Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Presence Of His Displeasure: Letter To A Lost Love

My dearest and most treasured child,
     I write this letter to you with a heaviness in my heart for my heart so longs after you. I haven't had the supreme pleasure of talking with you now for a very long time. I remember well how we would sit and talk for hours of your hopes and dreams and how you so wanted to see others become as happy as you were. You told me of your devotion to me and that you wanted to be close to my heart always. I 
loved how you spoke to me of your confidence in me and trusted me with everything in you to not just care for you but guide you in all of your hardest decisions. Oh, and how my heart leapt while I watched you into the wee hours of the morning pouring over my love letters to you. My dear child, you read them over and over, you studied them and got so excited when you would discover something in them that you hadn't seen before. I watched your tears fall on the pages as you read how much I sacrificed to show my love for you. I miss you. I miss seeing your face at my house when the family gathers together. I long to watch you as you join in the singing. You would close your eyes so you wouldn't be distracted by anything or anyone. The look of joy on your face as you sang with your eyes closed made my heart smile. I have been calling you. . . . . .I have hoped that you would not continue to ignore my voice for you know it well. I saw you at your workplace as you requested to work extra hours, even on Sunday, so that you could afford a newer car, better clothing and expensive trips to far away places with your friends and family. I heard you curse my name out loud when your co-workers angered you. Why? Why have you chosen to leave me. I have loved you with an everlasting  love and always will. Oh, I see you periodically in my house some Sunday's but you never stay long. You make an appearance and then leave when the music ends. Has someone else stolen your affections for me. Have you given yourself wholly to them? Child, my heart weeps for you to know the true love and acceptance that I alone can give you. I was your first love! I feel I have lost you. I feel there is a great chasm between you and I and it grieves me deeply. It angers me that the things of this world like money, goods, cars, drink and intimate relationships have stolen your love away from me. My child, I'm still here! I so desire that you hear the longing for my lost love in my words.  I want you to know that I will never abandon you. I will not go anywhere but I want you to know how much my Fathers heart aches because of where you've gone when I have given you all that you would ever need for pure joy and happiness. Come back! Come back to me, your first love. Come back and do again the things that turned your heart towards me. Do not stay here in the presence of my displeasure for another moment. It is not necessary. Come, because I see how weary of heart that you have become. Come back to me and find your place of rest. Turn away from this drawing towards the things that will never satisfy. Turn away so you can come and forever eat at my table and taste of the presence of my pleasure. My love will never fail you my dear one, Never! Please come back,
                                                  Your Loving 

                                           Heavenly Father

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Autumn Squirrels

Well. It's my favorite time of the year once more! Autumn! The air is cool and crisp, the apples are stacked in pyramids on the market tables and pumpkins and mums line the market aisles and neighborhood front porches. I love everything about this season; the smell of pumpkin or cinnamon and spice candles, the smell of the bale of hay that usually sits on my front porch, the apples cooking on applesauce making day and the best. . . . . here it comes. . . .. . .watching the squirrels steal everything that they can get their greedy little hands on to store up for the winter months. A lot of times that includes my flower bulbs in the ground or the corn on my corn shocks that decorate my porch or front door. I know, they are just doing what comes naturally but sometimes it's at my expense and that bugs me. I have to admit, I have a sort of a love / hate relationship with the squirrels. They are truly industrious little creatures and they have the right idea. They are also truly "forward" thinkers, although it really is nothing more for them but "instinct". They instinctively think about the months to come and prepare for what they need to get through. How many of us prepare in every  way for the future ahead of us? Yes, there are those who have money saved in various ways just in case of an emergency or food and water stockpiled in case of a disaster and some have even taken steps to get themselves in good physical shape so that they would be around for the future. Well, what about our mental state? Have we done our best to prepare our hearts and minds for what is to come? Do you even have peace of mind about where you will go when you die? Some of us may be able to answer that question with a resounding "yes" but even for those of you who may have answered "yes", the question still remains, " have you adequately equipped yourselves mentally and spiritually"? If there was a hard winter or a disaster in your life, would you get through it with a positive Godly worry free attitudes or would you probably be living with the repercussions of stress, anger or anxiety? Preparing our hearts and minds for whatever comes is probably far more important than preparing physically or monetarily! Good healthy thinking and attitudes can get us through the worst of times. That rascal, the squirrel, might just be the one to watch and relate to. In every way it's best to be prepared but what you think and how you react are the things that truly test your mettle. The  Bible says. . . . . ." as a man thinks in his heart, so is he". So, store up some good words and thought processes for the winters in your life. Like the squirrel, you'll be glad you were prepared!

Insight insert:  What if per chance someone were to ask you what your secret to happiness was? What would be your response? I know my answer hands down would be "my personal relationship with Jesus". Well, what if that same person when given my answer asked how to have a personal relationship with Jesus? Would you be able to lead them into that relationship? Are you prepared with the knowledge of the basic scriptures that you need to share with them? No? Then maybe it's your autumn and your cue to get prepared! If you are like that squirrel you would know how crucial it is to make those preparations. People's lives and their eternal destinies could be on the line. If you profess to know and serve God then you should be well acquainted with the handbook! Check out your scriptures in the book of Romans and store up some of them for that season of need when it comes around.

Scripture:  II Timothy 2:15. Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth. KJV
I Peter 3:15. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and (be) ready always to (give) an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. KJV

Friday, September 8, 2017

Are You Ready?

The storm is on its way. Are you prepared? Are you one of the many who are scurrying around to get all of the things that you believe are necessary to survive? What provision have you made? The winds and the rain are upon us. The winds will carve a path in the sky to make way for the rain that will come relentlessly soaking the earth. Do you have your flashlights charged and ready for the inevitable power loss? Do you have food stored up that is non-perishable? Are you ready to face any situation that the storm may bring? We can't stop the winds, we can't stop the rain and we are at the very mercy of the impending storm. But, be of good courage, when you have done all that you know to do to prepare yourselves for the coming storm you can then be at rest. The winds will come as will the rain and you will be ready!
Deuteronomy 31:6
Psalm 34: 17-20
Psalm 91: 1-16
2 Corinthians 12:9
Philippians 4:19
Acts 27:20
Shall I go on?????  

Insight Insert:  If you are smack dab in the middle of a storm in your life, the hand of the Lord for you will shortly be revealed. Whether it be the death of a loved one, a battle with an addiction, a divorce or a literal storm coming your way, the God of the universe will be right there with you, holding you up, drying your tears, giving you unexplained strength and wrapping his arms of love and safety around you. Speak, "Peace Be Still" and wait and see what he will do. Call out for help because he places other people all around you for just that purpose. Cast stubborn pride aside and let God love on you even if it doesn't happen exactly like you imagine it to. Be still and know that he is God!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

There Is A Fountain

One of my favorite things to do whenever I visit my local garden center is to go to the section where they sell water features such as backyard pond kits, bird baths and garden fountains. There is just something sooooo soothing about listening to running water. It's probably the same calming effect that my own shower affords me. Just the sound of the running water blocks out all distractions and soothes the soul. On my most recent visit to one of my favorite garden centers, I walked past a small boy who was standing with his mom beside a trickling fountain just about the same size as he was. He stared and stared at the fountain trying his best to keep his hands in his pockets but temptation finally got the best of him and he blurted out his question quite rapidly to his mom.. . . . . . "Can I put my finger in it?"  His mom replied, " No you may not!" With that, he began to pout, but trying to be obedient, he followed his mother as she walked away. I couldn't help but snicker as I watched him walk away because as he did so he made his finger wave through the air as if he were running it through the water. Maybe that was his little way of "envisioning" what it may have been like. Funny thing is. . . . . I myself can never resist the temptation to put my finger in any trickling fountain or any cement ball that has water flowing out of the top hole and covering the ball! Nope! I just can't do it! The temptation to feel the cool soothing water is too great. It makes me smile! Do you resist it? If you do resist, well. . . . You should let the kid in you come out to play just once more. You won't be disappointed. When I see the fountains I always think of the line in the old hymn, There Is A River. It says, " Come to the fountain. . . . There is a vast supply. . . . There is a river that never shall run dry". That cooling, relaxing and soothing that is found in touching the water in the fountain can also be found in Jesus! HE is our fountain, and. . . . Aren't you glad that there won't be anyone standing beside you saying, "No, you may not!" So, touch him today. I know you'll be refreshed.

Insight Insert: There are lots of times I'm sure when the kid in us all would like to come out. So, what's holding you back? Are you afraid of looking or feeling foolish? Life is way too short to not be lived to its fullest. A good exercise in stretching those childlike wings is to go and serve some amazing ministry time in your local church nursery. If that's not possible, go somewhere where there are multiple families with children and just sit and observe! Watch what the children do with no inhabitions and then using them as a pattern, do something this week with the freedom of those children. Swing on the playground, take your shoes off and put your feet in that creek or sing a song as you walk through the store! Ha! That last one is amazing! I do that on occasion and have actually had people join in along with me. Jesus never did intend for the starch in our collars to get so stiff!

Scripture:  Isaiah 46:4.  Even to your old age and gray hair I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

                    Galations 5:1.  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. . . 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Dependence Day

One of my very favorite flowers is the morning glory. With the dawn of each summer morning comes I can count on my morning glories along my fence to be smiling at me when I open my back door. They always make me smile back! Their beauty speaks to my heart in many ways; the delicate way the vines twist and spiral up to find where the next area is to cling to; the lush leaves that give a beautiful backdrop to the blossoms; and last but certainly not least, the blooms of color that peek from each nook and cranny to bear witness of Gods wondrous hand in their creation. I tried once to pull a bloom off to take inside so that I could enjoy it for a while longer but sadly when the blooms are picked their delicate beauty fades very quickly. So, I never pick them, I just allow them to abide right there on the vine and enjoy them for the short part of the day  when they sing their song! Each blossom only sings its song once though. When it appears each morning and then fades by mid-day, that blossom has done what it was meant to do and then it withers. A whole new set of blooms will be in place the next morning. This certainly does give us a beautiful picture of the scripture that says, "His mercies are new every morning". Just like my morning glories, I cannot thrive long at all apart from my Jesus. I am not an independent woman! I am very dependent on Him! Apart from him I cannot exist, I fade and die. He is the vine and we are the branches. That is the way He designed it. If we abide in Him, He will cover us just like the morning glory vine and He will send tendrils of His care and protection to cover every nook and cranny of our lives. And, when our relationship with Him begins to mature, we will blossom. Like the flowers, little bits of color will dot our landscape and the glory of God will "sing" through us. How could anyone doubt the existence of our Creator when they look at something as beautiful as a morning glory. And, how can anyone doubt "whose" we are if we are covered by the vine? So, sing this morning and every morning of His infinite greatness to us "dependent" creatures! 
Insight insert:  There are many beautiful examples of how we are connected to the Father and how we connect with others around us in the faith. Take this week to thank God for those who he has "connected" you with in your walk of faith. Take the opportunity to thank them for any positive effects that they have had on your life and assure them that you will commit to being as faithful a friend in Christ as they have been to you. God knows exactly what he's doing when he intertwines our lives with others. Together, we draw strength from Him and strength from each other.

Scripture: I Thessalonians 5:14. And we urge you brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

I Thessalonians 5:11  Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.   

Friday, August 18, 2017

Heavenly Habit

Perhaps you used to pray when you were a small child or you started to pray as a young Christian but now  for whatever reason, whether it be frustration because of unanswered prayer or just prayerlessness, you may have ceased to pray altogether.
The one who is best qualified to teach us about prayer is Jesus himself. We've read of him often spending the night in prayer. Even on the night before his crucifixtion we find him praying. This may have been one of the reasons His disciples asked Him, "Lord, teach us to pray". His response was in the form of what we've come to know as the Lord's Prayer.
But Jesus also said in Luke18 that "Men always ought to pray and not to lose heart". Paul also wrote that we are to 'pray without ceasing, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you". ( I Thess 5:17-18)
Prayer simply defined is: a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an earnest hope or wish spoken to God.
I believe that when we come together to pray it is our solemn petitions and requests that are being placed at our Father Gods feet. He hears our cry for help and responds. Too often prayer warriors and their vital roles have been downplayed or thought to have been like the scribes or Pharisees, just having a form of godliness, trying to appear more Holy. Whatever falsehoods have been propagated in order to keep the body of Christ from falling on their knees in prayer need to be illuminated with the light of the truth. The truth comes from the very one who is truth and that is Jesus. Why would he give us exact instructions on how to do something if we were not intended to do it? 
Prayer is essential in our relationship with our Father God. Prayer was also never intended as something we use to bend the will of God to our will but it is so that we can get our will in line with His. 
Jesus also gave us an incredible promise concerning prayer. He said, " if you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you". (Jn 15:7)
So, don't lose heart if you've found that you've fallen into a lifestyle of prayerlessness, there is love, grace and another day to begin afresh. Always remember that " the earnest, fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much", which means your prayers and petitions sent up to God as requests mean so very much.
We have a so many beautiful opportunities to gather together to make a difference as we raise voices and petitions for help from our Father. We have his ear always. 

Insight Insert: I challenge you to call or communicate with another person this week and together spend a few minutes of time with your hearts and voices joined in prayer to your Heavenly Father. It may just be the beginning of a beautiful habit.

Scripture: I John 5:14 "This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." 

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Dirty Cup

There are days when it feels like I move in robotic fashion doing the mundane things that are mindless but necessary. Unloading the dishwasher is one of them. You see my morning routine as soon as my feet hit the floor seems to be this: use the bathroom, wash my hands, go to the kitchen, turn on the coffee pot, while it's warming up unload the dishwasher. I could do it with my eyes closed I think. And in unloading said dishwasher if there is one thing that makes me growl its finding a cup as I'm just about to put it in the cupboard, with "stuff" still hard and dirty inside. I know, the dishwasher is not perfect and I always pre- rinse so. . . . . Yeah!  I growl under my breath and say, (sometimes out loud to no one at all,)"is it too much to ask that the dirt, heaven forbid, actually gets washed off of the cups when I put them inside something called a DISHWASHER?" Ugh! Why do I allow life's little bits of grunge to spoil a perfectly good morning before my coffee is even dripped? Well, I think those little pieces of " dirt or grunge" matter! You see, I would not drink out of that cup with that stuff in there. Would you? Don't think so! Now, here's where my life's little moments of introspection start dripping as fast as my coffee that's  now running through my Kuerig does. Question arises: "Is there anything in me that's dirty God that would make others not want to be around me, ask me to help them or just wanna do life with me because of my grunge?" So, you ask, you get answers. Here's what I heard. The Lord quietly said to me, " you know Jean, I may just have allowed your dishwasher to miss that cup so that you would notice how often you grumble and growl under your breath when things aren't perfect in your eyes." Ok, not somethingI wanted to hear. What did it matter, no one was around to hear me? I try not to grumble in front of people so that they wouldn't think poorly of me. My husband is still asleep so he can't hear me. So, what's the big deal with that anyway Lord? " I hear you" he softly said. "I gave you a house with a dishwasher because you went most of your life NOT having one. I knew that you would be grateful and blessed by it. Now when you grumble it appears that my gift to you was not good enough and that you are not grateful or thankful". I felt very very sorry at that point and immediately asked the Lord of my life who is good and cares for me endlessly to forgive my grumbling and my ungrateful attitude. This little life moment brought up all kinds of moments of self examination for me. I began to see that my cup was not too clean exactly like the cup that I had just grumbled about. Im here to tell you that I am very very grateful that I have a good good heavenly Father who loves me and shows me lovingly where I am getting it wrong. He doesn't ever do it to be mean or uncaring or just to beat me over the head with my wrong doings but He does it in a loving way that fathers should do if they love their children. I'm reminded here of the verse in Proverbs 3:12 that says, " For whom the Lord LOVES He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom He delights". My Heavenly Father delights in me and wants the best for me and desires that I truly " get it right" because if He didn't care He would just let me go my "grungy way" and never say anything. Then, I'm here to tell you, not many people would want to drink from my cup if that were the case. So, this morning, I'm thankful for that dirty cup. Yes, a dirty cup that no one wants to drink from taught me a very important lesson straight from the heart of someone who cares. 

Insight Insert: Take some time this week or even today to ask the Lord what things that may be in your life that are causing you to be dirty or grungy and undesirable to be around. Ask Him to show you specifically and I know, if you're a good listener, that He will show you. Taking time to "rewash" ourselves whenever we can will always assure that we stay in a state of cleanliness and Godliness that will make others desire to drink from our cups. 

Scripture: I Peter 1:14-16 "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy".