Today marks the beginning of a new year. A fresh start, new beginnings, better choices... and resolutions. But that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be happy. Sometimes this “fresh start” hits us in the middle of tragedy. January 1, 2007, my family was sitting in intensive care while our 3 year old was on life support as she went through chemo treatments. Now ten years later I am with my sister as she strives to put together the pieces of her life after a fatal accident has left her a widow with 2 boys and another on the way. Through these hardships of life are we expected to just put on our party hats and smile for the new year?
Truth be told- no matter what day of the year it is- life can be difficult. Trials overwhelm us. The New Year is not always a happy one. I Corinthians 15 tells us “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” Our hope needs to come from above, but it also needs to exceed our life on earth. We have hope because our Saviour has conquered the grave. He gives us new life and His promises are eternal. Jesus is not just a fairy tale to make us feel good. He is the true and living God. Not only is he the Creator of everything in heaven and earth- but the giver and sustainer of our very being. He gives us hope and peace and rest beyond our understanding. And when this life comes crashing in from all sides, by His strength we can look past our circumstances to see our Saviour.
So, what do we do when we are overwhelmed by a storm in life? As cliche’ as it might sound, we need to take one step at a time. Do what we know is right. Put your trust in Christ to guide you as He has promised. His Word will be a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path. His Spirit will be your Comforter and your strength from day to day. His love will give you a song in the night. And if He feels too far away… reach out for Him; he tells us in Acts 17:27 that He is right there. Follow and obey His will each moment as He guides you through this difficult part of your journey.
And the happiness? Yes, we are promised that too. But it might not look like the happiness that you would see on a child’s face when you pull into Chuck-E-Cheese. It may be the deep sense of peace that passes all understanding when our hearts and minds are focused on following Christ no matter what this world throws our way. It is the inner joy that we cannot explain when deep inside we know we are walking through the valley that the Lord has prepared for us. It is the comfort in seeing only one set of footprints in the sand- because we know he is carrying us.
If this new year has come upon you at a time when there is no celebration in your heart, take comfort. Stay close to the Saviour’s side. Lean upon Him. Let Him carry you into this New Year.
Please pray for my sister Tiffany and her boys. For those who would like to help them monetarily- donations can be sent to: Tulsa Baptist Temple, (William Scott Warren Memorial Fund), 1203 S. Columbia Place, Tulsa, OK 74104
I hope you know John 3:16. Truly know it. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God gave us the greatest gift imaginable- and He did it out of love for us. Loving us even while we were yet sinners. Sending Jesus down to pay the penalty and price for our sin. He could have left us condemned- but instead he gave us a Saviour. All we have to do is put our trust in Him, ask Him to forgive our sins and be our Saviour. John 3:16
Jesus went to the cross for us. He was crucified, buried, and rose again. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (vs. 36) Light and darkness. Belief and unbelief. Saved and lost. God has given us such a stark contrast between Light and darkness, the Spirit and the flesh, life and death… yet it seems like our lives are still so full of grey areas? We see such a wonderful gift that God has given us, yet choose to walk in darkness. John 3:19 tell us plainly, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
Jesus knows us so well. He explains the reason for this in verse 20. The light shows us our true selves. It reproves us of the wrongs we have done. It doesn’t feel good to be reproved. It can be embarrassing to be corrected. If we have a big dirty stain on our clothes, we definitely do not want anyone to see it! If we can’t change… we try to cover it up! But wait… who says we can’t change?
Once your faith and trust is put in the Lord Jesus Christ- the devil knows he has lost you for eternity. The next best thing he can do is try to win over the rest of your life here on earth. It truly is a battle between Light and darkness. But, Christian, we have God on our side. And God is ready to give you the victory! The best thing any one of us can do is to come closer and closer to the Light! Let God’s Word shine on our lives, clean or dirty. He knows how to get those spots out! If you have a stain of sin on your life today, I challenge you to step into the light. If the devil has been deceiving you and you think you are overcome, there is no hope, no way you can live in righteousness, don’t listen. He is a deceiver. God wants to shine His Light onto your life and make you clean! If you have trusted Christ as your Saviour- don’t be afraid to trust Him with your life!! Do you have questions about salvation? www.needgod.com
I Chronicles 16... David's Psalm
8 Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
9 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.
10 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.
11 Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.
12 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;
23 Sing unto the Lord, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation.
24 Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations.
25 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods.
26 For all the gods of the people are idols: but the Lord made the heavens.
27 Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place.
28 Give unto the Lord, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength.
29 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
30 Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.
31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The Lord reigneth.
32 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein.
33 Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord, because he cometh to judge the earth.
34 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
35 And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.
36 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the Lord.
...Wow!! So many GREAT reminders to GLORIFY the Lord! I love reading this each morning as a reminder to Glorify God throughout my day. Seek the Lord! Remember all He has done! Sing to Him!! Talk about Him to those around you each day. He is great and deserves our words of praise!
Leave a comment below to share with others which psalms are a blessing to you in your walk with God!!
Scrolling through Facebook I came across an article that caught my attention. Scientists that have studied married couples for 4 decades to figure out why some marriages work while others fall apart (either ending in divorce or living in misery) have come to a conclusion. By scientific, I mean the whole deal: thousands of couples, multitude of researchers, electrodes hooked to the brain kind of science. Guess what they found… couples that are kind to each other are the happiest.
Now, I’m not trying to steal anyone’s thunder here- but have you read your Bible lately? I promise it won’t take you 40 years, doesn’t require a master's’ degree, and you won’t need any electrodes!
We could use many examples, but let's just look at one.
We really could apply this to any relationship. When we live according to God’s Word things work out. Obviously it takes two, and I’m not disputing that. So to clarify, if both parties involved are kind to each other there is a happy marriage, happy siblings, happy in-laws, happy co-workers, happy people in the world. So basically all I am saying is that we could obtain world peace (if every person in it followed God.) But let’s start here: Be ye kind one to another. Commanded in the Bible and proven by science!
I fell in love with this peacemaker bracelet!
Who wants to love life? Sounds good, right? Just like we all have a natural desire to care for ourselves, look out for ourselves, and want the best for ourselves, we also desire to live a happy life. Unfortunately, life is not always a walk in the park. It can come with some pretty harsh blows. So, how can we have a life of peace, joy, and happiness? The answer is found in God's Word. His promises are true and His way is always right. God gives us the formula we need to see good days.
I Peter 3:10 begins, "For he that will love life...." First off, there is a will, a desire, to love life. Do you desire to love life? Have you even realized that God desires for you not only to be His child, but to live according to His will and enjoy the life here on earth that He has blessed you with. God gives us a way to have a life we can truly love! Pay attention: "For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it." If you and I want to see "good days" we need to lay out a game plan to make these verses a part of our daily living. We need to get serious about this and see how much we can really love our life!
1. Let him refrain his tongue from evil.
Think of a parent refraining their young one from running into the street, or of a police officer that must refrain a suspect attempting to harm another. These are not just nonchalant casual encounters. This is head to head- do whatever needs to be done- kind of action! We are told here that if we want to love life we need to refrain our tongue! If we consider those things that bring us hardship in almost any relationship, most of them, if not all, can probably be brought back to a tiny little tongue, just doing what it does best! Let's get serious and active about refraining our tongue. This little tongue is no small matter!
2. And his lips that they speak no guile.
More about our mouth! Oh, yes. Something I find very convicting as I read these little passages in my Bible are the absolutes. "No guile." That doesn't leave any wiggle-room! Maybe we think that we are just about as good as we can get, after all, we are only human! But you see- as Christians, we are not only expected to use our mouths to bless those we love, but we are also told to bless our enemies! We are not on this earth to compare ourselves to the one standing next to us, but to Jesus Christ Himself. And chapter two verse 22 says He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to [God.] Is this the pattern we are following?
3. Let him eschew evil.
Here we have an even stronger word than "refrain." It is actually fun to see all the ways different dictionaries explain eschew! Each of them is pretty clear- you are getting away!! // to fight off; renounce; steer clear of; have nothing to do with; shun; to avoid something intentionally; to purposely try to stay away from; to avoid using, accepting, participating in, or partaking of // Do you really want to love life? Hey, it looks to me like we need to be making some serious actions to "eschew" those things contrary to God's will and God's way in our life! I ask each of you to set aside some time today to pray and ask God what evil there is in your life that you need to fight off, renounce, and steer clear of! Remember, there are promises ahead that we can only claim once we have followed His path.
4. And do good.
The Bible tells us to "do good unto all men" (Gal. 6:10) and to "maintain good works" (Titus 3:8,14). It's not just enough to keep the bad out of our life- but we need to fill it with good! Be good to your husband, good to your children, good to your family, friends, church body, neighbors, strangers, and even mean people! Do good. It's not a social gospel- it's God's command for Christians. Yes, we should be good. But being good isn't of much use if we are not doing good.
5. Seek peace, and ensue it.
This world has enough drama. Just don't get involved. You need your sanity. You need your peace of mind. Jesus says in His sermon on the mount "Blessed are the peacemakers." Be a peace maker. Seek it, follow it, make it happen. You will be blessed!! You will find joy in the simple things of life. You will love life and see good days. Take God at His Word and claim those promises that follow. Meditate on His Word and follow Him today!
Live your life God's way- and you will truly LOVE the life you live!
We have been blessed with a busy summer around here! I would love to blog more, but as the mother of 5 and a pastor’s wife I have decided to keep the blogging on the lower portion of my priority list. As a result, I have a whole list of things I would like to sit and write about! (Yes, I’m keeping a list!) But today, I sat in on the last service for teen camp. It truly blessed my heart, and our oldest daughter assured me that every service this week has been just as good. I would like to share some of the Scriptures, along with the preacher’s three points, and hope that it is a blessing to you as well. If you’d like to hear the sermon for yourself just click or tap here to open the camp’s sermon page. It Is TIME to Trust God!
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” The Command “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;” Psalms 62:8 “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him:
God is a refuge for us. Selah.”
Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth
his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”
Psalms 4:5 “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.” The Caution “lean not unto thine own understanding.” Psalms 146:3 “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man,
in whom there is no help.”
Isaiah 5:21 “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent
in their own sight!”
Proverbs 28:26 “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely,
he shall be delivered.” The Covenant (Promise) “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 16:20 “He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth
in the LORD, happy is he.”
Psalms 40:4 “Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust,
Psalms 34:8 “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” Final Thoughts: God’s way is always the BEST way. Psalms 9:10“And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou,
LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”
Psalms 37:5“Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him;
and he shall bring it to pass.” Thank you Bro. Brubaker for this great challenge!! May God bless all of you serving the Lord and being such an example at Servant’s Heart Camp!
So much is going on in this world we live in. One minute we are tucked away in our cozy homes, raising our children, building our marriages, striving to please the Lord with each day- and before we know it the world is crumbling all around us. Tragedy strikes and we stand in the aftershock wondering where it came from. This may come by a loss of health, the death of a loved one, or a nearby act of terror we didn’t see it coming or going. All we know is somehow we need to find a new normal and figure out how to move on from here. Do we bury our head in the sand? Do we live in denial and act like nothing has happened? Do we leave the firm foundation of our faith in God and get washed away on the shifting sands of this world’s philosophy? How are we, as Christians, to respond when our world is tossed about on the raging seas of life? (When all we really want is to just live a quiet and peaceable life!)
Well…. I really don’t have the answer for you. (Other than to say turning our back to God is definitely NOT the answer.) But I do have a biblical example to follow. Job lost everything. And Job even had something that we don’t. Job verse one says that he was perfect and upright. Now, I am not trying to speak for you, but I can firmly say that I am neither perfect nor upright! I wish I could say that I was. And someday I hope that I am, by the grace of God. If it weren’t for all the times I continue to cave in to the desires of my flesh I would be a lot farther along than I am today. Nevertheless, we can see the example of Job- who lost more than we can ever imagine without even a moment’s notice!!
First, let’s get some facts straight. God cares about Job. He knew what Job was going through. He loved Job. So, does it occur odd to us that when the Lord answers Job after so many chapters of silence he ends up spending an entire chapter talking about Leviathan, the great sea monster!! I’m talking about 34 verses!! I am being polite and holding myself back from using CAPS LOCK here… but take a moment to breathe this in! God Himself. Answering Job. Out of His Infinite Wisdom. And He’s talking about a dinosaur?
This may be a bit cliche’ but, has it ever occurred to you that nothing occurs to God? God knew exactly what was going on. In fact, He knew before it happened. He also knew the outcome. That is not to say that the way was easy for Job. Times were tough and he endured such grief that cannot be explained. Yet, God also knew exactly what Job needed to hear. Sometimes we tend to make God so personal that we lose sight of His Mighty Power!!
This great sea monster that man cannot tame, cannot subdue, cannot even hunt for its meat- God has made to play in the waters for His enjoyment! Psalm 104:24-26 “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.”
So, to all of the naysayers that tell me that this is not an important point… (you know, those “sincere Christians” who insist that we stick with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ) I would like to just point out that when God spoke to Job in his trials and hardship, he spent an entire chapter explaining, in detail, the greatness of leviathan. That was not an accident. Job saw. He got the message. Job got his eyes back on the Lord and His greatness!
How about us? I know it’s hard when tragedy strikes a little too close to home. We can so easily become consumed. Maybe it is concern for our fellow man, our country, our safety- until we become glued to the next news headline popping up on our screen. ...What will it be next? ...Where will it be next? But let me tell you this. This world is not getting any better. And it isn’t going to. Now more than ever we need to take a step back and fix our eyes on our Lord. Draw close to Him. See His mighty power! I am not suggesting that we bury our head in the sand… but it would not hurt any of us to skip the nightly news for once or give our facebook page a rest and take a look at the night sky or get up to see the sun rise in the morning. Sit a while and read through Job 41. Verse by verse. Think about those knights trying to slay the dragon, only to have their spears fall like blades of grass. Yet, the Lord watches him play in the water. And He is the same Lord Who watches over us.
"Sea Monsters … More than a Legend?" I found this article interesting from Answers in Genesis. Go to their page here.
Seeing a bowl of cereal always brings me back to memories from my childhood on those mornings before school when most children, I assumed, were eating it for breakfast. But what I recall are Mom’s words… “If you eat cereal for breakfast- you will be hungry again before lunchtime.” So, I grew up on eggs and toast, oatmeal, or pancakes. And of course, I thought the kids eating Froot Loops were pretty lucky. As always- Mom was right. Eggs and toast helped me concentrate more on my schoolwork and less on when the lunch bell would ring. My hungry little stomach was much more satisfied after a proper breakfast than it would have been after being filled with brightly colored crunchiness!
I have thought about that lesson so many times. How many things in this world do we want to fill our lives with or spend our time or money on? How many things do we look to for satisfaction… even though our Heavenly Father has warned us that the pleasures of this world will only last for a season? We go through our days desiring to be filled- to be satisfied- to feel blessed… yet we are sitting down to feast on the emptiness this world has to offer instead of the fulfillment that God promises will come from a life pleasing to Him.
Jesus tells us, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6) We have a promise from God Himself that we can be filled! Our lives can be blessed! We can have contentment, satisfaction, fulfillment! What wouldn’t anyone give for just one day filled with the peace of God on their heart? We can have a lifetime of it, and God has already given us the key in His Word: to hunger and thirst after righteousness.
Think about your desires today. What are you hungering for and thirsting after? What do you desire to fill your time? What thoughts do you allow to linger in your mind? How do you spend your days, nights, and weekends? And remember this- it is not as much about what we are doing, but rather what our desires are. Many times we are going through our lives filling the roles we are expected to fill… while our mind is wandering far from it. Maybe those around you cannot see- but surely the Lord sees the smallest and deepest desire of your heart.
What are your desires? If you need to make a change- start right now. The first step is always prayer because we truly cannot do anything right in this life without God’s help. Ask Him to show you what you are desiring now and what He wants you to desire. Ask Him to give you a hunger for righteousness. To be right with Him. To be right in your relationships. To be right with your time, your talents, your every thought! For when you begin to hunger and thirst after His righteousness- you will be filled! There is no satisfaction in this entire world that will be worth more than a life FILLED by following after the Lord. Take God at His Word and live a full life!
Each of my children has a little box from Grandma. They call it their “special box.” It is a place to keep their birthday cards, old Hersheypark tickets, and small mementos from places we visit. From time to time I will find them with their Special Box out looking through their treasures. It is a great time to remember the fun times we’ve had- and read an old note from someone who loves them!
God has a special place for memories too! I’m not sure what all He puts in it- or when He reads through it… but I hope there is something there from me!! He tells us in Malachi 3:
“Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.”
The Lord knows our thoughts and He hears what we are talking about. It pleases Him so much when we are speaking to one another about Him that He puts it down in His special book. I hope that He hears me tell of His goodness and speak of His love. I hope He hears me sharing the Gospel with my mouth and praising Him with my lips!!
It’s not just about how we live or what we do- but are our thoughts truly on the Saviour each day? Are we speaking good things about our Great God? He hears every word… and He remembers!!!
All around us we hear words of peace, words of comfort, words of stillness… yet sometimes the struggle is too real, too dark, too swift… we need Jesus- and being still, waiting in quietness, just isn’t working. That’s where Bartimaeus was- the blind man in Mark 10. He sat begging, and when he heard Jesus was passing by- he cried out. And when others tried to calm him, quiet him, he just cried out louder! There are times in our life the struggle is so real and all we can do is cry to Jesus. And when we try to “be still” and listen for that “still small voice” we just can’t. Because the hurt is real, and the pain is deep. We just cry louder.
Jesus sees us in our struggle. He hears us amidst our deepest need. Bartimaeus was there. He sat begging in the street. Taking whatever the world had to throw his way. The pain. The sorrow. The loneliness. The world didn’t have much to offer him. He knew there was more- even as he cried to Jesus the world still tried to quiet him. What was he? Just a blind man? Just a beggar? “And Jesus stood still.” (vs. 49) To Jesus he was so much more. His needs were real. His struggles were worth caring for. He was worth cleansing and making whole. And so are you.
Bartimaeus was blind. He couldn’t see Jesus. He didn’t know where Jesus was, but heard that He was passing by that way. There are valleys we must pass through in this life. We sometimes get our eyes off the Lord and allow the storms to overwhelm us. We cannot see Jesus. Yet we must trust that He is near- for He is Faithful and True. He is always near. In faith we must call out to Him. Cry out to Him. And if we still can’t seem to see Him- cry louder. There He is- standing still- waiting for us to come to Him. And there He stands, calling us, like He called to Bartimaeus.
Bartimaeus was comforted. He cast off his worldly garment and came to Jesus. He laid down his need at the feet of Jesus. Immediately he received his sight. He didn’t have to wait. He didn’t have to go through some type of ceremony or time of cleansing. Immediately Jesus made him whole. Jesus was ready for Bartimaeus. Jesus was willing to heal him. When Bartimaeus called- Jesus stood still. The Lord knows when the struggle is too much for us to bear. He knows when we reach the end of our resources and can do nothing but cry to Him. He knows when we can’t sit quietly and still any longer. He stands for us. He comforts us. And He is ready to meet our need. Call out to Him today. For salvation. For security. For peace amidst the storms of life. Cast away the garments of shame and come to Jesus. Follow Him in faith. For He is Faithful and True.