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SEA OF FORGETFULNESS

Micah 7:19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Psalm 103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Corrie Ten Boom once said, “God has thrown our sins and guilt into a sea and permits no fishing in those waters!” I think that thought possibly originated from Micah 7:19. Isn’t it an awesome thought that we serve such a loving, gracious, merciful God? A God that truly forgives and forgets? Our God throws our sins into the depths of the sea!

When we have sin in our lives, the sin may seem pleasurable at first, but eventually, especially if you are a child of God, that sin will begin to eat away at us, and it will slowly but surely separate us from our heavenly Father and from others that we love. Last year, a patient that I had been seeing for years said that she needed to talk to me about something. She became very serious and somber, and walked up within a foot of my right ear. We were both masked due to the ongoing pandemic, but she seemed to think she needed to be really close to me to say what was on her mind. She told me that she owed me an apology. I had no idea where this was coming from or where it was going, but it was apparently extremely important to her. She told me that several years ago, she came to the office with her granddaughter, and she was unable to be seen at that time for whatever reason. She said she became very angry, screamed and shouted, and said she wouldn’t be back. Yet, she has continued to see me for years now. She said that she was ashamed of her behavior that day, and that it had been eating away at her for all these years, and she needed to tell me that she was sorry. The truth is, I barely even remember the incident. When you’ve been in health care as long as I have, you learn to forgive and forget and not hold grudges. I assured her that we were okay, and that I was not upset with her at all. All was forgiven.

I really didn’t have any hard feelings towards this lady, but the incident was weighing her down. She said it was bothering her for several years, and she felt a need to make it right. This is how sin affects the life of a Christian. When we are living outside of the will of our Father, that little voice in our head starts telling us that we are doing wrong. That voice is the Holy Spirit, and that feeling is called conviction. The Holy Spirit is within us convicting us, and showing us that we are living outside of the will of God. We may lose sleep at night. We may worry over the issue. But then, a spiritual battle begins to occur. Old Satan is going to tell us that what we are doing is really not so bad. He’ll show you that everyone else is doing the same thing, so it must be okay to continue living in this sin. Is it really a sin if the world says it is acceptable? The battle ensues, and the conviction continues. We can’t rest, and we finally realize that we have to confess this sin to the Lord, and walk away from it. Repent and turn away.

Oh, but glory! When we reach this point of true repentance, we recognize that we are living in a sin, we confess it to the Savior, and we are forgiven. It’s almost magical. We are totally and completely forgiven, and better yet, the sin is forgotten. God throws that sin in a sea of forgetfulness. That sin is now at the bottom of a deep, deep ocean, and we are not to go fishing in that ocean! We are to leave it right there at the bottom of the sea. God has forgotten the sin. We should forget it too, but that’s easier said than done. As children of God, I think we tend to be like that patient I spoke of earlier. When we’ve sinned, the sin bothers us. We dwell on it. We feel bad. We fret. We need not do this though. If we’ve truly repented and turned from that sin, all is truly forgiven and forgotten by our heavenly Father. We are free.

God forgets the sin. He doesn’t throw it back in our face down the road. He forgets it. Yet, we never forget, and I think that is a good thing too. We’ve been forgiven, but we need not forget. If we forget, we may allow the sin to sneak back into our lives. Oh yes, we remember, and we have a faithful, merciful Father who loves us so much that He will help us to stay on the right path. All we have to do is ask Him for help. I know some sins seem much bigger than others. Some battles will be much harder to win than others, but when we equip ourselves daily with the full armor of God, that old devil doesn’t stand a chance. As we learn to lean totally on Christ, we slowly learn that He is stronger than any problem that we have. He’s already defeated the devil. He can help us defeat any sin in our lives. If we truly give it to Christ, the battle has already been won!

We must not forget that Christ has set us free. Our job is to let go of the sins for which we have been forgiven and to move towards the finish line. Let go and let God take over. Do not continue to search the sea for your sins. Do not go fishing in that sea! Stay out of those troubled waters, and look ahead to the promised land. When we are forgiven by our Father, we feel a peace that we can’t even begin to understand, but when we feel that peace…the peace of forgiveness…we will want to learn to live right there and never leave. Thank you God for forgiving me!
KK Hodge
funnyfarminspirations.com

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CONNECTED TO THE VINE

John 15:1-5 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

The fall grapes are ripening here in Mississippi. We have a beautiful scuppernong arbor that my husband built many years ago. He prunes it back every year, fertilizes it when necessary, and that beautiful vine takes off every spring. In August, it brings forth beautiful, huge, sweet, golden scuppernongs. Our crop is still not quite ready for harvesting, but we are getting to taste a few samples on a daily basis. Our suppernongs are large, golden grapes. The wild muscadines are purple in color. They are a bit smaller and a bit more tart, but they make an excellent jelly. We also love to go on a search and find mission for wild fox grapes. My husband and I have so much fun collecting these tiny grapes. We have climbed on trees, pulled on vines, and finally pulled a twelve foot ladder from the house to help us gather those little jewels. When the fox grapes ripen, we ride and walk around the outer edges our our cow fields searching for the fruit. We always have a blast, and what a great reward we receive after sweating our tails while off foraging for grapes. We make jelly. Lots and lots of jelly! Our pantry is filling up quickly with all of God’s blessings.

We really have had a lot of fun gathering our wild grapes. It is quite amazing that a delicious fruit can grow out in the woods without the loving care of a gardener. Our personal vines are tended by my husband with great care, but what about all those vines that we found out in the woods? Well, those vines have the BEST Gardener! Our heavenly Father, the Creator of the universe, created all the plants that we get to see, taste, and enjoy. He cares for those wild grapes with His tender love and care. He provides rain for them in due season, sunshine, and adequate nutrition. God created these vines with a purpose.

The purpose of a vine is to send out fruit to feed the birds of the air and critters of the woods. In order to fulfill its purpose, the vine must be lifted up to send out branches that will bear fruit. The vine’s main function is to draw water and nutrients to provide the branches with everything they need to promote growth. Clusters of grapes are produced. Some are sweet, others are sour, and some are tart which are my favorite.

Under the care of the vine dresser, the vines are prepared yearly to produce crops. This is done through pruning. Pruning is the most important part of the growing process. Jeff prunes our branches down to almost nothing but the root every year. If the branches are not pruned, they become unmanageable and draw energy away from being fruitful. This will lead to the death of the vine. Trimming the shoots and removing the excess allows the branches to produce a higher quality fruit.

In John 15, Jesus tells us that He is the true vine, and God is the gardener. God will remove the branches that are not bearing fruit so that the branches that remain will be more fruitful. We have to look upon God as the ultimate gardener because well, He is. He created each of us with a purpose: to glorify Him. He sent His Son Jesus, so that we may have a direct connection with Him. We see God is the gardener, Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. God will prune things away in our lives that are preventing us from bearing fruit. He will also prune people out of our lives that may be keeping us from the relationship that He desires with us. This pruning process is sometimes painful, but as the Gardener (God) prunes us, we become closer to Him. If we remain connected to the Vine (Jesus), the branches (us) will continue to grow stronger in our daily walk, and we will produce much fruit.

If a branch becomes separated from the vine, it will wither away and die. That branch is of no use any more. It has lost its source of nourishment and life. If we as Christians, do not remain connected to Christ, we will wither away. We can not produce fruit if we do not remain connected to Christ. If we remain connected to Christ, seeking Him daily, and abiding in His ways, we will produce the fruits of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22.

Today we must ask ourselves, are we producing fruit? Are we showing the love of Christ to those we come in contact with daily? Do others see the joy of Jesus in us? Are we peacemakers or troublemakers? Do we show patience and restraint? Are we kind? Are we good? Are we gentle? Do we show self control? If you answered no to more of these than yes, maybe you should check your connection to the true Vine. I am not perfect, not by a long shot, and I know that I am truly lacking in the area of fruit production many days, but the good news is that the great Gardener is still watching over me, and I am still connected to the Vine. The Gardener will keep on pruning away the things that are keeping me from producing good fruit, and I will continue to let the nourishing Vine grow me into a branch that produces the sweet, savory (though sometimes tart) fruit that He intends for me to produce.

If you don’t feel that warm embrace of the Father, if you don’t see the fruits of the Spirit in your life, or if you feel like something is missing, please check your connection. The line to Christ is always open. He wants to hear from you today. Call out to Christ, and get connected to the Vine today! There is no time like the present to recline in the presence of our Savior!

KK Hodge
Funnyfarminspirations.com

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STUBBORN AS A BULL

Today’s devotional is an excerpt from my last book, “Inspirations from the Funny Farm.” Good Sunday morning from the funny farm. I pray you have a blessed day in the Lord!

Our farm needed some small cows that we could pet. Yes, I know that we have a lot of cows. Those are mostly Black Angus, and they really aren’t pets. I wanted some cows for pets. The little researcher in me jumped on the world wide web in search of the perfect small breed cow. I looked at Dexters and Zebu. We even went out to a farm to look at some Zebu cattle. They are pretty tiny, but not very cute. Then suddenly, I found the beautiful long-haired Scottish Highland cattle. I read online that there were miniature Scottish Highlands also, and I was on a search and rescue mission to bring a pair of Scottish Highland home to Hodge Critter Lodge. I found out that there were only two farms in Mississippi that raised these beautiful cattle, and I promptly emailed them both. I got one response. It was from a judge in Tupelo, MS. He said he wasn’t really wanting to sell any of this herd, but after talking to me, he decided he could part with a young pair. I can be pretty persuading when I get my mind set on something. He said he would sell me a 10 month old heifer and a 13 month old bull. He also informed me that to his knowledge there was no such thing as a miniature Scottish Highland. He said that their legs are shorter than average cattle and perhaps that was where the misunderstanding came from. I didn’t really care at that point. I just wanted what he had.

One fine morning, we loaded up the cattle trailer and drove four and a half hours to Tupelo, MS to pick up our new heifer and bull. The judge had a beautiful herd, and we were tickled with the ones that he was selling us. I named them Merida and McLeod, two good Scottish names. Neither of them was halter broke, but we were determined. Merida halter broke rather easily. McLeod, well he was a whole other story. He was 100 percent bull, and bull headed to prove it. We got a halter on him, but that was about as far as that went. We never were able to train that bull to follow. Merida, however, was terrific. I had her following me around within a week. I even sent a video to that old judge, and he was shocked. He said he couldn’t believe we had her broke that quickly. Merida was a big old baby. There were times when I thought she would curl up in my lap if she could fit. She is the sweetest cow I have ever owned.

From that moment on, Merida was mine. I loved her. She loved me. She grew into a beautiful, dark rust colored cow while McLeod had more of a light rust colored coat. They grew a nice set of horns. Highlands have rather long hair, and they are distinctly different in appearance from our black angus cattle. They stuck out like a sore thumb. We housed Merida and McLeod in our barn and the field area behind the barn initially so that they could get to know us, and so that we could tame them down. Because of their rather long hair, they got really hot during the summer in that barn and lot area. It gets close to 100 degrees here in south Mississippi during the dead of summer. Jeff installed 3 fans in the barn. They understood that if the stood under them when they were too hot, the heat was a little more bearable. We also sprayed water on them from the water hose to cool them off on especially hot summer days. They loved getting sprayed with water. They loved it so much that they actually learned to turn on the water faucet at the back of the barn. I cannot tell you how many times I walked out to the barn to find the water spewing full blast and Highlands dancing around in a summer water faucet shower! Whenever I walked upon Highlands under a spray of water, I pictured a supermodel ad with the model laughingly being sprayed with water. They looked just as happy! We won’t even talk about the water bills.

After a while, we moved them out into the area we had fenced around our pines. They loved it there as there was a lot more shady areas. There is a nice little creek on our property, and this allowed them to cool off when needed, and it saved on our water bill! After another year of growth, Merida was finally bred. We had moved both Merida and McLeod across the driveway into a little rye grass field to let them finish off the rye grass. Merida delivered her first calf on a wintery, rainy night. Cows are generally a little bit skittish in nature, and they really don’t want their humans around when they are calving, but not my Merida. Jeff and I were out in the field with her and stayed with her the whole time. We kept McLeod at a comfortable distance because he was after all still a bull. I’ve never had such a love for a cow in my life. We definitely have a special bond, and she knew that we were there to help.

A few months later, the rye grass was gone, and it was time to move them back across the driveway into the pines again. Jeff was at work offshore. There was no rye grass left. They needed to be moved so that they could get to an area where they would have plenty to eat. I took the kids to school, and after I arrived back home, I decided that I would move them across the driveway. I mean, it was less than twenty feet. How hard could it possibly be to move a cow and a bull twenty feet? I walked up the drive and took the fence down across the drive from the Highlands. I grabbed a bucket of feed, and Merida walked right across the drive without hesitation. McLeod did not. I tried to tease him with a bucket of feed. He would walk into the drive and up to the fence line, but he would not cross the fence. I tried shooing him into the fenced area. He would not budge. I picked up a long stick to try to coerce him to go. This did not work. He darted up the driveway. I quickly pictured my huge bull running free down the road and visiting the neighbors. I finally got him back down the drive, but he still would not go into the area I needed him to go to. I kept telling him that his wife was over there, and that he should be with his wife, but that stubborn bull-headed bull didn’t seem to care. I was frustrated, and I was just about ready to jerk a knot in his tail.

I chased him back and forth, and then he chased me back and forth. After about 30 minutes of running with the bull, he charged at me. I suddenly realized that an 1800 pound bull was probably going to trample my 135 pound self. I also realized that I didn’t have my cell phone with me. I was about a quarter mile from the house. The kids were at school. The husband was overseas. I contemplated for a few seconds how long I might have to lay there in the pines dead or dying before anyone thought to look for me there. I scolded myself for my stupidity, but then I realized that I am as bull headed and stubborn as this bull. I stood my ground. I told him he wasn’t taking me out until the good Lord called me home. It took me close to two hours to get that bull to move a simple twenty feet, but I won. I got the fence back up, and walked back to the house praising God for keeping me safe. I was hot, sweaty, exasperated, and worn out, but I proved to that bull that I’m as stubborn as a bull. I’m stubborn, and God has my back.

Merida had her second calf while they were living in the fenced area in the pines. I was again worried how McLeod would respond, and I was scared that he might accidentally trample or injure the calf. The kids called me at work to let me know that she had calved. I didn’t get off work until 7:00 pm, and I knew it would be dark when I got home. I asked the kids to try to get the calf and Merida up to the barn. Well, they didn’t have any luck doing that. I got home around 7:30, and sure enough, Merida had delivered a beautiful little heifer that we named Annabel. We couldn’t get Merida and the calf to walk back to the barn after several attempts. I finally picked Annabel up, and carried her to the four wheeler. I loaded her on the four wheeler, and my son drove. I led Merida with a bucket of feed along the fence line all the way to the barnyard. That old girl will follow me anywhere, especially if I have a bucket of feed. We arrived at the barn, and I carried Annabel into the barn and put her in a nice stall with Merida with plenty of fresh hay.

McLeod hung out down by the barnyard on the other side of the fence keeping a watchful eye on his wife and new baby. Two days after Annabel arrived, I got home from work to find McLeod in the barnyard. He was no longer on the other side of the fence. He was inside the fence. No one had put McLeod inside the barnyard. I walked the fence line and found that McLeod had busted through the fence. He literally walked right through the fence. My husband put this fence up, and it wasn’t a shoddy job. It was a really good strong fence. I suppose McLeod decided he had enough time out, and he was ready to join his family whether we were ready or not. I don’t think that there was a fence in the world strong enough to keep those love birds apart. Thankfully, none of the other critters decided to leave through the open fence before I got home and before the fence got mended. We never separated McLeod from Merida after that.

Our critters and our children know that I am as bull-headed and stubborn as old McLeod. To work as a nurse practitioner and to help maintain our farm, I have to be tough. I work hard at everything I do, and I do not settle for second best or half-hearted attempts to do a job. Any job worth doing is worth doing right. I am so thankful that I have a husband who never gives up on me, and I am eternally grateful that I have a savior who never gives up on me. I will continue to work as hard as I can by my husband’s side, and I will continue to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit as I share the good news to all that will hear. And I will do so with the same tenacity it takes to defeat an 1800 pound bull! I will listen to the Holy Spirit and I pray that I never squander away the gift that Christ has given me.

We must all stand firm and be stubborn, and not give up. We must endure every challenge that is put before us knowing that God goes before us and will carry us through. I’ve been faced with many a challenge during my walk in this life, but I have to say that not one of those challenges has killed me yet! I know that I can trust in the Lord through any difficult situation, and that the Lord will see me through. Things may not always work out the way the I want them to work out, and there may not always be a happy ending. But with God’s grace and mercy, I will continue to fight the good fight until the day He calls me home. I’m going to finish this race called life. I just pray that I will finish it the way that God has planned for me.

“And you continue, so bullheaded! Calluses on your hearts, flaps on your ears! Deliberately ignoring the Holy Spirit, you’re just like your ancestors. Was there ever a prophet who didn’t get the same treatment? …You had God’s law handed to you by angels—gift wrapped—and you squandered it!” Acts 7:51-8:13

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

“May the God who gives and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:5-7
KK Hodge

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JUST FISHING

Luke 5:4-10 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”

I love to fish. Beginning in the early spring, we take the boat out to Old River WMA and fish for catfish among the cypress trees and cypress knees. During the summer, we’ve taken many family vacations to various lakes throughout the south. While there, we boat, swim, tube, and we have so much fun, but we never leave without trying the fishing. We’ve even been known to hit a few of the ponds around here from time to time. I’m not an expert fisherman like Paw Paw J. B. or my husband, Jeff. I just go along for the joy of it. It is quite simply amazing to sit out in a boat in the middle of some of God’s finest creations, enjoying nature at it’s best. I enjoy the bird watching, the beauty of the flora and fauna all around me, and I love just being outside in God’s country. We’ve had some great conversations while out fishing. It is quite relaxing, but oh, man, when those fish start biting, that’s when the real fun begins! When I feel that first tug on the line, my heart skips a beat, and I sit up ready to reel in my big catch. Sometimes, I’ve sat out there all day, and I haven’t gotten a single bite, but I keep going back because I know that maybe they’ll bite the next time.

Simon Peter, James, and John were real fishermen. They were serious about the fishing. This is how they made their living. In Luke 5, we see a story about an unsuccessful night of fishing. These old boys had fished all night long, and they hadn’t caught a thing. Imagine how low their heads must have been hanging as they were ready to call it quits and come to shore. Oh, but Jesus! He showed up and told them to go out to the deep water and drop their nets. The men were already familiar with Jesus, and they knew enough about Him, to follow His instructions. They went out to the deep water after coming up empty handed all night and gave it one more shot. They dropped their nets as Jesus had instructed, and when they pulled the nets up there were so many fish that the nets were breaking. They had to call over some friends in another boat to help them, and the catch filled both boats with fish! Whoa! That’s what I call a good day of fishing.

But then, Simon Peter fell to his knees, and he told Jesus to go away from him. He recognized that only God Himself could have performed such a thing, and when Peter looked at Jesus, he saw the perfect Lord and Master. When Peter looked at his perfect Lord, all he could see was his own sins. He didn’t feel worthy to even be in the presence of Jesus. Jesus didn’t turn away, but instead told Peter to not be afraid, “from now on you will fish for people.” I don’t know if Peter really understood what Jesus meant with that statement, but he trusted Him enough to follow, and he did indeed become a great fisher of men.

I love this story because as I said earlier, I love to fish so it is truly relatable, but I also love it because it is a great reminder to us here, more than 2000 years later, that we too can and should be fishers of men. God didn’t send His Son to earth to walk along side His people and then become the ultimate sacrificial lamb just so that I could experience eternal life with the heavenly Father. He did this amazing thing so that ALL people could come to Him. But how are all people going to come to know the Father if someone that truly knows Him doesn’t share the Good News? Isaiah 6:8 is one of my favorite verses: Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Jesus didn’t just call on Peter, James, and John and all of the other chosen disciples to be fishers of men. He calls upon each and every christian to be fishers of men. We can’t keep the gospel all to ourselves! We have to get out there and share it with this lost and dying world before it’s too late!

I’m not the best fisherman, but over the years I’ve gotten a little better. I’ve learned some skills from my husband. I paid attention. I have learned what works and what doesn’t. When we fish for fish, we always have a great time even if we come home empty handed. It’s okay if we don’t bring supper home because God has already blessed us with freezers and pantries full of food. So even though I take my fishing for fish seriously, it’s just for fun. But fishing for men…well that’s a whole other story! I’ll admit that I’m not the best witness for Christ. I’m still a work in progress, but I pay attention to His word. I’ve learned some things, and I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work when sharing the gospel. And one thing I’ve learned is that I must share the gospel! If I’m not doing my part to share the gospel, it’s not okay. It isn’t just for fun. It has eternal consequences. I don’t want anyone to spend eternity in hell, so I’m going to keep on fishing…fishing for men. Sometimes, I’ve shared the Good News all day, and I haven’t gotten a single bite, but I keep going back because I know that maybe they’ll bite the next time….and when they bite…my heart skips a beat and I can’t wait to reel them in!
KK Hodge

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FRIENDS

Job 2:1-13 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhit and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

“It occurred to Pooh and Piglet that they hadn’t heard from Eeyore for several days, so they put on their hats and coats and trotted across the Hundred Acre Wood to Eeyore’s stick house. Inside the house was Eeyore.

“Hello Eeyore,” said Pooh.

“Hello Pooh. Hello Piglet “said Eeyore, in a Glum Sounding Voice.

“We just thought we’d check in on you,” said Piglet, “because we hadn’t heard from you, and so we wanted to know if you were okay.”

Eeyore was silent for a moment. “Am I okay?” he asked, eventually. “Well, I don’t know, to be honest. Are any of us really okay? That’s what I ask myself. All I can tell you, Pooh and Piglet, is that right now I feel really rather Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All.

Which is why I haven’t bothered you. Because you wouldn’t want to waste your time hanging out with someone who is Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All, would you now.”

Pooh looked and Piglet looked at Pooh, and they both sat down, one on either side of Eeyore in his stick house.

Eeyore looked at them in surprise. “What are you doing?”

“We’re sitting here with you,” said Pooh, “because we are your friends. And true friends don’t care if someone is feeling Sad, or Alone, or Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. True friends are there for you anyway. And so here we are.”

“Oh,” said Eeyore. “Oh.” And the three of them sat there in silence, and while Pooh and Piglet said nothing at all; somehow, almost imperceptibly, Eeyore started to feel a very tiny little bit better.

Because Pooh and Piglet were There.No more; no less.”

At first sight, it looks like this is cited from a 1928 book “The House at Pooh Corner” written by A.A. Milne, but after some further research, I found that it was actually written by an energetic blogger Kathryn Wallace. She writes parodies of encouragement, and these are definitely great words of encouragement.

In the second chapter of Job, we see that Job is in great distress. He didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes. Satan thought that Job would turn away from God and stop worshipping Him if He withheld blessings. When taking away all of Job’s material possessions didn’t work, Satan afflicted Job’s body with boils. His wife even told him to curse God at this point, but he did not.

Job sat down in the ashes with boils covering his whole body likely feeling very alone. But look what happened next. Three friends heard of Job’s trouble, and they set out to meet Job. When they saw him from the distance, they cried, tore their clothes in anguish, sprinkled dust on their heads, and sat with Job for 7 days and 7 nights. They didn’t speak. They just sat with him because they saw how great his suffering was. They were being true friends. They showed up and shut up! Now, later on these three guys were a great source of agitation for Job, but for those seven days, they rocked it! They were true friends. They saw a friend that was suffering, and they showed up and sat with him and made their friendship and presence known.

I pray that you have friends like this. We all need great Christian friends making up our circle. We need friends that recognize when we are going through a trial and know when to show up and shut up. We don’t always need advice. We don’t always require an answer. Most of the time, we just need the presence of a friend. I am so thankful for the beautiful, God fearing, faith filled loving friends that make up my crazy circle in life. Each friend brings a different gift or talent to the table. Each friend is a blessing for which I am eternally grateful!

I reflect back on all of the friends I’ve been blessed to know in my lifetime, and I know that my cup is truly running over. God has blessed me with some awesome people. But of all those friends, whom I dearly love, I know that there is one friend that is the truest of all. His name is Jesus. I know that it’s because of Him that I have all my special friends. He has surrounded me with good friends and loved ones that continue to draw me closer to Him. I only pray that I can be the friend that my friends deserve! And because of Jesus, I am confident that I will never ever be alone!
KK Hodge

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DO YOU KNOW?

Ephesians 4:20-24 That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

My daddy told me a story that an old black minister friend once shared. He said that he asked a boy, “Are you saved?” The boy answered, “I think so.” The minister then told the boy that the way that you can know for sure is “if you is what you was, then you ain’t.” Hey, I know that is poor grammar, and I’m not even going to try to correct it because it speaks the truth in the simplest form.

Salvation changes us from the inside out, and we become new beings. We can’t change first, and then get the gift of salvation. It is because of salvation that we change.

Paul explains this in Ephesians chapter 4. When we become Christians, we put off the old self that is corrupted and renew the attitude of our minds. We put on a new self, a self that was created to be like God. We don’t completely change the moment that we accept Christ into our hearts, but we sure start wanting to change. We recognize that our old selves are not like God, and we start gradually changing. The change starts when we learn about Christ, but learning about Christ isn’t the same thing as knowing Him. Far too often, we fill our minds with book knowledge that doesn’t transform into heart knowledge. The more we learn about Christ, the more we want to know, but if we never truly give our hearts to Christ, we will never know and experience the life with Him that He intended for each of us. We must ask Christ to be the Lord of our hearts.

When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, and ask Him to be the Lord of our hearts, we put off the old self. “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” Romans 6:6. The person that we once were is no more. The old self was crucified with Christ so that sin no longer rules our bodies and our minds. We are no longer slaves to sin because we are free in Christ. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Sin will still try to creep into the life of a Christian, but knowing and trusting and following Christ will help us to recognize sin as sin, and we can and will overcome and defeat the sin with Christ. Conquering those demons will be hard at first, but as we fall more in love with our Savior, learn more about who He is, learn to fully trust in Him, and start putting on the full armor of God every day, we gradually realize that we can win those battles one battle at a time. We have the strength of the Creator of the universe residing within us. John 16:33 tells us, “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.” Christ has already overcome the world.

Once we put off the old self, we put on the new self. We are a new creation in Christ, and we must continually renew our attitude as a Christian on a daily basis. How do we do this? We must study the Word of God, talk to Him, keep Christ in our thoughts and actions throughout the entire day. If our minds are on Christ, then our actions will be right. We can’t grow as Christians if we accept Christ as our Savior and go to church on Sunday mornings and do nothing else. That’s not how God designed us, and that’s not the kind of relationship He wants with us. We must keep our eyes on the goal…eternity with Christ. We must live each day with heaven in mind.

I ask that you ask yourself this question today, “Am I saved?” And if you’re not absolutely sure that your answer is yes, just remember what that old preacher said, “if you is what you was, then you ain’t.” Are you a new person in Christ? Have you turned away from those sins of the past? Do you know without a shadow of a doubt where you will spend eternity? If not, don’t wait one more minute! We aren’t promised tomorrow. I don’t profess to be the perfect Christian. I’m just an old Mississippi gal saved by the grace of our loving Savior. I’m just thankful that I ain’t who I was!

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RESCUED

Psalm 28:7 The Lord strengthens and protects me; I trust in him with all my heart. I am rescued and my heart is full of joy; I will sing to him in gratitude.

Psalm 107:6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;He rescued them from their distress.

2 Corinthians 1:10 He has rescued us from a terrible death, and he will continue to rescue us. Yes, he is the one on whom we have set our hope, and he will rescue us again.

Part of the fun of Hodge Critter Lodge is the continual animal rescues that occur. We get calls on a regular basis asking if we can take in another critter. Occasionally, we refer the animal in need of rescue to some of the other area wildlife rescue sites, but most of the time, we don’t, or rather can’t, say no. We have rescued so many different species over the past few years. We have rescued deer fawns, fox kits, baby opossums, raccoons, squirrels, flying squirrels, and even skunks. We’ve had fawns running around the house in diapers, and baby flying squirrels jumping from person to person at our kitchen table. We truly love all of God’s creatures. It can be a headache at times, and occasionally lead to heartache, but trying to nourish and provide the needs for a tiny little creature is a true joy.

Day one of the rescue is generally the hardest. The animal is from the wild, and of course, it doesn’t recognize me as the new mama, and that dropper full of formula I am trying to persuade it to drink is nothing like milk from the real mama. It will give them the nourishment and nutrition they need, but they don’t know that. They just see a crazy, kinky headed lady cooing and talking some foreign language trying to force a hard plastic dropper in their little tiny mouths. Nutrition and hydration are truly the most important part of rehabbing, but the babies must be kept warm. We always put them in a small carrier with an electric blanket and a soft towel. We try to make the baby rescue feel right at home. It usually takes a couple of days, but before long, they are taking formula from a bottle, and rather than us trying to force feed them, they begin demanding the bottle. We slowly gain their trust, and they realize that we are there to rescue them and to keep them safe from harm.

There are many biblical accounts of rescues. Not the furry critter kind of rescue, but the good Lord kind of rescue. Don’t you just love the story of Jonah? He always comes to mind when I think of being rescued. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against the city because they were wicked. Jonah detested the people of Nineveh and going there was the last thing he wanted to do. So he ran. He got on a boat headed for Tarshish which was the opposite direction of Nineveh. Jonah makes me laugh. Did he really think that he could run away and hide from God, the Creator of the universe? Whether he thought he could hide away or not, God showed up and showed him that he couldn’t run and hide. He sent a strong wind and waves, and Jonah finally admitted to the sailors that he was running away from God, and he told them to throw him into the sea to calm the waves. They threw him into the sea, and God sent a big fish to swallow him up. Jonah remained in the belly of the whale for three days. What do you suppose Jonah did next? He recognized the power and authority of God, and he prayed. The fish spat Jonah out, and God told Jonah once again to go to Nineveh. This time, Jonah went. I suppose there’s nothing like living in the belly of a great fish for three days to convince you that God means business.

Jonah traveled to Nineveh, and he preached to the people as God had commanded. To his surprise, the people believed God and repented. God saw that they had turned from their evil ways, and he relented. He didn’t bring the destruction on them which He has promised because they repented. This is where it gets even a bit more funny. Jonah did what he was supposed to do this time. He preached the word of God. the people repented and turned to God and away from their evil ways. Jonah should be happy right? Wrong. He acted like a pouting child that didn’t get his way. He despised the people of Nineveh. He wanted God to destroy them. God had said He would destroy them, but when God saw that they had turned from their evil ways, He relented. This angered Jonah, and God had to remind him that he should have concern for the more 120,000 people of Nineveh. Shouldn’t Jonah have wanted the people to be rescued by God?

God has rescued me too many times to count, and He sent His Son, Jesus, so that we can all be rescued. We have the assurance of everlasting life with the King of Kings. Our eternity is secured if we have accepted Christ as our Savior. Christ rescues us. Without Him, we are weak. We need spiritual nourishment to grow in Christ. We need Christ to keep us safe from harm. He doesn’t force feed us, but He gently guides our path. Before long, we are craving more knowledge of the Savior, and we are spending more time with Him. We may not recognize that we needed saving until we come to know the Savior. We gradually begin to trust Him, and we recline in the comfort and security of His saving grace.

What about those who don’t have that security? What about those who haven’t yet been rescued? What about those people we detest…murderers, child molesters, rapists, thieves, or those closer to home…that grumpy old man down the street, a co-worker that has different opinions, people who have angered us or caused us pain? What about those people?The same God that rescued me wants to rescue them too. The awesome thing about the love of Christ is that there is nothing we can do to make Him love us more, and there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less. He wants to rescue each and every one of us!

If we have the security and promise of eternal life with Christ, He shouldn’t have to make us go tell others like God had to tell old Jonah. We should be telling everyone we come in contact with about the saving grace of Christ. Spread the Good News! And if you haven’t yet been rescued, what are you waiting for? Just call on His name. He’s waiting.
KK Hodge

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JUST SMILE

Proverbs 15:30 “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health.”

Proverbs 15:13-15 “A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.

Psalm 126:2-3 “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.”

I love that silly movie “Elf”, and my all time favorite line from the movie is, “I just like to smile…smiling’s my favorite!” Have you ever thought about the power of a smile? A smile is a powerful weapon, and smiling is quite contagious. I’m not talking about fake smiles that are forced. I’m talking about those smiles that are derived from the great joy that starts in the heart and ends up spreading all over the face. I’m talking about the kind of smiling that makes your cheeks hurt with delight. When is the last time you wore a genuine smile on your face?

I can remember stopping by our small town grocery store a few years ago. I was walking behind this older fellow. He stopped abruptly, turned, and almost ran me over. Instead of responding grumpily, I smiled at him and said, “Hello, Sir! How are you today?” He snorted and said, “I’m old and I’m GROUCHY!” Instead of responding in kind, I looked at him, put a big old grin on my face, and as sweetly as possible said, “Well, maybe you could try smiling! It wouldn’t hurt anything. Might even make you feel better.” Before I rounded the corner of the next aisle, he was next to me with his buggy telling me a joke. I think he even cracked a smile. Smiling is definitely contagious!

When I look back on that simple little memory, I think about it with joy. What if I hadn’t been faithful in my Christian walk that day? What if I had responded just as grumpily as that old fellow? What would it have accomplished? Not a thing! But because I am filled with the Spirit of the true living God, even on my worst days, my heart is full of joy. I could keep that joy all to myself, but that wouldn’t do any good. Just that one kind word with a smile on my face changed the whole demeanor of what could have been a very mean old man. I don’t know why he was feeling so old and grouchy that particular day, but I do know that simple kindness changed his whole attitude and outlook.

Y’all, that’s the way God works! He fills our hearts with joy, and we can’t help but let that joy leak out and spread all over the place. I think God designed us with the ability to smile so that others could see Him in us. Smiling isn’t just the upturning of our lips. Smiling is what our face does when our heart is glad. In the world, we haven’t had a lot to smile about lately. But if we have a glad heart, we can’t help but have a cheerful face.
We can seek fame and fortune, always chasing the next big thing, trying to get more stuff and better things, but all that stuff won’t give us glad hearts. The pleasure of that stuff will last a little while, but in the end, it will just leave our hearts and our pocketbooks empty.

I know the answer for a glad heart and a cheerful face. His name is Jesus. If you invite Him into your heart, EVERYTHING changes! You start to see everything through the light of Christ. Those bad days don’t seem so bad anymore, and those good days are oh so much better. Through Christ, our hearts are slowly transformed and pump with gladness and joy. Your heart controls your face. If your heart is grumpy or sad or gloomy, your face will appear grumpy or gloomy, but if your heart is happy, you can’t help but have a cheerful face. The face is the mirror to your heart, and your heart should be a reflection of the love of Christ.

Is your heart full of joy? Maybe you should tell your face about it! Put a smile on your face today! Turn that frown upside down! Feel the joy of Jesus, and let other see Who fills your heart with joy! If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times, “I’m drinking from my saucer because my cup is overflowing,” and “I just like to smile…smiling’s my favorite!” I’m going to keep on smiling. How about you?

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STAMINA

I Corinthians 9:24-25 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

I’ve shared this story before, but I can’t help but share it again because it brings me great joy. When nearing the end of our mission trip to Peru, we traveled by boat down the Amazon River to Casa Mi Padre, a boys home. We camped outdoors on mats under mosquito tents. It was a pretty amazing experience, but being in the great outdoors on the Amazon River was just a little piece of cake. The sweet, delicious icing on the cake came the next morning.


We were up early setting up for the day, when a little 80 year old lady, who was about as big as a minute, came paddling upstream to our site. Seriously, y’all, she was 4 foot nothing and 80 years old. She had paddled upstream for an hour to get to our camp because she knew that we had something she needed. (And it felt like it was 110 degrees with 100% humidity. It was hot!) She walked up the hill with her paddle in hand. We weren’t quite set up for patient care, but she peaked our interest, and we paused our preparations to take time to get to know her. She told us that she had 12 children, 8 of which were still living. One daughter brought her food each week but had failed to come the previous week. She was hungry. We had some scrambled eggs and bread and cold water left over from breakfast, and she scarfed it down. We went through our back packs and loaded her up with as many snacks as we could find so that she could take something back home with her.


I then examined her in my makeshift clinic under an outdoor gazebo. I gave her necessary medications, and she proceeded on to our dental clinic and eye clinic with paddle in hand. She was guarding that paddle the entire time.
A few hours had passed, and I noticed a man carrying her paddle away. I didn’t speak the native language, and couldn’t make the man understand that I was trying to tell him that the paddle belonged to the lady. I recruited a translator, and had the translator explain to the man that the paddle belonged to the little lady we had met earlier. The joke was on us, however. It turned out that the little old lady had high jacked a boat, paddled upstream an hour because she heard that our team would be there. She “borrowed” someone elses boat! We had something she wanted, and she did what she had to do to get it. We all had a good laugh, and arranged for a family member that was present to take her back home, but not before she had a full belly, medications, new glasses, and new teeth. She praised God for each of us, and wished many blessings over our team.


Now, I am not condoning nor recommending “borrowing” a boat or taking something that doesn’t belong to you to get what you need. But I am recommending that we all strive for that kind of stamina when we are seeking Christ and doing His work. We should paddle upstream if necessary to reach others for Christ. We need to travel to remote places, go to the hard places, meet people that are outside our daily circle, talk to people that we may not even like, and do whatever it takes to share the Good News. God will open the doors. God will make a way. You only have to be a willing vessel and have the stamina to do it. If a 4 foot tall 80 year old woman can paddle upstream up the Amazon River, can’t we go down the street, in the comfort of our air conditioned vehicle, and tell others about Christ? Yes, we can! God will give us all the stamina we need!!
KK Hodge

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SATISFIED

Deuteronomy 26:11 Thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

Are you satisfied? Whoa, that’s a tough question isn’t it? Put some real thought into it before you answer. The world will tell us that we can’t ever reach the point of satisfaction. We want more. We want better, newer stuff. We want, want, want. But if we really put some thought into it, most of us will realize that we really don’t need anything. Most of us have the good fortune of having a roof over our heads, a vehicle to get us where we’re going, food in the pantry and refrigerator, and much more than we need. We have what we need, but the world tells us we need more. We are in a constant pursuit for satisfaction, but we already have the key to satisfaction, but we just don’t see it.


The secret to satisfaction is found in Christ. Paul the apostle endured some really hard times including imprisonment, yet he knew the secret to satisfaction. He told us that he learned to be content in every situation. He knew how to be brought low, and he knew how to abound. He knew that no matter what situation was ongoing, he had satisfaction in Christ.


How then do we reach satisfaction in Christ? That’s the easy part. All we have to do is give our hearts to Christ. If we give our hearts to Christ, and we allow Him to fill our hearts, we will feel a satisfaction like nothing else. And the closer we grow in our relationship with Christ, the more satisfied we become. When we study God’s word, spend time in prayer having heart to heart talks with the one who loves us most, we gradually recognize that we are totally and completely satisfied in Christ. We have everything we need, and Christ is really all we want! We can be satisfied in Christ!

KK HODGE

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LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

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.

Philippians 2:14-16 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Peeps, I look around at this old world we live in, and I see darkness all encompassing our country. There is so much evil. It’s not just in the huge cities anymore. The darkness is closing in an encroaching even upon our small towns. What is darkness? It is simply the absence of light, and boy oh boy does this country need some Light!
Jesus tells us in John 8:12 that He is the light of the world and whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness. So how do we get rid of darkness? We only need to shine the Light!
As followers of Christ, we have the ability to reflect the light of Christ as brightly as a full moon reflects the light of the sun. We can light up a dark room by reflecting the Light. We can change a dark world by shining the light of Christ.


But lights won’t shine if they aren’t connected to a power source. If you buy a brand new package of light bulbs, you can place them all around your house, one on a table in each room, but when night comes and darkness ensues, those bulbs will not emit any light. They can’t emit light in and of themselves. They have to be plugged into an electric source and then powered on with a light switch. As humans, we are a bit like those bulbs. We can be scattered all around, sitting in rooms all over the country, but if we aren’t plugged into Christ, we are not able to emit any light.


We have to actively participate in growing a relationship with the Father, study His word, learn what is true and right and just, and live it out. Live life for Christ. When we do this the light of Christ begins to shine so brightly within us that others will see that light and are drawn to it.


Have you ever left the porch light on late one summer night? What happened? I don’t know about your house, but here in our neck of the woods, the insects swarm the lights. They are attracted to the light. Hundreds of tiny insects try to get next to the light. What if we acted like a porch light on a warm summer’s night? What if we shined the light of Christ so brightly that others couldn’t help but be drawn to the light? Oh my, what opportunities would be opened for sharing the light of Christ. Just imagine how much light we could shine in this dark world. The more light that we shine, the less dark this place becomes.


Darkness truly is just the absence of light. We have the Light within us that this old dark world needs. Get out there and shine some light today! Be the light in the darkness. Shine the light of Christ!
KK Hodge

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ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER

Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

I Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven,with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Have you ever been separated for a long period of time from someone you love due to work or other obligations? If so, do you remember that moment when you were finally reunited? Oh the joy of those reunions!


When Jeff and I first married, he was working overseas with an oil company, 28 days on, 28 days off. With travel, he would be gone for 32 LONG days, and home for 26. The 32 days that he was gone seemed to take years to go by. I missed him so much. But when he flew home, I would meet him at the airport with open arms and grinning so hard my face would hurt the next day!


I remember all those return home trips with great fondness. People told me that when he was home all the time, we would get sick of each other. Those people were wrong. We are celebrating our anniversary today and we are still honeymooning.


For just a moment, think about the return of our Lord and Savior. Jesus ascended to heaven to prepare a place for us. He left with us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, while he is getting our forever home ready. He is going to return and gather us up and bring us home with Him to spend eternity in glory. Now, y’all know I love my husband, and I remember how excited I was to see him after our long absences. I can’t even imagine how excited I’m going to be on the day that Jesus returns. Can you just see it? Jesus descending from the clouds. An archangel shouting. Trumpets sounding. The glory of Jesus Christ in our actual, visual presence!! It makes me think of that song, “I Can Only Imagine.” Will I dance? Will I be still in His presence in awe? Will I stand? Will I fall to my knees? Will I sing hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all? I’m here to tell you, I can not even imagine how I will respond. The Bride will be united with the bridegroom, and we get to honeymoon in heaven for eternity!


Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we are separated from Christ now. If we’ve accepted Him as our Savior, He is with us. But I’m overwhelmed with the excitement of being with Christ physically, in His presence, in heaven! I long for that day, and oh what a day that will be!
KK Hodge

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NO BAD DAYS

Ephesians 3:14-16 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being.

Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 25:9 Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.

When I turned my phone on this morning, I received a group text email from some of my sisters in Christ. I want to tell you something. If you don’t have a few good Christian friends, you better get you some! These ladies are my joy! We share our faith, our hearts, our joys, and our heartaches, and we offer encouragement, love, and godly wisdom. I truly love these ladies.


The message was about the tough things of the previous week. We are all experiencing tougher times than usual: sickness, death, unemployment, trying new job responsibilities, family issues, and the list goes on and on. It seems that our troubles are never ending. It seems that we will be overwhelmed and succumb to the troubles at hand, but then there’s God. But God! Just when we think we’re going to sink, He teaches us to swim. When we think we can’t handle one more difficult event, He wraps His loving arms around us and carries us through.


Psalm 118:24 reads, “This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Oh my, with all the terrible stuff we’re going through, we are supposed to rejoice? How in the world can we rejoice? We’re not just having a bad day, we’re having a bad week, a bad month, a bad year! Oh, but God! He created this day. He gave us one more day to walk His beautiful earth. One more day to share the good news. One more day to rejoice and praise Him.


I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I wake up oozing with joy every morning. I wake up looking something akin to Medusa with my crazy curly hair sticking out in every direction. There’s no joy in my mirror first thing in the morning. Lol. I have to have a cup of coffee and get a little spiritual nourishment first. But once I open the Word of God, He reminds me through His Word that my joy and strength come from Him. Then, I can’t help but be joyful. When I pass through the waters, He will be with me; and when I pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over me. When I walk through the fire, I will not be burned; the flames will not set me ablaze. And John 10:28 assures us that nothing can snatch us out of the hands of our Father.


When your feeling the flood waters overcoming you, or you feel that you are in the fire, don’t give up. Don’t fret. Cry out to the Father. He’s always just one breath away. He’s waiting and watching. He never leaves our side.
So in reality, we can’t have a bad day. Bad things happen, and they’ll keep happening. But there is good in every day because God is there. He made today just for me and just for you, let us rejoice and be glad in it! It’s going to be a good day!
KK Hodge

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HABITS

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We all have our own personal habits. A habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. We get into the habit of doing things a certain way, and soon we fall into a routine. Some habits are really good, but some are not so good. So just how do we develop a habit? A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concluded that patterns, or habits, form as people “perform a behavior over and over again.” The researchers confirmed that the brain uses “stored behavioral routines that are triggered by an event and then ‘run’ automatically.” when a new habit is learned, “nerve cell responses in the brain are reorganized.” Therefore new habits can be learned, and old habits can be “unlearned”.


One habit that I have “learned” over the past couple of years is sitting down with my Bible, reading, researching, and writing a daily devotional each morning. I started out just sharing scripture, but God put it on my heart to expand a bit and share some encouragement as well. I was only going to do it for a few weeks, and then I settled on a goal of 90 days of devotionals. However, my dear husband and my sister, Chandra, insisted that I write a devotional a day for a year. Well, here I am more than 2 years later still writing, and I will continue as long as God gives me the words.


You see, I’ve developed a habit of spiritual discipline, and it’s hands down, the very best habit that I have. But you don’t have to write a devotional to have a habit of spiritual discipline, you can develop a habit of reading your Bible daily, journaling, gathering for worship, gathering for small group Bible studies, and setting aside prayer time to really strengthen and deepen your relationship with God. Pick out a good spot. I either sit at the kitchen table or out on the back deck to do my morning studies. Make that your spot for your time with God. Add some structure. Pick out a time that works best for you. At first, it’ll seem hard to carve out the time, but soon you’ll find it easy to make the time. I find first thing in the morning works best for me, but you may be an evening person. Find what works for you. And most importantly, pray. Seek God’s guidance and ask Him to help you develop this new habit of intentional spiritual discipline. But be careful what you ask for. If you ask for a habit of spiritual discipline, I’m pretty sure you are going to get it! I crave time with God each day, and by spending time with Him on a regular basis, all my bad habits are much easier to break as new habits of spiritual discipline take their place!
KK Hodge

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RESCUED

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Psalm 107:19 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

One of the meanings of the name of Jesus is rescuer. The Bible speaks volumes on this. As children of God, we are not promised that life will be easy. Yes, we would all love a life full of roses, but the truth is, we can’t have roses without the thorns. The great thing about a relationship with Jesus is that we know that we can face whatever comes our way because we don’t have to face it alone.


I read a devotional by Billy Graham once in which he told how a girl shared how she handled things. She said when the devil comes knocking at her door, she doesn’t answer the door. She sends Jesus to answer it.


Oh, if we could only be so wise. We try all to often to rescue ourselves, and we come up short. But Jesus has already rescued us. We only have to accept the fact that He did, and reap the benefits of having been rescued.
I know that society tells us that we are in control of our bodies and our minds, and that we don’t need anyone to rescue us. But actually we do! We can not make it through this crazy thing called life on our own accord. We just can’t. I do not know how anyone can get through even one single day with Jesus. I can’t even imagine a life without Christ!


Jesus is our refuge. He is a mighty warrior for us in our time of need, and He is a reassuring friend when we feel down. He lifts us up, and He holds us in His hands. He comforts us when we grieve. He rejoices with us when we are joyful. He’s a loving Father who gently cares for His children. He is our strength when we are weak. He is our rescuer! Recline in that today.
KK Hodge

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GET OUT OF THE WAY

Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

I Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

In the movie “War Room” there is a precious little lady named Miss Clara who speaks volumes of great wisdom. She’s a cocky little thing, but she is a true warrior for Christ. If you search the internet you’ll find many of her wise quotes, and I came across this quote this morning: “You need to plead with God to do what only He can do, and then you need to get out of the way and let Him do it.” That, my friends, is easier said than done.


How often do we go to our heavenly Father and unload the burdens that are on our hearts? We cry out to Him. We tell Him our troubles. We beg, we plead, and we say we’re giving it all to you God. We then feel a great relief, but it’s all too often short lived. Why? Well, I can tell you it’s not because God quit working on the problem. It’s usually because after giving our burdens, problems, and worries to God, we don’t leave them at His feet. We snatch those troubles right back away from God and start worrying over them again and trying to fix something that we aren’t capable of fixing. That’s just craziness. We’ve given something to the Master to take care of, but we snatch it back thinking that we can do a better job solving the problem than the Maker of the universe. That’s absolute nonsense, but we are guilty of it all the time!


Think about it in a different way. What if you inherited a very expensive, very old grandfather clock. This clock was worth a pretty penny. It was beautiful to look at, but there was a problem. The clock didn’t work. It wouldn’t keep time. So you did your research and found the finest, most reputable clock maker and took the clock to him. You left this beautiful, priceless clock in his capable hands. He said he would have it fixed within the week if he didn’t have to order parts, but it may take a little longer depending on how long it would take to correct the issue. You go home feeling good, but then a couple of days go by, and the clock isn’t fixed yet. So you go pick up the clock, bring it home, and begin disassembling it and trying to fix it yourself. You know nothing about repairing clocks and can not get it to work again. Now there is a beautiful clock with pieces all over the floor. It’s wrecked. So what do you do now? Take if back to the master horologist, and he repairs the clock. You take it to the master, leave it, and get out of way.


We have to do the same thing in life with all of our troubles. God wants us to bring our burdens to Him. He knows what is best for us, and He knows the solution to every problem that can possibly come up. We only need to trust the situations into His very capable hands. Don’t go grabbing your troubles back and trying to fix things on your own. Leave them at the feet of the Master! Give it to God, and get out of the way!
KK Hodge

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HEAVEN

1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Hebrews 11:16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Revelations 21:2-4 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘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.”

Do you ever stop and think about heaven? I’ve always wanted to go to heaven, but I confess that during my youth I prayed and asked God to wait a while before He took me home. Oh, you know how it is. I was a girl with plans…lots and lots of plans…and I’m still a big time planner today. I had lots of talks with God, and told Him that I wanted to finish school, get married, have children, and a career. Well, then, I had to see my children grow up…and now there are grandchildren. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Lately though, my conversations with God are more like, “this place is a mess! You can come get me any time you want me now!” I can hardly wait to get to heaven!


It’s human nature for us to cling to the material things in life, but we also have a spiritual nature, and our spirit desires our permanent home. Seriously, our spirit longs for heaven!David Jeremiah has been preaching a series on heaven this week, and one of the topics was “heaven won’t be boring.” He explained that we wouldn’t get bored because we would be in the presence of almighty God, we would be serving daily, and we would be with friends and loved ones. I can’t wait to reunite with those who’ve gone before me: great grandparents, grandparents, Mama, aunts and uncles, and friends. He also reminded me that when we get to heaven we can become friends with our ancestors. Can you even imagine having the opportunity to sit down and have breakfast with David or Joseph, or maybe lunch with Ruth and Boaz, and then supper with Esther? Oh my goodness, I can’t even imagine the conversations that we’ll have!


But with all of my excitement over heaven comes great heartache. I have only an inkling of knowledge of the splendor of heaven. It excites me to the core of my being, yet at the same time I feel distressed because everyone that I love won’t be there. Yes, the bible speaks of heaven, but it speaks even more loudly and clearly about hell. Hell is real. We aren’t living in hell right now, no matter how bad things look. Matthew 13:42 is just one of many scriptures that tell about this awful place. “They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” It’s a never ending, continual blazing furnace. The agony will be unbearable. There will be no quenching of thirst or putting out the fire. Hell sounds incredibly awful, but what would be even worse than that would be eternal separation from our Father. I can’t even fathom it!


I don’t want to be separated from my heavenly Father, and I don’t want to be eternally separated from anyone reading this. So today I ask you with all sincerity and seriousness, do you know where you will be spending eternity? Do you know without a shadow of a doubt that you will be joyfully running through the pearly gates? If you don’t know this for sure, now is the time to know. Ask Christ into your heart today. We aren’t promised tomorrow. I’m ready to run through those pearly gates as soon as the good Lord decides to let me in. I pray you’ll be running through them some day as well. Run with joy and peace to Christ!
KK Hodge

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ENOUGH

Roman’s 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I John 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Am I ever going to be enough? I know I’m not the only one asking this question because there are hundreds of posts on social media that echo these words. There are thousands of self help books to teach us how to better ourselves. Television commercials pitch anti-aging miracle creams, magical weight loss remedies, and even those awful Spanx like girdles! No wonder we are a nation full of insecurity. Everywhere we look, we are told that we aren’t good enough!


We walk by our mirrors and notice the hairs that are out of place, the crown of gray peeking through, the wrinkles, and oh yea, don’t forget those few extra pounds we put on lately. At our jobs, we work hard and give it all that we have, but then wonder if we could’ve done a little bit more. With our families, we worry that we aren’t spending enough one on one time with the ones we love. Are we teaching them the things they need most? Do they know how much we love them? Are we ever going to be enough?


Well, Peeps, I’m here to tell you that if you are living life asking these questions day in and day out, you have become the victim of identity theft! Yep, identity theft! You’ve gone and let the world steal away your identity. All of those insecurities are NOT who you are. You are a child of God, a child of the Most High, King of Kings, Lord of Lords! I mean really y’all, it doesn’t get much better than that!


Insecurities of self leads to worry and doubt, and when we are full of those two evil things (worry & doubt), we will never be enough. However, with Christ, we don’t have to be enough. In fact. We could never be good enough to deserve salvation, and once we realize this, we can really truly rest in the grace and mercy of our blessed Savior. Jesus knows who you are. He knows all the good, bad, and ugly in your life, and no matter what you have done or haven’t done, He loves you just the same. We can’t do anything to make Him love us more, and we can’t do anything to make Him love us less. Because of His love for us, we are enough. It’s through His righteousness that we become right with Him.


Quit worrying about being enough. If you’ve got Christ in your heart and you are living for Him, you are enough because of who He is in you! The One that is in you is greater than the world. You are enough!!
KK Hodge

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IT’S GONNA BE OKAY!

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

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 49:16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands

There is way too much bad in our world today. Evil lurks around every corner. COVID cases are rising again. People are fighting and even rioting. There is sickness among us…physical, mental, and emotional. We’re all drained and weary after watching the news for less than 30 minutes a day. Goodness, we were watching the New Orleans news last night and the reporter was listing off all of the shootings and resulting deaths that occurred over the holiday weekend. The numbers were shocking, although, I shouldn’t be shocked by anything anymore.


With all of the chaos, sadness, sickness, and just the day to day messes that we find ourselves in, we have to have something to keep us grounded, to keep us focused on the bigger picture, and to keep us moving forward. Thankfully, we can lean on our Lord and Savior and rest knowing that He’s got us right in the palm of His hand. We can rest on Matthew 28:20 knowing that Jesus promises that He is with us to the end. That means He is always there through thick and thin, good times and bad times, and whatever life is throwing at us. He never leaves. Isaiah 41:10 has become my stand on verse lately. There is no reason to be dismayed and get all catawalpus. We have the promise that God will be our strength and and that He will hold us up with His righteous hand. God has never broken a promise so I know with all that I am that I can trust in those words.
Jeff was talking to the kids this week, and trying to be the encourager that he is during these challenging times. He told them, “Me and God spoke about it. Its gonna be okay either way so I’m gonna go with that.”
Knowing that God really does have us in the palm of His hand is so very reassuring. With that knowledge, we can approach the day knowing that either way, it’s gonna be okay. God’s got this!
KK Hodge

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FREE INDEED

Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Genesis 3:6-7 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing
to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Merriam-Webster defines freedom as “liberation from slavery or restraint from power of another.” Today, we celebrate freedom as a country. That freedom was won a very long time ago after battle and bloodshed. Since becoming a free nation, brave men and women have continued to go into battle to protect our country so that we can continue to live in freedom. We are not slaves to other nations or powers that be. We live in a democratic nation that allows us the freedom of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Unfortunately, we as Americans seem to be pushing our liberty of freedom to the limits.
God created the most beautiful garden ever designed and placed the man and woman that He created in the garden to care for it. He told them that they could eat of any fruit in the entire garden EXCEPT for the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That old evil satan got to Eve. He talked her into tasting the fruit, and she shared it with her husband, and well, you know the rest of the story. Men knew no sin before that first bite, but that action brought sin into the world. We’ve been struggling with sin ever since.
We, like Eve, long for freedom to do whatever we want. We too often take that “pursuit of happiness” thing to the limits. When we are constantly pursuing a lifestyle of doing what we want, we become slaves to self and to sin. Then, we aren’t free anymore.
Thankfully for us, our freedom was purchased not just a little over 200 years ago by soldiers as we celebrate today, but rather our freedom was purchased by the blood of Christ on that old rugged cross over 2000 years ago! And when Christ ascended to heaven, He left a comforter: the Holy Spirit. With the precious Holy Spirit, we are empowered to say NO to things of this world, and YES to Christ! The Holy Spirit guides us ever so gently and helps us to choose what is right and desire what is godly.
Our freedom was purchased and paid for in full by the One who loves us most. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are children of Christ. Are you really experiencing freedom today? If you have Christ, you have been set free. If not, what are you waiting for? He’s already paid the price in full. You only have to accept the gift of freedom of salvation and be free, free indeed!
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY, PEEPS!
KK Hodge

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WHAT I WANT MOST

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Job 22:26 For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God.

What do you want out of life? Oh, the answers to this question are too numerous to count. What we think we want now doesn’t look like what we wanted this time last year. We’re always wanting something, searching for more, trying to attain the next goal. There seems to be a never ending void in our hearts that we just can’t satisfy. Well, I’m here to tell you that there is only One that can fill that void, and His name is Jesus!


I read a story about a man seeking wisdom. He went to the great and mighty philosopher Socrates, and asked Socrates how he could get great wisdom. Socrates walked the man out into the sea. When they got out about chest deep, Socrates pushed the man under the water and held him there. He let him up, and asked, “what is it you want?” The man replied, “I want wisdom.” Socrates continued to dunk the man under water holding him longer each time, and each time the same question was asked and the same answer was given, until finally, Socrates held the man under until he was fighting to get up. The man came up gasping, and Socrates again asked, “what is it you want?” The man gasped, “Air, I want air.” Socrates then said, “when you want wisdom as much as you wanted air, you will get it.”


We are motivated by the desires of our hearts and minds. We set our sights on something, and we go after it. Psalm 37:4 tells us how to get the desires of our heart. We must delight ourselves in the Lord, and He will give us the desires of our heart. That hole we feel, that emptiness we are trying to fill up, that eternally, empty black hole can only be filled by Christ. He designed us that way. He designed us to want Him, to crave Him, to yearn for Him, to desire a close relationship with Him, and until we allow Him into our hearts and we need and desire Him just like we crave air to breathe, that black hole of emptiness will never be filled. Our hearts will not be satisfied. We will continue to search for things of this world to satisfy us until we nearly drown ourselves.


I know that Jesus is my heart’s desire. I want a lot of things in life. I do. I’m human. But I know that Jesus is in my heart and rules my life, and because of that, He gives me the desires of my heart. My needs are always taken care of, and many of my wants are too. He always gives me just what I need, when I need it most, and always right on time. So what do I want most in life? Just give me Jesus!!
KK Hodge

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FREEDOM

Everything is permissible,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up. No one is to seek his own good, but the good of the other person. I Corinthians 10:23-24

“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” (Peter Marshall) I read this quote after studying my Sunday School lesson for this week, and I found it to be very fitting. With Paul’s teachings to the Corinthians fresh on my mind, I couldn’t help but ponder our ideas of freedom.

In these wonderful United States of America, we are free. We are free to do a lot of things. But as our freedom to do as we please increases, our loving for self rather than God also increases. Take a moment to look at the freedoms that are being proclaimed in our nation. We are free to do drugs if we please…many of the drugs are legal so that isn’t against the law. We are free to buy and drink alcohol, even to the point of intoxication…as long as we aren’t driving, we aren’t breaking any laws. We are free to have sex outside of marriage…even with the same sex…we won’t go to jail for that either. We are free to abort our unwanted children…the laws are stricter and some states no longer permit this…but where there is a will, there is a way. We are even free to decide our gender…we no longer have to identify ourselves by our God given sex organs…we can be who we want to be and not break any laws. Yes, we are free to do as we please, but is it good for us? Is it good for our Christian witness to others? Is it good in the eyes of God?

I’m not a Saint, y’all. I’ll be the first to admit it. So if you think I’m pointing a finger, just remember that there are 4 fingers pointing back at me. I’ve made more mistakes in this life than I would like to admit, but praise God, as I’ve made those mistakes, I’ve learned valuable lessons. Each lesson has brought me closer to my relationship with Christ. Each mistake has caused growth in Christ, and each day I continue to learn that I need Him more and more! And as I grow, I learn that the way I live out life really counts.

Let’s get back to today’s scripture. Paul told the Corinthians that everything is permissible. That was likely a familiar saying of the day. It seems to be just as familiar today. Yes, everything is permissible, BUT everything is not beneficial. AND not everything builds up. We can live our lives as we want and think we aren’t harming anyone. Sadly, we are wrong to make that assumption. The way we choose to live affects many. If we are calling ourselves Christians, then we need to walk like Christ. If our choices and lifestyles cause one person to NOT choose Christ because of our actions, then we have sorely failed. It is unfortunately the actions of many “Christians” that have turned people away from the church and from Christ. We shouldn’t live as a stumbling block, but rather we should be living as a bridge bringing many to Christ.

I’m thankful for the freedom we have. I’m thankful for those who have battled for our freedom. I’m thankful that I wake up each day in a free nation. But most of all, I’m thankful that God sent His Son to die for my sins and your sins so that we might have eternal life. We are free to inherit the kingdom of God! There is no better freedom than that. It’s not a freedom we need to keep to ourselves though. This freedom is available to everyone. Let’s take every opportunity to share this good news with others and be cautious not to live life “as permissible,” but rather live a life of freedom that is beneficial to others and build up others!

KK Hodge

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PRAISE THE LORD!

Psalm 146 Praise the Lord! Let all that I am praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath. Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked. The Lord will reign forever. He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations. Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord…as long as I live…with my dying breath, I will praise the Lord with all that I am. Peeps, this Psalm is a great praise Psalm, and its chock full of good stuff! Verse 3 and 4 remind us that we shouldn’t put our confidence in powerful people. They may be powerful in the here and now, but when they take their last breath, all their plans and power die with them. Look around for a moment. Who are you putting your confidence in? We place our confidence in powerful politicians, winning athletes, movie stars, the top 40 singers or bands. We listen to what they say, and many times we believe a whole lot of misinformation because we feel that the person speaking is speaking with authority so therefore, whatever they are saying has to be true. Sometimes, they speak truth, but more times than not, they’re just speaking.


Thankfully, we have One that we can place all confidence in: our Lord and Savior. We are reminded in this Psalm that we can be joyful and have hope in the Lord. The promises made by the Lord are never broken. He created the heavens and the earth. He gives justice. He feeds the hungry. He protects His children, and He frustrates the plans of the wicked. He is definitely worthy of our praise!


God gave us eyes that see and ears that hear, and He imparts wisdom to each one that asks. We have to view this crazy world through a God lens rather than the rose colored glasses that we so often wear. Be careful not to put your confidence is people of power just because of the position they hold. Listen to what is being spoken. Is it godly or worldly? Watch carefully with your eyes. Is the person behaving in a godly manner, or are they living for the world? Pay attention, and ask God for wisdom and discernment while muddling through each and every crazy day of life. And when you wake up and before you fall asleep at night, you can have absolute confidence in One for sure and can praise His name continually! Yes, Lord, I will praise you as long as I live, with my dying breath, and with all that I am. Praise the Lord!
KK Hodge

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VALUED

Job 38:41 Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?

Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

Job 12:7-9 But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?

Last night after feeding up at the barn, I noticed that the peacocks had started dropping their feathers. Despite the fact that I already have two very large vases full of their feathers upstairs, I excitedly gathered up a double handful. The feathers are beautiful, and I occasionally like to be crafty. Peacock feathers can add beautiful accents to flower bouquets and wreaths, and they’re quite expensive to purchase so I just gather my own crop of feathers each year from our males. We have one gorgeous Indian Blue, and the other male is a pied Indian Blue. He has the typical plumage but his center most feathers are white, and when he spreads the feathers out and struts, it looks like fireworks!


Our peacocks are pretty to look at, and they gift me with craft supplies, but other than that, they really aren’t of much use to us. The females lay eggs sporadically, but they never sit on them. They make loud noises whenever they hear a noise so there’s that. But really what else are they good for? Their beauty is why we keep them around. Have you ever looked at a peacock feather? The colors are brilliant iridescent, emerald greens and royal blues. Maybe I love them because they sport two of my favorite colors. Lol.


Ponder for a moment about the exquisite beauty of this bird. Could the world survive without them? I think so. Would it make a difference if they disappeared? Probably not. But still, God created them. He saw a need for these beautiful creatures to adorn the glorious earth that He created for you and I. And though I haven’t found a significant purpose for the peacocks, God designed them with His purpose in mind.


They are silly birds. Insignificant, although beautiful, birds. But God must’ve put a lot of thought into designing those peacocks. One feather alone is captivating. The colors are gorgeous and so appealing to the human eye. Just look at the detail in the feathers.
God put that much thought and care into the design of a bird…a bird, Peeps! He also provides a means for the birds to have food. They don’t have to go out and get jobs or store food up in barns the future. God takes care of them. He even saw fit to place a few at Hodge Critter Lodge because He knew we would take care of them for Him.


If our awesome, gracious, loving Father put that much thought and care into the design of a bird, how much more thought and care do you think He put into designing you and I? He formed us in His image. His image, Peeps! He designed us specifically for His glory. He designed us to have a relationship with Him, to live for Him, to glorify Him. God doesn’t make mistakes. God made you, and you are a whole lot more important to Him than a silly old bird. He put a lot of thought and care into creating you. He loves us so much more than we can comprehend. You are valued by our heavenly Father. Yes, you are valued, you are loved, and you are the child of the Most High! When you’re feeling down, just spread those beautiful feathers and strut, straighten your crown, and remember whose child you are!
KK Hodge

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I RESOLVE

RESOLUTION ONE: I will live for God. RESOLUTION TWO: If no one else does, I still will. Jonathan Edwards

On May 3, 2022, there was a leaked Supreme Court decision indicating that the Roe v. Wade decision from 1973 would be overturned. Yet, when the final decision became public this week, everybody lost their minds. Some were extremely overjoyed, while others looked upon this decision as nothing short of horrid. I’m going to go ahead and let you know that I fall in the first group. I’ve prayed for this, and yes, I was joyous, but I would appreciate it greatly if you would continue reading…especially if you are in the latter group.

Before we deal with all of those emotions that are stirring, let’s look at the facts. On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States generally protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion. Jane Roe, an unmarried pregnant woman, filed a suit on behalf of herself and others to challenge Texas abortion laws. A Texas doctor joined Roe’s lawsuit, arguing that the state’s abortion laws were too vague for doctors to follow. He had previously been arrested for violating the statute. At that time, abortion was illegal in Texas unless it was done to save the mother’s life. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decided two important things: 1. The US Constitution provides a fundamental “right to privacy” that protects a person’s right to choose whether to have an abortion. 2. But the abortion right is not absolute. It must be balanced against the government’s interest in protecting health and prenatal life. Since the Roe v. Wade decision, judicial interpretation of the constitution is that abortion is legal.

This past Friday, The US Supreme Court officially reversed Roe v. Wade, declaring that the constitutional right to abortion upheld for nearly a half a century no longer exists. Writing for the court majority, Justice Samuel Alito said that the 1973 ruling and repeated subsequent high court decision reaffirming Roe “must be overruled” because they were “egregiously wrong,” the arguments “exceptionally weak” and so “damaging” that they amounted to “an abuse of judicial authority.” This decision means that abortion rights will be rolled back to the state level. Alito, writing for the majority, said that abortion is a matter to be decided by the states and the voters in the states. Basically, the US Supreme court concluded that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. The right to abortion has not been completely obliterated. It is now a right to be decided at the state level.

Since 1973, over 63,000,000 abortions have been completed. SIXTY THREE MILLION lives. That is more that the combined population of the states of California and Florida. That is a lot of lives no matter how you look at it. That hurts my heart. I’m an educated person. I’m educated on the facts, and I’ve read the arguments. What about rape victims or incest victims? My heart goes out to anyone in any of those situations, it really does, and even though I personally don’t agree with abortion for any reason, I can truly sympathize with the situation, and I’m not going to judge your decision. But really, do you think we have had 63,000,000 cases of abortion due to rape or incest? The other argument is what about protecting the mother’s life. Don’t forget, my friends, that I have been in health care for more than thirty years. Physicians take an oath to protect life, and when they are caring for a pregnant woman and fetus, they are caring for two lives. The physician will do what he has to do to save BOTH lives. Any physician of sound mind is not going to kill a woman to save a baby or vice versa. That argument doesn’t hold water. And I don’t think that there were 63,000,000 abortions due to risk of mother’s health. So why then have there been over 63,000,000 abortions since 1973? It’s simple. It was too easy. It was convenient. It was a form of birth control. Many accidentally become pregnant, and it seems that abortion is the only option. I know that some of you are ready to start blasting vile comments in my direction, but please hang on.

There are so many other options rather than abortion. There are many ways to prevent unwanted pregnancy, and this should be addressed. Our country should look at ways to better serve women in need. I agree with this wholeheartedly. We need better access to health care for those who are in need of birth control. We have excellent pharmaceuticals on the market available to prevent pregnancy. We need to make it easier for women to obtain birth control. There are so many men and women in this country waiting to adopt a child or children, but the system is broken. I know that our foster care system is broken. It needs a much needed infrastructure revision. There are way too many children in foster care. I adopted two children from the foster care system many years ago. I all too well know the issues. It is also very difficult to adopt a child through private adoption in this country. It is expensive. The adoption system is broken. It needs an infrastructure revision. Many things can be done to help women prevent and manage unwanted pregnancies without having to seek abortion.

Do we need change? Yes, I agree. We do need change. But I still stand on my belief that abortion isn’t the answer to that change. Let me tell you why. I believe in God. I believe that the Word of God is infallible and true. I believe that children are truly a heritage from God. I believe that God created each one of us uniquely in His image. I believe that every human being is His workmanship, created in Christ for good works. I believe in life, and I believe that life begins at the moment of conception. This is what I believe. This is why I stand where I stand. I realize that many do not agree with my beliefs, and that’s okay. You can’t change my mind, and I probably won’t change yours. But please understand this, I do not hate you or harbor ill feelings towards you for your beliefs. I don’t hate you if you’ve had an abortion in the past. I don’t hate you because you believe differently than I believe. I may not like the choices you make, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still love you. And I know that God loves you, and He cares for you and wants a relationship with you. I care deeply about the people of this country. I know that God’s love is immensely larger than the love I have. I know that God so loved this world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16). Because of God’s love for me, I can’t help but let His love shine on you. I pray that you will turn to God. Let Him love on you today and every day! The solution is God! There is no better feeling than that feeling of being in the arms of our heavenly Daddy!

Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you. Jeremiah 1:5

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 138:13-16

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

KK Hodge

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FINDING PEACE WHEN THERE IS NO PEACE

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Peeps, I am so saddened by the state of affairs of this world right now. I pray for peace, I look for peace, but it seems the only place that I can find that peace is within my own heart and home. If you watch the news or you read social media, it looks like everybody woke up on the wrong side of the bed. As a Mama and a Mimi, I want to tell everybody to go back to bed and take a nap. LOL. Who knows, it might help and it wouldn’t hurt.

But what I really want to do is tell all the christians out there to WAKE UP! We’re sleeping too much. We are napping when instead we need to be out hitting the highways and the hedges sharing the good news and peace that we know. Seriously, it’s time to wake up!

God created us for His glory, and I bet He’s up there in heaven shaking His head at the mess we’re in right now. I don’t think He’s surprised by it. I’m sure He already knew it was going to happen. I’m just not sure where we’re going from here, although I know that God does.
There is so much hate and anger and division in the world. No one can find peace because they don’t know Peace. As Christian’s we can’t sit idly by on the sidelines and ignore what is going on. Now, I’m not saying get in the middle of all the fighting and acting ugly. Rather I’m challenging you to get out there and show the love of Christ. Don’t argue with those that have a different viewpoint. Instead, have a lovingly meaningful conversation. Spontaneously treat someone to a meal. Share a smile or a kind word. That doesn’t cost a thing. Tell someone how your life has been changed by Christ. Don’t be a part of the ugliness. Be a part of the peace. Show others the love of Christ, and make a difference in this world…one person at a time!

KK Hodge

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Give me a word, Lord: STAMINA

I Corinthians 9:24-25 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

I’ve shared this story before, but I can’t help but share it again because it brings me such great joy. When we were nearing the end of our mission trip to Peru, we traveled by boat down the Amazon River to Casa Mi Padre, a boys home. We camped outdoors overnight on mats under mosquito tents right next to the Amazon River! It was a pretty amazing experience, but being in the great outdoors on the Amazon River was just a little piece of cake. The sweet, delicious icing on that cake came the next morning.
We were up early, and I was setting up my outdoor medical clinic for the day, While we were all busying ourselves with preparations, a little 80 year old lady, who was about as big as a minute, came paddling upstream to our site. Seriously, y’all, she was 4 foot nothing and 80 years old. She had paddled upstream, up the Amazon, for over an hour to get to our camp because she knew that we had something she needed! She walked up the steep hill to our camp grasping her paddle tightly in her hands. We weren’t quite set up for patient care, but we were so intrigued that we all stopped what we were doing to meet this lady. She told us that she had 12 children, 8 of which were still living. One daughter brought her food each week but had failed to come the previous week. She was hungry. We had some scrambled eggs, bread, and cold water left over from breakfast, and she scarfed it down. We went through our back packs and loaded her up with as many snacks as we could find so that she could take something back home with her.
I then completed a thorough medical exam on her in my makeshift clinic under an outdoor gazebo. I gave her necessary medications, and she proceeded on to our dental clinic and eye clinic with that paddle still in hand. She was guarding that paddle the entire time as though her life depended on it.
A few hours had passed, and I noticed a man walking by carrying her paddle away. I didn’t speak the native language, and couldn’t make the man understand, but i just knew that I needed to get that paddle! I recruited a translator and had the translator explain to the man that the paddle belonged to the little lady. However, the joke was on us! Turned out that sweet little old lady had high jacked a boat and paddled upstream an hour because she heard that our team would be there. We had something she wanted, and she did what she had to do to get it. We all had a good laugh, and fortunately, we were able to arrange for a family member that was present to take her back home, but not before she had a full belly, medications, new glasses, and new teeth. She praised God for each of us, and wished many blessings over our team.
Now, I am not condoning nor recommending “borrowing” a boat or taking something that doesn’t belong to you to get what you need. But I am recommending that we all strive for that kind of stamina when we are seeking Christ and doing His work. We should paddle upstream if necessary to reach others for Christ. We need to travel to the remote places, go to the hard places, meet people that are outside our daily circle, talk to people that we may not even like, and do whatever it takes to share the Good News. God will open the doors. God will make a way. You only have to be a willing vessel and have the stamina to do it. If a 4 foot tall, 80 year old woman can paddle upstream up the Amazon River, can’t we go right down the street, in the comfort of our air conditioned vehicle, and tell others about Christ? Yes, we can! God will give us all the stamina we need!!

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Let’s Go Fishing

Mark 1:16-20 16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

If you know me, you know that I love to fish. Our favorite place to fish is Old River WMA. We take the boat out early in the morning, stop along the way and catch crawfish for bait, and then unload the boat in the river. It’s always a treat to bring home an ice chest full of catfish. You work a little hard while at the same time have loads of fun, and you get rewarded with supper! That’s pretty cool!
My favorite fishing trip memory, however, involves a vacation to the country I love second to North America, Costa Rica, with the man I love! We booked a deep sea fishing excursion. At first it was b.o.r.i.n.g! We were on the water a good four hours before that first fish took the line. Jeff said, “This one is yours.” I began reeling that fish in, and then reeling, and reeling. It was huge! I had never caught a fish like this one before. My heart was racing. I was sweating. My arms were burning. I kept reeling. I asked Jeff if he wanted to take over, and he said no. He said that this one was all mine. After 20 minutes, which seemed like 2 hours, I finally saw the fish at the edge of the boat. Our first mate landed the fish for me, bringing him into the boat. It was a 180 lb sailfish. It was exhilarating!

In Mark chapter 1, Jesus is calling his first disciples. Here we see men who had made their living fishing. This was likely a family business, and a good source of income in Galilee at the time. Fishing was the life these men knew. Jesus called them to follow Him and explained that He would make the fishers of people. He related their new calling to something that they could easily relate to. I always loved this scripture because as an old country girl, I can relate too. I love that Jesus calls us to be fishers of people. He doesn’t call us to leave our current jobs or vocation though. He wants us to fish right where we are all day long. Fishing for people is a lot like fishing for fish. Sometimes, you may go days without ever getting a bite. But then there are days that you are reeling, and reeling, and reeling. Our hearts race with excitement, but we do not grow weary. We know that we are called to tell others about Christ. We need to just share the Good News. God will take care of landing the fish. When was the last time you went fishing? Now, more than ever, people need to hear about Christ. Let’s go fishing today!

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Even the Trees Sing

Psalm 96:11-13a Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!  Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he is coming!

Romans 1:20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not know God.

Each year, during the week of Easter, I do an awful lot of looking up. We live in south Mississippi, and pine trees speckle the landscape. As a matter of fact, we have quite a few acres that are covered in pine trees. The trees stand tall and proud, and once a year, those trees do something miraculous. For you see, beginning one to two weeks before Easter, the pine trees begin making little yellow shoots, and as Easter Sunday approaches, the tallest shoot will branch off and form a cross. Yes, it forms a cross, y’all! The big, beautiful pine trees that surround us begin singing praises and announcing the cross only days before Easter. The scientist will explain this away with coincidence, but I like to believe that it is natural reminder straight from our good God for us to look up and remember what Easter is all about.

Easter will be celebrated this Sunday, but we can’t forget about the events of Friday. On Friday, our Lord and Savior was crucified on a cross. He suffered a gruesome death. He was buried, but He wasn’t forgotten. On that third day, the tomb was empty. Death couldn’t hold Him. He arose, and He is preparing a place for us. We rejoice as we celebrate this fact. Easter is coming, and even the trees are singing with joy!

Isn’t it remarkable how God makes His presence known. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not know God. We have no excuse not to see Him. We have no excuse not to know Him. And we definitely have no excuse not to praise Him.

Today, I encourage you to look up. Look for the pine trees, especially Loblolly pine trees, and look up. Look for the crosses. Look and see how the trees sing with joy to celebrate our risen Savior. They are announcing that He is coming. Let us not forget what we are celebrating this week. May we all sing with joy before the Lord because He is coming!

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Gotta Have Faith

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we live by believing and not by seeing.

Psalm 143:8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.

Hebrews 12:2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Well, folks, this old girl had a fabulous weekend so far, and it’s only Sunday morning. Our ladies’ ministry from church planned a trip to Jackson to see Priscilla Shirer in her Going Beyond Live conference. I worked half a day Friday and hurriedly gathered up my belongings that I would need for an overnight stay. My sister, Chandra, and my friend, Lisa, met me at my house. We then drove next door to pick up my friend, Angela. As I was backing out of her drive, my car stopped just short of hitting a huge pine tree. I’m a terrible “backer upper”, and thank the Lord for the technology of my car that is smarter than I am. The car stopped me in my tracks. We laughed as I asked them if they were sure they wanted to ride with me. I’m not sure if they had faith in my driving, but they didn’t jump out of the car! We drove to the church and met up with a few more ladies, and our sweet pastor prayed for us…and my driving. With the help of my backseat driver, whom shall remain nameless but her name starts with C, we made it safely to our destination.

Our group was made up of sixteen ladies of various backgrounds, and on Saturday morning, the sixteen of us joined about 2600 ladies at the First Baptist Church of Jackson. I don’t know if you have every been in a room with 2600 ladies who were gathered together in the name of Jesus, but let me tell you, my friend, it was amazing. Priscilla’s brother, Anthony, led the praise and worship music. He did a phenomenal job. Priscilla shared the Word. We’ve all heard the scripture from Luke 17 concerning the 10 men with leprosy. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem when he came upon these men. (Luke 17:11-19). Only one of the ten, the Samaritan, fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him for the healing. And in Luke 18, Jesus was still on His way to Jerusalem, and as he approached Jericho, He came upon a blind beggar. He asked Jesus for sight although the crowds tried to silence his cries, and he was healed because of his faith. (Luke 18:35-42).

In both instances, Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. He was on His way to the cross, y’all. But that didn’t keep Him from stopping along the way and providing supernatural healing. As I’ve studied these passages in the past, I’ve reflected on the healing, and the faith of the leprous man and the blind beggar. I hadn’t really considered that these miraculous healings occurred while Jesus was traveling to His appointed time of crucifixion. Our Lord and Savior was making His way to the cross. He knew the cup that He had to bear. He knew God’s eternal plan, yet He stopped while He was on His way to heal those who placed total faith in Him.

But what about now? Jesus made His way to the cross. He’s not “on His way” to that destination any longer. He’s not stopping here and there performing miracles….or is He? There is one big twist of events in the story of the cross that we must not forget. Jesus did die on that cross. He died for your sins and my sins. He suffered a horrible, undeserved death so that we might have life. BUT He didn’t stay on that cross. He didn’t stay in that tomb. He arose three days later just as He said He would. He also said something else. “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.  And you know the way to where I am going.” John 14:1-4

He is preparing a place for us, and He is coming back to get us. He said it. I believe it. He’s not “going on His way” to the cross any longer, my friend. No, He’s coming. He’s coming after you. He’s coming after me. He can heal our physical, spiritual, and emotional bodies. He can revive us from the dead, and restore us into a loving relationship with the Father. He can cleanse us of our sins, forgive us of our failures, and He even forgets them once we have repented. He loves us so much more than we deserve, and He’s coming for us…daily. And all He asks us to do is place faith in Him. You gotta have faith! I do…do you?

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Give me a word, Lord: ARE YOU COMING TO THE TABLE?

Psalm 107:9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Wednesday morning, between meetings, I road over to the cow field with my husband to feed the calves. It was such a beautiful spring morning. As I finished pouring the feed into the crib feeder, Jeff let out his cattle call, and the stampede began. The cows and calves came running because they knew that food was on the table.

Dinner time on the farm is always a joyous occasion. Our critters big and small, are extremely spoiled. As soon as the chain rattles on the barn gate, we are met by some very excited animals. Everybody knows when it’s dinner time…even us humans. I can cook, but y’all, my husband creates! He could surely put a five star restaurant out of business if he opened a pop up diner next door. Believe me when I tell you that when my husband cooks, this girl runs to the table!

Let’s face it. We love getting fed. Eating is a requirement for survival, but there’s so much more to it than that. Eating brings joy. There is the pleasure in the taste of the food and also the enjoyment of the company we share our meals with. Sunday lunch is my favorite meal of the week. That is when the whole family comes together for a meal, sharing food, love, and laughter.

There is another table that we’ve all been invited to…the Lord’s table. Jesus is inviting each one of us. He doesn’t care if you are big, small, pretty, ugly, broken, bruised, or even if you’ve committed a sin or two or even a hundred. He loves us so much. At His table, we get fed spiritually. We fill up on joy incomparable. We feel love like we’ve never felt before. Jesus gave His life so that we may be made right with the Father. He came back three days later just as He would, and He is coming back to call us all to our heavenly home. He’s getting the table ready. I’m just waiting for His call. I can hear the chain rattling as He opens those pearly gates. I’m going to be there. Are you coming to the table?

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Give me a word, Lord: LAY THAT DOWN AT JESUS’ FEET

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Yesterday, I spoke of getting rid of our junk that was holding us back from a loving relationship with Christ. Did you lay that junk down yesterday? If you did, is it still at the feet of Jesus? Hmm.

If we are truly going to let Christ reign, we have to stop taking all of our stuff back like a bunch of two year old toddlers who believe “everything is mine.” We tend to believe that the problem or issue belongs to us…we may have created the problem, or we are deeply involved in the issue, or perhaps (and all to frequently) we are better at solving our own problems. (Yea, that always works great, doesn’t it?!)

I’m guilty. I take my problems to the feet of Jesus, and I lay those suckers down. I give them to Him to handle, but a few days go by. The problem hasn’t yet been settled. I get antsy. I become impatient, and then before you know it, I have my dirty little hands wrapped tightly around that one thing I gave to Christ to handle. I put it back in my pocket for safe keeping because “I know I can handle my problems better than the God who created the universe.” Say what? That really sounds ridiculous as I type these words. But isn’t it the truth, y’all? We do it all the time.

So, what are we to do? The answer is TRUST. Yes, it is as simple and as difficult as that sounds. We must learn to trust God fully. The God that created the universe, that gave His Son to die on the cross for your sins and mine, that gave us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, yes that God. He has proven that He is trustworthy beyond measure, yet we seem to forget this time and time again.

What are you struggling with today? Are you struggling to manage your finances? Lay that down at Jesus’ feet. Are you struggling in your marriage? Lay that down at Jesus’ feet. Are you struggling with addiction? Lay that down at Jesus’ feet. Are you struggling with over indulgence at the dinner table? Lay that down at Jesus’ feet. Does your attitude stink? Lay that down at Jesus’ feet. Are you having trouble on the job? Lay that down at Jesus’ feet. Whatever the issue is, no matter how big or how small, take it Jesus and LEAVE IT THERE! Then, repent and walk away. Keep those hands in your pockets. Sit on them if you need to, and do whatever it takes to leave that stuff there.

Jesus loves us immensely. There is no greater love than His love for you and me. We can trust Him fully with every ounce of our beings. So, today, trust Him. Lay that junk down at Jesus’ feet. He’s got you!

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Give me a word, Lord: REVIVED

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

2 Corinthians 4:16 So we do not lose heart. ThoughSo we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

It is late February, and it is the time of year that this girl starts to get spring fever. For a few months now, the skies have been gray, the trees are bare, and the grass is brown except for the few rye grass fields sprinkled in the landscape. But last week, as I drove to see my patients, I noticed that the trees were beginning to bud out. Little tiny leaves are beginning to form, and before we know it, the trees will be lush and green, and the brown grass will be replaced by new spring growth. The birds are singing the joyful praises of the changing seasons, and I’m already planning our spring flower beds and vegetable garden. Spring truly is the best time of the year. It is out with the old and in with the new, and it’s a time to renew and revive.

Last week we had revival services at our church. If there was ever a time on God’s green earth that we need a revival, that time is now! But how? Well, folks, it’s kind of like the arrival of spring. For true revival, it’s out with the old and in with the new. We must get rid of all that junk that is getting in the way of our relationship with Christ and preventing us from sharing the gospel. Yep, I said it. We have to get rid of the junk.

I’m sure my junk looks different from yours, but I guarantee that we are all hanging on to some sort of junk that we need to throw out like yesterday’s trash. This could look like pride, greed, guilt, anger, or just plain old busyness of life. We get so busy making a living that we forget to live. I learned a long time ago that life is not about living to work, but rather it is about working to live. I love my job. God blessed me with a great career, but my job is what I do. It’s not who I am. We must get rid of the junk, no matter what it looks like. What kind of junk are you clinging to today?

I know that I am a child of God, and as such, I must remember that He reigns over my life and not the other way around. I mess up every day, but praise God for the renewal of life. Just when winter looks the most bleak, and we think that spring will never come…new life begins. And just when we are at in what seems like our darkest day, and we can’t see the light…the Light breaks through the darkness, and we too are renewed when we ask Christ to take hold of the reins and reign in our lives. Yes, we all need to be revived. Thank God for revival.

It is time for a great revival, Peeps. Today, I encourage you to renew your relationship with Christ, and then get out there and share the Good News!

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God Rules, or Does He?

I John 3:19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.

Proverbs 27:19 As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.

I spend my days driving from patient home to patient home. I’ve never really enjoyed driving. I’ve always been more of the “go along for the ride” kind of girl. Turns out, I really don’t hate driving. I truly love my new job. I love the patients. I love my colleagues. I love cruising along singing praise songs with the radio, and I love the sites. My husband has jokingly said that I have tunnel vision when I drive, but I have learned to be much more cognizant of my surroundings now that I am spending all day driving. A few days ago, I noticed a truck beside me. The rear window was covered with a variety of stickers. The first few stickers that caught my eye were condescending and full of foul language. However, in the upper left hand corner, the very first sticker read, “God Rules.”

At first glance, I laughed out loud. I shouldn’t judge, but my natural first instinct was to think, “God is NOT ruling you. If He was ruling, you wouldn’t have all of those other ugly stickers with all those ugly words.” Yes, I know that was wrong of me, but I couldn’t help it. I’m guilty. I made a judgment based on the cover of the book, and I didn’t even take a peek at what was on the inside. That was wrong. I know that it was.

But here’s the thing, as Christians, the people we come in contact with daily may only ever get a look at the cover…a tiny glimpse of who we are. The only image one may see is of us behaving badly…snapping at someone who has gotten on our last nerve, responding grumpily to a situation, or showing bitterness or anger. And if that is all they ever see, then that person would also think, “God is NOT ruling her!” Or we could show them who we really are…sons and daughters of the King of kings. We could be intentional in our responses and make sure that we are bringing the salt and light into our interactions.

Is God really ruling? How will others know that God truly rules in our lives? That old song answers it best. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love. Our pastor has challenged us many times with the truth that we can gauge our love for Christ by how much we love others. Love isn’t a noun, y’all. It’s an action word. We can say I love you all day long, but if we don’t back it up with actions, it doesn’t hold much water.

I’ve messed up so many times! Oh, I could write for hours giving examples of my many goof ups that would make it appear that God isn’t ruling in my life. I’m glad I read the stickers on that truck the other day. I’m also very grateful that our good, good Father sees my heart. He knows my intentions are meant to be good, even when my human nature messes things up. But I am also thankful for this bold reminder that even though my Father knows me, those around me may not truly see that God is ruling my heart if the only glimpse they see is the ugly stickers on the outside that I sometimes allow to sneak out. I’m going to work on making sure that God truly is ruling in my life…not just in my head and heart, but in my actions!

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Give me a word, Lord: WASHED CLEAN

Psalm 51:10-12 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

Yesterday, I was awake by 4:45 am because my daughter’s dog, Jace, was body slamming her bedroom door. She had to leave before 4:00 am for work, and he wasn’t having it. Jace isn’t the only thing that woke me up, however. The small of my back starts sending a “get up” signal around 5:00 am every morning, and then the bladder chimes in that it’s time to get up. Yes, I am “my old body aches will not let me lie in bed years old.” I can remember my grandparents telling me that their bodies wouldn’t let them lie in bed all morning. I can finally relate. After getting up and letting the dogs out to do their morning business, I made coffee for myself and my husband and went about my daily routine.

About an hour later, I realized that the big dogs had not yet returned from their morning outing. Sophie, our 100+ lb beautiful, black Bouvier des Flandres, and Bear, our 85+ lb fawn Bouvier des Flandres, absolutely love this cooler weather. South Mississippi heat is tough on their fluffy butts. Almost two hours passed before they finally decided to grace us with their presence. We live in the middle of 80 acres with a creek running behind the house and a cow field with a pond north of the house. I figured they had taken a trip to the pond to chase geese. I figured wrong. They were slightly wet, but that wasn’t the problem. They stunk to high heaven! Oh my goodness, the smell was bad. Apparently, they decided to roll around in the cow field.

My husband had it fertilized about a month ago with chicken manure. It sounds strange, but it is an excellent source of fertilizer and produces the greenest, richest rye grass we have ever had…but the smell…it is awful! The smell is so bad the first couple of days that you can actually taste it. Fortunately for us, the dogs hadn’t seemed to notice they had a 25 acre field of stink to roll in…..until yesterday. What were we to do? I had to leave for work, and my husband had to hay the cows and head to New Orleans airport to pick up our eldest son. We decided that they would have to stay in the dog yard until we could give them a bath.

I had totally forgotten about the stinking pups as I went about my daily routine. It wasn’t until I drove up as the sun was almost completely out of sight and the coolness of night was approaching that I remembered I had two very stinking dogs to attend. This old girl knew it was too cold to bathe them outside. They would freeze, and so would I! I decided that I would put them in the shower with me one at a time. I would like to describe it as a leisurely experience, but I’d be lying. I laid towels all over the bathroom floor, took one stinking dog at a time, lathered them with Irish Spring soap, and rinsed them off, and then repeated it again just for good measure. By the time this event was complete, we had two squeaky clean, good smelling dogs and one exhausted dog mom. Exhausted…but not defeated! Fortunately for the dogs, they have a mom who loves them and wanted to be able to bring them into my home to enjoy all of the comforts that they are accustomed to…comforts they may not have deserved after getting that stink on them…but comforts that I want to give them nonetheless.

When I woke up this morning at 5:00, I began thinking about the previous day’s dog adventures. I have to admit that we are a lot like my dogs. No, we don’t wallow around in chicken poop fields and proudly display our stink, but oh my friends, we do wallow! We spend our days out in the world doing this and doing that, and we can’t help but let a little of the world rub off on us. If we aren’t careful, we are going to start smelling like the world. Unfortunately, that’s a smell that a hot shower and Irish Spring can’t fix. Today’s society tries to convince us that evil is good and good is evil, and if we aren’t careful, we will start believing the lies. We will begin tromping around in fields of chicken poop and not even realize that we are carrying around that gosh awful smell!

There is good news, my friends! It does not matter how stinky you have become, we have a God that can clean us right up. In Psalm 51, David is confessing his sins to God. He isn’t holding anything back. He lays it all on the table recognizing his sin and the filth that he has allowed himself to wallow in for far too long. It is clear to the reader of this scripture that David recognized the authority and power of a sovereign and forgiving Father. He knew that his sins could be forgiven. He appealed to the mercy and grace of a loving God. He didn’t ask to avoid the consequences of his sin. He merely asked for forgiveness. He asked for a clean heart, a renewed spirit, restoration of joy of salvation, a willingness to obey, and to remain in the presence of God. What an awesome prayer!

This morning, it doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you have done. David was an adulteress, a deceiver, and even a murderer (he had Uriah killed). He recognized his sin and pleaded with God for forgiveness, and guess what? He was forgiven. It is really that simple. God doesn’t want us to wallow around in the chicken poop of the world, but He does realize that we are all going to get a little poop on us now and then. He doesn’t want us to remain out in the cold wrapped up in the stink of the world. He loves us so much that he wants to clean us up and wrap His loving arms around us. He can restore our joy, clean up our hearts, renew our spirit, and put us in the absolute best place in the world: the presence of the one true God! No, we don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it. But He gives us His love and mercy nonetheless. Are you washed clean?

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Give me a word, Lord: FORGET ME NOT

Psalm 103:2 Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all his benefits.

It has been a little while since I have written a devotional here. I’ve been having my daily devotional time with God, and I have been journaling. However, I haven’t shared my thoughts here. But rest assured, I haven’t forgotten God, and I pray that you don’t either!

There is an old legend that tells us that when God created the flowers, initially He colored all the flowers green. One day, however, God dipped his fingers in a rainbow, and He touched each of the flowers giving them their own distinct color, style, and name. The flowers were beautifully designed by the Creator, and one day, God stopped by to visit His creations. He came upon a pretty little flower and asked the flower its name. The flower bowed its brilliantly colored petals, and said, “I’m sorry. I can’t remember my name.” God them smiled down at the dainty flower and responded, “I’m going to name you Forget-Me-Not. Now you will not forget your name, and you won’t forget me.”

Of course, we know that is just an old legend, but I think as Christians, we too sometimes need to remember to “forget Him not!” We must not forget who we are in Christ, and we must not forget who Christ is in us. When we count our blessings, we begin seeing Christ in everything, and there is no way that we could forget Him even for a moment.

I’ve had a busy month. I resigned from a job of many years, and I stepped into the unknown. I began a new job in which I am still practicing as a nurse practitioner, but my role is much different. I have been “in school” training for the new position late into the night more nights than I can count. There is so much to learn, but I already know that this position is going to be perfect for me because God opened this door. We have been blessed with a beautiful new granddaughter this month. She is completely healthy and totally beautiful, hand crafted and designed by our heavenly Father. I’ve been excitedly working on my next devotional book, and God has blessed me with another birthday. The list of blessing of just this past month is quite long. Our God is so good!

Yes, I will Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all his benefits. He has blessed my life tremendously, and I will NEVER forget.

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Give me a word, Lord: HE KNEW ME BEFORE

Galatians 1:15 But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him.

Do you ever sit back and ponder in amazement how merciful and loving our God truly is? We are not great people. I’m sorry to share this little tidbit of information, but it is the truth. We are not great. Most of us aren’t even very good. The reality is that it isn’t who we are, but Whose we are. Because we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and invited Him to be the Lord of our lives, we have been made right. Yet we can’t take one ounce of credit for our righteousness. Nope! God took care of that really big detail when His Son took on the cross for our sins.

Now, picture this. While on that cross in agony, Jesus saw you. He saw me. He saw all of the sin that we were ever going to commit. He saw who we were before we accepted Him, and still He took on the cross for us. He knew us before, yet He loved us still! That is not only amazing.It is astonishing that Christ could love us that much!

The thing that we must try to comprehend is that Christ sees who we are before He calls us. He knows the good, bad, and ugly details of our lives. He sees the sin. He knows the sinner, BUT He also sees who we can become after we become His. He sees past the person we were before salvation, and He calls us to be His children. He knows that His love will change us and make us right even though we have been so very wrong.

There are so many biblical examples of not so great people in the Bible. Scripture tells of many “before people” who were radically changed by Christ after knowing Him. Jesus took a fisherman and made him one of the greatest preachers of the early church. An untrusted taxman became a disciple, a trusted friend of Jesus, and he penned the first Gospel of the New Testament. An insignificant woman, who had been possessed by demons, followed Christ to the end. She was at the cross, and she was the first person Jesus appeared to after His resurrection. He knew who they were before. He saw the broken mess in their lives, but He also saw the after.

Christ saw something in these individuals. He saw the before image of some truly broken individuals…BUT God! Praise God. He sees through the broken pieces, and He can see the image of each and every one of us fully restored through a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. He takes all of our broken pieces and makes us whole again. Yes, He knew me before too. I’m so thankful He didn’t merely see the before image of me and hang His hat up and write me off. I am eternally grateful for His love, grace, and mercy. Jesus continues to take the broken pieces and heal my heart as I become more fully His each day! Praise God for loving me before!

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Give me a word, Lord: DON’T GIVE UP

1 Kings 19:3-6 Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.

Have you ever reached a point in life in which you were so tired and weary that you felt like you had just had enough? Well, old Elijah thought that he had reached that point. He was done. He was ready to just give up, curl up, and die. To an onlooker like me, that sounds pretty crazy. I mean really, if we remember all of the times that God revealed His power and faithfulness to Elujah, one has to wonder, “What was he thinking?”

Let’s do a quick refresher. In 1 Kings 16 and 17, we find Ahab and Jezebel and many of the Israelites worshipping Baal. God had Elijah inform them that God would withold the rain and the dew for years. And then to protect His prophet, God send Elijah to the Wadi Cherith and had ravens deliver food to him daily to sustain him. Ravens literally brought him food, y’all!

Next, God instructed Elijah to go to Zarephath to find a widow who would care for him. The widow in question, however, had only enough oil and flour to bake her last loaf of bread for herself and her son, and then she expected to die. God provided again by insuring that there was always enough oil and flour to feed all three of them. Later on, the widow’s son died. Elijah prays over the body three times, and life was restored to the boy.

Then, the biggest show down of all show downs occurs. Elijah proposed a test between God and Baal. I’m sure you remember this one. The 450 prophets of Baal called on their god all day all the while being taunted by Elijah, but their god never showed. Our God didn’t hesitate. When humbly called upon by Elijah, fire fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, the dust, and licked up the water in the trench. Elijah then killed the prophets with a sword.

When we reach I King 19, we see that Ahab had told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and Elijah’s life was in danger now more than ever. What did Elijah do? Elijah, the man who was fed by ravens, had an endless supply of food from a widow, saw life return to the widow’s son, and witnessed the power of God with the burnt offering, ran! He ran away! He plopped down under a broom tree, and basically said, Take me now, God. I’m done. One would think that Elijah would realize the many times that God had already protected and sustained him. This should have given Elijah security knowing that he was in God’s hands.

But God…God wasn’t finished yet. He gave Elijah new tasks to do including anointing Hazael as king over Aram, Jehu as king of Israel, and to anoint Elisha as a prophet to take his place. This gave Elijah tasks to do and a new friend to boot. God new exactly what Elijah needed even when he did not know what he wanted or needed.

All too often, life gets hard. We get distressed, burnt out, and sometimes we want to throw our hands up and give up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Jesus come now. This place has gotten out of hand.” Yet He lingers. Do you want to know why? Because He isn’t done with me yet, and He isn’t done with you. There are many who do not know our Lord and Savior, and our work here on earth isn’t finished yet. We aren’t done. We can’t give up. Take a nap if you need to. Eat a healthy meal. Then get up and get busy. God placed you exactly where you are right now for this exact season. God has big plans for you my friend! Don’t give up now! It’s time to get busy! God will provide the means for us to carry out His work. We must only provide a willing body.

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Give me a word, Lord: ALL ACCESS PASS

Exodus 26:31-34 Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker.  Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Put the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law in the Most Holy Place.

Mark 15:37-38 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

Part of my Bible study this week was the Holy of Holies. I read the scripture above as well as Leviticus chapter 16, and I couldn’t help but continually rejoice all week over the fact that Jesus gave us an all access pass to God Almighty! For real, Peeps. We have an all access pass. Ponder on that for a moment and what a true treasure this is.

When going to concerts, one occasionally purchases the “all access pass.” This pass gives that person privileges to not only enjoy the concert close up and personal, but that person also gets backstage access and a personal meet and greet with the star attraction. That’s pretty cool! But all access to God is so much better than an all access concert pass.

Way back in Moses’ day, God’s presence was in the Holy of Holies, and God gave Moses very specific instructions in order for Aaron to enter the Holy of Holies. Aaron wasn’t allowed to enter anytime he pleased. He had to bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He had to put on his sacred linen tunic with linen undergarments, tie a linen sash around him, and put on a linen tunic. He had to bathe prior to putting on the sacred attire. He also had to take 2 male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering from the Israelite community. He then had to offer the young bull for his own sin offering, and then cast lots for the two goats. One lot was for the Lord and one for the scapegoat. The goat whose lot was for the Lord would then be sacrificed for a sin offering, and the scapegoat would be presented alive to make atonement. After making the sacrifices, he then had to remove his clothing and bathe in water in the sanctuary. All of this had to be done any time Aaron entered the Holy of Holies. If he failed to perform these steps, he would surely die.

Consider that regimen. What great effort Aaron had to go through each time he went before God. Jesus changed everything. The temple curtain was torn, ripped apart, when our Savior became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. When that curtain was ripped in half, the barriers where removed. No more bull or goat sacrifices. The ultimate sacrificial Lamb paid the price for our sins. He made the final atonement needed. Jesus gave us an all access pass to God Almighty! All we have to do is approach Him in prayer…any time of the day or night…in any clothes we are wearing…at any location on this planet! We have an unlimited, total, all access pass to the Father! Isn’t that encouraging?

Are you taking full advantage of your all access pass? Give God a holler today. He’s been waiting to hear from you.

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Give me a word, Lord: ALWAYS AMAZED

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

Ephesians 3:18-19 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 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.

It’s been a few days since I’ve shared on my blog. This week has been a very busy and exciting one. Tragic events continue to surface all around. COVID 19 seems to be all consuming. Devastation is ongoing in Afghanistan. The nightly news is filled with tales of hurricanes, earthquakes, natural disasters, murders and crime. There is no doubt in my mind that God’s plate is full to the brim managing all of this chaos…all of the natural, political, and social issues that are ongoing…and yet, I stand amazed that He still has time to work out little details in the life of this old gal from Mississippi!

Today, I want to share a little personal testimony of God’s goodness. I’ve been a family nurse practitioner for twenty five years. During the past twenty five years, I have practiced privately out of three different clinics. I have made life long, lasting relationships with patients, their entire families, co-workers, and colleagues. Oh yes, my friends, the past twenty five years have been a blessing. However, over the past year and a half, I have felt that I’m not doing what I am supposed to be doing anymore. I love being a family nurse practitioner. I really do, and I know for a fact that it was a calling placed on my life by God. But I have also recognized over the past few months that I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing anymore. I had a continual tug at my heart that things needed to change. Well, I began praying about my concerns, and I told God, “If this is where you want me to be, then I will stay as long as you want, but if it is not, open a door and I’ll walk through it.” I had an overwhelming sense that I wasn’t supposed to be in the clinic position any longer.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the patient sort. I got antsy. I questioned God. I told Him that I felt I needed a change, and I wondered why He wasn’t opening any doors. We talked about it a lot. I began sending out resumes. I was interviewed by a couple of companies. I prayed before the interviews, and I felt completely sure that those jobs were not meant for me, and I had no problem declining the positions. Last week, however, I was scheduled for an interview with a physician for a totally different type of position. The job would involve taking care of high risk Medicare patients in the comfort of their home, diagnosing, treating, and preventing complications and hospitalizations. I prayed before the interview as I had done before. I asked God to show me through our conversation if this was meant for me, and y’all, I have to tell you, God answered! While speaking to the physician, we had a conversation about how much he loved his job. He spoke of how he was able to pray with patients in their homes and how many eternal decisions had been made while doing so. He said that he knew without a doubt that this was where he was supposed to be. I hung up the phone, and said, “Okay God, I hear you!”

Well, they offered me a position. I was told that I would be able to get full time hours, but I wouldn’t have full time benefits for possibly 6-12 months. Jeff and I talked it over, and we decided that it felt right. I truly felt like this was where God wanted me to go. I started searching for insurance coverage for the next few months. I put my notice in at work, and I excitedly awaited my new adventure to begin. Of course, there was this little seed of doubt in my mind that asked, “are you sure they will give you enough visits to make your full time salary?” I didn’t know the answer to that question, but I know my God. I know that He has always seen me through every situation, and if He leads to me to it, He will lead me through it. I simply put my trust in Him.

But wait…there’s more! God wasn’t finished yet. Yesterday, I received a phone call from the physician who had interviewed me and who will be my collaborating doctor. He asked me if I would like to go ahead and be full time immediately…with full benefits and guaranteed salary. OH….MY….GOODNESS….GOD! I stand amazed. I was grinning from ear to ear while on the phone, and as I hung up, I said, “Thank you, Lord. I know that was You!”

God has amazed me so many times through the years. I am continually in awe. The thing that amazes me most is that God is so personal. I mean really, He is the God of creation! He is the God of the universe. He is all powerful, all knowing, and all present. And yet, this sovereign, mighty, super busy God has time to work out the intricate little details of my life? And He doesn’t just work out the details. He circles back around, and says, “Just in case you didn’t get the message the first time, let me hit you over the head and be obvious!” God is so good!

I will never cease to be amazed by God!

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Give me a word, Lord: THANKFUL FOR THE WORD

2 Timothy 3:12-15 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived. But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 

2 Timothy was written by the Apostle Paul to the young Christian leader Timothy to encourage him and give him a better understanding of his duties. Paul was writing this epistle from prison, and if it is read in context, we realize that Paul was writing these words after great suffering. He tells Timothy that he has known suffering, and he assures Timothy that he will suffer too. Oh what encouraging words, right? But he doesn’t leave it there. He assures Timothy he should continue in what he has learned and hold firmly to that belief because of the inspired Word of God in scripture.

I’ve been fortunate in life thus far, and I haven’t ever suffered persecution in the manner that Paul did. But my study question this morning was to identify a time when I found strength in scripture during suffering. I can give numerous examples because the Word of God is encouraging at all times. I’d like to share a specific example that always comes to mind.

My mother left this earthly home unexpectedly at the young age of 59. I was 37 at the time. I was a grown woman, married, had a flourishing career, a nice home, and in all aspects appeared to have it all together. But the night my mama died, my whole world felt apart. I can’t explain it in words, but for the first time in my life, I felt that I was surrounded by total darkness. People around my carried on like life had not stopped. Friends were encouraging. People smiled and laughed, and life as they knew it went on.

I can’t remember how it started, but one of my sisters and I began sending each other text message scriptures each day. Well, I soon found out that if I was going to send an encouraging scripture, I had to get into scripture. I quickly found myself digging deep in the Bible, reading the promises of God, seeing His faithfulness, His grace, and His mercy. I thought that my scripture searches were helping my sister, but it turns out that God knew that it was exactly what this girl needed.

God took away that darkness that was engulfing me, and the Light returned. Do I miss my mama? Of course, I do. Everyday! But am I sad that she is in heaven. No way! I know because of the promises of my Savior that she is in her heavenly home, and that gives me extreme happiness.

I am so very thankful for the Bible. I am grateful that my heavenly Daddy loves me so much that He made sure His words would survive, persevere, and flourish over all of these years so that this old gal could still find refuge in His Words. No matter what kind of suffering we may face in life, we can rest assured without a shadow of a doubt, that our loving Father is in control! Thank you God for your Word!

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Give me a word, Lord: ONE TRUE GOD

I shared this devotional a few months ago, but my Sunday School lesson today is the story of Elijah challenging the prophets of Baal. It is such an awesome story in which God exhibits His power demonstrating without a shadow of a doubt that He is the One true God. Any doubts? Read on…

I Kings 18:26-39 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”

I love the example that Elijah gave us in this scripture exhibiting the true power of God. When we read through the book of Kings we see king after king who “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” Ahab was no exception. In fact, the scripture says that King Ahab did more evil than any of the kings before him. He must have been a pretty rotten scoundrel. God caused a drought that had lasted 3 years. Ahab was seeking the prophet Elijah will ill intent. Elijah showed up, and called all of the people together for a test. He told Ahab we’ll set up alters and all 450 of your prophets can call on your god, and me, one lone prophet, will call on my God, and we will see who the true God is. So they set up their alters, and King Ahab’s men called on Baal, their god, from morning to evening. They did not get a response. I chuckle a little when I read Elijah’s taunting words. He told them that maybe their god was asleep. Maybe they needed to shout louder and wake him up, or perhaps he was busy, or traveling, or in deep thought. So they shouted louder. But still no answer.

Then Elijah got his turn. He prepared the alter, then he poured water all over the alter…lots of water…enough for it to puddle up under the alter. Then he quietly called out to God. God sent fire down from heaven with so much force and heat that it burned the entire altar, the stones, the dust, and even licked up all of the water! The people witnessed the power of the one true God once more, and they turned to Him. And after a 3 year drought, rain came. It’s almost like the rain came down to gently wash and clean up that terrible place.

The people of Israel saw God work first hand on many occasions, but they persistently turned to false gods. We aren’t the biblical time Israealites, but we are just as guilty. We see the power of God on a daily basis, but we worship earthly idols. Perhaps not with intention, as the Israealites did, but we are guilty nonetheless. We focus our minds and energy and waste soooooo much time on TV, computers, cell phones, whatever it may be. We worry about the dollar, our house, and our vehicles. We want this or that. We think if only I could get this _ (fill in the blank), we would be happy, when actually what we are truly craving and in need of is a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior! He is all powerful, all knowing, and ever present. He doesn’t sleep, vacation, get too busy for us, and we are always on His mind. He is all we really need. The one true God is still here. The same God Elijah called on is the same God I talk to every day. You don’t have to shout or scream to get His attention. You must simply call out His name! He is the one true God!

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Give me a word, Lord: PRAISE THE LORD, OH MY SOUL

Psalm. 103:20-22 Praise the Lord, you angels, you mighty ones who carry out his plans, listening for each of his commands. Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels  who serve him and do his will! Praise the Lord, everything he has created, everything in all his kingdom. Let all that I am praise the Lord.

I reflect back on the past few weeks, and I recall of the whining and bickering and complaining I have done in my conversations with God. Oh yes, I whine sometimes. I’m human, and I know that my God wants an intimate relationship with me which means He wants all the thorns too…not just the roses. I’m so very thankful that I have a heavenly Father who cares about every single aspect of my life. I see His loving hands in even the littlest details, and I feel His loving arms carrying me through those difficult days when I seem to complain more than praise. I don’t want to be a negative Nelly, a whiny Wendy, or a plain old stick in the mud, and because of my relationship with my heavenly Daddy, praise God, I am not. For you see, that awesome heavenly Daddy of mine listens as a complain, but then He gently turns my frown upside down as He reassures me that He is in control. I’ve nothing to fear or fret. I’m in the hands of the Creator of the Universe! I want to praise God with all of my being!

A song is in my heart today, and I’d like to share it with you. Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul, lyrics by Matt Redman and Steve Angrisano. Read these words and let them settle in your heart this morning.

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I’ll worship Your Holy name

The sun comes up
It’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass
And whatever lies before me
Let me be singing
When the evening comes

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before

Oh my soul
I’ll worship Your Holy name

You’re rich in love
And You’re slow to anger
Your name is great
And Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness
I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons
For my heart to find

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I’ll worship Your Holy name

Bless You Lord

And on that day
When my strength is failing
The end draws near
And my time has come
Still my soul will
Sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years
And then forevermore
Forevermore

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I’ll worship Your Holy name

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name

Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I’ll worship Your Holy name
Yes I’ll worship Your Holy name
I’ll worship Your Holy name

Today and everyday may we remember to bless and praise our Savior! He deserves our humble adoration and absolute praise. He is worthy! Let us praise Him today!

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Give me a word, Lord: I AM NOT IN CONTROL, BUT I KNOW WHO IS

Psalm 103:17-19 But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments! The Lord has made the heavens his throne; from there he rules over everything.

Isaiah 26:20 Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. (Read Isaiah chapter 26 in full to see in context.)

Last year, when all of the quarantining began, I kept seeing this verse pasted all over the place. “Go home, my people, and lock your doors! Hide yourselves for a little while until the Lord’s anger has passed.” (Isaiah 26:20) I started wondering about the context of Isaiah 26:20 after reading this verse, so I read the whole chapter. (It’s always important to read a verse in it’s context rather than pick & choose verses that please us. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever been guilty of that?) Isaiah 26 is a chapter in which the prophet Isaiah is praising God for His sovereign care of His people. It is actually a song of praise. A song of confidence in God because in the end, God achieves the final victory on our behalf!

In Genesis 7:16, God shut Noah up in the ark so He would be safe during God’s judgement. In Isaiah 26, he is speaking of God’s judgement in the past, present, and future, and how God keeps His people safe. We must hide in the refuge of God, and He will protect us in life and in death. Just because we are people of faith, living a good life, doing right things, this doesn’t mean we are going to be spared from hard times, sickness, or even suffering. Some days we feel like we suffer all day long! But through it all, we can take comfort in knowing that we live in the shelter of the Most High. We can trust in Him, and not live in fear.

My quiet time reading this morning was from Psalm 103. I was reminded once again from the treasure of God’s Word that He is sovereign. He has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over ALL! He doesn’t just rule over some. He rules over all. We live in a scary, evil world. My heart cries for those who are suffering, and those who are lost. But I know that no matter what happens GOD IS OUR REFUGE! Let me shout that again a little louder for those in the back. GOD IS OUR REFUGEE! He will show mercy to us, and He will protect us for eternity. We are safe in the arms of God. He is our refuge! We must only remember that we are living for and serving a sovereign God. He’s got this. He’s not surprised by the current state of affairs. And the best part of it all is that He already has it all worked out for our good and His glory. No, I am not in control, but I am so thankful that I know who is. Do you?

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Give me a word, Lord: DIDN’T GET WHAT I DESERVED

Psalm 103:6-10 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

I’m a hard worker. I’ve been blessed with a few good things. We have a nice home, vehicles, plenty of clothes, food in our panties and freezers, and the list goes on. Yes, my good and gracious God looked down and said, “That kinky headed girl needs a roof over her head. She’s going to need a little break from the humidity and rain so I’ll give her a home. And I’m going to give her a great job. It’s going to be a really tough job some days, but I’m never going to leave her side. She will also need transportation to and from that job, so I’ll make sure she has some wheels. I’ll provide some clothes for her to wear each day, and I’m also going to make sure she isn’t hungry. I wouldn’t want my girl to go to work hangry.” Oh yes, I serve a good and gracious God. I know that everything I have belongs to Him. He gifted me with all of these blessings, but how many of them do I really deserve? Not one single thing!

In reality, I know that I don’t deserve a cotton picking thing. I don’t deserve any of it. I reflect back on days of my youth, and I know that God didn’t give me what I deserved. I deserve a good swift kick in the rear end sometimes. I’ve made my share of mistakes. I have wandered off of the path God placed me on more than a couple of times. I’ve even been bold enough to tell myself that my will was God’s will a few times in my life. Yes, it’s safe to say that I don’t deserve any of the blessings God has bestowed on me. I deserve vengeance.

Oh but God! Praise God for giving second and third and sometimes a hundred chances to get things right. Thank God for sending the Holy Spirit to gently nudge our subconscious when we are getting off track. Thank God for forgiveness! Thank God for His graciousness, compassion, and faithfulness! Thank God that I didn’t get what I deserved!

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Give me a word, Lord: SWEETER THAN HONEY

Psalm 19:10 They are more desirable than gold–than an abundance of pure gold; and sweeter than honey, which comes from the honeycomb.

My morning Bible study today was Psalm 19:7-14. David, the psalmist, is explaining what a true treasure the Word of God is. I love to read Psalms. David surely had a way with words. He used descriptive terms that you could almost see and touch and taste. It is easy to see through His words that He loved God’s Word. Why wouldn’t he love it? This incredible book we call the Bible is a living treasure.

This ancient book written over almost 1500 years and penned by more than 40 authors, and it has survived multiple attempts to be destroyed. Yet it still stands. It’s is still here, and page after page reveals the treasure that God has for each of us. That treasure is salvation.

The Word of God is an instruction manual for life that is perfect. When we study this amazing book, our life is renewed daily. It is trustworthy, and digging into the Word will make the inexperienced wise. It is right, and knowing God’s word makes our hearts glad. It is radiant, and the light from the instruction of God makes our eyes light up. That light, the light of Christ, reflects from us into this dark world. The Word is pure, and as we have already seen through years of history, this fabulous book endures forever. It is reliable, and it is righteous. It provides warning, and it promises reward.

I love all of these things that David mentions, but my favorite part is in verse 10. The Word of our God is more desirable than gold, more abundant than pure gold, and it is sweeter than honey. As I ponder those precious words, memories flood my mind of the many times that scripture has enriched my heart and mind. We all have our good days and our bad days. We have had days that we struggled to pay the bills, and days that we have had plenty. No matter our financial standing, we can always find richness in the promises of the Bible. And those promises are truly sweeter than honey.

I had COVID 19 last November. It was not fun. I had a multitude of symptoms, but the one that bothered me the most emotionally was the loss of taste and smell. Those senses were stolen on day 4, and praise the Lord, they returned to me about 10 days later. You never realize how much we take those senses for granted until they are gone. I’m afraid we do the same with scripture. We take it for granted. We lay our Bibles aside knowing that the Word will be there when we need it, and we tend to reach for it only during the tough times. We don’t savor the flavor. My friends, those words aren’t merely written to get us through the tough times. The words are there to get us through ALL times.

There is so much sweetness in scripture. Can you taste it today? Let your senses indulge in some sweet nectar. Taste and see that the Word is so very good. It is indeed sweeter than honey.

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Give me a word, Lord: SUNRISE

Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,  and their words to all the world.

I have always loved sunrises and sunsets. I can remember a particularly gloomy morning a little while back. The skies were very gray, and the trees were gray. The birds had not yet found their morning song. As I drove to work, the grayness of the canvas before me engulfed me with a sense of gloom. But slowly and surely, the sun began to rise. As the sun gradually crept over the horizon, the gray canvas before me began to change. Brilliant pinks, oranges, yellow, and golds began to fill the sky. In a matter of moments, my God majestically changed everything.

God does that. He changes everything! His Son rose from the grave so that we may have life, and that sun rises every single morning so that we may be reminded of the Light. Every time I see a sunrise, I am once again reminded of the glory of God and His creation. God reveals Himself to us daily through creation and all of the natural beauty surrounding us. Isn’t it wonderful that God shares a bit of Himself with us through the beauty of nature every day?

When I stop and take a few moments to really soak in the beauty of nature, there is not a single doubt in my mind that any of this came about by happen chance. God proclaims Himself loudly and clearly in the most intricate details of creation. So many times we get caught up staring at the gray canvas of this evil, chaotic world. When we do this, we miss out on the glorious beauty that our loving Father reveals to us daily.

When I awaken to a cloudy gray day, I remind myself that the Son has already risen. And I know that the sun will rise. I am so thankful that God loves me enough to show up and show out daily. I see evidence of His love all around me. Today, I praise God for giving me eyes that truly see the beautiful world He created…a beautiful world that reveals who He is…the Creator of the universe. Thank you Father for sunrises!

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Give me a word, Lord: KEEP PRAYING

Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I haven’t always been a prayer warrior. It has taken almost 55 years to become the person I am today, and likely that is the result of many hours of prayer from my grandparents and parents. I’m still a work in progress. I’m still not who I want to be, but at least I’m not who I used to be! A few years ago, I started praying as soon as my eyes opened in the morning. I then pray on my drive to work. I say silent prayers throughout the day for patients, family, friends, and strangers. I see requests for prayer on Facebook, and I pray. I pray before going to sleep at night, and sometimes I actually fall asleep praying. There’s no better place to fall asleep than in the arms of our heavenly Father. And if I wake up during the night I pray. I have made it my habit to pray. I talk to God all day long. I rejoice in Him for who He is, praise His name, and thank Him for everything, even the hard stuff. I ask forgiveness for my sins and failures, and He wipes the slate clean.

I Thessalonians tells us to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. This means we are to pray and pray a lot. I don’t think the scripture means to get down on our knees and pray nonstop for days on end. Rather I think it means we need to develop a relationship with God in which we can go to him all day and night at any time for any reason and just talk to Him. We can’t get to know someone if we don’t talk to them. And we sure can’t get to know God if we don’t talk with Him regularly.

I have sometimes thought, why in the world do I need to tell God this or that? He already knows everything anyway. He knows my needs. He knows my life. That’s true. He does, but He wants us to come and communicate with Him on a personal level. He wants us to share our joys, our life, our good times, our bad times, and everything that’s going on in our lives. He wants us to talk with Him. He wants us to praise Him, honor Him, and glorify Him. He wants us to recognize His authority and power and ability to take care of us and all situations we encounter. As we get to know our Father on a personal level, with each prayer we become closer to Him. We start feeling unspeakable joy, we feel closeness to the God of the universe, and we find peace in every situation. When we truly get to know our Father, we begin to truly see His power, and soon we realize that the Creator of the universe created us, and He is working behind the scenes in every situation that we are encountering. He is working it all out for our good and His glory.

Pray through the good times and pray through the bad times also! Too often, when a problem arises, we allow the pain of that problem to twist our thinking. This can cause us to respond inappropriately. We automatically tend to focus on the hardship that we are going through. We focus on the pain. When we do this we develop tunnel vision that only sees the bad in the situation, and we don’t see the goodness of our Savior. However, when we focus on God rather than self, we begin to see that these hardships are actually opportunities that draw us near to God. Hardships give us opportunity to learn to more fully trust in God and witness His power. When all seems lost, we must remember that the God of the universe is still right there…waiting…wanting for us to call on Him. We only have to pray and have faith. He hears every single prayer that His children speak…every…single…one!

People around us may come to faith if they witnessed our faith in God. Dare to go to God in prayer. Ask for the impossible. He will always answer. Perhaps He will not answer with the answer we want, but He will always answer with the answer we need for our good and His glory. So today, if it hasn’t been your habit to pray always, I ask you to start now. Pray about everything and anything. Just talk to God. All you have to do is say, “Hey God. It’s me again. Can we talk?” I assure you He is waiting for you to call out to Him today. Rejoice in everything. Pray always. Be thankful for everything.

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Give me a word, Lord: ENOUGH FAITH?

I Kings 17:15-16 So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.

We studied this scripture in Sunday School yesterday, and one key question really stood out to me. Do we have enough faith to hold on when it seems all hope is lost? Let’s ponder on that for a few minutes this morning.

The people of Israel had allowed the worship of Baal and other gods to supercede the worship of God. Elijah delivered God’s message that there would be no rain or dew in the land for years. God initially provided for Elijah during the drought with water from the Wadi and food delivered daily by ravens. The amount of time that passed wasn’t stated, but after a while, God sent Elijah to Sidon to a widow woman who would provide for Elijah during the next leg of Elijah’s journey.

It’s funny how God works. He sent Elijah to a widow woman who was gathering sticks to build a fire to prepare the last meal for her son and herself because she had only enough flour and oil for one more meal. Elijah asked the widow for a cup of water, and then he asked her to bake some bread for him first before baking bread for her son and herself. Elijah already knew that God would take care of everything and work it out. He had no doubts whatsoever. Why would he doubt? He had just been fed daily by ravens that were ordered by the God of the universe to care for him.

Elijah was a believer. He was completely sold out. But what about this widow woman? She didn’t know God. She didn’t even know Elijah, and this stranger was asking her to use the only oil and flour she had left to feed him first. The nerve of Elijah! Her plan was to prepare that last loaf of bread for herself and her son and die. She had given up. She had lost all hope. She didn’t have any means to gather more flour or oil, and she had given up completely. But God…oh don’t you love those but God times? But God intervened, and this woman prepared bread for Elijah as he asked, and guess what happened next? The flour pot never ran out of flour and the oil jug was never empty for the entire duration of the drought.

Peeps, I know lately it feels like our flour jars are empty and our oil jugs are dry. When we look around us, we feel like our hope is slipping away. How do we keep the faith when it seems all hope is lost? Well, my friends, we must remember Who gives us hope. “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:18.

The troubles of today will not last forever. We can’t dwell on these things. No, we must fix our eyes on Christ because the things of Christ are eternal. Christ is what matters. When all hope seems lost, grab a hold of that faith. Cling to Christ. He is going to work everything out for our good and His glory.

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Give me a word, Lord: WATERING WEEDS

Matthew 7:17-20 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

Galatians 5:22-25 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

Spring is coming. In just a few short days, we will be turning our clocks ahead an hour, springing forward with Daylight Savings time. We will find an extra hour of daylight at the end of each day. I get excited thinking about the spring days that will soon be arriving. We actually got a little taste of spring in the air yesterday with a day filled with beautiful blue skies and sunshine. As my father-in-law would say, “it was a blue bird kind of day.” With spring comes gardening. We grow a lot of our food right here on the farm, and I love to garden. Digging in the cool, dark soil and planting seeds is soothing to the body and mind. We plant the seeds, we water, and then we wait. God provides the sunshine and additional water with rains from above. It seems like it takes forever for that first little seedling to break through the soil and burst forth, but as quickly as one arrives, another will break through, and then another. The watering helps in this process of seed to seedling, but do you want to know what else that water helps produce? Stinking weeds! Yes, every year we grow some very beautiful weeds, and we spend many hours pulling weeds. We realize that the weeds will prevent the plant from thriving and producing adequate nutrition. It seems like the weeds suck the life right out of the fruit bearing plants. There is one weed in particular that our garden seems to be fond of growing: pigweed. It is a weed with sharp thorns, and it grows fast and it gets big. It will take over a garden in a week if allowed to thrive. I despise the pigweed the most, and I have spent many a day gardening planning my conversation with Adam and Eve when I get to heaven. We are going to have a discussion about pigweed for sure.

When I look at my own life, I see a lot of pigweed growing at times too, and I’ve learned that if I water those weeds, they will surely grow. Remember Jesus’ words in Mark chapter 4. He taught of the parable of the different soils. Christ reminded us in those words that spiritual fruitfulness or barrenness depends on the type of soil in which the seed of God’s Word is planted. Jesus talked about the choking influence of the thorns and weeds noting that they squeeze the life out of the fruit producing seedlings, leaving no room for fruit production. Jesus talked about the the weed of worry which pulls us in a direction away from Him and His glory. We are all guilty of allowing this stinking weed to creep in from time to time. It can come in the form of a distraction such as busyness. It can look like insecurity, or it can just appear to be a problem that we dwell on rather than dwelling on the Problem Solver. The second weed that Jesus warned of is the deceitfulness of riches. We live in a very rich, prosperous country, but wealth is deceiving. It allows us to rely on ourselves for our provisions, and it deceives us into thinking that we are in control of our finances. Wealth causes us to have a numb heart in response to God’s direction in our lives. The third weed that Jesus spoke of was the desire for other things. Oh, aren’t we all guilty of watering this weed and letting it grow? We want what we don’t have, and we tend to forget that we already have what we need. If we water any of these weeds for a little while, they will grow and flourish, and when these weeds flourish, they choke out our production of fruit.

Galatians 5:22-25 reminds us of what we need to do differently. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. We must not water the weeds in our garden of life, but rather water the good fruit producing seeds. Allow the Holy Spirit to take control and help us to produce the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. When these seedlings begin to break through, water them like crazy. Get in God’s Word. Study scripture. Talk to God and ask Him to use your for His glory. Remind yourself that Christ has already nailed those wicked weeds to the cross and crucified them there. We shouldn’t be watering weeds when they’ve already been crucified!

What kind of weeds are you watering today? Are you allowing weeds to take away your joy and keep you from enjoying the fullness of life in Christ? Maybe it’s time to start weeding the garden. Let us stop watering weeds, and instead, let us water in the fruits of the Spirit and go out and be fruitful for our Lord and Savior!