Sunday, December 24, 2017

Our King is Born! Hallelujah!

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."  John 1:14 NKJ

"And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in  a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."  Luke 2:7 NKJ

Merry Christmas!  Our Savior is born, Christ the King, whom shepherds watched and angels sing! 

God bless you, dear Reader, today and every day, with His mercies great!  May you find hope in the greatest of all Christmas gifts, the One for whom this joyous season is proclaimed!

Please enjoy the video!

Friday, December 22, 2017

O Holy Night!

"For where the treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Matt 6:21 NKJV

Today I opened a Dayspring Christmas card I received.  The words on the front say:

'Wise men came with the treasures of earth in their hands.... and left with the Treasure of Heaven in their hearts.'  Inside it says, 'Celebrating this Christmas because Jesus still gives us the greatest treasure of all--Himself!  Blessings to You.'

What a beautiful sentiment!  Tears filled my eyes because it is so simple.  They came with earthly treasures for the Child, treasures of the most valuable things on earth-- gold, frankincense, and myrrh, they but left with the greatest treasure of all, having seen and worshipped the Savior of the world, the Messiah! 

We also come to Jesus giving what to us is the most valuable thing we have -- ourselves.  In this world of  'me, me!' that is what we consider to be the most treasured of our possessions, our own lives.  In reality, our lives are a filthy and totally inadequate gift for the King of kings.  But it is the best we can do; and a celebration of God and heavenly hosts occurs when we offer our lives to Jesus!  God our Father rejoices for every single person who gives their life to Christ.  He actually sings!  God sings!!

"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

And the angels throw a party! 

"Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won't she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she'll call her friends and neighbors: 'Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!' Count on it—that's the kind of party God's angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God." Luke 15:10 Message

This Christmas, when the world seems to be going down the drain in a whirlpool of sin and idolatry, why not rededicate yourself to Jesus of Nazareth, to Emmanuel, God with us.  Let Him take your dirty heart and cleanse it in the blood He shed for you.  Let His life be your example.  Stop rushing, instead allow someone else to go first.  Lend an ear to someone who needs it.  If you see someone who looks lost in a store ask if you can help them.  It's so easy to be kind, and it makes you feel better.  Pray for those that hate you, as strange as it sounds, you will feel so much better! You will release all sorts of stresses that may be ruining your life and health! 

"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven;" Matt 44-45 NKJV

Dear Reader, if you have not given your life to Jesus but you want to, or if you have gone away and wish to rededicate yourself, let today be the day that you do.  It is Christmas Eve 2011.  You will receive a treasure worth more than anything and everything here on earth--your promise of life everlasting in Heaven with the King of Kings!  So be renewed, be born again, for "Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 NKJV

Please pray this prayer with all your heart:

Heavenly Father, I come to You admitting that I am a sinner.  Right now, I choose to turn away from sin, and I ask You to cleanse me of all unrighteousness.  I believe that Your Son, Jesus, died on the cross to take away my sins.  I also believe that He rose again from the dead so that I may be justified and made righteous through faith in Him.  I call upon the name of Jesus Christ to be the Savior and Lord of my life.  Jesus, I choose to follow You, and I ask that You fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit.  I declare right now that I am a born-again child of God.  I am free from sin, and full of the righteousness of God.  I am saved in Jesus' name.  Amen 

Welcome (back) to the Kingdom of God and eternal life!  You may want to find a church tonight or tomorrow morning to worship and fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.  You have a very large family now!   Merry Christmas and God bless you!

Please enjoy the video.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas!

This is the last week before Christmas.  It's 10:05 in the morning on Tuesday, December 20th, 2017.  It is 60 degrees outside and raining, and the fog comes to say hello for awhile before disappearing for a few hours and then returning. It's warm out, but this year they promise a bitter cold Christmas day.  Christmas is the one time of the year that I don't mind the cold.  I don't mind the snow.  Living in Central Texas gives us little hope of a white Christmas, but I can remember Christmases past in New Jersey when there was so much snow our boots weren't high enough to keep it from falling into them and on our feet!

I remember sleigh riding at the country club nearby.  There was a hill that we all dragged our flexible fliers up and came racing down.  Sometimes we would run and throw ourselves on the sled so that we could start out going fast.  Flexible fliers were the best sleds you could have.  You could lie on your belly and go face first down the hill, you could sit and hold the rope and steer with your feet, or you could make a 'train', on your belly with your feet locked into the front of the sled behind you.  It would take a little bit of time to get going because of the weight, but once it got started, look out below! 

I remember the first time my Dad took me ice skating.  I was four years old.  He took me to a frozen pond at the same golf course and held my hand as he turned in circles and then let me go!  Off I went on legs like Bambi.  I don't recall if I fell or not, but I loved to ice skate!  Peggy Fleming was my heroine.  Dad took us to the Ice Follies and the Ice Capades at Madison Square Garden and it was the most amazing, colorful, fun time!  Oh, how I wanted to be an ice skater and wear those beautiful sequenced outfits!

I remember that the signal to let us know if school was closed for the snow was that the fire whistle would blow.  We would wake up, look out the window, and if it was snowing out we would lay back and wait to hear the whistle.  If it didn't blow, it was time to check with the radio.  If school wasn't cancelled, we'd better beat feet as they said back then and get ready or we'd be late.  I remember how disappointed we'd be if we had school.

The trees where I lived were 80-100 feet tall.  Just beautiful oak and maple trees.  I remember Christmases when there was so much snow, the branches were covered, the streets were like tunnels, and the beauty of the star-filled night was magnificent.  God in His glory!  I remember making the first footprints in the snow.  I remember getting so cold, our gloves soaking wet from playing and having snowball fights that our hands were bright red and just plain hurt.  But we didn't want to risk going home for a dry pair and being told we couldn't go out anymore that it was getting late and we had had enough for the day.  Had enough?!  Oh no, not this kid! So I learned to keep an extra pair of gloves or mittens in my pocket.

I would go Christmas caroling with my friends and hope that someone would give us a quarter.  It would make it all worth while!  Climbing over the piles where the plow had just been and getting snow in my boots, ugh, it was so darn cold!  But we kept going.  Christmas would be over soon enough. 

Christmas will always be memories of snowball fights, sleigh riding, caroling, and ice skating to me.  Beautiful nights, blindingly bright days.  We don't usually have that in Central Texas on Christmas Eve, but I always think about how nice it would be.  Just for that one night.  Just for fun. 

Thank You, Lord, that you gave me memories.  Thank You that I can still 'go back' to those more innocent times, relive them in my heart, and smile.  I can see my Mother young, my older brother's smile, and almost feel the cold wind freezing the water in my eyes! 

I don't know if you have snow where you live, dear Reader, but if you do, I understand all the work involved with clearing the driveway (boy DO I, we had to shovel, no snow blowers) but I still wish I had it here.  I'd just walk and take pictures and slide down the hill in my backyard.  This is a picture of snow at our home seven years ago. It lasted about 8 hours.  It wasn't Christmas, but it was beautiful!

Merry Christmas, and God bless you. Remember a Christmas that makes you smile and thank God for it!  I can still dream, can't I?  God bless you everyone!

Monday, December 18, 2017

And the Angels Brought the Word

"Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
       “ Glory to God in the highest,
         And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”  And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.  Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.  And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.  Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them."
Luke 2:8-20

Can you imagine being one of the shepherds that holy night?  Can you imagine taking care of your flock (as this Child would one day) and being interrupted by an angel of the Lord?  And then a 'multitude' of heavenly host appear and in heavenly choir sing praises of glory to the Lord?  Can you imagine the depths of wonder your soul would experience?  In the light of the stars and moon and in the glory of the angels, you must be unbelievably scared!  But you are told to not be afraid but instead to know that a Savior is born and He will take care of you forevermore!

So after the angels disappear, imagine standing there in the field with your sheep and your friends and wondering what was going on!  Your life is changed completely!  You didn't see just one angel, as Abraham and Jacob did, you saw a multitude of heavenly host!  A multitude!  How do you catch your breath after that?  After the honor that was bestowed on you to be a witness to such a miracle!

And then you do what they told you and you journey to the cave that houses an infant who will save the world!  How do you even comprehend all that?  You see His young mother cradling the Savior of the World and His earthly father watching nearby, protecting them both.  You fall on your knees and you worship the Babe.  You tell about what the angels told you, and you see His mother listening intently.  What an amazing honor to be chosen to be one of the first to see this and to bring a message from heaven to Mary!

You know how when we see a newborn baby we always marvel at the perfection of their lips and their eyelashes and tiny fingers?  Can you imagine seeing Jesus just hours old?  Knowing, because the angels told you, that He would save the world?  That He was the King of kings?  Do you dare to touch His little hand so that His fingers rest around yours?  What would it be like to touch the Son of God? 

Dear Reader, we can touch the Son of God anytime we want to!  He is in each one of us.  He is in your wife, your child, your husband, your friend, your co-worker.  He is in the guy down the street that doesn't bring his garbage can up right away.  He is in the homeless, he is in the downtrodden, he is in the teacher, the fireman, the executive, the secretary, he is in us!  Bless someone today with a hug.  If that is too uncomfortable for you, than bless them with a smile right from your heart!  Think of that person as Jesus, your Savior!  Love your fellow man; today do something extra special for someone you don't know.  Let the angels sing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men." 

Have a beautiful day, and God bless you today and always.  Wrap yourself in the miracle of Jesus' birth!  Please enjoy the link below.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Walk On

Christmas is a joyous (the most joyous) time of the year.  This is the time of the year when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  As Christians we take a very special joy in singing hymns and Christmas songs, and doing nice things for people we don't even know.  But sometimes even we feel down.  Sometimes hope has been stolen from our hearts.

This year there are many of us who can't afford even a small gift for the one we love.  You may not be able to pay the rent next month, the children are sick, your spouse may be thousands of miles away fighting a war, or someone you love may be incarcerated.  You may be in a relationship that has gone wrong somehow without you even noticing until it was too late.  Maybe you can't afford to fly home to see someone you love who may be sick, and this may be your last chance to see them before they die.  Maybe you just put down your loving dog or cat, and you can't imagine coming home everyday and not having them waiting with tail wagging.  Is your heart heavy and you cry alone, thinking nobody would care anyway, and if they did, what could they do about it? 

Sometimes the hardest thing in the world to do is to make ourselves feel happy.  Sometimes we hide the hurt and the pain we carry around because as a Christian, aren't we always supposed to feel happy and carefree because we have a God who loves us?  Well, yes, we should take great joy in knowing that God will never (and I mean never) leave us nor forsake us.  How do I know that?  He says so.  Again and again in the Bible.  He loves us.  But sometimes our natural man overwhelms us, and this time of year seems to be a time when that happens most. 

So we cry and we ache and we long for someone to put their arms around us and give us hope.  We cry into the pillow, and we hope the shower washes our tears away.  We have never felt so alone, so lost, so empty. 

Sometimes we really need the cleansing of crying.  When Jesus' friend Lazarus died, Jesus wept.  It hurt Him to lose His friend.  We have all lost someone, whether through death or through broken relationships.  Even divorce is a death of dreams and hopes.  The two who were one are now separate, and there is a void where once there was completeness.  And when someone we love dies, we are lost for awhile without them.  Who do we call on that date when they were born or married?  Who do we go to in our times of need?  Who do we share our dreams and successes with?  Who will fill that void? Where is that loving embrace?

My dear Reader, it is still there.  Although it may not be in the arms of your mother, father, child, husband, wife, sister or brother, or from cuddling the greatest pet in the world, the best embrace comes from the One that died for you.  You CAN feel His embrace, if you just sit back and rest in His peace.  You may not be able to find that peace until you have wept ten thousand tears, but eventually, like a baby, you cry it out.  This is not to say that you won't cry again tomorrow, but for now, the retching of your sobs has worn you out.  That's not when you're the weakest, you know, that is when you are the most open.  That is when you are ready to listen, to hear the truth--that you are not alone, not at that minute or at any other time in your life.

Although there may be no one around you that you can smile at or touch, there is our Jesus, who is with you every single minute of the day and night.  He is right there, you are resting in His embrace.  He is breathing life into you!  Don't give up!  On the contrary, take hold of the hand He offers and draw near to Him!  He will carry you when you can't go on, but He will also lift you up on wings like eagles, He will give you strength, and He will show you the peace that surpasses all understanding.  Today may seem dark and your heart may be filled with despair, but have hope!  Jesus awaits!  He will kiss your face and place His arms around you.  He will never, ever, go away and leave you alone. 

So take hope, have faith, and walk on!  God bless you, dear Reader.  Give Him a chance today!  Let Christmas become a beautiful time of the year again.  Look at it with hope once again!

"When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark

At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone"
-Rogers and Hammerstein

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours!
May your day be filled with love, joy, and laughter as you give thanks to God for all His blessings. I pray that each one of you is with someone you love today. For those who have welcomed a new addition to your family this year, you are truly blessed. For those who have lost someone this year, my heart cries for you. You are in my prayers for peace and comfort. May God bless each of you with all you need, and may your praise to Him be great! He has not forgotten any one of us, and His love is overwhelming.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Behold, A New Day is Dawning!

“Behold, a new day is dawning!”  How uplifting and encouraging and comforting and exciting these six words are!  Behold—look, take in, see, watch.

A new day is dawning; a day unlike any other day in the history of the world. If yesterday was filled with sorrow and grief, be encouraged that today will not be the same. Today is guaranteed to be different, because we don’t serve an ordinary, boring God. We serve a God who is creative and colorful, and filled with so much love that he makes each day new.

Every day when we wake up we should be thankful that we are on the cusp, the dawn of a new time. No matter what yesterday held, this morning we are alive! We are in the presence of God Himself! He cared to bring us safely through the night into a day we haven’t touched yet—a day that’s a clean and glorious slate. We haven’t put even a smudge on this pure canvas yet. We haven’t etched a day of sinful behavior on the painting of our life.

We should stop and take pause, even from jumping out of bed. We should take the time to thank God for His gift and ask Him to walk us through it, holding our hand and heart, and lead us safely through the unknown. For even though we have made plans, or expect to go forth in our normal routine, the day is not ours, it is His, and He chooses what will happen—good or bad. We can never be so bold as to assume all is well or all is for naught in our world, for it is by His delight that the day, and our role in it, unfolds.

We still have the choice of how we will spend the hours and minutes given to us, whether in joy or pain, living for ourselves or for Him and others.

I will consciously decide that today is going to be a day of thanksgiving and that all my troubles will be easier to bear if I give the load to the One who offers His constant help. If I can keep His laws and commands to the best of my ability, if I can devote my day to His service and worship Him in all I do, then no matter what may come up I am going to succeed.

He tells us again and again that He won’t leave or forsake us, and that He “is with us always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

So be inspired by these six little words, dear Reader, 22 letters put together in beautiful order.  Let them give you hope and encouragement. Go out and face the day in grateful victory!


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Finding Salvation

"Seek the Lord while you can find Him.  Call on Him now while He is near.  Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong.  Let them turn to the Lord that He may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for He will forgive generously." Isaiah 55:6-7 NLT

If you don't know how much you are loved, or how valuable you are in God's eyes, it is never too late to find out as long as you are still breathing.  His love for you is so broad, so grand, so rich, that your heart almost can't take it all in. 
If you have been living a life of wickedness, and believing in a false god to bring you to heaven, you should seek the one true God--El Shaddai--now while He is here calling you.  Don't put it off any longer, as none know the time of His coming, not even Jesus Himself.  It will be too late to ask for mercy when the end has already come. 

It isn't a difficult thing to come to the Living God.  You must change your ways (Paul did, Moses did, David did) and do your best to follow His commands and not sin. And He will help you with that--He will always give you a way out of temptation.  If you come to the Lord, to Jesus, He will have mercy on you.  He will forgive you of all your past sins. We've all made mistakes, we have all sinned, and yet He still loves us and wants desperately for all of humanity to know Him.

Please, don't be afraid that your past is too awful to be forgiven.  So many in the Bible have committed terrible sins, and yet our all-forgiving God redeemed them, and He will redeem you too.  King David committed adultery and then had the husband of the woman murdered.  Yet God called David, "a man after My own heart."  Not because of David's sins, but because of what he then did, which was to ask God's forgiveness and repent of his evil ways. 

Moses killed an Egyptian, yet God chose him to lead the people of Israel to the Promised Land.  God loved Moses so much that He buried him Himself! 

Saul (later to be named Paul by God) ruthlessly went out looking for Christians--men, women, and children--to persecute and stone to death.  He was a very intelligent man and a Pharisee.  He watched the Apostle Stephen be stoned with no remorse. Then Jesus, in all His glory appeared to Saul while he was on the road to Damascus to gather more people of "The Way" to persecute.  Saul was changed once he was in the presence of Jesus. He eventually wrote 2/3 of the New Testament, and did amazing things for the Kingdom of God and converted thousands to what is now called Christianity.

The Bible is filled with stories of God's love and forgiveness.  So there is nothing you may have done that He won't forgive, even if you have a difficult time forgiving yourself.

Wouldn't you like to share in the most wonderful experience known to man, being able to return to the one true God, the one Who created you and wants to welcome you back into His open arms?  Did you know that He will even sing and dance at your choice to make Jesus your Lord (Zephaniah 3:17)?  When you come to Him asking for His forgiveness and have a sincere heart to repent, He WILL forgive you and He'll cast all your sins into the Sea of Forgetfulness and never hold them against you or even remember them ever again!

If you died today, would you go to Heaven?  Do you know the awesome love of Jesus?  If you have a desire in your heart to know Jesus, and to know true life, and life everlasting; or if you have fallen away from Him and wish to renew your relationship, please pray the following prayer of salvation. 

"Heavenly Father,
I come to You admitting that I am a sinner.  Right now, I choose to turn away from sin, and ask You to cleanse me of all unrighteousness.  I believe that Your Son, Jesus, died on the cross to take away my sins.  I also believe that He rose again from the dead so that I may be justified and made righteous through faith in Him.  I call upon the name of Jesus Christ to be the Savior and Lord of my life.  Jesus, I choose to follow You, and I ask that You fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit.  I declare right now that I am a born-again child of God.  I am free from sin, and full of the righteousness of God.  I am saved in Jesus' name, Amen."

Welcome (back) to the family of God!

(If you have just received Jesus into your heart for the first time or have just returned to Him, please comment below so that we may all celebrate the newest member of our family! Thank you, and God bless you!)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mountains Sing and Trees Clap

"For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."  Isaiah 55:12 NKJV

This verse always, and I mean always, brings a smile to my face and fills my soul.  Just picture in your heart and mind the absolute wonder of such incredible joy--the mountains and hills sing and the trees clap their hands!! (Yes, it is worthy of two exclamation points.)

When man sinned, not only was the human race changed, but all of creation suffered the consequences.  The earth itself, and all of the universe became subject to deteriorating.  None of God's creation was meant to die, but sin changed that.  Everything began to age, and with age comes weakness and finally death. 

Remember, God made us in His image.  He placed man above all the rest of creation, and gave him authority over all things on the earth, in the sky, and in the sea.  But when man fell, he lost that authority.  He tried to hide from God and found blame in others for his disobedience. 

But God gave us hope when He gave us Jesus.  When our final redemption arrives, all of creation will be set free from the curse of death and decay and will share our glory.  All created things!

Imagine, when He returns for us, a symphony of worship from Everest and Kilimanjaro, and even the smallest hill accompanied by the rhythmic melody of claps from the tallest redwoods and sequoias to a new sapling, will fill the earth with a sound so beautiful, and so stunning to see, that our souls will beam with such euphoria as we, all of creation, in unison, give worship to the King of the Universe! Is this verse strictly symbolic?  I can't answer that, for the day has not yet arrived.  But as for me, I will take this verse literally because it fills me with such emotion. What a day it will be!  And we shall all bow to the name of Jesus, our Savior.  Hallelujah, I can hardly wait!!  Go with God and know His peace.  May constant and contagious joy be in your heart today!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

For His Children in the Flooded Areas of Texas and Louisiana:

“Remember who created you? Who shaped you? See, you have nothing to fear. I, who made you, will take you back. I have chosen you, named you as My own. When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calm; you will not be engulfed in raging rivers. If it seems like you’re walking through fire with flames licking at your limbs, keep going; you won’t be burned. Because I, the Eternal One, am your God. I am the Holy One of Israel, and I will save you.” Isaiah 43:1-3 The Voice
When it all seems terribly lost, hold on to the One that is above the flood and above the storm. Nothing is more powerful than Him and His love.  He hasn't failed you.  He has a plan for you. Don't despair, for He is with you.  He won't leave you now, believe me!!  When all you have left is your voice, use it to say thank You for your life. God bless you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

He Will Cleanse Your Heart If You Ask!

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.   Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." Psalm 139:23-24 NLT (Part 5 of 5 in a series on Psalm 139)

It's not easy to expose our hearts in search of things we do that are offensive.  It's not even easy when we ask and give permission to God to search us.  Oftentimes it's even harder to swallow when He exposes the dirt in our hearts.  We didn't know we had so many dark places in there. 

If we truly want to live the life Jesus died to give us, we must ask and be willing for Him to cleanse us.  He will take whatever may be hindering us and place it in the fire of purification until all the dross (impurities) float to the top.  Then He will scoop all that junk off and we will shine like gold!  But nothing worthwhile comes easily. 

In this verse, we ask God to test us.  We all know that testing us isn't necessarily something we want.  It means hard times and suffering, and probably knowing that it will continue until we understand and learn that after suffering is joy and peace.  Who, after all, isn't happy when the sun comes out after a major storm? But while that storm is raging, we are clinging to the hope that God will get us through it, and we pray,  'Let the tornado go away!'  '"Stop the hurricane!'  'Please God, make the snow stop!'

Have you ever been caught in a rainstorm so heavy that your windshield wipers weren't fast enough, and you couldn't even see the end of your car's hood?  And then a semi truck passes you splashing you with more water, shaking your car, and leaving a trail of white mist so thick you don't know if you're even on the road?  At that time aren't you asking God to 'Please get me out of this, help me find a safe spot so I can pull over!  Please, God!'

During those times you plead your case to God, you are acknowledging that only He can bring you safely through the turmoil.  And He does, doesn't He?  So when you understand that His love for you is to help you through any situation and to do things for your good and His glory, go ahead and have that same faith that the purifying is going to make you stronger and help you on your path to living a godly life.

It really comes down to how badly you want to be more like Jesus.  Jesus had a pure heart, that's why He was able to forgive the unforgivable and love the unlovable.  And that's how we're commanded to be as well.  So, just say, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.   Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  I trust You!"  You won't regret it!

Have a beautiful day, filled with the love of God!    

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Goodbye (An Annual Post)

This is an annual post of mine.

It's that time of year when many of my friends are saying good-bye to their children who are leaving for college, or getting married, or to children who are enlisting in the military.  There is such an ache that comes with good-byes.  For days or even weeks ahead of time (and occasionally months, like me) we feel a stabbing in our heart.  It is real.  I have felt it myself when my own child got married.  I couldn't bear the thought of not kissing her in the morning or when she came home from school or work, or our goodnight kiss.  If you are blessed with affection between your family members you know what I mean.  But even if there weren't always kisses and hugs, if there was the respect from the child you raised, it hurts to see them leave.

So you leave the room and hide in the bathroom for a little while or run to the store real quick so nobody sees your tears and makes light of them.  Because this isn't funny, this is real!  Your baby is leaving home for the first time.  Your little baby, the one that made you forget all the hours of labor when you held them when they were first born.  You think of how you were a little afraid of bathing them the first time.  What if they slipped from your hands? You kissed their precious little feet (now a size 10) and put their hands on your mouth as you smiled and cooed and told them you loved them.  You could hardly wait until she was old enough to have longer hair that you could put a bow in; or until he was old enough to fit his hand into a baseball glove.  You went to all the school plays and sent everyone their school picture every year.  You made sure they bathed and brushed their teeth, and ate all their dinner before they went to bed.  You helped them for endless hours with homework.

You fought and you forgave.  You rewarded their good behavior, and disciplined their disrespect for you or your spouse, or their teacher or coaches, brothers and sisters, and even strangers.  You tried to instill in them a sense of worth.  And now the time has come to say good-bye for a while.  Yes, you can call and email, FaceTime or Skype, but you can't see them in your kitchen.  So what do you do?

If you know God, and have raised them to know God, you take comfort knowing that He is still in charge of this loved one's life.  You prayed over them as a child, and you pray over them today.  In your heart you know that everything will be alright.  If you know God, but haven't had a very close relationship with Him, or if you don't know God at all, don't worry!  He knows you!  And He knows your child.  He created that loved one just for you.  He will be taking care of them, and you.  He always has.  All those fights that eventually wound up in hugs, all those tears that were replaced with smiles, all those worries when they got hurt or were late coming home that ended up alright, that was God taking care of you all.

If you know nothing else about God, know this.  He is love.  He cannot not love!  That's all there is to it!  He knows your heart and your pain, and your sorrows.  And He wants to help you get through it.  He won't make you feel bad about not knowing Him; He's ready to show you just how much He loves you.  All you have to do is ask.

So it's alright to cry those tears at good-byes, the Bible says in Psalm 56:8 of the Contemporary English Version (CEV), "You have stored my tears in Your bottle and counted each of them." Put your hope in Him, He will protect your babies.

If you're the one leaving for the first time, there is that great sense of adventure!  "Finally, on my own!"  Sometimes that excitement comes with a sense of anxiety as well.  You're all grown up, but you'll miss your mommy.  Don't be ashamed, I guarantee her heart will melt if you called her that today.  You may wonder if you did enough for your parents while you were at home, or now feel a little regret that you had an attitude.  They always bailed you out of your messes, and always forgave you.  You may wonder," now that I am gone, will they still love me as much?"  Of course.  Now they have something else to be proud of you for.  You're going to college!  You're enlisting in the Military!  You're getting married!  You took a job far away from home!  They will have new concerns, but they believe you're up to the challenge.

Grow!  Learn!  Plan your future.  Ask God to help you every morning.  Ask Him for strength.  Ask Him to protect you and your family.  Love Him.

So as you say good-bye and start this new chapter in your lives, let's also say hello to God's blessings for our future.  His word says in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV)

Smile, life is good!  God is in charge! ©Deirdre Tolhurst, 21 August 2011 (First Blog)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Prayer in the Morning

My blessed Savior, good morning!  To the Holy Trinity I give my life.  I praise You my God, Three in One.  Today is a brand new day, filled with wonder and expectation.  What walls will I destroy today, what nasty habits will be broken?  Which sorrows will be laid to rest, finally allowing me to breathe?  What relationships will be mended because I've swallowed my pride and asked for forgiveness?  What wisdom will You impart to me to make my travels through this world less burdensome? 

You are the Maker of my life.  You are my Guiding Light!  Forever I am attached to You by ownership. To You I am a masterpiece, so valuable the earth and all it contains doesn't compare.  When the world calls me failure, You call me Chosen.  When the army of dark warriors comes to claim my soul, my heart cries out with the heavenly saints, "Get thee behind me, Satan, I am a child of the Most High God!  Flee while you still have time, for your days of chaotic reign are quickly coming to an end!  I, however, will live eternally in a place that is beautiful, where the light of the Master is so great the sun and moon are no longer employed.  A place that holds no sorrow, no sickness, no deceit or fear.  Because Jesus has conquered death and I have been redeemed!" 

I shout to the heavens, "Thank You for this day to serve and worship!  Hallelujah to the God Most High, my Father!"

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

He Gave Us ALL A Choice!

"O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!  Get out of my life, you murderers!  They blaspheme you; your enemies misuse your name.  O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?  Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?  Yes, I hate them with total hatred, for your enemies are my enemies."  Psalm 139:19-22 NLT (Part 4 in a series on Psalm 139)

Dear Reader, have you ever felt this way?  King David has seen enough evil and knows that his God's name is being taken in vain.  David hates this so much that he hates those who are his enemies.  He asks God to destroy them, to rid the world of them and their evil. 

We live in a world that is ripe with hatred and evil.  I was so upset with the terrorists who took those two reporters and beheaded them a few years ago.  I hated them even more because they wore black masks to hide their faces.  Like King David, I asked God to please destroy them and the world would be a better place.  I pleaded that they hated our God, that they hated anyone who was Christian.  I felt I was praying in line with David's prayer.

Then God spoke to me.  He said five words, "Deirdre, Paul was a terrorist."  When Paul was still Saul, his goal in life was to kill off all the Christians he could--men, women, and children.  It was at his feet that the accusers laid their cloaks as the Apostle Stephen was being stoned.  Saul was a witness, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. 

Jesus revealed Himself to Saul and His brilliance blinded Saul for three days.  God sent Ananias to lay his hands on him and say, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  Saul became Paul, and preached the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike.  He suffered greatly for Christ, and authored about 2/3 of the New Testament.

God reminded me that vengeance was His, as was the victory.  He reminded me that as long as anyone--terrorist, celebrity, politician, your lost child, or the guy down the street--was still breathing, they still had a chance to confess Jesus as Lord of their life and receive salvation. 

So, dear Reader, no matter how bad the world may look, there is always the possibility of change. So pray hard for those who don't know the Lord, those whose lives are worldly and full of sin, those who do terrible things, that they may come to know the Lord Jesus!  Can you imagine the terrorist who comes to Christ?  For him to learn the truth and then to secretly share it with others?  God can change anyone in to a Paul!  Jesus told us to pray for our enemies.  Now is a good time to start.  Go in peace, my friends, and know that you are doing the Lord's work!

Monday, August 7, 2017

He Thinks About You ALL The Time!

"How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!  I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!  And when I wake up, you are still with me!"  Psalm 139:17-18 NLT

Have you ever been so in love with someone that you couldn't get them off your mind?  While you were getting dressed in the morning, having breakfast, driving to work, throughout the day and into the evening, you just think about this person all the time?  You even break out in a smile when their name is mentioned? 

That's what it's like for God!  He never stops thinking about you, not when you're good or bad, or laughing or crying, or feeling like the life of the party, or when you're alone.  On top of that, His thoughts for you are good thoughts, thoughts with a purpose and a future!  The love that God has for you is so divine and so enormous, nothing we could possibly feel for anyone else, even Him, can compare!

So please, dear Reader, when those days come, and they do, when you don't feel very loved, come back to these words by King David and know that your existence makes the Most High God very happy.  So happy, He can't get you off His mind, and He smiles when He thinks of your name! 

Friday, August 4, 2017

He Spent Time Making You!

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.  You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.  You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." Psalm 139:13-16

How reassuring to know that the God we worship spent time making every detail of who we are.  He didn't just wave His hand and order another person to be born.  No, He spoke you!  He knew your face and name before the earth was formed!  That means He cared more about you than creating all the heavens and the earth! 

He took special care with everything that makes you, you.  While you were in your mother's womb, He was there with you.  Each day He told you how much He loves you.  He told your little heart to beat and how many beats each minute.  He told your eyes to be green and your hair to be brown.  He told your legs how much to grow each day, and He told you how tall you would be. 

He breathed into your lungs just the right amount of air, and He delicately formed the inner workings of your ears.  He gave you your own fingerprints, retinas, and lip prints.  No two are alike, not even in identical twins.  He made you unique, a one of a kind.  Just the way He likes you!

It was His finger that you held when your world was as small as the two of you. He whispered the secrets of the universe in your ears, and told you that you were His, now and forever.  He gave you unconditional love, and when it was time to be born, He lovingly guided you out of your mother's body, and then placed you into the doctor's hands.

Celebrate today the loving care our Father gives to you.  It didn't end when you were born; instead, each day of your life, each moment of your life, He is still pouring out His undying love for you.  That won't ever change.  Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  He loves you more than you will ever know!  Enjoy your day, dear Reader!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

He is Everywhere!

"I can never escape from your Spirit!  I can never get away from your presence!  If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.  If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.   I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.  To you the night shines as bright as day.  Darkness and light are the same to you."  Psalm 139:7-12 NLT

What a comfort it is to know that you can never be out of God's sight!  No matter where you go, to the highest peak or the deepest valley, He is there!  In our physical world He can be seen in the beauty of the sunrise and sunset, the sound of the wind, the smell of the ocean, and the smile of a child. 

You can't outrun Him and you can't hide in the most remote place on earth because He is there.  And He doesn't just watch, no, not at all!  He listens, He speaks, He comforts, and He loves.  If you are broken, He is there to mend the pieces, and if you are filled with joy, He laughs and sings with you!  When He smiles our hearts know it.

He doesn't want you to be without Him.  He made you for Himself.  He wants you!  Never lose sight of that, dear Reader, He wants you--with all of His heart, no matter what place you are in, He won't leave you.  As a matter of fact, just the opposite.  As you draw near to Him, He draws near to you (James 4:8)!  So enjoy today and remember, there is no place you can go that He isn't already there, so smile and give Him thanks for keeping such a watchful eye on you.  He loves you more than you will ever realize.

Monday, July 31, 2017

He is All Knowing

Psalm 139:1-6 (NLT)
For the Choir Director:  A Psalm of David.

"O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.  You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.  You know everything I do.  You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.

You go before me and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!"
How reassuring it is to know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our God, cares about every single thing we do!  He has examined our hearts and He knows everything about us.  Everything--the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of our life.  Even when we are filthy in sin He stays with us.  He promises to never, ever leave us or forsake us.  What does that mean?  He won't turn His back on us when we disappoint Him, as we are so easily prone to do to others that have hurt us.  He won't abandon, discard, or disown us.  We belong to Him!  He treasures us.  He longs for us to know Him.
He knows our past and our future.  He is always with us.  Why?  Because He loves us!  To Him, we are His greatest workmanship.  We were not meant to be away from Him.  Until the fall of man, He enjoyed walking with His creation in the cool of the morning.  He took care in creating us, being delicate and deliberate. He crafted our brains to be so complex man will probably never figure out its detailed workings, yet He knows even our most inner thoughts! 
He has blessed us!  We are His children.  Sit back and take that in.  Just breathe it in, you are loved by the Most High God!  You are cared for by the Author of Salvation.  Bask in His glory for a while today and let Him know how grateful you are for His goodness!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Faith and Obedience

Hello dear Reader,

Each morning I read several devotions. Today one quoted 2 John 6.

"And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love." (NIV)

The devotion* goes on to say, "If you've made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, you've already taken the first step of obedience." 1 Corinthians 12:3b (Voice) says, "...and no one confessing “Jesus is Lord” can do so without the Holy Spirit’s inspiration."

Faith follows the same suit.  If you change the word 'obedience' in the last paragraph to 'faith' it reads, “If you’ve made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, you’ve already taken the first step of faith.”

The day I gave my life to Jesus was one of the most emotional days I ever had. When the Holy Spirit started calling me, and I stopped what I was doing and listened, the urge to turn my life over to Jesus became so great I couldn't resist it.  I almost literally ran down the aisle during that altar call only 4 days shy of 30 years ago. 

A week had gone by since the very first time I heard those words, the words that formed the most beautiful invitation my heart could receive.  I resisted on that particular day because I was filled with religion and its laws.  But during the week that followed, my heart yearned more and more for Sunday to come again so that I could answer the call.  All week I was thinking about that invitation to ask Jesus into my heart to be my Lord and Master. I had never been asked such things before.  My upbringing in my former religion held me back from receiving the gift of salvation a week earlier.  Being born again wasn't something I was taught, so I knew absolutely nothing about it. I shudder to think where I would be if I had died that week before asking Jesus into my heart.

I always believed in the Trinity, and that Jesus came to earth as a human and died for us. I learned that at a very young age, so I had absolutely no doubt it was true.  It was faith--believing without seeing; and believing with all my heart.  Jesus says in John 20:29b NKJV, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."  Hebrews 11:1 says "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

It requires faith to give your life to Christ.  So we must spiritually accept and understand in a way that our hearts cannot deny, but instead needs more than anything else, to pursue.  This is our greatest faith.  We believe without seeing, and we 'run to the altar' without a second thought. 

The enemy has never wanted this day to come, so he has helped you sin by temptation as often and as long as he could.  You kicked him in the teeth the day you were born again.

The devotion says that when you accepted Christ as your Savior you took the first step of obedience.  That still small voice inside you kept calling, and each time, your heart beat with a yearning and desire to answer the call.  And when you did, when you couldn't say "not now" any longer, you obeyed the Spirit of God.

Was it difficult?  Not for me.  As I said, I almost ran up the aisle.  And as I gave my life to Jesus that day, as I recited the Sinner's Prayer (also called the Prayer of Salvation), the joy in my heart poured out in uncontrollable sobs.  What was empty in my life became filled with the love and forgiveness of God!  It was by far the most incredibly emotional and spiritual day of my life.

I confess that over the last 30 years my faith has wavered and I wasn't always obedient.  Since that Sunday morning on June 14, 1987, the enemy has attacked again and again, sometimes causing me to doubt many things.  That's his main objective--to cripple the Christian and make us doubt God's love for us or that we are precious in His sight.  Satan will tempt us into doing or saying things that will make non-believers have a very poor opinion of Christians.

Though there have been times of great struggle, God has kept His hand on my life.  He has shown me many things, and brought so much joy to my life there aren’t words to tell you. He gave me the armor that defeats the enemy.  He reminded me that faith will carry me through the valleys up on to the peak of the great mountain where the view is magnificent.  I trust that He will always be by my side, that He will never desert me.

We must be vigilant, my dear brothers and sisters, and keep in mind how we 'ran to the altar' without trepidation or doubt, or second guessing, or analyzing our feelings.  We really can have faith in all situations and be obedient.  We just need to remember the first time we did it.  It was so easy and proved to be the most significant moment in our lives. It was the moment that gave us eternity with our Father!

* From Faith to Faith by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

It's a New Day, Dear Readers!

I am back after a long season of being away.  My life was in turmoil for a good part of 2016.  I had some physical challenges as well as some very hard emotional challenges.  In March, the pain of losing our unborn granddaughter at 28 weeks tore at my heart like nothing I had known before.  The sorrow I felt for my daughter and son-in-law was all consuming, but I had to put it aside in order to help out with taking care of Makayla Grace, their now 4-year old.  

I had extensive oral surgery in May, and one week later I contracted Shingles.  By the end of the year I had lost my desire to write, and my faith was greatly tested.  I doubted God's presence in my life, and I struggled to believe that I would ever write again. I couldn't see the point, and I felt as though there was no reward.  By the time 2016 ended, my hope was just about gone. I was feeling pretty down and useless.  On top of that, I gained eight pounds which doesn't work on my small-framed body. That in itself depressed me.

On 1 January, my church of almost 30 years, Grace Christian Center in Killeen, TX, began its third annual 21-day Daniel Fast.  This is a time to eat only fruit and nuts, veggies and seeds, and only drink water.  There are no sweeteners, caffeine, breads or desserts, chemicals or preservatives, meat, fish, or fowl.  More importantly though, it is a time to pray and draw closer to God.  When we deny our flesh the things it craves, such as ice cream, coffee, steak and potatoes, pizza, or any other foods we desire, a battle ensues over the flesh. 

After the third day of headaches from withdrawals of the above mentioned delicacies, it gets a little easier. I found I wanted to spend as much time with God as possible.  Some days I sat in my office and read and studied the bible for hours on end. It's true that meditating on the Word brings you closer to God.  As the days and weeks went by, I found myself being filled with joy once again.

In those times when I starve the flesh and stay in the Word of God, my heart's ears are opened and I hear so much more clearly what God is speaking to me.  It will work this way for you too. As my body was cleansed of impurities, so my soul was filled with the Bread of Life. 

Since the beginning of the year, God's message, whether through my Pastor's sermons, devotions that I read, or studies that I attended, was very simple.  Listen and obey.  That's all.  Don't procrastinate, do!  I had to go back to remembering what it was that God put me here to do.  He blessed me with certain gifts.  His plan for me is to reach as many of His children as possible and to share the Good News of the Gospel through my writing.  Jesus lives! He reigns! He is eternal and He loves us!

Let me encourage you today to listen and obey without delay.  We have no need to fear, He is ever by our side.  I am happy to be back at my keyboard and being with you once again. I may change up the format of my blog, but I won't change the purpose - to be His representative.  Have a blessed and grateful day, and know that you are loved by Your Creator.