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
   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:
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.