Friday, September 22, 2017

BE COURAGEOUS


“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9 (NAS) 

God has a new opportunity waiting for me just around the corner. My search for a new job seems endless after applying for dozens of positions, but receiving no offers. Is God trying to teach me something? 

No matter how hard life seems as we face job losses, financial challenges or family relationship problems, as believers, we are God’s beloved children. He knows what we are going through, and He is with us in the midst of our fears, depression and discouragement. 

Our human emotions and misgivings often give rise to questions:  Will I ever get through this? Will I find a new job? Will my child be okay? Can this broken relationship be mended? God, why is this happening? 

Then, I remember God telling a fearful new leader, Joshua, to “Be strong and very courageous,” as he led the children of Israel into the Promised Land after Moses’ death. Seven times in Joshua God tells him to be courageous and not to be fearful. Pondering God’s words, I realize when we are courageous, we will not be discouraged, but will be an encouragement to those around us. All three words originate from the same root word─COURAGE! 

Just as God showed Joshua and the Israelites the way through the wilderness, He will guide me through this search and out to a new job. And, just as Joshua was told “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” the Lord will be with us wherever He leads us. 

Father, teach us to be courageous and to remember You are always with us. 

© 2017 Diane E. Hussey

Friday, September 15, 2017

WAS THAT ME IN THE GARDEN?


Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
Gen 3:8-9 (NIV)

Was that me in the garden that warm sunny day resting in a bed of wildflowers under a canopy of trees?

Unclothed and unashamed, I closed my eyes feeling the gentle breeze tickle my cheek. My friend, the serpent, awakened me for our stroll in the garden. We chatted merrily as we wandered through the trails and along the stream.

My mouth began to water as we reached the tree with the forbidden fruit. Every day the serpent encouraged me to sample its delicious offerings. Always, I refused and walked away.

But not today.

The fruit, so pleasing to my eyes, beckoned me like a long-lost friend. I took the fruit and brought it to my lips. After seeing no harm come to me, my husband took the next bite.

Everything changed.

The sweetness of the fruit turned bitter and our eyes were opened. I closed my eyes tightly, willing them to return to the way things were. The serpent looked quite pleased with himself when the Lord found us and swiftly passed judgment. We were banished from our home forever.

As we walked away from the garden into the strange land, I looked back to consider all we had lost. A lone tear coursed down my cheek as the chasm between us widened with each step. Emptiness replaced the joy in my heart.

Why, Oh Lord, do we trade the perfection of Your love for the seductive lies of the world?
 
© 2017 Amy A. Verzi

Friday, September 8, 2017

BIRDS IN MY FLOWERS

If you come across a birds nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. Deuteronomy 22:6 (ESV)

Last week while watering my hanging plants, I noticed a tiny bird fly away as I took the beautiful begonia down. The begonia was full of hot pink double blossoms. While watering it, I noticed a deep depression beneath some of the leaves in the middle of the plant.

Oh, no. A bird built a nest in the center and laid two eggs. I was mesmerized by the tiny oval eggs. After carefully watering the plant, I hung it back up.

Every day while watering, I checked the nest. New eggs were added until there were five in the nest. A few days later there were two tiny, naked baby birds huddling together. What a wonder it was to be able to witness the miracle of birth in such tiny creatures.

The mother bird scolded me loudly from a nearby tree when I took the nest down to check her babies. After I put it back, she continued caring for them. I thought how God loves and cares for us and Matthew 10:29, 31 came to mind. "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Fear not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows." It makes one humble to know how much we are loved.

Thank You, Father, for allowing me to enjoy one of Your little flying creatures. You created all life; may we all give You praise every day for our blessings. Amen.

© 2017  Evelyn B. Ryan

Friday, September 1, 2017

LOSERS

Let the favor of the Lord be upon us and establish the work of our hands…” Psalm 90:17 (RSV)

Joseph’s brothers were so jealous of their father’s love for Joseph, plus his dreams of them bowing down to him, that they plotted to do away with him. They threw him in a pit. They sold him. Imagine, selling your brotherLosers! Joseph was sold into slavery!

Joseph worked, as a slave, in Egypt, and the Lord caused all he did to prosper. He became a successful man. He also was handsome and Potiphar’s wife tried to entice him to “lie with me.” He refused. She told her side of the story, falsely accusing JosephLoser! Joseph was wrongly cast into prison!

While in prison, his cellmates, the baker and butler had perplexing dreams. Joseph interpreted them, and they were fulfilled as he predicted. The butler was freed from the dungeon and Joseph asked him to “Remember me, I was stolen, I’ve done nothing wrong, that I should remain in this dungeon.” The butler promised but forgotLoser! Joseph stayed in the dungeon two more years.

When Pharaoh had disturbing dreams, the butler remembered Joseph’s ability to interpret.
Pharaoh called Joseph. He interpreted the dreams and proposed a marvelous solution. Pharaoh made him a ruler. Joseph’s wisdom saved the people during a famine.

I asked a friend, “What if all these Losers had not done those bad things?”

She replied, “God would find other Losers.”

God sometimes uses the accomplished or the exceptional. But He often uses a dysfunctional disciple like Peter; a shepherd like David; a persecutor like Paul, and a prostitute like Rahab.

Thank You, Lord, the only ability You need is availability. Take this loser and use me to serve in Your kingdom. Amen.


© 2017 Lois Gosley

Friday, August 25, 2017

A VIEW FROM EIGHTY

5 And Moses, the servant of the Lord died there in Moab as the Lord had said. 7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. Deuteronomy 34:5, 7(NIV)
I recently turned 80 years old. It seems such a big number. I’m blessed with great healthy—vigorous, but conscious of little aches and pains that come from time to time. I begin to wonder if this is the onset of arthritis or something that will debilitate me.
 
But, in Jesus’ name, I am just getting started. As His disciple, I have everlasting life. The mathematical symbol for infinity (everlasting) is an eight on its side, .  The fraction of my life so far can thus be expressed as 80/∞. Mathematically, that is zero percent! Eighty years are just getting started.
 
I believe I’ll be here on earth as long as God has stuff He wants me to do or someone he wants me to be. For example, God had lots for Moses to do, and it took Moses 120 years to get it all finished to God’s satisfaction. I can live with that perspective.
 
A lot of advertising is for products and services directed to prolonging life. If there is a “secret” to long life, it is to stay useful to God. As long as God has more for us to do and we’re obedient to Him, He will keep us around. We can be at peace with that. Lord, lead us on.
 
Pray: Lord, lead me on. I want to be useful to you.
 
© 2017 Parker Wayland

Saturday, August 19, 2017

PRAYING THE SCRIPTURES

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Psalm 62: 5-7 (NIV)

Just recently these verses were prayed over me by a very dear friend.
Do you ever have times in your life where you feel utter despair? It is a time when you have no joy or peace. You feel empty.  Anger is directed inward and outward. You may feel as if no one close to you understands. You suddenly lose that connection that you usually have with each other. You are desperately alone, not able to make eye contact, feeling hurt and angry. We begin to see ourselves as a failure, unable to live up to the expectations we believe someone else is putting on us.

Ever been there?

As a young adult, I did not have a heartfelt relationship with God.  Often, for weeks to months, I was filled with despair and anger toward my first husband. That marriage had no strength to survive. God was missing. 
Today, Christ is at the center of my second marriage. My husband and I are active in our local church, and surrounded by people who love God and love each other. 

Those desperate times may still come, but my friendships within the body of Christ are present and ready. They pray over me, through my situation, bringing God’s light to my soul when I am too weak to look up.  
Praying the scriptures over each other is such an amazing gift. Its God’s power and His power is beyond our imaginations.

Father, thank You for Your word that renews our soul.

© 2017 Marianne Lucot

Saturday, August 12, 2017

NO! NO! NO!

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

"Pick him up and put him in a seat," I told the distraught father who was trying to persuade his kindergarten son to get on my school bus. The frightened boy cried and screamed "No! No! No!" As soon as the father set his son in a seat, like a streak of lightning, he was out the door before his dad could catch him.

Once again the father picked up his crying son, trying to console him. As soon as he was carried to the bus door, the boy planted his feet on each side of the door and locked his knees so his dad couldn't get him into the bus. It was plain to see the boy had never ridden a bus before and was traumatized by its size.

I had waited longer than my schedule allowed, so I told the dad to get on and ride to school with his son to calm him down. I would drop him off here on my way back to the bus lot.

Isn't this the way many balk at giving in to the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit? The little boy didn't know all the exciting things he was going to learn. We don't know all the wonderful things God has prepared for those who love Him either. We do know that it will be better and more abundant than anything we know or will ever experience in this life.

Father, calm our fears. May Your gracious love draw us to You, running.

© 2017  Evelyn B. Ryan

Friday, August 4, 2017

GOD'S PEOPLE IN THE MIDST OF THE BATTLE

The great dragon was hurled down-that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Revelation 12: 9 (NIV)

I recently met a young lady who stated very casually, “I do not believe in God anymore. I have not been to church for 12 years.” Her life experiences of drug addiction and the loss of her brother in the past year to a drug overdose have surely influenced her conclusion.  

How can we, as Christ followers, respond to such a statement? I know it stopped me cold, but my desire is to reach those who are lost. God’s Word reveals that Satan is the ruler of the earth. We know firsthand that he is the enemy. His strong presence in this world is manifested everywhere.

God challenges us to prepare a response based on His Word. We acknowledge this fallen world, filled with injustice, hate, poverty, disease, and wars. When this has been a part of one’s life, despair grips the very soul and stomps on hope.  

Meditate, prepare, and be ready to give your response. We grieve the lost, who are filled with despair. Share your stories, pointing to your favorite scriptures which have brought light into your darkness. This world is ruled by Satan, and God’s Word illuminates this truth. Our hope comes from above, not in this world where Satan reigns. Become a friend and initiate further conversation about the God of Hope, Our Reigning King, Jesus Christ.

Father, equip us to meet people where they are, and point to You, our source of Light in the darkness.


© 2017 Marianne Lucot

Sunday, July 30, 2017

SKYLIGHTS TO HEAVEN


This is the day the Lord hath made I will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (KJV)

The sunshine feels so wonderful today! There is nothing like days of rain to renew our appreciation of the sun.
Taking a break, I’m sitting on the porch looking up into the azure blue sky through sparkling, clean skylights.

Moments ago I was on the porch roof cleaning them. Completing my task and straightening my back to enjoy the view I gazed up into the sky overwhelmed with thankful praise for my Father in Heaven.
My senses were invigorated by the warm sun on my skin and the sound of leaves clapping in the breeze. Thankfulness for being able to accomplish this task wells up in my heart. My body allows me to. I am especially appreciative after my tumble down a flight of stairs a year-and-a-half ago. God chose to save me early that morning and heal my body and brain with only slight memory deficits remaining. From time to time I am reminded by something forgotten.

It keeps me humble.
Looking up I wonder, "Why God? Why do You choose to bless me so much when there are those who suffer? Why are some healed and not others? Why do some die and others live?" He does not answer at this time, but His love reassures me that His way is perfect.

Again, I am humbled. These are His mysteries. Some day maybe we will know or possibly it will no longer be important. Until then, I will accept each day and remember to rejoice and be glad for one more.
Father, You are the giver and keeper of all our days. I rejoice, thanking You for each one. Amen.

 © 2017 Bonnie Mae Evans