Pull up those Armored drawers

What happens when you feel that you have done everything you are supposed to do, like paying your tithe and giving offerings, volunteering to feed the poor and take meals on wheels, work in the nursery on Sunday morning when you would rather be sitting in the service, and then you pray and feel that you have hit the wall, no answer? I talked with someone today to which that scenario applies. This person is kind and gentle and good, gives generously of their income and volunteers to help the “old folk” and anyone that is down on their luck, it is at times like that I would give everything in me to be rich enough to solve the problem at hand. What do you say? The truth is so simple that it sounds cliché’, it is that “when you are doing good it is the devil’s job to try you at every level, to see if you will turn aside from your faith so that he can devour you, soul and body”.

When Job was tried, he suffered the loss of his family and his properties, plus he was covered with boils! He sat on a dung heap and scraped them with a broken piece of pottery, just trying to make himself feel better, but he went from bad to worse when his wife capped it all off by asking him why he didn’t just “curse God and die”!

Job was faithful in the face of losing everything and endured all his well meaning friends, commonly referred to as “Job’s comforters”, telling him that he must have lived in sin or displeased God in some way or this would not be happening to him. It wasn’t until Job, feeling lower than a snake’s belly, began to pray for those “friends” and that is when God put a halt to all that Satan had brought on him. From that point his fortune began to rebuild, he had more children, he regained all of his properties, and seven times more! Satan had thrown it up to God that He had protected Job, and said “Does Job serve God for nothing? You have put a hedge around him!” That is when God gave Satan permission to try Job in whatever way he wanted, except he could not take his life.

I am sure there have been times that you, like Job, have wished you could just die to get out of all your troubles. But consider this, have you armed yourself against this enemy of your soul? Read Ephesians 6: 12-13  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 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

Are YOU having a hard time? Does it feel like your prayers are hitting the ceiling and falling back in your face? Arm yourself then pull up those armed drawers and fight!

 

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Had an AHA moment?

I flipped on the Voices of Lee and listened to them sing, “There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place and I know that it’s the Spirit of the Lord“, I said, “God, I am broken, I need help.” He spoke to my heart, “Everyone is broken in one way or another, and you only see your own chips and cracks. Your favorite coffee mug has a bad chip in it yet you continue to use it every day. Quit feeling sorry for yourself!” As I thought on that thought, the Voices of Lee began to sing “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross on which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.” Oh thank you God for speaking to me, then I had an AHA moment! I’m not talking about suddenly realizing that Smart Balance taste as good as butter, even if it doesn’t cook as well, or the Chick Fil A chicken sandwich is better than the Martin’s, or you’d rather drive a Van than a sports car, I am talking about real life changing AHA moments here. Adam and Eve had one in the Garden when, after eating the fruit, they heard God, out for His evening stroll, calling them and realizing they were naked, tried to cover themselves. This changed life for them, and us. Look at Isaac: Genesis 27:33 Isaac started to tremble, shaking violently. He said, “Then who hunted game and brought it to me? I finished the meal just now, before you walked in. And I blessed him—he’s blessed for good!” He had blessed the wrong son and now could do nothing to change it, too late. Samson’s moment: Judges 16:20-21 Then she said, “The Philistines are on you, Samson!” He woke up, thinking, “I’ll go out, like always, and shake free.” He didn’t realize that God had abandoned him! The Philistines grabbed him, gouged out his eyes, and took him down to Gaza. David’s moment: 2 Samuel 12:11-13 This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you…Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. Judas betrayed Jesus, and when he had his Aha moment, he couldn’t bear his sin, he hanged himself. What about the Apostle Peter? He denied Jesus three times, but the Lord knew his heart and asks him; John 21:17-19 “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I have had Aha moments about myself that shook me down to my repentant knees, and some that ended relationships. It’s like being in a completely dark room, hands outstretched trying to find the wall or piece of furniture, when the light suddenly turns on, The light may then go out, but the image of what you have seen in the room is burned in your mind and you can find your way out. God gives us these revelations so that we can make positive changes in our lives. Heed these Aha moments; know that God helps us if we only ask! Psalms 139:23 “Search me, O God,and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

May you have peace and productive AHA moments yourself!

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Throw out the garbage!

Every day we make decisions that affect our whole life, you may not realize it but I think of seeing a large design of dominoes all standing like little soldiers in a row until the first one in the row falls over and then the little tiles tumble one at a time until they are all laying down with the little white dots facing the ceiling. Can you think of an action that has caused a string of reactions? Yeah and so can I. Sometimes it is just a word that can change the course of everything and try as you might you can never take it back. We might try to get rid of the garbage from our lives and we think it is safely disposed of and (as an old friend of mine used to say) “Up pops the devil!”  It’s seems the temptation hunts you down and runs you over and when you think you have it conquered there is always a willing “friend” to help you find your way back into it! In my world that would amount to being so good and strict on a diet and my kids bringing in a chocolate cheesecake or pistachio almond fudge ice cream for me!

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”

Yesterday I looked in the refrigerator and saw I needed to clean out the old food to make way for groceries so I set the casserole dish with the left over broccoli casserole in it out on the cabinet to be dealt with when I finished doing some other chores. I came back into the kitchen before long, the dish was gone but when I opened the fridge door there it was back on the shelf. I didn’t think much about it and just set it out again but again it got put back in its place in the fridge. Last night I set it out again and again was deterred in disposing of it in a way that wouldn’t attract all the possums, raccoons and possible coyote that my yard and porch attract. I forgot about it in getting ready for bed. Fast-forward to this morning and see me talking on the phone to my son and opening the refrigerator door for my eggs and when I opened that door there it was the BROCCOLI CASSEROLE back in the refrigerator! I thought of all the times that something gets thrown away that I meant to keep and here this was something I was trying to get rid of that someone was taking the time to put back in the fridge thinking it was a mistake that it was sitting out!

Next time just go ahead and throw the garbage and that temptation out instead of leaving it on the cabinet, which is an open invitation to just put it right back in the fridge!

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I was asked about Faith & Hope

Romans 8:24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?

Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

The Centurian had great faith, he had seen Jesus work miracles, He understood Jesus’ authority and trusted that Jesus would send the command for his servant to be healed and it was done! Mary and Martha saw their brother Lazarus raised from death to life, they knew Jesus and had seen His mighty works! Let’s go back to a time before Jesus walked the earth as a man of flesh. 2Kings chapter 4 tells of a great lady who helped an old prophet. She wasn’t expecting anything in return, just showing kindness to a good man. She fed him whenever he came by her house and had her husband to build him a special room on their wall so that he could, at anytime, go in and take rest there. He felt compassion for her and knowing that she didn’t have a child told her that she would have a son. Time went on and the boy was born. She was so very happy. One day the boy was out in the field with his dad working and had a sun stroke, he came in to his mother holding his head and crying, he died in her arms. This great woman laid the child on the Prophet’s bed and without even telling his dad that the boy had died she took a mule and went to find the Prophet. She was a mother with a mission. The Prophet, Elisha, saw her coming and sent his servant out to find out what was wrong. He asked her if it was well with her husband, her son, she answered him with, “It is well.  When she reached Elisha she fell in front of him and held onto his feet, she was not going to leave and go home until he went with her. She had faith that if this man of God, the man who had foretold his birth, would go with her, her son would be raised from the dead. The Prophet went and the end of the story is that the boy was raised from the dead! He was alive and well! Her faith was answered.

I think of how many prayers that God has answered for me and wonder if I am grateful enough? Do I thank Him enough? When trouble comes around how do I react? Am I one that gets hysterical and says, “Where is God in this?” Am I one that complains to other people that God has turned His back on me, or let me down? Whether you are facing sickness, death, financial crisis or relationship problems, let me recommend facing the world with a brave “It is well” and then thank God for all the things He has already done for you, your faith will be answered!

Matthew 9:29 says, “According to your faith let it be done to you!”

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Words DO hurt!

People use words so carelessly, never thinking about how a harsh word can become a dagger that hangs up in the muscle of your heart and stays until you die or ask the Holy Spirit to remove it from you. A wrongly placed word can cause a “root of bitterness” to grow in your spirit. Hebrews 12:14-17 Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.

I looked up the word “fool and there were thirteen definitions, the number one was: a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense. You can find the Bible definition in Psalms 53:1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 

The simple moral fact is that words kill.  When we think of sin it usually involves the big ones, you know what they are, but we let ourselves indulge in the evil of gossip, calling each other names and ruining a person’s good reputation with a careless statement, fact or not. Remember that you can’t erase all the things you have said any more than you could rip open a feather pillow in front of a blowing fan and then find them all and replace them in the pillow casing.

Proverbs 17:9 He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.

I think it was Mark Twain that said “it is better to be quiet and let your friends think you are a fool than to speak and prove it!”

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Is there any hope?

“Hope is the state which promotes the belief in a good outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. Despair is often regarded as the opposite of hope. Hope is the “feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best” or the act of “look[ing] forward to something with desire and reasonable confidence” or “feel[ing] that something desired may happen”. Other definitions are “to cherish a desire with anticipation”; “to desire with expectation of obtainment”; or “to expect with confidence”.

I stopped at a red light behind a car that had an interesting bumper sticker, it said “I feel so much better since I gave up hope!” Wow, I wondered, what had happened to them that they had such a dim view of life, or maybe they were just trying to be facetious, thumbing their nose at all of us who hang on to hope by the skin of our teeth.

Proverbs 13:12 Unrelenting disappointment (or hope deferred) leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around. One definition of the word hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

During WWll there was a submarine that sank to the bottom of the ocean after being struck by ammunition. As the sailors were desperately trying to get in touch with a ship that could help, they got word that divers had found them and were trying to rescue them. As they waited, it is told that there was the tapping of Morse code from inside the ship “IS THERE ANY HOPE?”

Let me ask it of you, is there any hope? Hope for our nation, hope for the young men and women fighting on foreign shores for us, hope for the many homeless living under bridges and in alley ways, hope for those so steeped in debt that they are on the verge of losing their homes? Hope for someone stricken with a dread disease, hope for the fallen Christian, who after having known the truth turns his back on God? Are you tapping on the walls of your own prison asking, praying, and hoping for a good outcome?

We let ourselves get so swamped by worry that it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, then our physical body and mental capacities begin to fail us, but no matter what I faced in the past or what I may face tomorrow I refuse to be disheartened, My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Proverbs 31:24 So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD!

 

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Just Three Words

If you had to describe yourself with three words, what would they be? I heard a commercial for a local newspaper today that made me rethink my cancelled subscription! They described themselves as being “Credible, Compelling, Complete”. Then the news came on describing themselves as “Dedicated, Determined, Dependable“.  I wonder, how would I describe me? I’ll give it some thought before I end this article, are you thinking about yours?

I thought how the “C” words described Jesus; CREDIBLE: John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. COMPELLING: Mark 11:15 Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold doves. COMPLETE: Matthew 16:15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” I would say that made Him Complete!

Then I thought about the “D’s”, DEDICATED: Hebrews 4:14 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. DETERMINED: We know that when Jesus took the challenge of the cross, he was determined to take the keys of death and hell away from Satan. DEPENDABLE: Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

There is no way to measure up completely to the man that Jesus was in the flesh, I’m thankful, He loves me just the way I am.

Now, what are my three words? SOULFUL, SEEKING, SINCERE.

 

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Reach out and touch Him

There are few things that are as precious as the touch of someone you love, be it parent, child, or love. Just the touch of a mother’s hand on the fevered brow of a child can sooth his tears, an arm around someone you love in a time of trouble comforts, so it is natural for us to want to touch Him, the Lord Jesus.  Matthew 9:20-22 Just then a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.” Jesus turned—caught her at it. Then he reassured her: “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.” The woman was well from then on.

Do you need to be quieted? Matthew.8: 3 So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them. The Illuminating Touch Matthew 9:29 Then He touched their eyes saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” The Reassuring Touch Matthew 17:7 But Jesus came and touched them and said “Arise, and do not be afraid.”  The Liberating Touch Matthew 7:33 And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. The Healing Touch Luke 22:51 Jesus said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him. The Cleansing Touch Matthew 8:3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was healed. 

I could go on through the scriptures and give you one for anything you need, but you get the idea. Most important is the personal touch that you can feel when you just have a little conversation with Him. Sometimes it seems that everyone around us is so engrossed in their own problems that ours seem insignificant, we feel lonely and small, but when we go to Jesus, He cares for us.

What do you need today? Are you lonely, depressed, sick, just need the warmth of a loving touch? 1 Peter 5:7 says: Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Keep praying, reach out and touch Him!

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M-O-T-H-E-R

On March 26 1924, sixteen year-old Addie Mae Tomberlin Paulk gave birth to a nine-pound baby girl. Baby Myrtle was born hungry and Addie Mae was at a loss as to how to feed her, mother would tell us that then laugh and say, “I am still hungry”. December 25, 2013 she went to heaven, what words would I use to describe her? She was a tower.

I typed the word “Tower” into my Google search and more than twenty-one pages of pictures came up! There were towers of every description, the Mile High Tower, the Eiffel Tower and an old landmark, the Leaning Tower of Pisa along with towers carved by nature’s deft hand, such as the Devil’s Tower, towers from all over the world! The description says, “Towers are tall structures almost always taller than they are wide (almost always?).” There are radio and TV signal towers, cell phone towers. There are smaller tower type structures called “Lighthouses”, getting closer now.

The one type of tower not mentioned was a tower that in most of our lives are towers of light, strength and an unchangeable love. It is the tower of hope, encouragement and help that is our Mother. My mother was the source of all the above-mentioned elements in the lives of my siblings and me and most of all she was all those things to my dad. There were times when I saw my dad, back bent from working all day physically building our church, come in so tired he could hardly put one foot in front of the other. After a few moments of mother hovering over him and admiring how hard he had worked then placing a big plate of food in front of him suddenly he was a new man. She was fiercely loyal to the ones she loved never wanting to believe anything bad about them. But she was resilient and was always able to pop up back like the clown we had as children that you could knock all the way to the floor and it would spring back up smiling! Moving from church to church, visiting the sick, cleaning church toilets and helping cook dinners to raise money, she did it all.

God used a woman to bring us His own Son in the flesh. In Judges we read about Deborah, a woman who actually judged Israel and without whom Barak refused to go into battle! Women are the “kingpin” (the most important person in a group or place) in a lot of our social endeavors, and for all the good we do, without guidance from the Holy Spirit we are nothing.

If you are able to have a conversation with your own mother today tell her you love and appreciate her, I tell mine every night and I know she hears me in heaven!

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and the beat goes on…

Good, bad, indifferent, planned, un-planned, desired, bad timing, however it happened to you, you will never forget the day when you first became a parent. What young people don’t realize is that to us parents they never grow up. Let me qualify this by saying I am speaking for myself you might not feel the same. I used to wonder why my parents couldn’t just realize that I was an “adult” and let me just do things with out all the questions and concerns and warnings about being careful. A young person goes through everything as if they are in basic training and we at home cringe because we already know the path they will have to follow, we know it is not easy and yes we worry about their absolute safety, after all, we are responsible for their genetic make-up, their very flesh and blood life; the blood that flows in their veins comes from our own.

There are 1,511 references in the Bible to the word Father. God is our Heavenly Father. He created man from the dust of the earth. Imagine His pride when Adam took his first gulp of air and looked into his face, Abba Father. Imagine the heartbreak of this Great Father when His children hid from Him when He came for His evening walk with them in the Garden. He gave them a perfect place in which to live, they were perfectly formed, no sickness, no lack all they wanted and needed was right there in that lush and fragrant Garden of Eden. We give our children so much and sometimes they just don’t appreciate us, or what we do for them and we are upset, imagine how God feels every time He looks at the chaos on Planet Earth, His own creation! I like to imagine that the storms are born when he cries, the tornados when He raises His hand in utter disgust or disappointment, and waves it around.

My daughter now has two children of her own, and the beat goes on. She is still my baby and her babies feel like my own. The way I love them and care for them, He cares for me; I am still His little one, the lamb that He will pick up and place across His shoulders when I need correction. He will take care of everything that I freely place in His great hands and one day, take to live with Him in my heavenly home.

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