Friday, May 18, 2018

Losing Your Balance? Lean on Jesus

Losing Your Balance? Lean on Jesus
I am sitting here at the keyboard in the position of trying to go in to have a quiet time for over three hours now. I actually got to my QT place once and began praying. Then remembered someone I was supposed to write to on e-mail, which was triggered by my prayer list, and here I am back at the computer again. No, I didn’t follow my own instructions of having a paper and pen in my quiet time place to write down “distractions and things to do” for AFTER the time spent with my Jesus. Can you relate to me here, warts and all? Then I hear His whisper:

My Daughter, guard against being so easily distracted. Know that I love you and am working much on your behalf. Things aren’t often as they appear. Lean on Jesus and you’ll never be off balance for long. Know that I know and rest in that. Stand. I will, I move in perfect, harmonious timing. Be not dismayed nor discouraged. Allow Me to open and close doors. Receive My peace and joy. Delight in My world/work, wherever you are. Selah (pause and think calmly about that)

It seems like I just wrote a devotional about Mary and Martha. Lord, might this mean that I am not too tuned in yet? That I am reading and it is going “in one eye and out the other”, that I am still “Martha-ing” my way through life most of the time. Then please at least help me write addressing this occasion.

In Luke 10:40 it speaks about Martha being distracted. I know there are also places in this same Bible where it talks about Jesus loving Martha. Hum, maybe I should change my middle name from Lynn to Martha. I guess the very best thing to do would be to pray and ask the Lord Jesus to change ME, not my middle name. To help me not be distracted and going like a little ping pong ball from floor to wall to ceiling, to FOCUS and SIT. I wonder if they have obedience training school for us saints. OK. Back to Luke.

Martha was distracted by all the preparations. I can relate. Who else is going to straighten the kitchen, load the dishes and wash, scoop kitty boxes and feet those four legged furry critters? Not Mick, nope, he is off earning money to pay the bills.

Lord, I am RETIRED. How did I ever get it done when we were both working and taking care of my folks in two different facilities and their home before that sold? I am retired and seemingly having less time than I did back then. No we didn’t have teenagers thrown into the mix.

Back to Luke, Lord my sister has left me to do all the work. Well, that didn’t apply to us. My sister and her hubby had his mom and grandmother to take care of, kids and grandkids and they were working more than 40 hour weeks at jobs in Iowa.

Then my attention was drawn to Isaiah 41:10 and I think this is a rhema scripture for me having my own name, Marijo Lynn Martha, stamped upon it. It says basically that I am not supposed to fear, because God (creator of the universe!) is with me, little old Martha-y me. That He is my God, should I doubt like I sometimes do. No, I don’t doubt Him, it is me I sometimes have serious reservations about. He goes on promising that he will strengthen me and help me and uphold me with His righteous right hand. That is where the spotlight should be, not on me and my puniness but on Jesus and His victorious right hand. The right hand of His righteousness, that is quite a relief.

Moving right along we turn to Philippians 4:9 which speaks to whatever we have learned or received or heard to put it into practice (from the writer) and promising that the God of peace will be with me.

John 16:24 goes on and says that until now you have not asked anything in my name (Jesus' name) and that we are to ask and we shall receive and our joy will be complete.

Then Proverbs 3:5 comes into play next. We are to trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not to our own understanding … How many times have I thought I had it all figured out and then in hindsight saw how far off base I was, really. Marijo Phelps

Dearest Lord Jesus, I realize as I pause to pray that in writing this piece I have gotten into your Word and spent time with you. Thank you for the banquet of promises contained within those pages. Thank you that you are so creative in the ways you choose to speak life into our hearts. Thank you that right now I am purposing to stop, close the doors in my over busy mind and talk to you. And may all those reading this do the same. AMEN.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Lord, Is This a Good Time to Call?

Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. (Psalm 55:17 ESV)

Lord, Is This a Good Time to Call?
In the “good old days”, people dropped into our home at all hours of the day and night. Time didn’t matter much back then. The door was always open and the coffee pot was always on the stove. It was not necessary to make a phone call and schedule a visit. Visitors were always welcome. My family thrived on company.

Sunday afternoons used to be a favorite time for visiting. If one was absent from Sunday school or Church that morning, you were bound to get a visit (or two) from church family. It was that extra-special “helping” of love served by caring friends.

Things are different today. So many people work shift-work. Men and women of the home are usually both working. Visits must be prearranged. Phone calls are even made carefully so as not to waken a shift-worker.

It is not so with our Heavenly Father. Praise Him! He says come to Him morning, noon and evening and He will hear our voice. Beloved, He will also recognize our voice.

When I was young we used to have a “party-line” telephone. We had to be careful when we picked up the phone to see if the line was being used by someone else; and we had to courteously limit our time on the line. God is not only available morning, noon and night. His line is always open … no busy signals. He answers every caller personally; no "punching-in" extra numbers to get connected. E.J. Swanson

Father, Help me to realize that You are always available to me…all day and all night. I can cry out to You even in the midnight hour and You will hear. Truly You never leave me nor forsake me. Amen

Friday, May 4, 2018

Lord, I'm Done

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (MSG)
There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death, A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal, A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh, A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain, A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend, A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate, A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

Lord, I'm Done
Have you ever just had those times when you say, "I'm done"? A time when all the pressures of life, at that moment, have taken their toll on you and you have nothing left to give to the situation? I just recently had an experience like that. As I prayed and sought the Lord as to what it meant, I realized that it was not entirely negative. Surrender is not always bad. In fact, in our Christian walk there must be complete surrender and consecration before anything else will change. Personally, I realized that what I was really feeling and saying was "I'm tired of doing this in my own strength."

The author of Ecclesiastes had some insight to this thought process. He seemed to understand that everything (the good, the bad, and the ugly) has a purpose. Life cannot, and unfortunately will not, be a bed of roses all the time. I think I thought this kind of outlook was a lack of faith on my part; but God is showing me otherwise. If we look at the life of Paul, it doesn't take long for us to see the continual struggles in his life. He said it this way: "... {I have} been put in prison..., been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches" (2 Corinthians 11:23-28, New Living Translation).

Life was not a bed of roses for Paul. But what I love about his testimony is that regardless of all the adversities (brought against him or his own inward struggles), he never lost sight of God's grace and who he was in Christ. If we continue reading this passage in 2 Corinthians Chapter 11 and into Chapter 12, Paul goes on to say, "... I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Why would Paul boast in his weaknesses? Because when he (or we) boast in our infirmities, the door is swung wide open for us to boast of Christ, who took our infirmities. This word "infirmities" means feebleness (of body or mind); by implication malady; moral frailty (disease, sickness, or any kind of weakness).

The scriptures fully indicate that this was part of Jesus' ministry, "... thus He fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, 'He Himself took [in order to carry away] our weaknesses and infirmities and bore away our diseases'" (Matthew 8:17, Amplified).

When I resign, surrender, or in essense say "I'm done", am I not really just saying "Lord, I need your grace"? It is necessary for us to resign at times. Otherwise, we may be found guilty of taking the grace provided through the cross in vain. Whereas, we prefer to look only on the bright side of life, there are times that we must look THROUGH the hard times in order to appreciate the Light. If we look again at the words found in Ecclesiastes, this time only looking at the hard times, what will we find? There is a time "... for death ... {and a time} to plant, a right time to kill and ... a right time to destroy ..., a right time to cry... {and} a right time to lament ..., {a time} to abstain {from making love}, ... and another {time} to part {and} ... count your losses, a right time ... to let go, a right time to rip out and another to shut up ..., a right time to ... hate, {and} a right time to wage war..."

That's almost too harsh for me! But I can't continue going through life like an ostrich with its head in the sand, paying attention only to the things that are easy and fun. True growth in my life will take place when I willingly look at the hard parts and say, "Lord, I'm done." Pain can be my teacher, if I allow it to be.

Concerning these thoughts, I am encouraged by the scriptures. Jesus said, "So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:33). Paul said, "Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God)?" (Romans 6:16). The bottom line is: surrender is necessary.

The good news is that when we do finally surrender, God says, "My grace is sufficient for you." Then suddenly, through the eyes of grace, we can see the flip side: There is "... a right time for birth and ...another to reap, a right time to ... heal, {and} and another to construct, a right time to ... laugh, {and} ...cheer, a right time to make love and ...a right time to embrace ..., a right time to search and ... a right time to hold on ..., {and} ... mend, ...{a time} to speak up, {and} a right time to love {and} ... make peace." Daphne Delay

Friday, April 27, 2018

Lord of the Impossible

‘But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” Luke 9:13 (NRSV)

Lord of the Impossible
Seems to me that Jesus’ words to his disciples were quite outrageous. Imagine twelve men being expected to feed over 5,000 people with nothing to draw upon but five loaves of bread and two fish. The disciples must have scoffed at Jesus, thinking He had gone mad!

I wonder if we don’t also respond in the same way when our Heavenly Father asks us to do something that seems to us outrageously impossible. He may ask us to love those who persecute and ridicule us, to give more than we have, to forgive someone who has deeply hurt us or to speak before others about our faith when we are paralysed with fear. What is God’s difficult request that causes you to balk?

Notice, however, that in the remainder of this story Jesus gives clear, orderly instructions as to how this seemingly impossible task is to be carried out. He helps the disciples in their moment of confusion and helplessness. They are not left alone, and neither are we. Jesus the miracle-worker, will work his miracles through us. We are simply the conduit by which God can do great things.

Thankfully, we are not called to work miracles. Instead we are asked to be willing vessels – offering open hearts and open hands to whatever God requires to do through us. How willing are we? Surrender to God knowing that He can do seemingly more than we could possibly imagine according to His power at work in us. Jennifer Woodley

Friday, April 20, 2018

Love and Power

One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: "Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love"; and, "You reward everyone according to what they have done." (Psalm 62:11-12 NIV)

Love and Power
We often think of God's love as being separate from his power. Some even believe in God's love but doubt his power. So to answer the question - why does God allow suffering? They would say God is not powerful enough to do anything about it. Meanwhile others believe in God's power but won't let themselves be vulnerable enough to experience God's love. However the Bible teaches that God is both loving and powerful.

The world would have us believe that love is mere physical attraction or being pleasant to people when we'd rather not or overlooking another's shortcomings. But God's love is not so shallow. God takes the initiative to pursue the people he made. He is passionate about reaching them even when they show very little interest in him. He went to enormous lengthens to reconcile them to himself by means of the cross.

We see God's power throughout the Gospels as he healed and freed many. Several attempts were made to kill Jesus (Luke 4:30; John 8:58, 10:31) but in John 18:6 we see with a simple statement "I am he", Jesus' enemies fall to the ground. He had the power to walk away a free man but instead he chose to lay down his life for us. 

While we may not always understand the way God works, when we look at the cross we see both his love and his power. Susan Barnes

Friday, April 13, 2018

Looking Within

Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” Luke 11:39 (NRSV)

Looking Within
The Pharisees had their behaviour mixed up. They were horrified that Jesus did not wash his hands before a meal. However, Jesus was adamant. What was the point in outward displays of cleanliness if inwardly their hearts were full of deceit? Jesus’ warning to the Pharisees was strong, and His words are still a clarion call for us today. Defilement comes from the inside alone.

Outward sacrifices to God may appear pleasing and right, and certainly make us feel good, but inwardly do we still harbor hate, greed and all kinds of wrong? God does not require our outward show of righteousness. What He asks for is a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). Moreover, as Jesus told the Pharisees, goodness that God approves of is to do what is just, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). All the outward displays of service will not make an iota of difference if our heart attitude is wrong.

Are we following the example of our teacher Jesus, who taught us the way to have a clean heart and stand in good stead with our Heavenly Father? Only when our heart is free from sin, will our acts of service that come from a humble and pure heart, be acceptable to God. Let’s align our intentions with David who asked that God would create in him a clean heart, and put a new and right spirit within him. Jennifer Woodley

Friday, April 6, 2018

Living Hope Has Risen

God … in His great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3 NAS)

Living Hope Has Risen
The culmination of God’s master plan of salvation is celebrated at Easter. He fathered His people through the ages, never forsaking His heart’s desire to form a human family to love and share in His heavenly riches. God rescued us from misery and the captivity of our own sin and selfishness through the death and resurrection of His Son. By His great mercy He offered us new birth and delivered us to living hope, Jesus. “… Christ in you, the hope for glory.” (Colossians 1:27) “… of Christ Jesus our hope.” (1 Timothy 1:1)

Hebrews 6:19 offers an analogy for hope: “This hope we have as an anchor for the soul.” An anchor is described as a shaped iron weight lowered by cable or chain to the bottom of water to keep ships from drifting, essentially tying it to a foundation, linking it to a source of stability. While traveling through an unstable world, Jesus is that anchor, the source of stability, the Living Hope that arose on Easter morn.

The new birth introduces us to Living Hope, Jesus. But the key to victorious Christian living is staying connected. Amidst uncertainty and stormy seas, it’s time to drop anchor and connect to the source of hope. It produces peace and serene expectation of good. It looks to the future and away from present circumstance. It propels us forward because of the perseverance and steadfastness that comes with hope.

Living Hope has risen, the message of Easter! Karen Pourbabaee

Dear Jesus … Be my anchor in this turbulent world. Amen.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Blessed Easter 2018

For to this end Christ died and lived 
again, that He might be Lord both 
of the dead and of the living.
~ Romans 14:9 (NAS) ~

Friday, March 30, 2018

Love Poured Out

Love Poured Out
The human body sometimes reacts to great stress with a defensive redirecting of the blood that is known as vasospasm. In these times, blood vessels in the extremities shut down stopping the flow of blood to those areas. Blood-less, life-less cold spreads quickly into the areas affected.

Spiritually we sometimes see a similar phenomenon. Hurts in life cause us to withdraw from the pain. We turn inward and restrict the flow of the Spirit from the outward stresses. Both are human reactions. Both withdraw life. Christ shows us another way.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ faced horrendous distress. He understood the darkness of sin and separation from the Father that was soon to weigh upon Him. Yet in that garden—before any physically struck Him, Christ’s blood flowed out to a dying world. God’s Word tells us great drops of blood dripped as He prayed. Christ sacrificially lived before He died as the Sacrificial Lamb. He looked outward and upward, not inward. His life followed His gaze.

We, as Christians, live because He loved enough to refuse self-focused living. Forsaken by his closest friends, sold-out by a close associate, hated by His Father’s chosen people, Christ had every reason to ‘self-protect.’ Yet He pursued the Father’s purpose and brought life to all who would believe. We can choose to let that same life flow in us and by-pass ‘human reactions.’ Although Christ became human, He did not allow humanity to dictate His life. We must not either.

When a vasospasm incident passes, blood flows back into the afflicted regions with stinging pain. That pain brings life. In our spiritual lives, the pain of conviction brings healing through repentance. Restored to Life, we become vessels of life for others. Let us follow the example of our Savior who, though God, learned obedience through suffering. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly—let us embrace His purposes! —Billie Jo Youmans

Remembering Good Friday 2018

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, 
He was crushed for our iniquities; 
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, 
And by His scourging we are healed. 

~ Isaiah 53:5 (NAS) ~


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