The Blank Page

The Blank Page

It is a new year! I can’t say I am sorry to see the last one go. 2016 was filled with tension, conflict and transition for our nation, for many of our lives personally. For myself , it was also filled with tension, illness and transition as my husband and I moved from a metropolitan area where we have lived for many decades, to a remote area by a lake. This move meant saying goodbye to lifelong friends, our church home of 35 years and everything near and dear to us. It meant saying goodbye to teaching Bible Study that I had done for years. When we moved in the summer, I had already committed to teach before I knew we were moving. So my sweet husband told me that if I wanted to keep that commitment for the fall, that he would drive me the five hours each week so I could complete my commitment. And that is what we did. It happened that I was teaching from the book of 2 Timothy. This book of the Bible is the last letter the Apostle Paul wrote and the last word Timothy heard from him. So, it was very emotional for me because it was my goodbye to a class of women I had taught for many years. For some reason in the fall semester, I used a different Bible than I had normally used. This one was new and I was not as familiar with how the books and chapters flowed on the pages. Then, in the last week of my study, as I read the last few verses of the book of 2 Timothy, I turned the page for more. The page was blank. As I looked at that blank page, I was overwhelmed with grief and thought, “this is what my life looks like right now. Blank. I don’t know what is ahead for me.” No sooner had I thought these things then I sensed God in my spirit saying “What looks blank to you, I have already filled. I know exactly what your future holds – trust me.” Trust means to be confident and secure in something or someone, and as I thought about it, I remembered one of my favorite passages of scripture: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 In that moment, I had immediate peace like a weight had been lifted because I knew I could be confident in my security with Him. I began to pray “Lord, I do trust you with my life and my future and...

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5 Me’s

5 Me’s

“O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; In your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.” Psalm 143:1 NIV It is the holiday season – that time of year for celebration and giving thanks for our country and God’s provision for those who landed on the shores of this great land all those years ago. And yet, for many this Thanksgiving and holiday season, celebration is the last thing on their minds. Hearts are broken, health is in question or provision unknown. Where is the hope and help needed in these times of despair and hopelessness? In reading a prayer of David in the Psalms, you will find five “me’s in his requests of God in chapter 143: Answer me Show me Rescue me Teach me Lead me David was overwhelmed by his situation. He was desperate for mercy and word of God’s unfailing love. Despair was trying to drag him down into a pit, but he was determined to trust God. He cried out to Him for his needs of rescue and guidance. He needed a quick answer because his spirit was failing, meaning he was at his wit’s end and sinking into despair fast. He needed guidance and direction for which way to go through the difficult circumstances facing him. He needed to be rescued from those who were out to destroy him. He needed lessons for how to know God’s will and how to do it. He needed to be led on a path that was free from obstacles at every turn. Throughout David’s prayer, he made commitments to the Lord to meditate on all the works of God and the things He had done. This is where you would remember that it is God who created you to be His very own. It is God who loves you with an everlasting love that cannot be taken away from you. Then David surrendered his situation, made his “me” requests known and trusted God for answers, love and deliverance. There are times in our prayer life when we intercede for others, but there are times in our prayer life when it is all about “me”. When you are heartbroken and in despair it is perfectly OK for your prayer to be all about you. God wants you to be healed from your broken heart, illness, despair or whatever state has tried to drag you down. He will give you strength to endure. This Psalm of David is short but filled with hope, encouragement and teaching for all, but especially those in seemingly hopeless situations. With Jesus, there is always hope because He is our Hope! (I Timothy 1:1) Practice the five “me’s” in...

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Candles in the Dark

Candles in the Dark

“I AM the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV It was a great idea! My friend Laura wanted to host a neighborhood social and have a craft project for her neighbors. And so, I volunteered to teach candle making. I had the supplies – all we needed was heat to melt the wax and power to plug in the glue gun. The day arrived and we were excited! Then I received an early morning call on the day of the event. “We have no power”. The storms had affected the power lines in Laura’s area. We decided to proceed anyway hoping for a quick repair. Thankfully her stove was gas but with no power, we were working in the dark. I commented to Laura, “This is a good lesson for why we need candles – to shine light in the darkness.” As I looked at the candles around the room, each had a soft glow of light in a dark place. In order to see what we were doing, we were drawn to light from them. It reminded me that as believers, we are to be that glowing light of Christ wherever we go. There may be dark places we are required to walk in our schools, work places, community, government or even family events, but our light is to shine in those places. We can be a light in the darkness because Jesus is our power source. Extending love and kindness to those around you, no matter where you are, is letting Him shine through you. Or maybe you are in a dark time right now. Be encouraged to know there is light for you. His name is Jesus. He will shine on the path before you to light your way and direct your...

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What is That One Thing?

What is That One Thing?

“Tell Archippus: “see to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” Colossians 4:17 Archippus was a Christian teacher/minister. He had been given a lifetime job from the Lord – a calling to Christian service. We don’t know why Paul felt compelled to send a word of exhortation to him to complete the work he had been given. Perhaps he heard something about him that we don’t know, or perhaps in his own experience he knew how difficult ministry can be. But whatever the reason, he sent a word to Archippus to complete the work. As one who is serving the Lord, I know how hard it can be. I know how easy it would be to slack off, or simply give up. I’m sure you do too. In society today, we are hearing more and more about pastors and Christian leaders who are caving under the pressure. Adultery, suicide, exhaustion, financial hardship or turning away from ministry are just a few of the things we hear about. And so, just as Paul said to Archippus, we say to you: “see to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” Let’s break that down: See to it means to look away from all else and look to that one thing being addressed. In this case, the work you received in the Lord. Is there anything drawing your attention away from that one thing. See to it that you complete… According to Strong’s and Vines Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words,  some of the Greek definitions for the word complete are:  to fill to the top, carry to the end, accomplish, to cause Gods will to be obeyed as it should be and Gods promises to receive fulfillment. But my favorite is to end together, thoroughly finished. And so, the message is to look away from any distractions to the call of God on your life and end together with Him what He has placed within your heart to do. Keep on doing it until He says otherwise. What have you received from Him to do? What service are you passionate about? Review the list of Spiritual gifts in Romans 12 because God has gifted every believer. If you are gifted to teach or preach, then do so. If serving is your strength, then serve, if gifted to give, then give, etc. The point is, don’t give up or give in to the pressures of this world that the enemy is throwing at us from every direction. Stand firm in your faith and your mission. There is no such thing as retirement from Gods perspective. Hosea 10:12 tells us to continue...

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You Decide

You Decide

Choices. We make them every day. Some are thought about for a long time, while others are made on the spur of the moment. There is power in a choice. The decisions we make today will impact our future and the future of others. They reflect our personal needs, desires and our very character. Our will is determined by what we think, feel and know. It is a reflection of the heart and mind. There is power in our “will”. According to the Merriam/Webster Dictionary, “will” is described as desire, wish, choice, consent, appetite, passion, determination. Something desired: a choice or determination of having authority or power. Mental powers manifested as wishing, choosing, desiring or intending. Act according to principles. Power of control over one’s own actions or emotions. Even though God is Sovereign, meaning He rules and controls all things, from the very beginning He has given mankind the freedom to make choices. They are a matter of our own will; what we desire, wish, determine and choose for ourselves. But He has also given clear direction for how to make right choices. The power of the will determines how you will live your life. God places His desires for each of us in our hearts and when the time is right, He gives us the wisdom to make right choices. If there is a desire in your heart that will not go away, ask Him to show you clarity of knowing if this is of Him or simply something that you want to do. Seek Him for the answers through prayer and scripture and He will give direction. Remember, the choices you make today will impact your future. Questions to ask when making decisions: Lord, is this Your will or simply my own desire? Jeremiah 29:11 How do I move forward from this – what are the next steps? Proverbs 3:5-6 Will my choice impact others for good? Jeremiah 6:16 Show me your way that I may walk in it. Isaiah 30:21 How will I know You are speaking to me Lord? John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let now your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” When God gives the answer and direction, you will experience a sense of confidence and peace internally. You will feel confident in moving forward with your choice even when it seems impossible – even when you do not feel equipped to handle the outcome. God will never lead you to a choice that is not in keeping with His perfect plan for you. He will not lead you to go against...

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Tuned In …

Tuned In …

… When He Speaks “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said…” Acts 13:2a Nothing draws us closer to the Lord than when we worship Him, especially in a time of prayer and fasting. That is when we are the most tuned in to hearing when He speaks. In Acts 13:1-3, we see that the Holy Spirit spoke when the prophets and teachers were worshiping and fasting. We know they heard the message because they acted upon it and obeyed the message. It was not a planning session these men attended, it was a time of worship and fasting. It wasn’t the plans of man but the leading of the Holy Spirit that sent Saul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. The Holy Spirit told them to “set apart” these two men for the work He called them to do. They were appointed to be separated from the others and sent on to be about this work in response to hearing the Holy Spirit speak. This is why we have worship before the pastor stands to preach the word of God. It is to prepare our hearts to hear the message and apply it to our lives. But if we do not allow ourselves to participate in worship because our thoughts are elsewhere, we are not prepared to hear what God is saying to us personally and, therefore, do not act upon it. There are occasions when we may be present at church, but not as a participant. Worry, circumstances, pain and even criticism can get in the way of worship. Therefore, focus is distorted and we are easily distracted by those around us. On those days, we leave the church disheartened and critical because we “didn’t get a thing” out of the service. If this sounds like something you have experienced, set you mind on worship before you arrive at church. Make a determination that you will focus on the words of worship in order to have your heart prepared for the Word spoken. Yes, I know… we all have different tastes when it comes to music and different opinions when it comes to worship. The drums are too loud or the beat is too jazzy or someone raised their hands. Or if you are younger, you may think it is too boring or traditional. But if you can focus on the message rather than the volume, the beat or the movement, you will be drawn into worship where your focus is fully on the Lord. In Acts, it was when the people were worshiping that they heard the Holy Spirit speak. If you want to hear a word from the Lord, worship...

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