December 31st, 2011
Prevailing in 2012
Genesis 32:28 ~ And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
At the closing of 2011 one can hardly resist reflecting back on the events of the year and try to weigh and balance the success and losses. It always makes my stomach turn. For Satan is quick to remind me of the losses. As Jacob closed in on Bethel, his concern for his brotherís reaction to his return home was warranted, after all, when they had parted twenty some years prior Jacob had for the second time stolen Esauís blessing, and time doesnít always heal all wounds. Jacob had spent much time seeking to know Godís will and God had clearly told him to return home. But along the way Jacob was alone, having sent his wives and children to safety, and there in that place Jacob seen God ďface to face.Ē God had taken upon Himself a human form, a theophany, and wrestled with Jacob. Why God chose to get in a wrestling match with Jacob, I donít know. It wasnít like He couldnít have just spoken and pinned him to the ground to get his attention. But instead God chose a friendly wrestling match, it must be a guy thing. God must have been pretty impressed with zeal that Jacob showed during this time because at the end of the match, Jacob had a new name, Israel. That name means ďprevailing with God.Ē He also had a limp.
Jacob, in the face of a possible confrontation with his brother, wanted to know that Godís blessing was on him, and he was willing to fight for it. He wrestled with and prevailed with God in seeking His help and blessing.
SoÖI asked myself today, are you ready to wrestle? How much do you want blessed as 2012 approaches? You remember what you left behind in 2011, it wasnít always good. Am I willing to face what I left behind head on and learn from it, or am I going to take another path, and ignore it? History tells us that those who donít learn are doomed to repeat itÖ I have a lot of history.
When Jacob finally met up with his brother Esau in Genesis 33:4 it says that ďEsau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.Ē
In 2012 I want to embrace God. I want God to be pleased with me and that my efforts bring glory and honor to His name. Iíve wrestled with some things in 2011 that I donít want to repeat. For 2012 I want to prevail with God! I want this to be my year.
I pray Christís blessings on you!
December 30th, 2011
God's got a plan...
Genesis 28:15~ And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
Godís got a planÖ
Even with Jacobís deception of his brother and father, all of his conniving with his mother, Godís plans didnít change. Abrahamís grandson was the 3rd generation out from the promise of a great nation for which God promised Abraham he would be the father of. The nation was just beginning to be built and the builders were already tricksters, liars and folks like Esau who traded his birthright for a bowl of soup for cyriní out loud! Why does God put up with us? Because He has plan, and try as we may weíre not going to mess it up.
From the fall of man, Godís plan for redemption was the birth of His Son Jesus Christ. He waited a long time; His time frame is not ours. He knows when the right people are going to be in the right places. He knew the virgin girl Mary before she was born, He knew the heart that would be inside of her that made her just the right vessel to carry His Son. He knew the disciples before they were born and knew their passion and zeal that would drive them to share the gospel and give their lives for His service. And itís humbling to know that He knew Shari too. He knew Iíd mess things up in my life, and fall short of His glory, and yet He still allowed me to be part of the plan.
I donít for two seconds think that it was Godís plan for Jacob to lie and Esau to have total disregard for his birthright. God doesnít plan sin. But Godís plan works in spite of it! Before we cast stones at Jacob and Esau, we need to remember that every one of us is born with a sin nature that puts us in the same league, but weíre a part of the plan. We have to continue on in service to the King, even though we have times of failure. We canít allow missteps to take us off the path.
I have friends who have fallen out of church and theyíve been gone a long time. God knew it would happen. And even though theyíre not serving God, Godís plan continues without them. Jesus is coming back! The question is, when He comes back, will everyone be there to meet Him that could have been, if theyíd have stayed on the path? Maybe, or maybe notÖGodís desire is that every soul be saved, but He leaves it to an individual choice, He does the same with our service. I believe that each one of us have been set on a course with people in our paths that weíll answer for. Stay the course!
December 29th, 2011
The Conscience of a King
I Samuel 24:5 ~ And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt.
The Conscience of a King
For no other reasons than vanity and jealousy King Saul had pursued David. Davidís leadership far surpassed Saulís. The respect that was shown toward David came from his dedication and compassion for the people and things of God. They loved David, and he loved them. Saul loved self. Saul had taken 3000 men with him to capture David and his four hundred. Four hundred men that scriptures describe in chapter 22:2 as ďevery one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.Ē They came to David because in their disparity of life, they knew he would lead them to victory.
David was Godís chosen leader, he knew it, his men knew it, and Saul knew in his heart that David would be King. When David was near enough to have killed Saul and had his trouble be over, his conscience would not allow it. Even though Saul carried the title that David knew belonged to himself, David respected the fact that at one point Saul had been chosen by God, and when God was done with him, Heíd restore David to his rightful position but until then, David would leave Saul to his own devices.
Godís leaders need the conscience of the King. There is no room for vanity, pride and jealousy in the leadership of the church when our example comes from the King of Kings and the King of all humility, Jesus Christ Himself. Christ put aside Who He was, so that we could become heirs to the Kingdom. He knew His day would come, but that didnít make it any easier the day Satan danced his short lived victory dance on Calvary.
Many of my favorite stories in the Bible are the stories of King David. He is my hero in the faith for many reasons, but mostly because of his human side. He made mistakes, but when all was said and done, David was found in the favor of God. He led and lived compassion for people; he took care of his family, friends and the company of men that God had entrusted him with. That is the leadership that I desire to be around and the leader I desire to be. I want to be encouraged and to be an encourager of others. In a world full of hurting people, now more than ever, leadership needs to have the conscience of Christ and a heart of compassion.
December 28th, 2011
I'm Stuck Between Bethel and Hai
Genesis 12:8-10 ~ And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south. And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
Between Bethel and Hai
God had instructed Abraham to leave his country and his family and He would make him a great nation, He would bless those who blessed him and curse those who cursed him. So Abraham left all that he knew and began his journey with his wife and nephew, leaving with a promise of provision and protection by Almighty God. Not long into the journey Abram stopped, built an altar and pitched his tent between Bethel which means the house of God, the place of Godís presence, and Hai which means a heap of ruins. Rather than staying in the place that God dwelled, he went just a little piece a past it, not quite to the place of ruin, but not where God was.
Abraham, the friend of God, blessed beyond measure, went a little too far south. WowÖ can identify. Although Iím sure I went way further south than Abraham
Why is it that we canít stay-put in the place where God is? Why must we always get out of His presence, just a little south, not all the way to ruin, but not where weíre blessed. It is no secret to those who know me that I want to be full time ministry, but the problem with that is, Iíve traveled too far south. The debts too high and the funds too low to dwell in Bethel, or perhaps my faith is too weak, but none the less Iím stuck between Bethel and Hai, in a tent. Okay, not a tent, but sometimes it feels every bit as uncomfortable, because I know I should be in Bethel. I keep waiting for my ship to come in, but I live on a ridge miles from the water, so the odds of me seeing a ship is slim to none. Why?
I donít know why Abraham went a little too far south; after all he was Abram (meaning exalted Father, heir to the promise). I am Shari, which I sometimes think means destined to fall short. Praise God though I fall short of victory, Heís always protected me from falling short of ruin. I am indeed between Bethel and Hai. I definitely think Iím in a tent, because a tent is a temporary dwelling, Iím waiting for the opportunity to build a home back in BethelÖ
But for now Iím too far south, I allowed myself to see the ruins of Hai, the ďstuffĒ that makes men happy, and buy into the lie. I didnít go as far as many do, but I went too far. Where are you at today? I hope youíre in Bethel, and if youíre there, stay put!
December 27th, 2011
I have a Hope!
Genesis 9:13-15 ~ I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
Praise God for the covenant He made with Noah, because I doubt it is any better now than then. I know from my own heart that I have to continually guard myself from the wickedness in the earth and of my own thoughts. If I am frustrated with myself, how must God feel with the whole earth full of us? My stomach rolls over when I see and hear what goes on around me. Words that cut like a knife are spoken with total disregard to who it hurts, kindness and generosity that seems to abound at Christmas time is nowhere to be found on December 26th. Glad tidings have given away to grumbles and murmurs and thoughts of a New Year bring reflections of the past year and hopes of better times with resolutions that barely last the week.
I have to wonder what our reflections would be if God shut us up in an ark for 150 days. As the rain pours down outside my window this morning it sounds like it just may flood the earth. If it rained for 40 days and nights and I had only my immediate family with me, what would be on my heart then? If all the ďstuffĒ was gone from the earth, how would it change me? The things that consume my life now that were made to make my life easier seem to take me away from the simplistic side of life that brings me peace. If I, who strive to serve God canít keep my mind focused on Him for 15 minutes straight without going off on a wicked trail, what are the thoughts of the person who seldom thinks of God on? Thatís a scary thought. It is no wonder that God set a reminder in the sky not to destroy mankindÖ that explains a double rainbow on some days. He may have to double remind Himself!
The picture of the double rainbow above was taken from my mobile phone as I arrived at Calhoun Middle High School a few weeks ago. It is a place I find hope in mankind because of a few youth that look to me for leadership, even though Iím looking to them for it. They have a desire to see revival in their school; I have a desire to help them see it! Please pray for us, next week we begin weekly bible studies during their lunch, I have no doubt that God will bless, but I also have concerns that where God blesses, Satan stresses.
I pray that today you find a bow in the clouds of your life giving you hope for the coming year. God Bless!
December 26th, 2011
Harmony doesn't just Happen
Genesis 1:28 ~ And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth
Genesis 3:24 ~ So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
As I read the story of creation this morning, I was as awestruck as I was the first time. Thatís the wonderful thing about scripture; it is new and fresh every day and it speaks to my soul as if God Himself were sitting beside of me. In the beginning God had a planÖ it didnít change, man did. Godís intention was for man to have dominion over the earth and all that dwelled therein, and for all to work in harmony. But between Chapter 1 and Chapter 3, sin entered the picture and messed parts of it up, but Godís plan is still there. A plan of leadership and works of harmony, but it no longer is handed to man as in the beginning, we now have to work for it, and it is indeed hard work.
Harmony doesnít just happen. You wonít walk out into a field of cattle and say ďYíall come on to the barn, itís gettiní late,Ē and have them just follow. It doesnít work that way anymore. And you wonít walk into a church congregation and say, ďHereís the plan, yaíll come on and help.Ē Both of those plans will most likely end up in a stampede. Harmony doesnít live here anymore. People have their own ideas and theories about how things should be done. So leadership has its work cut out for it, before it ever lays out the first plan.
God knew that man would try to return to the garden, so he placed at the gate, Cherubims and a flaming sword that turned every way. That fascinated me. Iíd have probably got my head chopped off trying to see how that thing worked. So now God said, if you want dominion, youíll work for it. And just like the critters in the garden, the congregation of the Lord is an unruly bunch to tame, for which I am one. I have all kinds of ideas, they stretch from here to the ocean, but theyíre not all good ones. I need someone to have dominion over me and say ďShari, youíll lose your head if you walk too close to that twirling sword.Ē Church leadership is not dictatorship, its sound advice coming from those who listen closely to God, and contrary to popular belief, not everyone asks God for His advice. Thatís why we have Pastors and Deacons and other church leadership, who preferably have been selected and placed in positions of authority because theyíre Spiritually lead individuals, not because they control the purse strings. Theyíre not always people we agree with, harmony takes work. Someone has to lead, someone has to follow thatís how it worked in the garden, thatís how it works in the church. Amen?
Hope today finds you in a church working in Harmony! The key word there is working. Harmony doesnít just happen.
December 25th, 2011
Society may dictate who gets engraved invitations
to society shindigs, but they donít dictate
who getís into the presence of God
Luke 2:10-12 ~ And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
There in the fields stood the shepherds, just ordinary fellaís doing a hard day (or nightís) labor, until suddenly they were thrust into the story of our Savior as central characters. They were the ďyouísĒ and so are you, and I. Those words struck me in the heart this morning as I sat alone on Christmas enjoying another cup of coffee from my Cuisinart Coffee Machine. I am the you. God was born for me. As much as I love the coffee machine, nothing Iíve ever received in my life compares to the day that I accepted Christ into my heart and understood what it means to be a ďyou.Ē
The shepherds working in the field that night left their sheep, (I figure God had them covered) and went to find the Savior lying in a manger. The shepherds were not only just ordinary fellaís, they were society outcasts. Stinky folk. The last people on earth that would expect a call from Heavenís hosts. But I have to wonder how they returned to the field? Likely with their head held higher. When they passed society people they looked them in the eye, maybe said, ďHow are you folks this evening? Pleasant night for a stroll isnít it?Ē They were no longer outcasts, theyíd been invited into the presence of God himself and the invitation came from angels. God didnít invite businessmen, or the priests, He invited shepherds! ďHi, my names Joe Shepherd, friend of God.Ē
I know how the shepherds felt. Through the salvation of Jesus Christ, I became somebody. I became a friend of God! No longer did I feel less than others, or perhaps it wasnít that I didnít feel less, I knew I didnít belong there anyway. Society may dictate who gets engraved invitations to society shindigs, but they donít dictate who getís into the presence of God. The day I accepted Christ into my heart I received an invitation into the presence of God through the Holy Spirit. I was no longer an outcast, but I was included into the inner circle of the Most High, and I wanted to tell everybody! Rich or poor, thief or saint, it mattered not, they needed to hear the story of Jesus.
So as I sit here on the couch this Christmas morning 2011, I reflect back to the field where the Lord found me. A little shepherd girl, rejected by the world but loved by God. Loved enough to be made one of His own and used in His service. It was and is good tidings of great joy that Jesus is my Savior! Iíve never stopped celebrating.
Rejoice! For He is Wonderful! I pray you know Him as Savior and friend.
December 24th, 2011
The same God that spoke the world into existence...
Spoke to my heart this morning... Wow!
Luke 2:14 - Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Yesterday, December 23rd my family and I celebrated many things. I celebrated the birth of my first child, Tiffani, who was born early in the morn 29 years ago and has blessed me beyond measure every day of her life. She was an early Christmas gift that has kept giving. We celebrated the birth of my newest great nephew Braydon Paul, born a few months too early, but healthy praise God! weighing a whopping 4.5 lbs. AndÖ we celebrated Christmas. With a very large extended family, in-laws and outlaws and multiple Christmas celebrations, we decided that this year, our familyís Christmas would be done a little early and leave room for everyone else on the traditional days. So this morning my living room looks much like the ruins of Rome.
It didnít quite go as I had planned. Four babies, a very popular brand new baby Schnauzer that my daughter received as a gift named Cayenne (their other Schnauzerís name is Pepper), toys of every imaginable configuration with a million pieces, two remote control helicopters that I got my son-in-laws (can we say stupid?), a search for batteries, me saying ďsure you can eat the candy canes off the treeĒ followed by ďsure you can play with Noniís iPhone = sticky iPhone. All of which equaled an evening of chaos and bedlam, but it was a wonderful night of family, just very rowdy!
So this morning as I sip wonderful coffee made in my new Cuisinart Coffee machine, Iím enjoying the silenceÖ which probably wonít last long because another great! idea I had was to get my husband surround sound for the television. So now I can really hear the westerns I loatheÖ oh dearÖ that really may not have been a good idea. But I shared that to share thisÖ
Although the hoopla of the Christmas celebration is over, the hoopla in my heart is still alive and well! The story of Jesusí birth is as wonderful today as it was the first time I heard after I was saved, because I know the miracle that is within me because of Him; the miracle of peace everlasting peace, the joy that comes from knowing God as the Holy and Almighty, and knowing Him as friend. Itís hard to imagineÖ that the same God, who spoke this world into existence, spoke to my heart this morning. Wow! So every day is a celebration, unless I let the ruins get the best of me, which sometimes happens.
I pray that your Christmas is filled with a little chaos, a lot of love and most importantly the peace of God that comes from knowing Jesus as Lord! Give Him all the glory!!!
December 22nd, 2011
Jesus' Christmas Dinner
John 4:31-34 ~ In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
Jesusí Christmas Dinner
To set the stage for the story, the disciples had just returned from whatever their version of Walmart was where they had gone to buy food. When they returned they discovered Jesus sitting at the well with the Samaritan woman and the scripture says they ďmarvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?Ē They all wondered why Jesus would talk to a woman of her kind; did He not know what kind of woman she was? He knew. They wanted to ask what she wanted, or why are You talking to her, but no man did. The inner circle of the Lord who had seen His miracles and walked and talked with Him daily, didnít get it. Nor did they get it when Jesus said to them ďI have meat to eat that ye know not of.Ē Jesus was feasting on the Christmas Dinner.
This is why He came. This is why we celebrate this time of year, because a Savior who is God Himself, came to save someone like me. I can so identify with the woman at the well. Though I didnít live her story, I didnít have the shame of her lifestyle that caused her to come to the well at an hour of the day where she wouldnít meet with critical, judging eyes, but I still had her feeling of unworthiness. I still felt that judgment of other people that made me feel inadequate and less than whole as a woman. I felt like every part of my life was being judged by friends and family and that I didnít measure up, so Iíd avoid certain people and certain places because of it. So when Jesus gave me that living waterÖ that wonderful drink that filled the whole in my soul, I too couldnít wait to tell others!
And some of Jesusí people didnít get it.
They just couldnít figure out why I was so excited. But Jesus knew, and thatís all that mattered. He is feasting on my enthusiasm for service and I have lived so blessed! When I received the Christmas gift, I couldnít wait to give it away, because itís the only gift I have every received that as many times as I give it away, my share never runs dry.
Verse 10 says ďJesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.Ē
There it is. The Christmas gift! And the Christmas dinner that Jesus still feasts on today is when He hears news like that of the Samaritan woman in verse 39: ďAnd many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
Go Tell it on the mountain,
Over the hill and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!
December 21st, 2011
Have you opened yours?
John 3:16-19 ~ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16 is a verse that can be quoted by the saved as well as many unsaved. It is said to be the Bible summed up in a verse and the most well known of all. Iíve heard men preach on it for an hour and yet barely touch the surface of the meaning of those 25 words. Iím not sure that I can ever understand how God loved the world enough to send His only Son to save me, but He did, and Iím so very grateful. Every year from the time Iíve gotten saved Iíve not allowed my family to open gifts until we read the Christmas story from the book of Luke. It is with eager anticipation that they hear me say, letís pray. Because they know that itís followed by the opening of the gifts. I donít fault them, Iím anxious too! But I donít ever want to be remiss in my home to fail and acknowledge the reason we are blessed to have Christmas.
It is important to me because I remember the unopened gift that sat under the tree for 34 years. I would loosen the paper occasionally. Sometime Iíd even peek inside, but I never accepted it. Isnít that crazy! You wouldnít see that happen at my house at Christmas! But it happens every day in the lives of the unsaved; this wonderful gift of peace, and a love so deep that it is unexplainable, is rejected. Perhaps itís because itís not wrapped in pretty paper. To receive it you have you have to tear through the holy pages of the story of our Savior and Lord, written in blood. Itís humbling. The price of it exceeds anything on earth, and it cannot be reciprocated. You just have accept it knowing your are not worthy. Thatís tough. Most of us are brought up thinking we have to do something to get something. A gift for a gift. But when you think about Godís only Son, what you could you possibly have would be payment enough in exchange for His? Nothing.
Well Praise God!!! It is one size fits all, non-returnable. So, have you opened yours? Itís there waiting for you!
December 19th, 2011
You ain't seen nothin' yet!
During yesterdayís Worship services, I took my rowdy 4 year old grandsons to the preschool room where I found a craft they could do and there I attempted to share the Word of God with them trying to give spiritual application to the puppies we were making. So I asked the boys ďWho made the puppies?Ē Thinking that surely my grandchildren would think in spiritual termsÖ uhÖ no. Iím not so sure he even thought in four year old terms. His answer to who made the puppiesÖ ďThe illustrator.Ē
Noah was thinking in the literal sense of the craft we were working on, but I dare say his response was similar to the response youíd get if you ask many adults the same question.
John 1:9-12 ~ That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
When I enlightened Noah that it was real puppies I spoke of and that God creates everything in the world, he believed me. At age four life is so simple. But sometime between four and smarter than a fifth grader, we lose the simplicity of belief. When John wrote that Jesus was the Light that ďlighteth every manĒ it struck that same chord in my heart that I heard the day I was saved. Within every person is the knowledge that God makes puppies, but because of the sin in our lives, the pride of man, we look more to what we can create without giving any credit to the Creator. And if weíre away from the gospel long enough; the gospel that reminds us that God spoke the world into existence, we begin thinking that the world has more to do with us, than Him. And we become the world who knew him not.
Praise God I know Him!
Further into chapter one of the book of John, Jesus is gathering the inner circle that will become His disciples. Nathaniel is blown away that God knew him before He knew God. And Jesus says to him in verse 50 ďBecause I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.Ē
I too stand in awe that I know God. But I can almost hear God saying, ďShari, you ainít seen nothiní yet.Ē God has so much more for us, those who know Him. Those who become the sons, and daughters of God. I truly donít know if God says ainít. But I know He loves West Virginia and we say ainít, so Iím thinkiní He might. I donít know what He has in store for me, but I know itís great. And Iím ready! He has great plans for you too if you believe on Him. Iím praying you doÖ
December 18th, 2011
Belief in hope!
Esther 9 ~ 1Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king's commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;)
Christmas season can have a vast array of meaning for different people. I have a dear Christian friend who is a former police officer, for him (prior to salvation) Christmas meant heartache and trouble, he dreaded it. For shut-ins who have no family, Christmas can be a time of remembrance that they are alone; for a struggling family it can be a reminder that life is harsh, for someone whoís lost a loved one, it can be a reminder that they are not here. But, if weíll allow, regardless of circumstance, it can be the reminder of hope.
In search of hope this morning I came upon the 9th chapter of the book of Esther. One of my absolute favorite books! (Mainly because Iím a sap and I love stories of victory and romance). But in this chapter, in the 12 month of the Jewish year, which I believe is February/March, we find the Jews rejoicing in hope! Their enemy Haman who had ordered their destruction, now had the tables turned on him. And the Jews whom he had ordered to be killed, now had a new decree at the influence of Esther and Modecai, and they overpowered the enemies. A story of love and victory for sure, much like the story of Christmas that we celebrate in our 12th month of December.
The ultimate story of hope is the hope we find in Jesus Christ. Just as Haman sought to destroy the Jews, Godís chosen people, Satan sought to destroy the Son of God, Who he knew would restore the hope lost by the fall of Adam and Eve. Haman had lorded over the Jews for too long, inciting fear and keeping them in the bondage of man. The same held true with us before salvation. Before Christmas came into our heart hope was lost, but because of Christís victorious birth, the tables were turned on Satan and all power removed. We (through Christ) now have the power over Satan. Another story of love and victory!!!
I hope this season finds you well in soul and spirit. But if it finds you discouraged, remember you have a hope! Christ has the power to overcome any heartache or struggle youíre facing. I donít say that in a flippant manner, Iím a believer! Time and time again God has pulled me out of a flame that I was sure was my fate. Other times when I fell into a pit of depression, He lifted me up and pulled me close to His breast offering me comfort like I had never experienced in my life. When I lost loved ones He reminded me theyíre waiting! Theyíre not gone, theyíre waiting! Woohoo, I have hope! And so do you.
The Jews thought their time had come when Haman signed that decree to have them destroyed. But God had a plan for a little girl named Esther to be in the right place at the right time. A time of influence. Godís got someone in our path, interceding. I believe in hope!
December 17th, 2011
"O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see the lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by; yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light--the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."
I can hear the Christmas carol in my head and feel the Spirit move in my heart. God is awesome like that. Those Christmas carols that seem to be engrafted in our minds from childhood have lasted throughout the ages because through a simple Holy Spirit inspired song, the story of God is revealed and glorified to all who hear. Bethlehem has great meaning to those of the Christian faith, it means ďHouse of Bread.Ē Jesus said in Chapter 6 verses 28-35:
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
God gave the children of Israel manna (bread) from Heaven that was a temporary fix. Its provision lasted one day, and then it was gone, but when Jesus came, He was no temporary fix. ďIt is finished,Ē He said from the cross. And so it was. No longer would there be a separation between God and man. From that point forward, the empty space in the soul of man would be filled with the Bread of life that would feed the hunger for a relationship with God. I know, because I remember that hole in my soul and I remembered the day Jesus filled it.
It would be no secret from my waistline that I love bread. And though Iíd like to say it just shows how very spiritual I am, I would fear Godís smack on the back of my head for that one. But bread certainly does carry with a spiritual likeness. It satisfies the appetite, itís aroma brings joy to the soul and it nourishes the body giving it strength for the dayÖ So does Jesus!
God sent the Bread of life into the little town of Bethlehem, and there in the stable laid God himself. We see the evidence of Christ in everything regardless of the fact that they are trying to drive Him out of a season designed in celebration of Him. I hope this season finds your home filled not only with the scent of Holiday goodies, but with the scent of a Holy God dwelling within you.
December 16th, 2011
Open wide your hands...
Deuteronomy 15:7-8 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.
I love to hear the bells of the Salvation Army volunteers as the Christmas season approaches. I would hope that the sound of the bell would serve as a reminder to keep my own gift shopping in perspective as well as burden my soul to be ever watchful for someone in need. But I canít say that Iím always that in tune with the bell. Christmas does lend itself to more generosity even in the ďGrinchiestĒ of people. But for Christians the thought of helping others out is not a seasonal option. God didnít say to do it during a holiday, He said if there were poor among you, you shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother. Take care of your people.
I knowÖ Iíve been the victim of being taken advantage of. And we certainly need to guard ourselves against the occasional scammer of which this world is full of, but there are still those who have a genuine need that we need to help supply, it is Godís way. We cannot possibly fix the world, but God said within our gates we can make a difference, and itís not always moneyÖ
Our church went caroling last night and I was so humbled by the shut-ins that we visited. The only thing they wanted for Christmas was to know someone loved them, and it doesnít cost a dime. We sang and enjoyed their fellowship for a few minutes, and as we left we always closed in prayer. The tears flowed from one little ladyís eyes as her heart spilled over in gratitude that we had taken a few minutes of our time to sing her a song. Why do we (I) not do this more often? Why do we wait until Christmas to take care of the people within our gates? God said to open our hands wide and lend to them what they need. We lent those we caroled to the gift of encouragement and it was immediately returned two fold.
I hope today you give the gift of encouragement to someone within your gates. Take care of your own!
December 14th, 2011
Oh that there were such an heart...
Deuteronomy 5:29 ďO that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!Ē
In copying and pasting this scripture verse I missed the punctuation at the end, so I inserted a period. But somethingÖ or should I say SomeoneÖ had me go back and read the verse again. The punctuation wasnít a period, it was an exclamation point. Oh the subtlety of Satan to try and remove the importance of the Word of God, with the mere mis-stroke of a key.
This verse caught my attention this morning because I know it is Godís heart that we have a heart for Him. That was the plan, when He sent the very heart of Himself to earth as a baby, so that we might understand how much He loves us.
I had some time with my grandbabies last night and both of the smaller ones are constantly at my heels with their arms raised in the air wanting Noni to pick them up, and I canít turn them down! They love me because they know I love them. Thatís how I feel about this verse, when I hear God say and exclaim! ďOh that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear meÖĒ It makes me want to lift my arms to Heaven and say ďPick me up Father, I need You.Ē Even though I cannot fully comprehend the love that the Heavenly father has for me, I know He loves me. I can feel it in my soul bubbling up as I write these words, perhaps you feel it too as you read them. Itís overwhelming. God wants only the best for us and in return He asks that live right so that it might be well with us. To fear God is to understand the holiness of Him. I canít make it one day without sinning, and yet in God there is no sin. He loves me with a perfect love.
As children grow older they no longer desire to have someone pick them up, they acquire that ďI can do it myselfĒ attitude. So do we, with God. We get further away from Him, and the exclamation point turns into period. The things of God just donít seem as important as they once were. When God shouts something, perhaps itís because someone is too far away to hear His normal tone. If youíre there, get closer. Open His WordÖ imagine yourself climbing up into the lap of your Heavenly Father and saying, just hold meÖ
O that there was such an heartÖ
December 13th, 2011
God doesn't kill them off anymore...
but they kill churches!
Are you the life of the church?
Deuteronomy 4:4 ~ ďBut ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.Ē
Mosesí first address to Israel in Deuteronomy is a review of Godís faithfulness. He reminds them of where they came from, but the focus is not on the struggle, but the deliverance. The reason the prior generation died in the wilderness was because their focus was constantly on the struggle, never the victory. Time and time again God brought them through only to hear them murmur and complain about their circumstances rather than show gratitude for saving them.
WowÖ I just realized Iíve met some of Moses members.
In my many travels to a wide variety of churches there is usually one common denominator, grumblers. They are those that I graciously and in cowardice hand off to some other poor soul because I canít handle them. They drag me down spiritually and have me banging my head on a pew, and that never looks good in someone elseís church. But Iíd say you understand where Iím coming from if youíve been in a church very long. You likely see their face in your mind, youíre now grinning because you know Iím right. Unless you are they, and now youíre probably thinking, I take offense to that, and Iím grinning. WellÖ kind of. Grumblerís bother me because they suck the life out of the congregation. Thatís why God let them die in the wilderness. They were sucking the life out of the young people.
In Mosesí address he now speaks to those that are alive; those who survived the grumblers. I am one! But only because I gave them to someone else, God doesnít kill them off any more. But they kill churches.
Moses reminds the children of Israel of their victorious journey. Was it easy, no? Was it fun, not likely? But what a story! Jon Acuff @ www.jonacuff.com wrote yesterday on ďWhat I say every time my dream hits a bump in the road.Ē He wrote that the best part of anyoneís story is usually the part they enjoy the least, itís the struggle to get to victory. And what usually leads them to victory is that they hang on to their vision.
So my advice today is run from the grumblers, and hang on to the dream! God is in the business of deliverance and He hangs out with positive people. Leave the grumblers in the church of the dead and pray that they come to life, thereís hope for them too!
December 121th, 2011
Great or small... God hears us all
Deuteronomy 1:17 ~ Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it
Some dayís the presence of God is so powerful. Itís humbling. This morning I wept over a sausage biscuit! But just thinking about the goodness of God and His provision overwhelmed me with gratitude. Christmas in its truest form has nothing to do with gifts purchased for our loved ones, but more so about the love of God that is shown in our lives every day. He reminded the children of Israel that He is no respecter of person, nor should they be. I donít know why God chooses to bless Shari Johnson, but He does. He provided me breakfast this morning, an automobile to drive and pick it up, words to encourage my soul, a request from a teen to share the book of Deuteronomy; another teen chased me down the hall and asked ďMrs. Johnson, would you please start a Christian club for usĒ, I left the school so humbled I could hardly speak. I climbed into my car and the music had me on shouting ground before I turned into the parking lot of my office. Is it any wonder I cried over my biscuit! God is so good! And I am not.
Life is full of complexities and decisions. My decision this morning was bacon or sausage. Two thumbs upÖ ďI got this one God.Ē But God said if there are decisions that need to be made, that godly counsel cannot offer peace, bring them to Him and He will answer. Princes or paupers, God hears His children. We have but to ask. Humbling.
Today Iím so thankful that God loves me. He loves you too. Praise Him!
December 11th, 2011
Refreshing the Spirit!
As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.
Sunday mornings lend to me an air of excitement at the possibilities of the day. I guess every day should, but Sunday mornings especially when I think of what might transpire in the house of the Lord. Our faithful messenger will stand and glorify God proclaiming His Word; Sunday school teachers will enlighten their students with life lessons in Christianity; this day always has great potential and it always refreshes my soul, much like thoughts of snow in the time of harvest would have those who labored. There was no convenience store that they could run to for a cold soda in the middle of their day, or no refrigeration unit waiting for them back at the houses. The very thought of snow and the images they painted, refreshed their hopes of a cooler day, a time of rest. For me thatís Sunday.
After a long week of being up at the crack of dawn, running to and from, laundry, housework and trying my best to fit God in every day, a day set aside just for Him is indeed refreshing. I do not understand how people survive without church, although at one point in my life I was one of them. While it is true we seldom miss what we have never had, I donít believe that holds true with God, because I always knew within my soul, He was missing. And when I finally heard the gospel of Salvation, it was like a cool drink of water on hot summerís day. Thereís not a more fitting description. That is why God refers to salvation as the water of life.
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
The temperature outside of our home this morning is a balmy 16 degrees. Brrrrrr. Iím not really finding it refreshing. But, what lies on the other side of a short trip out into the cold weather is the Word of God, a faithful messenger, who Iíll pray for this morning, and perhaps the opportunity to see a soul receive for the first time that drink of living water that will never run dry. Thatís exciting! I hope today finds you in the house of the Lord!!!
December 9th, 2011
Woohoo~ Let's Open it!
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
Truly the Spirit of Christmas!
I know that I am one who underestimates the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within my soul. My mind cannot grasp the thought of God, in the Spirit, living in meÖ else Iíd live better. Iím just being honest. Itís a daily struggle to keep my mind pure in thought. The wrong person walks by me and old hurts revive, an unsaved person spouts profanity and I bristle, a saved person spouts profanity and I want to lay hands on them! And those are the times that I consider to be righteous rage; I wonít even go into the sins and thoughts in my life that are just flat out wrong. And to top it all, I drag the Holy Spirit right along with me, all the while Heís saying, ďDonít do it.Ē
What a gift we have in the Holy Spirit! My ingratitude reminds me of a YouTube video I seen last Christmas of a child who opened up a book for Christmas and just went off on his Mom. ďA book, you got me a book for Christmas, why? Who buys books for Christmas, Christmas is for toys!Ē It was funny in a sad kind of way. It was kind of America in a nutshell. God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, and I think sometimes weíd like to return it. Itís convicting to have God hanging out inside of you. But when you think of life without the Holy Spirit, itís terrifying.
The absence of the Comforter
How many times a day do I turn to the Lord for comfort? Too many times to count. Sometimes itís a small thing, but there have been times that were it not for the comfort of the Holy Spirit, life would have been too much to bear. When I lost my Dad; when I lost my good friend Doyle; when I lost my jobÖ the list goes on and on of times that I thought my world was never going to be right again and the Holy Spirit whispered ďPeace,Ē and the turbulence ceased. What a gift!
The absence of Truth
The truth revealed by the Holy Spirit is what keeps us grounded in life. If not for the Word of God, where would we be? Those who do not read the Bible have no concept of the gift that is within their reach; there is no power in any other book in the world like that of the Scripture. To imagine the world without the Truth of God is to imagine the world without a conscience, and weíve seen what just a few people without a conscience can do on the evening news.
Truly the Spirit of Christmas dwells with you if you are a child of God. It is a gift that keeps giving in bountiful supply and the more you seek to know God the greater the gift. The more time you spend in His word, the greater the gift! The more you praise Him the greater the gift! Woohoo, letís open it!
December 8th, 2011
The Heart of Christmas
Although the story of Christmas begins with the birth of our Savior, the New Testament begins with the trip down memory lane and the cast of Christmas beginning with Abraham who begat Isaac and so on and so forth the begets go until they get to what we know as the traditional characters of Christmas in verse 16 ďAnd Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.Ē
Those characters of Christmas were ordinary people that God used in extraordinary ways because of their hearts.
A Heart for God
Abraham, the friend of God, begat Isaac in his old age; who believed in the promise that God would make him the father of many nations and willingly laid that same son upon an altar for sacrifice at Godís request. As I thought on this today I wondered if he told Sarah his plan. I doubt it. I think he carried that burden up the hill to the altar of sacrifice, much the way that God carried us. What a burden to carry alone,to think on sacrificing the son that you had waited so long for, the son that you loved and dreamed about, but because God asked, Abraham believed that God would make it alright and He did!
Abrahamís heart for God was evident. But we can see in Abrahamís journey the Christmas story starting to unfold.
A Heart for Godís people
An unlikely characterof Christmas was Ruth. An outcast Moabitess, finds herself married to Boaz and they give birth to Obed the father of Jesse, the father of King David! All because she had a heart for Godís people by staying faithful to her discouraged Mother-in-law Naomi. Ruth willingly left her people to be become one of Godís and there she made her way into the Christmas story.
A Heart for the things of God
Most likely the favorite character of mine is David, who God described as a man after His own heart in I Samuel 13:14. David wasnít a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination, but his thoughts were continual on the things of God, desiring to build the temple, honoring Godís people, fighting Godís battles, all which lead to the favor of God and his name on the roll call of Christmas. God honors those who make Him the priority in their lives.
The Story of Christmas continues every time a soul gives their heart to Christ. They too become a part in the roll call of Christmas and then their story really begins. Because written down in a book in Heaven is every deed done in the name of Jesus.
Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Todayís cast of Christmas characters should find us with a heart for God, willing to make sacrifices of self so that others may come to know His saving grace. It should find us with a heart for the things of God willing to serve, and a heart for Godís people willing to follow the examples set before us in service to the King! SoÖ what will your story tell? Most importantly has your story begun? Have you made Christ the Lord of your life by accepting the gift of life through His death on the cross and the resurrection? Itís the only way that you will find yourself in the cast of the characters of the Christmas story. Please make that decision today and give me a gift by letting me know!
December 7th, 2011
Merry Christmas from the garden...
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Old Testament or New Testament, the plan didnít change. God knew from the beginning that weíd have to help and the plan was laid down from the foundation of the earth. Godís desire from the beginning was to be with us.
In the cool of the day He came down into the garden to spend time with Adam and Eve. It was never His intention to stop; we stopped it, our sin, not just Adam and Eveís. The very nature of man.
God with us
I want my time in the garden. That time for me too is in the cool of the day, in the early part of the morning when I asked God to meet me and He alone is faithful. I open the scriptures and ask for the fellowship of the Holy Spirit to meet with me and allow me to share that precious time through this website. I oftentimes take it for granted, I donít always arise out of bed believing that God is in my living room, waiting for me, but He is. Sometimes I feel like weíre disconnected because of other noises in the house or noises in my headÖ those are frustrating times. I guess itís that way for God too. What must it have been like that first day in the garden when He couldnít be there because of sin? I had never really thought about that day until this morning. He knew there would come a day that He could fellowship with His children again, but not that dayÖ
Us without God is a scary thought
Thatís what sin does. Itís a sickening in the pit of your stomach separation from God. The depravity of man can say there is no God, but they know. They may deny it, but there will come a day when they will not. Christmas time is indeed commercialized and the meaning is harder to find in the hoopla of society. But God is there. There in the images of the mangerÖthere in the music that makes our souls leap withinÖthere in the spirit of the season when folks give out of the goodness of their hearts, not because anyone necessarily deserves it. That is the heart of God. Emmanuel, the God that came as a baby, born of virgin, to be ridiculed, denied, beaten and crucified, that we might have our time in the garden.
I donít deserve the fellowship, but God in His goodness gives me the gift of time. I hope that you find your time in the garden during this season.
December 6th, 2011
Job 42:10 And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.
For six chapters this morning (Job 32-37) I read in frustration as Elihu, the youngest of Jobís friends ranted against Job in arrogance. My mind would occasionally drift off course to the thoughts of people in my life, and the life of my children and friends who had people set themselves in the stead of God as judgers. That is a dangerous ground to walk on! I will not in arrogance say that I have not judged others, because in err I have. But I am quickly reminded that while I may have a finger pointing in judgment, there is three pointing back at me. Perhaps those three should remind us of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that should rein in our lives, the only righteous judge.
But thenÖ the Whirlwind.
God, who has patiently watched as Satan gave his best shot at destroying Jobís spirit through the destruction of his family, home, livelihood and health, and through the wrath of his friends suddenly in a whirlwind comes on the scene in Chapter 38. I wonder if Elihu and those other two yayhoos swallowed their tongues. I would have!
I love it when God says to Job in 38:3-4 ďGird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.Ē
If I were redneck quotiní God Iíd say He said, ďPull up your big boy britches Job, where were you when I made the world? Go ahead, tell Me.Ē For four chapters God reminds Job of who the both of them are. He reminds Job that he is righteous and the events in his life did not occur in judgment, and He reminds him that God is the Creator and the Controller of the earth. Woohoo! Thatíll put a shout on you. God lines out Jobís friends, he restores Job with more than he had before destruction came, but not until Job prayed for his friends.
Did you catch that?
Job was not restored until he in humility, forgave those who hurt him and prayed for them.
How often do we hold Christmas captive, and fail to understand and receive the glorious gift of God, because we hold within our hearts hurt, bitterness and un-forgiveness of people in our lives? God did not restore Job until Job restored the people who had hurt him. And if He didnít restore Job, who was righteous, and did nothing to warrant his friend ridicule and chastisement, He wonít restore us either.
If we truly want to receive the gift of Christmas, we must forgive and let go of any past pain, otherwise weíre holding Christmas captive. God cannot be restrained, but His blessings can be. The best Christmas gift you can give is the freedom of the thoughts in your mind that continually harbor ill will and serve only to remind you that youíve been hurt.
I pray this Christmas, if youíre holding it captive, you release it and be restored to greater than before. Let me know, and together weíll rejoice! God Bless!!!
December 4th, 2011
All I Want For Christmas is an Ounce of Sense...
Job 28:12-13 ~ But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.
Christmas spending, time management and budgeting have never been my strong suit. This time of year usually throws me into a frenzy of ďget Ďer done,Ē in magnitude proportion to the point that I throw caution and good sense to the wind. I often feel like I have the spirituality of Jobís friends because Iím so caught up in this holiday craziness and the Holy Day is in there, but itís lost in the madness of the season. Am I alone? As I sit on Sunday morning with my Christmas tree aglow and a thousand things that need done running through my mind, this morning I just want to stopÖ
I want to stop and gather my little thoughts (and thatís what they are in the scope of things) into a pile on the couch beside me and sift through them Ďtil I find the ones of Jesus. And then I want to push all the others aside and just focus on Him. His goodness, His wonder. He truly is like a holiday gift every day that when opened is just full of surprises. The most intellectual person on earth only knows a fraction of a fraction of the wisdom of God; that leaves me somewhere between dumber than a rock and a 5th grader most likely. But in Godís mercy and grace he allows me to have moments of spiritual insight when I read the scriptures, and I can get a glimpse into glory.
In the following chapters Job describes his own character. Itís filled by a description of his heart for people, the depth of wisdom that others sought, and the humility that it was all a precious gift of God. He comforted the poor, the feeble and the down hearted and provided godly counsel to those who ask. He was respected and esteemed as a noble and yet in one day even his ďfriendsĒ forgot about it. Heís now confused and feels his righteousness was counted for naught at this point in his life. But even the wisdom of Job, which was great, was wrong at this point. His trial of faith is a lesson for all that nothing done in the name of Jesus goes unnoticed.
Christmas can so easily become a selfish season. Even if not for our own wants, but our wants for our family. There is nothing wrong with wanting goodness, unless it is goodness in excess and without regard for those in need around us. When Job was healthy and all was well in his life, he lived Christmas every day, I should learn. Job didnít just talk it, he walked it. When he saw a need that he could provide, he provided it. I pray this holiday season finds my heart open and prepared to receive the gift of giving. Be it time, counsel or physical needs let my eyes see, my heart feel and my hands provide.
November 29th, 2011
Job 26:7 ~ He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
I have many, many favorite verses of scripture, but this is at the top of my list! There in the oldest book in the Bible, written 1400 or so years before the birth of Christ, long before a telescope was in the picture, or any images from space, Job knew. Job knew that he was in the northern hemisphere and that the earth was hung upon nothing in space. How could he have known? In 1492 scientist told Christopher Columbus that he was going to sail off the end of the earth and yet Job knew it was hung upon nothing and Isaiah knew it was round as he described in chapter 40, verse 22 when he said ďIt is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth.Ē Does that not fascinate you?
Men and women in the vanity of their minds profess to be so knowledgeable and yet they ignore God as if He matters not, and they themselves are what the truth of earth is hinged upon. Ignorance. God must sit in Heaven and shake His head and laugh at the ridiculousness of the thoughts of men. Theyíve managed to get God out of the schools and workplaces and theyíd have Him out of Christmas entirely were it not for a few of us who remain faithful in proclaiming the celebration of His birth.
Man can change the name of Christmas to a winter holiday, take the virgin birth out of scripture, claim it to be a fable and it changes nothing in the reality of God. Our President can say that we are not a Christian nation but a nation of many religions and he is unfortunately right. ButÖ that still does not change the reality that we were founded on Christ and the only reason that America stands today is because God allows it. And I believe God allows it because of the few of us that celebrate the Creator of all Heaven and earth and we proclaim Him boldly in hopes that the scientist that says God is not real, gets saved and realizes He is very real.
Iíve written myself happy again today. God is so good. I hope today you look at our big blue marble called earth praise the Creator of it. Itís almost time for the birthday of Salvation! We have lots to celebrate.
November 28th, 2011
Job 23:10 ~ But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
For certain many of the things that I have done in my life have not been with a right heart in the eyes of God. I have sometimes just gone through the motions of goodness for the sake of getting plan ĎAí done in order to move on to plan ĎBí. It doesnít justify it, and I cannot blame it on circumstance, I confess it openly to you in hopes that you and I together can benefit from it. There have been times that even though my heart was not gushing with servitude, God blessed me for continuing on. He had plan ĎCíÖthe course.
The course may be through fire, flood or famine. It may be through wealth or poverty. I donít know but God knows. The course is not always clearly marked, but I believe that if I look, God will give me markers to show that I am on the right path, or Heíll place conviction upon my heart to tell me to turn around. The main thing is that I stay on course.
Yesterday was a stay the course kind of day for me. I didnít feel the greatest; my husband felt inclined to share his creeping crud with me which has me coughing with a sore throat which is no fun at all! It has also left my voice in raspy condition that is not conducive for singing. But I promised some friends that I would sing their song in celebration of their return to church after a terrible accident. And so I did. It wasnít terrible, but it wasnít good either! But I stayed the course and God blessed. During our evening service the Pastor ask if I had a song I could sing, did he not learn from this morning I thought? But, I never want to fail to give God praise, so in a crazy move that is a little out of character for me, I decided to skip the sound tracts that Iím comfortable with and sing a song with piano accompaniment. Oh, our poor piano player! After I screeched as I have NEVER screeched she asked if Iíd like her to play it on the Clavinova piano which allows music to be played in lower more fitting octave. And so I did. It was still ugly, but I stayed the course.
Jobís life at this point is still really ugly. But from Heavenís perspective heís on course. His friends are blathering idiots who are telling lies on him and being no encouragement at all! We most likely all have someone like that in our lives. But praise God for good friends and Jesus! Someday Iíll sing again and sound good. Not today. But until then, Iím going to make melody in my heart with the thought that though I fail Him, He is faithful! And though Iím unworthy, I will come forth as gold someday. Amen!
November 27th, 2011
Tis the Season... of Depression?
Job 19:23-24 ~ Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
Job was for certain a wise, wise man, but I doubt he had any concept of the impact his words would have on mankind. Through his suffering we find hope, though most of us will not suffer a loss to such great degree. Praise Godís Holy Name for it! But suffering of any degree can create a mindset of depression. Iím a very light hearted person. I tend not to take things too serious, sometimes not serious enough. And then other times, unbeknownst to most around me I border depression often. Were it not for Godís grace it would be more often than not. Thatís why I stay grounded in His word! It is where hope and peace are found and on the worst of days the Word of God flows through my body like a river of life restoring me like water does parched ground. Dramatic words you say? They cannot even begin to describe what the Word of God accomplishes.
According to Forbs magazine in 2007 the United States tops the list of the most depressed people in the world with 9.6 percent suffering from some type of depression, and Iíd venture a guess many are not going through the torment of Job. I donít make light of depression. I know that there are those who suffer with various forms of depression that struggle internally day to day, and for those I offer a prayer of healing. But the Christmas season tends to bring on a woe is me attitude in many of us that is there because we feed it and starve faith. People will fist fight in a store over a large flat screen television as if it is the very thing between them and death and yet the very thing that is between them and the second death (Hell) is ignored. Theyíll worry if their child has the latest trend but never consider if their child has Jesus.
In the worst of times Job knew that his Redeemer lives! Every struggle on earth will one day pass. The question is when it does where will you stand and who will stand beside you? Jobís friends stood beside him alright! They stood beside him and tormented him. But Jesus is the One who will stand beside you, encourage you and give you great hope. But you have to be in His Word. Iím telliní you the truth when I say that were it not for Him and His word, Iíd be in heap of trouble.
November 26th, 2011
How to Lose Friends and Discourage People
Job 13:15-16 ~ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.
Perhaps you have or have not read the book ďHow to Win Friends and Influence PeopleĒ by Dale Carnegie dubbed ďThe grandfather of all people skills book.Ē Jobís friends really should have read it. No matter how many times I read their words of disdain I find myself saying, ďOh you so did not say that! Are you serious? Get away from him!Ē But it is to no effect, they say it again. Funny thing about the Bible, it never changes. Well some versions do, but thatís for another dayÖ
Today, I felt the need to remind myself during the Holiday Season, the Holy days Season, that it should be the season of encouragement. This thought comes the day after black Friday. Oh my stars! I think Jobís friends were out there in throngs. The really sad part is the bargains werenít there to back up the frenzy. What were you people thinking? There were a few bargains, but not nearly enough to get in a fight in the sheet isle. The sheets? Is that really the hot ticket item? Oh I know.. Iím already at 229 words, where is the message?
The message is this. Christianity is 365 days a year for certain. But there is no greater time than this time to share the message of hope, the message that love isnít down an isle, itís in a smileÖ oh thatís clever! Well, I had to encourage myself a little, itís the season! But itís true. Christmas is the number one time of the year that people get depressed and discouraged because their lives donít match the commercial. True encouragers of the faith are needed. Gloria and I met one such encourager yesterday at Tractor supply. He was in the store encouraging an unwilling clerk to know Jesus. Gloria, who is so bold and I am proud to call her my friend, asks him to repeat it. Ha! Now the clerk is really not happy. The little fella (small in stature big in heart) follows us out to the car, where the three of us have prayer and we leave the parking lot with windows rolled down and the sound of him rejoicing with arms lifted high in praise. Oh what an encourager! He must have read the book.
Jobís response to his friends 13:15-16 says simply, no matter what we go through, salvation and the peace it affords comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ. The holiday is filled with a lot of hypocrites. But the Holy Day is celebrated with true friends. Jobís self righteous friends knew nothing of why Job was in the state he was. They assumed it had something to do with sin. If you see someone in a downward straight this season, donít assume they are there because of unrighteous living, let them see Jesus!
Twas the end of black Friday and down every isle
were red tags and red faces and seldom a smile.
The bargains were a bust and the wallet was too
The people were tired and the kids boo hooed.
The shopping was done, and the car was packed high
Let the celebration begin! And donít forget why.
Jesus is the reason for the Season!
November 25th, 2011
Pass me not!
Job 9:10-12 ~ Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not. Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?
My sister-in-law had one of those ďNothing Just HappensĒ moments in her life this past week. As she was leaving her Motherís home her car wouldnít come out of 4WD Low so she decided rather than drive it that way, she would drive her Motherís car home and get hers repaired later. She discovered the following day that her brake line was broken. You would have to have an appreciation of the hills of West Virginia to understand how this could have impacted her drive home! CoincidenceÖ no.
How many times has God moved in my life, possibly passed by and plucked a circumstance from my life that was meant for my harm, and I did not know? I read scripture and I try to discern great theological facts and God says, Shari, just stick to the basics. Because thatís what life truly is, the basics. Itís those moments in my life when God passes by. As I read Job this morning, thereís a verse in chapter 9 that I remembered the Pastor preaching on years ago using a specific reference when Job spoke of the stars Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades. It was a great sermon, I donít remember it, I only remember it was great! Sorry Pastor. But I say that to say this, that message was not mine.
Everyday God passes our way giving us the basics of what we need, and we look for something greater. Why? Job didnít understand why he was going through the hardest of times in his life, but he didnít question God. Job was not a great man because Job was great. He was a great man because he acknowledged the greatness of God. The basics. Hard times come, but Godís got a plan. Sometimes (for me most of the time) I wonder why? But I try to look for God in those moments. For my sister-in-law it was obvious that God protected her from tragedy. Sometimes I have to look really hard. And sometimes my thought is as far away Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades. When in reality the answer is right in front of me.
If youíre going through a struggle, I pray this thought helps you today. Stick to the basics. Trust God no matter what. I have no concept of astrology, but I know Whoís in Heaven! Amen.
Pass me not O gentle Savior!
Hear my humble cry,
when on others Thou art calling,
do not pass me byÖ
November 24th, 2011
A Holiday Message - "I've Got This"
1 Corinthians 13:12 - For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Holidays bring out the best and the worst of people. Itís almost as if thereís a magnification factor involved that blows everything up and out of proportion to reality. If youíve had a previous hurt, Satan celebrates the holiday with a trip down memory lane. Commercials depict family times as warm fuzzy moments intertwined with a perfect holiday turkey and all the trimmings and we want that. But the reality of it is somewhere in the middle.
Iíve not had a perfect life by any stretch of the imagination, but Iíve always been blessed with the ability to put life in perspective. I will not tell you that my way is necessarily the correct way, but itís what has gotten me through some very rough times.
1st go Face to Face with the Father
God knows we donít understand why things happen. But He does understand. In the heat of the battle weíre surrounded by darkness and gloom but there will come a day when we see God literally face to beautiful Face and we will understand. But until then picture yourself at His feet, and as He slowly draws your face up to look at His, He says ďIíve got this.Ē Whatever it is that Satan has you going through, God has it under control. There is nothing that Satan can do to you that God doesnít allow to happen for a season and always with a purpose.
2nd Ė The Fixer of Fear
The second step is to realize that there is nothing within your power to undo something that has occurred. I can prevent future happenings, but if itís already happened itís done. There are just some things that cannot be fixed this side of Glory. But fear not, they can be managed. Allowing Satan to continually remind you of a past hurt is living through it again and becoming the victim of it again. Once was enough! You canít undo it, but you donít have to relive it, that is a lie of the Devil. Will he bring it up again? Yes. But you can manage it. You can immediately go back to step one and hear God say ďIíve got this.ĒSatanís a bully, let God handle him
3rd Ė Face the Facts
Families are far from perfect. I know. Duh. But in the middle of a holiday we seem to forget this. We want the commercial! Well the commercial lasted less than 2 minutes. Thatís about the length of time a real family does it. This holiday season prepare in advance for some imperfect times. When Satan reminds you of past hurts, or tries to create new ones, get alone for a minute. (Bathrooms work well, even family wonít follow you in there!) and just look up to Heaven and hear Him say, ďIíve got this.Ē
November 23rd, 2011
"Why me?" ~ Shari
"Because." ~ God
Job 3:25-26 ~ For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.
I have never been afflicted in the manner of Job, therefore I cannot even begin to understand what he must have felt like at this point in his life. Iíve not only not suffered his afflictions, Iíve never been nearly as good. Have I felt undeserved of a lot I was handed in life, of course! Did I whine about it, you bet! But in truth Iíve deserved worse. Job did not. God said he was righteous. I am made righteous only by the suffering and crucifixion of Godís Son.
Even though Job did everything he could to insure a right heart with God we see his confession in these verses that he too worried that something bad would happen. At times in my life I have been a habitual worrier; Iíd worry if I didnít have something to worry about. Itís a weapon of Satan to destroy our confidence in Christ. Jobís affliction was allowed by God to prove not only to Satan that Job would remain faithful, but that regardless of our circumstance God has a purpose.
When I was going through a harsh time in my life a few years ago and I felt as if my ministry was being attacked from every side, there were days that I had no Job characteristics. Though I never cursed God either, I questioned Him as to why I had to fight so hard to share the gospel. I was doing what God had asked me to do, yet I had to fight (with words) brothers and sisters in Christ and defend my reasoning. I never did understand how those who professed to be friends of the faith defended those who were offended by the Name of Christ. But they did. And I for a season was discouraged, but God had a purpose.
It was Satanís intention for me to destroy my witness by getting upset with the unsaved people. I will confess there were times I was close. But before I ever crossed over to the dark side of resentment, God reminded me that they would never see Christ unless they seen Him in me. So I began to pray for them and it was not easy! I wonít deny that I sometimes wanted to pray, ďLord take them out.Ē But I did not. I may have prayed ďLord, shut them up,Ē a time or two. But even when I didnít necessarily mean it, I prayed that God would bless them save their souls; and God would bless me with peace.
In the beginning of a trial, which is where Job is at, we cannot see Godís intended vision. But we will. The youth at the school seen me tried, and seen me true to the things of God. They did not see me perfect and never will. That trial tested me in ways Iíd never been tested before, and the end result was that I was bolder and more confident in what God had asked me to do and more determined to stay on that path. Satanís use of friends to attack me helped me to understand that everyone is vulnerable to him, even me.
November 22nd, 2011
When our Sacrifice is proven...
I cannot think of a more appropriate study for me this week than that of the book of Job. How better to realize what I have to be thankful for than to study the man who was, irregardless of the circumstances, thankful. I decided to study this chapter because the youth of Calhoun Middle High School requested our prayer time begin with scripture from this book to encourage them in the their service. And so here I am, ready to hear what the Lord has to tell us. I hope you travel along with me; journeyís are always so much more fun with friends to share and add their imput along the way.
Jobís journey began with a conversation in Heaven between Almighty God and Satan. Job 1:7-8 says ďAnd the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
I believe that God brought Jobís righteousness to Satanís attention not as a test for Job, but one for Satan. God knew Jobís character, He knew how Job would react and what the end of the story would bring. Satan however did not, otherwise he would not have followed through with his plan to destroy all Job had. Although Job was not perfect in the sense that Christ is perfect, he did all that God had ask so that he could to live as perfect possible. As head of the household, and the manner for the times was, Job offered sacrifice for his family. He left nothing to chance, fearing that one of them had not lived right, so for each child he made offerings and he did so continually.
When the day came that Satan wreaked havoc on Job, he lost his livelihood, his servants and his children. Jobís continual sacrifice was then proven. He lost it all here on this earth, but he knew that his children were in the hands of God because he had faithfully performed his duty as the head of the home.
There is no sacrifice that we can make that can guarantee our children will go to Heaven. That sacrifice was made by Christ and must be accepted by them personally when they become of age. But as leaders in our home we can insure through our sacrifice of time and dedication to the things of God that our children and family have the example set before them. Iím so grateful that I had godly parents who brought me up in church and showed me the way to Jesus. When they lost my brother at the age of 19 not one time did they give up on God. My mother in all her wisdom when asked why she didnít blame God replied ďHow can I blame the only One Who will allow me to see him again? Yes, I am grateful.
- Thots from the Hen House
- Shari's Journey 2 Health!
- Simply Said Designs
- Hand Designed Personaliti...
- Speaking & Singing Availa...
- About me...
- FOX NEWS... it wasn't me
- Fire for Teens
- Tracy Miller Music
- Peculiar me...
- The Boots...
- Archive 1
- Archive 2
- Archive 3
- Archive 4
- Archive 5
- Archive 6
- Archive 7
- Archive 8
- Archive 9
- Archive 10 (newest)
- Opportunity knocks!
What they say about a Jesus Chick event...
"Thanks for sharing from your heart and for being so real!"
"Thanks for challenging me."
"Loved your Realness"
I was so blessed by your sharing and singing, I laughed and cried and was drawn to the foot of the cross!"