The Bible is such a wonderful book read by so many people around the world every day. It is also the most misunderstood book. It is full of some absolutely astonishing facts and well loved promises. Stories of strength and courage. But it is about completely normal people, even weak people. People like you and me who screw up often and deserve rebuke but are used in some mighty ways. People say, “Oh, that’s impossible.” But what if it is possible, what if it’s all accurate. What if miracles really do happen every day and you are missing out on some of the greatest possibilities that could ever enter your life. People have a hard time reading through the Bible from cover to cover. But by picking and choosing what you prefer you are missing so much. Fifteen years ago after my stroke I was laying flat on my back feeling a little sorry for myself. I had lost so very much in my life. I had been a mother to three beautiful daughters and happily married to my high school sweetheart. I was a pilot just for fun, going here and there wherever I wanted and whenever I wanted. My husband and I owned our very own business that did very well. But after that fateful day I wasn’t able to do much. My body and my mind were broken. Now what? A woman I knew of, and one I greatly admired, came to my door one day. I had worked with her years before. She just felt led to help me somehow. She came in and offered to pray for me and maybe read some scriptures to cheer me up. Well I had grown up in a Christian home so I could have done that for myself but I hadn’t, I was too busy struggling hour to hour. I said sure and decided to see how it went. The words were comforting and she came back a few times. I was being polite to sit and listen but I began thinking. She has since died from cancer but she gave me something special. I decided to start reading my Bible every day, I had plenty of time. I was living at home and getting some therapy but it became apparent that I was going to need way more help than I was getting, if I ever wanted to get any quality back to my life. I agreed to give a care home a chance. One with full time rehab. They would be there for whatever I needed. It was very hard being away from my immediate family and friends. I could not really talk so I was misunderstood. I was so anxious for what laid ahead of me. God speak to me! I began reading every Christian book I could get my hands on. I was searching. I met a woman chaplain who loved God. I wanted what she had. I loved hearing her speak of her and God. They were close. The more I read the more my heart opened. I met someone who came to share songs he had written from scriptures. I began learning so many scriptures and they brought such peace. I began attending church when they offered to bus me there every Sunday. It was a really great church. I met so many great people there. Even though I was broken I belonged in the special needs ministry and got to know so many other handicapped friends. We went to a special camp for a week every summer. We got to do things like normal people. Swimming, playing games, a zip line through the forest, and singing. I loved it, and went back every year. We had an opportunity to try preaching so I tried it. I was pretty good at it. I had written a book about my stroke and all I had gone through. People liked it and encouraged me to write more. Me a writer? But God has given me four books so far and this will be my fifth. I learned that God has a calling on my life to write. I was meant to be an encourager. I gave my books to anyone and everyone. My daughter told me I should have a blog to advertise my writing, so I learned about blogging and started my own. My last book was a year long devotional. I started sharing this daily with people and it was very well received. All of this taught me so much. God has shown me so much throughout. It bolstered my faith and taught me so many scriptures. My life was amazing and my love for God was through the roof. I realized how important reading all God has for us in his word is. I made a requirement of myself to start in Genesis and go completely through taking my time till I got through Revelations, then start all over. It was hard but I have been so blessed through it. I will start sharing the nuggets I have uncovered each week.
“I am the vine; and you are the branches. if you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NIV
This verse has so much to say about our walk with God. Who God is and how he sees his awesome plan for us. God is the one who made us and we are a part of him. We were never meant to be apart from him. Our need of him is so very important in every aspect of our lives. If we want to be all we can be, we will need to cooperate with him. He does know what is best. He has great plans for us. To be people for himself that will bear much fruit, this fruit is the traits and characteristics that will further his kingdom. We will be loving, peaceable, joyful, long-suffering, gentle, good, meek, temperate, and faithful. These are the fruits he desires to see in us. He uses the example of a grape vine for good reasons. If God is a grape vine then we are connected to him and will produce his fruits. Grape vines produce grapes. We can not decide on our own to produce something other than grapes, like tomatoes. We are to be more like him every day. He decides what we need to be and what is best for all. We also need to be connected to him. He is our power source. If we do what we want and not what he has asked us to do we will be weak, and ineffective. We need to spend time with him. A relationship with him is very important. Anyone you ever have a relationship with is important to you. You spend time with them, share, talk about the good and the bad together and become closer together all the time. Another thing about a grape vine is to be connected every day. If you are not connected to his vine, you are disconnected. If you are disconnected you will die. It may be a slow miserable death, but with no nutrients you will die. When a vine dies it is burnt up and cast away.. You don’t want to be cast off or dead do you? You are not going to be very productive if you are dead. As I was reading my Bible today I was in Deuteronomy. The Israelites had just spent 40 years wandering around in the wilderness and the whole time God was providing for them. They were brought out of Egypt in such a mighty way. Even when they faced their first struggles God was strong. Splitting the Red Sea so they walked right through, in the mud, no. They walked on solid, dry, ground. He provided water when they needed it, and food for many thousand men, women and children. They demanded meat and God sent quail. Their clothes and shoes held up for forty years and never wore out. During this time they married and had families. He kept them safe and strong. Because there was as many people after the forty years as when they began and the previous generation had all died in the wilderness. Only Joshua and Caleb remained from the original bunch. When they came into the promised land God fought for them. No matter how big or how strong their enemies were, they did not stand a chance. But he warned them to leave certain people alone. Because he had already blessed them, such as Esaus family and Lot’s family. Those who God has blessed shall remain blessed.
Do yo want to be one of God’s blessed people?
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NIV
To all who have been called, and trust in the name of Jesus Christ to be saved, you are special. We know that we were made with great love in the image of our creator to fellowship with him. We our precious children of our King. But what else? So much has been said about who we are in Christ. When we come to him his arms are open wide and there is great rejoicing in heaven. It is a big deal. We are no longer a slave to Satan, sin, longing, and striving. God has wiped the slate clean and we are now a new creature. The old person we used to be is gone. At that point God says he anoints us, he wants us to go out and spread his message to the lost in the world. He has also set a seal upon you that tells the enemy that you are his and nothing bad can happen to you without his okay. He works everything, both good and bad for your best. He is perfecting you every day for the rest of your lives. You are a jewel to him, priceless and valuable. He is working at drawing you closer. He wants to know you and for you to know him more and more every day. A close relationship of love, trust and respect. He has made a deposit into your life. Just as Jesus made a promise before he left this earth he has given his Holy Spirit to be with us always. That Spirit comes with great power and the guarantee of the future we will have with our father in his kingdom. To be heirs with Christ to all he has. Upon death we are no longer in this earthly body but given a brand new heavenly body that is perfect and we will live with him forever. While we are on this earth he promises to be with us always helping us and edifying us. Whenever we want anything he wants us to run to him. He does not want us to be anxious or worried. If it is important to us it is important. When we need wisdom and guidance he wants us to ask. He does not expect us to do this on our own. Actually he knows that we can’t do this on our own. He will give us words to speak when we need them. He has made everything just for us. The world is so full of wonderful things to discover and they are ours. Everything we will ever need. Every good gift comes from him. He really is a very good God. There are many gods in the world that people serve and worship but they don’t do anything but tell you how to live your life and none can offer eternal life. Jesus is the only way to eternal life.
Do you want an abundant life with power?
“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures for eternal life, which the son of man will give you. For on him God the father has placed his seal of approval.” John 6:27 NIV
Why do we feel that we need to strive for all we need. We have a loving Heavenly Father who knows what we really need and wants to give it to us. He does a really good job of supplying needs for billions of people every day. All he asks is that we love him first and best. He wants a real relationship with us. He has also asked us to love others. We don’t need to worry or demand what we want. God has promised to give us our daily needs. This world has created people who are consumed with their needs or wants. To have more than everyone else. We are very self centered and self absorbed. Do we really need just to be happy? I have met homeless and poor people who are very content and thankful for what they have. I also knew a very wealthy man who lived poorly because it was more than what he needed. I don’t need a big fancy car, fancy clothes or a mansion. I have all I need and that makes me happy. Just having more does not make you happy. Things will not make your life. We should be going after things that truly bring happiness like peace and joy. God gives that freely to those who seek him. These are not worldly things but things that he has told us in his word that we need. First and foremost is a relationship with the one who has everything we need and can give us eternal life. This should be our top goal because everything comes from him. Then if we follow his commands and his ways he will meet our needs. There is something so rewarding about caring for others. Loving others is fulfilling. As we help to meet the needs of others we receive love in return and our needs are surprisingly being met. I am still so amazed every time I shower that my shampoo is always enough and never runs out. It has been that way for months. Praise God. Miraculously I don’t need much. There is so much joy in not thinking about it but seeing God provide. Do you know that God, the creator of the universe, has told us that Jesus has his stamp of approval and that he will be our everything. I can tell you how great Jesus is but who am I? God, the main guy, now he is everything and has everything. He wants us to know his son. He has given everything to him and he wants to give everything to us.
Do you want to strive or know the one who has everything you need?
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord you are serving.” Colossians 3:23 NIV
How do you know if you are where God wants you? It’s more how you react to where you are than really where you are. I know my brother always says there are no women in his town. “ Maybe I should move.,” he says. Well if you are following the Lord and keeping his commandments then he will bless you right where you are. If God wants you in a relationship then that person will cross your path. I do believe we can position ourselves where good people are. Like a church, a class on something you enjoy, or just getting yourself out where people are. I know myself, I never thought I would be living in a nursing home at 59. A friend of mine overcame a hard past, met God and then his past life got him in prison. It was not where he wanted to be but God still has a plan. I became a writer, yah who knew? I never liked writing as a teen. It was hard and I struggled. Now I know what to say and can’t type fast enough. The words I write are God’s words. They inspire me just as much as others. My friend always liked to encourage people and who needs more encouragement than a prisoner. I’m sure God can use him too. Last night I watched a movie about a teenage boy dying from a bad heart. He was waiting for a donor heart. His church, best friend, and girlfriend were doing everything they could to raise money and awareness of his illness. He got a heart and his body rejected it. Things were bad and his friends wished they could do something, anything because he only had two more days to live. That night there was a terrible car accident and maybe a possible heart. It proved to be a perfect match. The hard thing was that it was his girlfriend who died. God used her in death and God used her life. God only knows how we can make a difference in the world. He can and will use us wherever we are if we will let him. We don’t always necessarily decide where we are but we can always decide to let God use us. Right where we are and just how he chooses. We just need to be willing. The girl that died was in an accident. But with God there are no accidents, he knows the day and hour that you will die and he can use that to greatly affect people in your life. Both families were very close and were blessed to see this young man live even if their daughter got to go to heaven.
Won’t you give God your life to use in his way?
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
Love is God and love is perfect because God is perfect. How far do we fall short in this area? I know I try very hard to show love but cannot help but think bad thoughts when someone does or says something I don’t like or that isn’t correct. I live in a nursing home so most people just can’t help the way they act. They don’t always remember things either. But no one is perfect but God. He is the inventor and creator of pure love and that is how he loves everyone. I know he has shown me such perfect complete love. He once told me he loved me like his son David and David was a man after Gods heart. But he loves everyone that way, unconditionally. Not just me, but everyone, everywhere, each and every day for thousands of years. Now that’s billions. We’re all his favorites. I watched a show last night about different women who overcame hard pasts to become courageous women of God. It was that overpowering great love of God that accepts us right where we are and showers us with love that we could never get anywhere else. But a love that is so strong that it can completely transform lives. A love that you can trust so much and want so much to be like. I don’t know if you have ever been a parent but there is no greater love than for that little life you helped bring into the world. As your child grows it just grows deeper. You would die for that life. Don’t mess with one of my kids or you will pay. A mother is like a bear protecting her cubs. With a fierce love. Our God’s love can not be equaled. Just look at the awesome world he gave us. The many different wonders we can only begin to explore. I know when I was married my husband felt safe if he never had to leave this country. I’ve missed so much. The fact that he let his one and only son go through so much at the hands of humans. Just so we could spend forever with him in paradise. It was the only way but what love. Lately I have been so blessed financially. I have very minimal money for disability so I am very cautious in my spending. My supplies like shampoo and soap just keep multiplying and I have used it for months. Or I will get a gift of something I really need. I wanted to buy a baby gift for a friend and I found out I had a large credit in my account so everything I needed was free. God always amazes me how all my needs are met. I am not the only one. I hear others tell me how he miraculously helped them and I get all choked up. Man he must be busy. I wish everyone could know the love I have found.
Have you felt that love?
The Holy Spirit is the most understood part of the trinity but by the spirit we as followers of Christ receive the most power. Not just in our spirit but in every area of our lives. Everything that God wants for us is possible and the Holy Spirit helps. Let me explain. When Jesus was here on earth he was perfect. His life was to be admired and emulated. He explained to everyone that he had come to do the will of his father first and foremost. Whatever the Lord had for him he would do it. He spent many hours in prayer with his father for strength and wisdom. He was God made human and gave us a awesome example to follow. If he was perfect and we are just lost sinners don’t we need to do the same? After he was resurrected from the grave and before he ascended into heaven to his rightful place on the throne to reign forever, he told his selected few, the disciples, to wait for the power to come, which was the Holy Spirit. Waiting on the Lord is an important part of our power. After they had been locked into a room, out of fear, and had been praising, singing and praying the spirit came in power. The spirit came upon then in power and the began speaking in tongues as the spirit gave them utterance. When were born again into this family of God his spirit came to live with each of us forever. We have been adopted by God. Chosen. We are no longer alone in this hard, lonely, and corrupt world. We have an advocate that is with us to help us in every area of our lives. This power has been in me so much lately. I am overwhelmed by all he is doing in my life. The first area is prayer, this is so important for my relationship with God and strength. The more you pray the more effective you become. The more you pray for others , the more you get blessed when you see those prayers being answered. I may pray for something for months, but the greater that answer is when it does come. Time spent in prayer talking to God is never wasted time. When you are quiet and listening he can and will share so many great things with you. He gives me great things to write about, what to do in certain situations, and what to say to people. Just that morning he told me to listen to praise music and it helps so much. Lately it is so necessary with all our problems. Now I am filled with his power and am unstoppable. I don’t know how people who reject him and his power get through life in this difficult world. But it can’t be good. I’m so thankful for the power he has given me.
Do you want to know this same power?
“Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord. Zechariah 4:6 NIV
“But because of his great love for us, God, which is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,”. Ephesians 2: 4-6
Oh they love us! Jesus paid it all, just for us. He went into the pit of hell for every sin ever committed, his suffering we will never really realize. But he did it gladly for each and every one of his children. We may not acknowledge it but he hopes we will. When he raised his son back to life and seated him on the throne next to him to rule and reign forever we were included. You see the horrible debt was paid. Grace was extended to everyone who will accept it. It is not something we do but what he did for us. God looks at those who have accepted that grace with new eyes. He sees us as white as snow. We are heirs to his kingdom just like his son. We need to wrap ourselves around that thought. I can only imagine this throne room. As I say the Lord’s Prayer, as I like to say it each morning. I picture what it must be like. Oh, it would make an awesome scene from a movie. I can see the intense glow radiating in that room, all that glory must be overwhelming. I know when Jesus was transfigured here on earth it blew the disciples away. But also imagine everyone worshipping before them saints and angels all bowing down in humble adoration. This is my God. He wants me to come into his presence. Do you feel what an awesome privilege that is. We’re talking King of kings the one supreme God. Maker of everything. Oh I so want all he has for me. I love being in his presence. I can sit in my room with worship music drowning out all the nursing home noise and it’s just me and God. I listen to each song visualizing each word and I can’t help but cry tears of joy. This world we live in is not our home. We are destined for a much greater life. Oh we have 70-90 years here if we are lucky but what awaits us is just hard to imagine. This morning the pastor of our church tried to help us see how this short little visit to earth is. He described a fish being tugged out of the water. Flopping around on dry land and choking for air. It is not meant to be here, nor are we. We can do the best we can but sin comes and we keep flopping around. I kept hearing the song “This world is not my home”, my treasures are laid out somewhere beyond the blue. Someone else said it’s like taking a camping trip because we are roughing it. No mansions like heaven, and life gets messy at times. We go through different tests that cause us to grow. Now even though it’s camping I want s’mores, fishing, beautiful mountain grandeur and cool pine breezes. In other words I want a full and abundant life. Well I believe God does want that for me too. But I also believe you have to go after it. Go after his presence. It takes work but I’m in. The more time I give to him. The better it gets. I find my priorities really changing. It’s available and we are meant to have it.
Don’t you want it too.
“…you do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you have wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on pleasures.” James 4:2-3 NIV
Whenever you need something come before God. Even though he knows our needs before we ask him, does not mean that we don’t need to ask. The Lord loves to answer our prayers when we ask. If it is important to you, it’s important to God. Do not think that you are bothering God, or that it is too petty to bring to him. Everything that you tend to worry about or get anxious over is important to give to God. It is important to be specific with God. Tell him what’s wrong but you don’t need to tell him how to fix it. Remember his ways are not always ours. He may not do things exactly how you think it should be done, but his ways are best. He knows us because he designed us. Just because he doesn’t answer immediately or the way we prefer does not mean he isn’t listening. He will always answer. In his time, in his way, and always what is best for us. If it’s not for my best, I don’t want it. I trust him. I don’t always understand why someone isn’t healed, or they die, when I had been praying for them. Like when my grandson died before his fourth birthday. I wanted him healed so badly. I prayed for him every day, but he died. Sure it would have been great had he been healed. But was that the best thing for him? Or was that just best for me. Sure I miss him and his family misses him but, so many things tell me he is better off. He has a perfect body and no pain. All his Tay-Sachs friends are there with him and they are perfect too. His Grandpa, who always wanted grandkids, but died too soon, and his great grandpa are with him. He is with Jesus. There is something I have learned about prayer. I have always asked God if I can be a part of what he is doing in our world. I want to make a positive impact on our world. He showed me how I can do that by praying. Praying puts me in miracle territory. Whenever you pray for needs then you are apart of the miracle when those needs get met. In my prayer life I have seen so many prayers get answered in unique and special ways. This has brought boldness to my prayers. When I see great answers I get excited and want to pray more. It is a privilege to come before God and to see his answers.
Do you know someone who needs prayer today?
“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.” Jeremiah 29:11
As we leave 2019 behind it is a very good time to take a quick look to our past. Do we have regrets and disappointments we need to leave behind. Things we did or didn’t do. Things we don’t like about ourselves. Maybe I have been mean, negative, and angry. Have I had bad habits and behaviors that need to change. What can I do that will make life better? Sometimes we get so stuck beating ourselves up over what is already done and gone. We can’t change yesterday but today is a brand new day. We can start all over. You are never too far gone. Even when you are at the very bottom and things seem hopeless, you can look up and dream. What would make you better? Make life more fulfilling? Imagine that and what it looks like. I like what someone said the other day. Take a rubber ball and throw it as hard as you can at the ground. What happens? The harder you throw it the higher it bounces back. That’s us. When life slams you down bounce back. The harder you are slammed, the bigger your comeback can be. There is one large key. We can’t do it alone. But there is someone out there that wants to help. Will you let him? All you have to do is ask. You also need to be willing to try. Just one day at a time. I like lists so I write things down. At the end of the day what things did I do or not do. Just being able to check things off is my motivation. I take my list to God each morning. He is the one wise enough, rich enough, strong enough, and powerful enough to get it all done and he wants it more than me. He wants us to grow and be blessed. It might take work but who can not suck it up for one day. Tomorrow we can work on tomorrow. If this was your last day on earth wouldn’t you want to make it count? When you have regrets you need to take them to Jesus and ask him to forgive you. But don’t stop there. Leave them there. He has totally wiped the slate clean and it shines brightly. Don’t try to take that big black boulder back. That makes no sense. It doesn’t exist anymore. When Jesus hung on the cross the criminal next to him had many regrets. Some quite big. But he gave them all to Jesus. Jesus told him, “today you will be with me in paradise.” No chance to make any more mistakes. Just perfection and joy forever.
Do you want to accept the one who can help you?