Little Utica United Methodist Church
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Inspirational Messages

 
 

 

My Mother’s Apron  

  Written by    Kay Camic

I can still see her in it,

She had a gentleness, but with grit.

She wore it like others wore fancy clothes, it was a part of her,

Anything else just didn’t occur.

She cooked, she baked, and she would greet you with a smile,

But her heart, oh her heart was bigger than a country mile.

Her house was always open and warm,

A place you could count on in any storm.

She didn’t just believe in the word, she lived the word.

Any other way to her was just absurd.

I can still hear her as if standing right here,

Keep your loved ones near,

Never go to bed angry,

Don’t wake up cranky.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Get up, get dressed, face the day, even if your blue.

She was more than just my mother, she was my best friend,

She was my moral compass, right to the end.

I wear her apron now and only hope I can be the woman she taught me to be.

She is the fabric of my life, for you see she lives within me.

 

 

Weekly Inspirational Messages

From Barbara Camic

Inspired by God

FUTILE
Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became FUTILE and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Dictionary definition of FUTILE is pointless, fruitless, useless.

I bet everyone reading this has at one time or another either said or heard
“that’s pointless” or perhaps “that’s useless.” FUTILE may not be a word we hear or use often, but we all know what it means. How many times have you heard the phrase “the glass is half empty or half full? " Which one are we? If I used the words pessimistic or negative, we would recognize them right away. Our lives are saturated with negative and pessimistic words and actions. It’s sometimes difficult to be optimistic while those around us want to make sure that we believe things are FUTILE. 2 Timothy 2:14 says keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value (useless) and only ruins those who listen.
How do we respond to optimistic people in our lives? Do we wish we, too, could think like that, or do we discourage them? Do we try to convince them that things really are pointless, useless or FUTILE?
1 Timothy 1:6 says some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless (fruitless) talk.

If there is one thing I have learned from my studies of the Bible, it’s that as Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  My personal conclusion is that God wants us to believe in the unbelievable. The word FUTILE has no meaning to Him. Ephesians 3:20 tells us Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us. This tells us nothing is FUTILE with God's power working in us. I suspect many of us miss some pretty great opportunities, successes and great joys because we think our “glass is half empty.“ We believe the FUTILE talk that surrounds us each and every day. Notice it it is God that makes the FUTILE possible. Man is limited by his humanness, but with God unimagined opportunities and successes happen. Jeremiah 17:15 is very clear to tell us what the Lord said, “cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.”  We must always remember, it is God Almighty that infuses us with strength, wisdom and endurance. 1 Samuel 12:21 says Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. That’s pretty clear, don’t you think? God goes on to convince us in James 4:14 “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” My friend, God endures forever.

Why then do we humans sometimes think that depending on man is fruitful? Jesus in His mercy tells us in John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.“
So tell me, “glass half empty“ depending on earthly knowledge, or “ glass half full“ living life with God leading? We can choose!!!!
 
EXHORT/ encourage
1 Thessalonians 2:3-4  For our EXHORTATION does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.

Dictionary definition of EXHORT is an address or communication emphatically urging someone to do something, encouraging.

The word EXHORT may not be very familiar in our everyday language, but the words encourage and discourage are well recognized. We all know what discouraging words sound and feel like, such as “You can never make that business work in this awful economy” or what about this, “Who do you think you are? You aren’t an inventor!” Then there’s “Oh come on now, you’ll never loose that weight. You like chocolate too much.” Or this one, “Why bother writing that book? What do you have different to say?” Let’s not forget this one, “Singing, Artist, Acting, there’s no money to be made in that. Think of all the “wanna be’s. Where are they now?” And yet we learn in Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

So we can find discouragement anywhere and everywhere, if not from friends and family, then from society. We already feel hopeless before we even start. But let’s ask ourselves, “What about the success stories we have heard about? Hershey chocolate failed 5 times before it was a success. Then there is Allstate Insurance that was started during the Great Depression. Nicholas Sparks, the author, famous now beyond all imagination with his books made into movies. And who doesn’t know who Dolly Parton is? The devastatingly poor little girl whose success no one would have thought possible. Psalm 16:8 says I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand I will not be shaken.
Did these people have someone encouraging them to keep trying, never giving up hope, believing they had a gift only they could share with mankind? It’s true there are many failures, but there are also many successes. Titus 2:15 says These things speak and EXHORT and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Then there is our daily lives, going to work or school, tackling a sport you love, or raising a family, helping those in need. We find encouragement in
1 Thessalonians 5:14 that says “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” Keep on keeping on. Doing our best knowing that failures and mistakes are a part of life. But God’s Word is our great EXHORTER. Proverbs 3:5-6 assures us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

For just a moment think about what an encouraging word directed your way feels like! Does it make you feel stronger, more capable and hopeful? Sure it does!! Psalm 55:22 says to Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken,

So the thought for the day is —— if you think you have nothing to give your fellow man, and that what you might say has no impact, remember this!! Words matter!! Choose words that encourage, such as, “ Good job”, or “You can do it”, or “You are special, because you are you.”  Words of EXHORTATION or encouragement are powerful!! They cost nothing, but you just might be the one and only person to give someone hope and courage. Lets look for ways to be that someone special to someone. We can do it!! God says we can.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. God is our great EXHORTER.
GRATITUDE
Psalm 9:1 I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

Dictionary definition of GRATITUDE is the quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness, thanks, credit.

GRATITUDE—- How important is it? Does it really matter? What is it anyway? Let me ask you this. How does it feel to you to be told you are appreciated? Does a thank you now and then make you feel valued? How about when you tell someone thank you and you leave them with a smile? How do you feel when you go the “extra mile” and your efforts go unnoticed and unappreciated? I guess the answer is it matters a great deal and it is very important.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

From the time we were able to speak there were those repeatedly teaching us to say “please” and “thank you.” Why do you suppose it was so important to repeat this lesson over and over so many times? Our teachers were cultivating an “Attitude of Gratitude.” The dictionary defines cultivate as the trying to acquire or develop a quality or skill. Repeating over and over “please” and “thank you” is a successful way to cultivate the habit of appreciation. So we understand that GRATITUDE is, yes, important, and so is learning to appreciate. Acts 24:3 says In every way and every where we accept this with all GRATITUDE.

It’s easy to be GRATEFUL when life, or people, is pleasant and joyful, but pretty challenging during times of stress, unhappiness or conflict.
James 1:2-4 tells us to count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Now that certainly can be quite the challenge, but God wants us to be thankful and joyful no matter what is happening just as Jesus was when he prayed for Lazarus to live in John 11:41 when they took away the stone. Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” JESUS appreciated The Father and let Him know that immediately. God loves to hear us say THANK YOU. Psalm 100:4 says Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.
 
Think about the times you may have gone the “extra mile” reaching out and sacrificing your time, energy and gifts and were unappreciated. This happened to Jesus when He was asked to heal the ten lepers.
Luke 17:15 tells us only one of them came back praising God in a loud voice. Luke 17:16 goes on to say this same man threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked Him. Where were the other nine?
God loves it when we show appreciation to Him and each other. Those people in our early lives did us a huge favor cultivating in us an “Attitude of Gratitude.” Colossians 2:7 says rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. What we do with this knowledge as we journey through life is up to us. A simple “thank you” to God and each other has great power to create a feeling of value, worth and joy. Cultivating this habit produces an abundant crop. Psalm 118:1 says Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever. Thank you our dear God for all that you are, and to all of you reading this.
HUMBLE

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with HUMILITY comes wisdom.

Dictionary definition of HUMBLE is having or showing a modest or low estimate of ones own importance, meek, deferential, respectful, submissive, self-effacing

What does HUMBLE mean to you? Always saying yes? Letting others take advantage of you? Groveling for your needs to be met? Walking away from a disagreement even if you think you are right? Perhaps being shy, passive or quiet?

If you think this is what HUMBLE means, I have a surprise for you!! Sharing your gifts and talents without pride or arrogance confidently believing God is the supplier of those good gifts and talents. 1 Peter 4:10 says that each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of Gods grace in its various forms. It also means recognizing your need for Gods help while thanking Him and giving Him credit for your accomplishments. 1 Peter 4:11 says as anyone speaks they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. Wow that’s quite a statement, don’t you think? But there’s more. A HUMBLE heart does not need to be first or the best but builds others up so they can accomplish their full potential, nor do you need to defend yourself because God will defend you enabling you to be a peacemaker. James 4:10 tells us to HUMBLE yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up. What a relief, God is there to help us.
But what exactly is a peacemaker? If walking away from a disagreement —- taking the high road —- makes us look weak to the world, God will lead us to a wise and understanding response with HUMILITY. James 3:13 says Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the HUMILITY that comes from wisdom. And if you’re wondering how can I be a peacemaker in a world of conflict and injustice, God addresses this in Psalm  25:9 which says He leads the HUMBLE in justice, and He teaches the HUMBLE His ways. I don’t know about you, but I find this so very comforting. He has thought of everything to help us. So as you follow the wisdom given by Gods grace, sharing your gifts and talents, and making peace where and when ever you are able, remember to thank, praise and glorify God, for it is through Him your accomplishments are made possible. James 1:17 loving tells us that Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of the Heavenly Lights Who does not change like the shifting shadows.
Takes my breath away. Being HUMBLE isn’t always easy, but God has us covered. What a good God we have!!!
PRAYER
Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to PRAYER, being watchful and thankful.

Dictionary definition of PRAYER is a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God.

Do you ever have many ideas going around in your head, your thoughts feel like bumper cars at the Fair clanging and banging into each other? All kinds of thoughts thrown about such as questions, concerns, and fears leaving you anxious, confused and wondering, how do I sort this all out and make sense of it?

The Bible tells us to “PRAY continually” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  PRAY? REALLY? You think my thoughts are worth bothering God? And what do I say to Him? Romans 8:26 tells us In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, we do not know what We ought to PRAY for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. How nice, help with our PRAYERS when we do not know what to PRAY. God thinks of everything.

Let’s think about Jesus for just a moment. He always turned to PRAYER. Luke 5:16 But JESUS often withdrew to a lonely place and PRAYED. He favored PRAYING outside near to creation. Luke 6:12 says One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to PRAY, and spent the night PRAYING to God. So we learn that Jesus PRAYED often, close to nature and lengthy PRAYERS. PRAYING was an integral part of His everyday life. But how did He PRAY? He PRAYED based on His knowledge of God and His truths. In John 4:24 Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and truth.” The Bible, God's word, is the truth Jesus refers to. Jesus also said, in John 8:32 “the truth will set you free,” highlighting how important God's truth is in our lives. Don’t we all wish to be free? Jesus also taught persistence in PRAYER Luke 18:1 when He told His disciples a parable to show them that they should PRAY and not give up.
1 Timothy 2:8 went on to say Therefore I want the men everywhere to PRAY lifting up Holy hands without anger or disputing.

We have learned that PRAYER is not only important Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to PRAYER keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving, but it’s a way to communicate and get close to God. Psalm 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. Now when His disciples asked Jesus what they should PRAY, He taught them the ULTIMATE PRAYER.
Matthew 6:9-13
“This, then, is how you should PRAY”
Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

There you have it. Don’t get all bogged down with your thoughts banging and clanging around in your head like bumper cars at the Fair wondering  what to say or if to PRAY. JUST DO IT. God WILL lead the way.
TONGUE
Proverbs 21:23 says those who guard their mouths and their TONGUES keep themselves from calamity.

Dictionary definition of TONGUE — The fleshy muscular organ in the mouth of a mammal used for tasting, licking, swallowing and in humans articulating speech.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. Now we all know this isn’t true, but we are expected to accept words that hurt and that it’s okay for us to throw around hurtful words. Words can hurt or heal the sender and the receiver. Matthew 15:11 says what goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that’s what defiles them. My mother taught and believed to watch what you say because “you can’t take it back.” Words spoken are out there never to return, even if you wish they would. And what about this familiar phrase “If you can’t say something nice, then say nothing at all."  Boy, sometimes don’t you feel like you might explode if you can’t spill all you wish to say. 1 Peter 3:10 says for “whoever would love life and see good days must keep their TONGUE from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. Notice here the key words evil and deceitful speech. There are times when a discussion is necessary. Talking things through is important, but keep evil and deceit from spilling out of your mouth.

I’m sure we all have either been the recipient or sender of hurtful words. Sometimes we find it hard to swallow mean, critical or disparaging words and they explode from our TONGUE. However, we sure can be quick to bluster and complain if we are the receiver of hurtful words. The TONGUE has incredible power. It can be used to bring blessings or curses. It is very difficult to control. Psalm 141:3 says to set a guard over my mouth, Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips. We need help!! The Holy Spirit is ever ready to guard our words if only we ask. Even when we are determined to refrain from hurtful words, life tempts us.
Ephesians 4:29 reminds us Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

But what about the situation that arises that is either unfair, deceitful, aggravating, or just plain mean? Then what do we say? My father used to say, “You get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” Some of the time, and I must admit, not all of the time, his words remind me to keep a watch over what I say. I must admit I’m a work in progress. How about you? Proverbs 15:1-2 says a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The TONGUE of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
Even when and if words of folly come spilling out, don’t dispair, because we serve a loving, forgiving God.
1 John 1:9 tells us that If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our unrighteousness. How fabulous is that?

God knows how powerful the TONGUE is and that temptation is great. He tells us in Colossians 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt. so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Our God is awesome. Always gracing us with hope. Listen to Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Praise for your Holy name for blessings us with hope.
LIGHT
Genesis 1:3. Let there be LIGHT —- and the LIGHT appeared.

Dictionary definition of LIGHT the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible, illumination, shining, gleaming, radiance, luster, glow.

Have you ever been to a fireworks display? As darkness descends you are filled with anticipation and a bubbling excitement. Soon total darkness surrounds you, isolating you in a cloak of black. As you wait expectantly, suddenly a burst of LIGHT appears sprinkling into beautiful shapes then dropping to earth all around you. You are captivated by the LIGHT no longer even aware of the darkness surrounding you. It’s still there, of course, but the LIGHT, oh the beautiful LIGHT with all its brilliance lifts you up, up and up into a strong feeling of great joy, excitement and a buoyant feeling of freedom. You no longer feel tethered to the earth, but feel as if you could float away into the LIGHT . Then, what seems like all to soon, darkness closes in around you once again, bringing you tumbling back to reality. No more fantasy! The display is over leaving you trying to hang on to the feelings of joy, excitement and freedom in the LIGHT.

But wait! Don’t be discouraged! There is hope!!! James 1:27 says every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly LIGHTS, Who does not change like shifting shadows. And Psalm 119:105 goes on to tell us that Gods word is a lamp to your feet and a LIGHT to your path. So the LIGHT comes from God through His word and the word is Jesus, the full embodiment of all that is God. The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14.

As you remember the fireworks display and the LIGHT shining brightly all around you crowding out the darkness, imagine Jesus surrounding you with His LIGHT. He spoke to the people, He said, “ I am the LIGHT of the world. Who ever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the LIGHT of life. John 8:12. There you have it. Jesus lifts us up into great joy, excitement and freedom just like the beautiful fireworks display, but better. Every new day is an adventure. We find ourselves wondering what can I do for God today? Or who can I help today, or bring a smile to, or share Jesus, the LIGHT, with? And even better than all these possibilities, we can become the LIGHT because Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:14-16 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. Nor does anyone LIGHT a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand and it gives LIGHT to all who are in the house. Isn’t this fabulous? We are a big part of God’s LIGHT show as we shine for His glory. We are part of His team and His LIGHT display. This truth is not only life changing for us, but can be for others as well. Imagine for just a moment that we are not just watching the LIGHT  show, but that we are a big part of the brilliant display of LIGHT and the darkness need never surround us or others again. In John 1:5 this is the message. We have heard from Him and declares to you; God is LIGHT; in Him there is no darkness at all. And in Revelation 21:23 we are assured once more that The City does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it LIGHT, and the Lamb is its lamp.

Praise God, no more darkness, only a brilliant sparkling display of LIGHT for all of those who believe the word and all it has to offer. Heavenly Fireworks! Enjoy!
TEARS
Psalm 56:8 Record my lament; list my TEARS on your scroll —— are they not in your record.

Dictionary definition of TEAR is a drop of salty liquid that flows from the eye when it is hurt or as a result of strong emotion, such as unhappiness or pain.

TEARS!!!  We don’t often think about crying, but we know there are TEARS of both sadness and joy. We are, however, very familiar and accepting of babies and small children and their many TEARS, after all they either have no words or very few words so crying is their form of communication. Baby is hungry or wet and cries. Feed baby and make it comfortable and the TEARS stop. The toddler tumbles and falls often with TEARS freely falling, followed by just as many smiles when Mommy kisses the boo boo. The very young never seem to have any trouble letting the TEARS flow.

As time goes by, and life happens, we learn that TEARS make those around us uncomfortable. Teenagers keep their hurts, frustrations, and even their joys private with no TEARS for others to see. By the time we reach adulthood, crying is seldom seen and the hurts and, yes, the joys are buried deep. So we go through life thinking no one sees and no one cares. Our TEARS go unshed, even the happy ones. Here’s the good news, our Heavenly Father does see our TEARS and does care. Psalm 107:19 says They cried to the Lord in their trouble and He saved them from their distress. Not only does God care, but He invites us in 1 Peter 5:7 to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us. What an invitation, to know that, like when the toddler falls and cries out, Mommy kisses the boo boo leaving only smiles. God sees our even our unshed TEARS, cares deeply about our hurts, and leaves us with a smile. Jeremiah 31:9a is a fabulous message from God as it says, “TEARS of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care.” What an awesome God we have.

Think for just a moment, what a relief it can be to those who believe that God sees and hears us. Psalm 18:6 says In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He hears my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears. When TEARS threaten to fall, it’s okay  no matter what the world says. In John 11:35 which is the shortest scripture in the Bible, it simply says, “Jesus wept.” He was at the tomb of His friend Lazarus. Let’s do what Jesus did after He wept. In John 11:41b He said “Father, I thank you that you have heard me” and in John 11:42a He goes on to say, “I knew that you always hear me.” How comforting to know that God hears us. He even goes on to assure us in Psalm 30:5b that weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Our God is a God of hope. So, no matter what causes our TEARS, we know they are temporary to those who turn to God for comfort and strength. Psalm 46:1 tells us emphatically that God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. WOW!!! And remember Psalm 56:8 tells us God records on His scroll each and every TEAR. How awesome!! He does care and we never should think we need hide our TEARS from Him. 2 Kings 20:5 says “I have heard your prayers, I see your TEARS, I will heal you.” God loves us so much that He will kiss our TEARS away, leaving us with smiles and the precious feeling of hope. Psalm 37:4 has a fabulous message. Delight yourselves in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Feel His awesome presence, praise His Holy Name, and smile through your TEARS for there will be joy in the morning. 
WATER
Isaiah 57:11 says The Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong, and you shall be like a WATERED garden, like a spring of WATER, whose WATERS never fail.

The dictionary definition of WATER tells us it is colorless, transparent, odorless tasteless liquid that forms the seas, lakes, rivers and rain and is the basis of the fluids of living organisms.

I think we all can agree, WATER is essential to our well being. Have you ever been thirsty? You become focused on getting a drink. What happens when it doesn’t rain enough? There was just such an event in the 1930’s in America called the “Dust Bowl.” So much pain and suffering caused by not enough WATER. Then there can be too much WATER with hurricanes, tsunamis or other severe weather events causing flooding.  Too much or too little WATER is devastating to all forms of life. Where does that necessary balance of WATER come from?

The Bible shares some very interesting and some familiar stories with us about WATER. Job 5:10 tells us that He gives rain on the earth and sends WATER on the fields. Rain or not? Storm or not? Genesis 1:2 further tells us that now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the WATER. Isn’t this awesome, as well as, beyond our limited ability to think big enough to grasp the magnitude of who God really is? Just think about the God we love and trust! He not only created all that exists, providing for all our physical needs, but He Spiritually provides for us as well. Isaiah 44:3 says “For I will pour out WATER on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants. Since time began, WATER has played an important role in the relationship between God and man. Genesis 1:7 tells us that God made the expanse, and separated the WATERS which were below the expanse from the WATERS which were above the expanse, and it was so. God gave birth to creation by bringing shape and order to the WATERY chaos. Psalm 147:8 says Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who provides rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains? Then there are the stories that we love and teach such as Noah and the Arch (Genesis 5:8), the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21) and turning bitter WATER into sweet WATER in the wilderness (Exodus 15:25).

As WATER is a life force and a source of communication in the natural, so, too, is it in the Spirit. God uses WATER as a way to communicate His heart and ways to us, always reminding us that WATER brings chaos and rebirth leading to new life. Jesus was baptized in WATER (Matthew 3:16), He walked on WATER (Matthew 14:25) and turned WATER into wine (John 2:7-8). Jesus also talked to the woman at the well John 4:10 saying “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living WATER,” God is the source of living WATER and Jesus offers it to each one who seeks Him. Psalm 63:1 says “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no WATER." 

In the midst of our very busy demanding lives, let’s take a few moments to let our minds wander and drift to a peaceful, quiet, soothing place, thinking of streams of cool, beautiful glistening WATER and really hear and feel in our Spirit this beautiful invitation from Jesus. In John 4:14 He says, “But whoever drinks of the WATER that I will give him shall never thirst; but the WATER I will give him will become in him a well of WATER springing up to eternal life.” Wow, how blessed we are. Praise you God for this spectacular invitation. WATER!!!
SEASON
GENESIS 1:14 and God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for SEASONS, and for days and for nights.

Dictionary definition of SEASON: four periods of the year, spring, summer, autumn and winter, fruit or vegetables become ready for harvest, to improve the flavor of food with salt or spices.

What does the word SEASON mean to you? SEASONS have a beginning and an end. It takes 40 weeks for a human baby to be born from conception to birth. Those sweet dogs and cats we all love so much take 63 days. Reptiles and birds all vary. Have you ever watched and wondered when the eggs in a nest will show you baby birds? When a tomato seed is planted it takes its time to pop up through the moist dark earth. Eventually flowers appear followed by tiny fruit. But wait, more time is needed for growing. As the pink tinge begins you know the red signaling the time for eating is near. That’s the thing about God, everything has a SEASON. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says to everything there is a SEASON, and a time to everything under the heaven.

Spring, summer, autumn and winter. When we see leaves turning beautiful reds and yellows we know winter isn’t far behind. The trees soon become barren but are beautiful in their starkness. Before we know it tiny buds appear on the stark branches swelling each day into new life. It seems like magic each spring to see everything burst forth. First there are the many colors of greens. Soon we welcome the early colors of flowers after a SEASON of gray. God has it all worked out. Timing isn’t our timing, but His timing. Acts 1:7 tells us that He said unto them, “it is not for you to know the times or SEASONS which the Father hath put in His own power.”
Some of us wish summer with shorts, sandals, picnics and boating would last longer. Others love winter with skiing, snowmobiling and making snowmen would not end. Isaiah 55:8 says “my thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways.” As we watch the SEASONS march before us year after year, we realize there really is a beginning and an end. Ecclesiastes 3:2 says there is a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to pluck up what is planted. Seems harsh to us, but remembering God is sovereign helps us accept His ways. The Psalmist wrote in 31:15 my times are in your hands.

Have you ever had to be the peace maker or the one who forgives or apologizes when others can’t or won’t? You wonder, “Will I ever get a turn at receiving an apology or forgiveness?” Galatians 6:9 assures us that if we don’t grow weary of doing good, that in due SEASON we will reap, if we do not give up.

God has SEASONS for everything that affects the inhabitants of the earth. He is a God of order. Psalm 104:19 says He appointed the moon for SEASONS; the sun knows it’s time for setting. When we feel like chaos is all around us we just need to think about 1 Corinthians 14:33 that says God is not a God of disorder, but of peace. His unconditional love even assures us in Psalm 1:3 that we shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his SEASON; his leaf shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. I hope you find comfort, as I do, in this beautiful scripture. God is awesome in all SEASONS.  
MERCY
Lamentation 3:22-23 through the Lords MERCIES we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness.

Dictionary definition describes MERCY as compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm, leniency, clemency, pity, charity.

The subject of MERCY is seldom thought about but we are often called upon to offer it or have the need to receive it. Have you ever been in a position to offer MERCY? Has anyone ever offered you MERCY? Did you ever commit to do something? The day comes and goes without you. You are oblivious to your mistake until it is too late. The next day you suddenly realize that you have forgotten. You’re afraid , but you quickly call offering your sincere heartfelt apology. To your surprise, the person on the phone reassures you that all is well. No worries! They understand because it has happened to them and they believe it was an oversight and not intentional. How do you feel? In your misery of letting them down, do you feel relieved? Perhaps comforted by their kind words? They had the opportunity to hurt and berate you but instead made the decision to give you MERCY. Micah 6:8 stays He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love MERCY, and to walk humbly with your God.

What did you choose when offered the opportunity to give MERCY? Sometimes it’s a tough choice. God tells us in Matthew 5:7 says blessed are the MERCIFUL, for they shall obtain MERCY. In our need for compassion, forgiveness, leniency when we mess up, we pray for MERCY. Why, then, do I sometimes find it difficult to offer MERCY  to someone else? Maybe I’m deeply hurt and feel disappointed, saddened and discouraged causing me to slip into a darkness that keeps my heart hard and cold. But God is clear in proverbs 3:3-4 Let not MERCY and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. God knows that we need to keep MERCY and truth close at all times leading us to respond favorably when given the choice to be MERCIFUL and in so doing we find favor with God and man. Proverbs 11:17 goes on to say The MERCIFUL man does good for his own soul, but He who is cruel troubles his own flesh.
Praise God that in His MERCY, at the times we are so hurt or damaged, when all we wish for is compassion and understanding and can’t find it anywhere, but know that we have been given the opportunity to offer MERCY, He reaches out as in Titus 3:5 to save us. He saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of His MERCY. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Just remember God is so loving, forgiving and yes MERCIFUL  that He has us covered whether we are receiving or giving MERCY. By faith, we are able to offer MERCY even when we think it’s impossible. Like Lamentations 3.22-23 says, Gods MERCIES are new every morning. Praise God for His faithfulness. Here in Hebrews 4:16 God assures us of who He truly is. It says let us then approach Gods throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive MERCY and find grace to help us in our time of need. how awesome is God ?
ARMOR
1 Thessalonians 5:8 says But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.

The dictionary definition of ARMOR is a protective covering, ARMOR plate, shield.

ARMOR, now that’s a word we don’t often think about in our everyday language. After all, who uses ARMOR these days? Once upon a time, ARMOR was worn in battle to protect the person from an enemy. In more modern times, we are familiar with an ARMORED tank being used in battle as a shield to protect those in the tank under threat.

You might be wondering,  “ I know all of this, but how does this word ARMOR apply to me?” 
Have you ever wanted or needed protection? Perhaps there has been a bully in your life. Did someone come along to be your shield? Has a severe
storm ever had you scurrying for cover? Did you find that much need protective covering? What about vaccinations? They shield us from disease, another form of protection.

We may not use the same type of ARMOR, but we all need a shield or protective covering at some time from something. We can either live in fear or turn to God. Psalm 91:14 tells us “Because He loves me” says the Lord “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name”. Isn’t this an awesome scripture? Imagine for a moment, you only need to acknowledge God’s name to receive protection. You don’t have a “to do” list to accomplish before you are rescued. You only have to call God, recognizing Him as the one true God, Creator of all that exists. Proverbs 30:5 says another amazing thing. Every word of God is tested, He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. 

How does God become your ARMOR, your refuge? How does that happen you wonder. Ephesians 6:11 says Put on the full ARMOR of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Put on the full ARMOR of God? So we are back to ARMOR again. Metal, tanks? What ARMOR? Gods word the Bible along with Jesus and the Holy Spirit round out our arsenal of protection against attack, our ARMOR. Read, study and believe God’s promises. By faith, we can bask under the protective covering (ARMOR) of a God who is faithful to His word. 

The world offers many threats to our safety and protection, but go ahead relax, enjoy life, revel in the protective shield of our one true God. Romans 13:12 says The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore, let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the ARMOR of light. 
Praise God, our ARMOR, our light, our protective covering, our shield, our refuge when we are in need. He has our back. What an awesome God.
 
PROMISE
2 Peter 1:4 Because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious PROMISES. These are the PROMISES that enable you to share His Devine nature and escape the worlds corruption caused by human desires.

Dictionary definition of PROMISE is a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen. Pledge, guarantee, contract, commitment, covenant.

Has anyone ever PROMISED you something and didn’t keep that PROMISE? What about you? Have you ever made a PROMISE you didn’t keep? Think about the contracts you have signed through out your life? What about the very sacred commitment of the marriage contract?
In our culture we are familiar and accustomed with PROMISES of varying kinds and degrees. Every time we make an appointment at the Drs. or beauty shop, we have pledged to keep that appointment. Some people are very committed to their PROMISES, others are not. Some don’t give it a thought if they don’t show up for said appointment .

Luke 6:31 says Do to others as you would have them do to you. This scripture is often called the “Golden Rule”. Even though most of us have heard the phrase “Golden Rule”, it isn’t often recognized as a Biblical scripture. God wants us to keep our PROMISES because that is who He is.  The great PROMISE keeper! Some of His PROMISES are hard to believe to be true. After all, everyday a PROMISE or pledge or commitment or contract is broken in our world. We have become skeptical and disillusioned. No wonder when we either witness or experience broken marriages, contracts that aren’t worth the paper they are written on, or friendships that are only fluff with no substance, we find it hard to trust God’s PROMISES.

When a PROMISE keeper such as God makes a PROMISE it is our natural response to think or say “ Oh really?” “How can I be sure?” Hebrews 10:23 says Let us hold fast the confession of our hope with out wavering, for He who PROMISED is faithful. The word here to remember is faithful. FAITHFUL! Everything comes down to this one word—-Faithful! God is faithful! His PROMISES are good yesterday—today—tomorrow.

Romans 10:9 says If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Think about that! BELIEVE! It all starts with us. Free will! We get to decide to believe or not.
Romans 8:32 tells us He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? God knew that in a fallen world, we would have doubts, but He wants to reassure us of His faithfulness.
Micah 7:19 says He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot, yes You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Just think of it! Even though we sin, He will remember them no more. What an awesome God!

Listen to these PROMISES.
Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Isaiah 40:29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. His PROMISES are endless and TRUE. He understands the world beats us down, but He wants us to know and believe He is our HOPE.
Isaiah 43:2 says When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

I’m sure that all of us want to trust God’s PROMISES, but fear the disappointment we experience in the world when PROMISES are broken.
Psalm 37:4 says Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Please open your Bible and read the many PROMISES of our God. There are so many more. Read, think, believe! Tell me, what do you have to lose? Take a chance! Believe!
2 Corinthians 1:20 tells us For no matter how many PROMISES God has made, they are “yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
OBEY
Luke 11:28 He replied “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and OBEY it.

The dictionary definition of OBEY is to comply with the command, direction or request of a person or law. Submit to authority, carry out, behave in accordance with a general principal, natural law.

Well, let’s think about this word OBEY! Many of us do something everyday that is OBEDIENT. Get to work or school on time. Don’t eat that grape in the grocery store even if you are starving. Leave the paper clips or rubber bands in your desk drawer at work. Do what the supervisor or teacher tells us to do. Be kind to others. Respect our elders. Tell the truth. What about the times humans are not so OBEDIENT? Ever go over the speed limit? Do you know anyone who has driven while intoxicated? We have heard about those who fudge on their tax returns? How about bullying, domestic abuse, adultery? There certainly is enough DISOBEDIENCE to deal with.

When we were children it was made very clear to us that we must OBEY the rules set down by those caring for us. Please and thank you. Yes ma’am, no ma’am. Teacher is right. Mother and father have last word. At some point if we become parents, the process starts all over again with us now leading, teaching, guiding, counseling.
However, as Christians, it is very challenging to now think of ourselves as children who need to OBEY our Heavenly Father. Proverbs 10:17 says whoever heeds discipline shows the way of life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. Have you ever thought God was nudging you to do the right thing? You ask yourself “What is the right thing?” One way to discern Gods leading is found in James 1:22 that says Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Gods word tells us how to be OBEDIENT and to whom.
1 Kings 2:3 says to observe what the Lord your God requires: walk in OBEDIENCE to Him, and keep His decrees and commands, His laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go. OBEDIENCE to Gods ways brings prosperity to us. What a blessing!! In return for our OBEDIENCE God promises us prosperity in all we do and are. Even with this Heavenly promise , we humans find it hard to be OBEDIENT when our world is falling apart, or we are commanded to forgive, not worry, be patient, etc. We think it’s easier to be the rule giver than the rule follower. Revelation 14:12 says This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep His commands and remain faithful to Jesus. So Jesus seems to be the key to unlock the treasure chest of prosperity, knowledge and protection. Romans 1:5 says Through Him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the OBEDIENCE that comes from faith for His names sake.
When we were children, parents, teachers, pastors, etc., were there to guide, teach and protect. No worries for us!! Follow the rules and everything will be okay. We enjoyed security and protection while in their loving care.

And so it is with our Heavenly Father. While keeping our focus and OBEDIENCE on Him, He in return protects, guides and teaches providing us with that much sought after security. Psalm 91:14 says Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore, will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. Set us on high!! That’s the safest most prosperous place to be, protected, taught and lead by the Father of us all. OBEY? Yes or no?

JOY

Romans 14:17. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness, peace and JOY in the Holy Spirit.

 

Dictionary definition of JOY is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness, jubilation, bliss, rapture.

 

What does JOY mean to you? A walk in a cool breeze, a visit with a friend. Time with grandkids. Vacation, or just watching it snow knowing you don’t have to drive in it. Retirement. Children being born, or a beautiful sunset. Good test results. These, and many more, are the JOYS of our world, but what is the JOY spoken of in the Bible?

 

Romans 15:13 says May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. This scripture says that JOY comes from God through the Holy Spirit. Well now that gives me pause! Most of my life I thought JOY came from happy experiences, sights and people.

 

How then should we respond to this scripture James 1:2-3 that tells us to count it all JOY, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. What? Did I read that correctly? Be JOYFUL in my trials? This must be a mistake. Testing? I gave that up when I graduated from school, didn’t I? But Romans 12:12 says to be JOYFUL in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Patient in affliction? Can this be correct? How can I be patient and JOYFUL when the world is caving in around me? Someone dear to me is sick? Someone important to me betrayed me? Someone abandoned me? I’m sick? All I feel is fear, worry, sadness, but JOY? I just don’t know about that! And yet Psalm 94:18 says that when anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought me JOY. Where does that blessed consolation come from.

Psalm 119:111 tells it this way. Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the JOY of my heart. Gods precepts, rules, laws and ways are our JOY? I never thought of it that way before. I think I might need to be reminded at times of stress that my JOY comes from God and not the world. I still have my bouts of worry, fear and anxiety. How about you? The good news is we don’t have to stay in that state of darkness. Isn’t it great to know in this world there is good news? Psalm 28:7 says The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for JOY, and with my song I Praise Him.

 

So I guess when James says to count it all JOY when we meet trials we’d better just accept that there will be trials. And that no matter what comes our way, as bad as it may seem to us, God will help us, and we can experience Devine JOY. Psalm 16:11 tells us He makes known to us the path of life; You will fill me with JOY in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand. Imagine that for a moment! Help is available just for the receiving. Let’s give God the thanks He deserves. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says REJOICE always, pray continually, give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Together let’s REJOICE and praise His Holy Name and receive the JOY He offers.

JUDGE

John 5:30. I can do nothing on my own, as I hear, I JUDGE, and my JUDGEMENT is just because I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me.

 

Dictionary definition of JUDGE is form an opinion or conclusion, decide, consider, believe, think.

 

As human beings we are expected to JUDGE something or someone just about every day. I realize that this is a provocative statement, but let’s look a little deeper and know that JUDGING is, at times, necessary. Should we accept this job offer, buy this particular new house, car, suit etc.? Where shall we go on vacation, what restaurant to eat dinner at. Then there are the times we have to JUDGE other humans or situations. Do we trust our child to be safe at a new friends house or at the mall with friends? Take the keys from someone who has too much to drink? Call for help if someone is being abused? Or perhaps decide if to serve wine at our dinner party knowing a guest has a drinking issue? These and many more decisions can only be made by JUDGING. So how then do we make qualified decisions in Gods will, fairly?

The dictionary definition of JUDGEMENT is discernment, astuteness, sense, common sense, perception, wisdom. But whose wisdom, common sense etc. and what guide lines should we use?

Matthew 7:12 tells us this— so in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the prophets, but do we truly know the Law and the prophets?

Proverbs 21:2 says a person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart. So if we are to JUDGE based on common sense , wisdom, discernment where do we go for that insight?

James 3:17 says but wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving,  considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and pure. That is quite a statement.

We sometimes get the word JUDGEMENT and JUDGMENTAL confused.

Dictionary definition of JUDGMENTAL is critical, censorious, disapproving, disparaging, negative, hypercritical. Where then do we glean the Insight needed to follow Gods ways? And what if I make a mistake and use not Gods will but that of the world?

It’s essential that we not become confused or discouraged while making decisions. God wants us to be in peace leaning on Him for His loving guidance. He gave us this scripture 1 John 4:17 By this love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of JUDGEMENT, because as He is so also are we in this world.

This question won’t be answered today. Am I making a fair Godly JUDGEMENT or am I being JUDGMENTAL? James 1:22-25 tells us this. Be ye doers of the WORD, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. If you remember at the beginning John 5:30 JESUS says He JUDGES not in His own JUDGEMENT but from Him who sent Him.  Jesus knew Gods heart, do we? Turn to your Bible, learn Gods heart, use His guidance when presented with an occasion to JUDGE.

Remembering the mention of common sense and wisdom in the dictionary definition of JUDGEMENT let’s  give God the final WORD regarding this ever present challenge. I pray that it will leave you breathless and in awe of the God we love, trust and lean on as it does me.

Proverbs 2:7-11

He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk in integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to Him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.

 

PEACE

Colossians 3:15 says let the PEACE of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to PEACE and be thankful.

 

The dictionary definition of PEACE is freedom from disturbance, quiet, and tranquility, calm, freedom from war or violence.

 

When we think about the dictionary definition of the word PEACE and we look at our world, we realize that our existence doesn’t allow for freedom from war or violence and very little tranquility. Calm is nearly nonexistent. We live in a very noisy world, just the opposite of quiet. So, how do we ever experience PEACE?

I used to think that PEACE came from life’s experiences. If this happens, I’ll have PEACE. If this person behaves in a certain way, I’ll have PEACE. I was looking in all the wrong places. People and or situations can not bring us PEACE. So, where then do we find that illusive thing we call PEACE?

 

1 Corinthians 14:33 tells us that God is not a God of disorder, but of PEACE, as in all the congregation of the Lords people. Remember when PEACE seems out of reach, God is a God of order. Where then does loss of PEACE come from?

Psalm 34:14 says to turn from evil and do good; seek PEACE and pursue it. Then in James 3:18 we are told PEACEMAKERS who sow in PEACE reap a harvest of righteousness. It sounds to me as if we have some responsibility to the PEACE we are looking for. Turn from evil, sow in PEACE. Never thought of it that way, have you? Remember, I thought that circumstances outside myself created PEACE.

 

Galatians 5:22 says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, PEACE patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. This scripture teaches us that with the Holy Spirit living in us, along comes PEACE, as well as all the other fruits of the Spirit. Why then don’t we feel PEACEFUL at times? Romans 12:18 says if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at PEACE with everyone. You all know how very difficult that can be at times, but we have to decide to be a PEACEMAKER, with the help of the Holy Spirit. We get to lead the situation and open the powers of the Holy Spirit.

 

What about inner PEACE? Do you ever feel anxious, worried, or fearful? These are the kind of emotions that rob us of inner PEACE. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us to be anxious for nothing but with prayer, petition and thanksgiving make our request known to God and the PEACE of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The first time I heard this scripture was an awakening experience for me. “Be anxious for nothing” he said, but the best part was the “how to”. Think of all the “how to “ books that exist in our society. We have The Bible as our “how to” guide. It tells us prayer, petition, and do not forget thanksgiving, while making our request known to God leads to PEACE. What a relief!!!! And beyond that we have a special scripture in John 16:33 when Jesus spoke these words so long ago “ I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have PEACE. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” Fabulous news!!

 

So whether you are in need of inner PEACE or PEACE with others, look to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit for aid. Enjoy and take into your heart this scripture. 2 Thessalonians 3:16  Now May the Lord of PEACE Himself give you PEACE at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

AUTHORITY

Acts 20:18 says pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you OVERSEERS to care for the Church of God, which He obtained with His own blood.

 

The dictionary definition of AUTHORITY explains it to be the power or right to give orders, make decisions and enforce obedience.

 

We all recognize AUTHORITY in our governments, schools, work place and yes, in our homes. We know how we are to respond to said AUTHORITY or there will be consequences for our disobedience.

In the Spirit we are reminded in Titus 3:1 to be subject to rulers, to AUTHORITIES, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed. We might ask, “ who says?” It is as if God knew His humans so well that He gave us Romans 13:1-2 that says every person is to be in subjection to the governing AUTHORITIES for there is no AUTHORITY except from God and those which exist are established by God. So there you have it!! Even though we are to OBEY our earthly rules and rulers, there is the ultimate AUTHORITY from which we are to be guided, God Himself. Jesus even said in Matthew 28:18 “All AUTHORITY has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth. That tells us in no uncertain terms where our leadership should come, from God through Jesus which manifests itself in the Holy Spirit as we become OVERSEERS of the Church of God spoken of in Acts 20:18.

 

Now we understand the ultimate AUTHORITY, let’s think about the AUTHORITY given to us as OVERSEERS. Quite an awesome responsibility, don’t you think? However, our God never forsakes or leaves us or gives us more than we can handle. Luke 10:19 says behold I have given you AUTHORITY to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. So we have power along with knowledge from the Bible our written AUTHORITY which is God breathed ( 2 Timothy 3:16 ). Now what do we do with it? In Genesis 1:26 God gave us dominion over the sea, air, land and all that inhabits it. Following Gods word in the Bible helps us to make good decisions with that power. If and when there are those who don’t follow His AUTHORITY we are told in Mark 3:15 that we have AUTHORITY to cast out demons, but how do we do that? 2 Corinthians 10:4 says for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have Devine power to destroy strongholds. So we MUST pray for those in charge, whether in government, work, or home, to have a heart for Gods ways. Let God guide each of us, showing us what human part we play in each situation, while praying for Him to play His part and let God be God. Ephesians 6:13 says therefore take up the whole Armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand firm. Trusting God to do His part can be challenging when we don’t see anything happening. We’ve prayed, done our part, now what? Don’t worry God has us covered. In John 16:13 tells us that when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into truth, for He will speak on His own AUTHORITY, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. God will even cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways Deuteronomy 28:7.

The next step is up to us. Do we pray or not? Do we listen to the still quiet voice of the Holy Spirit to guide us or not? Oh, and do we trust the AUTHORITY of our awesome God or not? And I have to ask, does He trust us with the AUTHORITY He has given us? Matthew 16:19 says I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven. Awesome!!! Think of it!! God trusts us so much with the AUTHORITY that He gives us that He gives us the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

TEMPTATION

 

Matthew 6:12 says and lead us not into TEMPTATION but deliver us from the evil one.

 

The dictionary definition of TEMPTATION is a desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise, an urge or impulse.

 

TEMPTATION is a subject we might not want to know much about and yet in my experience knowledge is a good thing. So we know that everyone is TEMPTED at one time or another about something or the other, including Jesus in Matthew

4-8 we are told that the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the Kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you “ He said , “ if you will bow down and worship me”. Don’t think we won’t be TEMPTED or that we are failures if we are TEMPTED, but let’s remember what Jesus told Satan in Matthew 4:10. “Away from me Satan, for it is written, Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only. It was at that time that the devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him. How lovely!!! Angels came and attended Him!!!! Just think of it, and they come to us as well, but first we must do as Jesus instructed, worship the Lord your God and serve Him only. Turn to the WORD written for our benefit with instruction, comfort and knowledge. In james 1:14 we are told each person is TEMPTED when he is lured and enticed by his own desires.

 

So we learn from scripture very clearly that TEMPTATION not only comes from the evil one, but from our own desires. Scripture also tells us in

1 Corinthians 10:13 that no TEMPTATION has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And He is faithful; He will not let you be TEMPTED, He will provide a way out so that you can endure it. Think of it, all mankind is TEMPTED, even Jesus. Hebrews 2:28 says for since He Himself was TEMPTED in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are TEMPTED. The good news is that even if we think we can’t endure or resist, God is faithful to provide a way out. God not only provides a way out but we learn in James 1:13 No one should say when he is TEMPTED, “ I am being TEMPTED by God” , for God cannot be TEMPTED with evil, and He Himself TEMPTS no one .

 

So, here we are!! We know we are quite common to be tempted. We even know there is help from our Heavenly Father, but once again let’s ask the question, what part do we play in a TEMPTATION situation? Matthew 26:41 tells us to keep watching and praying that you may not enter into TEMPTATION; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Praying is always a good answer. Ask God for help even submitting to Him as is stated in James 4:7, resisting the devil and he will flee from you.

 

But tell me, do you ever get tired of always being the one to do the right or good thing? Why me, do you ask?  Others seem to get away with it. Can’t I even be right sometimes? Why can’t I ever win an argument especially when I’m right? Why do I have to be the one to apologize? Romans 12:21 says Do not be over come by evil, but over come evil with good. Well I guess the answer to the questions is, yes, it is up to me because Galatian 6:9 says let us not grow weary of doing good,  for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. I guess we know what Jesus leads us to do, and that He will help us, and good things will come our way. Scripture even goes on to say in James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for he has stood the test and will receive the Crown of Life, which God has promised to those who love him.

 

FEAR

 

2 Timothy 1:7 says for God has not given us a spirit of FEAR, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

 

The dictionary definition of FEAR is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

 

We can look at FEAR from many different angles. Some say they aren’t AFRAID of anything. Some are AFRAID of everything. Most people experience some FEAR sometime. The scripture above is very clear to say that God DID NOT give us the spirit of FEAR. So, where does it come from?

 

Jesus commands us not to FEAR in Mark 6:50 when he said “take courage! It is I! Don’t be AFRAID”. Even as far back as in the Old Testament Isaiah 41:13 God says “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, DO NOT FEAR; I will help you”.

 

God knew FEAR would be used by the enemy against us to decrease our hope and limit our victories. He mentions it it over 80 times in the Bible to keep reminding us as He whispers to the deepest core of our spirit DO NOT BE AFRAID!!!

 

This all sounds great, doesn’t it? I think we all would love to not be AFRAID, but how? Our God thinks of everything. First He says in Deuteronomy 31:8 He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be AFRAID ; do not be discouraged. So when FEAR comes roaring like an angry lion, and it will, remember this scripture. God is with you!! You don’t go into battle against FEAR alone.

 

1 Corinthians 16:13 tells us to be on our guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Faith is the key. Without faith in Gods  word we become weak. Psalm 56:3 says “When I am AFRAID I put my trust in you”. I put!!! A decision needs to be made. That free will again!  That fabulous gift from God. The gift we sometimes use against ourselves. Because after all we can decide not to believe Gods word or not to even know it exists.

 

In Mark 5:36 JESUS told him “Don’t be AFRAID; just believe”. Sounds easy when Jesus talks, doesn’t it? Open your Bibles. Read scripture about FEAR. Fill your mind with His comforting words. His promises. And yes give your FEARS to Jesus. Replace your FEARFUL thoughts with Gods beautiful Words. Sleep in peace. He knows your concerns. He’s got you covered.

 

So go ahead, open your Bible, then remember to pray. Psalm 34:4 says I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me; he delivered me from all my FEARS. I’m always amazed and in awe that all we need to hear, know and learn is covered in scripture, written in ancient times and yet appropriate even today. Our God really is an awesome God. Be vigilant. Guard your hearts against FEAR because battles are won with God.

 

Let’s give God the final word on this subject when He spoke to Isaiah 35:4 says to those with FEARFUL hearts “ Be strong, do not FEAR; your God will come, He will come with a vengeance; with Devine retribution He will come to save you.

WALK

 

2 Corinthians 5:7 says for we WALK by faith, not by sight.

 

Dictionary definition is to move at a regular and fairly slow pace by lifting and setting down each foot in turn, never having both feet on the ground at once. An act of traveling or an excursion on foot.

 

Most of us take WALKING for granted, never realizing that WALKING is a decision. One has to decide to put one foot in front of the other or we do not move.

 

The Bible talks about WALKING by faith. What then does that really mean? Galatians 5:16 says to WALK by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. So we learn from scripture that there is also a decision to be made if we WALK by faith. The flesh will try to win out!!

Amos 3:3 even says Do two WALK together unless they have agreed to do so?

 

However, this WALK of faith is not WALKED alone.

Leviticus 26:12 says I will also WALL among you and be your God, and you shall be my people. How wonderful!!!!! If we decide, and we do get to decide, to WALK by faith and not by sight we don’t do it alone. But as it says in Amos 3:3 we MUST decide. WALK alone or WALK with God.

 

Another thing to consider when we WALK, do we WALK in the light or in darkness? Jesus spoke to the people once more and said (John 8:12)  “ I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to WALK in darkness because you will have the light that leads to life. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather WALK into a room with the lights on than Into the dark. In the world we would light the dark room with a flip of the switch. In the Spirit we turn to Jesus for the light.

 

Now let’s think about the honor of WALKING with the King of Kings!! Where does He WALK? He WALKS in light leading to life and He WALKS in health, abundance wisdom, and let’s always remember LOVE!!!!

Ephesians 5:2 says and WALK IN LOVE, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Think of what we have when we choose  to WALK with Jesus.

 

Now that we have decided to WALK with the King in the light, let’s think about our roll while on this journey. We know who JESUS is, but what about us? Colossians 1:10 says so that you will WALK in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge  of the Lord. When you spend time WALKING with someone, you get to know them better. You begin to exchange thoughts and knowledge . This exchange leads to a better understanding of each other and I might add a deeper relationship. In John 8:12 Jesus invites us to follow Him. What an invitation and honor. This invitation is for everyone who chooses to WALK with the King!! But do we truly realize what a marvelous opportunity this is? Sometimes, I must admit, I go off on my own only to realize I really need the King. Very quickly I get back on His path. WALKING with Him even in challenging times is better than WALKING alone. How about you? WALK with Jesus or?????

 

He is RISEN

 

Dictionary definition of RISEN is move from lower to a higher position, move upward; Increase number of amount, rise in fortune, prosper; become prominent; come into existence, originate

 

Easter Sunday is the day Christians hold very dear! Our sadness over the death of Jesus no longer grips our emotions. 1 Corinthians 15:4 says He was buried and He was RAISED from the dead on the third day, just as the scripture said. Can you even imagine what it must have felt like to those who had experienced His death to now see the tomb empty? Shock! Worry! Fear! Devastating sadness! Where could He possibly be? Think, however, about their excitement once they realized their Lord had RISEN. It is almost beyond our comprehension! Go, go tell others. Our Lord has RISEN.

 

1 Corinthians 6:14 says God RAISED the Lord and will also RAISE us up by His power.      RAISE us up!!!

 

John 11:25 says Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.      If only we believe!!!!!

 

Romans 10:9 if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God RAISED Him from the dead, you will be saved.

You will be saved!!!!

 

Raise us up. If we believe we will be saved.

 

Christians all over the world are excited each Easter morning to celebrate the RISEN Lord because we are reminded that through His resurrection we too have eternal life. Eternal life! How exciting is that? To spend eternity with our Lord! Just think if it. By faith, no fear of death. How blessed we are! Jesus did it all. He encourages us to lead joyful serving lives just as He encouraged His disciples so long ago.  Jesus is ever present with us, in us, leading, guiding, comforting and healing.

 

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

How powerful!

 

Go back to the beginning of this article and read the dictionary definition of the word RISEN. Does it sound to you like the Bible definition of JESUS? It does to me. And because of our belief in Him and Gods promises in the Bible, we too have it all.

CELEBRATE!!!! Jesus Lives and so do we!!!!

LOVE

Psalm 136:26.   Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His steadfast LOVE endures forever.

 

The dictionary defines LOVE as an intense feeling of deep affection, fondness, tenderness, warmth, intimacy, attachment, endearment

 

LOVE in our culture is used often and loosely. Example: I LOVE  football, I LOVE McDonalds fries, I LOVE the ocean, I LOVE my job, my kids, wife/husband. I LOVE , LOVE, LOVE.

 

But there is one special LOVE we don’t think of often and if we do we sometimes have doubts. Oh we know we LOVE God, but His LOVE for us? Let’s think on that!

 

John 4:16 says God is LOVE. So if God is LOVE how does He LOVE us?We learn through scripture that His LOVE is steadfast and even more importantly unchanging.?

Psalm 86:15 says but You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast LOVE and faithfulness.?

So there it is! His LOVE for all time. Then He revealed His LOVE through Jesus Christ. John 3:16 says For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. The ultimate LOVE! The ultimate gift! The Christ!

 

Jesus went on to give yet another gift. How blessed we are. John 16:7 says nevertheless, I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.

 

But wait there is even more! Jesus says in John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you LOVE one another, even as I have LOVED you.

 

That all sounds good but sometimes it’s very challenging to LOVE the unlovable. That is why God gave us the Holy Spirit to help us do the impossible. Remember He also gave us free will. We get to choose the help or not. But because we LOVE God so much, and revere His Holy Name, we turn to Him and through His grace and mercy, we take the steps to LOVE each other and all those we meet.

 

Let us LOVE God as we reflect His LOVE through us this Easter and every day.

 

TRUTH

Psalm 33:4.   For the word of the Lord is right and TRUE; He is faithful in all He does.

The dictionary defines the word TRUE this way. In accordance with fact or reality, correct, accurate, right and well documented.

 

Many times in life we are presented with a situation that the TRUTH is elusive. Perhaps a he said, she said situation.  Deciding what is TRUE can be challenging.

How do you feel when you here someone challenge the Bible? How do you respond? I have had times I really didn’t know what to say until I read this scripture.

2 Timothy 3:16 says

All scripture is God breathed and profitable for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness. I find this scripture very comforting. It speaks plainly saying ALL scripture is God breathed and what it is intended for.

God really does try to share His heart with us, but do we always listen? Do we believe? Do we trust? Is it TRUE?

Proverbs 30:5

Every word of God proves TRUE; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.

Let’s look further about what God has to say about TRUTH.

John 16:13. When the Spirit of TRURH comes, He will guide you into all the TRUTH, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.

Breathtaking!!!! Our Father loves us so much He has given us all we need to live this life for His glory. We just need to listen to that still quiet voice of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:13 says in Him you also, when you heard the word of TRUTH, the Gospel of your Salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. WOW sealed!!! How blessed we are. Jesus did it all on the cross !

John 14:6 JESUS answered “I am the way and the TRUTH and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. How beautiful! God never wanted there to be any doubt, for anyone who reads or hears these words, of His intent.

 

It is almost Palm Sunday. We are blessed beyond measure. We have the privilege to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem once again if only in Spirit.

Take some time to think about His last few days of earthly life and what He TRULEY did for us. And as ambassadors how we can share Him and His love with others through our actions and deeds.

John 4:24 God is Spirit, and His worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in TRUTH.

HEART

This is a mighty big subject. God has put it on my HEART to talk about the HEART today. The subject is so huge, it is hard to focus in on what He wants shared with you.

Proverbs 4:23

Above all else, guard your HEART, for everything you do flows from it.

Matthew 6:21

For where your treasure is, there your HEART will be also.

 

What exactly is the HEART anyway?

The first definition in the dictionary describes it as a hollow muscular organ that pumps blood. The second definition says it is the central or innermost part of something.

 

The biblical definition of the HEART says it is the image and likeness of God. The HEART is spoken of 600 times in the Old Testament and 210 times in the New Testament. In the Dictionary and the Bible the HEART is the center.

Ezekiel 36:26 says a new HEART I will give you and a new spirit will I put within you. And I will take away the stony HEART of flesh.

Stony HEART? What does that mean?  That’s a HEART hardened by sin, stubbornness and inflexibility which is natural to man. This can be a broken HEART, aching HEART, cold or cruel HEART.

The new HEART has a new principle of life such as new desires, new purpose and resolutions. New affections are placed in a gracious HEART. This HEART can be healed, helped and softened.

In the New Testament Hebrews 8:10 tells us “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their HEART and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Two things are going on here.

One—-God gives the new HEART

1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are a Temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? All of this has been made possible through the blood of JESUS Christ our Lord and Savior.

Two—-What will the person do with the new HEART?

2 Timothy 1:14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

God has clearly let us know through His Word that He doesn’t expect us to guard this new HEART without help from the Holy Spirit. Praise His Holy Name not only for this fabulous gift, but for the help living within us from the Holy Spirit.

And remember Jesus Christ made it all possible.

In John 14:27 He says

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your HEARTS be troubled and do not be afraid.

We must remember that this new HEART is a journey. Help is always available. Gods mercies are new every morning. Jesus wants our HEARTS not to be troubled. He is our Savior.

 

FORGIVE

Ephesians 4:32.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, FORGIVING each other, just as in Christ God FORGAVE you.

 

Definition of FORGIVE, pardon, absolution, exoneration, clemency, mercy. In the Greek it means “to let go”

 

WOW!!!! This is a very sensitive and even controversial subject, one that most everyone has an opinion. We say the words every time we repeat the Lord’s Prayer, but how important is it really to FORGIVE and to be FORGIVEN? God must have felt it to be VERY important because the word FORGIVE is mentioned 42 times in Old Testament and 33 times in New Testament. The word FORGIVEN is mentioned 17 times in Old Testament and 28 times in New Testament.

Our medical community tells us that FORGIVENESS calms stress levels leading to improved health. When we hold onto hurt, pain, resentment or anger it harms us far more than it harms the offender.

FORGIVENESS does not mean forgetting nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. BUT, yes there always seems to be a BUT, how do we accomplish such a challenge? I find FORGIVING  very difficult at times. How about you?

Even though Ephesians 3:13 encourages us to bear with each other and FORGIVE one another. If any of you has a grievance against someone, FORGIVE as the Lord FORGAVE you.

We may have that FORGIVENESS BIN that we use if a friend forgets to call or include us in their plans. Or, perhaps, someone offends us unwittingly, in the FORGIVENESS BIN it goes. What about the BIG hurt? The one you can’t let go of? The one that cuts so deep you feel as if you will never get over it? The one that feels like you’re carrying around a heavy weight. The one that colors everything you say, do and feel.  That hurt that stays in our hearts leading to higher blood pressure and higher heart rate.

Even though Jesus says in Matthew 26:28 this is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the FORGIVENESS of sin. Yet we still hold onto the pain.

God is telling us loud and clear in this scripture that He FORGIVES our sins.

I know it isn’t easy, but here is my precious Son to help you. I love you so much that through His blood I FORGIVE you so please FORGIVE others. As we climb that mountain of UNFORGIVENESS, we must remember we don’t climb it alone. JESUS walks beside us. Someday, by the grace of God, we will make it over the top of that mountain to the other side where freedom waits.

Some of JESUS last words on the cross were “ FORGIVE them Father, they know not what they do.” He excluded no one.

FORGIVING is not easy, but it is essential to our wellbeing and our walk with God. Lent is a good time to LET GO AND LET GOD as we celebrate the resurrection of our precious Lord. So don’t fret, instead lean into our Lord. If you haven’t yet made it over that mountain to freedom, help is on the way. God’s timing is perfect.