually dead. We have to wake up, people!

Christ is standing at the door, knocking…knocking…knocking. Can we hear His voice? Do we even realize that He is there…waiting for us to open the doors of our hearts and allow Him to come in and fill us with His Spirit? Are we neither hot or cold, but merely lukewarm? Lukewarm is not what our Father desires, and it is definitely not what He deserves from us. The gospel of our Lord and Savior should ignite a fire within each of us that can not be quenched. Rather than getting smaller each day, that fire should rage bigger and hotter day by day. We are surrounded by the lost. There are so many people that we encounter on a daily basis who need to know the Good News. We can’t keep this all to ourselves.

When we first learned of COVID 19, the spread of the disease was projected utilizing the pathogen’s basic reproductive number (RO). For example, for every one person that was contagious, that person would spread the virus to three people. Those three people would spread the virus to nine people. Those nine people would spread the virus to 27 people, and so on. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the gospel could spread like that? If we each told three people about Christ, and then those three people told three people each (nine), and then those nine people told three people each, and so on, can you just imagine how the gospel could spread throughout all nations? It would be akin to an uncontrollable forest fire.

Yes, Peeps, it’s time to wake up and get on fire for the Lord. If you are feeling a bit lukewarm, light a fire within today by getting in the Word, turn on some praise and worship music, and most importantly, pray. Pray, pray, pray! Call out to the Father. He’s at the door knocking. All you have to do is invite Him in!

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Give me a word, Lord: GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF IT

Exodus 4:10-17 But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.” Then the Lord became angry with Moses. “All right,” he said. “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you. Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do. Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say. And take your shepherd’s staff with you, and use it to perform the miraculous signs I have shown you.”

Yesterday, I shared a portion of this scripture as we considered the fact of being on a mission for God. God called Moses to rescue His people, but Moses did as many of us do, and found an excuse. He explained that he was tongue tied and that his words became tangled when he spoke. God patiently reminded Moses of who makes a person’s mouth, determines whether one will speak or not, hear or not, or see or not. But still Moses begged for the Lord to choose anyone but him for this task. I can just imagine how exasperated God must have been. Here we have the Creator of the universe speaking audibly to Moses explaining that He would give him the words he needed and all that it would take to accomplish the task at hand, yet Moses still begged, “don’t pick me.” Finally, God in his exasperation, gives Moses a partial out. He told him that He would allow Moses to use his brother Aaron as his spokesman for the people. Aaron would be the mouthpiece, but Moses would still stand in the place of God for him telling Aaron what to say. God’s pretty awesome. He could have just corrected Moses’ speech impediment, whatever that may have been, but instead, He brought a teammate in for Moses. Rather than using Moses alone, He allowed Moses to have his brother at his side for the upcoming events.

Moses lived a pretty remarkable life. Let’s do a quick recap. At the mere age of three months old, he was rescued by a princess (Exodus 2:1-10). He then fled to Midian (Exodus 2:11-22). God spoke to Moses from a burning bush in Exodus 3. Next we learn about the ten plagues. Moses had to repeatedly ask Pharoah to let the people go. Each time he refused, and God sent plagues upon Egypt (Exodus 7 – 12:30). Finally, Pharoah complied and allowed the people to leave, and the Exodus began. Of course, Pharoah changed his mind and went after them, and God miraculously parted the Red Sea so that the people of Israel crossed over the Red Sea on dry ground (Exodus 12:31-15:21). We later read about God giving Moses the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), and don’t forget the golden calf incident (Exodus 32). Moses left Sinai and renewed the covenant (Exodus 33-34). He eventually named Joshua as his successor, and later died at the age of one hundred and twenty. When we consider all of this, we must also remember that the people Moses was rescuing at God’s command fought him pretty much the whole way. They whined and complained to the bitter end. They turned their backs on God numerous times only to repent and move forward again. Sometimes it was like he was herding thousands of preschoolers through the wilderness. But all the while, Moses stayed strong following the command of God. Moses wasn’t perfect. He didn’t even want to do the task that God commanded him to do. He tried to talk God out of it, but God knew that Moses was the man for the job even when Moses couldn’t recognize this himself.

Life is going to throw some challenges at you. If you are serving Christ, this is a definite given. Life isn’t going to be easy, but just as God provided for Moses as he traveled through the wilderness, He will provide for you and I today. When we follow the will of God, we can have confidence in knowing that God is working everything out behind the scenes. He will give us the words that we need to say. He will give us the boldness and courage to speak and proclaim His Word. Y’all, He parted the Red Sea, sent manna and quail from heaven, and turned a rock into water. There is nothing that God can not accomplish, and just imagine how much we could accomplish for the glory of God if we would stop making excuses and avoiding His calling on our lives. If God puts a calling on your heart, He will take care of you and see it through, you only have to be a willing participate!