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When I am shaken…

Sometimes it feels like I am in the world’s biggest shaker bottle. I am shaken and tossed about so that I cannot find my footing. Life is like that sometimes. It usually happens to us unexpectedly because if we were to anticipate it we could counter with appropriate action. So what’s a girl to do when she is shaken and tried?

As I was reading, Psalm 46 this morning, I kept rereading verse 3, “Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.” In order to anticipate and see what to do before this happens, I have to return to verse 1-2. Because God is a refuge, strength, and help, I do not have to fear when I am shaken up. I can recognize the shaking for what it is a testing of my faith. Dr. Henry Blackaby in His book, “Experiencing God“, calls these testings of the faith, markers, that we can look back to and see what God has done in the past and how He brought us through them. I am a planner by nature. I like to know what is coming and be ready with a battle plan, yet often life shakes us up with things we can’t possibly plan to handle. So, I have a new plan for me. When the shaking occurs, run to God immediately. Find refuge in His presence. Let His divine strength radiate through me. Ask for help that is beyond my ability, but comes directly from the Father. Will I ever falter? Sure, I will. Will I have a lapse in executing this new plan? More than likely. Yet, in this, I would hope that next time life shakes me, I will bounce back a little quicker than last time. I will trust God more than last time.  I will rest in God’s presence more and as I learn and grow He will make me over into the Christian He wants me to be.

The shaking of life is going to happen. It is inevitable, but, sweet friends, we are not alone. God is there.

Blessings to you!

#psalm46challenge

God’s Promise of an Eternal Home*

Have you ever been in a place where your longing for home was so intense it was overwhelming?  For me it was when my parents dropped me off at college. I was standing in the parking lot watching them drive away, and I felt such a since of loss and loneliness. I was excited about the new things to experience, but I felt, for the first time, very alone. For the Christian, we ought to feel a longing to go to our Heavenly Home even though we haven’t been there. The feelings I experienced as an 18 year old, I believe is even more intense today. As I have grown in my faith, the feeling to be in God’s presence is something I long for. I also have several loved ones I am looking forward to seeing in Heaven, My Grandparents, My Mother, and the babies I never was able to hold here on earth are all waiting on the other side. The Bible tells us that we should hope and pray for the day when we go to Heaven to be with God forever. It will be a wonderful time.

Our Scripture is Revelation 21:1-8. John, the Apostle, wrote about the new Heaven and the new earth that is being prepared for us by God Himself. In the first three verses, we see that John shares with us the wonders of the Holy City. He first comments on the brightness and beauty of the new city. He compares it to a bride coming down the aisle toward her husband to be. God looks at us, the church, in this way. He see our spotless beauty made perfect in righteousness by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In the third verse, God proclaims that He will now dwell among His people and we will be living in the presence of our wonderful God. Imagine being able to sit beside Him, talk to Him, and even reach out and touch Him. What a humbling and amazing time that will be.

In the following verses, He lets us know some things that will not be in Heaven: no death, no grief, no crying, and no pain. The cause of all of theses things will be removed. I am thankful that at this time we will never have to fear losing another person, therefore the cause for the pain and grief we feel in our heart when loss occurs will be gone. We never will shed another tear because of the hand of someone reaching out to harm us, or tears caused by our own wrong choices. The effect and the toll that sin has taken on us will all be removed. The consequences of sin and the weight that sin has had in our lives will be gone forever. I am thankful also there will not be any pain. A few years ago, I would have looked briefly at that one and moved on. I do understand a little better what it will be like to not hurt with pain everyday. I also can empathize with those who experience chronic pain on a greater level than I. The fact that there will not be any pain of any kind is a cause for celebration.

In verse 6 we read,” And he said unto me, “It is done. I am Alpha and Ome’ga, the beginning and the end.” In the beginning it was all about God reaching down to man, and in the end it will be God lifting man up to dwell with Him forever. We can look with anticipation for the return of our Lord, and going to the place that He has prepared for us. What a great day that will be! Until then hold on to the promise that one day we will be with God for eternity in a brand new home!

*This is a summary of a Sunday School lesson is based on “Bible Studies for Life” printed by Lifeway Christian Resources. While The main points and focus questions are printed in our Sunday School curriculum. The Commentary on them is based on personal experience and lessons learned from my own life. This is offered to my SS Class members who are unable to be with us due to work or health issues. Thank you.

Blessings in the Storm

I trust that all my friends and visitors to this blog have had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year to come.  God has truly blessed my family this Christmas with a great family, church family, and a wealth of friends. I say all of this to say that this time in my life has not been without its struggles and things to lay at the feet of our Lord. Many times throughout our walk with the Lord we will face the unforeseen. It will come out when we least expect it and for a moment even hold us so tightly we cannot see which way we should turn. Storms can come upon us suddenly and dark clouds can bring fear to our hearts, yet in all of this we know we have someone who is there beside us in the midst of the darkness and fierce wind. Then it begins, the rain pours down. I have not thought of the rain as blessings, but it truly is so.

We need the rain. The rain nourishes the dry areas. It gives us something that watering from the hose in the yard will not. It cools the atmosphere around us. The leaves of the trees turn upward to receive the rain from the clouds. Sometimes the leaves will actually turn upside down to receive the rain at the place that will give  the most benefit for its delicate root system. The hard ground  softens under the impact of the rain upon it.  When you think about it, the rain has the healing properties in it to make things better for the earth, yet to receive the rain it must be accompanied by the storms.

I have found recently that in the midst of my storm, the Lord has sent his blessings of rain to overwhelm me.  The blessings have covered me at times with small drops and other times with large torrents. Over and over I have felt the love of my heavenly Father cover me with his strength, encouragement, love, and the cascading rain of His blessings. In my time alone with Him, I lifted my hands and heart to accept what He has for me as His spirit pours down like the rain. It has been what I have needed to help me when fear has taken hold of me. I wish that I could say that I am strong enough on my own to weather the storm. We try to hide our weakness so often for fear of what people will think of us, or put on a brave front because we feel it is expected of us. If you could see inside of me, you would know I am so weak and fearful. It is God who has been my strength. If I did not have Him with me I could never face the storms of life.

Not only have I received the blessings from the Lord, but also from the gracious friends and family who have interceded with prayers for me and my family. I do appreciate all of the prayers that have been sent on behalf of us. Thank you. You have been apart of the sweet rain that has covered us.

Blessings to you!

Snow and Cotton

As I was driving to work this morning, puffs of white drifted across my windshield. I was taken aback a moment because it looked like snow. For those of you who are not aware where I live it is quite an unusual occurrence for South Georgia doesn’t normally have snow. When I realized what it was, I laughed at myself for being silly. Someone close by was cutting the cotton from their cotton field.

It’s funny how we sometimes think something is one thing when it turns out totally different than what we thought. God is just like that. When I think I have a certain part of his nature figured out, he up and surprises me with a new part of who He is.  It is then that I realize that I can’t put God in a box like a Christmas present and say this is the only way He does what He does. I am constantly amazed at how wonderful God is. I have had the opportunity to get to know Him in so many ways. I know at times I will have to go through difficult things to find out more about who He is and to receive new glimpses of His nature. I also know that God has proved that in all things He is working out “all things for my good”. (Romans 8:28)

I was watching a movie the other day and the two main characters were discussing why God allows some things to happen. One replied, “Without suffering there would be no compassion.” This is so true. God shows compassion and love when I am hurting, and He gives me the opportunity to show love to others when they are hurting. If I never went through a hard time, I would not know how God could be my Comforter. If I never was betrayed by someone, I would not know how Christ could be “a friend that sticketh closer than a brother”. If I never knew sickness or pain, I would not know how God could be my Healer. If I never lost a parent, I would never know that God could be a true “Heavenly Parent” and bring peace to my heart. The list could go on and on. As I go through this life there will be circumstances that test me beyond what I thought I could endure. Yet in all I know that God is faithful.

I don’t know what you might be going through at this time in your life. I do know that we have a great God who will be the strength you need to face life’s trials, and when you least expect it, He will surprise you in wonderful ways and with blessings you did not think were possible.

Watch Out, Spider!

In my effort to get to work on time the other day, I, as usual, went flying out the front door and raced with my purse, foam “guzzler” of iced tea and bagel. Clay chose to fly out the door after me and  reminded me that he had seen a spider in the door of the car that we needed to take care of. I didn’t want to disappoint him the pleasure of killing a spider, but if I identified it quickly enough I could proceed down the road and reach my destination on time. My plan was to put Clay at ease and take care of it Iater that day. I opened the back door and asked him where he had seen the offender. This spider had built a web between the doors that you could only see if you opened the back or front door on the driver’s side. All I could see was two egg sacks and a complex web. Clay pointed it out as it was hiding up under the hinge that holds the door in place. The way the spider was hiding I could not identify it so with a stick I removed part of the web and the egg sacks and “squashed” them. I didn’t want them hatching and taking over my car. It is a small four door and there wouldn’t be room for all of us. 🙂 Anyway, because I couldn’t see very well I closed the back door and opened the front door to see if I could get a better view. I did. It was a black spider so I was immediately concerned I asked Clay to run inside and get the bug spray. When he returned, I armed myself with bug spray in one hand and a stick in the other.  I sprayed it good and as it slowly descended on a silky strand of web with legs curling I saw the red hour-glass shape on it. It was a black widow. I got chills as I “squashed” it when I realized that it had been there for quite some time. At any moment, it could have chosen to hop out on me or one the boys and hurt us.  I praise the Lord for his hand of protection on our family.

As I went throughout my day, I could not stop thinking about the near miss we had and God’s protecting hand. Then my thoughts lead me to realize that temptation and sin is there lurking, waiting for just the right moment to strike. It waits patiently for the opportunity to catch me with my guard down and in the place where I am the weakest. At every turn in this life, sin is all around us. We are faced with it in the media, in the places we go, and sometimes in strangers we come in contact with. We need to be ever mindful that there is one that would love to see us fail and bring down the name of Christ. It is so important for us to watch out for these opportunities, and “squash” them as we would a poisonous spider.

It is not easy to turn from temptation and sin, but we have the Holy Spirit inside of us and a Savior who overcame the very essence of sin and death on the cross.  It is God who provides a way of escape for us so we do not have to give in to the temptation.  In 1 Corinthians 10:13, we read, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will no suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  We are going to be tempted to do the wrong thing. Satan does not want us to succeed in the Christian life, and if he can keep us defeated, he most certainly will. My favorite line in this verse is “God is faithful.” He is here with us and we can rely on his strength when we are weak. When we became a Christian, we trusted Him with our very soul. In the same way, we can trust God for our daily keeping also. He can help us to resist temptation and guard against the attacks of those who would harm us.

It is time for you and me to keep our eyes open and watch for potential danger, temptation and sin. We know we have a friend who has endured such temptation and become a victor over it. We must turn in Jesus in our need. Jesus is our hope and He is ever faithful.

Going For The Gold

I can’t help but imagine how the words “Gold Medal” stirs the heart of every athlete. It is something that they have been striving to attain. The “Gold Medal” is the reason they train for years and years. For those who make it to the podium with top honors glow with the knowledge that they gave it their all and achieved the highest standing in their particular event. I love watching the medal ceremonies. The joy and triumph just radiates off of them and when the anthem of their country plays and their flag is raised high, we often we see tears with the beautiful smiles.

In the Christian Life, My first thought was that we can go for the gold too. God has promised in his Word that there are crowns that we can go for. How often I wonder do we think of gaining these crowns without putting forth the effort that goes with it. When watching athletes, we see only the race, dive, contest, or tumbling pass. We do not see all of the practice, and hours upon hours in the gym lifting weights and training. As I was pondering all of the ends and outs of this train of thought, I was reminded of a verse in Job. “But He knoweth the way that I take and when He has tried me I shall come forth as gold.” –Job 23:10 

With achievement and glory comes sacrifice. It could be sacrifice of time, personal benefits, etc. The glory of the medal is achieved by the effort put into it and the pain and suffering that goes with it. There is a lot of things these athletes have to endure to get to the place where they can rejoice in the accomplishment. I see the same parallels with the Christian walk. Trials are going to come into our lives. Obstacles will be put in our path that need to be overcome. Through this trying process our God is purifying us so we can come forth as gold. He is refining us for better things so we can serve Him better.

I’m sure every athlete that receives the gold medal looks back on all they had to do and acknowledge that it was worth it. I know in my own life I have never been sorry for following God. He has been with me in every trial and is making and molding me into the Christian He wants me to be. Have I every faltered or questioned Him during the process? Oh, Yes! I am only human, but deep in my heart I know what He is doing is for my good so I too can come forth as Gold.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  –Hebrews 12:2

“There are some things you have to endure to get to the place of rejoicing.” –Clyde Box

Wanting It All…

In my quest to get ready to leave town for a few days, I called a good friend and asked her to feed my cats. Being the good pet owner that I am (hehe), I bought a large, brand new bag of cat food to make sure Marshmallow, Mocha, and Tom had all that they needed and would not run out of food. I put it up on the barbecue grill to await my friend who will be stopping by tomorrow. I finished my packing and “hit the hay”. Much to my chagrin, this morning I walked out on my  porch to find a large, brand new bag of cat food on the floor. They still had food in their bowl yet they had managed to knock it off the grill and eat a hole not only in the bag, but also all the way through it. When I held the bag up for a look, I saw my neighbors through the hole in the bag. Crazy Cats!

I think sometimes I find myself in the same predicament. I want what I want when I want it, not being content with what I already have at my disposal.  I can’t help but wonder if I am alone in this. All throughout the Bible there is verse upon verse on contentment. This could be because the Lord knew this would be a weakness in us. After all, didn’t Adam and Eve have the Garden of Eden at their finger tips to use and consume? They chose however to go after the one thing that they could not have, “The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”. (Genesis 3) In His Word, God gives us several powerful verses for us to use to combat discontentment.

Paul said it best in Philippians 4:11, “Not that I speak in respect of want: but I have learned that whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Paul knew what it was like to want something. I think of the ailment he experienced with his eyesight, and how he asked the Lord to remove it three times. When God did not, Paul chose with God’s help to be content. He speaks of contentment as something that he had to learn to do. The state of being content is just like anything else; we have to work at it daily. When we constantly focus on the things that we do not have or own rather than the things that we have, we can grow discontent in our lives. It is a daily decision to be thankful and content.

In I Timothy 6:6-8, we read, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing in this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” I think the second thing we need to realize is that nothing that we have is ours to being with. Our possessions are blessings from God. All that we have in this life is given to us by God. How often have you seen someone accumulate so much and it is lost to a fire or flood? To cultivate contentment we need to realize our things are just things, and all things belong to God. In Psalm 8 and 24, we read how “earth is the Lord’s and all that dwell therein”. When we begin to look at what we have from God’s point of view, we see how our focus will change from “the things we possess” to the “God of all possessions”.

Thirdly, Contentment can be achieved because of who we have, Jesus Christ.  Hebrews 13:5 reads, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” We should not sit around and talk over our possessions. Such as, “This person has this and this, wouldn’t that be nice to have.” Too much of this can lead to coveting what someone else has. I think in this verse Christ is saying to us, “You are not alone. You have me. The wealth of my kingdom is for your use. Let me give to you the things that you need, and be content with what I choose to give you. No matter what I choose for you, I will be with you through it all. I will be your constant companion.”

To many times we fall in the trap of discontentment. May we all rely on the one who began us in this life and will be with us no matter what we have. May we all trust Him to know what is best for us. Remember, When we have Christ, we truly have it all.

When you need a Word…

As a child, my parents, Sunday school teachers, and pastors have encouraged me to pursue Scripture memorization.  One of the highlights of my young years was going to a Bible Club every Wednesday in the next neighborhood over from ours. We were taught stories from God’s Word, and lessons on how to follow Jesus. We were taught the plan of Salvation through the verses of the Romans Road (Romans 3:10; 3:23; 5:8; 5:12; 9:10-13).  Scripture Memory was emphasized every week. We were sent home with a cookie and a Scripture verse on a piece of paper to learn for the next week. One of the first verses I learned was Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against God.”  I also learned Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” They even offered a complete camp scholarship if you learned 300 verses of Scripture. I was encouraged to go for it. I am so glad I had people in my life to encourage me in the study and memorization of God’s Word.

It is because of these early experiences that I am blessed today. There have been times in my life when I needed a word from the Lord. The things we face in this life can catch us off guard and circumstances can overwhelm  us to the breaking point. Have you ever been in a situation where you needed a word from the Lord and your Bible was either in the car or back at home? This is where the Lord began to bring verses of Scripture to my mind when I needed them most. Sometimes it was just a phrase or two of a verse, but a phrase is often sufficient when in tribulation.  I was reminded of this again when I was sitting at my desk quite overwhelmed with a problem, and I found myself really scared. I prayed to the Lord for help, and in an instant the Scripture came, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” Over and over on that day, when thoughts of fear came, the phrase remained. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” How thankful I am that He is willing to speak to me where ever I am with words of comfort from His Holy Word.

The Word of God is more than just a book. It is a living testament of a Holy God reaching down to man. The promises are endless. The words are true. God has given to us a guide on how to live this life. We, as a follower of Christ, need to follow his teaching wholeheartedly.  Pehaps you would like to  know more of the word of God. Take one or two verses per week and commit them to memory. You may think that one or two verses a week is not much, but as time goes by you will know more and more the heart of God, and when you least expect it, He will bring to mind a verse that will give you what you need for that moment.  You can ask the Lord to guide you and He will. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know many verses from memory, you can start today. I am glad that God is willing to take us right where we are and move us forward. He does that just because He can, just because He is God.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

It’s all about trust!

Every day we face the fact that we do not know what the day will bring. With each day the potential of joy, celebration, and expectation may be realized. We may find disappointment and heartache when the day has concluded. No matter what the day will bring we have the undeniable assurance that God is with us. We have the belief that no matter what circumstances overwhelm us our God is a constant presence to under gird and uplift us.

So often in the life we live, we fail to place our confidence in God to face the trials and tribulation in front of us. Trials will come to us all. They have a way of rearing their ugly head when we are weary and attack us when we are down. Often we place our confidence in other sources than to rely on the one who is ready to share our burden and give us peace. Psalm 118:8 reads, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

We know in our heart that we must turn to God in tribulation because He alone knows best how to face each problem, but how often do we fail to turn to Him in time of need. The Psalms are full of precious promises and if we focus on these in our times of indecision, we would be lead in the right and true path that leads straight to our Heavenly Father.  Psalm 37:3 reads, “Trust in the Lord…” as does Psalm 37:5 and countless others. God wants us to follow his leading and trust Him with the results no matter what that results may be.

If we let God be who He is, we would find ourselves in the perfect place to worship and praise Him with the results our circumstances bring.  Psalm 31:19 reads, “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them  that trust in thee before the sons of men.”  It is all about trust. Who are you going to trust your day to day living to? Yourself, others, or God? Whether we want to admit it or not, the world is watching us. As Christians, they want to see people who are real and those that have a great trust in a great God. When they look at you and me what do they see?

I put my arm around my son last night as he was facing a disappointment. Something that in the grand scheme of things may not be that important, but it was real to him and to me. We discussed the disappointment and shed a few tears too. What can I say, we were hurting, yet as we worked our way through it we talked about God and how he was there for us in the middle of it all. We trusted God to know what was best for us and surrendered our will to His will.

We had great trust in a great God, and in the midst of the circumstance we experienced a great peace!

Where Is Your Focus?

I experienced the most wonderful opportunity this last Friday evening. A sister church in our area, Pine Level Baptist Church in Cairo, GA,  had a “Ladies Night Out”. They served to us a beautiful dinner and the Program presented was such a wonderful blessing to me. Two of the Pine Level Ladies presented dramatic monologues and the Ladies Ensemble from the First Baptist Church in Bainbridge, GA ministered in song.  Donna Lott and Patti Appling presented the “Painted Parable”. This is a truly unique ministry. While Donna delivers a wonderful message/parable, Patti paints a picture to illustrate the message. The spirit of the Lord is on these ladies. They live in North GA above Atlanta. The evening was full of blessing after blessing.

My heart was especially stirred when Donna shared a particular problem in her life and how God lead her to a book by Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth Bell Graham. Mrs. Graham when faced with adversity ran to God and her Bible. God showed Mrs. Graham that she was focusing on the problem she was facing and the adversity rather than focusing on the promises of God. I felt in good company because over the last few weeks, I have been struggling with a problem of my own and all I could see was the problem.  I failed to focus on the promises of God’s Word. How often do we all continue to struggle with something when the answer is right in front of us? (more than I would care to admit, thank you 🙂 )  In the midst of my struggle God showed me the answer I needed. He said, “Run to the word, my child, run to the word!!! Focus on my promises not on the problem!!!”   Peace flooded my soul. Believe it or not, but my problem in all of this was not really the problem. IT WAS MY FOCUS.  God showed me that peace is available in Him when I focus on His promises and not the problems of this life. Who would have thought you can have peace and a problem at the same time.  We all have problems that we face every day. The problems can clutter our mind and drag us low if we let it. By focusing on the promises we can experience the presence of God right beside us, holding our hand and whispering His sweet promises in our ear.

 “And being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”  ~Romans 4:21