Saturday, August 30, 2014

IT'S GAME DAY!

For all the sports fanatics out there, for everyone who's out there supporting their favorite teams, for all the die-hard, devoted, team color wearing fans....TODAY IS GAME DAY!  Whoo-hoo!!!  Ready to tail gate with your "game food", to see your team beat the socks off of their opponent, prepared to cheer and jump and holler a little (or a whole lot!) when that little pig-skin crosses the plane of the end zone...IT'S GAME DAY!!!!
Guess what else it is?  Well, the fact is, it's every day, now that I think about it...IT'S GAME DAY!!!  We all have the same ugly, evil opponent who wants to see our demise.  Satan has so many trick plays up his sleeve!  He and his impish team play dirty and unfair consistently...why, we could see those bright yellow penalty flags being thrown all over the field if it were virtual.  He only has one goal in mind since he knows he CAN'T win the game - if he can just keep you tripping over your own shoe strings, if he can just beat you up enough to make you have to sit on the sidelines for a while, if he can only keep you from moving down the field toward that victory zone...my friend, he'll do whatever and use whomever to try and accomplish his evil scheme.
IT'S GAME DAY!!!  Get up, put on your team color (red for the blood of Jesus!) and get out there!  Let your whole day be wrapped up in celebrating that you're on the winning team.  Your Quarter Back is unstoppable, unbeatable, He controls the game and CANNOT LOSE!  Go ahead, you have nothing to lose because you CAN'T lose.  God is in control of every dark situation, every health or financial problem, every sickness, every...well, there's nothing, not any detail of your life that He's not aware of.  With a God (Quarter Back) like that, all you have to do is follow His play card and enjoy the game.  Get up and cheer, praise - live your day as if your team is continually in the end zone.  The time clock is counting down, all of Heaven is on their feet cheering with you.  Don't be frazzled by any tackle the opposing team may make...IT'S GAME DAY...just enjoy the game!  Can I get a "W", can I get a "E", give me a "W", "I", "N".

Friday, August 22, 2014

Low Fuel Light...FREE GAS!

"What?" I exclaimed in frustration, "We just had a 1/2 tank yesterday and the fuel light's on again?!"  I laugh at myself now, but honestly, I hate having to stop by a gas station on a hot, humid Georgia day (or a steamy, stormy or cold, snowy one for that matter!) and take time to fill up my car's gas tank.  It's a never-ending process though, isn't it?  If your vehicle is driven, gas is consumed, and sooner or later the trip to the gas pump is inevitable...whether we like it or not, right?
It's the same way with our spiritual lives!  We can leave church on Sunday being filled to the brim with all the goodness the Lord can consume us with at one time.  However, if we live in this world - which we all do - our spiritual tank will start emptying the moment we leave the church grounds on Sunday afternoon.  That's just the reality of it!  If we don't stop and spend time at the God's filling station each day, before we know it, we'll find ourselves stranded on the side of the interstate with an empty tank.  Circumstances and life eat away at our reserve and we must be vigilant to pay attention to our "Jesus tank" low-fuel light.  When we begin to get frustrated, easily irritated, find people are "pushing" your buttons...etc., might just be our low-fuel light warning us that we need another fill up real soon.
Don't be like those who push the limits to see exactly how many miles they can get out of a tank before they're completely out.  Can we make it one more exit?  One more mile?  Can we coast into the gas station bay from the momentum of the last hill?  NO!!!  Don't chance it!  Stay filled up...it's much less stressful and doesn't cost you a dime...just time.  God gives to us all the fuel we need FOR FREE; but we have to give Him the time to fill us up (Psalm 145:18-19)!  So, the question is:  Who wouldn't stop by a gas station that was giving away fuel at no cost?  Free gas!!!  Think about it...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Work In Progress


By no means do I have it all together…I’m a work in progress!  Even as I write, the things I share are snippets from my own life.  When I write about trusting God to provide, I am learning to trust God to provide my needs.  While I write about God’s faithfulness and that He’s always there, I’m reminding myself that God WILL come through just in time.  No, I don’t claim to nor do I want to come across as having all my ducks in a row - when they’re usually furiously paddling to keep from plunging head-first over the fierce, screaming falls.
While writing about “giving”; that we can never out-give the Lord…little did I know, shortly thereafter was a test - which I have found is often the case.  (God doesn’t teach lessons without giving tests, you know!)  Giving when it doesn’t hurt isn’t near as effective as giving when it can hurt.  For example:  giving $10 when you have $1000 is a bit different from giving $10 when you only have $12.  See what I’m talking about?  (Lessons from the Lord…what is $10 when He owns it all anyhow?)
A testimony to His provision, testimony that you truly can’t out-give Him…my husband and I were tested - and gave to a need.  It felt so good to do that!  Call it just life or whatever you’d like, but that evening my phone bit the dust.  (What did we ever do without cell phones?)  Can I just say that…I wasn’t able to run right out to Walmart and purchase another one? 
True...it wasn’t a life or death situation…actually it’s quite trivial when it comes right down to it, but the fact is, God cares about EVERY detail of our life.  Suffice it to say….I’ll have a brand new phone any day!  Can I get an “amen”?!  No, you CANNOT out-give the Lord who owns it ALL!  He’s such a faithful, patient teacher!
So, as I share my experiences…I my only hope is that it can somehow bring God glory and be a blessing to someone who needs encouragement.  If I can just remind you that God will do the same thing for you that He does for me.  You see, there are multiple times when I find myself going back to something I’ve previously written and reminding myself once again that GOD IS.  There are always tests.  Some we may pass with flying colors while some take more work and studying – knocks and bruises.  Nevertheless, we can all have hope and know that we are a work in progress! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Night Time, Lightning Bugs & Mason Jars




Who's afraid of monsters under the bed or those unimaginable creatures which lurk in a dark corner?  While we're talking about God being "at work" in our lives, let us be reminded that it oftentimes seems as dark as midnight from our vantage point.  Although God is present with us, we can't see the way out - why sometimes we can't even see our own hand in front of our face because of the darkness surrounding us.  Does that mean God is letting down on His end of the deal?  Not hardly!  Remember the song, "God is bigger than the boogie-man?"  A child's song, but even true for us adults.
It was complete darkness when God spoke our world into existence. (Genesis 1:2)  There was a plague of darkness which could even be felt for 3 dreadful days and nights in Egypt - while God was working His plan to free His people from bondage. (Exodus 10:21-22) There was darkness between the Israelite and the Egyptians during the great escape route - which was planned and orchestrated by God Himself. (Joshua 24:7)  There are many more examples too, but not many people like dark nights.  I've heard people jokingly give the excuse - "we're supposed to be children of the light" - for not liking the darkness.  I remember, as a child, not going to sleep at night without a night light.  It was terrifying! How often have you heard of a child having a "nightmare" in the day time anyhow?  
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On the way home last night - during the dark, mind you - I was watching intently out the window into the blackness all around when my eyes caught sight of tiny flashes of light here and there.  It brought excitement to my soul - lightning bugs!  Yes, I said bugs!!!  I remember as a child, capturing those little guys and placing them in a mason jar.  The more you collected, the brighter the light became; however, it only took a single lightning bug flying around in the dark to catch your attention.  
It was then that...the light came on! :)  When we're in what seems to be our darkest night, God always provides us with a quick glimpse of Himself so we'll know He's at work in our situation.  The Bible tells us Moses went into the thick darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:21)  It doesn't matter how dark it is, I'm not here alone - God IS THERE TOO!  I might not be able to see anything other than a lightning bug in my dark situation, but that light is proof enough for me that God is with me and I can rest in knowing that.  I challenge you, get your own "mason jar" and collect the lightning bugs of promise God has scattered throughout the His Word.  Instead of being frightened at what's around you and what might hurt or destroy you in your darkest night, God will open His mason jar and free 1000's of tiny lightning bugs - just to show you He's working it out and you're NOT alone.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Orange Ribbon - God @ Work

They came one day without warning.  The back side of our property is lined with a pretty dense population of pine and hardwoods.  Some time, unknowingly to us, there had been men in our "forest" marking property lines and trees to be cut down with that bright orange tape-ribbon.  Then out of nowhere, one day we awoke to the buzzing of heavy machinery and the low roar of diesel, logging trucks moving slowly around our property.  After the initial shock and several days, we decided that we'd like to have some of the trees taken down after all - as if we had a voice in the matter.  As we eagerly anticipated what it would look like, how different it would be to "see" through our forest - as quickly as it all had begun, it stopped...and we still have a "small forest" on the back side of our property. :) 
This morning as I stood at my kitchen window, I caught a glimpse of one of those orange ribbons fluttering in the breeze.  And God began to minister to me...
As long as we are living on this earth, we will continually have lessons to learn and areas to grow in.  Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"  God is continually searching our hearts, just as the men who were marking the trees in our forest.  Sometimes we can't see the trees for the forest!  Alone, we often cannot "see" the things that we need to work on or what needs to be cut out of our hearts.  When God thinks it's time for us to start working on another area, He marks it with a bright orange ribbon bringing it to our attention. 
One thing about God - His every attribute wants to see us be the best we can be, He will work with us and continue to extend grace and mercy as He teaches. He's preparing us for His Kingdom!  If we will submit ourselves to Him, be willing to go through the pain, discomfort and overcome, He WILL continue His good work in our lives.  There's nobody who is as gentle and gracious as our Lord is! 
Is there an area in your life with bright-orange ribbons fluttering in the wind?  Is God trying to show you something He wants to work on in you?  Don't be shocked...we're all there at times.  Remember, we're a work in progress!  Don't be afraid to allow God to cut-up your forest and eliminate things that are a hindrance to your growth in Him...be confident that He always knows best.  Can you hear Him tenderly moving through the forest in your heart? bidding you to allow Him to make some changes?  Be thankful for those orange ribbons in your life...He'll never leave you like He found you!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

There...Just For You

Ever been walking along a hot, rocky, deserted pathway up the side of a mountain?  My mind goes back to such a walk years ago as we made our way up the side of Stone Mountain.  So there we were...it was Georgia-summer hot, the sun was beating relentlessly upon our tired bodies, those of us who usually only "perspire" were downright sweating through our clothes...you get the picture, huh?  It took what seemed like forever to move up the side of the mountain!  It wasn't much of a "scenic tour" at that point either, mostly just boring rock and look-alike pine trees along the way. 
Do you know that along such walks in our day to day lives, God places little glimpses of Himself for us to see if we're paying attention?  While we're walking along, a solitary flower can be found struggling to survive as it shoots out of a mere crack along our pathway...it's simple beauty can be breathtaking.  A moment you long to capture and put in your memory bank forever.  A God moment!  God shows Himself in so many countless ways!  Could be in the song of a bird, a beautiful rainbow standing proudly in the fine mist following a storm, or perhaps in the ordinary hop of a tiny green frog from mucky mud puddle to another.  God is everywhere!  It could be through the voice of a child, a smile, the supportive arm as you make your way through a hard time, or about a ga-zillion other things.  God can be found ANYWHERE we find ourselves!
God IS...He's there no matter how far away you may feel He is.  You're not alone on this mountain side!  Stop and recognize His presence!  He will never leave nor forsake you....and that, my friend, you can count on.  Stop and smell the flower!  It's there just for you...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Graduate With Honors

Sometimes God tests us to see if we're willing to give what we have - no matter how BIG or small it may be to us.  Look at the little woman and her son, she was asked to give the prophet her last bit of meal and oil for a cake.  The lady at Jesus' feet gave what appeared to be something of great value in that day. There's even the little boy with a small lunch of 2 fish and 5 loaves.  What's more?  Jesus, He gave His life...our ultimate example and guide.  He doesn't care how we classify "it", whether its BIG or small in our world; what He does care is if we're willing to trust Him with it enough to give it to Him. 
Whether you're helping a close friend, baking bread for a neighbor, or giving your last bit of coins to a dirty beggar on the side of the road...whether you're ask to give of yourself by cleaning toilets at church, mowing grass in the community or teaching a Bible study...GIVE without question, trusting God all the while!  You can't out-give the Lord - it's been proven!  I say, be sure you pass the test with flying colors.  There's nothing on this earth worth hoarding when God's ask you to give it because He owns the cattle on a thousand hills..and the hills too.  There's nothing like being a vessel of blessing in the hands of the Almighty!!!  If He asks you today, remember...if you've done it unto even the least, you've done it unto Him!  It may just be your short test before a great blessing!  He'll never ask you to give something - no matter how BIG or small - that He won't replace with something even better.  Your blessings WILL BE greater than  your gift...that's just how the teacher operates!  Back to school with Jesus!  BIG OR SMALL 101 - class in session.  Here's the challenge:  Graduate with honors!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Football, Puzzles & God

God said "Let there be"...and there was.  So the world as we know it began to take shape. As far as I can tell, He's still holding it together today too!   He's the same yesterday, today and forever, right?  If He was holding the world together at Creation, then He's still holding it together today. Colossians 1:17 He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. 
How comforting it is to know that before ANY situation which may arise in your life, God is there.  Before you face any test or trial - before you enjoy the thrill of victory - before any of it...God is there.  Be comforted...not only is He THERE but He's holding it all together for you!  How many times in life does it seem like your world is about to break into a million pieces?  How many times does it feel like you're sitting there with 1000 puzzle pieces in your hands wondering how in the world this jumbled mess of life will ever fit together to form a beautiful work of art?   Have you ever been there? 
Isn't it wonderful to know a God who was there before it all began?  Isn't it comforting to know that His hand is holding your life together?  No matter what it LOOKS like, things could always, always be worse.  What keeps them from becoming just that?  GOD!!! 
My mind travels back to the old football field...there's a 50/50 chance your team will win or lose.  While the team is on the field taking on each tackle, being set back for each penalty, while a hurt player is being toted off the field, there are usually cheer leaders and fans cheering them on toward victory.  There is a coach looking at his playbook, trying to decide the best play for the moment...he has his sights set on only one thing -  victory.  It's the same way with the Lord.  No matter the obstacle, He only has one plan on His mind - victory.  Always remember that He has a PERFECT plan for your life.  Obstacles you may have to overcome are just stepping stones to God's perfect plan for your life.  Trust Him to do the work and to lead you through it. 
Take His trusty, faithful hand and walk along.  Tune your ear in to your COACH and hear Him say, "Let there be..." - He's speaking promise and possibility into your life today.  Hold on to Him and come what may, you'll be safe in His hands...and you'll win the game!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dancing in the Storm

Sometimes I forget this little secret I've learned...life just happens that way at times, doesn't it?  The valuable lessons we learn are sometime obscured by obstacles we're facing.  Thank goodness God is good enough to send us a reminder though!  So, here's a little something I wanted to share today, maybe it will help someone out there. 
On those "stormy" days when the bottom seems to drop out, the sky seems to be falling and you just don't know if you're going to make it one more step...did I describe it well enough?  One of "THOSE DAYS!"  I've found that the best ways to help those days turn around is to...drum roll please...do something for someone else.  Go out of your way, put some extra effort and thought into doing something special for someone else!  It doesn't have to be something outrageous, although the more thought you put into it, the bigger it may become.  It might take a little effort on your part to get you going, but the outcome will turn your day around...and just possibly the other person's as well. 
Need a scripture to back that up?  Here's one that will work:  John 15:11-12, "  “...that your joy might be full...This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you…”   Think about it!  Pick someone out of the crowd of your life today and get busy doing something for them.  Give a little of yourself to someone else and see if it doesn't turn your day around.
Remember, it doesn't have to be something big.  One of my favorite quotes: "simple things are often the biggest things" - your kind gesture will bring you a burst of joyful sunshine during a stormy day.  Here's one more verse for you today, Acts 20:35, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."   Do you need any more convincing?!  Don't let the storm rob you of your joy when it's as simple as this.  Don't forget this secret...guess it's not a secret anymore though, huh?  It's about learning to dance in the storm...and this is one way to do it...give it a try and see if it doesn't change the course of your day.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Perfect Fit

Remember the story of David and Goliath, the young warrior who picked up 5 smooth stones and his sling to face the enemy’s hero?  There’s all kinds of speculation and viewpoints on why he chose 5 smooth stones, however, did it really matter how many stones he had in his scrip?  Israel’s army had tried to supply David with a mighty suit of armor to withstand this massive, towering foe; but David refused this equipment.  It didn’t fit!  He realized his most powerful weapon was his confidence in his God.  Knowing this, he ran full speed ahead toward the enemy and won the victory.
So five smooth stones, a sling, a young man versus a 10-foot tall giant, clad in a coat of armor, accessorized with a sword and a spear…what are the odds of victory?  Overwhelmingly positive for the one trusting in an all-powerful God!!! How about your situation?  Do the odds seemed to be stacked against you? Does it seem as if there’s no possible way you’re going to come out on top this time?  Do you feel you’re fighting a losing battle?  Take a moment and go back to what fits – the one thing you know to be tried and proven.  It might not seem to be anything spectacular to the enemy…maybe just 5 smooth stones and a sling…but your unwavering confidence that God is faithful, well able and willing to see you through to the end – that’s the secret ammo which brings the victory every time.  It always fits! 
Hold your head up high, walk in the joy of the Lord doing His will and seeking first His Kingdom.  You might only have 5 smooth stones and a sling, but watch the enemy shake in its boots as God gives you a victory that's only fit for a King (or a child of the King!)...the enemy knows he is forever defeated.  Trust in God and you WILL cut off the giant's head in defeat, you will be victorious!  It doesn't matter how vicious the enemy may appear, no weapon formed against us shall prosper...confidence in God is always a perfect fit.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Putting Up With My Mess!

My precious Sunday school students are learning their memory verse - Colossians 3:13.  The very first word is "forbearing" - and just as I tried to explain that word to them the first Sunday we began and as I have reminded them every Sunday thereafter, this word means "putting up with someone's mess!"  They always laugh as I make a big deal of it.  You know, that's a really big word for my kids to grasp, but just as I teach them, God is teaching me.  (That's the beauty of being a teacher!  You can't really teach without learning yourself.) 
I'm so thankful that God is gracious, kind, long-suffering, forgiving, full of grace and mercy!  I'm so thankful He is always there watching and listening...aware of every detail of my life.  He sees every need and want, knows every longing and desire of my heart, is there to catch me when I fall and lift me back up again.  He never grows weary of walking with me, never berates me for making mistakes and wrong decisions, cheers me on when I'm getting tired and is full of patience while teaching me and preparing the path for me to follow.  He knows just what it takes to bring me through each test and trial, He is willing to help me through every valley and push me up the mountain side.  He rejoices with me on the mountain tops and gives me hope to forge through the next valley.  No matter where I find myself on this life's journey...He is there.  He loves me!  He is faithful! He is forbearing!!! 

Thank you Jesus for "putting up with my mess" and for being constantly by my side and aware of what I need and when I need it.  

Guess what?  He's not only there like that for me...He's there for you too.  He longs for us to call out to Him and to learn to lean on Him.  His desire is for us to grow deeper and deeper in Him, with Him and through Him.  He knows what plans He has for us and is willing to go through and take us through whatever it takes to get us to that point.  Do you need help with your mess?  He's waiting on you to say YES today!