Friday, June 23, 2017

Little Things in Life

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Ephesians 1:2-4 NIV)

Little Things in Life
Reading the reports of the unusual weather in Iraq, I was reminded of a similar experience when I was growing up in Galveston, Texas. You may remember that it snowed in Iraq for the first time in most people's recent memory, going back even as far as eight decades! Without turning our attention to any possible prophetic analysis, I wanted to look at the “little things of life.”

When I was in elementary school, perhaps the third of fourth grade (way too much time has passed to be sure), while sitting in class and looking outside on a cold January day, it began to snow. For those of you who live in the colder climates, that wouldn't seem so unusual. However, for Galveston that was a jaw-dropper! Class was immediately dismissed so that we could go outside and experience the “snowstorm.” Of course it didn't last long, but it was quite an experience.

Today, living in a climate where it does snow a few times each year, I must admit I only think about how bad the roads will be and the difficulty of getting to and from work. In fact, I find that is true with many of the little things of life that are so easy to take for granted. A beautiful sunset. A child's smile. A delicious meal. A restful night's sleep. An encouraging word. All of these and more are such wonderful gifts. Our jobs, relationships, birth, sickness and death, these get our attention. That's not surprising. These are the things that affect us on a deep level. They can often be life threatening or life changing. However, it's how we handle the little things in life that help us deal with the big things.

You can find lots of inspiration and guidance from the "little things" that make up your life. And, they add up. Try to live life aware of your moments. Be involved in the little things and watch your life change. Don Emmitte

Friday, June 16, 2017

Singing Over Me

On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, ‘Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty savior. He will rejoice over you with great gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will exult over you by singing a happy song. (Zephaniah 3:16-17 NLT)

Singing Over Me
Just reread these two verses one more time. It is a wonderful picture from God’s word of His great love for us. There is also an incredible promise found in these words.

What is God saying to us? Cheer up, don’t be afraid! Why should we ‘cheer up ... don’t be afraid’; because our Lord has arrived and is living not only among us but with in us! When we really understand that God Himself lives within us we don’t need to be afraid or dismayed. All powerful, all knowing God, the Creator of everything has chosen to make His home with you; that is an awesome reality when we really consider it!

I love the promise in this section “with his love, he will calm all your fears.” I often amaze myself at how afraid I can allow myself to get; but when I ponder those nine words I am blown away. It’s really simple, yet somehow the fact that God’s love calms my fears seems to escape me at just the wrong time. Yet His love is perfect, complete, steady, and huge enough to relax me and take away all my anxieties and fears. There isn’t any reason for me to ever allow fear to consume me as long as I remember God’s love!

The next part of this section is mind boggling. I have such a low opinion of who I am; but here I am told that my Savior actually SINGS over me. I am certainly not a gifted singer, but I love singing; I especially enjoying singing when I feel happy. The fact that God sings about me, because of me, just leaves me amazed.

Oh to comprehend God’s great love for us. To get that revelation knowledge of His thoughts towards His children brings with it an incredible power and change in the heart of His people.

He LOVES you! His love isn’t because of who you are, who you know, how rich you are; His love isn’t based on how good you have been. He loves you because He created you, because Jesus died for you, He loves you because He is love.  Tracy Finney

Friday, June 9, 2017

Light the Fire

Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. (1 Kings 18:38 KJV)

Light the Fire
I have heard the CEO of a media consulting company use the example of Mohammed Bouazizi as an example in allegory of what it takes to get noticed on social media. Not that this sad and tragic death of a young man in the small north African country of Tunisia was done for the sake of social media publicity, but that it is events like this that spark hugely massive interest and attention. Other famous tweets include hard fought reelection results, celebrity deaths, and challenges from pop stars. It is amazing the things that we are either willing to set on fire or describe as recently ignited in order to garner mass attention.

This greatly interests me as this speaks volumes of rich understanding in the heart of Elijah when you pause and consider exactly what was involved in the challenge that he openly offered to the priests of Baal. It is the miracle that I personally like to refer to as not the day that God turned water into wine, but when He turned water into kerosene. Granted, this is probably not strictly accurate nor is it relevant in the sense that even kerosene still needs a spark to ignite. The real miracle here is that no matter how urgent the need to visibly demonstrate the specific presence of a hearing, seeing, and living God; Elijah lays everything at God’s feet and waits for His answer. We know this not only by the fact that Elijah did not light the sacrifice, but made it the sole condition of the entire demonstration. Furthermore, he did everything he could to illustrate that his sacrifice was not worth being lit.

Similar to the peace that Noah had in knowing that it was God’s hand that closed the door on the ark and not his (see Genesis 7:16). A knowledge that whoever was left out and whatever last minute animal may be missing, that God was able to make that judgment call. So, Elijah thoroughly understood that although he had a great task to work through in getting the scene set, it would be God who has to reach down and take the actions that He wills. There was no attempt to take credit for what God did, and there was no attempt to generate a man made demonstration that had an appearance of God’s power. Elijah did the work required of him in gathering a situation together that would allow God’s name to be glorified, allow people the opportunity to make a very necessary individual choice, and show himself to be the least worthy of any possible ensuing glory.

As Elijah’s knee bowed to ask God to make Himself known, he effectively illustrated the most powerful tweet that can ever be sent in God’s kingdom. He let God light the fire and never even managed to construct something flammable in the process. The greatest fire that we can ever light is to say in complete surrender within our own hearts, Lord let thy will be done in such a way that others may know you! Jeff Beneze

Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. (1 Kings 18:37 KJV)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane
It was 8:05 p.m. Memorial Day evening. I was on the freeway with two of my five kids – the oldest and the youngest. The oldest was listening to his iPod. The youngest was indignantly watching cars go by her window, announcing with much emotion, “Speeder. Speeeeder. Definitely a speeder! Mom, do motorcycles have to go the speed limit too, or do they get a free pass?”

I laughed. “No free passes. Motorcycles have to obey the speed limit too.”

“Double speeder!? Pause. “Mom?”

“Yeah, Honey?”

“Why is everyone in such a hurry? Can’t they just slow down? Where are they all going in such a rush? And where are the police?”

Good questions. Where are we all going in such a hurry? Why do we feel the need to rush from one thing to the next without regard for the speed limit, our health, our safety, or our lives? Living at such a frantic pace, we fail to live in the moment. We miss the laughter, beauty and joy in our midst, trading them for stress and frustration, anxiety and anger. We forge ahead consumed with the destination, completely missing the journey. In a sense, we’re taking God’s precious gift of time and life and telling Him it isn’t what we want, that we don’t have the time. Ouch.

A few weeks ago, I was on the back of a Harley riding through Alaska. The mountains rose 50 feet from one side of the road, and the ocean inlet fell away 100 feet from the other. An eagle soared overhead. Snow capped the peaks and descended into valleys. Glacial ice fields chilled the air. Ice bergs floated in the bay. As we rode through this wild, untamed country, I felt closer to God than I had in months, and Megan’s questions resurfaced in my mind. Why are we in such a hurry? Where are we going in such a rush, and why do we think it’s OK to break the law to get there faster? Why do we wait and hope and plan for tomorrow or next week or next year to slow down and enjoy our lives? Life isn’t awaiting us at a destination, it’s happening right here, right now, and we’re missing it.

“Lord,” I prayed, “I’m in Alaska, on the back of a Harley, behind the man I love most in this world, and I don’t want to miss a single minute. Teach me to slow down and experience the immensity of who You are. Teach me to be fully present in every moment; to savor this precious, priceless gift of time and life you’ve given me. Teach me to laugh easily, love abundantly, and to be content no matter where I am, for I’m beginning to understand that the only way to taste and see just how good You are is to slow down and experience life as You created it to be: Life lived abundantly, richly, deeply in the slow lane, where we find purpose and meaning and joy in every moment along the way.” Cindee Snider Re

Friday, May 26, 2017

Life and Death Promises that are True

Death and life are in the power of the tongue … (Proverbs 18:21 NKJ)

Life and Death Promises that are True
The words we speak are very powerful. They can effect our environment, they can alter our surroundings.

In Genesis we are told we are made in God’s image. How did God create? “In the beginning God said …” Everything we came into existence because of God’s word. He spoke creation into being. Just like God had the power to speak the whole of creation into existence, likewise He created us in His image and with that has come a “power” in our words.

This verse from Proverbs tells us we have the power of life and death in our words. We can choose to speak uplifting, edifying, life-giving words to those in our lives. Or we can tear down and beat others in with what we speak.

I have experienced both realities in my own life. Many times, when I’ve been anxious or stressed, I have resorted to speaking words of death my family. “Hurry up, get that math problem done. Are you stupid?” All these words I have spoken in my selfish flesh nature have effected those receiving them; not only that but they have effected me too. I hate every time I speak something to bring sadness or sorrow to not only someone I love, but anyone.

On the other hand, I have witnessed the difference when I speak words of life into those around me. “Wow, you’ve done a great job!” or “Let me see if I can help you with that problem.” These kind words causes the recipients face to light up. They produce a feeling in their heart of love and acceptance. They also make me feel really good inside knowing I am not wearing down someone’s emotions, but rather sowing seeds of peace, love, and joy! I have also seen how just a few simple kind words to strangers makes their day!

Today, remember you have the power of life and death in the words you choose to speak. Marriages, relationships, and working environments can and have been changed by simply changing the words we say to those around us. Today, let’s choose to speak the words that God would have us say, let’s choose to build up others! Let’s speak words of life!

Meditate on the things of God! Tracy Finney

Friday, May 19, 2017

Letting Love In

Letting Love In
“You’ve got to let people love you!” I had seen the young man at work before but I didn’t know him, and I didn’t think he knew me. Yet his words, spoken with such tenderness, slipped past my pride and my anger. But what did they mean? As a teenager I thought I had correctly concluded that people didn’t care about anyone but themselves, and I was purposely living an isolated existence. But was it possible that I was actually the source of my problem, not other people?

Looking back, I believe God sent that message to me, through a stranger, to unlock the door of the internal prison I had built. Those words broke me down, just enough to set me free. And even though I still walk back into that cell from time to time, due to a poor attitude or poor choices, God is always there to gently guide me out again.

How is it we forget that we are loved and sometimes choose to isolate ourselves, or do other self-destructive behaviors? Don’t we think we’re worthy of love? Isn’t that why Jesus died on the cross? Michael Mann
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. – Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Friday, May 12, 2017

Listening

Listening
I went to bed worrying about something on the news last night and a lack of information. I awoke to hear the worst news about what I had feared when I went to bed. Two people who had influenced the lives of my family are no longer with us today and many questions are yet to be answered. I ask you be in prayer for this situation and to lift it and the family up in prayer.

I have been asked how do people without faith handle certain situations like the loss of a loved one and to be honest I have no answer to that question. But I do know that how we as Christians respond makes a difference in the people we minister to during these times. The directions we receive from scripture are found in the book of James.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19-20 NIV)

To me it is pretty straight forward God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason so we could listen more and talk less. That is the advice we are given as Christians who are coming along the side non-believers and believers in a time of loss of loved ones or any other struggle they might be facing in life.

As Christians our best response is not to quote scripture or tell them it is all right but to sit quietly doing whatever is asked of us. From my own experience you will not remember what people say unless you are offended by it or it is totally stupid. But you will remember those people who were by your side through it all. Not judging you or the situation but providing to you the love, grace and mercy of God as it has been measured out to them from Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

I challenge you today to live your life listening first. You might be surprised what you hear that makes your response different than it would have been originally. Have a Blessed day as you walk in the light of the God’s Word. Rev Brian Mathis

Friday, May 5, 2017

Let's Hang On

Let's Hang On
I need encouragement; we all do. It’s easy to become discouraged when fighting daily routine battles or facing new challenges. The stress or monotony of a job can wear us down, and opposition from within or outside our comfort zone leads to burnout.

I find it much easier to start some chores than to finish. I grumble in my spirit like a selfish child on a long road trip. Am I there yet? I’m tempted to quit or at least walk away until a more convenient time.

Gospel writers recognized our need to hear words of encouragement. “So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith (Galatians 6:9-10 HCS).” Hang in there! PamFord Davis

Friday, April 28, 2017

Let My Heart Be Broken

Let My Heart Be Broken
“Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God,” wrote Mother Teresa in the flyleaf of her Bible. Her words have challenged me for years.

When I first read them, I thought of world hunger, corrupt governments, AIDS orphans, terrorism, and disease, but my view has broadened to include my neighbors who have recently experienced divorce, my mother-in-law’s loneliness, the frustration of a friend struggling with her wayward child, the weariness of a mom who patiently, tenderly cares for her special needs child, the hopelessness of another caught in addiction.

Sometimes I feel helpless in the midst of all this brokenness.

Saturday afternoon, I received a call from a neighbor disabled by Parkinson’s Disease. She’d recently had a mastectomy, and called to tell me her husband, her primary caregiver, had just had surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor. My heart broke. I offered meals and scheduled a work day to help keep up with their yard. It’s a short term solution. They need so much more help than we can give.

That evening, a friend called, pouring out her heart over a loved one’s struggle with addiction. “How do you help someone who doesn’t want help?” my friend sobbed. I don’t know. I only know that God is bigger than brain tumors and breast cancer and Parkinson’s, bigger than addiction and AIDs, bigger than our limited ability to help, and any solutions we can offer.

We want so often in our fast-food, drive-thru, easy-answer, instant-gratification culture to diagnose a problem and find an immediate solution. Sometimes, however, there are no easy answers, no quick solutions.

As I sat across the table from a friend recently, I thought, “She’s so strong. She tries to find the humor in what she’s going through, but her eyes speak what her words don’t.” It reminded me of the last lines of a poem I wrote in college entitled, Veiled Expressions: “Vermeer captures only what he sees,/And then her soul/Bleeds through to stain/Her likeness on his canvas.” My friend’s soul bled through her strong fa├žade, and broke my heart.

Perhaps it isn’t always what we can do, but how much we can love. Perhaps it’s more about walking with others through the pain than finding a solution for the pain. Perhaps it’s just our presence that soothes some of their brokenness. Perhaps that’s what keeps us from building another Tower of Babel. If we could solve all the problems, we wouldn’t need God. We would be God. Cindee Snider Re

Father, keep us humble and mindful of who we are. Remind us that we don’t need to have all the answers, for You do. There is nothing we experience that You do not know completely. There is nothing that is out of Your control. Teach us to accept our finite limitations, and to rely on You, and You alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Let's Get Away From It All

Let's Get Away From It All
Do you ever have the desire to be totally spontaneous? Grab the keys and cry out, let’s get away from it all! A change of scenery might be just what the doctor ordered. Statistics show that people who take vacations regularly live longer. The abbreviated R&R for those on active military duty is seen as crucial. Rest and relaxation recharges our batteries and renews our strength.

It is not a new concept. Jesus, the Son of Man often found strength in solitude, yet He never felt alone. He met his Father in prayer. He shared the importance of those times with his apostles. “After the apostles returned to Jesus, they told him everything they had done and taught. But so many people were coming and going that Jesus and the apostles did not even have a chance to eat. Then Jesus said, Let’s go to a place where we can be alone and get some rest. They left in a boat for a place where they could be alone (Mark 6:30-32 CEV).” Don’t feel guilty to leave your work behind. You will do your best following some rest! PamFord Davis

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