December 31, 2019
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” ~ Revelation 21:5
We love new. New is exciting for it holds the thrill of hope. The gift of a new year is a fresh start, a clean slate, another chance for good to triumph over evil. We wish one another a “Happy New Year”, hoping this new year will be better, happier than the old one.
God the Creator, specializes in making things new. Not just new in time, like a new year, but new in essence and in character. In other words, completely, utterly, totally new—something different from what it was before. In the beginning, the earth was without form, so God gave it form making it new (Genesis 1). Likewise, in salvation we become a “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17). What hope! What promise! When we are saved, we are not just dusted off and polished up, we are literally changed from the inside out, empowering us to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). We ourselves are made new spiritually, and a new life is far better than a new year.
Better still is the promise that one day God the Creator will make a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1)! One without “…death or mourning or crying or pain…” (Revelation 21:4). “The wolf will live with the lamb; the leopard will lie down with the goat…and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). Best of all God’s dwelling place will be with His people (Revelation 21:3). The mere thought of it should cause our hearts to rejoice and our eyes to look heavenward. Yes, a new year is coming bringing us ever closer to God “making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5)!
Dear Lord, Creator, maker of heaven and earth, thank You for making me new and for this new year to come.
Even more Lord, thank You for the promise that one day soon You will make everything new! ~ Amen
December 1, 2019
Christmas is "Coming"
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. ~ Micah 5:2
Stop! Stop for just a minute, now take a deep breath. Awww, isn’t that better? The holiday season has become hurried and hectic, rather than holy and heavenly. Often, in the frenzy, we neglect the real meaning of Christmas, losing our joy in the process. Black Friday has slithered into Thanksgiving, hastening us to fin big sales rather than count our blessings. Cyber Monday has many of us making our lists (on our Smartphones, of course) and checking it twice (a minute). This needs to stop! We need to stop!
The fact that Christmas is “coming” should calm us down, it should not stress us out; it should bring us peace, it should not bring us panic. After all the heavenly host proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14 KJV). The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is meant to be a time of preparing our hearts, remembering the real reason we celebrate. It is not presents wrapped in festive paper underneath a tree. No, it is God’s presence when He came to us as “a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12). Born to die, to be raised again that we might live forever with Him.
Hence, the essence of Advent, which in Latin means, “coming”. Immanuel, “God with us” was, is, and always will be the true meaning of Christmas (Matthew 1:23). So, this year instead of just preparing your Christmas list, take the time to prepare your heart. If nothing else, challenge yourself to read one of the gospel accounts between now and Christmas Eve. Christmas is “coming”! Let’s prepare our hearts!
Dear Lord, I will never get or give a more perfect gift than You gave when our “Savior, which is Christ the Lord”
was born (Luke 2:11)! Thank You for this great gift. Help me give You my prepared heart in return. ~ Amen
November 17, 2019
Storms of Opportunity
and the boat was already a considerable distance from land,
buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. ~ Matthew 14:24
Life is stormy. So, with the disciples in the boat, in the dark, a long way from shore, waves and wind against them (Matthew 14:24), we can all identify. They were literally being “buffeted”, or in the Greek “tortured” by the storm. In other words, this storm pretty badly beat them up. The fight was real, hard, and painful. Surely, struggling against the pounding waves and whipping winds they feared this storm would be the death of them.
Ironically, the disciples found themselves facing one of the fiercest storms of their lives, while doing exactly what Jesus had told them to do (v. 22). Perhaps, that is precisely the point. Doing God’s will does not exempt us from the storms of life. Sometimes the storms are part of His plan, to give all of us the same opportunity Peter had—to walk on our storm. While the storm raged, Peter stepped out of the boat, fixed his eyes on Jesus, and walked on the turbulent waters (v. 29-30). Yes, it was a short walk, but Peter had a testimony none of the other disciples who stayed in the boat had. He walked on his storm!
My youngest daughter, Jaclyn just went through a stormy season, and she was like Peter. In the darkest part of the storm, she saw Jesus coming to her in small blessings that the howling wind tried to silence and the crashing waves threatened to drown. She walked on her storm, declaring in the midst of it, “I am blessed beyond measure” and soon afterwards the storm “died down” (v. 32). The question is, “Will we in worship look to the Lord, who empowers all of us to walk on our storms?”
Dear Lord, Storms can be opportunities that testify to
Your power and Your person. Help me to trust You in the storm, that You might empower
me to walk on my storm, all for Your honor and glory. ~ Amen
September 14, 2019
Singing in the Dark
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
and the other prisoners were listening to them. ~ Acts 16:25
Recently I got up while it was still dark, and as I sat in my sun room rocking I read these words by Oswald Chambers, “Song birds are taught to sing in the dark…” Chambers’ words struck me profoundly, as I sat under the soft glow of an overhead light, while outside darkness surrounded me. Watching the sun rise over the evergreens in my backyard, first casting shadows, then light on my lawn, I contemplated his words. Why, I wondered, do song birds sing at night?” (Acts 15:39).
Once the sun inched its way fully above the trees, I felt as if God gave me an answer. They sing in the dark because they know morning is coming! I opened my Bible to my passage reading for the day, Acts 16:25-30. Sometimes God just makes me smile! It is midnight, and it is dark in the inner cell of the Macedonian prison Paul and Silas have been thrown into after being falsely accused, severely flogged, their feet fastened in stocks. All in all it had been a very bad day. Yet there, in the darkness, melodious songs rose from the inner cell, and the other prisoners listened. The sound of singing must have given them hope.
The Northern Mockingbird sings different tones, notes, and sequences in sets of three, often switching to a new tune. The Common Nightingale’s repertoire can consist of up to two hundred songs. We do not know how many or what hymns Paul and Silas sang, but we do know the result was earthshaking (Acts 16:26). And when it was daylight the order came, “Release those men” (v. 35). No doubt Paul and Silas could sing in the dark because they too knew morning was coming.
Dear Lord, Teach me to sing in the dark, trusting that morning will come, as it always does.
Praise Your Holy Name! ~ Amen
August 25, 2019
A Sharp Disagreement (Part 2) - From Helpless to Helpful
“…Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” ~ 2 Timothy 4:11
Mark (John Mark) was the reason Paul and Barnabas had “such a sharp disagreement that they parted company” (Acts 15:39). Paul refused to allow Mark to join his second missionary journey because Mark had begun as their helper (Acts 13:5) on the first journey, but then left them and the work. Instead of being a helper, Mark had proved himself helpless. Maybe when Paul looked at Mark that was all he could see.
Oh, but Barnabas! He could see in Mark what Paul could not. Therefore, he refused to go with Paul without his cousin, leaving no choice, but to part ways. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus, while Paul chose Silas and went to Syria and Cilicia (v. 39-41). Possibly Barnabas saw in Mark the man who would become the writer of the second gospel and be a huge help to Peter and to Paul in their ministries. Yes, Paul!
Scripture is not clear when or how it happened, but Mark grew exponentially in his faith while ministering alongside Barnabas. Paul became aware of it and at some point his heart toward Mark softened, the rift was healed, and their friendship was restored. In Colossians 4:10 Mark is a “fellow prisoner” with Paul. In his final greetings to the church, Paul adds this caveat about Mark, “You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him”. In Philemon 24, Paul refers to Mark as one of his “fellow workers”.
Paul’s complete turnaround regarding Mark is evident in 2 Timothy 4:11, when he literally asked for Mark to be brought to him. Why? Because Mark had become “helpful” to Paul in ministry!
Oh, thank God for Barnabas, the encourager! Who can you be a Barnabas to today?
Dear Lord, Help me to be a Barnabas to those around me today. Please show me someone
specifically I can encourage for and in You. ~ Amen
A Sharp Disagreement (Part 1) - One Team, Two Teams
They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company… ~ Acts 15:39
Paul and Barnabas were one great team. They had completed their first missionary journey together (Acts 14:26-38), gone to a special council at Jerusalem together, and returned to Antioch together with a letter of good news that encouraged the Gentile believers (Acts 15:1-35).
After some time in Antioch teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, Paul had the wonderful idea of going back to all the towns where they had preached before to see how the believers were doing (v.36). There was only one problem—Barnabas’ cousin, John Mark. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them on the journey, but Paul “did not think it wise” (v.37-38).
Paul had a right to question John Mark’s commitment, because he had left them in the middle of their first missionary journey and “had not continued with them in the work” (v.38). John Mark had given up and gone home when things got tough and Paul was not impressed. In a way, Paul had now given up on John Mark, because he had given up on them. However, Barnabas, always the “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36), could not give up on his cousin. It simply was not in his nature.
Paul would not relent. Perhaps he had forgotten that when the church in Jerusalem and the apostles had a hard time accepting him as a true believer, Barnabas stuck by him and vouched for him until he gained acceptance (Acts 9:26-28).
Barnabas would not relent either. One way or another John Mark was going. The result, “They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company” (Acts 15:39). “Barnabas took John Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left…” (v.39-40). Now there were two teams.
Dear Lord, Thank You that Your Word is real and does not shy away from the short comings of believers—even giants of the faith. Help me to remember sharp disagreement is not hatred and that sometimes parting company
is the most loving thing to do. ~ Amen
June 30, 2019
Serving God's Purpose
Now when David had served God’s purpose in his generation, he fell asleep… ~ Acts 13:36a
It is common between Memorial Day and the 4th of July for our patriotism to be bolstered, as we remember those who have served and died to help make and keep our great country free. Thoughts of service and sacrifice are at the forefront of celebrations, parades, and gatherings to honor the fallen and the faithful. We know their deaths were not in vain and their lives were not without purpose.
Likewise, those of us who believe the gospel are enlisted in the Lord’s army (2 Timothy 2:3-4). We strive daily to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7) in a manner worthy of our calling. Each day we wake to see another sunrise, we are assured we have a purpose—God’s purpose. We also have a duty to serve our family, our friends and our fellow man.
We are not to be shabby soldiers, undisciplined and unruly. We are part of an elite force called to be the best soldiers, always alert and praying (Ephesians 6:18). Ready to complete the good work God has purposed in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). While our own armor might have dents, cracks, and succumb to rust in spots, the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17), which we are called to wear into battle, is always shiny, spotless, and divinely strong. It will protect us so that we might live to fight another day.
Members of our Armed Forces have good reason to be proud. Likewise, let us too walk with heads high and shoulders square, proud to serve God’s purpose in our generation, confident He will not permit us to fall asleep until our service is complete (Acts 13:36a).
Dear Lord, I am proud to be part of Your army and pray You will help me to be a good soldier today
as I represent You in my service to others. ~ Amen
June 9, 2019
Oh God, My Father
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! ~ Matthew 7:11
Matthew 7:11 is bittersweet to me, because honestly my father did not “know how to give good gifts” to his children. Perhaps this is why nothing brings me to tears more easily, than seeing a loving father with his daughter. This is always so beautiful to me.
I was brought to tears recently at a wedding, by the playful and well choreographed father/daughter dance. The bride and her father beamed at each other, as smiles lit up the ballroom, while they danced.
Still a good father is not just there for the high points, like a wedding, but is present and available in the mundane and the messy as well. My earthly father fell short on both accounts, but my heavenly Father never does. In fact He often brings father-like figures into my life to show His fatherly love to me.
Several weeks ago, for example, I ran over wet yellow paint on the road which splashed into my driver’s side wheel wells and along the rocker panel. My friend’s husband noticed and suggested how I might take care of it. After a couple of weeks of me failing to do so, he graciously offered to do it himself. While I chatted with my friend, he got down under my car and labored to take the paint off.
That night as I prayed and thanked God for the kindness of this older gentleman, the Holy Spirit reminded me that God is my Father (Psalm 68:5) and the giver of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17). So if you have a good earthly father celebrate him, but if you do not, remember you do have a good, good “Father in heaven” to celebrate.
Dear Lord, Thank You for being not only a good and loving Father, but for being the perfect Father
and for bringing people into my life to show me Your great love. ~ Amen
May 12, 2019
The Perfect Mother
I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD.
For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD... ~ I Samuel 1:27-28
There is no perfect mother—period. We all make mistakes when it comes to raising our kids, because honestly most of us have no idea what we are doing. All we know is that we have never loved more fiercely and never doubted our abilities and choices more continuously. Being a mother is hard, and no one is harder on mothers than we can be on ourselves. So when my girls, both mothers in their twenties, talked about mothers their age shaming each other I was stunned.
Formula or breast milk, organic or fast food, crib or co-sleeping, are these really the things that make or break a child? What about integrity, honesty, decency, character, manners, and respect? More importantly, what about spirituality and their relationship with God? No doubt mothers in the Bible would not have fared well in today’s society.
Jochebed hid her son, Moses, and then sent him down river in a basket (Exodus 2:1-4). Rebekah manipulated her son, Jacob to deceive his father in order to take his brother’s birthright (Genesis 27:1-40). Hannah prayed desperately for a son and then left him, as a young boy, at the temple to live (1 Samuel 1). Mary gave birth to her son in a stable and then laid him in a feeding trough (Luke 2:6-7), and then when he was twelve lost him for days (Luke 2:41-46). Each mother, a possible child abuser by today’s standards, yet each child grew to be used of God in mighty ways, from Moses delivering the Jews from slavery to Jesus saving the world from sin.
So mothers let’s give each other and ourselves a break. Let us do our best, love our children unconditionally, pray for them fervently, and trust God to make them what we never could.
Dear Lord, You and I both know I am not the perfect mother, but I could not love my child(ren) more.
Help me do my absolute best and trust You for the rest. ~ Amen
May 5, 2019
Easter is Never Over
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all…
~ Acts 4:33
Easter is not over. Yes, the designated date on the calendar to recognize and celebrate the empty tomb has come and gone, but “the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” can and should be celebrated daily in the life of a believer (Acts 4:33). After all, we are a walking testimony of resurrection for “When you were dead in your sins…God made you alive with Christ” (Colossians 3:13).
Resurrection is a powerful thing and, for believers, it is personal as well. We should each be able to remember with exceedingly great joy and gratitude, where Jesus brought us from, to the place we are today. We know Jesus lives, we do not suppose, because He lives in us. Like Saul on the road to Damascus we have personally encountered Jesus and we are forever changed (Acts 9:1-31). Like the prodigal son we were lost, but now are found; we were dead, but now we are alive again (Luke 15:11-32).
Resurrection is not only powerful and personal, it is also joyful. This time of year is a constant reminder of resurrection. The dead brown ground watered by spring rain is coming to life again in vibrant shades of green. The barren trees are growing new life and leaves. Flowers, previously buried in snow, are blooming once again and reaching toward the sun. Even the thought makes us smile, because new life brings joy!
Today, if you are feeling dead inside, come to Jesus and let Him breathe new life into you. Then let us all, like the apostles, continue daily “with great power…to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” because “God’s grace [is] so powerfully at work in [us]” (Acts 4:33). Easter is never over.
Dear Lord You are the one and only true and living God. I know the power and joy of resurrection personally, because You are alive, I too shall live! Easter will never be over, for Your resurrection is eternal and through it I am given the gift of eternal life. Praise Your holy name! ~ Amen
April 14, 2019
Cherishing the Cross
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8
The Old Rugged Cross by George Bennard (1873-1958), is a hymn with a chorus that can still bring me to tears. “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it someday for a crown.” I pray, as a believer, I will always cherish and never get over the cross.
This High Holy week, as we remember Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, let us cherish the cross, for it is the grandest display of love we will ever know. It is a great act of love to sacrifice one’s life for another person (Romans 5:7). That is why we deem people heroes who do such things; but it is only God who has love enough to die for His enemies.
Jesus died as much for the soldiers who drove the nails in His hands, as He did for His apostles who left everything to follow Him (Mark 15:24 NLT; Luke 5:11); as much for the thief on the cross who hurled insults at Him, as He did the one who asked to be remembered (Luke 23:39-43); as much for the man who pierced His side with a spear, as He did for the woman who washed His feet with her tears (John 19:34; Luke 7:44). You see, at our very worst, God loved us enough to die for us.
That is why the cross should slay us with the love of God to the point we weep over and confess our sins and accept His grace and salvation. His salvation brings us new life, resurrecting us to live for Him here and ultimately with Him eternally in heaven (Romans 6:5; Philippians 3:10-11). So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross…Will you?
Dear Lord at Easter and always may I cherish the cross, for it is a symbol of Your love and my life eternal.
Thank You for the cross and for loving me at my worst, that I may live for You better. ~ Amen
March 31, 2019
"Omi" of Little Faith
…“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” ~ Matthew 14:31
The faith of a child is amazing! Children believe and trust so easily, while we as adults are so prone to doubt. This was brought home to me in a sobering way. Recently my granddaughter, Scarlett, and I headed to the beach, with shovels and buckets, in search of treasure. She never doubted we would find some, while I wish I could say the same.
Her excited chatter magnified her faith, as doubt slithered into my mind. I prayed God would provide a treasure, but then doubted when we walked onto a beach of only sand and seaweed. I prayed harder and suggested we walk to the end of the beach where there were some big rocks. Surely God would help us find a treasure there in one of the tidal pools.
When most of the tidal pools held only fragments of shells, doubt hissed louder and escaped my lips, “Today if we don’t find a treasure at this beach, we can always try another beach, another day.” Scarlett’s faith never wavered, as she smiled and proceeded to climb the rocks. I followed and when I got to the top she was squatted next to a tidal pool. “Omi I found the treasure!” she exclaimed.
I saw nothing, but dug around with my shovel. “Not there, Omi, here!” She pointed to a cleft in the rock. I pushed my shovel into the crevice and saw a flicker of white. We looked at each other and giggled with amazement and delight when out came a big, brilliant, beautiful shell! Doubt had blinded me, while Scarlett’s faith enabled her to see and find treasure.
Dear Lord, Forgive me for doubting You, based on what I can see, and help me to believe You for treasures yet unseen,
for truly “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). ~ Amen
March 17, 2019
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater: ~ Isaiah 55:10
Looking out the sun room windows at my snow covered backyard, with spring only days away, I have to smile. While I look forward to spring and all the blessings and activities it will bring, I am also a little sad to say goodbye to winter. Born and raised a southern gal, I never would have thought it possible! However, God has given me a wonderful friend who has taught me to enjoy every season of the year.
Yes, winter is cold and the days are short, but winter offers activities no other season can (Ecclesiastes 3:1). This winter has been full of great snow tubing, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, walks on the lake, and just recently snowman making. My granddaughter, Scarlett was eager to make a snowman after seeing a picture of “Happy Life”, the snowman my friend and I had made. Last week we finally had the opportunity and ended up making a whole snowman family! Walking back to the house hand-in-hand Scarlett squealed, “Omi, this was a dream come true!”
This week warmer temperatures and some rain have caused “Happy Life” and the snowman family to begin to melt away “watering the earth and making it bud and flourish” (Isaiah 55:10). You see, snow waters the earth as much as the rain does, and with the same result—green grass and beautiful flowers! Every year winter melts into spring, but memories made last a lifetime. A new season is on the horizon, let us go out and enjoy it for all it has to offer (Ecclesiastes 3:1), making lots of wonderful memories, and in the process giving us a “Happy Life”.
Dear Lord, Thank You for every season and the unique activities and blessings they bring.
Truly, You have “made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), including the seasons.
Help me to enjoy and appreciate each one. ~ Amen
March 3, 2019
Our Big, Big God
Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord… ~ Acts 7:49
We all have a picture of God in our heads. Your picture might be of God the Creator, larger than life speaking the world into existence and forming man in His own image (Genesis 1:1-27). Or perhaps your picture is more subdued and natural, God the Father walking in the garden at the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). The truth is, no matter what our picture of God, He is so much bigger and so much more than our finite minds could ever conjure up.
If no mind can conceive “what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9) how can our minds possibly conceive the vastness, the greatness of the God who has prepared such inconceivable things? God, in all His majesty, is just too overwhelming. While we cannot grasp the enormousness of God, I fear, if you are like me, that for the most part, we do not even try. That is erroneous, and we are the ones who suffer because of our mistake. No doubt when we do not take the time to even try to imagine the grandeur that is God, we relegate ourselves to serving a tiny version of God that fits into our easy imaginations. How sad for us.
What if we spent time this week contemplating and meditating on our big, big God who sits in heaven and rests His feet upon the earth (Acts 7:49)? To what unfathomable heights then does His head reach? Would we dare stand before such a mighty God, the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9-10) or would we fall on our faces in repentance, worship, and awe? Reading Acts 7:49 I am convicted that my picture of God desperately needs to be enlarged. What about yours?
Dear Lord, Today help me to take the time to ponder Your greatness, for in doing so I am humbled by my smallness
and hence more prone to repentance and worship than to petition. ~ Amen
February 17, 2019
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16
Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but God’s love is here to stay! Forget chocolates, flowers, and cards and remember God “so loved the world” that “he gave” his most precious gift—“his one and only Son” (John 3:16). We can and should make this truth personal. As part of “the world”, we are “so loved” by God, that “he gave his one and only Son” for us (John 3:16)!
Scripture makes it clear that what every person desires is unfailing love (Proverbs 19:22). The problem is there is no human being on this planet who can meet that need in us, for all earthly love falls short. I know, because as much as I love my family and friends, I fail them. I trust it is the same for you.
Many of us look for unfailing love in all the wrong places and people, finding ourselves disheartened and empty when it is not found. Therefore, instead of looking to our spouse, our children, or our friends for unfailing love, we need to look to God, for He alone can fill that desire completely, perfectly, and eternally.
Not only does human love fail, sadly, sometimes it can end or be lost. Betrayal, separation, divorce and death can take human love from us and we are left to grieve. However, for those who believe, nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39). God’s everlasting love, once accepted can never be lost. So if this Valentine’s Day has left you feeling empty and unloved is it not time to believe in and embrace God’s unfailing and everlasting love for you? God wants to be your Valentine forever.
Dear Lord, Earthly love has failed me, but You promise me unfailing, everlasting love.
Oh God that is what I want and need. Help me accept it and believe. ~ Amen
February 4, 2019
The Family of Believers
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” ~ Galatians 6:9-10
It is always a blessing to be part of “the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10), especially when you are in need. Our daughter and her husband found themselves in desperate need, when they lost their furnace and van on the same day, right in the middle of the polar vortex! Having recently moved into their first house, being a family of four, money is tight. Our daughter called in tears over an exorbitant quote for a new furnace and I prayed as my husband tried to comfort her. As I was praying a young man, who is a member of our church family, came to mind. Before we hung up I suggested they call him.
Within minutes the young man called, letting us know he was on his way to inspect their furnace. On arrival he confirmed they needed a new one and hoped to have one at their house and installed by the end of the next day. He said his labor was free and they could work out the cost of the furnace later. Initially my son-in-law protested, but was silenced by the young man’s words, “You are on the praise team giving of yourself every Sunday. Now it is our turn to give back to you. Let me do this, this is my ministry.”
The next evening my son-in-law and husband helped the young man install the new furnace. Later as I sat in their warm living room, with temperatures still in the single digits outside, I smiled as the furnace kicked on. My body was warmed by the furnace, but my heart was warmed by the young man who was eager to “do good” to my family, simply, because we are all part of the “family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10). Let us do likewise.
Dear Lord, Help me to be eager to do good to all people and not grow weary. Especially help me to do good to those who belong to the family of believers, because that is what family is all about. ~ Amen
January 24, 2019
The God of New Beginnings (Part 2)
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
~ Revelation 21:5
Our God is the God of new beginnings, both in the Old and New Testaments. The four gospels and Paul’s epistles are laden with new beginnings. Then Revelation culminates with the ultimate new beginning as God creates a “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).
Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector wealthy from dishonest gain, needed a new beginning. He found it when Jesus invited Himself to his home. (Luke 19: 5). Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus immediately and gladly (v. 6) and in the process became a new man. He vowed to give half his possessions to the poor and repay those he had cheated four times over (v. 8).
Saul, “A Hebrew of Hebrews” and a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5), also needed a new beginning. He was zealous “to destroy the church” (Acts 8:3), approved of the stoning of Stephen (v. 1), and imprisoned many others (v. 3). Saul’s new beginning came when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. He was blinded by “a light from heaven” and Jesus asked, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:3-4). Three days later Saul could see again and this time much more clearly, as “he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God” (v. 20).
God “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Therefore, He was, is, and always will be the God of new beginnings. He longs to make us new (2 Corinthians 5:17). He makes us new by turning our greed into generosity like Zacchaeus and by redirecting our misguided zeal like Saul. When we truly encounter Jesus He make us new, because He gives us a new heart, His heart!
Dear Lord, Even more than a new beginning You long to make me new by making me more like You.
Please give me Your heart for the poor and for Your church. ~ Amen
January 9, 2019
The God of New Beginnings
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
~ Revelation 21:5
God made everything (Genesis 1:1) and He is in the process of “making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5). He is the God of new beginnings. A new year is upon us and most long for a new beginning. If you are one of them, take heart and believe God can and will do something new this year. It is His way.
The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1 NLT). Abraham obeyed and went to Canaan. There God began the fulfillment of His promise to make Abraham the father of many nations (Genesis 17:4) through the miraculous birth of Isaac in Abraham’s old age (Genesis 21:1-5). Occasionally, a new beginning involves leaving what we know, for what is promised.
God said to Moses, “I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10). After being a shepherd for forty years, God gave Moses a new job. The job frightened Moses, because it seemed beyond him (Exodus 3:11). Still Moses obeyed and with God’s help did the job miraculously (Exodus 14:21-22). Sometimes a new beginning involves taking on a job that is beyond us, so that God gets all the glory.
The angel of the LORD called Gideon a “mighty warrior” long before he was one (Judges 6:11-12). God sees past what we are, to what we were created to be. Beyond calling us to go somewhere new, or do something new, God calls us to be someone new! Often a new beginning involves discovering a new part of ourselves. This New Year may we all experience a new beginning!
Dear Lord, Thank You for a New Year and for the opportunities that come with new beginnings. Help me to go where You tell me to go,
do what You tell me to do, but mostly to be who You call me to be. ~ Amen
November 27, 2018
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
…behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord. ~ Luke 2:10-11 (KJV)
It is fitting to begin “the most wonderful time of the year” by counting our blessings, for truly we all have much for which to be thankful. Thanksgiving is the perfect prelude to the Christmas season, for a grateful heart is open to the true message and miracle of Christmas.
The true message of Christmas is good news! We love to hear good news, and no doubt we could all use a little bit of it right now. One dark night long ago, the angel of the Lord declared the message of Christmas to a group of shepherds, “behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:9-10 KJV). You see the message of Christmas is not only good, and not only full of great joy, it is for all people. The message of Christmas is for every living soul.
The true miracle of Christmas is the “good tidings of great joy” declared by the angel “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (v. 11 KJV). Jesus’ birth was meant to bring us great joy, for we are all in need of a Savior and God loves us so much He provided one. Luke 2:6-7 is the fulfillment of God’s promised Savior in Genesis 3:15. God always keeps His promises.
So this season, instead of allowing materialism to overshadow Christmas, let us remember what makes this “the most wonderful time of the year”. Ultimately it is the true message and miracle of Christmas that brings “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
Dear Lord, Christmas truly is “the most wonderful time of the year” when I remember
the true message and miracle of the season. Thank You for keeping Your promise and providing
Your One and Only Son to be my One and Only Savior. ~ Amen
November 11, 2018
A Good Soldier
Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs,
but rather tries to please his commanding officer. ~ 2 Timothy 2:3-4
A good soldier, if necessary, is willing to suffer for the cause, and lay down their life for it. A good soldier trains hard, understanding that one day their training could save their or someone else’s life. A good soldier follows orders, trusting their commanding officer’s instructions are best.
Marine Lance Cpl. Brendan Kelly is a good soldier. He credits his military training, and “God’s protective hand,” for helping him to survive two mass shootings. These shootings, both in a little over a year, were not on foreign soil or in enemy territory. No, they were at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada last October, and the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California last week. Both times he not only survived, but helped others survive as well.
When shots rang out in Las Vegas, Kelly went into action getting his friend and several other people to safety. Likewise, after the first shots were fired at Borderline, he initially threw two of his friends to the floor, shielded them with his body, and then managed to get them, and a nearby woman, to safety through an emergency exit. Then he used his shirt and belt, as a make shift tourniquet, to stop the bleeding of his wounded friend.
Believers are soldiers, too. We are part of the Lord’s army and in order to be “a good soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3) we must be willing to suffer for the gospel, to train hard through Bible study and prayer, and to follow our commanding officer, Jesus, even to the cross. If we are good soldiers, like Kelly, God just might use us to “save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22) as well.
Dear Lord, These senseless acts of violence give tangible proof to the spiritual truth that we are at war
and the enemy of our souls, though already defeated, is no less real or formidable. Keep me alert and on guard.
Empower me to be a good soldier. ~ Amen
October 31, 2018
Generous with Jesus
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” ~ Acts 3:6
Day after day it was always the same. At the time of prayer he was carried to the temple. Not to go in, but rather to sit outside the gate, always outside, and beg (Acts 3:2). It was ironic that the gate he sat at was called Beautiful, for nothing about begging is beautiful. In fact, he barely looked at the people passing by as he asked for their money. They never really looked at him either, but occasionally some would drop a mite as they walked by, never missing a step.
Peter and John were about to enter the temple court, when he asked them for money. They stopped and “looked straight at him” (v. 4). He did not notice them at first, too busy looking for the next set of feet, prepared to ask again. Peter said, “Look at us!” (v. 4) no doubt startling the beggar. Peter and John had seen him, now they wanted him to see them. Expecting to get some money from them, he now gave them his attention (v. 5).
Peter had no money to offer him that day, “Silver or gold I do not have” (v. 6). What Peter had was even better! He had Jesus and he would gladly share Him with the beggar, “but what I do have I give you” (v. 6). How often do we fail to see the people around us in need? Or ignore the need because we do not believe we have anything to offer them? If we have Jesus, we have all they need. Sharing Jesus with them could change their life—just like it did this beggar’s. That very day he entered the temple courts with praise (v. 7-8)!
Dear Lord, Help me to see the need in front of me. Empower me to offer the greatest gift I have to meet that need and that is You. ~ Amen
October 15, 2018
To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born… ~ Ecclesiastes 3:2
My heart jumped when Jaclyn called me early the morning of the Lord Teach Us to Pray conference at our home church. She was thirty-six weeks pregnant with her second child. Her first, Elijah, just 19 months old, had been a preemie. I answered the phone with a question, “Are you okay?” She assured me all was well. The night before I had dreamed she went into labor in the middle of the conference and I kept asking the Lord to please wait until the end of conference.
When I got to the church it was already a flutter of activity. Jaclyn and my oldest daughter, Kaitlyn were manning the book table. I only had a minute to greet them before the conference began. The music had just started when Kaitlyn touched my arm and whispered, “Mom, Jaclyn is in labor. We are going to the hospital.” Then she was gone. Shocked I barely heard my introduction. Dazed I made my way up front, announced the good news to the ladies, said a prayer, and with God’s help presented the first session.
During break I got news Jaclyn was safely at the hospital and already six centimeters dilated. Session two began with the update on Jaclyn and another prayer. In closing, I looked at the clock as I called the women into personal prayer. It was 12:50 pm. I sat on the stage and bowed my head, but the Lord quickly brought me to my knees as I prayed for my baby having a baby without me. Later I got the news that Magdalene Mikelle Disla was born at 12:51 pm--while I was on my knees. Talk about God’s perfect timing!
Dear Lord, Your ways are perfect and so is Your timing. Help me to trust Your timing even when it is not my own. ~ Amen
October 2, 2018
An Opened Mind
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. ~ Luke 24:45
You should have an opened mind! This sentiment is often attached to cultural ideologies in hopes of change. However, what about having an opened mind in regards to the Bible? Imagine if Jesus opened the minds of all believers, “so they could understand the Scriptures”, as He did His disciples in Luke 24:45. No doubt, the world would never be the same!
Hopefully, we have all had moments while reading a familiar verse or passage of Scripture when suddenly the light comes on, our minds are opened, and we understand something new and fresh that we never have before. Such moments are invigorating and testify to the fact that “the word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). Often when we understand something new in Scripture we feel the need to share it with others. That is because, in those moments, it is as if God Himself has opened our minds—just like He did the disciples (Luke 24:25).
It is the desire of God’s heart to reveal Himself to us. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). In fact, David declared, “The LORD confides in those who fear him” (Psalm 25:14). Furthermore, Jesus promised His disciples that the “knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you” (Matthew 13:11). How amazing that God longs to share His secrets with us, His creation! Yet that is exactly what He has done through His Word!
So this week, as we open our Bibles, let us pray for the Lord to open our minds to “understand the Scriptures” and then trust that He will!
Dear Lord, Please open my mind to the Scriptures so that I can understand great and unsearchable things I do not know,
the secrets of the kingdom of heaven written in Your Holy Word. ~ Amen