Friday, January 11, 2019

JOY FRUIT

The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 (NAS)

In this New Year I am encouraged to choose “One Word.” One word to ask the Lord to develop in me and draw me closer to Him. One word to focus on throughout the entire year.
After much thought, I chose a word that I often find challenging—Joy.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when life gets me down, and I feel lower than a snake’s belly, as my grandfather used to say. Now I know as an heir to the kingdom of God, I am no longer under the oppression of the enemy. I am free to enjoy the fruit of the Spirit called joy. For a believer, a bite of that fruit is the antidote for the bite of the sin-fruit eaten and shared by Eve.
In Philippians we are told: “Rejoice always.” This sounds doable until some unexpected illness, tragedy, or any multitude of negative situations come knocking on our door.

By our own strength and determination it is futile to be joyful in everything life can cast our way. However, in the Spirit given us when we accepted Christ as Savior, we are not only able to find joy, but live it out even in the midst of painful and difficult circumstances.

To possess the joy of God is to hold deep within our hearts the peace of Heaven while still present here on earth. It affords us the ability to press on in the assurance the outcome is in God’s loving hands, and knowing He is working everything out for our good.
What about you, my friend? Could you use a little more joy?

Lord, fill our hearts to overflowing with Your unquenchable joy! Amen.
© 2019 Bonnie Mae Evans

Friday, January 4, 2019

CROSS BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD

Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. Psalm 25:8 (KJV)


Whenever I see a cross by the road indicating someone was killed in an auto accident, I recall an incident where a drunk driver swerved off the road and hit a pedestrian, killing him. I immediately have feelings of sadness and anger. Drunk drivers have killed more people than I want to recall.

Each cross has flowers stacked nearby, sometimes a teddy bear or a photograph. The tragic loss brings tears to my eyes. A loved one is gone forever. It’s not fair!

With each cross by the road, I go through the whole depressive scenario until . . .

One day at church a young mother asked for prayers for travel mercies for her and her four-year old daughter. They were driving to New Orleans. The little girl said, “We’re going to put flowers on Daddy’s cross by the road.”  He had driven from Maryland to New Orleans with other volunteers on their way to help Katrina survivors rebuild. They had an accident and their truck turned over, killing their loved one.

I don’t know what caused the accident, but I know their beloved husband and treasured daddy were killed. I felt ashamed of my attitude, and from now on, I will be praying for the family of the cross-by-the-side-of-the-road. I won’t focus on the other driver, only the loved ones kneeling at the cross. 

Thank You, Lord, for changing my hard heart. And thankYou for the caregivers that help people.

Dear Lord, grant us mercy when we are in harm’s way. Give Your angels charge over us and help us to forgive the unthinkable. Amen


© 2019 Lois Gosley  

Friday, December 28, 2018

THE GIFT


For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 (KJV)

The Christmas story is filled with hope, love and redemptive truth for all mankind. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Jesus Christ was born to die.

Like the Israelites, we are lost in our transgressions and in desperate need of a Savior. Born into Adam’s seed and having inherited his sin nature, we can never be good enough or do enough good to measure up to the holiness of God—perfection. And if you’re anything like me, you don’t have to look too hard or think too long to see areas in your own life where you fall short.

In John 14:6, Jesus tells us He is the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.

Jesus Christ is the only person to walk the earth who was perfect—the only One who knew no sin and could stand in the gap for us on the cross. We can only get to heaven by the grace of God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

There is no other way. Only when you get Jesus, you get heaven.

Father God, Our hearts are filled with joy, gratitude and praise for all the blessings You have so generously bestowed upon us. May all the people in the world—from every tongue, tribe and nation—pray to receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and experience Your boundless love, mercy and peace forevermore.

© 2018 Amy A. Verzi

 

Friday, December 21, 2018

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS”

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. Luke 2:11-12 (NKJV)

I recently enjoyed a Christmas Tea. The assorted food items were very tasty and the fellowship was inviting and warm. As a special treat, a mother and daughter shared their Christmas tradition—one they have observed and passed down through the generations for forty- plus years.

They present to Jesus a birthday cake on Christmas morning, specifically baked and decorated to represent God’s story of redemption. Everyone, young and old, participates in sharing the story of Jesus.  
The round cake represents the world and the chocolate layers show the sin of the world (Romans 3:23). The white frosting shows how Jesus’ purity covers our sin (Psalm 51:7). The cake is adorned with an angel, representing the first bearer of the Good News (Luke 2:10-11). A star also adorns the cake, representative of the star the wise men followed to worship the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:9-10).  Twelve red candles represent Christ’s shed blood, covering us throughout the year (Matthew 28:20), and evergreens surround the cake to represent eternal life ( John 3:36). With the candles lit, we reflect on Jesus as the light of the world (John 8:12). We then worship and sing “Happy Birthday, Jesus” (Isaiah 9:6).
This sweet tradition assures the true meaning of Christmas is remembered through the scriptures and celebrated throughout the generations to come. Let us pass on this tradition!
Father, may we honor Your gift to the world, Your precious Son, above all else each Christmas season.
© 2018 Marianne Lucot

Saturday, December 15, 2018

THE BETHLEHEM STAR

"...for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." Matthew 2:2b (KJV)

The stars in heaven shown so bright.
I watched them glow in the dark night.
My heart was peaceful, happy, content.
I know what love of the Father meant.

I read in the Bible of the Bethlehem star,
and how the three wise men traveled so far
to worship the baby who in a manger did lay,
sleeping so sweetly in the warm, soft hay.

They presented Him gifts to prosper Him there,
that He would need in His parents care.
His Father in heaven oversaw His care,
sending angels to watch over Him there.

The Bethlehem star shown down where He lay,
snuggly and warm in the soft bed of hay.
No one knows how long the Bethlehem star
shown down on Jesus from afar.

His Father above smiled on Him each day,
as the Bethlehem star faded slowly away.
The star did its duty to welcome the King
and cause the angels to joyfully sing.

God's gift of His Son was to all mankind
so that we all would keep Jesus in mind.
Our gift in return is to give Him our love
and worship the King in heaven above.

Merry Christmas to all at this time of year.
Spread joy and love of the Savior, Dear.
Every knee should bend, every head should bow
at the name of Jesus. That's love, then and now.

                  Merry Christmas everyone!

Thank You, Father, for the gift of Your Son, Jesus.

©2018 Evelyn B. Ryan






Friday, December 7, 2018

FOLLOW THE MASTER'S DIRECTIONS

Listen my son, to your father's instruction...Proverbs 1:8 (NIV)

When I brought home a beautiful little black Labrador puppy, the whole family immediately fell in love with her. She was a "people dog." It seemed that she wanted to be with adults as well as children as long as they would pay attention to her.

She loved to go for walks and retrieve toys and balls thrown for her to find and catch.

Since we were relatively new in our walk with Jesus our Savior, we decided to name her Faith. We loved to use the phrase, "We walk by Faith,"  It was our private "double meaning reminder" of our covenant with the Lord.

My son, Bruce, enjoyed playing "fetch" with Faith. While watching this activity at the beach one day, I noticed Faith always kept her eyes on Bruce and the ball. If she was headed in the wrong direction, Bruce would whistle and point in the direction she needed to go in order to retrieve the goal. In the puppy's case the goal was a rubber ball.

Bruce was pointing directions to Faith, helping her to find her way to retrieve the goal. In the puppy's case, the goal was a rubber ball.

The swimmer was pleased and the master was pleased.

Our Lord calls on us to follow his directions in order to complete His goals for our lives. Like our puppy, Faith, we need to watch and listen to our Master, follow His words from the Bible and listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit as He directs us.

Prayer: Lord, help us to keep our eyes and ears on your words. Help us move in the directions you desire us to live.

 (C) 2018    Christy Struben 

Friday, November 30, 2018

OUR FIRST THANKSGIVING

...give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1Thessalonians 5:18b (NIV)

Most families celebrate Thanksgiving, passing the tradition to their children. Not so with my family. My mother never cooked a turkey.

My stepfather's employer gave everyone at work a turkey for Thanksgiving. We were thankful when he brought one home, but my mother did not know how to cook it.

Mother looked at that bird like it was an alien. She washed it, and gave thanks to God for abundant food. While staring at the bird, Mom decided boiling would make it tender. She filled her biggest pot with water and boiled the bird for two hours. Whew! It stunk up the house. "Is the turkey supposed to smell that way?" she asked my stepfather. He shrugged and walked away.

Mom was upset. Well, she mumbled, maybe it needs to be fried. Cutting the wings, legs and thighs off, she dusted them in flour and fried the pieces in three large skillets. The odor was nauseating. She mumbled, it must have to bake. She placed all the pieces in her largest baking pan and shoved it into the oven.

The air was thick with a heavy rotten odor. Mom opened the windows and doors to air out the house. To test if the bird was fit for human consumption, Mom offered a drumstick to our dog. He sniffed it and retreated to the pantry. The only thing that turkey was good for was the garbage can!

Even though our Thanksgiving dinner was bologna and cheese sandwiches and a purchased pumpkin pie, we offered our thanks to God.

Dear Lord, thank You for the mistakes we make that teach us to correct our ways. Amen

© 2018  Evelyn B. Ryan