What Do We Own?

I once knew a woman who said to me of herself, “I am a very wealthy woman, yet I own nothing at all.”  She recognized that God had blessed her with a heart to give of His riches to others whom He chose.  She said she was a steward of God’s finances.  She is now with the Lord but her gift of giving lives on.

The world has a very different view about ownership.  Communism believes that the government owns everything and will share it out among everyone.  Capitalism believes that the individual owns what they earn and they don’t have to share it with anyone. The world’s philosophy is very much an — everyone for his or her own self.

Christianity is unique.  It teaches that God owns everything and will give each of us what we need as He sees best.  God teaches that we are to look for reasons to bless someone in need; to make a relevant difference for the good of others, even it at times it means our own personal discomfort.

There is an interesting passage in Psalm 50:10-12 & 14, “For all the animals of the forest are mine and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.  Every bird of the mountains, and all the animals of the field belong to me.  If I were hungry, I would not mention it to you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.”  Whether we recognize it or not, everything we have is because God let us have it.

He blesses us with our physical needs but at all times He is showing us that the most important things to possess is that which we cannot see with our physical eyes.  The riches of our Father are priceless; jewels of peace, wisdom, and joy set in eternal crowns that cannot rust or decay.

What do we own?  On earth, absolutely nothing that will last, but available in heaven, a fountain of wealth that never runs dry.

Knowing Your Identity

In this world we live in, proper identification of who you are is a must.   Picture ID’s are often required in banks, hotels, and other places of business.  Proving who you are is a must to keeping hold of your finances, your job opportunities, and your security.  Knowing who we are and proving who we are is key to stability in all our worldly affairs.

It is even more important in our spiritual world.  Our arch enemy, Satan, is always attempting to bring us down.  He tempts us, tells us lies about ourselves and others around us, and seeks to confuse us as to who we really are.  You see, if we keep our minds concentrated on the truth, that the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is the same Holy Spirit who inhabits our being, then that is cause for Satan and his kingdom to tremble.  We have nothing to fear; Satan does, when we know who we are.

Apostle Paul wrote in Galations 2:20, “My old self has been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  When you and I remember our identification in Christ, then we also know from whom comes our power to conquer anything, to stand strong against temptations that would cause us harm, to move in peace when the world is swirling in storms of confusion, and grappling with all manner of madness that we see daily on any news channel.  When we know who we are; that our lives are hidden with Christ in God, then we walk forward in God’s strength.  We reason with God’s wisdom.  We make decisions with God’s guidance.  We hold our heads up courageously, no matter the name calling others may slander us with, all because we know who we are — children of the Most High.  Sons and daughters with a most amazing heavenly inheritance.

When we know who we are, there is no emotional onslaught that we cannot walk through in absolute victory because we know that “with God nothing shall be impossible.”   Luke 1:37.

Therefore, be courageous.  Be victorious.  Know who you are.

Dipping In The Treasure Chest

I was watching the news this week, being saddened by all the crazy politics around the world, by the bickering, but mostly by the total lack of understanding concerning the holiness of God and of His amazing love for us.  He only gives us His plans to follow because they are the only plans without mistake. When we ignore His guidance, we take ourselves off the road of peace and joy and fulfilled meaning.

We all face so many challenges in life; some are merely degrees of difficulty to wade through, but others are utterly distressful.  We feel lost, like the turmoil will never fade away.  It’s at those moments that we must remember the treasure trove that God has given to us who belong to Him.

You see, when Jesus died on that cross to take away the ugliness of our sin, He also died to give us something beautiful in its place.  The Apostle Paul refers to this in Ephesians 3:16, “I pray that from His (God’s) glorious, unlimited riches, He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.”  Meditate upon that truth.  What is God saying?  He is reminding us that because we belong to Him through receiving Jesus Christ into our lives, He has provided us with everything we need to get through anything at all.

When our peace is shattered, we dip into the treasure chest of His promises.  Our inner spirit is calmed when we read of His peace that will see us through any trouble.  Our tears are dried when we remember that He is already in our next moment, making the crooked places straight.  Our fears are replaced with hope when we know that He holds our tomorrow in His hands.

When we forget to dip into that holy treasure chest available to each, fear, dismay, and depression is sure to prevail, but by grabbing hold of the riches of God, we are indeed “empowered with His own inner strength.”  What an amazing God to give us such riches that no amount of money in this world can buy.

As White As Snow

I kept looking out the window to see if  it was snowing.  Finally, at 10:00pm last night, I looked out and the world was white.  Beautiful!  I took our dog, Jack, outside.  It was like daylight because of the reflection of snow.  Everywhere we looked, it was fresh, undisturbed, falling in gentle flakes.

This morning at first light Jack and I were out again but this time it was a different scene.  Cars had already begun making the snow dirty.  The sidewalks were filled with squashy footprints.  The beauty of the night before was gone.  As we traipsed along in the wet slush the excitement of the fresh snow was gone.

What I was seeing is a picture of what takes place in our spiritual worlds.  When we come to Jesus, asking Him to forgive us and make us new, He does that very thing.  We are told in Isaiah 1:18, “Though your sins are as scarlet, I will make them as white as snow.” (says the Lord)  God’s love and redemption is amazing!  He forgives absolutely and He makes new absolutely.  God never does anything half-way.

Then, the temptations of the world come across all our paths.  Too often we succumb to those things that soil our hearts.  The beauty of our newness in Christ fades like trampled on snow.  Joy diminishes.  Peace crumbles.  The beauty that once was is now soiled.

Great news — we don’t have to remain as snow made dirty by the tracks of this world.  At any time we may call out to the One who loves us unconditionally.  Jesus promises us that every time we come with a sincere heart, He washes away the sin and makes us clean like snow again; just as if we had never sinned at all.  We stand pure in His sight when we are washed in His forgiveness.

Oh, what a loving and holy Father!  Nothing compares to His love and forgiveness.

70% Burned — Please Pray

When I heard the story, I shuddered.  A man unconscious and trapped in his pick-up truck was on fire.  He was being burned alive.  A stranger arrives on the scene.  Seemingly, with no regard for his own safety, he opens the driver’s door and pulls the man out, burning himself in the process.

The man who was burning in the driver’s seat was once a little boy in my mother’s children’s church.  He and his siblings were always the cutest things, capturing our hearts, stirring a deep love within our own hearts that remains to this day.  Therefore, with a concerned love for Jim, his wife and children, and his extended family and friends, I ask that those of you reading this would take a moment to pray for Jim.

He is in a specialized burns unit.  Pain is intense.  Skin grafting and therapy will take months of endurance.  I’m so thankful to be able to say that his family know the strength that only God can give.  They are clinging to it with a strong faith.  Please pray for them that their faith does not waver, that they sense the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit with them, comforting them in all their questioning and fearful moments.

Friends have rallied around them, writing words of encouragements with reminders of God’s love for them and offering practical helps.  Being brothers and sisters in God’s Kingdom is a beautiful thing.  It makes us family.  Family helps us to remember to take Father’s own strength when we know we are weak.  Family reminds us to keep on clinging to the hope that Father promises, to bask in God’s peace that surprisingly comes in the direst of situations.

We could all tell wonderful stories of how friends have comforted us and stirred courage within to go on when we thought we couldn’t take another step.  Friends are so important to our effective walk with God because they remind us of Father’s promises of His presence always with us, of His love that never fails, of His strength that holds us in our weakness.

The Apostle Peter understood the great effectiveness of the encouragement that comes from friends.  That is why he wrote the following:

“I will always remind you of these things — even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught.  And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live.”  II Peter 1:12-13

Thank you, Father, for our praying friends.

The Boy And The Mop

I heard a funny story this week about a young boy who was afraid of the dark.  It was late evening when the boy’s mother asked him to bring in the mop from the porch outside.  “It’s dark,” the boy said with a nervous look on his face.  “You know Jesus is always with you,” his mother replied.  “Oh, yeah,” the boy spoke with some relief as he opened the porch door a couple inches, stuck his hand out and said, “Jesus, will you hand me the mop?”

I’m sure his mother gave further explanation to the boy but isn’t the display of his faith precious?  The fact is, while not in the flesh, Jesus is indeed always with us by His Spirit.  Just think, the very Spirit of Almighty God resides within everyone who has received Him into their lives.  Therefore, it really is true that Jesus is always with us.

At a morning Bible study I was attending recently, a woman shared that although she lives alone, she finds that her relationship with Jesus is such that she is always talking to Him.  “When the phone rings,” she told us, “I hear myself saying, ‘Jesus help me deal with whatever this call is about.'”  I love the intimacy she shared with us.

I have some of my best conversations with the Lord while driving.  I comment on amazing cloud formations, the beauty of the seashore I drive by, or I discuss with Him whatever comes to my mind.  I talk out loud about things that concern me.  I ask blessings on various friends and neighbors as they enter my thoughts.

The young boy asking Jesus for the mop wasn’t far off the mark.  Jesus really is with us always.  There are times we sense His presence more acutely some days that others, but what we feel never changes the fact; Jesus is always with us.  If we call and listen, we can hear Him speak into our hearts offering guidance or peace or courage.  Whatever we need, He is right there with us.  The practice of the presence of God is a worthy endeavor that promises to bless us; not some of the time, but all of the time.

“It is the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth.  The world cannot receive Him because the world isn’t looking for Him.  But you know Him, because He lives with you and is in you.”  John 14:17

Happiness Barometer

We all respond with happiness when certain things happen.  For some it’s bumping unexpectedly into a friend whom we haven’t seen for awhile.  For others it might be receiving a simple gesture of kindness, like an invitation to come for coffee, a box of candy, or just a day out browsing the stores with friends, or taking a walk in the countryside.

For me, it’s spontaneous responses from my canine friends.  For example, just this morning I was taking a friend’s dogs to the park to play ball.  One dog was in the backseat while the other one was in the passenger seat next to me.  As we were riding along, I suddenly felt the lightness of the front seat dog as she slipped onto my lap and lay there until we reached our destination.  I had lay my hand on her.  When we came to a stop I glanced down to find her staring up at me with a look of what I define as sweet adoration.  My heart soared.  “I love you, too, Tilly,” I said while sticking my other arm to the back, feeling for the other dog.  “I love you, too, Poppy,” who licked my hand as she began to prance about in anticipation of the ball game to come.

That happiness of this morning has lasted even until now as I sit typing out the story.  That’s when the reminder came to me about how I respond to my Heavenly Father.   If I get all glowing and overcome with tenderness in response to a dog’s love, how much more must my Father be glowing when I crawl into His lap of love, just because I want to, and let Him know that I love Him.

Have you ever wondered why we are instructed to give praise to God?  Is it because of some ego trip of God to be so adored?  Of course not; it’s for our need, as much as for His delight.  When we take time to enter into His presence with praises and words of love and appreciation, it strengthens our own resolve, puts our thoughts and understanding into proper perspective, and fills us with peace and joy that is so vast it cannot be measured.  Praising God is an absolute delight to Him, but it is a tremendous joy builder for us, too.

When we praise Him when we are sad, downcast spirits are lifted.  When we praise Him when we are glad, our joy buckets are so filled they overflow into that “peace that passes understanding.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

Just as I adored those little dogs showing affection to me, our Father cherishes our love shown to Him, but the joy He receives is bounced right back to us to overflowing.  Taking time to praise our Heavenly Father is always a peace and joy builder; always, without exception.

“I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things You have done.  I will be filled with Joy because of You.  I will sing praises to Your name, O Most High.”  Psalm 9:1-2

Paralyzed In Fear

You’ve probably heard stories of people in situations that so badly frightened them they could not move.  I once heard the very sad tale of a boy whose brother slipped in mud while walking along a riverbank that sent him sliding into the water.  When he fell, he hit his head on a rock so hard, he was knocked unconscious.  His brother, who was terribly frightened of water, was paralyzed in fear, rendering him unable to go down into the water to help his brother.

Hearing the boy standing on the bank crying out for help, people arrived on the scene to pull the unconscious boy out of the water but it was too late.  The brother had already drown.  To add to the sadness, the boy was not fully submerged.  His brother could easily have stepped down the bank and lifted his brother’s face out of the water until help arrived.  If not for fear the situation would have been vastly different.

God’s Word tells us that God is not the author of fear.  Therefore, fear that prohibits us from moving forward in a positive manner, comes from the enemy of God — from Satan himself.  This arch enemy of God is also the enemy of every follower of Jesus Christ.  Satan hates that very name and will use every tactic he can conjure up to make us ineffective.  Like all enemies he seeks to destroy and kill.  He wants to destroy success and joy, and to kill all hope and peace in our lives.  He whispers lies that, if we make the mistake to consider the lie, may paralyze us with such a fear that we choose not to walk in the direction that God has chosen for us.  After all, God’s destinations are not always known.  He often asks us just to take a step at a time, trusting the path we take to His leading.

The unknown can be fearful.  When we listen to our enemy, fear can take hold, paralyzing us in fear.  We become weak.  Joy leaves us.  Peace drains away.  Fear is such a joy killer.

“But with God nothing shall be impossible.”  Luke 1:37  

The key word in the above is “with.”  When we rely on our own strength to overcome our fear, it may never happen, but “with” God there is no path too difficult to travel.  “With God” we need fear no direction in which He leads.  We need fear no person or goal to meet.  The key is always — “with God.”

In Father’s Own Words

Here we are once again; seeing one year out and a new one in.  Have you made new year’s resolutions?  Are you wondering what the new year holds?  We all like to dream and try to imagine what the months ahead will bring to us.  There will no doubt be some good times ahead; equally, there will most likely be challenges to face which we will find difficult.  Good days and hard days are all a part of life.  Happiness, sadness, tears and laughter; it comes to us all.  The question at the time of new year may be — how will I handle all that may come my way?  There are no better words of encouragement than from our heavenly Father.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

“I have told you many things, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have troubles and sorrows, but take heart because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”  Isaiah 43:2

“Don’t be overcome with a love for money; be satisfied with what you have because God has said, ‘I will never fail you or abandon you.’  Therefore we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear of what mere people can do to me.”  Hebrews 13:5-6

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I have all that I need.  He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength.  He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name.  Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me.  Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.  You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies..  You honor me by anointing my head with oil.  My cup overflows with blessings.  Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”  Psalm 23

May 2019 be filled with blessings to overflowing, and my your determination to walk in His ways stay strong; filled with great joy.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

When Bad Things Happen

The young girl lay in her bed and tried to think but thoughts were all jumbled.  Nothing seemed to settle into anything clear.  How would she tell her parents?  They were both so full of love for her; so devoted to God.  What would she say?  Perhaps it really was all a dream; or should she say, a nightmare?  No, it wasn’t a dream. A vision maybe?  Her body felt a trembling.  She turned to her side and lay her hands on her abdomen.  No, it was neither a dream or a nightmare or a vision.  It was real.  She was pregnant; yet she had never been with a man.  How would she tell her parents such a thing; and equally disturbing, how would she tell her fiancé?

Haven’t you and I been in similar situations?  Oh, I don’t mean surprisingly pregnant; I mean, loving and serving God, when suddenly with no warning, the world goes all topsy-turvy.  Everything is going wrong.  You find no words to explain.  Perhaps you can’t explain because you don’t understand yourself why bad things are happening in your once-upon-a-time peaceful world.  Why is God allowing all this, you wonder to yourself, or perhaps your complaints are out loud for all to hear.

Joseph couldn’t sleep.  He never would have dreamed any such thing of Mary.  She came from a devout family, true to God.  Her parents carefully raised their children in His ways.  How heartbroken they would have been to have Mary publicly shamed.  He couldn’t do that to them.  He couldn’t even have done it to Mary.  He had made his decision to break the engagement quietly, hoping that with time idle gossip would subside.  It was in the middle of these thoughts that it happened.  Was it a dream?  A vision?  No, it was a messenger from Almighty God.  What an amazing message indeed. Mary was pregnant by the divine hand of God.

Joseph and Mary were required by law to go to Bethlehem to pay their taxes.  Mary was due anytime now but she pleaded for Joseph to take her with him.  He understood.  Cruel words had been hurled at them both.  “Never mind the words,” Joseph had comforted her,” God’s ways are not our ways but always they are the best ways.”  Mary continually thanked God in her heart for giving her such a man of faith and understanding.  The days had been so difficult, but he was right.  God’s ways are always for our own good, even when the way forward is so unclear and the path difficult to walk.

It happened the very night they arrived in Bethlehem.  So many people were in the town to pay their taxes.  Every inn was booked.  Jospeh could find no room for he and Mary.  Finally, seeing Mary’s very pregnant condition, a kind innkeeper said if they didn’t mind, they could find a place where he kept his animals.  Joseph was grateful.  He piled hay into a sort of bed.  Mary lay there and gave birth to the most wonderful gift God would ever give mankind.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but would have life eternal.”  John 3:16

This is why we have Christmas; the day to celebrate when Jesus Christ was born.  God had Him born in human form.  He had one mission only.  To pay for the sins of mankind by His own death.  It had to be Him to pay the penalty because only He is holy and only holiness could be presented for lasting payment.  It is for anyone for the asking.  There is nothing God will not forgive.  We only need come to Him with a sincere heart.  Seek that forgiveness and you will find it — in Jesus.  There is no other way.  What a wonderful, amazing, peaceful life it is to have Jesus in it.

Merry Christmas and may this New Year be filled with God’s blessings.