Friday, November 24, 2017

WITH A HEART OF THANKSGIVING

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. I love the changing colors of the trees, the crisp air, the opportunities to bake with freshly picked apples and pumpkins, and the return of football season! After the warmth and free-spirited nature of summer, fall is a nice and cozy season for me often shared with family and friends from near and far. I especially love Thanksgiving Day, not so much because of the wonderful dishes enjoyed with others, rather because of the intentional decision of family, friends, and my brothers and sisters in Christ to be thankful for all that has happened during the past year of our lives!

For me, this past year has been filled with many challenges—a broken relationship, the loss of my dear grandmother and a rescinded job offer, among other things! Despite the tough challenges of the year, scripture instructs us that we should give thanks in all circumstances and experiences. While not always easy, it is doable at Thanksgiving and in our daily lives. Have you ever considered setting aside a few moments each day to reflect on the things for which you are grateful, big and small? If not, give it a try. This simple act honors God and allows us to quickly see the many things we can be thankful for. No matter the circumstances life may bring your way, remember to give thanks in all things.

Father, life is such a challenge and sometimes we find it hard to say thank You for Your many blessings. Forgive us and help us to give thanks in all things.

©2017 Dawn M. Wayman

Friday, November 17, 2017

CREATOR OF ALL


For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods.  He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. Psalm 95:3, 4 (NLT)

Mountains always speak to my soul. Throughout my childhood, our family would drive to Western Maryland each summer for a visit with our grandparents. They owned and worked a farm on Warrior mountain. I am still overcome with a sense of peace as I view and approach any mountain range. It feels like home—being one with nature.

God is found in such a place as this. You can be still and experience His creation. The varying melodies sung by the birds and the tones heard from the insects create their own symphony of grandeur. The sound of running water in a brook is captivating, adding another layer of richness. When the air is stirring, more is added to this symphony. One can hear the stirring of tall grasses, and pine needles, and the rustling leaves.  A breeze also cools your skin, moderating the warmth which penetrates from the sun’s rays.  The night sounds of crickets and whippoorwills create a different symphony to lure you into a deep restful sleep.

We are drawn to God as we gaze over a field of flowers in full bloom. Every year our senses are enhanced by the smell of pine needles and the leaves which display their brilliant fall colors. He has provided such splendor of color, to the ever changing hues of landscapes as the sun rises and sets.  

Heavenly Father, Creator of the universe, thank You for our senses. May we each spend time communing with Your creation and be drawn to Your Word, the source of all understanding and life. 

© 2017 Marianne Lucot

Friday, November 10, 2017

SEPARATION ANXIETY


Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)

This morning we watched our son pull out of the driveway to begin his journey westward to his new home. Our house which had been a flurry of activity was empty—and quiet. I didn’t believe my morning could get worse, but it did. As we watched my granddaughter climb the steps of the school bus, we saw a little boy run back to his mother. He didn’t want to leave her.

Memories of waiting with my children at the bus stop began to fill my mind. And the little boy who didn’t want to get on the school bus was my son. As the flashback overwhelmed my senses, I couldn’t breathe. I turned to escape before the floodgates opened and poured forth an avalanche of tears. I barely made it to safety.

We love, nurture and raise our children so that one day they will be able to stand on their own two feet. After all, we’re not going to be around forever. Today I realized the little hand I once held in mine was bigger than my own. Our little boy had become a man. I couldn’t pinpoint when it happened, but it did.

We are proud of our son. He is following his dreams—living the good life. And we can rest assured in the knowledge that when God places a dream in our heart, He equips us to achieve it.

Father God, thank You for Your faithfulness and the gift of children. Grant us the courage to allow them to spread their wings and take flight. Keep them in Your loving care as they journey from home.

© 2017 Amy A. Verzi  

Friday, November 3, 2017

GUARDED


The angel of the Lord encamps round those who fear him, and he delivers them. Psalm 34:7 (NIV)

Many years ago, after a wonderful vacation, I was driving my young family home. It was dark night on a long stretch of Florida interstate highway. Becky, Hank, Kent and Judy were trying to sleep in the back seat, and we looked forward to stretching out on nice motel beds soon.

Suddenly, the car quit. The engine stopped, and I had to pull over on the shoulder. I was immediately aware of how utterly vulnerable we were. As the cars raced past us, all kinds of people, good and bad, saw our car sitting lamely on the shoulder. I’m sure some sort of prayer went up, but mostly my mind was occupied by fear and searching for a viable plan.

A car pulled out of the traffic and stopped in front of us. Was this friend or foe? How could I know if this person was to be trusted?

Then I saw the decal on his rear window: “Purdue.” That was my alma mater!

My fear was instantly relieved. God had seen my plight and moved to send help. And He did it in a way that gently assured me of safety.

As I talked with the driver of that car, we quickly bonded. This happened before cell phones were available, and he was willing to go out of his way to find a tow-truck to come help me.

The tow-truck came and we were rescued. When my family finally arrived at a motel with those comfortable beds, I just had to praise God for his gracious protection and provision through our ordeal.

Lord, I praise You that You are my guardian, always watching over me.
 
© 2017 Parker Wayland

Friday, October 27, 2017

DRAWING NEAR

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8 NASB

My kitties love sunbathing on the back porch. I would have named that as their favorite thing to do. I would have been wrong.
As I was praying and doing my devotions, they came in from their porch time to curl up—one in my lap and one tucked tightly beside me. There have been a lot of rainy days this summer, limiting their time basking in the sun, but their priority was time spent with me.

This caused me to contemplate the value of things that sometimes wrestle for my time with God, and search my heart for where my cherished time lies. What are my priorities? What nourishes my soul? 
Seeking God and sitting in His Holy presence was my answer.

Nothing else soothes and brings comfort to my wounds when the trials of life are scraping my soul raw. 

Nothing heals my hurts like His loving touch on my aching heart. 
Nothing gives me hope, peace and strength like His word spoken deep into my spirit.

We are in desperate need of healing from all life's pain. Nothing can satisfy that longing except time spent with our Father. 
Perhaps life is meant to beat us ragged until we crawl into the presence of God seeking relief. I marvel at the restoration only He can bring.

When life is competing for your attention, I encourage you to stop—run to your special place to sit at His feet. Sit quietly before Him. You will come away renewed and strengthened.

Father, I'm so grateful you are always there, waiting for me to come and drawing near to me in love. Amen.

©2017 Bonnie Mae Evans

Friday, October 20, 2017

A MESSAGE TO MY SON


. . . “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
. . . for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9b, 10e (NAS) 

Dear son, 

I hope you’re doing okay. Searching for a job is discouraging at times. I also wrestle with it. When I get down and feel like nothing is going to happen, talking to God helps me. I lay it all out—my frustration and how it feels when no one wants to take a chance and hire me. Sometimes I feel sad, discouraged and even angry.  

Then, I take a fresh look at 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. This passage clearly speaks to me, and I hope it will to you. When I am at a low point, I cry out to God for help and strength. 

I claim this promise:  When I am weak, I know He enables me to be strong by the power of Christ dwelling in me. His power is made perfect in my weakness. We can endure anything knowing our Lord is with us in the midst of it. He may not take the difficulty away immediately, but He is with us, and He will bring us out on the other side. We will be changed because we learned to trust Him in the worst of times. Our faith is strengthened because we learned to persevere in a trial. 

This is true for you, too, my son. Our Savior is with you, and He will guide you through this tough time. He will show you, and me, the jobs He has for us. We have both learned to trust God.
Dear Father, be with and strengthen those who are facing hard times.
© 2017 Diane E. Hussey

Friday, October 13, 2017

RESCUERS

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; may the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace! Psalm 29:10a, 11 (RSV)

We have been divided by activist groups, waving their banners, screaming in the streets. We have been divided by our color. We have been divided by our income. But, when the chips are down, when Hurricane Harvey ravaged Texaswe were united. 

We bind together to help rescue all those who are in danger: children, seniors and pets. I saw a soaked little kitten carried in a box. I don’t hear people saying, “I helped seven white people, five black people, twelve seniors.”  I don’t hear anyone saying, “A skinny little white man rescued me from the roof of my garage.” They were helpers with big hearts and strong arms.

People were rescued by helicopters, large flatbed trucks, many boats of various sizes. Fire and Police Departments from different communities, and other states were on the scene. All the workers were volunteers, no one was on the clock. They worked day and night, day after day.

There’s a saying, “United we stand; Divided we fall,” dating back to Aesop. It has been cited from Abraham Lincoln to the terrorist attack of 9/11. When people are in trouble, we unite and come to the rescue.

I didn’t say “Americans” because maybe they weren’t. They were love in action—bound together by seeing a need, joining hands and heartsfilling that need.

God’s hands are all around, through rescue after rescue. With tears, I prayed for them. I learned when my troubles were more than I could stand, I kneel.

Dear Lord, thank You, for all Your helpers. I pray to be considered one of Your workers. Amen


© 2017 Lois Gosley