Oops!

Posted by admin on January 7, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Be the First to Comment

The number on the digital scale flashed up at me–Oops!  Even though I worked out on the treadmill in the icy atmosphere of the garage, those two fig bars and the extra handful of nuts confronted me. Not to mention the bread sticks and salty soup at the Olive Garden.  Or the extra piece of cheese.  Or . . . .

I wrote down every calorie I consumed, but  I missed my weight loss goal for the New Year.  Alas!  I was too confident, even cocky. 

I have lost 80 lbs., donated my plus-size clothes to charity, and trashed a chocolate cake that tempted me.  But I still ate too much during the holidays. 

That ominous verse reverberated in my head: “Therefore, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall!” (I Corinthians 10:12 HCSB)

For the past two weeks, I let go of my support system–the weekly report and phone call with my weight loss counselor.  I can do this on my own, I thought.  As the days progressed, I regressed from taking thought to being thoughtless.  I lost my focus on the Lord, self-discipline, and healthy, balanced living.  Celebration turned to self-indulgence, self-pity, and self-deprecation.  Self, self, self, the prison of self.

Like a toddler who has fallen on her head, I can only crawl back to the Father.  Take my hands, Abba.  Help me up.  I can walk again with Your guidance.  With my eyes on You, I can reach the goal.

Some time in the future, when I lose all my fat, I won’t need to report in every week to a counselor.  My healthy habits will be more habitual.  But I will always need a support system of family, friends, and wise counselors–and I will always need to rely on my Daddy.

Maybe you too are experiencing frustration over goals, resolutions, habits, sins, and failings. 

The Lord is compassionate.  “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity.  God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.” (I Cor. 10:13)

What is that way of escape?  The renewal of our hearts and minds.   

“Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth. . . put on the new self who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of his Creator. . . And let the peace of the Messiah control your hearts.  Be thankful.” (Colossians 3:2,10,15)

Ah, that is the key.  Be thankful.  Be content.  The Lord is in control.  God-power, not just will-power.  I am satisfied in Him. 

So be it, Father, so be it.  Amen. 

 

      1. Kids Sing For Every Prison There's a Door
  a song about the way of escape!

A Divine Appointment

Posted by admin on July 10, 2012 under Encouraging Words | Be the First to Comment

Carousel Rabbit

Like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, I was running late for a very important date–a long-overdue appointment for a hair cut and style.  I burst into the beauty shop with my hair standing on end.

It was only five minutes past, but someone else was in the chair.  Someone else was being shampooed. Someone else was taking my appointment time.   

The beautician looked surprised.  “Need a haircut today?” “Oh, did you forget?  I called on Tuesday and made an appointment.” 

I felt a bit frustrated but kept smiling.  After all, this hair stylist had shaved my head during chemo and styled my wigs.   When stark-white stubble grew back over my pate, she trimmed it.  She even came to my house once.   But I really needed a haircut.  Should I come back later? 

“No,” the lady in the chair volunteered, “you go first.”  She was getting a perm; she would wait.  With wet hair piled under a turban, she headed for the thrift shop next door. 

I felt guilty but impressed; maybe she was a Christian. 

Lydia was quick to shampoo, cut, and style my mop.  The perm lady returned and sat in the beautician’s chair beside me.  “I wish I had thick hair like yours,” she said. 

“I used to have a lot of hair before I had breast cancer,” I said.  “I could have given you half  and not missed it.  Now I’m thankful to have any at all.” 

Her eyes welled with tears.  “You had cancer?  I just found out;  I have lung cancer.  I’m still in shock. . . . you know.” 

“I know,” I said.  

We shared our stories.  As the stylist rolled her hair,  this lovely Christian lady asked questions and shared fears.  We exchanged phone numbers.  I promised to pray and keep in touch.   Soon it was too late to go shopping;  God had preempted my carefully planned day with a divine appointment. 

God often makes appointments for me.  When I had cancer,  people “just appeared” at the door and brought meals when most needed.   When I woke depressed and ill, someone  “just happened” to call or stop by to encourage me.  God arranged multiple appointments with caring, skilled doctors.  He ministered to me through the selfless love of my husband, family, and friends.   Sleepless nights became special times to rest in His presence with my Bible, blanket, and cats. 

Cancer was an ordeal, but it was also an adventure of faith, a precarious but precious time when I was acutely aware of my mortality, the joys and sorrows of life, and the hope of Heaven.   I didn’t know whether I would live or die, but I knew that God had “appointed” my life from beginning to end.  Nothing would be wasted, nothing lost, in His divine plan. 

Like cancer, sin is a fearsome disease that devours light, goodness, and life.  Without God, the prognosis is grim–“The wages of sin is death.”  But God offers us forgiveness and healing.  “The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) 

 Through Christ we become more than survivors, ever-afraid; we become victors.  Our lives gain meaning and purpose:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. ” (Luke 10:26-28)  Age and illness can be faced with faith: “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”  (Philippians 1:21) 

I know some great cancer doctors.  But in the battle with sin, I recommend only one surgeon, He who died and rose again.  He removes the hardened “heart of stone.”  He implants a new “heart of flesh” to beat with love for God.  He excises the tumors of the mind–anger, jealousy, lust, greed, and every evil imagination.   He infuses us with His life-giving  Spirit.   In His hands we are transformed.  

 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you,” Jesus said.  (John 15:5)       

Lord,  help me to recognize the interruptions and trials of  life as divine appointments arranged for my ultimate good.    Cleanse me of every cancerous thought, word, deed, and habit.  Heal me and hold me, Lord.  Use me as an instrument of ministry to others today.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Lord, what appointments do you have for me today?

      1. Kids Sing Nothing But the Blood

   

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

Posted by admin on June 21, 2012 under Encouraging Words | Read the First Comment

A Guest Devotional by Deborah Davis

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

I have sung that song over and over through the years; it always brings me comfort. Yes, the Bible tells God’s love for me.  But I also know the love of God through my relationship with Him.  A real and tangible relationship…

When I first read the Bible, I learned who God is, what He has done, and what He desires of me.  However, as I continued to read the Bible daily and meditate on His Word, I came to know God Himself.  I know Him as my Friend, my Lord, my Comforter, my Shelter, my King, my Strong Tower, my Counselor, my Lover, my Savior, my Refuge, my Strength, my Provider, my Victory, my Portion, my Deliverer, my Very Present Help in Time of Need…and so much more!

Do you know God or merely know about Him?   We can only know God through Jesus Christ, His Son.

The Bible says that all have sinned.  The consequence of  sin is eternal separation from the holy God.  “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) 

Jesus Christ, God’s gift to us, was nailed to a cross in payment for our sins. Jesus satisfied God’s demand for justice by dying in our place.  At the same time,  He demonstrated the incredible mercy and love of God.  “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  Then He rose from the dead and ascended to His Father.  He is preparing a place in Heaven for all who believe in Him.

Here is the way to God: 

  • Admit to yourself and to God that you are guilty of sin and undeserving of His love.
  • Trust in Jesus Christ as the One who purchased forgiveness for your sins with His own blood.
  • Thank God for accepting you into His family.

       “God, I know I’ve sinned against You and deserve eternal separation from You.  I put my trust in Jesus and the price He paid for the forgiveness of my sins.  I declare that, from this day forward, Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior. Thank you, Father, for accepting me into your family and providing an eternal home for me in Heaven.”

The Bible says, “…to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

It has been twenty years since I received Jesus Christ into my life, and God has remained faithful.

 “For I have loved you with an everlasting love… God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life…Never will I leave you or forsake you… He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it.”

I have been totally changed through God’s love relationship to me.  I am not the person I used to be.  Knowing and walking with God has given me eternal purpose, significance, direction, hope, assurance, love, mercy, grace, and peace.  I know Him through His Word, and I know Him by experience. 

Jesus loves me, this I know!

     Listen to Lela Satterfield’s song about God’s love and forgiveness: 

      1. The Cross On Jesus' Back

A Bulls-Eye on His Back

Posted by admin on December 6, 2011 under Encouraging Words | 2 Comments to Read

Big Guns on the Battleship Massachusetts

     The news was enough to curdle my coffee as I settled into a wicker armchair in our vacation condo.  The weather man’s cheery report followed a quarter-hour of holiday horrors–murder, mayhem, and a slew of sex crimes.  Never a vacation for Satan.

     On the flight home, I thought about the airline passenger recently caught viewing child pornography on his laptop.  Authorities arrested him before he could erase it and escape into the terminal.

     I thought about the God Who sits above the heavens, Who observes every evil intention of the heart, Who hears the cries of the victims.  The Holy God Who is not mocked.  His wrath, according to my former pastor Dr. John McFarland, is like a heat-seeking missile.      God is not a man of fickle conscience who winks at sin.  No amount of good behavior can erase sin from His radar.  There is no statute of limitations on His prosecution of justice. “Be sure your sin will find you out,” warns the Lord. (Numbers 32:23b) Even “petty” sins of doubt and complaining bring destruction into our lives.  Every sin separates us from God and His loving purpose for our lives.     The Bad News is “the wages of sin is death,” but the Good News of God’s Word is clear: ” The gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)  God sent His Son Jesus in the flesh to carry our sins and take the punishment we deserved.      During this life perpetrators of vile deeds may avoid retribution, but the Day of the Lord is drawing near.  The Advent season reminds us, “Look! He is coming with the clouds.”  The Lord Jesus Christ, the just Judge of the living and the dead, will return.  Then “all the nations will mourn.” (Revelation 1:7)  Yet those who believe, whose sins have been covered by Jesus’ perfect sacrfice, will not cower but rejoice in His coming!      The Spirit and the Word cry out to us to let go of our sin and fall into the arms of our forgiving Heavenly Father!  This is the ultimate trust fall, the leap of faith.   More amazing than God’s wrath is the Love that was poured out for us on the cross.  When we look at the holy Son of God, born to die and rise again, we must feel shock and awe, indeed.     As the old preachers put it, “God loves sinners, but He hates the sin.”   His aim is perfect, even at 32,000 feet.     My prayer today is adapted from Psalm 139 (HCSB):         Lord, You have searched me and known me.  You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts . . . You observe my travels and my rest.  You are aware of all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, Lord.      Where can I go to escape Your Spirit?  Where can I flee from Your presence?  If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. . . even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me.     If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will become night”–even the darkness is not dark to You.      For it was You Who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. . .  Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.     How vast is the sum of Your thoughts toward me!  I cannot comprehend them.  You are always with me.     Lord, if only You would punish the wicked!           But search me, O God, and know my heart; examine me and know my concerns.  See if there is any offensive or anxious way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.   Amen  

      1. Kids Sing Nothing But the Blood
  from the musical Pilgrim’s Progress: The Joyful Journey

 

Summer Heat

Posted by admin on July 16, 2011 under Encouraging Words | Be the First to Comment

How happy is the one

Whose transgression is forgiven,

Whose sins are covered!

How happy is the man

The Lord does not charge with sin,

                                                                                                      And in whose spirit there is no deceit!

When I kept silent about my sin,

My body wasted away as I groaned all day long.

For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;

My strength was drained away

As in the summer heat.

 

Then I acknowledged my sin to You

And did not hide my iniquity.

I said, “I will confess my transgression to the Lord,”

And You forgave the guilt of my sin.

 

Therefore, let everyone who is faithful

Pray to You

While You may be found.

When great floodwaters rise,

They will not reach him.

 

You are my hiding place;

You protect me from trouble.

You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance.

 

I will instruct you and show you the way you should go;

I will give counsel you and keep My eye on you.

Do not be like a horse or a mule,

With no understanding, 

That must be controlled by bit and bridle,

Or else it will not come to you.

 

Many pains come to the wicked,

But the Lord’s faithful love surrounds

The one who trusts in Him.

 

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice,

You righteous ones;

Shout for joy, sing!

All you who are upright in heart.

Psalm 32