Wednesday, August 16, 2017
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
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) goo.gl/TFGwth
Thursday, August 10, 2017
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
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! goo.gl/TFGwth
Monday, August 7, 2017
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
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
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
For the Choir Director: A Psalm of David.
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
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
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.