Lessons

The other day I heard a story about a little girl who returned from her first day at school. Her mom asked, “Did you learn anything?” “I guess not,” the girl responded.  “I have to go back tomorrow and the next day and the next day…” I laughed as I thought, ‘Well little one, that’s life and that’s learning.’ That is how it is for me with my life lessons and teaching.

Sometimes I think God asks me if I’ve learned anything? I think I am in remedial (special ed) Christianity. I have accepted that I am a slow learner and need lots of patience from my Teacher and am very lucky He is very patient and kind and bears all things and believes all things good about me and never fails me. (1 Corinthians 13)

Throughout the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the Teacher. He spent much of His time teaching His disciples and the crowds. The lessons I have to learn, I feel like I have been learning all my life – how to not be anxious about the days’ activity, how to not say the wrong words at the wrong time, how to have patience when that’s the last thing in the world I want, how to give when I want to keep, how to not complain when circumstance is a little uncomfortable, and how to be more like Jesus in everything I do.

Learning can be easy at times and some lessons are quickly grasped, but some seem to take a lifetime and longer to embrace as character traits that are so much a part of me I do not remember how I used to handle situations.

And we are to teach others what Jesus taught – “Yet [in spite of the threats] they never ceased for a single day, both in the temple area and at home, to teach and to proclaim the good news (Gospel) of Jesus [as] the Christ (the Messiah).” (Acts 5.26) as well as teaching may be a special God given spiritual gift – “[He whose gift is] practical service, let him give himself to serving; he who teaches, to his teaching..” (Romans 12.7)

And for all believers, God’s Word is an important teaching tool for “every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action)” (2 Timothy 3.16) because “the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4.12)

I look to God for my daily lessons and pray for all my lessons to be encouraging and understood as good for me. My prayer is the same for everyone else.

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Why’d He Do It?

Sometimes, when I have been doing something for a very long time, I get a little stagnant. I hate to admit it’s easy for me to just fly through something (like my time with God) without really noticing precious detail and I take things for granted.

There are times, sometimes more than others, it hits me deeply to think about what Jesus did for me. I experience so much strife at times trying to get things done, fighting with family, stressed about a conflict at work, wondering what will happen next in life, will everything work out, will the dog’s surgery go well, will I make it thru the week? It’s easy for my mind to just sit on that hamster wheel and go round and round. God has such a sweet and gentle way of getting me off that hamster wheel and taking time for cherished moments with Him.

During my devotions recently, I read Ephesians 2. At the beginning of the chapter, I found (for probably the 200th time or more) a list of all the things God has done for me – “and you [He made alive], when you were dead …. God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us.. He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).  And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us  (joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).” 

That’s not all He did. He restored me, healed me, makes me His child, gives me the victory, leads me into triumph, makes me more than a conqueror, forgives me everything, provides for me, protects me, directs my every step, and everything more.

Why would He do all these things for me? The astounding and humbling answer comes in verse 7 of Ephesians 2 – “He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in His kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.”

He did all these things so that He might show me His grace and His kindness to me. His desire is to shower me with love and grace. How undeserving I am to belong to a God Who is so selflessly gracious to me, but I am truly grateful. It is amazing that the God of the Universe – Who commands waves and watches sparrows and has so much to consider each day, thinks of us and wants to be personal with us.

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The Three O’s

Recently, while sharing some of my chaotic life with a friend, we decided I may be taking up all of God’s time. We laughed.

The truth is I am pretty needy. On  my list today is – I need God to help me get my day started, keep me safe in traffic, give me favor with my employers and customers and help me to do the best I can for the ones I work for and with, make me an example of Christ as much as I am able, open doors to share my faith with others around me, be on the look out for needs of others I can help with, help me pray for those in need and who need Christ, answer my prayers for my aging mother and father and their health issues and allow me to help them in this season of their lives, keep the siblings and friends I cherish in His hands and care that struggle with addition, heart issues, and other medical and personal concerns, help me walk with my friend through her battle with cancer and end of this life issues, help me find just the right shoes to match my pretty new dress, answer my prayers for employment opportunities for friends and family seeking employment, finding time to talk to lonely friends, helping my new endeavors with publishing my books and my authors’ books and knowing which contests to enter and how to be noticed in a noisy world, receiving more creative authors to partner with in publishing their books, finding creative individuals to enhance my authors’ work, creating new art work for my card and craft businesses, open doors for marketing my art projects and crafts, providing rest and relaxation and fun in my crazy life, help me with my diet and exercise goals to keep a healthy life, provide the workers to help fix my broken window and fencing, replacing my missing gutters, continue to keep my truck with over 280,000 rolling down the road, give me a hope and a future, guide my every step and more – much, much, much more everyday.

Whew! I think I keep God very busy. In fact, my friend and I figured we couldn’t see how God has time for anyone else because He is sooooo busy with me and my needs. Funny as we think this is, it is untrue. The Good News is that the Omnipotent (all powerful), Omnipresent (all present), and Omniscient (all knowing) Living God has time for everyone – no matter if they have a list of needs just like mine, a few less, or even more than I have!

God said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End …Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty (the Ruler of all). (Revelation 1.8) He is the God of our past, our present and our future!

And NOTHING is too trivial for God as Job 36.5 tells us – “Behold! God is mighty, and yet despises no one nor regards anything as trivial; He is mighty in power of understanding and heart.”

Matthew 10.30 reminds us “… the very hairs of your head are all numbered” and Matthew 6.32 assures us, “for your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of all these things.”

It is a fact, God has time for everyone. He sees us and is concerned about every little detail of us and our lives.

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Hope

Have you ever had someone say, “I hope so”? and they didn’t mean to, but they said it as if it was last thing in the world they thought would ever happen, but ‘they are hoping.’

The Bible tells us there is ‘faith, hope, and love…’ (1 Corinthians 13). There is it – HOPE – along with the other giants of the Bible – LOVE and FAITH. Seems to me that ‘hope’ gets short changed – hope seems almost flimsy compared to love and faith.

I think hope is one of the most essential things about being human. As a matter of fact, I think only humans are capable of hoping. I think hope is closely bound to faith.

I have been in medicine for over 40 years. I have learned that the one thing I must never do is take away someone’s hope. Without hope we stop believing something or someone can change, we stop trying to be better or be well, we stop stop striving to succeed, and, in reality, we give up. What a horrible thing it is to be without hope.

With hope, we see the world as something good and our circumstance as something temporary (hopefully – no pun intended). We see possibilities that are not realized at this particular moment, but that can be. Hope keeps us going and going and going. Hope helps our spirits to be cheerful. I think many find ‘hope’ something they need to hide because we do not find ‘hope’ as approving as ‘faith.’ We all know faith is believing even when all hope is lost or all signs of answer is gone, but hope helps us to continue to travel along in life even when we feel we do not have the faith we wish we did. It’s almost like a secret weapon to keep encouraging ourselves. Hope actually improves every area of our lives and helps us to try even when things are difficult.

And our hope is not unfounded, but based on the very Word of God. Romans 15.13 reminds us ‘Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.’

The God of all hope. The God that knows we need hope. The Giver of all good gifts gives us hope. Zechariah 9.12 calls us ‘prisoners of hope.’ That ye – meaning ‘you’ if ye didn’t get that – may abound in hope. I like that. We have hope. We have God. We can continue on in this life knowing God has given us hope in the midst of any circumstance in our lives, homes, country, or in this unpredictable world.

I pray for you to have love and faith today, but I also pray for you to have hope.

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Fog

I love stories about great men of faith – one of my favorite men of faith is George Mueller. “I believe God…” was the title of the devotion sharing a conversation between another passenger and the captain of a ship that went on to say:

“I went to America some years ago with the captain of a steamer, who was a very devoted Christian. When off the coast of Newfoundland he said to me, ‘The last time I crossed here, five weeks ago, something happened which revolutionized the whole of my life. We had George Mueller of Bristol on board. I had been on the bridge twenty-four hours and never left it. George Mueller came to me and said, ‘Captain, I have come to tell you that I must be in Quebec Saturday afternoon.’ ‘It is impossible,’ I said. ‘Very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way. I have never broken an engagement for fifty-seven years. Let us go down into the chart-room and pray.’

I looked at that man, and thought to myself, what lunatic asylum can that man have come from? I never heard of such a thing as this. ‘Mr. Mueller,’ I said, ‘do you know how dense the fog is?’ ‘No,’ he replied, “my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the Living God, Who controls every circumstance in my life.’

He knelt down and prayed one of the most simple prayers, and when he had finished, I was going to pray; but he put his hand on my shoulder, and told me not to pray. ‘First, you do not believe He will answer; and second, I BELIEVE HE HAS, and there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.’

I looked at him and he said, ‘Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years, and there has never been a single day that I have failed to get an audience with the King. Get up, Captain, and open the door, and you will find the fog gone.’ I got up, and the fog was indeed gone. On Saturday afternoon, George Mueller was in Quebec for his engagement.”

This story amazes me every time I read it in my devotional. I covet the simple faith some have and George Mueller is an inspiration to me as I hope he is to everyone.

I believe if our trust and faith were but more simple, we should just take Him at His word; and our lives would be all sunshine In the sweetness with our Lord. Don’t let any ‘fog’ stand in your way today from receiving from God. Pray. There is never a time when we fail to get an audience with the King!

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It’s Personal

Trying to be a good Christian, I once  wanted to share my faith with a girl who said she just didn’t ‘buy into’ Christianity. I went on and on about how God drew my heart to Him, the times God answered prayer, all the miracles in my life, and I also  mentioned how God talks to me.

It is impossible for me to talk about God in my life without mentioning this little fact too.

Well, this set off a chain of events that I ended up finding a little funny, but not really funny. The events have stifled me just a little. Apparently, this young lady told a man who was both our superior about God ‘talking to me,’ who then wrote an email to our medical director (boss), who then got together with the other ‘boss’ who then they both asked me to lunch. When we were having lunch, the two lady bosses very sincerely and politely asked if I was ‘ok’ and if they could do anything for me.

Needless to say, I was a little confused. As we continued to talk, they asked if I was mentally stable – in so many words – and if I needed any mental help. As I tried to decipher what they were trying to get at, I asked if they were asking if I was mentally ill? They did not directly answer and I affirmatively stated I was not mentally ill – not that I am aware of anyway. (ha ha) I have a nursing background and know that ‘hearing voices’ is one of the cardinal signs of schizophrenia – a serious mental illness – and is not something one can hide or not be aware of having – or at least others around the affected person are aware.

We ended our time together on a good note, however, it was later that I connected the dots and figured what happened. I think the young girl heard my testimony – that God talks to me – and told the superior man, who felt that was ‘crazy’ talk, and he then proceeded up the chain of authority.

In any event, the Bible tells us – ‘…and they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony…’ I believe our testimony has great and profound effect on others and in the spirit realm. I think it is personal to everyone how God came into their lives and has power because it is truth and it is a testimony of the great grace and power of the living God to change hearts and lives. I believe this is the greatest thing we can do is to simply and honestly share with someone what God has done for us.

I want to continue to share my testimony to everyone who will listen and, yes, I still share how the God all Creation talks to me! I love when He talks to me and it is the most important thing that happens to me in life and I know that I know that I know His voice. Jesus said, ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.’

One friend asked how she could have God talk to her. I was not sure, but I told her to just ask Him and He always answers our prayers. John 10.27. One friend always said, “God’s always talking and He’s always working” and I agree with that.

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Faithful

We have been hearing about Dorian for what seems like weeks now. I pray for the Bahamas who experienced her full force a few days ago. It broke my heart to hear a young mother ask for prayer for her and her baby because her baby is only four months old. I pray they are all well.

We have weathered Dorian very well. She is passed us and moving up the coast to other locations. We pray for all who are still in potential danger. God is faithful. There was a time a few days ago I felt frightened. I was told there was a mandatory evacuation ordered for me in the area I live in. I have never had to leave because of a storm before. The good news is that she went from a category 5 hurricane to a ‘cat 2’ – what we affectionately call our Florida storms.

As I am thankful for being spared in this storm, I praise my God for His faithfulness to me and my elderly father who lives with me and my animals. I know he was frightened too. We are ready to go home if it is the time for God to call us, but we are happy to stay here as well.

God is faithful. But we always need to pray. I believe it altered the course of the storm.

I sing along with the Hymn – “Great is Thy Faithfulness, Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed, His hand has provided, Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me.”

The Bible encourages me to have faith in God because He is truly faithful. There are times that faith is very difficult, but the Bible also tells me that my lack of faith does not stop the faithfulness of God and any chance of my prayers being answered. 2 Timothy 2.13 assures me – “..if we are faithless, He remains faithful [true to His word and His righteous character], for He cannot deny Himself.” I am grateful because sometimes I am weak. 

I also pray the Word, “When my strength fails, do not forsake me”  (Psalms 71.9) It amazes me how complete the Word of God is, He does know everything – everything we face, everything we feel, everything we fear, everything that makes us settled, just plain everything.

We have been very blessed and are going to take a deep breath and hope for the best – we still have 2 more months of hurricane season. God will get us through anything.

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Perfect

Got a call from an old friend…. Sad news. Cancer. We cried. We talked about all the times we spent together – all the talks, all the laughs, all the cries, all the sharing our day, all our hopes and fears, all our everything. Our friendship. The thing we treasure most in life.

She talked about hoping to go to heaven. I said, “Do you want to go to heaven?” She said, “Yes!” I said, “All you have to do is tell Jesus you want to go to heaven! It’s that simple.” We cried. She talked about going even though she does not want to and waiting for me to come in (hopefully) years to come. We cried again. I told her how much I will miss her and how I want to talk every day we can and not cry; but laugh and remember and tell each other how much our friendship has meant to each of us. We do not know how long it will be.

I know I should be dancing. Another child of God gets to go home. Gets to walk the streets of gold. No more tears, no more sadness, no more money trouble, no more watching others we love suffer and be lost, no more bad news headlines, no pain, no more medical reports, just Paradise. Home with Jesus, finally. Strangely enough, I cry.

Another girlfriend and I talked about our other losses and we agree – heaven is PERFECT. Who wouldn’t want to be home? There, everything and everyone is perfect. Sometimes I wish it was my time to go home so even I, too, can be perfect. Imagine that, I thought I already was and am perfect. Turns out, I need to be home before I am perfect. When I get home I will always say the right thing, think the right thing, be polite, have patience, love the way I wish I could always do now, never be afraid again, understand all the things that do not make sense to me here, see the ones I lost and miss, and cast my crown at the feet of my Savior, Jesus. I will be home and perfect.

The sun is setting for some today. I say, ‘wait for me Grandpa and Grandma and Aunts and Uncles and Brothers and Mom and Dad and many others I have loved that are home now – I will be there soon. Too soon.’

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Not Trifle

I have a very good friend who has a Bible marked just like the one in this blog today. I remember when I first saw it, I wondered how she managed to circle and underline every single verse with a different color and still manage to find a verse she wanted to find. Some should ‘highlight’ their ‘highlights!’ (chuckle)

The person who owns this Bible not only circled and underlined and highlighted verses, they added notes in the margins – to emphasize the amazing Words of the Living God. I am impressed.

This little picture and my friend’s Bible show me how special the Word of God is to some people. Every time they find a verse it thrills their heart and they are compelled to make it stand out. I have highlighted many areas in my Bible as well – perhaps not as much as some others – but I do hold so many scriptures close to my heart. I read one Bible so much it was in about 17 sections and I still have all the parts and pieces, but was teased about the condition of that Bible for many years as I brought it with me wherever I went.

This year I decided to read through the entire Bible in one year. Yeah! But not always. I find myself rushing through some chapters because it has become ‘just another thing on my already overbooked list’ of things to do. I have apologized to God for taking my Bible reading time so lightly and each time I open my Bible, I pray for Him to show me something new and wonderful in His Word  – something to underline and highlight.

I love the Words in Deuteronomy 32.46-47 that tell me to “set your [minds and] hearts on all the words which I command you this day, that you may command them to your children, that they may be watchful to do all the words of this law. For it is not an empty and worthless trifle for you; it is your [very] life…” God’s Word is not trifle, it is my very life. I truly believe this.

I know we all know the familiar Word – “God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” – Psalm 119.105. God’s Word has the answers to everything we need today and every day.

John 1.1,14 tell me “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” There are three that bear record in heaven – the Father, the Word (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit; and these are One.” (1 John 5.7)

Matthew 24.35 also reminds me that Jesus said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will never pass away.”
The Word of God is not trifle, it is our very life! Jesus is the Word. I love the Word.
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The Ax Floated

I have read the different stories about Elijah and Elisha for years. Great stories! Great men of God. Some of my favorites include Elijah blessing a widow woman and her son so they never ran out of food even when she thought she was making her last meal. (1 Kings 17.16) 
Another favorite is when the Word of God came to Elijah for the same widow woman to have a son, that son died, and Elijah prayed for him to live again! (1 Kings 17) He prays for rain (1 Kings 18), was protected by God (2 Kings 1), parted waters with his mantle being placed on the ground (2 Kings 2.8), and conferred his anointing to Elisha who asked for a double portion of Elijah’s anointing! (2 Kings 2.9-15)! 

 

Elisha continued to walk in the same great anointing as Elijah – especially when he cast salt in spring water to heal that water that was causing death, miscarriage, and barrenness in all the animals (2 Kings 2.19-22). Other miracles he prayed for include how he responded to the widow woman whose sons were threatened to be taken and she had no money. Elisha instructed her to obtain containers to put oil in and they were filled and filled until she had enough money to pay her debt, save her sons, and all live on. Abundance! (2 Kings 4.2-7)

Elisha also prayed for a woman to have a child when she was barren, that died, and he prayer for the boy to live again (2 Kings 4.36. He fed others in famine (2 Kings 4.38), and he gave the Word of God to Naahman to be cleansed from leprosy (2 Kings 5.10) Another of my very favorite passages talks of how Elisha was so close to God and aware of His presence and protection that he prayed for his servant’s eyes to be open to see the whole Host of Heaven gathered to fight for the man of God against an army of attackers. (2 Kings 6.15-17)

One of my new favorites is when a man who was cutting trees lost his ax-head in the nearby water. ‘The man of God said, Where did it fall? When shown the place, Elisha cut off a stick and threw it in there, and the iron floated.’ (2 Kings 6.6 )

The iron floated. This is impossible. It defies all the laws of physics, but the man of God never saw anything too hard for his God. No doubt, no hesitation. I want to see my God the same way Elisha saw his God – our same God. He was not stumped by a heavy metal ax that would NEVER float without the God he served making it float. The ax-head was hopelessly lost and contrary to all expectation, it floated because the things that are impossible with man are possible with God. (Mark 10.27)

God can fix anything – finances, addiction, depression, family turmoil, broken relationships and marriages, hard hearts opposing God – and you name it, He can do it.

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