Monday, August 14, 2017

Devotional: Where Is Your Faith?

“Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." So they launched out. But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?"”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:22-25‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Have you ever felt like life was just too overwhelming?  Have felt like you just can't take any more?  Are you feeling like your boat is being swamped and about to sink?  That's how the disciples felt.  And yet, here is Jesus in the middle of it all, peacefully sleeping!  How could He?!

I believe Jesus was testing their faith.  He may have been resting and even asleep in the boat, but being God in the flesh, I believe He was well aware of what was going on.  The point is, He was in the boat with them during all this mayhem.  They really had no need to freak out if their faith was strong in Him.

And so it is with us.  We may not see or feel that God is actively involved in the mayhem that has come upon us.  We may even wonder if God is asleep somewhere!  But remember He is in the boat with us and He is aware of everything that is going on. He has the power to stop the storm if He so chooses, or He may choose the let the storm rage and calm us in the midst of it so that we will cling to Him more.

So the question to ask when we freak out and panic is this:  Where is your faith?  It can be taken as a rebuke or it can simply be a question of inventory...where is your faith?  Are you putting your faith more in your own ability to slog through the problems or are you putting your faith in God for wisdom and strength?  Are you remembering to get alone to pray as Jesus did when things got crazy?

Wow.  This really speaks to me.  These are things I often forget and I need to remember!

Monday, August 07, 2017

Devotional: Scripture is Practical

Luke 9:10-16 And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.  But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing. When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.”

 But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.”

And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men.

Then He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty.”And they did so, and made them all sit down.

Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude.  So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.

I was reading this story of the feeding of the five thousand and it struck me that it was extremely practical.  There are lessons to be learned here in how to get things done.  Here is what I gleaned from this story.

The disciples wanted Jesus to send the crowd away.  It was too large and there was no way they were going to feed that mob.  I often feel that way about my daily tasks on my list.  There are too many things to do and I feel defeated before I start. But Jesus told them to feed the crowd!  

The only resources they had were five loaves and two fishes.  It was an impossible task they thought.  So often my limited physical resources are not enough to meet the demands of the day, or so I think.

Here is where Jesus gets extremely practical.  He told the disciples to make the people sit down in groups of fifty.  When you have a big task in front of you, don't look at the whole mountain.  That is too overwhelming.  Divide the task up into smaller chunks.  

Then Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish, blessed them and gave them to the disciples to serve to the multitude and twelve baskets were left over!  Give your meager energy resources over to Jesus and then set about attacking your task just one little chunk at a time.  Before you know it, you have whittled that big task down and you are almost done with it.  You will be amazed at how tackling things in this manner will conserve your energy and keep you from getting overwhelmed. Jesus knows what you can handle and with His strength and method, you can do a lot!  Be encouraged!

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Lessons from Today's Sermon

The message at church today was from Luke 6:30-37.  I'll let you grab your Bible and read it for yourself.  Here are the things that stood out to me this morning.  I hope I can remember them and apply them to my life.

God's mercies total in the millions~why do I  to sit on my pity pot?  Keep a daily record of God's mercies and review it often, giving thanks each day for them.  Remember how God has been merciful to me and then next time I get ticked off at someone who I think has wronged me, show that person mercy just as God has showed me mercy.  This is the mark of a Christian...a Christ-follower.

When we judge others with contempt, this is not righteous judgment. This is judging another in order to pull yourself  up by your own bootstraps as better than they are. When we make rules for others and hold them to our own set of rules of righteousness, this is judging wrongly and it's legalism. We must examine ourselves before we point out the wrong in others.  The one who mourns his own sins has no room to judge others. That last statement really hits home.  It's convicting.

We are called to judge, to "discernment".  There is a big difference between judging someone with contempt and discerning between good and evil for the sake of protecting oneself or loved ones from harm or theological error.

I think about Facebook. It's so easy to sit on my high horse and judge others.  I see it happening all the time on news posts where the comments can get very nasty.  I often find myself judging these people who make nasty judgmental comments.  Perhaps I am doing the same thing they are doing.  I am judging them with contempt for what they have said about the original post.  I think in my heart how much better I am than they are because, after all, I am not making offensive comments about the person in the original post.  Oh my word!  This is bad!  I hope I can remember this sermon the next time I read stuff on Facebook or other social media that makes me want to puff myself up and become judge and jury.

Friday, August 04, 2017

AirTamer~ I Recommend this Product for Fire Season~ It Helps Me!

Well, it is Fire Season in our corner of the world now.  It is the fifth season of the year for us.  We are surrounded in fires once again and smoke is pouring into the valley from Canada and other places making our air quality pretty nasty.

I have an AirTamer Negative Ion Generator that I use during this season of the year.  It works pretty well for me.  Here are some of the key features of this product:

  • Maintain Cleaner Personal Air, Negative ions push pollutants away from your breathing zone; State-of-the-art Electrostatic Purification creates a 3-foot sphere of Cleaner, Healthier Air around your head
  • Millions of negative ions are emitted every second; When the Green Light is blinking, the air is being scrubbed; Patented electronics convert electricity into negative ions
  • Replacing Batteries is a thing of the past, the unit operates for 150+ hours on a single charge; Silent operation, No noisy fans or motors, No filters to change
  • Proprietary conductive lanyard maximizes ion generation, is adjustable and features a break-away connector for extra safety; USB charging cable and metal carrying/ travel case are included
I also have found this device to be helpful when traveling through areas that bother my throat.  We have a stretch of area where I always end up with a lot of phlegm in my throat and can hardly talk.  When I wear my AirTamer I do not have that problem.  

If you have issues with air quality, I would highly recommend this product.  

Monday, July 31, 2017

Devotional: Trusting God with My Daughter

Luke 8:52-53 (KJV)

 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.
 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.

My daughter is headed out on the first leg of a journey that she believes God is leading her on.  It's hard to stand by and watch her embark on something that seems impossible to me, well really just scary if you get right down to it. 

Jesus said to the people in the passage above that the girl was only asleep and not dead, but the people thought they knew better and laughed Him to scorn.

God is leading my daughter to do hard things and it's hard for me to not laugh at God in scorn because I think it's impossible, scary and unsafe. How many parents have felt the same way when their child tells them they want to go to a foreign country as a missionary?!  Now there is some perspective.

Jesus raised the girl to health again and she ate.  Her parents were astonished.

If God is going to ask what I think is impossible, scary and unsafe of my daughter, who am I to stand in the way?  He will make a way for whatever purposes He has for her life.  I have done my job as a parent.  I have spoken with her about the scary, unsafe details so she is aware of what she needs to be cautious about.  Now I need to let her spread her wings and fly. God knows the purposes He wants to accomplish in her life and I need to pray, trust God and perhaps I will be astonished at what God does in her life!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Devotional: Doubts

“Then the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” When the men had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ ” And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭7:18-23‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I don't know why I never noticed this before.  John the Baptist was the one who announced Jesus' arrival on the scene with,  "Behold the Lamb of God!" (John 1:29)  John the Baptist was the one who baptized Jesus.  Of all people, I thought he would have known who Jesus was and yet, here he is asking, "Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?"

We are all frail human beings.  We are all prone to doubt.  John the Baptist was no different.  This should be an encouragement to us.  Not a justification for doubting, but an encouragement that when we do doubt God, we are not some horrible failure spiritually.  John the Baptist did what we should do when we doubt.  He asked questions of the One Who could answer them.  When we doubt we need to go to God in prayer and ask that He help our unbelief and then go to His Word to find the assurance we need.  

We know that John the Baptist must have gotten over his doubts because Scripture tells us he was put in prison because of his preaching.  This is an encouragement as well, not that he was put in prison, but that God brought him out of his doubting.

Let your doubts drive you to the One Who can answer your questions and find encouragement to keep trusting Him.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Devotional: Eager to Obey

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

We had a lot of people who did not speak English that came into the Department of Licensing to get driver's licenses and identification cards.  One such man came to me to have his picture taken for his ID card.  When I was finished, I told him to sit down. My intention was for him to sit in a chair in the waiting area.  With the language barrier, he took me literally.  All the sudden I was straining over the counter to see him sitting on the floor!  Using hand motions, I was able to get it across to him that he needed to sit in a chair in the waiting area instead of on the floor.  He was clearly eager to obey orders.

Paul is encouraging his readers to obey God not only when he was with them, but to continue obeying God even when he was away from them.  He wants his readers to be eager to obey God at all times.

When you read your Bible today, find something that God wants you to do and be eager to obey Him.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Devotional: Facing the Right Direction

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

As a clerical employee for the Department of Licensing, it fell to me to take the photos for the driver's licenses and I.D. cards.  Most of you are probably familiar with the set up.  The blue screen, the line with the shoe print outlines on the floor and the camera.  You are supposed to stand with toes in the shoe prints on the line, facing the camera.  

The licensing examiner instructed the man to go stand on the line so I could take his picture.  I was surprised when I looked up to see the back of the gentleman.  Yes, he was standing on the line alright, but he had his back to the camera.  

"Um, sir, I need you to turn around and face the camera.  I don't think you want the back of your head  on your license", I said with a smile.

How often are we facing the wrong way in our lives?  Paul says we are to forget those things that are in the past and reach forward to what lies ahead.  We can't reach forward if we are facing backward, looking at all our failures and the things we wish we had done or not done.  This verse is powerful for helping us to stay focused and not get discouraged.  

Let's face the right direction and reach for what God has for us in the future!


Monday, July 03, 2017

Devotional: Lessons from the Pilot Car

“My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭63:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I had checked Google traffic maps before leaving home.  It indicated slow traffic between the vineyards and Burbank.  Sure enough, we got to that point and a flagger stopped us.  We waited about ten minutes and pretty soon a pilot car appeared leading a string of traffic toward us.  It wasn't long and they all passed by and the pilot car took its place in front of our car.  The sign read, "Pilot Car Follow Me".  I carefully followed behind the pilot car as he led us through the construction zone.

What if I didn't trust the pilot car to lead me safely through the construction zone? What if I had decided I didn't want to follow the pilot car?  What if I decided I wanted to forge my own path through the construction zone? What if I decided I wanted to be the leader?   I doubt it would have worked out well.  

The Psalmist says his soul follows close behind God and God's right hand upholds him.  It is so easy to want to run ahead of God instead of sticking close behind Him.  I think where I do this the most is in relation to my children.  Instead of following close behind God as He leads them in their lives, I find myself running out ahead and it always leads to me playing out every disastrous scenario there is that could go wrong as they strike out on their own in the world.  Of course this leads to sleepless nights of tossing and turning. 

I need to stay behind God and follow Him.  There are several good reasons to follow close behind, rather than run ahead or forge my own path.  

1. God knows the way.  I don't.
2. God is able to clear the path ahead. I can't.
3. If I am behind Him, I only see Him and where I should put my feet at this moment, therefore, there is no need to worry about what I can not see.  I only need to focus on Him.

This is my lesson from the Pilot Car.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Devotional: Be Tenderhearted and Courteous

"And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me."
‭‭II Corinthians‬ ‭12:7-8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Paul had a physical affliction that he couldn't find relief for. He pleaded with the Lord to heal him, but He said,  “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  The answer was, "No."

Those who have chronic conditions can identify with Paul. They plead with God for healing, but for some reason, He says, "No." They try many therapies and medications to find relief.

I never cease to be amazed at how often well-meaning Christians offer their opinions to those who are suffering physically or mentally when they really do not have a clue to what that person has done or tried to alleviate their suffering.  They also do not understand the extent to which they suffer.

The most insensitive advice comes from those who, while they are "well-meaning", tell the suffering person that if they have enough faith God will heal them. Yesterday I read a post on Facebook that said the following to a person who has a chronic illness:

"Why all the "need" for narcotics? It truly does not sound like it's working. I'm not going to sugar coat this for you. What are the benefits in the long run vs changing other areas in your life. YES - I'M being BOLD. God gave us health and means for health LONG BEFORE BIG PHARMA came in the scene.
"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." Proverbs 27:6"

These kinds of comments and opinions are hurtful and discouraging to those who are doing the best they can with a difficult situation.

These well-meaning, yet misinformed Christians need to take a look at the Apostle Paul.  

1.  He had more faith in God than any of us. He was jailed for his faith, yet God did not heal him even though he begged three times for God to do just that

2.  Paul had access to the "means for health" that the above person referenced. Although Scripture doesn't specifically tell us what he did to find relief, I'm sure he availed himself of what he could, and yet it did not heal him.

God has His purposes for why He chooses to heal some and not others and He doesn't always inform us as to "why?".  Our purpose as Christian brothers and sisters is to encourage, comfort, love and pray for those who are suffering. Nothing more and nothing less. Judgment and opinions are not helpful.

"Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;"

Monday, June 19, 2017

My Rambling Thoughts

Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus did not come to save everyone?  I know there are those who get upset when they see something like that.  "What?  Jesus came to save everyone!  God loves everyone and He wouldn't leave anyone out!"

Take a look at this verse:

And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Luke 5:31-32 

Jesus Himself said that he did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.  He directed that statement to the Pharisees and Scribes, but it still stands for today.  Jesus did not die to save the righteous.  He died to save sinners.  He came to save those who have no righteousness of their own.  He came to save those who were helpless to save themselves.

Those who think they are righteous because they do good works or light candles, or get deemed worthy by the bishop to enter the temple or follow a list of rules and commandments or many other things people do to be righteous are not the ones whom Jesus came to save.  They think they are already righteous by their deeds.  Jesus didn't come for them.

Jesus came for those who are poor in spirit, who know they can't be righteous on their own merit before God.  Jesus came for those who are helpless and hopeless before God.  One who finds their righteousness through other means besides Jesus Christ are not the ones He came to save.  However, He can change their hearts if He so chooses and make them come to realize that He is the only Way, the Truth and the Life.  At that point, they become poor in spirit and then He saves them.

Devotional: Failed Again

And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Luke 5:31-32 

How often do we beat ourselves over the head because we have failed once again?  We flew off the handle and said some words we regret.  We got upset and stewed because of unforeseen circumstances that have come our way.  We fret because we don't know how we will afford to live if x,y or z happens. The list of our failings goes on and on.  We begin to feel helpless, even hopeless.

Did you ever stop to think, that Jesus came to save those who are hopelessly lost in their sin?  He never came to save those who see themselves as righteous.  He came to save those who know they are hopeless to ever be righteous on their own.

When you feel helpless and hopeless to ever be able to do right, this is right where Jesus needs us to be.  He came to save the sick, the sinner that can't help him or herself.  Heaven is going to be filled with sinners saved by grace, those who were not able to be righteous on their own merit.  

When you fail once again, let it be a reminder to you that Jesus came to save those who are not able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps to be righteous.  He came to save you even while you were yet a sinner (Romans 5:8).  Let your failings remind you of Christ's great love for you.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

June 14, 2017

This has been a busy day for me.  It seems more like a Saturday then a Thursday since my husband did not go to work today due to health issues.

I have nailed lose boards on the fence, rescued my fountain pump when the hose fell out of the upper barrel and emptied all the water out on the ground, cut back my roses so they are not scratching the neighbor's car when they drive up their driveway and I have worked long and hard on getting my devotional book set up as an ePub file to be distributed to Nook, iBooks and through Lulu. I also set up next week's menus, added items that have rebates to my list and done my daily devotions.

I miss my Daisy-Pug, but it is getting easier to deal, with as time moves on, than it was over the weekend and early in the week. She was so ready to go and I just have to keep reminding myself of that.  We have many happy memories with her and many photos too.  She was a wonderful animal shelter rescue with a great personality.

Well now it is raining.  I had not expected that today.  I got to put my sprinkler system on a four day delay.  I'm not going to complain about saving money on water!

I'm settling in for a quiet evening and hoping to be early to bed tonight.  That would be wonderful.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Devotional: Life Lessons

1 Peter 2:24King James Version (KJV)

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

I had the unfortunate task of taking our 20-year-old Pug, Daisy, in to be put to sleep.  She had many health problems and was most certainly suffering.  It was more painful for me to do this than it was for her.  She was sleeping soundly in my lap when the vet came in.  She never stirred except for when the needle was inserted.  Then she startled, lifted her head and went back to sleep and it was all done.
The pain of losing a beloved pet is difficult to describe.  A person on Facebook said that we suffer the pain of loss so that our pet does not have to continue suffering.  In essence, we now suffer in their place.
This illustration limps, as all illustrations do, but I was thinking about that this morning in relation to what Christ has done for us.  He suffered in our place for us so that we will not have to suffer eternally.  We are healed spiritually by His stripes, and we will be healed physically/emotionally by His stripes when He takes us home to be with him.
Yes, my illustration limps badly, but it was the idea of substitution that I wanted to get across.  We suffer loss so that our ill and suffering pet does not have to suffer.  That's as far as the illustration goes, but praise God for His substitutionary death on the cross to save us from the penalty of our sin.


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Devotional: Time Out

"The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him. But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, "Get up and come forward!" And he got up and came forward. And Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?" After looking around at them all, He said to him, "Stretch out your hand!" And he did so; and his hand was restored. But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus. It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God."
‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:7-12‬ ‭NASB‬‬
I bet you thought I was going to focus on the legalism of the Pharisees!  Yes, it was something to behold.

I realized that I usually read Scripture from section break to section break. Do you do this too?  When I do this, I might miss something and in this case, I had always missed the connection between when the Pharisees became filled with rage toward Jesus and what Jesus did in response to their rage.

The text says, "It was at this time that He went off to the mountains to pray.."

Yikes!  I don't know about you, but when I am in a conflict or when the chips are falling and my life is getting rough, my first response isn't to remove myself from the situation and spend time in prayer.  I'm usually in defense mode trying to figure out how to remedy the situation as fast as I can or trying to figure out how to survive.  Jesus' first line of defense was to remove Himself from the situation and pray.

Now I realize it's not always possible to remove ourselves from a situation, but it is always possible to turn our hearts to prayer.  We can step back, slow down, be slow to speak and take a moment to pray within our heart to God for guidance and ask Him to guard our heart and tongue so we don't make the situation worse when we are in a conflict with someone.

If our circumstances (not conflict) are just getting too hairy for us, for example, money problems, too many things needing our attention, or in general, just feeling overwhelmed, we can usually find at least a 15 minute block of time where we can go find some solitude from the onslaught and spend some time in prayer before God.

This will do several things for us.
1.  It will give us time to re-center our thinking toward God.
2.  It will allow us time to take some deep breaths and relax a little.
3.  It will allow us to think before we act, so we can say or do whatever we need to with wisdom
      instead of in the heat of the moment.

Let's follow Jesus' example of how to handle tough situations...handle them with time out and prayer.

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