Monday, October 8, 2012

Guard Your Hearts & Minds

Not too awfully long ago, i had a conversation with a dear, dear friend of mine that, over the last few years has had some major life changing health problems. I'm very thankful that my friend is still here on this earth. But during this specific conversation, i discovered that she'd had a couple of scares over the last few months that she hadn't told me about because she didn't want to worry me. It was then, that i truly realized that i don't worry much any more. And that's because i have peace-filled protection guarding my heart & my mind.
"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts & your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

We've heard it said that "God won't give us anything that we can't handle." And He doesn't, as long as the "we" includes HIM. When we allow our minds to be filled with fear & start to think of all the "what ifs", we only need to call on Jesus & He fills us with His peace that truly transcends all understanding. That's just one of God's countless promises that He will not break.

Now, i'm not saying that i don't become concerned with life situations. But i don't worry & i don't fear. I pray. Give it a try! Open your heart & your mind & let the peace that passes ALL understanding guard YOUR heart & YOUR mind.

(And on a side note....if you're in a position where you are keeping something to yourself, because you don't want to worry someone you love, you're also depriving yourself their prayers. The power of prayer is immeasurable.)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Don't Get Robbed - Part 2

"Keep your lives free from the Love of Money & be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you: never will I forsake you.' "
Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

This verse from Hebrews tell us to "be content with what you have". God blesses us with so much. Yet, too often, we seem to still want more. We can become jealous & resentful of the blessings of others. How many times have you thought to yourself "it must be nice" when someone is sharing about something like a new home, a new car, an awesome vacation, a windfall, etc. As i think about this, i'm embarrassed to admit how many times i've done that.

When you compare & covet the blessings of others, you are not only breaking a commandment, you are also robbing yourself of joy. When we focus on what others have, we are silently questioning God's goodness. But, an attitude of gratitude brings joy. And thankfulness is the key to that attitude. When we choose to be content, over coveting, our lives become more enriched & we recognize our own gifts from God. Think of the things that you are guilty of coveting & compare them to what has eternal value.

"So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper...' "
Hebrews 13:6a (NIV)

Another joy robber is busyness. Boy! Do i know about that one! Years ago, i had a poster in my room that read, "The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get". I know that it was meant as a reminder to not rush through things haphazardly, but to do things right the first time. But it can also apply to busyness. When we're "over booked", "have too much on our plates", or as i said this past summer, "my plate is full & so are many side dishes", it's very easy to get distracted from God's blessings. In turn, our joy can go quickly down the drain. When we over book, we can miss opportunities to "lie down in green pastures" so that God can restore our souls. (See Psalm 23)

"Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain."
Psalm 127:1 (NIV)

It's easy to say "If I don't do it, it won't get done." But the first verse of Psalm 127 tells us differently. We need to learn that sometimes, saying "no" can be a holy thing. Ask the Lord to help you say "yes" to the things that are needed & "no" to the things that distract you from Him. Listen to the Spirit as He show you the difference & reveals how you can become less busy.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Don't Get Robbed!

It's been said that joy is a state of mind, not a state of affairs. But there are some joy robbers out there that sneak in & can rob us blind!

Anxiety is one....
"An anxious heart weighs a man down."
Proverbs 12:25 (NIV)

Do you find yourself taking on the care & struggles of others? It is the will of God that we care for people, but it is not His will that we allow these cares to become worrisome burdens.

"Cast your cares on the Lord & He will sustain you."
Psalm 55:22 (NIV)

The word "cast" means to heave...just like you would throw a heavy bag of garbage in a trash can. Check out Psalm 68:19. God says He "daily bears our burdens" if we well just let Him.

Sometimes we spend more time worrying about something than praying about it. Worry causes us to lug around cares & anxieties like a bag of garbage.

"Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
Nehemiah 8:10

When we worry, it's like trying to dance while carrying heavy baggage. It IS possible to live in this world & not lose our joy, but we have to consistently give our worries to the One who wants to carry the load for us.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Watch Your Mouth

"Watch your mouth" is a popular phrase from mom's. I know it was from mine anyway. As a kid growing up, i probably got tired of hearing that. The tongue is a highly developed organ that is used for taste & speech. But now, i realize that doesn't begin to describe the most powerful organ of our body. Words can be sweet, comforting, healing...or...bitter, piercing & yes, even deadly.

"But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, & these make a man 'unclean'."
Matthew 15:18

Matthew 15:18 tells us that the tongue actually reveals what is in our hearts. Words are an expression of our true nature. What we say reveals who we really are inside & can bring a blessing or a curse to those around us. Our tongue has the potential for both good & bad. It can either honor God or make Him grieve. It can praise God or cause a separation from Him.

"If anyone considers himself religious & yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself & his religion is worthless."
James 1:26 (NIV)

Somewhere in our lives, we are all probably guilty of gossiping & saying things that we regret later. If we don't give God control of our tongues, they can become harmful weapons that can slander, criticize & hurt others. If that happens, as the verse above tells us, our religion is worthless.

As i pondered this verse today, i know that i have been guilty of not giving control of my tongue to God many, many times over the years. But i realized recently that when God is in control of your life & you've asked Him to let His light shine through you, he is in control your tongue & gives you His strength to keep a tight rein on it. He also gives you His wisdom to know what to do & what to say. In a recent situation that came to mind as i pondered this verse, i was getting extremely frustrated with a person. I was about ready to give in to my frustration & let it all out verbally, angrily & defensively. Just in time, i heard, "Walk away. Walk away." And i listened & obeyed. I walked away. And i am so thankful that God lead me away from the situation, or i would have regretted what i was about ready to say.

When we hurt others with words spoken in anger or defense, we are letting our human nature be in control. But when we submit our lives to the Holy Spirit, letting Him be in control, our words & actions are kinder & more understanding.

The tongue can also refer to a unique language of a people or nation. If we are truly God's children, shouldn't we learn to speak His language fluently, so others will know we're related to Him? How awesome to have the resemblance of our Father be recognized!

Monday, August 13, 2012

God's Work - Be It Done Ever So Humbly

We've all heard that pride comes before a fall. But it seems in today's society, we tend to set ourselves up to fall when we start to believe our own press, toot our own horns, & take full credit when it's not deserved.

"Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."
Romans 12:13 (NIV)

We can never take credit for the great things that happen in or through us, because we know that God is the One doing the work. Rather, we can be grateful that He is allowing us the privilege of coming along for the ride. People who accomplish the most for God's cause are those who have a clear sense that their success has nothing to do with their talents or abilities. Instead, they keep their eyes & ears open to see where God leads them to do His work.

Since Hubby accepted a Pastor position at our small church, i have been experiencing this everyday. I could have stayed in the comfortable background as a Pastor's wife, or i could accept God's invitation to fill in the empty spots that He put on my heart. So i am taking a joyous journey with our youth group. Had i turned down this invitation, the work would still be done. God would have chosen someone else to do His work. But I am so thankful that He gave me this opportunity.

So when God lays an opportunity on your heart, remember that you WON'T be doing it alone. He will make the time & provide the ways for Him & you to accomplish anything. And you will be amazed where the joyous journey will take you!

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Secret to Being Content

Being content is a state of mind. But did you realize that being content is also a choice? Whether you're going through a time of waiting, struggle, grief, uncertainty, frustration....or blessing. We can choose to be content.

"I have learned the secret of being content in any & every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or living in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

To be content is to accept whatever circumstance God puts in our life, because we know that He has the outcome all figured out. So, no matter what we're going through, God wants us to cling to Him. He wants us to have confidence in Him. After all, He made us. He loves us. He knows the number of hairs on our head! No one can know us any better, or love us any more, that He does! When we realize this, we can face anything.

And when you choose to be content, you can be a powerful witness! The world does not condition us that way. Instead, discontent & huger for more & better material things are characteristics in our culture & its values. But God calls us to live a different lifestyle, with different priorities. A lifestyle of putting Him first in all things, trusting that He will provide for our needs & knowing that He will take care of everything. It's all done in His time, with His love. By reflecting the contentment that you've chosen through God's love, you're showing others what they can have through Him too.

Through God's Word, we learn the "secret to being content" in all things. Now that you know the "secret", will you use it? It's your choice.

Monday, July 23, 2012

What Does That Mean?

Years ago, before i moved where i am now, i was a member of the "Sisters in Song" vocal group at my church. This was a time in my life that my relationship with Jesus was growing by leaps & bounds. I had been raised in a Christian family, but had allowed myself to be led astray. I learned that i needed Jesus in my life. And i still thank God for never taking me for granted, especially when i was taking Him for granted. Easter season, our "Sisters in Song" performed "Embrace the Cross" written by Steve Green. The intro to this song was from Galatians 2:20
"I am crucified with Christ,
therefore I no longer live.
Jesus Christ now lives in me."
Well, this intro  has run through my head for years. And usually at just the right time. (And still, another example of God's perfect timing. He is so good at that!) But, you know, i never really thought about what it means to be "crucified with Christ". I was mostly praising that "Jesus Christ now lives in me". Recently, my morning devotions brought me the entire verse from Galatians.

"I have been crucified with Christ & I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me & gave himself for me." (NIV)

So, i got to thinking about what "crucified with Christ" really means. Basically, we die to our wants & wishes. Instead, we have peace in the knowledge that God wants what is good for us. It's like we may want a big piece of cake, but God will give us an apple. It's the peace in the knowledge that God will protect us when we give Him control of our life.

When we're "crucified with Christ" we need to also check our time with God. Not so much the quantity, but the quality. Think about it. Do you spend time telling God what you want or what you think He needs to do? Instead, try asking God what He wants & what He needs from you. Sit quietly until you hear Him speak to your heart. He will do that!

Paul says in Romans 12:1(b)
"to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy & pleasing to God--this is your true & proper worship."  (NIV)

I am still working on this one. Sometimes, i am a bit reluctant sacrifice. And i'm sure that i'm not alone here. Sometimes, i walk enthusiastically in obedience & sometimes, i dig in my heels. There are times that my face doesn't reflect the joy of Jesus, but reflects a scowl of stress & frustration. And too often i don't approach God humbly, but with stubborn guilt. And that's when i most need to come to Him humbly.

To be "crucified with Christ" & be a living sacrifice, we need to take on the attitude of servant. And, we need to do what God asks of us in all aspects of our early life. 

Here is a wonderful rendition of the song "Embrace the Cross". Please listen to it with your heart.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Recently, my teen Youth Group has been studying Genesis. My absolute favorite part of Genesis is the first chapter which tells us of CREATION. An awesome God experience happened when we were studying this chapter. We were sitting outside discussing the amazing things that God created. I had mentioned birds, & at that exact moment, we were serenaded by a single bird in the huge tree that we were sitting under. I was so thankful to be able to share that moment of God's perfect timing with my group.

"God saw all that He had made, & it was very good."
Genesis 1:31a (NIV)

What an understatement!!!! I am very awed by God's creations, From the intricacies of the human body to the brilliant colors of the flowers.

I'm awed  when i look up in the sky & see the millions for twinkling stars.

And when i think, or see some of God's wonderful creations, they bring back some great memories....

I remember the first time i saw a bunny....up close & personal. I have no idea how old i was, but i was little. My dad was working in the field & Mom & i had brought dinner to him. He had caught a baby bunny. I remember how excited & fascinated at how his little nose twitched & how soft his fur was.

Also as a child i have been fascinated with turtles. When Mom & i would go to town, we would usually stop at Kresge's. (Anyone who remembers that name, does not have to admit how old they They had a small pet department that had a little make shift tank full of tiny turtles. I just loved to watch them!

And God's creations can teach us so much! Though, for the most part, they are very pest, as humans, we can learn so much from the work ethics of ants.

 But God's greatest creation isn't a thing. It's love.

I hope you have enjoyed me sharing my fascinations & memories today. Please take some time today & be thankful for ALL of god's creations. Look at each one through the eyes of amazement, for they are all miracles.

One more thing...All of today's pictures are from a group that i am lucky to be a part of. We share a lot of things....sadness, joys, accomplishments... but the greatest thing we share is love. So i am sharing their handmade creations today with you. If you would like to see more of these wonderful handmade creations, please click below. Each shop is celebrating Christmas in July & they are giving YOU the gift of savings. Use coupon code HMCJULY & save 10-30% off through July! 

Monday, July 9, 2012

What do you think?

For many years, when someone would ask me what i thought about something, usually, i would say, "I don't. It gets me in trouble." The devotion that i read today, made me realize that what i cutely said, was more true than i realized.

Our thoughts can get us into so much trouble when we don't give God permission to control them.This is especially true when we let our mind wander to the worse case scenarios. That's what i call "borrowing trouble" & really, why would we want to do that? I don't know, but as human beings, it's pretty easy to do.

But be aware! Satan is a great manipulator & he uses fear to fill us with deep unrest.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praise worthy - think about such things."
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Ask God to fill your thoughts with things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, & praise worthy. What you feel in your mind will determine what you think. When feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or despair come into your thoughts, chase them away with the truth of your situation - which you will find through prayer & God's Word. After all, He made us with love & that's excellent & definitely praise worthy!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hope Overflows

How's your hope? Flourishing or sinking? The scholars say that we can't live without it. Gee....ya think? Hopelessness doesn't feel good & is no fun at all. Actually, i think it's a relative to helplessness & worthlessness. 

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy & peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13

Paul prayed for the believers in Rome to have hope. Probably because without hope, life stinks. But maybe you're feeling hopeless about a certain situation; a relationship, your work, your future, etc. You're wondering how you can hope. Paul gives us this insight. Hope comes from God.  Read the above verse again. Not only does God give hope, but He has so much to pass around to us that it's overflowing. And, He gives it away free, you only need to go to Him. 

God freely gives hope, because it's His to give. Sometimes a little trickle of hope, opens our eyes to the overflow of hope & we go to God to seek & accept it. AND it comes with it's relatives, peace & joy. What an awesome package deal!

So when you find yourself feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless, don't be discouraged. Ask God of all hope to begin a new flow from His reservoir to your heart.

Monday, June 25, 2012

When Life Gets In The Way...

First off, i apologize for being absent the last two weeks. I have no excuses, except that life got in the way. My plate is extremely full right now, plus i have a few side dishes that are overflowing also. But it's time - passed time - to "practice what i preach".

"Watch & pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body (flesh) is weak."
Matthew 26:41 (NIV)

I'm sure many of us can relate to this verse in one way or another. And today is a perfect example. As i write this, it has been literally 2 1/2 hours since i wrote the first paragraph. First off, our birthday boy woke up. Our youngest is 16 today!!! So i HAD to stop & sing "Happy Birthday" to him & make a fuss. Secondly, a wonderful lady from church called with some awesome news about the church having a float in the 4th of July Parade. (Yes, that's one of the things on my plate.) Yeah! Good news!!! Thirdly, as i'm talking to the lady from church, i hear my oven beep to let me know that it's preheated for the birthday treats. Now, our oven is temperamental. It takes "forever" to heat up & has a tendency to get too hot sometimes. So i knew i had to get the goodies made & in there ASAP.

In the midst of this 2 1/2 hours of life, the dog needed to go outside & of course, wanted to come back inside before i wanted her to. Plus, i had laundry to fold, to put in the dryer & of course, start a new load in the washer.

Now to be totally honest, i could very easily said, "forget it!". But no!!! I will not let my flesh be weak today. I have asked & am trusting God to not let life distract me from doing His work. To keep me & my mind organized & for Him to prioritize for me. AND to give me His energy for what He wants me to accomplish, according to His will.

How about you? Does life get in the way sometimes? Most of us have the "want to", but lack the energy, motivation, &/or time to get things done.

"Those who know Your name will trust You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You"
Psalm 9:10 (NIV)

Trust God & seek Him. Those are the best words of advice that anyone can heed. So not mater what you're facing &/or being distracted by in life, remember this:



Monday, June 4, 2012

No Condemnation

"There is therefore now no condemnation down in my heart..." Do you remember singing that as a kid? I do. Did you know what it meant? I didn't. But over the years, i've learned that if i started to feel any condemnation, those thoughts were NOT from the Lord. He always gives me grace to press on. I now know that there IS victory in Jesus & that a condemning spirit is only just an obstacle that needs to be overcome by the power of Jesus that is in me.
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
Romans 8:1

Jesus paid our debt on the cross & if we confess our sins & ask for forgiveness, God throws away the record of our sin. But even so, we sometimes allow the enemy to cause us to despair over God-forgiven sins of the past. God as forgiven us, so we have no reason to hang on to the feelings of condemnation.
The truth is...GOD LOVES US. No matter where we go or how we respond to God, He loves us deeply. He longs for our fellowship, praise & worship. He constantly pursues us, seeking to draw us into a loving relationship.
The truth is...GOD IS FAITHFUL. He shows us this by giving us a new chance everyday. Therefore, when the enemy comes to blame, claim, or shame, we need to lift it up to Jesus. We are new creations because of Jesus & what He suffered through on the cross. Hang on to that love. Accept that forgiveness. Then you can really sing "There is therefore now no condemnation, down in my heart"!!!