Category Archives: DEVOTIONALS

Never give up!

Image result for free picture of discouragementDo not give up when you (just) need to get up! You know, I began this post with a no-matter-how-tired-I-am-or-how-long-it-takes-I’m-going-to-start-blogging-again-today-attitude. But I had no idea what to write. That, alone, made me want to give up. So did confronting truth. For the last ten months, I had not written, which is my main work for God.

Fear and discouragement. What happened? Fear and discouragement. Two times in those months, I had to adjust daily habits because of new health issues. I made those adjustments but still did not resume writing. Why? I gave in to fear and discouragement — even though I know God is taking care of me, that it is He who works in me, and that if I try to serve Him with all my heart, He is responsible for the outcome, not me. Yet, the enemy of our souls, the devil, is crafty and, as John 10:10 says, ” … the thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.” (NIV) His goal is the same for all of us.

Do not let the enemy steal what Christ died to give you. In John 10: 1-21, Jesus gives us the parable “The Good Shepherd and His Sheep.” A good shepherd risks his very life for his sheep, lying down at night across the entrance into the sheep pen, ready to fight off wolves and other predators. Not only was He willing, but Jesus did indeed give His life for us. And our beloved Jesus said “I came that they may have and enjoy life and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows.) (Amplified Version).

Notice that Jesus said He came so we could have life AND enjoy life AND have it in abundance. The devil is always fighting against what God is doing. He fights to stop people from believing in God, then he fights to keep them from following God, and then he fights to keep them from having an abundant life.  

Jesus gives an abundant life. Abundant life includes the joy of sharing God with others by using the gifts God has given us. This is what the enemy of our souls stole from me — for a little while– by making me feel afraid and making me feel discouraged. Notice the word feel.

Fear and discouragement are only feelings. Among his other traits, the devil is a liar. I may feel that I will not be able to write but First John 4:4 tells me that the One who lives in me, Jesus, is stronger than the devil, who is in the world. I may feel discouraged, but in Isaiah 41:10 my loving heavenly Father tells me, “… 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.”

I still feel some fear and doubt, but in Christ we can do all that we need to do! We can quench the flaming arrows of fear that come from the enemy by resisting him with the Word, just like Jesus did.

Try one more time! So I say, dear friend: whatever it is that you have been afraid to do for God, don’t give up! Ask God for His guidance about it and then rely on His strength. When God calls us to do something, He will supply all that we need to do it. All we need do is get up and stop sitting down where we fell down! We can trust God, ask Him to help us stand and then to walk and then to continue serving Him where we left off. He does not condemn or criticize us for falling down! He is close to the brokenhearted and He saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

God understands how we feel! Jesus is our great High Priest who has felt everything we will ever feel and so very much more. God has no favorites. If He can help me resume writing, after ten months of fear and failures, He can help you do whatever He has called you to do to help others Just stand up and lean on Him, not your own understanding and He will guide your path, as He promises in Proverbs 3:5-6.

When we stand up and step out, we may not hear trumpets but, believe me, they are sounding in heaven itself! When we seek to serve God by sharing His truth and His love, the God of angel armies is by our side!

Dear Father in heaven, thank You for once again giving clear guidance to Your child. Forgive me for procrastination, for yielding to fear and discouragement and laziness and whatever else was going on inside that I cannot even identify. I ask for Your help in faithfully ministering this gift of writing. I ask that You help anyone reading this to continue ministering their own gifts to others, whatever those gifts may be. Empower us as we live each day to bless those You put into our path. We love You Jesus! Amen.

Feelings come, but they don’t stay!

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To the tune of “Jesus loves me” —

Feelings come, but they don’t stay. Feelings always fly away. You might be mad, or even sad but very soon you will be glad. No, feelings don’t stay! No, feelings don’t stay! No, feelings don’t stay!  Feelings fly away!

I cradled my grandson closer to my chest, laid my cheek atop his fawn brown hair, crooned the words softly, and inhaled the clean scent of sunshine. He was, once again, having a hard time being four years old.

A few weeks ago, I had been praying for my grandsons and also studying how to help them handle feelings, a challenge for any preschooler. One morning during devotions, “Feelings come, but they don’t stay … “  floated into my mind, a simple and tender gift from God for them.

I have sung the little song about feelings often to both of my grandsons and have heard big brother sing them to little brother, too. I have sung them to myself while I’ve been studying fear, and getting at the root of the causes of fear in my life. The best thing I’ve learned so far is to meditate upon how much God loves me and to remind myself how powerful God is, that He is the absolute ruler of the universe. That makes the fearful feeling indeed fly away – like a butterfly!

God cherishes us! First John 4:16 says, “And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him.” (the Amplified Bible)

Notice the word cherishes. If the One who established north and south, the One who told the waves where to halt, the One who sees each bird of the air and each flower of the field, the One who sent His Son to die for me so that I might have intimate communion with Him – if that One is the One who cherishes me, dotes on me, keeps me in His mind, adores me and holds me dear, how can I not trust Him to take care of whatever has troubled my little heart? Oh, for the heart of a little child!

Jesus loves me! Jesus loves me, this I know! For the Bible tells me so. Little ones, to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong!  Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!  Yes, Jesus loves me – the Bible tells me so!

Image result for free picture of jesus and children

 

 

Strength for your heart

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” (Psalm 73:26, NLT)

Image result for free clip art of the bibleA word in season. I listened to my Audio Bible CD as I stopped the car at the drive-in window of the drug store. “Thank You, Lord,’ I breathed. “I finally get it. That’s the second time I’ve heard that loud and clear this weekend. Thank You for Your reassurance and Your peace.”

Another episode of paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (PAT) had come Friday night. And it lasted three hours this time. During those hours I prayed but I also heard fear hum in my head like swarming bees. The nurse at the cardiologist’s office had said “PATs are not dangerous.” She had told me to take a pill and that I could go to the ER if it did not stop.

Yes, the PAT finally stopped, but the buzzing fear had not – all weekend long. I had prayed, proclaimed God’s Word about healing, asked friends to pray, and tried to keep my mind occupied. I burst into hot tears when I asked for prayer in Sunday School. I was a mess!

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God is working! But God was working it all out for my good. (Romans 8:28) Today, when I “coincidentally” heard that verse for the second time, something happened. God’s peace came in, slowly and gradually, as He gently reminded me:

  • He would never give me more than I could bear. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
  • He would either heal me or give me grace and wisdom to handle it. (Hebrews 4:16)
  • He does not give us a spirit of fear but of power, of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

As I’ve prayed and pondered and sat with the Lord this afternoon, looking at the beautiful wind blowing through the trees, God gave me an idea for a book about overcoming fear. He also showed me how to resume writing this blog, something I had delayed for FIVE months – because of fear.

I have a lot to share in the coming weeks about fear. And this blog will change for the better. Stay tuned! I am going to enjoy seeing God work out this good thing that the enemy meant for evil! Woohoo! Go God!

He never leaves us, never forsakes us, is always for us, always thinks good thoughts about us, always has good plans for us – He is a good, loving, ALL powerful and faithful Father! Praise Him from whom all, all, ALL blessings flow over into our lives, “ … exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all we can ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)!

He is the one who gives orders to the morning, the one who makes the clouds rise from the ends of the earth, the one who tells the eagle when to fly. How can we fear, oh we of little faith? Go God!!!Image result for free photo of eagle in clouds

 

My problem is NOT my problem!

Problems, problems. As I type, my knees bump into the four storage boxes residing under the smallish  table I use as a desk. I struggle to tune out neighbors’ voices seeping through thin walls as I try to concentrate. My back and eyes complain after 30 minutes of computer work although I worked at a desk for long hours throughout my life.

I could go on describing the obstacles to working on this blog and my other writing and editing. But, I recently re-learned, as Joyce Meyer so aptly phrased it “Your problem is not your problem!” I typed that, in calligraphy, size 18 font, and put it over my desk. “Help me, Lord! I must remember that attitude makes all the difference.) I look at that reminder now as I type this blog post. And I smile.

I must trust God, not my own strength or resources.  I listen to Joyce Meyer’s daily television show at 6:30 a.m. (See www.joycemeyer.org or the link below for powerful help for everyday life.)

http://bit.ly/2eBwNHC

The morning I heard “Your problem is not your problem!” I was exhausted because loud neighbors had kept me awake until 2:00 a.m.  However, the Word of God, which Joyce Meyer proclaims, is alive and has power to change us. That teaching from the Bible about keeping your focus right changed my attitude.  For too long excuses had delayed working on this blog – fatigue due to new health problems, cramped working space, etc. and etc. and etc. Yuk! I slowly began developing the habit of writing regularly again.

Keep the main thing the main thing. Since 1981, when I became a Christ follower, I have by God’s grace, endeavored to put God first in all things. When I’ve failed, things went badly until I refocused on seeking God hour by hour, day by day. God has faithfully provided all I’ve needed and so much more.  He promises this in Matthew 6:33 “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” (New Living Translation)

Free HQ Blue In The Mountains Wallpaper - Free HQ Wallpapers

Seek Him first … you’ll have all you need! He promises! Click on the link below to hear a gentle but life-giving chorus I’ve loved for years.  The majestic scenes of God’s beloved earth that accompany this chorus remind me of Who He is, who I am, how much He loves me, and how able He is to take care of little, insignificant me. Oh, how He loves His precious human beings!

https://yhoo.it/2eBuNzl

 

Hope when you fall down

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Encouragement from 12 words. The picture above is actually a greeting card I found more than 15 years ago. I framed it then hung it in the graduate students’ office I shared with three other students. The picture next adorned the wall over the desk in my own office where I worked as an educational researcher.  Now it hangs next to baby pictures of my two grandsons .  The card reads “I get up. I walk. I fall down.  Meanwhile I keep dancing.”

Returning to school in mid life included hard work, many bumps and many missteps. I needed daily, sometimes hourly, encouragement to persevere! Fortunately, by that stage in life I could find “joy in the journey” so I savored the process of learning , though those years were hard.

“Be strong and courageous”  Potholes and pitfalls also abound on my current path — becoming an established author. I think often of God’s words to Joshua, who faced the challenge of leading the nation of Israel into a land occupied by enemies. God told Joshua “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them [the enemies who occupied the land], for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6, New International Version.

” … hope and a future.”  How wonderful to be reassured that God is with us! How encouraging to remember, too, that He has good plans for our lives, as He says in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)  “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  When I remember that God has promised to always be with me, and that He has specific, wonderful plans for my life, I find the strength to get up, brush myself off, and keep enjoying this wonderful life of obeying and trusting God.

Waltz Dance Royalty Free Stock Image

In hard times, keep dancing!  Though I’ve rarely danced , I adore movies of older times when men and women in elegant attire glided around gilded ballrooms, swaying in flawless synchrony to a lilting waltz. I like to think that, when I get to heaven, I’ll dance with Jesus. And our first dance? A waltz!

His gift of hope in love songs

       


“Time, time rolls the hills along, makes the stars go round to the sky’s bright song
Time, time stirs the endless sea. Maybe time will bring you back to me.

The summer was golden, their love young and new, his bold arms her rendezvous,
But now leaves have fallen, and tears fill her eyes, his warm lips a memory
as she sighs.

 Time, time rolls the hills along, makes the stars go round to the sky’s bright song
Time, time stirs the endless sea. Maybe time will bring you back to me.

The snow’s come and gone now, and still, they’re apart. How empty her yearning heart!
But spring brings its promise and old memories burn, while she dreams that with summer, he’ll return.

Time, time rolls the hills along, makes the stars go round to the sky’s bright song
Time, time stirs the endless sea. Maybe time will bring you back to me … m
aybe time will bring you back to me.”

Songwriters: JOURDAN, MICHEL E/CANFORA, ARMAND F A/BASILE, JOE

The encouragement in music. In tender love songs I hear God loving me through the magic of music, the restful resonance of a baritone voice like that of Ed Ames, and lyrics that, like the ones above, make one ponder the imponderables: the hills, the sea,  the stars, the seasons, yearning, and love in its limitless forms.

When I hear “Time, time”, I change the last two lines to “One day time will surely set me free”, free to be with the One I love, my Jesus:

  • Who is the love in love songs,
  • Who paints the sky twice each day for me,
  • Who stirs the sea, moves the stars, and makes the sky sing,
  • Who fills His Word with reassurances of His tender, all-powerful care and concern for me,
  • Who hugs me and smiles at me through family and friends,
  • Who encourages me in the solitary silence of night,
  • Who gave me grandsons to put their warm little hands in mine as reminders of the trust I am to put in Him.

His gift of hope that lives in love songs. Yes, time will one day set me free to be with Jesus but until then I have His loving presence in the magic of music, in His love through people, and in His gift of tender hope that speaks to me in love songs, like this one – “Time, time”

http://yhoo.it/2deNwoj

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How many times can God renew hope?

Shimmering, glimmering leaves in the wind –  let me so yield to whatever You send!

In bright golden times and dark, dreary days – let me so live that my living gives praise!

Running out of hope. This morning, like most mornings, I had coffee while looking at the large oak growing beside the patio door. An early gentle wind of autumn blew through the leaves, making them glint like ripples shining on a lake.

It had been a hard month, with challenging medical and financial news, not one but two bouts with a cold, a flat tire, and on and on I could go with things of the world that had too often stolen my peace.

“Lord, I need Your help every moment now more than ever it seems. This growing older is hard! I am tired of having to work so hard to have a good attitude about it all!  It is so hard not to get discouraged as one thing after another pops up with my health and as I see every day why folks complain about a fixed income.  And then there’s all that is happening in the world …” 

Nature speaks. I carried on like that a little longer. Then, slowly, the beauty and simplicity of nature began calming my pessimistic and destructive thoughts. Those leaves twisting in the wind would soon be gone and replaced next spring with tiny green shoots. Some of the smaller branches in the tree would be blown down by strong winds. The leaves and the branches yielded to the wind, silently playing their part in the grand scheme of nature. The tiny chipping sparrow clinging tightly to the swaying branch would live a few years and then be gone.

Renewed hope. But God says He knows when each sparrow falls. And He says I should not worry because I am worth more than many sparrows.

“Oh, Lord! Forgive me for complaining yet again.  Help me remember that You love me much more than many sparrows, that everyone living has problems, and that You have good plans for my life. Thank You for speaking through creation. Thank You for hope that rises every morning, faithful as the sun!”

“His Eye Is On The Sparrow” by Sandy Patti    http://yhoo.it/2cE2tRd

When you’re tired of hoping …

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Freedom from worry?? Late afternoon sun glinted off the pickup truck parked outside my tiny patio. I took a sip of iced decaf, twined my fingers through Barny’s velvety tummy fur, and read, again, Joyce Meyer’s comments on Hebrews 4:3 “Rest is freedom from excessive reasoning, struggle, fear, inner turmoil, worry, and frustration, which develop because of our working to do what only God can do.” (The Everyday Bible, featuring notes and commentary by Joyce Meyer.)

Peace-stealers.  “I am” I said to myself, “once again trying to do what only God can do.” It had been a rough few days.  Some new financial issues had to be researched, paperwork had to be put in order, and consultations had to be arranged – and precisely when I needed new glasses, my back was acting up, it looked like I might need even more dental work, that pesky rash would not leave, and on and on and on.

Reminders of joy. I sighed, kept praying, kept reading the Word. The crimson of the dollar store cardinal caught my eye.  The tiny bird perched on my work table, propped against a beloved picture of my father and daughter.  My oldest grandson and I had had the most wonderful time imaginable last Christmas. He had jumped up and down, putting paper mache soldiers, glittery stars, miniature trees, and much more into our cart at the dollar store. That perky cardinal on my work table reminded me of what was truly important. I felt peace start to bubble up.

God knows what we need. I stroked Barny, my beloved Tonkinese rescue, stretched full length, belly up, across my writing papers.  Like his predecessor, he is my constant, loving shadow. As a long-term single person, caressing his silky fur and holding him close is a particular and blessed comfort.

“I need to be still  and let my God love me.Thank You, Father, for loving me so much, over and over and always and always, no matter how weak and frail my mind and emotions are sometimes. My head knows You are working in all these apparent problems. I know that! You have done miracle after miracle for the 35 years I’ve known You as Lord and Savior. I’m truly sorry for letting doubt and fear settle in again. Forgive me, Lord.

Thank You for reminding me of the love You’ve poured into my life. Thank You for, once again, reminding me that You long to cover me with Your peace and all I have to do is to be still, think about unseen, eternal things, and let You love me.  Just like the song I heard so long ago …

http://yhoo.it/2aMA5Zf

God gave me love . . .

Thank You, dear Father in heaven, for my beautiful plants!  You know how each one delights me as I sit with You at sunrise and again at sunset. I see the fingers of Your dawn through a feathery fern, heart shaped ivy leaves, and the clustered leaves of my poinsettia. I see the last wistful glimmers of sun each evening through the scraggly arms of a plant I found by the dumpster but which has survived. 

And I am reminded of my own life.  You took what was a wrecked and painful heart and made it live and grow.  You gave me love, just like the song that led me to give my heart to You, Jesus.

And dear One, as I look up that song on the internet, tears flow at Your deep and tender stirring.  I remember that night, 35 years ago, as I cried out for help to I knew not who – and You answered with this song by B.J. Thomas on the car radio. 

Thank You, dearest Father, for healing all that pain and  bringing so much joy through all of these years.  Thank You for giving me a place of service, through writing, for others who need your love. Help them see that–though they may feel as undesirable and broken as a plant tossed in the trash–You long to heal them and make them whole and to fill them with Your peace and joy. 

Help them also learn to let Your love shine through them to reach other hurting souls. Show them that Your full love and Your full beauty reside in each heart given to Your service, no matter the outward appearance of the earthly tabernacle in which that heart dwells. 

Dear friend, listen to this song.  You will feel God’s love . . .

http://yhoo.it/29R9U4Z

Leaf in the Rain 3 1

Seven Reasons to Be Grateful. . . Every Day

Blue Sky

Everyone I know has problems, and sometimes they seem overwhelming. My personality type tends to fret and worry and see the negative – about everything!  But that is merely a tendency, and by the grace of God, I am getting better at replacing that negativity with a grateful attitude.

How I wish I had overcome this habit of mind years earlier!  Recent clinical research is repeatedly showing strong linkages between heart disease and negative states of mind, such as depression and anxiety. But I choose to look ahead, not behind. I am striving to do as the apostle Paul said in Phillipians 3:12, to “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Jesus came so that we may have abundant life – not one filled with sorrow, sadness, and worry!

So, this day, although it is blisteringly hot in Texas and the world in general seems a dark place at this point in history, I am grateful that:

  1. God sent His beloved and only Son Jesus to save me from my sins and give me eternal life. (John 3:16)
  2. God promises to never leave me or forsake me – never, no never!
  3. God always empowers us to do whatever He tells us to do. Jesus said, “Be of good cheer because I have overcome the world!” We CAN have an upbeat attitude!
  4. God has given clear guidance in the Bible on how to live a blessed joyous life – I only have to study and apply what I learn.
  5. When I have doubts about how my life is turning out, I can rely on the promise in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him [act like you know Him—my words] and He will direct your path.”
  6. James 1:5 reassures us that “If any of you lack wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Verses 6 through 8 tell us that we must believe and not doubt that God will give us wisdom. Remember: He empowers us to do what He tells us to.
  7. Finally, when doing the things listed above seems hard, I read Psalm 103 over and over and over. I especially focus on verses 11 through 14:  

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.

As I gaze at the clear blue sky, that vast expanse of moisture that cradles the earth, I marvel at God’s unavoidable reminder of His love and compassion for us. He has placed His blue heavens over every human being on our planet, just like a human father tenderly places a soft blanket over his sleeping child. How dare I doubt His love?

Blue Sky