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The sky is always blue beyond the clouds. There is always hope and encouragement here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Made Rich by Pat Pennington


Made Rich
Two families just won the Mega Millions Jackpot, the 2nd largest prize in lotto history.
So overnight they were made rich. But there is another way that you can be made rich.
In this Christmas season we need to remember that Jesus exchanged the riches of heaven to become poor on earth. We could say He gave up His heavenly mansion to be born in a manager. He gave up His Kingship to be pursued by jealous King Herod.
He gave up His place of royalty in Heaven to ride on a lowly donkey into Jerusalem. He gave up His majestic throne to take a towel and wash filthy feet.  He gave up His glory to glorify His Heavenly Father. Jesus gave up His riches, so we might be made rich by His grace and love! Jesus went from rich to poor and back to rich. 
Yes, Jesus Christ was born in poor conditions, lived a low income life and died impoverished. Yet, He was Himself the richest gift ever given to the human race.
The gifts brought by the wise men could never compare to the gift of salvation that Jesus brought into the world as He laid at the back of the inn surrounded by noisy animals. All the natural resources in the world combined do not begin to define the value of this one child, Christ Jesus. We can say that one man’s poverty made the world rich.
So what is the worth of God’s grace that gets us through life with peace and joy?
It’s worth far exceeds any earthly comparisons, even more than lotto jack pots and even diamonds and jewels are only shiny rocks in light of God’s love given to all who love Him.
Our adoption by grace through faith gives us full benefits as a child of the King. 
As people of faith, we have been made rich by every good deed that flows from God’s grace at work in our heart and life. You can spend all your lotto winnings but God’s riches last forever.
Thank Him this season for His indescribable gift of grace and salvation!

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.
<°)))>< Pat P.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Let's go see


A couple of shepherds are sitting on a knoll overlooking the field where there sheep were sleeping. Can you see them?
One is laying on his back gazing at the stars. The other is sitting by a small fire that he built, twirling a stick in the embers and watching the sparks.
Suddenly a man is there! Where did he come from? They both scramble to their feet. 
"Don't be afraid," the man says. And now there is light all around him as if he is standing in the daylight. 
He tells them the most unbelievable thing. They look at each other. And then there are many men, more than many. There is a crowd, no a multitude, and they are singing, praising God. 
And then they were gone.
"What in the world was that?" They ask each other. 
"Let's go see." They both said.
So they hurry. They leave their flocks. As they get nearer, they run faster, each trying to get there first. And they rush in a stumble through the opening, and there, over there He is. It is just like the Angels had said.
They tell Joseph and Mary about the angels, they tell everyone! And everyone was talking. "Could this be true?" Someone asked. 
Mary smiles, "oh yes, yes, it is true." She thinks in her heart. "I am holding the Child of God in my arms."
And the shepherds went back.
They went back.
They returned to their business. But their lives were changed! Oh were they ever! 

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. (Luke 2:8-20 NASB)

Lord, help me to remember that I, too have encountered You. 
Me, of all people. Who am I that You would care to love me enough to send that Baby? Oh Lord, help me, like the shepherds run through the streets to meet You and then tell everyone else all about You too. 

Little is Much


Jesus was born in a stable. Did you ever really stop to imagine what it must have looked like in there?
Thousands of people coming into a small town to pay taxes. They were riding animals a long way. They would've been dirty, tired, sweaty and smelly. 
The straw and hay if there was any left might have been trampled down and dirty.
It would have dark.
It would've been drafty.
There were probably cobwebs hanging in every corner and rafter.
But there was room, at least a stall. Or maybe they shared the same space as their own donkey.
In any case, these were not ideal circumstances.
Mary, was a very young woman who was pregnant through the Spirit of God! She not only was feeling the apprehensions of all young mothers to be, but also felt the wonder and excitement of bearing the world's Savior.
Joseph, like any man, is no doubt very nervous in this situation and wants his bride to be comfortable and wants to provide the best for her and the Baby. I wonder if he felt like he failed that night?
No, I cannot imagine delivering a child in those circumstances. 

But little is much with God in it. My mother in law used to say that all the time and over the years I have come to learn that God shines in the small places. He radiates in low times. He is strong when I am weak. 
Thank you, God.

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7 NASB)

Please do not be worried if your house is not decorated to perfection, if you didn't get to bake every cookie in the cookbook, or couldn't buy the best of all gifts. God will take care of all of it if we put Him first in all of it.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

What are you wearing?



People are busy running around here and there making plans and preparing for one of the most joyous times of the year. 
Many times in their haste they forget to prepare themselves properly. I get to the store and see people dressed in every kind of garb including pajamas. People are rude, loud, bossy and pushy. 
It makes me remember how my mom used to lay out my clothes each night before bed. I did the same for my kids when they were small. Maybe we need lessons again in choosing clothing.
 And Everyone rushes past the bell ringing person standing in the cold. 
Store clerks are ignored while shoppers talk on their phones. Store greeters never get looked at in the eye. Children are crying, parents are hollering. 
What a wonderful time of the year. (Sarcasm)

But it could be. It should be, if we would just prepare ourselves and plan our attitudes with the same diligence that we plan our other activities.
Did you acknowledge God this morning?
Did you get dressed in what God laid out for you?

 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, (put on) a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things (put on) love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:12-16 NASB)

Did you put on?
   A. A heart of compassion
   B. Kindness
   C. Humility
   D. Gentleness
   E. Patience
And
   F. Love
I want to get dressed in these beautiful clothes that He picked out and laid before me. I have time to get dressed properly. 
What are you wearing today?


Friday, December 13, 2013

Strength for His Work

The holiday season can be so full of activity that it becomes empty of the true meaning of Christmas.
Fatigue and discouragement can assault us during the Holiday season. Even at Christmas time life is constantly swinging its bruising punches. Before long we can become beaten down with little or no energy to really enjoy the season of giving and happiness.
We know in our heads we are children of the King, but our hearts feel no royal resilience. Fighting fatigue requires faith. 
Weariness at any time of the year is an opportunity for the Lord to strengthen you. He uses His people to energize and encourage one another. We will all need encouragement at some time in the stress of life and the Lord is strength for the journey of life.
Do not get so busy with the business of the holiday season that you forget the reason for the season, the birth of our Lord and Savior.
In life do not let worldly pressure like shopping, your job, divorce or family drama, death or disappointment exclude you from the Lord’s strength. Work will get you down. People will let you down. Failure will knock you down. Your greatest fears may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. Fight fear with fear. Let the fear of God strengthen you as it fortifies your faith in Him.
In most churches and families there is a lot to do from Thanksgiving to Christmas and New Years that you can get lost in all the activity and miss out on the joy and happiness and blessings of the season.
The greatest energy drainer may be serving God in our own strength. This is one of Satan’s most effective schemes. He wants to occupy us in good activity void of eternal energy. Serving God and others in our own strength means we are driven by what we can do for God, rather than what He can do through us. It’s the difference between being energized in our service, or being drained by our service. We must always trust in our God and not strive for Him.
The Holy Spirit gives life and endurance and infuses strength, so be strong in the Lord!
<°)))>< Pat P.


I got this encouraging email from our friend in Texas. It is a simply true, little article. But I particularly like the statement near the end that says, "we are driven by WHAT WE CAN DO for God, rather than what He can doTHROUGH US."
I am guilty of this once again. 
Oh, Lord, please forgive me when I get in Your way. I desire to be pleasing to you. Use me, Father, in Your ways, in Your service. And give me the strength I need. In Jesus name, Amen.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8 NASB)
 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Evening Prayer

Evening Prayer by St. Augustine of Hippo 

Watch, O Lord, with those who wake or weep tonight, and give your angels and saints charge over those who slumber.
Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ,
Rest your weary ones,
Bless your dying ones,
Soothe your suffering ones,
Pity your afflicted ones,
Shield your joyous ones,
And all for your love’s sake. Amen.

I cannot imagine a more beautiful prayer on behalf of others.
A request for Christ Himself to keep watch over those that cannot sleep or are crying in the dark.
He asks for angels to stand guard for those that are sleeping. (What comfort there would be for most of us if we could see the angels that are guarding us as we sleep.)
He asks rest for the weary, blessings on those that will be passing away, soothing for the suffering, (just the word soothing is soothing) he also requests pity for the afflicted,(what do you suppose would be the outcome of God's pity?)and my personal favorite, he asks the those who are joyful be shielded. How easily our joy can be taken away from us. It seems sometimes that if you are joyous somebody will try to steal it away.
This prayer warrior seems to understand that most all of us will fall under one of the categories of his prayer. 

Please pray for one another.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Who is getting burnt?


I confess I have carried bitterness inside me. There has been a time or so when I have been hurt or betrayed by those that I thought loved me. 
My humanness wanted to hurt them back. My humanness wanted me to tell others bad things about that person.
But God wants differently.
I may never understand what motivates others to do what they do.
But God expects me to live righteously in all circumstances. 

I saw a sign that said, Be kind to your enemies, it confuses them.

I believe that is true. If people are intentionally trying to hurt you, they enjoy watching your reactions to being hurt. You reward them by retaliating. Imagine how it would confuse them if you not only continued to be kind, but go out of your way to be extra nice.
The Bible gives us instruction in this matter.
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the Lord will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21, 22 NASB)
"B ut if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:20, 21 NASB)

The reward for your YOUR kind treatment of those that hurt and offend you is in knowing that you are pleasing God and bringing Him glory and He will take care of you in all matters.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "V engeance is M ine, I will repay," says the Lord. (Romans 12:14, 19 NASB)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

In a relationship


Yesterday while looking at Facebook I noticed that a young girl that I am friends with changed her status to, "in a relationship."
This girl is only 12 years old. I just had to shake my head. What does a 12 year old even know about being in a relationship?

I can remember I was about that age when I first remember ever hearing that word. I was sitting on a stone wall just outside our front door. I was reading a book. My mom's friend came for a visit and a cup of coffee like she did every afternoon. 
I could hear her and my mom talking but I was reading and not paying attention until the tone of their voices changed and I heard my mom's friend say, "they are having a relationship."
Now I listened, because I had never heard that word before. I knew what it meant to have relatives and what it meant to be related. But what did it mean to have a relationship?
Well just by hearing the rest of the conversation, I picked up that "having a relationship" was not a good thing.
As soon as I could I looked the word up in the dictionary. It said:
Relationship
noun
1 : the state of being related or interrelated <studied the relationship between the variables>
2 : the relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship: as 
a : kinship 
b : a specific instance or type of kinship
3 a : a state of affairs existing between those having relations or dealings <had a good relationship with his family> 
b : a romantic or passionate attachment

And I recognized that my mom's friend was talking about a romantic or passionate attachment.
I also believe that this is also what the young girl was referring to yesterday. And again I wonder what she even knows about being in a relationship. But maybe, just maybe she is referring to "a type of kinship."

As a Christian the Bible tells me this:
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. (Romans 8:16, 17 NASB)

I am a child (relative) of God. I am His heir (relative.) I am a joint heir (relative) of Christ. I have a connecting and binding kinship with God and God's Son.
I am "in a relationship."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Animal Friends



Good people are kind to their animals, but a mean person is cruel. (Proverbs 12:10 CEV)


What did I say?


There have been times when my words have gotten me into trouble. 
Many times when I spoken out when it might have been wiser to stay quiet. And I have also stayed quiet when I should've spoken up.
It isn't easy to know the right thing to say and the right time to say it. 

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5 NASB)

Are you one that speaks up or do you shrink back from speaking up? Ask God to give you wisdom in your speech. Ask Him to help you know when to say something and then be bold enough to say it. Ask Him to seal your lips when you are about to say what shouldn't be said. Ask Him to reveal the proper time that something should be said and then ask Him for the proper words to say.

Ask it of Him.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Rose


Discontentment can hang around you like a wet woolen blanket. It feels heavy and uncomfortable. You would like to shrug it off but you are afraid of what it might feel like to not have any blanket at all.
From where  does this discontentment come? What is the root?
It comes when God's grace no longer seems sufficient for you! Pure and simple as that.
God doesn't promise us a rose garden. How many times have you heard that old line? But yet, He doesn't. Maybe, just maybe we are the roses in this garden. 
Do you bloom where you are planted? Or are you looking for another rose garden?

Scripture puts it another way, we are called the light of the world. God gives us this light and then tells us to "Let it shine."
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NASB)
How can we be discontent and looking for a rose garden if we are letting our light shine for God?
I love this quote from the Poet Wordsworth:
If thou indeed derive thy light from Heaven,
Then, to the measure of that heaven-born light,
Shine, in thy place, and be content: --William Wordsworth

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Grace vs Determination


Grace vs determination
I sometimes wonder how unbelievers get through some of life's toughest situations.
I know I have had things happen in my life when I leaned heavily on Jesus and my Christian family and don't know how I would have faced it without them.
I asked a woman once how she faced rough times, knowing that she did not acknowledge the Lord in her daily life. She replied, "Determination."

I have heard it said before that faith in God is only for the weak.

So then, am I to think that if I am trusting and depending on my faith that I am weak and lack determination?

I believe otherwise. But I know without Jesus I am weak. I know without faith I have no hope. I know my determination can and will falter. But with God, I have a power that nothing can rival.
Consider the following verses just to mention a few:
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. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB)
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NASB)
In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears. (Psalms 18:6 NASB)
The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation. (Psalms 118:14 NASB)
"For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. (2 Samuel 22:40 NASB)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. (Ephesians 6:10 NASB)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Highest Mountains

In the old house that belonged to my parents, on one of the boards on a door frame are many measurements. In fact, there are over 30 years of measurements. 
When my daughter, Starla was born, my dad held her baby body up against the door frame and scratched a notch into the board. On her birthday she was again placed against the frame and another notch was scratched. Then my son, Tom came along and more notches appeared. Then came my son, Drew and his marks; my nephew, Levi; my niece Beth; my niece Kacey; and then my nephew, Jake. And many many scratches into the board. Every once in a while on the board you will see a name and a date of some other child that came in and wanted their mark on the doorframe.
Some of the marks are close to each other but none of them are in the exact place. However one thing was the same for each and every measurement, every child had their feet in the same place when being measured. Their feet were on the floor.
I asked my sister, Amy about that board today. I told her that I would like to have it if she doesn't want it. 
I will replace one of the doorframe boards in my home with that board.

A verse that I came across today fits in with that story in a way. But first listen to this statement that I heard somewhere. I apologize for not knowing who to credit with saying it.
The highest mountains are measured by the floors of the valley.
Yes, that's right the high peaks ( happiness, joy, achievements) are measured by the floors of the valley (sadness, fears, illnesses, hard times.) without those "bottoms" we would never know the heights of the good times. Every good thing is only good when compared to the bad times.
Now the verse:
In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB)
Please note, it does not say, "In the the good times, give thanks." Or "In most circumstances, give thanks." 
God expects us to be thankful in ALL things, at all times, because that is His will for us in Christ Jesus. 
As Christians we are to be grateful always!
Bad times are to be expected and they are the stable floor from which our mountain tops are measured. When we are growing in The Lord, we know that this is true.
Even Jesus tells us:
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NASB)


Monday, December 2, 2013

Let it slide or not


Letting it slide, have you ever heard the term? It generally refers to something being left undone.
Think about it....a slide usually goes down; and the further something slides, the faster it goes.
So when you let something slide it is going nowhere fast.

I woke up early this morning and my husband wanted to know why. I told him that I wanted to get to my devotions right away before we might get busy with work or distractions. I know from my personal experience that if I don't get at something immediately, I may let it slide.
And it isn't always intentional. Sometimes it just gets overtaken by another task that seems to take priority.

I want My morning prayers and devotions to come first. I don't want to let them slide. I don't want other things to crowd into my time and thoughts. Therefore, I NEEDED to wake early and do this.

I loved the slide as a kid. It was my first choice on the playground. I love sled riding even now as an adult, sliding down the snowy hill. 
You slide, faster and faster and then it stops. It's a free ride. A chance to sit and let go. But once the ride is over you must climb the ladder or pull your sled back up the hill to get to do it again. So there is effort involved. Just like sometimes we do extra work up front so that we can "slide" a little later.
This is how I like to view my devotion time. I would rather climb that ladder or snowy hill in the morning, then slide through the rest of the day leisurely.

But then there are times when you are driving on level ground, but it's covered with ice. And all at once your speed increases and suddenly you are sliding, out of control. You may regain control or you may not stop until you crash.
This is how I feel when my day starts before I do my devotion and prayer. 

I am not a risk taker. I like order. Letting things slide seems like a loss of control to me. And I much prefer everything to be processed and in place. It makes me feel at peace to know that everything is aligned.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 NASB)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Save me from myself


It seems whenever There is some kind of dire circumstance in my life I begin to fear. And then worry entwines itself through my thoughts and I can't seem to break free from it.
Then, to distract myself from the worry, I begin a "fix-it" mode. I start scrambling around trying desperately to arrange things and process things to get circumstances right again.
After that, frustration grips me as I realize that sometimes I AM POWERLESS.
what a rusted chain of events!

Why do I put myself through all this unrest as if I can't trust God with my life?

Has He left me down before? No, never!
Has He ever failed me? Absolutely not!
Has He ever been too late to rescue me? Of course not!
 
I am learning to wait. I am learning to be patient. I know I can trust. I have faith.
Lord, help me, save me from myself.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Division


Very often the preacher will preach a sermon that tramples all over my toes. Ouch! 
But when that happens, I need to examine myself according to God's word and work on becoming what God would have me to be. It is the preachers job to preach the word. 
The elders job is to tend the flock, shepherd the sheep, that is you. Their tender loving care sometimes includes rebuke or correction.
Sometimes a woman that's more mature in the word will pull me aside and instruct me in a way that could help me grow stronger in the faith.
Sometimes there are those that get upset about something at church and instead of examining themselves, they begin a campaign against those they think offended them. 
They begin to whisper to others, seeking and gathering those they can and before you can say, "satan came to steal, kill and destroy," there are factions and divisions in the Lord's church.
I have been through a split that began by someone whispering around and building an army and eventually 27 people got mad and left the church. How sad that they didn't scripturally try to mend offenses, but instead lies and deceit was spread around.
Now after more than 3 years, at least half of those that left do not attend church at all. Wow! 
Now hear me on this, here is the problem: those that started this vicious whisper campaign will be held accountable as stumbling blocks to those that went away.

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way. (Romans 14:13 NASB)

but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:6 NASB)

God gives us in His word a way to handle these issues. It is found in the book of Matthew.
"If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17 NASB)

God's way is always the right way. You cannot do things your own way and think that it is better than God's way. 
If you are at odds with someone at the assembly, if someone there hurts your feelings, be faithful and courageous enough to deal with it God's way.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "V engeance is M ine, I will repay," says the Lord. (Romans 12:19 NASB)
God does not want us being vengeful and mean and spiteful

You do not "win", no ones wins when the church is broken and people stumble away from God.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

World Tottering


Sometimes as I view the people and places of this earth it seems as if everything is out of control and spiraling downward fast. 
But then I read,
He established the earth upon its foundations, So that it will not totter forever and ever. (Psalms 104:5 NASB)
And I realize that God has this all in His marvelous control. Nothing escapes Him or catches Him by surprise. 
If you read the whole chapter of Psalm 104 you will see His greatness and His majesty.
I am very grateful to Him. I will praise Him to the end.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the Lord. (Psalms 104:33, 34 NASB)
But the sinners of this world will get their justice.
Let sinners be consumed from the earth And let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord ! (Psalms 104:35 NASB)
Hopefully, through our praise, worship and witness others will turn from sin and join us in bringing glory to our Creator.

Be joyful for this wonderful earth that He will keep from tottering forever.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Be joyful


Why do the times of Thanksgiving to our Lord for all His generous blessings and the season of celebrating the birth of our Lord and savior bring such feelings of stress, sadness, lonliness, depression, and fear?
Shouldn't this be a time for joy and gladness? What has perverted it? Why not lay aside all the "I need to" and "I have to" and "we still ought to"s and just be thankful and just be joyful?
Why do we have to decorate like Martha Stewart and cook like Paula Deen and buy for our kids like they are the Kardashians?
Why do we aggravate ourselves with so much influence from society?
Let us praise the Lord for His blessings upon us including the Most Blessed One of all and not put too much pressure on ourselves or too many expectations on our family members and just be joyful.

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalms 34:1 NASB)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Are you playing?


When my kids were small they would ask me to play hide and seek. Sometimes I was busy and would tell them that I would play later.
"Oh, Mom, come on." They would whine.
"Ok, go hide." I would tell them.
Then I would continue washing dishes or whatever I was doing. Every minute or so I would call out. "I can't find you, still looking."
Playing this way usually bought me enough time to finish my task. But it wasn't "real" playing with my kids. I wasn't sincere in my efforts. They knew it and I knew it. It didn't feel right for any of us.

I wonder how many of us seek God in this way. "I'll look for You, God, later when I'm not so busy with living my life."
Or
We pretend to seek Him by doing things halfway or half-heartedly.

God knows the difference. We need to be sincere in our faith. Our efforts in worship need to be earnest. 

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13 NASB)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Precious to Me


If something is precious to us we want to take care of it. We want to guard it and keep it close to us. We protect it. We enjoy it. We cherish it.
God says we are precious to Him. 
Believe it today.

God says, "Fear not!"
Why does He say that? "Because you are Precious to Me and I love you. And I am with you."

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you,
 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. 
Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, 
 Fear not, for I am with you.  (Isaiah 43:1-5 ESV)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Anxiety/Depression


I am feeling fine now, but wanted to repeat this for the benefit of others.

I sometimes suffer from depression and/or anxiety. Although I now believe that I have had this even as a child, I was not diagnosed until 25 years of age. 
It is an invisible illness. Most people would not be able to see that you have it even while in the midst of the worst of it.
But it can be just as debilitating as any other illness.
And too many people suffer in silence because it is such a misunderstood illness. People that do not have it many times cannot understand that it is a physical illness as well as affecting you mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. 
It wears you out physically. You really get fatigued while going through it. A lot of the time you won't eat or you don't eat right so your immune system fails and you get sick.
I do not know what causes it, but I have learned some of the things that could trigger it in me. There are many medicines that can help. Talking with a therapist can also help. There are coping skills. 
It usually affects smart people and influential people, people most others would consider strong,  but it  knows no social or economic or cultural barriers.  Here is a list of some of the symptoms that I get.
Anxiety/depression symptoms:
Nervous/jumpy
Startles easily
Heart feels strange,  like to close the speaker at a concert
Ears throb, like hearing a heartbeat 
Creeping up my neck
Function normally, but no recollection of performing tasks
No concentration
Extreme lack of patience with others
Desire to be normal to the point of OCD
Sweaty
Quiet
Bad dreams
Tired
No excitement or interest in anything
Isolation
Doesn't want to be alone
Feels alone in crowds
Panics in stores or theaters or restaurants (cannot stand or wait in lines)
Loses confidence in your abilities
No sexual desire
Crying bouts
Hates loud noises
Does not want to be touched
Does not want anyone too close to you 

It is very hard and embarrassing to admit to and I usually don't ever want to talk about or even want people to know that I have it. That is because of the reactions and comments by those that don't understand it.
I once had a very well known and highly respected evangelist tell me to "quit ruining things for your family." Other well meaning but ignorant people will say things like, 
Just get over it!
Why don't you  pray about it?
Well, what's bothering you?
It's all in your mind, Quit thinking that way!

Really?!? Does anyone think that I want to bring affliction to my family? And nobody wants it to end as much as I do, but I can't just "turn it off" or I surely would. And I have spent more time in prayer over this than any can imagine. 
I honestly am not just trying to get attention. I could think of more creative and less painful ways to do that.
Look, I don't want your pity. I don't know why I am writing this and putting it out there. I guess I just want you to know me and understand me better. I am not using it as an excuse to get out of doing things, Or to manipulate anyone else. The guilt of that would make the anxiety worse for me. Maybe I just want everyone to know and understand that we all have burdens, we all have issues, we all have needs, we all have concerns. Each of us have loads that we must carry through this life. 
Even the people that seem the strongest, even the people that appear the happiest, even the people that look like they have it all, we all have our burdens and problems. 
We need each other. We need The Lord.
Pray for me, please. I am praying for you. 


Friday, November 15, 2013

Faith Bridges


I think most of you know of my fear of high bridges. And that is really a nuisance in my job as a truck driver.
I am getting a little better with that fear though. It is getting easier for me to drive across without the heart pounding anxiety that I used to have. Although the Beckley Bridge in WV still causes that anxiety every time.
I recently had to cross it in the fog. Oh my! This meant that I had to keep driving and moving forward through my fear even though I could not see very far in front of me or had no idea when I would reach the other side. 
I slowed way down, but I kept going forward. And I made it! I did, in time, come out on the other side.

That reminds me of Faith.
We sometimes have to slow down and just keep moving forward, knowing and believing that we will come out on the other side.

I know that the more faith bridges that we cross, the easier it becomes to KNOW that we will make it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Go for a walk


I love going for walks. That is a time when I can clear my head, refocus my thoughts and get a good grasp on things, without the distractions of the tv, the telephone, or whatever. Going for a walk is real "me time."
But I also enjoy walking with friends. I love a slow stroll with a cherished friend. That is a time to talk, to catch up, or work through problems together. When you take a walk with someone else you can really get to know that person.

I used to go for walks with a friend and when we got done with our walking and got back to our cars, we sometimes weren't done talking to each other so we would stand at our cars and continue to talk.
And then there were times when after standing there talking we would decide to go get a cup of coffee and talk some more. We enjoyed each other's friendship and conversations.
It is nice to have friendships like that.

But not all associations are good.
"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; (Psalm 1:1 NASB)
 Do you see how the progression works in this verse?
1.The sinner will walk in the counsel of the ungodly,
2.  then he will stand with the sinners (or hang out with them), 
3.then sit in the seat of the scornful.  Now he's fully with them.  
Bad news!
  How many times have you heard someone say, "Well, he just got in with the wrong crowd."? 
 Beloved, blessed is the man who does not get in the wrong crowd!
Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals." (1 Corinthians 15:33 NASB)

With whom are you walking?

When we walk with The Lord in the Light of His word, what a glory He sheds on our way.
 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Blessings


This morning while scrolling my Facebook feed, because of it being the month of naming your blessings, I saw a woman being thankful for those people that helped her during a really hard time in her life. In her thankfulness of those people, she was very aware that it was God that brought these people to her at the right time. Beautiful! 
Her story turned into a testimony.

Do you know that it is God that does things through others for you? Do you give Him the credit? 
Our scripture today says, Make known His deeds among the peoples, Make them remember that His name is exalted.

I love this month because everyone is counting their blessings but let's give the credit to The Lord. He is the giver of all things. He is Lord! Praise His name.

Share your testimonies. Share your stories of God's goodness. "Let this be known throughout the earth."

And in that day you will say, "Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; Make them remember that His name is exalted." Praise the Lord in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth. (Isaiah 12:4, 5 NASB)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lesson of the Sharks


This article was sent to me by a good friend. He is the son of a minister and an Elder at the Evers Road Christian Church in San Antonio, TX. 
Pat is a genuine, faithful, and true servant of God. I am honored to know him.


I was flipping channels or TV surfing the other night and stopped on the Discovery channel and watched a show that caught my eye about sharks. Some idiot was under water in a shark proof cage and a great white shark tore up the cage and almost got the guy—so much for shark proof—but the guy was brave.
I have attached a picture of a shark that I took. I was not in a cage and the shark was in an aquarium.
For sure sharks are amazing creatures. Mostly they are just eating machines.
Did you know; Sharks will not out grow their environment. Put a shark in a small aquarium and the shark will stay small—12 inches long.
Put that shark in the ocean and it will grow to 12 feet long.
In a similar way: spiritually some people never grow and they stay small due to their spiritual environment. You cannot grow spiritually in a small dull lukewarm or dead church.
Of course I have always felt that dull people like a dull church and do nothing people like a do nothing church.
I have noticed that people, who have not grown spiritually, never achieve anything significant for the Lord because they lack faith and are afraid of failure. Remember it takes faith to get in the water with sharks just like it takes faith to try anything that might be risky.
Look up the word "fail" in a thesaurus and you'll find terms like: blunder, break down, fall, fizzle, flop, flounder, fold, lose out, and disappoint. These are strongly negative words, and sometimes we're so afraid of them we don't move forward in the endeavors or possibilities that God has for us.
Question, what would you do today that you aren't doing if you knew you could not fail?
When fear of failure keeps you from moving forward in faith, fear has won—fear has then beaten you and kept you from reaching your full potential.
While we can't guarantee that all our projects and ambitions will end successfully, as we define success, we can be certain that God's plan for our lives will be fulfilled as we trust Him.
Speaking about the future of Jerusalem, Zephaniah 3:5 says, "The LORD is righteous in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails."
Don't worry about success or failure. Concentrate on trusting God and obeying Him. Move forward, knowing He never blunders, breaks down, falls, fizzles, flops, flounders, folds, loses out, or disappoints.
So what will you do knowing God never fails? Maybe get out of the boat and get in the shark cage.
Always remember, our mighty God never fails.
<°)))><
By Pat Pennington, San Antonio, TX

 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sing Praises



I remember when our kids were little and sick their dad would rock them, pat their backs and sing into their ears.
No matter how uncomfortable they were this soothing comfort brought them rest.
People sing for all kinds of reasons, but no singing will bring you more comfort than when your bring a sacrifice of praise to God.

Sing praises to God, sing praises; Sing praises to our King, sing praises. (Psalms 47:6 NASB)

What song are you singing today?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Clay Jars


I once owned a small terra cotta jar with a cork for a lid. I would pour scented oils into the jar and cork the jar.
By the next day the oil would have permeated the porous jar and scented the entire room.
That was the purpose of the jar, to be used as an air freshener. Everyone could smell it but no one really noticed the little terra cotta jar.
It worked really well and because of the strong smell of the fragrance, other unpleasant odors went unnoticed.
If I had wanted to contain and save the oil, I would have kept it in the original glass bottle in which it came. But for the product to work as intended it had to be put into the clay pot.

God works like that inside of us. We are clay pots. He is inside of us. Because we are weak (porous,) His power fills us and seeps into us and out of us. Everyone around us will be aware of God.
We can be so filled with God that people hardly notice us at all, only the Power that we have inside. Because of God in us, the unpleasantness of this life can be overcome.

We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us. 
We often suffer, but we are never crushed.
 Even when we don't know what to do, we never give up.
 In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again. 
We face death every day because of Jesus. Our bodies show what his death was like, so his life can also be seen in us. (2 Corinthians 4:7-11 CEV)

You can be a glass bottle, filled with God but your lid screwed on tight with no way for His essence to permeate and be known by many; or you can be a jar of clay. 
I pray you choose to be a clay jar. Share what you contain.
But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed, therefore I spoke," we also believe, therefore we also speak, (2 Corinthians 4:13 NASB)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cut up




People often say, "don't judge me." 
They feel, I guess, that when you try to warn them, or correct them that you are looking down your nose at them. 
But really it is the Word that judges. 
The word of God (the Bible) is the rule, the measuring tape by which all of us will be judged. We will be held accountable for living up to it and pleading ignorance will not be an excuse. We are told in 2 Ti. 2:15, Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 

The word will be our judge.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NASB)

The word is a living and active thing that will get inside of us, to our core. It is so sharp that it will divide our soul from our spirit. Wow! 
The word of God is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of our heart. 
I think then, we should be careful about our thoughts. Did you realize that even your thoughts will be judged?

It will be a painful thing to be cut, pierced and "butchered" by the word of God. But that pain could save you from the pain of eternal separation from God. And what is more painful than that?

Don't worry, I am not judging you, the scripture will do that. However, we are to hold each other accountable and encourage each other to do what is right. 
Therefore I will not be offended if you bring your scriptures and show me when I am doing wrong.