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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: PERSPECTIVE

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

2 Corintians 4:18 As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Last Saturday morning I awoke to find that a patient that I had been caring for over 20 years passed away. I knew that she was a Christian. We had spoken about that many times, but yet my heart was broken for her family. Her husband has many severe medical problems, and he had just lost the one who took care of him at home. I was happy to know she was rejoicing in heaven, but at the same time I felt crushed in spirit. My husband, who knows me so well, said, “Come on. We’re going to the river.” That sweet man of mine saw the sadness in my eyes, and as always, wanted take care of me! We loaded up, went to Old River, and caught a few fish. It was a beautiful day. Normally, I take 100 pictures when we go to the river, but that day, I did not. I was kind of mopey all day. I was down in the dumps.

Fast forward one week. On Friday night, we decided that we were going to the river fishing again. We went to bed full of excitement thinking about how much fun it was going to be, and we awoke ready to go. We arrived early, and I swear, I’ve never seen or heard so many birds in one day while on Old River. We even saw two mama wood ducks with some brand new hatchlings. The babies would pop up and down in the river like little corks. The mamas flew ahead of us and started flapping in the water, carrying on, playing sick, to distract us from the babies. (Of course, we didn’t mess with the babies.) We saw one alligator. He rolled in the water as soon as we saw him so I did not get a picture. We saw mayhaws just about ready to fall, beautiful wisteria blooms, and pretty honeysuckles. Everything is nice and green. I caught the first catfish. Didn’t catch another one all day, but that didn’t upset me in the least. I was out in the sunshine enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, soaking in every single leaf, flower, bird chirp, and owl hoot! It was WONDERFUL!

What a difference a week made in my perspective. Same place. Same scenery. Very different mindset. Improved perspective! It is very easy for us, even strong Christians, to get down during these current events, but we have to keep looking to Christ. In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul recognizes that his accomplishments mean nothing. He recognizes he has not made it on his own. He made mistakes just as we all do. We fail. We fall short. We have pity parties. But God knows we are not perfect. And He uses those imperfections to grow us in our faith. As humans, our flesh strives to pull us away from our goal which is eternity with Christ. Paul, however, was focused strictly on that goal. He was focused on the race, the goal, the finish line. Though he persecuted the church and stoned Stephen in his past, he didn’t let the past control his future. He didn’t let his past mistakes keep him from moving forward in Christ. We are all going to fail. We are going to have bad days. We are going to suffer. But don’t let the failures of yesterday, the sadness of today, or anything else keep you from your goal. We are called to follow Christ, seek Him, spread His word. Don’t stop running the race. We haven’t yet reached the finish line.

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Give me a word, Lord: STANDING UP OR SITTING DOWN?

Philippians 1:27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.

I Peter 1:7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Our church may be considered small in size, but we definitely are big in heart and spirit. Every year, our church goes all out for Vacation Bible School, and this year was no exception. Our theme this year was “Rome: Paul and the Underground Church.” On the first night of VBS, my role was to be a shop owner of the “Animal Sacrifice Shop,” and as such, it was my duty to pretend to be a non-Christian who was selling goats for sacrifice. I brought some of our fainting goats to use as part of the act. As the groups of children rotated to my “shop”, I began to ask who among them was a sinner, and stated with authority that I knew one of them had committed a sin. I informed them that they needed to buy one of my goats so that they could sacrifice it for their sins.

There was a young man in the oldest group, which consisted of fifth and sixth graders, who quickly informed me that no one needed to sacrifice animals any longer because Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected. He explained that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. He shared the gospel with me from his heart with great conviction. I argued with him, and I told him that he was messing with my business as I relied on selling my animals to make a living. He quickly gave me other options including selling the goats for food, milk, or even pets. A little while into the conversation, I told this young man that he had convinced me, and that I wanted to follow this Jesus that he was telling me about. I told him that I wanted to be a Christian too, and assured me that he had persuaded me to believe.

Then suddenly, the Roman soldiers appeared. A couple of men from our church were performing the role of soldiers who were arresting Christians and throwing them into a makeshift jail. The soldiers approached our group and asked who among us were Christians. The young man who had just “converted” me was one of the first to say, “not me!” I looked at the kids, and said, “Come on, guys! You just converted me, but you are not willing to stand firm in your faith? We must stand up for Christ, and we must stand up for our faith.” A little while later, the kindergarten group rotated through to my shop. We discussed the buying and selling of goats, but we mostly enjoyed petting and feeding the goats. When the Roman soldiers appeared this time and asked the question, “who among you are Christians?” my barely six year old grandson yelled, “I’m a Christian!” And then he pointed to each individual in the group and bravely informed the soldiers that we were all Christians. He wanted the guards to know that we were Christians, and we were not ashamed of our faith.

I have thought about those interactions frequently over the past couple of weeks. Oh, I’m not shaming the young man that denied his Christianity to the soldiers. He is a child, and he is still learning. But rather, I would like to focus on the innocence of a child who wasn’t afraid to stand firm in his faith and announce to the world and Roman soldiers that he was a Christian. And I have to wonder if I was placed in a similar situation as these children, would I be the one denying my Christianity or would I be as brave as an innocent child and stand firm in my faith? I would like to think that I would fall into the latter category. I pray that I would.

There will come a time that our faith will be tested. Currently, I live in the good old USA where we are still allowed the freedom of religion. I have lived a fortunate life. I was raised in church since the week of my birth. I have never known a life in which I should fear my life if someone found out that I trusted Jesus. I pray that it never comes to that, but I fear that the day is coming. Our country is changing rapidly. Corporately, this country has turned its back on Jesus. We must ask ourselves, what are we doing? We will be tested. We will be purified as gold is purified in the fire. There will come a day in which we will be challenged. My question for you today is “will you stand firm in your faith?” If we are not standing firm on our faith, are we standing at all? Are you standing up or sitting down? Let us stand firm!

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Give me a word, Lord: 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.

However, 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.

In order for us to light up the dark, wehave 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!

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Give me a word, Lord: 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!

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Give me a word, Lord: THE LITTLE THINGS

Give me a word, Lord: THE LITTLE THINGS

Luke 16:10 Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

Matthew 13:31-32 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

Do you take time to notice the little things in life? In this busy, chaotic life in which we are moving full speed ahead, sometimes we forget to slow down and smell the roses. We take notice of the big things that occur around us, but too often we neglect those little things that mean so much more.

I’m going to embarrass my husband for just a moment. That man does at least 1001 little things a day for me. I’m serious y’all, and not just for me but for others as well. He’s retired from the oilfield now, but by no means did that man retire. He works harder now than ever. He works our farm, his dad’s farm, works as operator for our water company, takes care of a friend’s property, and oh so much more. He has a true servant’s heart. He doesn’t do anything for attention or praise. He does it out of the goodness of his heart.

On the days I work the clinic, he cooks sausage for me to eat on the run, makes a Yeti cup full of coffee, and a large glass of ice water, and sometimes he even packs my lunch. Most days he takes all of this to the car before I even finish dressing. He prepares delicious meals, helps with the mundane chores around the house, and takes pride in our home. He’s spent a good part of the last week bleaching our roof and house and cleaning out gutters and debris. I don’t ask him to do these things. He just does them out of the goodness of his heart. I try to repay his thousand little things by doing as many little things in return. Every now and then, when I’m off work, and he is hard at work on the farm, a surprise picnic is in order. We lunch together under a big old pine tree. Nothing fancy. Just a nice little spontaneous picnic for the one I love who loves me with little things all day long. All those little things mean so much!

God notices all the little things too. Luke 16:10 says those that can be trusted with little can be trusted with much. When we are faithful in the little things it shows the condition of our hearts. The little things that Jeff does daily shows me the condition of his heart and shows me that he loves me and cares about me. When we are faithful in the little things for Christ, we reveal our character. We show Christ that we love Him and that we want to serve Him. We must have a commitment to excellence in everything we do, not just the things that people will notice. We must be faithful and honest in all things, striving for excellence, even when no one is looking.

Some days are harder than others. Our jobs can feel mundane and monotonous at times, but we have to strive to work hard as if everything we are doing is for the Lord and not our human masters or bosses or even our spouses. We are working for the Lord, and He’ll show up and use all of those little things to work for our good and His glory. If you start looking for Him in the little things and not just the big things, you will see Him in everything.

Jesus asked for a small lunch from a boy and fed thousands. Samson slew a whole army with a jawbone. David killed a giant with a single stone. And you could plant the tiniest seed, a mustard seed, and grow a plant that could become a tree. In your daily actions, you are planting seeds for Christ. You have to be faithful in the little things. Work as you are working for the Father, and plant seeds of faith along the way.

God will work all of those million little things together, and those little things will make a big difference in the lives of those around us and in this crazy world. Keep doing the little things!

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Give me a word, Lord: GOD WILL MEET YOU WHERE YOU ARE…EVEN IN A PILE OF GARBAGE!

Isaiah 61:1-2 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

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

Romans 10:14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

I joined Facebook about 12 years ago on the urging of my sister and because I found it was an easier way to find people while we were planning our 25 year class reunion. I see a lot of stuff on social media that I don’t like, but I love being able to connect with friends and family that I don’t get to see on a regular basis. I also love the memories part of Facebook. Each day, you can review what you posted on that day over the past years. I love seeing the memories, but I also am able to see spiritual growth through my posts. I’ve seen stuff I shared several years ago, and think, “man I shouldn’t have shared that.”

I’ve grown in my walk with Christ. I’m not the girl I want to be, but thank God I’m not the girl I used to be! I’m a work in progress. I’m sure God is up there shaking His head while He watches over me most days. I can be a bit of a challenge. But you know what? God apparently loves a good challenge because He has shown so much more love, grace, and mercy to this old gal over the years than I deserve! One thing that I know to be true, without a shadow of a doubt, is that God will meet you right where you are and take you to where you need to be. You only need to be willing to go and walk with Him!

On my Facebook memories today, I saw a picture that I shared of Bro. Billy Smith. He and his interpreter where sharing the gospel, having all out church, in the middle of a pile of garbage in a village called Las Brisas in Peru. That was during our mission trip on this day in 2016. Fourteen people gave their lives to Christ that day. It was NOT within the four walls of a beautifully adorned, perfectly decorated, nicely air conditioned church building. It was in the middle of a pile a garbage! People were sitting in plastic chairs or standing, as there was standing room only, with sweat pouring off of their bodies because it was HOT! Oh so HOT! It was NOT comfortable. It did NOT smell pretty. It did NOT look nice. But you know what? Those people showed up to hear from God, and He met them right where they were on a pile of garbage, and He saved 14 souls that day!! Over 50 gave their lives to Christ that week, and my heart was set on fire for missions.

I didn’t set out to be a Christian author. I already have a great job as a nurse practitioner. But God! Oh but God! He put a burning desire in my heart that week to tell people about Him, and I haven’t been able to put that fire out ever since. God met me right where I was that week too, and He is taking me where He needs me to be. He’s taken me to Peru, to the Dominican Republic, and to several mission out reaches in our state. He takes me to work as a nurse practitioner, and He gives me a new mission field each day. You don’t have to leave the country to share the gospel, you only have to leave your comfort zone. It’s really hard at first and kind of scary, but the Holy Spirit has never failed me. If my body is willing, the boldness and words always come at just the right time and in just the right way.

This world is ever changing, Peeps. I’m sure y’all are growing weary of my daily devotionals, but I just have so much to say and I can’t help but say it. There are still so many who are lost, and they can’t find their way. How can they believe if they haven’t heard. And how can they hear if someone doesn’t tell them? God will meet you right where you are and take you where you need to be too. If you are lost, you’re not too lost to be saved by our Father. He’ll meet you right where you are. If you’re saved, share the gospel. Don’t be scared. He’ll meet you right where you are. And oh the places you will go….you just have to be willing to go…

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Give me a word, Lord: GETTING RICH

Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

Matthew 16:26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Our society thrives on the idea of getting rich. How do we make more money so that we can get more stuff? Well, I’m going to tell you a secret. There are two ways to become rich. Are you ready? 1. You have a lot or 2. You want little.
The problem is, society makes us think that we need more. We need a newer bigger house, we need a newer, nicer car, we need this, and we need that. Commercials and advertisements make us crave more than we have, and lead us to believe that what we have isn’t enough. The problem is that this line of thinking takes our eyes off of the provider and convinces us that if we just had more stuff, everything would be okay.

I work hard, and I make a good living, but without Christ I am nothing. I have nothing. But with Christ, I have it ALL! He provides all that we need, and many times, He gives us a lot of what we want. We need to adjust our way of thinking. Forget what society teaches us. We need to adjust our wants to our needs. If you’re wanting what you need, and you know Christ is going to provide for your needs, then your wants will be covered.

E. Stanley Jones tells about a poor man who had an overnight guest, and as he showed him to his humble bedroom in the hayloft, he said, “If there is anything you want, let us know, and we’ll come and show you how to get along without it.” I thought that was humorous, but there is so much wisdom in that statement. If we can get along without it, we probably don’t need it.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21. Where is your heart today? These earthly things that we collect are here today and gone tomorrow. In 10 years, that new car may be a bucket of rust. Earthly treasures will not last, but oh those heavenly riches, those will endure for ever.

We can spend our time chasing the dollar, or we can invest our time in everlasting wealth. Chase after our heavenly home and the riches we are promised. The poorest man on earth may be the richest man in heaven, whereas the richest man on earth may be bound for hell.
The most important asset we need is a relationship with Jesus Christ. He died on that cross to give us everything! He suffered so that we may have eternity in heaven. If we’ve accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, we automatically become children of the King, heirs to the throne of God. I don’t think we can get any richer than that!

Work hard, pay your bills, and take care of your family. That’s what we are supposed to do. But if we strive to put Christ first, all that other stuff will come so much easier! I am so richly blessed by my heavenly Father! Don’t you want to get rich too?

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Give me a word, Lord: 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. 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!

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Give me a word, Lord: 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 few months 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 a year 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!

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Give me a word, Lord: CALM IN THE CHAOS

I Kings 17:13-14 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

You’re probably thinking, “that’s a strange verse to start a devotional with.” After the chaos of my past week, you can’t put anything past me. I’ll probably be reciting some Revelation to you soon! Lol. It’s been one crazy, chaotic week. I’m pooped. I feel like I poured everything I had into doing the best I could do, but I probably didn’t do enough. The day is filled with figuring out the priorities, disposable scrub jackets, gowns, masks, face shields and gloves. Rushing about with utmost caution. Listening, laughing, crying, loving, and learning. I love my job. I truly do. I love that God blessed me with a job that I actually love. Lately, it’s been a little tough. That old saying holds true for me though, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I go to the Lord because I know that He is my strength.

In the scripture above, God had brought a drought on the land. Elijah the prophet asked this lady to bring him some bread. In verse 12, she told him, “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, ‘I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.'” She was out of food. There was no more food to be found, no grocery store to run to, no garden in the back yard, nothing but just enough flour and oil to make one more meal. She planned to make this last meal for her son and herself and then just die of starvation. But Elijah told her to make a small loaf for him and a loaf for them, and that the jar of flour and jug of oil would never run out. She did as he said, and guess what? Everytime she went to that kitchen, there was flour and oil for every single meal. She had plenty, and it lasted through the whole drought.

This woman put this man of God first. She trusted God. Her situation was much more grave than the struggles of my week. She and her son were about to die, yet she put her faith in God. She put Elijah first trusting that God would fulfill his promise to her.

When we are in the midst of a storm, rather than trying to control the wind and the rain, we need to turn over the reins to the One who reigns. Take some time each day to put God first. Carve out a few minutes in your busy schedule to read scripture, pray, and enjoy a little quiet time with Christ. The only way to find calm in the chaos of this crazy world is by trusting in Christ. Put Him first, and then everything else will gradually fall into place. There is no better calming force that Christ our Lord!

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Give me a word, Lord: CROWNS

I Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

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

Have you ever trained for something: daily workouts, pushing yourself as hard as possible, trying to be the best that you can be? I’m no athlete. I’m the queen of klutz for goodness sake, but I did set out to run a 5K. Trained hard, ran hard, and nearly died, but I brought home the trophy for first place in my category. It was a short lived victory. I decided I didn’t like running that much, and the trophy is gathering dust on a shelf at home. I checked off an item on my bucket list of things to accomplish, but that trophy really didnt bring lasting satisfaction.

I’m still in training mode however, but this time I’m going after an everlasting victory. I’m training for heaven. Wait, what?? We don’t need to train for heaven do we? Well, yes, as a matter of fact we do. When we arrive in heaven, the saved in Christ will appear before the judgment seat of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10). At this judgment, Christ will review our lives as we walked on earth, and He will be giving rewards in the form of crowns for certain actions: the crown of righteousness (for every person that loves the appearing of Christ), the incorruptible crown (for those who had self control), the crown of life (for those who patiently endured trials), the crown of glory (for those who feed the flock), and the crown of rejoicing (for the saints, the saved in Christ). Now, I don’t know about you, but I think receiving a crown from Jesus Christ himself would be the ultimate trophy, even better than my trophy buck I recently hung on my wall at home. But guess what the Bible says we are going to do with those beautiful crowns? We will lay them at the feet of Jesus and offer praise to Him. Now, I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to show up at a praise meeting for Jesus Christ our King and be short on offerings. I don’t want to arrive in heaven with the smell of smoke on my robe just barely escaping the flames of hell. No, I want to be able to offer as many gifts to Christ as I possibly can. I don’t want to stand in the back with my head hung low because I don’t have more than one crown to offer. I want to shower my King with praise and gifts.
So you see, there is training to be done in the here and now. Don’t be mistaken. We won’t get to heaven on our own merit or good behavior or acts of kindness. We must choose and accept the gift of salvation. That’s the only way to get there. If we’re saved, entry to heaven is a given. The question is, how are you going to show up for the greatest party ever? Are you going to arrive, barely sneaking in with the smell of smoke on your new threads or are you going to be rejoicing, front and center, with so many crowns that you can barely contain the joy and excitement while waiting to lay your gifts at the feet of our Savior? It’s not a job. It’s a way of life. Live life to the fullest for Christ each day!

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Give me a word, Lord: A THANKFUL HEART

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

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

Psalm 66:16 Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.

I don’t think thankful hearts grow on trees. I think they are grown, slowly, meticulously over time. When we plant our garden every year, we are in such a big hurry to reap the harvest of our efforts, but before the harvest there is a lot of planning and hard work. The soil has to be prepared. We have to plant the seeds in good soil if we want a good crop. After the seeds are planted, we have to make sure they are getting enough water and sunshine and fertilizer. We have to hoe occasionally, and we have to remove all of the weeds. Eventually, we see the growth of fruit or vegetables that quickly go from the garden to the table to the tummy, and we finally get to reap the benefits. We cultivated the land, and we brought food to our table.

Our pastor preached a series out of the book of Colossians, and he explained to us a life of “thanksliving”. Without Christ, we can’t have a thankful heart, but with Him we can’t help but be thankful. He doesn’t want us to just simply be thankful, but rather He wants us to live out that thankfulness.

I was talking to Jeff last night over dinner, and I told him that I had no idea how many times I stopped during my crazy chaotic day yesterday and said, “Thank you, Jesus!” I lost count. I thanked Him all day long. This COVID pandemic ain’t no joke y’all! It gets a little crazy in the clinic, and at times I feel like I can’t keep up. I hate for people to have to wait on me. I don’t like to get behind. So I pray. I pray a lot. I know that I can accomplish anything the good Lord wants me to accomplish, and no matter how crazy things look on the outside, He always gets me through! I say, “Thank you, Jesus,” all day long because I know that without Him, I could accomplish nothing!

It is when we recognize this that we have cultivated a thankful heart! Just like cultivating the garden takes time and preparation, cultivating a thankful heart takes time and effort on our part. We have to recognize how much God loves us and how much He has given us. Salvation is the greatest gift of all time, and for this gift, we should be eternally thankful. We can thank God all day long for this great gift, but it’s so much better to live it out. We can live out our thankfulness for salvation by sharing this gift with others. Cultivate a life of thankfulness in Christ! Although times are hard, and it looks like this old world is falling apart, we don’t have to live in fear. We can live in thankfulness knowing without a shadow of a doubt that God’s got this! He’s got you. He’s got me. He’s got this! Let’s be thankful and live out our thankfulness by sharing our hope and faith with someone today.

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Give me a word, Lord: 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.

Yesterday, I talked about the meaning of names. 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 without 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.

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Give me a word, Lord: WHAT’S IN A NAME?

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

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.

As we’ve been continuing our nightly reading through the Bible in a year, your girl here has had the pleasure of reading through the Old Testament. I’m currently in Chronicles. As I read aloud to my husband, I read the names with great authority pretending I know how to pronounce them. We get a giggle out of it every time. I woke up with some of those crazy names running through my head: names like Eleazar, Dodai, Jehoida, Azmaveth. Who comes up with these names? Well, it turns out, in biblical times, the names truly had meaning and gave identity to the person. Think about these few examples. Joshua means God is my salvation. Caleb means faith and devotion. Jabez, oh Jabez, his name means born in great suffering. His mama had a time delivering him!
Also remember that God changed names several times. He changed Abram to Abraham to mean father of a multitude. He indeed became father Abraham. He changed the name of Simon to Peter and Saul to Paul thus changing their entire destiny.

Man has tried changing biblical names as well. Old King Nebuchadnezzar (there’s a name for you) changed the name of Daniel to Belteshazzar, Shadrach to Hananiah, Meshach to Mishael, and Abednego to Azariah. Their birth names were declarations about God, but the king was trying to give them a new identity with names that identified them with the gods of Babylon. As we all know, this didn’t work. Man can change a man’s name, but he can’t change his heart. Their hearts belonged to the one true God. Lions didn’t devour Daniel, and Jesus walked in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Not one hair was singed, nor did their garments even smell of smoke. God wins every time!

Just for fun, I looked up the meaning of my name, and I have to say my parents did well! Krista means follower of Christ. Thankfully, I had a father that instilled Christ into me at an early age and laid the foundation for the person I am now. All my life, I’ve been called Kay Kay, which I’ve shortened to K.K. over the years. The meaning of Kay is rejoice. Rejoice rejoice! I think that’s pretty cool!

Nowadays, names aren’t necessarily given because of meaning. Rather most babies are given the name because it’s a family name, or because we like the sound of it, or the name means something to us. There is one name above all others which has great meaning and truly identifies the bearer of the name: JESUS. Jesus means to deliver and to rescue. Matthew 1:21 declared it. “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Jesus came into this world to deliver us, to rescue us, and to save us from our sins. He is Emmanuel, Christ, Lord, Master, Son of God, and Son of Man. That name is truly a name above all names. We should sing praises to His name. Because He has saved us, we are His and He is ours. He is within us, and our identity is in Him. So no matter what your mama or daddy named you, your identity is now in Jesus. Isn’t that awesome! Let’s live life out to the fullest today for the One whose name is above all names!

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Give me a word, Lord: NO GREATER FRIEND

John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a much needed girls day with my lifelong friend, Lisa. Lisa has quite a few special events upcoming in the next few weeks as she anticipates the arrival of her grandbaby, and she needed some new clothes so she called me up. The two of us have been best friends since second grade, but we are total opposites in so many ways. I kind of like to trade the barn clothes or scrubs in and dress up and wear pretty clothes and shiny jewelry every now and then. Lisa never really liked the dressing up part so she called in reinforcements for a shopping mission. That is part of what’s made our friendship strong over the years. We are different, but our differences compliment each other.

Lisa and I know pretty much everything about each other. We’ve been by each other’s side for births and adoptions, divorces and marriages, and deaths of loved ones. We’ve shared good times and bad, and we may not hear from each other for weeks at a time, but when we talk, we pick right back up where we left off.

Friendship is a treasured gift, and I’m thankful for all of the wonderful, remarkable friends that God has placed in my life. But there is one friend that stands out above all others. His name is Jesus. I pray that you Peeps know Him, but if you don’t, what are you waiting for? Jesus is the truest friend there is. He loves us no matter what. It doesn’t matter how bad you think the sin in your life is or how horrible of a person you think you may be. He loves you. It sounds crazy, huh? When a friend does something that hurts us, we get angry. We fight and fuss, and sometimes friendships are destroyed. We separate ourselves from that person because we don’t like them anymore. It’s not like that with Jesus. Amazingly, He loves you right where you are right this very minute. It doesn’t matter how far you’ve run from Him. He is waiting with open arms to welcome you home.

In John 15:15, Jesus tells His most beloved disciples that He no longer calls them servants, but He now calls them friends. To be a servant of Christ is a very high honor. It is a great honor to be the servant of the one true King. But a king or master doesn’t tell his servants His plans. He doesn’t share His secrets with His servants. The servants aren’t privy to the business of the master. But Jesus shared His plans and all that God had shown Him with the disciples. He elevated them from the honorable position of servant to the most honorable position of friend. And John 15:13, Jesus reminded us that there’s no greater love than a friend who lays down his life for his friends. Jesus is that loving friend! He laid down His life for us on the cross. He took on the sins of all man. He died for you and me and even that grouchy old neighbor you don’t like. He died for us so that we may have everlasting life with Him. There is no truer friend than that. There is no greater friend than Jesus! If you don’t know Him, you are missing out on the greatest gift ever given. Take time to get to know Him today!

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Give me a word, Lord: 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!

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Give me a word, Lord: 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 quite a few 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 preached on a series on heaven, 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 tells 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!

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Give me a word, Lord: 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 loves 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!!

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Give me a word, Lord: OUTSIDE IN

I Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Jeremiah 17:10 I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.

Matthew 23:27 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

One day last year, my grandson, Jude, was excitingly changing clothes to get into the hot tub for the first time. When it was time to get dressed again, he brought me his shirt which was inside out and asked me to turn his shirt “outside in,” and then next, his shorts were in the same condition. He asked that I turn them outside in also. He actually meant outside out, but I suppose outside in is the opposite of inside out. Lol
At any rate, this got me to thinking about our outward appearance verses our inward hearts. On the outside, we may look beautiful and put together, but our hearts may be broken and falling apart. Or on the contrary, we may look a hot mess on the outside, but on the inside, all is well. I learned a long time ago that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

God doesn’t judge us based on our appearance either, thankfully. God sees our hearts! We can fake it to make it in life, but we can’t fake it with God. He sees past the outward appearance, the nice clothes, shiny jewelry, and makeup. He sees what we are made of not how we’re made up. You can’t fake christianity. You can try, but you won’t succeed.

Have you ever been to visit a older friend or family member? Their house may look totally dilapidated and worn out. Paint may be flaking off of the house. Maybe a few boards are loose, and the old tin roof is totally rusted. The house looks a mess, but then you step inside. The home is as neat as a pin. It’s beautifully decorated and adorned with photos of loved ones. You can see how much care was placed in the decor. When you are standing on the outside looking in, you see the home in a completely different light.

That, my friends, is how God sees us. The world sees the mess of our outer shell, but God KNOWS our hearts. He knows everything that is going on, and He knows right where we are right now. He knows what we need before we even know. He’s right there beside us to see is through any and every situation.

I’m so thankful this dilapidated body of mine is just a temporary home. Yep, it’s falling apart. The fingers are getting knotty with arthritis. I move a little slower at times. My body definitely tells me that it’s not as young as I think it is! But that’s okay. I know that my heart and soul belong to Jesus, and I can rejoice in that. I’m still a work in progress. I work on the inside every single day. I want God to know that when he looks at me from the outside in, that I am truly His and He is mine! My heart belongs to Jesus!

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Give me a word, Lord: IT’S GONNA BE OK

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 19 ran rampant for far too long. People are still fighting for their lives. 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, when we watch the nightly news, we hear the reporter list off all of the shootings and resulting deaths that occurred over the past week.The numbers are shocking, although, I feel that 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 with us 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 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.

My husband, Jeff, is always encouraging to the kids, and he has been such an encouraging light through these trying times. I overheard him tell them, “Me and God spoke about it. Its gonna be okay either way so I’m just gonna go with that.” We know that no matter the outcome of any situation or trouble, God has control, and we merely need to lean on Him and trust that He has us right in the palm of His hand.

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!

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Give me a word, Lord: 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!!

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Give me a word, Lord: FREEDOM

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 in the United States of America. 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!
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY, PEEPS!

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Give me a word, Lord: SLOW DOWN

Jeremiah 2:25 Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?

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

I see it reflected in movies and books that the idea of farmhouse living is a quiet, slow paced life. Oh, how I wish that were true. The only thing slow around here is the internet! I work hard in the clinic, some days harder than others, but we tend to work much harder right here at home. The pay isn’t great, but the rewards are immeasurable.

The minute our feet hit the floor, we get busy. There are babies to feed, animals to be tended, garden to be picked, vegetables to be put up, jelly to be made, fences to be mended, hay to be cut, equipment to be repaired, and there is always, always something that needs to be cleaned. We are super busy people pretty much all of the time.

I’m constantly moving from one project to the next, and I’m guilty of putting little schedules in my head and allotting times for each task. I always have a lot of things that I need to accomplish every day, and most days I succeed. It’s tiring though! Day in and day out I’m moving in fast speed trying to complete a task so that I can move on to the next one. And if I’m not careful, I can get too busy to sit down and have some quiet time with God.
Recently, we have been so busy that we actually took a day off. We actually stopped and slowed down and just rested for a while. I called the day a “dog day” because I laid around like our dogs.

I looked out from our back deck at our hot tub and at the creek that trickles behind the house, and I say, “we don’t ever need to go on vacation. We have the perfect vacation spot right here!” But then I laugh and realize that the only problem is we don’t vacation while we are here. We can’t stop long enough. That’s the truth. We take a vacation every year so that we can slow down and be still for just a little while.

But y’all, God doesn’t want us hurrying around all day long. He wants us to enjoy His creation, enjoy a relationship with Him, and glorify Him. I started writing these morning devotionals at the beginning of the pandemic to encourage myself and to possibly encourage others. I thought I would only write them for a few days or maybe even a weeks, but here I am ovee a year later still writing. I look forward to this quiet time every morning. Before I write, I pray and ask God to give me a word. Then, I read scripture and other devotionals. You see, writing these morning devotionals has made me slow down for about an hour every…single…day. I slow down and really spend some quality time with my Father.

In this busy, chaotic world, we have to slow down. What are we chasing anyways? We should be chasing Christ. This is only our temporary home. We are just passing through. You don’t have to write devotionals though. That’s not everybody’s cup of tea. But slowing down and spending time in the presence of our Lord and Savior on daily basis is an absolute must. Our hearts long for that quiet time with Christ. Slow down today. Etch out a little time to sit down and have a little chat with God. You won’t regret it! All of those things you feel the need to accomplish will be accomplished with so much more ease if you put Christ first! Slow down!

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Give me a word, Lord: THE POWER OF PRAYER

I John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

I remember with great fondness our first church prayer meeting after reopening following closure due to COVID. Oak Hill Baptist Church gathered together, and we prayed! Boy did we pray! We prayed with specificity for our nation and our national leaders. We called out specific requests for specific leaders. We prayed for our own church family, our community, families who have recently lost loved ones, those who are ill, and so many more. I’m here to tell you that I enjoyed that prayer service with every ounce of my being! There is something special about gathering together with a body of believers, your church family, and praying.

I’ve already told y’all that I pray from the time I wake up until I fall asleep at night. I even pray if I wake up during the middle of the night. So what’s the big deal about gathering together for prayer meeting? Oh, my friends, that’s where mountains are being moved! Am I saying that God doesn’t hear my individual prayer? Absolutely not! In fact, I’ve seen Him answer my prayers all too often so I know for a fact He hears. But there is just something so sweet and so special when two or more are gathered in His name, calling on Him together, for a common request or need.

I love what John tells us in I John 5:14-15. We can have CONFIDENCE in our prayers! If go to the Lord and ask Him anything that is according to His will, He hears us, and if we KNOW that He hears us, we can KNOW that we will have what we asked for. That’s a pretty awesome truth! There is a little catch there if you didn’t see it. We have to go to Him and ask in accordance to His will, and if we ask according to God’s will, we can rest assured peacefully knowing the prayer has already been answered.
As a small child, I remember our pastor preaching a sermon from this text, but of course, I was too young to really comprehend the “according to God’s will” part. I remember praying for a Hershey’s candy bar. I could say that God didn’t answer that prayer, but over the past 50+ years, I’ve consumed my share of Hershey bars so even though that wasn’t an appropriate prayer, I guess God even answered that one. But seriously though, when we go to God in prayer, and we ask things of Him, we need to ask for His will to be done in the situation.

There’s a movie called “The Wishing Well,” and in this movie a person could throw a coin in a wishing well, and the wish would come true. There was a catch though. The wish had to be “the right wish” in order for it to come true. In a way, this can be related to prayer. God hears everything we say to Him. Every coin we toss into the wishing well is acknowledged. But God isn’t a wishing well or a magic genie in a lamp. He’s God. If we go to Him with the desires of our heart, and our desires are the “right” desires that align with His will, then we can rest assured that the prayer has been heard and will be answered. We may not see the answer today, but we can rest peacefully knowing that God has already handled it. There is true power in prayer!!

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Give me a word, Lord: LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE

Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 15:13 and 15 A happy heart makes the face cheerful…. the cheerful heart has a continual feast.

Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

When is the last time that you had a good old belly laugh or laughed until tears ran down your face? I don’t think we do that nearly enough, but God gave us the gift of laughter and joy, and He takes pleasure in seeing His kids happy and laughing.
This morning while getting dressed, I picked my kinky hair out, flipped my head upside down and back up, and then my hair was standing out on every direction. I grabbed a hairbrush off the bathroom counter, and I ran into the kitchen where Jeff was cooking sausage. In my greatest Tina Turner impression, I belted out, “What’s love got to do with it? What’s love but a second hand emotion?” Jeff about jumped out of his skin, and I rolled in laughter. I don’t know if it was the hair, the screaming like Tina, or the fact that I snuck up on him, but his response was hilarious. I laughed so hard. We all know that I can’t sing, but that doesn’t stop me. Plus, I definitely had that Tina Turner look going on so there was that, and the opportunity couldn’t be wasted!
Jeff and I do silly little things like this all the time. We enjoy laughing together. I think a lot of folks thinks Christians have to be boring old sticks in the mud. Not so! Christians love God, love life, and love to laugh! We can’t help but laugh as the joy of Christ in our hearts spills out to those around us.

Besides the fact that it’s so much fun to laugh, laughter is a natural stress reducer. Laughing improves our circulation and muscle tone, and when we laugh we produce and release endorphins which are “feel good” hormones. Yep, God designed us so well that He actually packaged us up in a body that can produce feel good hormones when we laugh and exercise. How cool is that?

Laughter is good for you! Faith in Christ fills us with joy, and we need to share that joy with those around us. This world appears sad and broken, and if we’re not careful, we will start to feel sad and broken too. But with Christ, we are renewed daily. Our spirit is refreshed on a regular basis, and we have joy in Jesus. We can laugh because we are filled with joy. How about giving it a shot and laughing out loud today? Laughter is indeed good medicine, and it certainly does the body good!

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Give me a word, Lord: 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 merely because of the position they hold. Listen to what is being spoken. Is it godly or is it 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!

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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!

The Right Nourishment

For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. I Peter 1:23

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. I Peter 2:2-3

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Thursday morning, a friend called, and he told us that a baby lemur had been born. The mother rejected the baby. My friend had agreed to take the baby, but then later decided that his schedule was going to be too hectic so, he asked if we would take the baby. We have hand raised one baby lemur from the age of six weeks, and we have had a breeder pair of lemurs previously. We love lemurs, and of course, we didn’t say no. However, we took the baby knowing that its chances for survival were slim to none. One crucially important thing that all animal baby critters require is colostrum. This baby was rejected by the mama lemur which means he didn’t get any of that vital colostrum, and unfortunately for us and him, they don’t sell lemur colostrum at the local farm supply store.

We brought the tiny little fellow home and set up a little incubator of sorts. We placed him in a snuggling warm, heated blanket to help keep his body temperature regulated. We fed him every 2-3 hours around the clock, stimulated his biological functions, and we even prayed for the little guy. The first couple of days, he looked to have a glimmer of light in his eyes, but by Saturday night, he started slipping away. We lost him yesterday. I wanted to beat myself up for it, but I realized when he came to us that his chances for survival were poor. Even so, I always fall in love with every little critter that comes to Hodge Lodge, and this one was no different. I always ask the question why, but I already knew the answer. He didn’t get the foundational nutrition required for survival. He needed colostrum that only his mother could give.

So, you may wonder why I am sharing all of this sadness this morning. There’s a reason, and I’m getting there. Medically and scientifically, we know that by God’s intricate design, He provided a vital food source for the creatures He designed. He also provided the means for the creatures to receive this source — the mother’s milk which is rich in colostrum. Our good God thought out the tiniest details for our tiniest creatures when He created the heavens and the earth. He made a way for their survival. He also made a way for our survival here on earth and even into eternity. God provides physical nourishment for each of us, but He also provides a spiritual nourishment that is so much more fulfilling, and to tell the truth, it’s a nourishment that I can’t live without.

Some days, I don’t feel as connected as other days. Some days, I get up, work out, prepare my lunch for the day, drink my cup of coffee while prepping for the day, and I run out the door without taking time to spend with God. In my normal routine, there is time etched out for a morning devotional, but somedays, I hurry out the door without feeding on the Word. On those days, I feel empty. I feel deflated. I feel off kilter all day long. I know deep down in my very core that God is the source of my existence, and on those days that I don’t make time for Him, I feel malnourished. I need that spiritual nourishment found in the Word of God. It is a vital source of nutrition for my daily walk.

Peeps, we are all going to die one day (unless Jesus returns first), but until we do, we have a choice. We can just barely make it through each day, malnourished, weak, and empty, or we can approach each day with the full armor of God, nourished, spiritually healthy, and ready to meet whatever challenge comes our way. In and of ourselves, we are weak. We are in need of a Savior, but we are strong in the Lord. He is our strength and our fortress, and He will give us everything we need. If you are feeling a little spiritually malnourished this morning, get in His Word. Feed on the Word of God. It’s the richest source of nutrition our spiritual bodies can get, and it’s totally free. Feast on the Word today.