Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Grace of Christ

Our ladies Bible study group has recently begun a new study. It is one where we are going to go deep.

You know what I mean; deep.

Scary word.

I don’t have to fret though, because I have already dealt with my issues.

Over the years, both professionally and in ministry recovery groups, I have done the work! I have written it down, cried it out, and shared. I have prayed and I have been healed.

As ‘they’ would say, “Been there, done that!”
This next study, with my newer Bible study group…this will be different. I will be strong because I have dealt with my issues.

Or so I had thought.

We are in the mere beginnings, just passing week three, and I have already felt the lump in my throat; the tears welling up in my eyes.

And just yesterday, while writing some responses in my lesson book, I began to see, once again, the ugliness of my past life staring back at me from the pages.

Anger, regret, and shame quickly began to work their way back into my very being. But this time, I knew better.
I stopped them in their tracks, because I know this feeling is not from God. I no longer want to allow my healing to be a playground for satan.

I still have pain to deal with, unresolved issues still burning in my soul, things the Lord still needs me to understand, to come to terms with, in order to live in peace.

I do not, however, need to succumb to the devil and his cunning ways. Each time the thought of shame, anger, or regret enter my mind I quickly resume to knowing that the purpose of this study is for my healing. My continued healing.

It is the desire of the Lord for me to be healed and to live in love and peace.
It is the desire of satan to pull me down and have me live in want and disgrace.

There is a strange beauty to healing; to the pain and the tears. When I focus on the One who made me; the One who desires to bring this healing to me, I can see this beauty.

I can smile….even laugh, through my tears. The healing is near.
I understand more.

Satan doesn’t want that to happen. Once I overcome my pain; as I overcome my pain, satan loses his grip on me. I will be one more lost to him forever. Now, that makes me smile….that makes me laugh.

I find I am not strong.

But that is okay.
The Lord works his strength through me. It is through him I find my strength.
When I am weak, he is strong.
I need the Lord to be my strength, always.

2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul reminds us: “The Lord said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

It is the power of the Lord that longs to heal us. It is His power alone that will set us free. His grace is all we need.

And when we are free in Christ……we are free indeed!!
Amen. Praise be to the Lord!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Lord's Faithfulness

Recently, I have been praying for the Holy Spirit to pour love over the congregation in our church. I have asked for him to touch hearts and help us to love one another. Help us to love one another both inside….as well as those outside, the church walls.

At first, I didn’t notice any change.

Lately though, I have found there to be a difference in some people.

I have also noticed a difference in my own heart.

I am more outgoing.
Also, I have been praying for neighbors who I believe to be unsaved.

Isn’t it wonderful how God works when we include him in our lives? I have been exasperated at times, complaining about how unfriendly our churches can seem.

Complaining took me down a lonely road with no hope; no direction.

Prayer….Prayer…now there is a lifeline. A lifeline enveloped in hope and direction.

If you desire change; in yourself, another, a situation, simply take your request to the Lord. It is his longing to act on our behalf when we pray in his will.

All our complaining and frustration…will only result in more of the same. Only the Lord knows what each of us needs. Only he knows how to best deal with each person. And when we pray for others…..the Lord will work on us as well…because he knows what we need.

I have been encouraged by what I have witnessed. I have been reminded.
I long to hold on to that encouragement and that reminder, and allow the Lord to continue to work in me…and in others around me.

I know the focus the Lord desires is for me to work on myself…and leave it to him to work on those around me. In doing so, I will remain in peace.

If I hope to love those around me, I must remain in peace.

2 Corinthians 13:11:
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. (NIV)

Ephesians 6:18
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (NIV)

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Lord is with You

People can try your patience, can’t they?

Circumstances can try them as well.

I had occasion today to have a number of dealings with a few different people regarding my internet service. Without getting into details, I had become more than frustrated with voice mail, holds, transfers, and wrong information….that meant I was going to have to call back and go through the entire voice mail, holds…..well, you get what I am saying. I know I am not alone in this.

This happened to me over and again. I called my service a total of four times. The initial call was the only one I made to actually report my issue; the remaining calls were all to fix something the previous technician had failed to complete or to do, correctly.

I was so disturbed, that by the time I was to make the final call, I had initially given up on calling at all. But then I returned to clear headed thinking, so I went full speed ahead and called again, promising myself this would be the last call.

I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t have to wait long to be attended to. The person on the other end was very helpful; and my issue was corrected quickly.

Even in all my frustration, I was glad I had not lost my head and behaved poorly. I was relieved to know I had allowed the Lord to work through me in this situation. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I normally would have remained quite so calm.

This day had been to the extreme in trying my patience. My phone calls had begun early this morning, before I had had my quiet time with the Lord. I didn’t expect to be protected because of that; but I had sent a couple of quick prayers up to the Lord anyway.

Now I sit here and am so thankful; so thankful that He heard and honored those brief prayers. Even though I did not turn my entire attention towards Him I knew I should have, he still honored my quick prayers.

He is faithful, isn’t he? And aren’t we glad he is!

I simply wanted to share my experience with you today. It has meant so much to me to know how much the Lord wants me to succeed. He kept me where I could glorify him, even in my exasperation.

All I needed to do was to be aware that it was he who was doing it.

1Thessalonians 5:17, “Never stop praying.” (NLT)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Great is His Faithfulness

The question was posed to me this morning while reading my daily devotional:
What does it mean for you to put on the full armor of God today?

As I thought about this, I remembered too many occasions where I had neglected to wear the full armor of God. I remembered and I cringed.

But I know this is now today. Today I have the opportunity to begin anew. Each day the Lord allows me a new start.

Lamentations 3:22-23 reads:
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (NIV)

Praise the Lord!

Yet, I know how serious the situation is; this situation of evil that desires to consume me. I know I will battle evil the rest of my days on earth.

But…do I consider the seriousness, the utmost importance, of what the Lord is trying to do through me, and why?

Do I position my priorities properly? Are my priorities in line with God’s?

I am obliged to rethink…to take time out to solemnly reflect on my existence.

Why am I here; what are my responsibilities? What need to be my priorities?

Do I put the Lord first in my life? Do I put him first in my life in all circumstances? When it is easy, and when it is tough?

I have a lot of growing to do. Just when I think I am standing strong, I fall hard.

I allow myself the pride to believe I was standing strong. For it is never “I” but the Lord, who is at work through me.

I often wonder if I will ever get it right. Will I ever stand strong knowing it is the Lord’s working in me, and not my own doing? Will my foolish pride ever learn its rightful place?

Once again, I ask for forgiveness. I pray to the Lord to ever remind me that it is he who works in and through me to bring glory to himself.

He alone is worthy to be glorified.

I am humbled, and I begin again. Today is a new day.
Great is his faithfulness!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I read the headlines; then I heard more about it on the news while watching television the next morning.

The headlines had read something like, “Troubled Whitney Houston found dead in her hotel room at age 48.”

The one word that stood out in my mind; the word that saddened me most, was the word “troubled.” That word had set off an alarm inside me that suggested to me that Whitney might have taken her own life.


Then, as I watched the news the following morning, my thoughts were confirmed. Empty pill bottles had been found in Whitney’s room.

She had been fearful of making a successful come back; fearful that she would fail. She was fearful that she would not be good enough.

Whitney left behind family and friends….a husband….and a daughter. The news reporter said her young daughter had been in the hospital, treated for stress caused from the news of her mother’s death.

How sad. The news of her mother’s death. A death that would appear to have been unnecessary because it was done by her own hand.

The lives of loved ones left behind will have been changed forever.

Whitney will never again experience the many opportunities of love from her family, friends, and fans.

I write this devotional because depression is something close to my heart. I have suffered from severe depression in my life. I have witnessed severe depression in others and have dealt with suicide in my own family.

Loved ones never come to terms with suicide. It is not something most can understand.

I would like to pray today for those who are suffering through depression.

Lord, I ask you today to comfort those who suffer from severe depression and possible suicidal thoughts. I ask that you would give them hope; help them to hear your still small voice in their wilderness, Lord. Give each person what he or she needs Lord, to hang on to you. Give each one a verse of Scripture that they can relate to when in need.

I thank you Lord that you are always here for each of us; that whenever we need to turn to you, you are there waiting for us.

I pray those who are in need of your comfort from this disturbing illness of depression, will turn to you and will not give up their fight to overcome. For you are the only one who can help us to overcome; you are stronger than any other force. Help us to always turn to you, Lord. In your holy name I pray. Amen.

Monday, February 13, 2012

What Gift Can I Give

I read a blog recently about living in the past; about living in unforgiveness.

It was an acknowledgment of all who refuse to allow change in those around them.

It caught my attention and still has it…..the reason is obvious, isn’t it?

It is close to my heart.

I have been on both sides of this; I have been held captive and remained there for far too many years. I have been unforgiving, and unforgiven. One feeds the other and it is sad to live a life in captivity; a life that was meant to be lived in freedom through Christ.

People can change and people do change. Christ is the author of changing people.

The greatest gift I can give someone who has experienced change is to forgive their past…and allow them to forget it. God Almighty has chosen to forgive their past; I have no right to hold anything against another person. God Almighty chose to forgive me also.

I am humbled.

Psalm 103:12 reads, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” (NIV)

I am forgiven.

It is the greatest gift I can give myself as well; both for my own sins and for those of others. I must remove them from my mind. When satan tempts me with evil thoughts, I must turn to Christ. He will always rescue me and remove evil thoughts from my mind. He is faithful and it is not of him to harbor resentment.

I am obliged to remember the parable of the unforgiving debtor in Matthew 18:23-35.
Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.” At this the servant fell on his knees before him.’ Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (NIV)

Is this not enough of a warning for us to change our ways?

We have been forgiven much…we are commanded to forgive little.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


We just had our family room painted and with that came furniture rearranging and purging of some unnecessary items. Along with these items were some small pieces of furniture that I listed for sale.

One item was a small night stand in a spare room.

I sat on the floor as I opened the drawers to clean out its contents.

I was overwhelmed by both feelings of joy and sadness at the same time.

Scattered in front of me were many memories. One in particular was a photo of my granddaughter, along with a plaster hand print that was done when she was only two years old.
Every Bible we had ever purchased for her during her stages of growth was also in that cabinet.

In the same cabinet, there was a burgundy zippered bag; I readily remembered its contents, because it hadn’t been put there that long ago. It contained photos and memorabilia from my mother’s last years, along with the funeral “stuff.”

Then I found a small rectangular gray box. I had forgotten what was in that box. When I opened it, I found photos of myself and my brother when we were children. I found pictures of my daughter when she was just a child. I found pictures of my mother in her younger days, and I even found pictures of my grandparents.

I caught myself passing through so many emotional highs and lows in such a brief period of time; I didn’t know whether I would laugh or cry. Instead, surprising to me, I sat down at my computer to write this devotional.

Reminiscing has reminded me of just how quickly we pass through this life. Just how short a period of time we have to reach out to one another in love.

It reminded me of just how quickly those “moments,” both the good and the bad, become mere memories.

Scripture tells us we are here on earth for but a brief time. Psalm 78:39 reads, “For he remembered that they were merely mortal, gone like a breath of wind that never returns.”

I pray that the Lord will help me to remember this as I walk through each day. My desire is to walk through this life with him. I ask that I will both honor and glorify him as I live out the remainder of my life, whatever that may be. I ask him for the strength to do his will.

My desire is to grow to be more like him; to honor and glorify him; to love others.
My prayer for us all today is to focus on building good memories in the hearts and lives of those around us. Amen.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Overlooking the Cracks

In the risk of being vulnerable, I have to admit, that I often feel invisible.

Am I alone here, or do you feel the same? Can you relate? I bet you can.

It seems those cracks that people speak about falling through….I manage to hit them straight on more often than not.

At one time, this would have been enough for me to stand up and walk away. It hurts to be forgotten about; insignificant to those around me.

It hurt years ago, and it still hurts now.

The only difference between then and now is that I have learned to turn my eyes towards the loving face of Jesus. Each time I feel my presence seems irrelevant; I struggle desperately to focus on him. If I don’t, I will continue to be offended and then angered. Then, I will walk away; more bitter than I was before.

I have spent a lifetime walking away from others, from situations, from unspoken pain.
And I now know, that unless I follow Jesus, I will continue to do so.

Jesus desires for me to remain in him, so I can grow to become more like him; so I can overcome the pettiness, the button pushing, which too often has distressed me to the extreme.

While challenges continue, I am getting better as each one rears its ugly head.

The devil, of course, doesn’t like this. He will continue to ensure those cracks not only appear, but widen….and multiply.

It’s my duty, as a follower of Christ, and to myself, to believe the truth; to honestly believe the truth. And the truth is this:

Jesus loves me; He died for me. I am not insignificant. I am loved. I am special.

I can walk ahead in love, overlooking the pain, overlooking the cracks. I can pick myself up again and again….because I know the truth and it will set me free.

It’s so worth saying again: Jesus loves me; He died for me. I am not insignificant. I am loved. I am special.

And so are you!

Because Jesus loves you; He died for you. You are not insignificant. You are loved. You are special.

Have a great day, loved one. Walk in His everlasting love!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

To Know is to Love

I want to be loved.

I hear the quiet whispers of those who judge, and I see the disapproving leers of those who stand away from me and condemn me.

I hate this; I hate them.

Yet, I am no different from them. I judge and condemn as well.

I condemn not only them, but also myself. And I do it with the same intensity and censure as them…maybe worse.

It’s like a wicked merry-go-round. It continues to turn and return. Little changes; the cycle repeats; and it will, as long as I allow it to.

Oh, God help me to love myself; help me to see me as you do. Help me to better understand.

Oh, God help me to love my enemies; help me to see them as you do. Help me to understand.

But then…

…when I come to my quiet place, I feel neither condemnation nor any judgment upon me. It is here that I feel loved.

There is only love here in this place with you.

I want to stay here with you; I don’t want to be put back out there where I am destroyed by myself and others. I want to be cared for; accepted; loved.

But once again you remind me. You remind me that my focus has been unclear.

My focus is to remain on you, and on who I am when found in you.

As you continue to speak truth to me, I begin to understand that I am loved. I am loved no matter where I am…..because you are there. You are there with me. Because of this I can always be confident in feeling loved and accepted.

I can always be confident that as I get to know… to really know… myself and others…I will love. I will love myself and I will love them. I will love because I will know both myself and them better.

I will see beyond who they appear to be. I will come to see their hopes, their fears, their hurts, and their dreams. I will come to understand who they are; why they are.

Then I will love. Once I know, I will love.

Lord, I pray you would help us to know one another. I ask that you help us to see each other as you see us. Help us to better understand Lord. Help us to be kind; help us to love.