Tag Archives: devotional

Free E-Book Monday!

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Here is a list of some free e-books I’ve found today.  I’m not sure how long they will be free, so get them today…and I don’t know what e-readers they are all available on, so check your e-book store.

  • FREE:  The Other Daughter (The Homecoming Series #1) by Miralee Ferrell
  • FREE:  Finding Jeena (The Homecoming Series #2) by Miralee Ferrell
  • FREE:  The Language of Sparrows by Rachel Phifer
  • FREE:  A Life of Obedience by Andrew Murray
  • 99¢:  Shadowed by Grace: A Story of Monuments Men by Cara Putman

 

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Save The Date

I’ve been to two funeral this past week.  Two wonderful men with families they loved and families that loved them back.   They were both in their Golden Years and both passed away with cancer.  One didn’t know it until the day he actually died, the other one fought for many years.  Each one was a Christian and loved God and their families and friends.  But, we didn’t get a “Save The Date” notice in the mail several months ahead telling the day they would pass from this life into Jesus’s presence.

It’s a fairly new tradition that started several years ago with engaged couples, it was too early to send out invitations to their family and friends, but they wanted to make sure that they knew the date of their upcoming marriage so they would be there to share that important moment with them.  Usually months and months go into preparing for a wedding.  So many things to do!  Pick the date, arrange for the preacher, pick the venue, pick the music, GET THE DRESS!!, pick out tucks, pick your Maid of Honor and Bridesmaids, pick the Best Man and the Groomsmen, and pick out a wedding cake and a grooms cake, decide if you want just finger foods or a sit-down dinner….the list goes on and on!

But we don’t usually take the time to prepare for the greatest event of our lives, passing from this world to the next.  The most important thing you will ever do is except Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then embark on a life of learning and studying His Word and getting closer in your relationship with Him. Christians are called the Bride of Christ, so we should prepare ourselves like brides do for their own earthly wedding.  We meet Jesus, we fall totally in love with Him, we get to know Him, and then we start telling people about Him.  Like the parable in Matthew 22:1-2 (The Parable of the Wedding Banquet) “Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.”  Then the story goes on that the first ones invited did not pay any attention (in other words, they did not RSVP-my interpretation to go along with this post).  He kept sending out invitations and finally said in verses 8-10 ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.”   Haven’t you felt that way sometimes?  You go to so much trouble planning an event and then hardly anyone RSVP’s and you say, I’m going to invite some other people, I’ve gone to this much trouble and I’m going to have a full house and someone to enjoy all that I’ve prepared!

God has done much preparation for us to enjoy eternity with Him, and He invites us, only most don’t come, He will take anyone, no matter your race, your station in life, your sins…He wants us to come to Him just as we are, we can’t change ourselves, we can’t save ourselves…oh, but Jesus can!  That’s why He died on the cross for us…He took the penalty for all our sins – past, present, and future.  I heard someone say that when God looks as us, His children, He sees Jesus in us, because Jesus’s blood covers our sins and makes us white as snow – Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD.  “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

No, we don’t get a “Save The Date” card in life.  We need to be prepared right now.  We are not promised tomorrow, Proverbs 27:1 “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”  Life is fragile, life is precious, life is eternal…the only decision you will have is where you will spend eternity.  Heaven or Hell, that’s the only two choices.  I’m going to Heaven, and I hope you will too!

 

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OR

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Debbie

 

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Jesus’s First Words in RED

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Wednesday I “re-blogged” a post from the blog “laurabrookkeith.wordpress.com” (Grace Alone: Ministering to the Hearts of Women) about her Daily Dare: 40 Days to a Radical Life by studying Jesus’s words in RED.  I hope y’all looked her blog up and are keeping up with the words of Christ she finds and talks about.

But yesterday while driving down the road I wondered “What were Jesus’s first words in RED?”  So when I was in the waiting room, waiting for my car to be checked out, I pulled out my handy iPhone and started my search (before I forgot) and I really should have know this, but it was when Jesus was 12 (we assume) and him and his family traveled to the temple for Passover.  His family and lots of others people where traveling back home and his mother discovered Jesus was missing.  Any parent knows this feeling, and they started back searching for him.

When they found him back at the Temple he simply asked “Why did you seek me?” (NKJV); “Why were you searching for me?” (NIV); “Why were you looking for me?” (ESV).  Now let me say, I’m no Bible scholar and no Bible teacher and really not very smart, but I got to wondering (and I know I’m taking this all out of context, so don’t go get all freaked out on me) but I wondered, “Why do we seek Jesus?”.  Do we seek Him because we need comforting?  Do we seek Him because we want something from Him?  Maybe we are in trouble and we seek Him out asking for help.  We may be selfish in our seeking or we may be seeking Him out on the behalf of someone else that is dear to us and asking for healing. Some may be curious about Jesus and seek Him out to find out more about Him.  Some have hit rock bottom and they remember something they have heard or read about Jesus and start seeking Him then.  Some of us truly find Him. Acts 17:27 says: “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;”.  And then the very famous verse:  Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” 

I also looked in the book of John and found the first recorded words of Jesus and it was after John the Baptist baptized Jesus and John and two of his disciples were following Jesus and Jesus turned and asked them,  “What do you seek?” (NKJV), “What are you seeking?” (ESV), “What do you want?” (NIV).  I found it amazing that Jesus’s first words as a young man to His parents were basically the same as it was when He finally began His ministry beginning with His baptism and asked the same questions to John and his disciples who were following Him.

I think it’s important for us to know why we are seeking Jesus.  And first and foremost we need to begin our search by seeking Him out for our salvation and start on our journey with Him as our Lord and Savior.  It’s not an easy road, we stumble and fall, some more than others, but He is there to pick us up and love us and forgive us.  It’s an amazing journey with our Lord Jesus Christ.  I’m a huge Hobbit & Lord of the Rings fan and there is a devotional, Walking with Bilbo by Sarah Arthur.  J.R.R. Tolkien referred to the travels as “adventures” and in one of Sarah’s devotionals she says: “First, we find an important distinction between adventure and misadventure.  Adventures are what happen when we’re on the right road. There will be hardships and difficulties that God allows (and designs!) to test and strengthen our character.  But if we wander off the appointed track, we set ourselves up for misadventures – bad events and poor choices that have the power to derail us from completing the journey altogether.  Clearly, adventures are a good thing; misadventures are not.”

So if we truly answer Jesus’s question “Why did you seek me?” and it is because we wanted forgiveness for our sins and we recognize Him as the One and Only Son of God and believe in Him and all the Bible says, then we will be saved and can start on the grand adventure with Jesus, our journey to study God’s Word and to get involved in a Bible believing and preaching church and start serving Jesus and growing along the way.

But don’t get too confident and think you are beyond sin, because the devil wants to ruin Christians and we have to be on our guard.  And when we fall or when other Christians fall, we need to love them back, help them up and bring them back to a good relationship with Jesus.

NOW, like I said, I’m no Bible scholar nor do I even begin to think I know much about the Bible, so I was a little scared to even write this, but it all started with my searching for Jesus’s first words and I just got carried away.  If my preacher reads this and I’ve got something terribly wrong, I do hope he will jump in with a comment and straighten me out.  I DO NOT want to say anything wrong and lead anyone astray.  I want you to seek Jesus and find Him!

I would love to hear your comments and thoughts on these “Words in RED” and why you sought out Jesus, or why you think people seek Jesus and if they are seeking Him for the right reasons.

 

 

 

 

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Lots of Free e-books by Beth Moore

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I have found a lot of free books by Beth Moore (one of my favorite Bible Study teachers) and at first I just downloaded one, because we have the others in our church Media Center, but then I thought…it takes me a lot longer to read a non-fiction book, so I better go ahead and get these while they are free. I don’t know how long they will be free, so I advise you go ahead and download them today!  Always double check the price before downloading since prices do change suddenly.  Also, I haven’t checked to see if they are free on other e-readers, so if you have a nook, or another type of reader, you know how to check your “store” to see if they are there and if they are free.  So….here they are:

  • FREE on Kindle:  Believing God by Beth Moore
  • FREE on Kindle:  Believing God Day by Day: Growing Your Faith All Year Long by Beth Moore
  • FREE on Kindle:  When Godly People Do Ungodly Things by Beth Moore
  • FREE on Kindle:  To Live Is Christ by Beth Moore
  • FREE on Kindle:  The Beloved Disciple by Beth Moore
  • FREE on Kindle:  Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds by Beth Moore
  • FREE on Kindle:  Further Still by Beth Moore
  • FREE on Kindle:  A Heart Like His:  Intimate Reflections on the Life of David by Beth Moore
  • FREE on Kindle:  Breaking Free Day by Day by Beth Moore
  • FREE on Kindle:  Breaking Free by Beth Moore
  • FREE on Kindle:  Jesus, the One and Only by Beth Moore

Isn’t this exciting!!!!  Thank you Beth, your publishers and whoever else is responsible for offering these fantastic e-books for free!  Click on Beth Moore‘s name here and be directed to her website and you’ll find all kinds of wonderful things!!!

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Just Say Yes!

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“he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.” (Luke 1: 9-13 NIV)

Last week I attended a memorial service for Liston Drury.  My family’s association with Liston came late in his life. When we met him, he was a retired Poultry Science engineer, who owned and operated a Christmas tree farm.  He was an upbeat, happy man with a dry sense of humor, and a faithful family man with a servant’s heart.

What I did not know was the extent of Mr. Drury’s service to others and to the Lord.  At the memorial service his granddaughter, son and several others described his years serving in the Navy, and later as a college professor, researcher, father, and church member.  It seems to me that whenever Liston was called to serve, he said yes.

This week, I came across the story of Zechariah, in Beth Moore’s Jesus the One and Only Bible study.  Zechariah was an elderly man and the husband of Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  As a priest, he was on a rotation to serve in the temple. His turn to burn incense and send up prayers for the people had arrived.  Then, for reasons beyond our understanding, Zechariah forgets his old age and Elizabeth’s barrenness, and he sends up a prayer for a son, a prayer that has gone unanswered for the duration of his married life. Only this time, he receives an immediate response, from the Angel of the LORD, no less. The angel announces that Zechariah will indeed have a son, that he will be called John, and that he will be the one to prepare God’s people for the coming of the Messiah. Wow! Double Wow!

I have read this story many times before, but this time I marveled at the way God honored Zechariah’s faithfulness in worship, prayer and service.  The question that immediately crossed my mind was: What if Zechariah had missed this opportunity to serve?  What if he had called in sick?  What if he had failed to pray for a son this time? Surely God would have accomplished His purposes another way, but would He have used Zechariah?

By the same token, what happens when we are given opportunities to worship, pray and to serve, but we call in sick, say no, or don’t show up? In order for God to bless us and our work, we need to make ourselves available, and the way to be available is to say yes.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

We know your plans are everlasting.  We praise you for being the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  When you include us in your plans, we are both honored and frightened, just as Zechariah was.  We thank you for your plan of salvation.  We thank you for giving us your Holy Word to light our way on life’s journey.  Thank you for hearing our prayers in the same way you heard Zechariah’s prayer.  Forgive us when doubt clouds our belief, and when we fail to answer your call to service.  We ask for wisdom and discernment in recognizing your voice and for boldness to always answer yes.

In the name of Jesus, who said yes even death on a cross,

Amen

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A God-Sized Question

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The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

On Tuesday, my granddaughter asked me a God-sized question: “If God knew we would sin, why did he create us?”  I reassured her that God had a loving plan when he created us.  Today, after much thought and prayer, I wrote her this letter:

Dear Ashley,

Yesterday, when we picked you up from school, you were full of questions.  They were big questions, God-sized questions. I don’t know the answers to every question, but I can answer them the way Jesus answered the questions that people asked him.  He answered their questions by giving them examples and telling stories.

I’m not going to try to answer all your questions at one time, because I would have to write a book to do it.  Let’s take your questions one at a time.  Today I want to tell you what God has put in my heart to tell you about why He created us.

Your question was: If God knew we would sin, why did he create us?  I had to think hard and pray about how to answer this question, but then God gave me the answer:  God made us to love Him and other people, and to be loved by Him and by other people.  

Why do you think mothers have children?  Yes, to love them and to be loved by them.  Does it matter that those children might not always obey them?  Does it matter that maybe they might have a sick child instead of a healthy child?  Does it matter whether that child is smart or not so smart?  NO!  A good mother or father loves their child no matter what they look, like, what they do, or how smart they are.  

That’s what the love of God is like.  He loves us no matter what we do.  When we sin, He gives us many chances to ask for His forgiveness.  Because He knew that sin would be a problem for us, He sent Jesus to die for us, so that our sin would be forgiven once and for all.  All we have to do is admit that we are sinners and ask Him to be Lord of our life.  You’ve already done that, so Jesus will always be there for you no matter what happens.

Just think!  Your mother had you even though she knew she would have to get up at night to feed you.  She knew that she would have to work hard to buy food and clothes for you.  She knew that sometimes you would be grouchy and you might not always obey her.  But she still wanted a child to love.  That’s why she had you!

So, if your mother, who is just a human being, could have enough love to do those things for you, why wouldn’t a perfect, kind and loving God not want to create you?

Yes, He created us knowing we would not be perfect, because only He is perfect.  He knew we would sin.  Isn’t it amazing though, that He still wanted to love us no matter how imperfect we might turn out to be?

We can never fully know the mind of God.  If we could, then He would not be God.  I hope this helps you to appreciate your mother’s human love for you and God’s everlasting love for you.  Life is a beautiful gift God gave you through your parents.  

Instead of asking why you were created, just thank God that you are alive and have parents and grandparents who love you. And most of all be grateful that God will always love you.

Love, Grandmommy

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Plymouth Colony: Chance or God’s Plan?

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The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 NASB

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, our thoughts turn to the Pilgrims.  When we call to mind the brave men and women who risked their lives for religious freedom, we tend to focus on the grand harvest feast, one year after their arrival in the New World.

However, before Thanksgiving could be celebrated, the Pilgrims faced many obstacles.  First, they were persecuted in England for their religious beliefs.  Many were imprisoned, and others had to leave their country to live in Holland.  Then, they made plans to come to America, sold everything they had, and put their trust in God’s providence.

They were careful in their planning.  Their destination was Virginia, but God had other plans.  From the outset, they encountered one challenge after another.  After their departure in August of 1620, the Speedwell, a ship purchased in Holland, began to take in water, causing the pilgrims to return to port.  Repairing the ship proved impossible, so the Speedwell’s passengers had to board the Mayflower, bringing the total number of passengers to 150.

Finally, a month later, on September 6th, the Mayflower departed. Because of the delays, the passengers were weary and the food stores were low. Bad weather plagued them almost as soon as they left port.  At one point, the pilgrims had to help the crew repair the main support beam of the ship with a jackscrew which was to be used in the building of new homes once the Pilgrims arrived in Virginia.

However, they never made it to Virginia, but anchored in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Mercifully, there were only two deaths recorded during the voyage, but by the end of winter, many became ill, and half of them died.

Before landing, the pilgrims clearly stated their purpose for coming to the New World in a Document called The Mayflower Compact: “Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith…”  Like our Constitution, it was an agreement to abide by laws to be legislated, obeyed and enforced by the people.  It was a political document, but the opening words leave no doubt as to the authority behind this agreement. The document opens with the words: “In the name of God, Amen. This covenant was signed under the authority of God, in the presence of God and for the glory of God.”

The questions I ask myself are: Would I sacrifice everything for the freedom to worship God?  Would I remain faithful when faced with suffering and death?  And having survived, and thrived: To whom would I give the glory?

Dearest Heavenly Father,

Today I recognize your authority to “order my steps” and even to change my plans so that yours might be accomplished.  I celebrate your presence in my life and recommit myself to spend time with you daily.  I embrace whatever plans you have for me as an individual, as a family member, and as a church member.  And finally, I resolve to give you the glory for whatever you decide to do through your church, through each family and each individual member.

In the name of Jesus,

Amen

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A Sure Supply For Every Need

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“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105 KJV)

When I was ten years old we lived in Astoria, Queens. My Dad worked long hours to support a large family, and my mother was busy with my sisters, twin baby girls. Therefore, my brother and I were often given a list and sent out into the neighborhood to purchase various items.

There were no Supermarkets back then. If meat was on the list, we went to Ace Meat Market, where the different cuts of meat were displayed behind glass and the floor was covered with sawdust. If we wanted bologna or salami, we went to Connie’s Deli. Fish was purchased at the fish market and purchases were weighed on scales, packed in ice, and wrapped in white paper. If we wanted cheese, we went to Antoinette’s, where the cheeses hung from the ceiling. If it was aspirin we needed, we stopped at Riley’s Drugstore. It amazes me that most of the things we walked blocks to purchase can be found today under one roof and in one store.

In my younger days, I sought out spiritual food in this same way, going from one book to another, from one teacher to another, and from one philosophy to another. Then one day I realized that the spiritual food I craved was contained in one book, the Bible, the Word of God, His personal love letter to me.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

Thank you for giving us your Word. What a fountain of living water it is! We delight it in it as the psalmist of Psalm 1 delighted in the law. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to complete it. We promise to spend time reading, meditating and feasting on Your love letter to us this very day and every day. Keep us grounded in it, as we wait to be with you.

In the name of Jesus, the Word made flesh,

Amen

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Who Do You Follow? Choose Jesus!

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“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…” (Psalm 23:4 KJV)

Did you ever play follow the leader?  In our urban New York neighborhood, following the leader meant skipping down a city block, going up and down stairs, crossing busy streets, traipsing through a schoolyard or meandering through a vacant lot dotted with yellow dandelions in the summer, crunchy leaves in the fall and deep snow in winter.  No matter where the leader took us, we followed.

The 23rd Psalm is about walking, being led, resting, and following. While reading verse 4, another Bible verse came to mind: Isaiah 52:7, which is quoted in the beautiful hymn Our God Reigns:

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him
Who brings good news, good news,
Proclaiming peace, announcing news of happiness,
Our God reigns, our God reigns.

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The second stanza tells us that Jesus “had no stately form, He had no majesty, that we should be drawn to Him.”  But many were drawn to Him as we are drawn to Him now, because as the third stanza tells us: It was our sin that bruised and wounded Him because like sheep, we strayed.  Nevertheless, our Shepherd came and bore our shame.  He, who was without sin, let himself be led to the slaughter, so that we might be born again.  In the final stanza, we are told:

Out from the tomb He came with grace and majesty,
He is alive, He is alive.
God loves us so, see here His hands, His feet, His side,
Yes we know He is alive…Our God reigns…

Our Lord, whom we follow, is the Good Shepherd, who leads us to the mountaintop.  To get there, however we sometimes have to walk with Him through the valleys, even the valley of the shadow of death.  He is the Lamb that was slain for our sins.  He is the King, who has defeated death and is alive.  Because He died for us, saved us, reigns over our lives today, we do not hesitate to follow Him into life’s valleys.

Several years ago, during a revival service, Ernest Easley, a cancer survivor, preached a sermon on walking through life’s valleys with the Lord.  In his sermon, he identified nine valleys: the valley of uncertainty, the valley of fear, the valley of detours, the valley of suffering, the valley of storms, the valley of discouragement, the valley of confusion, the valley of correction, and the valley of sickness.  The main point of the sermon is that victory comes through the valleys.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

You loved us so much that you sent your Son to die for us.  Amazing love! How can we not follow the one who gave his life for us, who went through his own “valley of the shadow of death” so that we might have new life in Him?  Thank you for walking with us through life’s valleys.  Forgive us when we lose sight of you on the path and begin to doubt.  When we hesitate give us confidence.  When we tire, give us strength. Gather us into your arms when we are afraid, and encourage us when we hurt.  Remind us that beyond the horizon, heaven awaits.

In the name of Jesus, wo shepherds us through life’s valleys,

Amen

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A Lion Who Guards and One Who Devours

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But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:5 NLT)

When I was four, my grandparents moved to New York City from Puerto Rico.  One of the first apartments they lived in had stone lions flanking the entrance.  The first time I went to visit, I did not want to go in because I was afraid of the lions.  Finally, I was told to close my eyes, and with my head buried in my father’s shoulder, I let myself be taken in without being attacked by the ferocious beasts of my imagination.

The next time I came to visit, my uncle explained to me that one of the lions was mean, but the other one was strong and kind and had more power than the mean lion.  He said they fought to see which one was going to be the boss.  The kind lion won, so now the mean lion had to obey the nice lion.  Then he let me get close to the kind lion and pat its head.

After several more visits, I stopped being afraid.  I became so comfortable with the kind lion that my brothers and I would sit on it and pretend he was our friend.  Somewhere in the many family photo albums there is a picture of me and my brother siting on the kind lion.  In the picture, we are smiling, completely at ease and at rest.

In the Scriptures, there are two lions.  One of them is Satan.  We are told: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NKJV) The other Lion is our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is kind and compassionate and is also the Lamb of God, who was slain for our transgressions.  He is also strong and mighty; He is the only one able to save us.

When Jesus speaks to his disciples about his death, he says:“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.  I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:32-33 NLT)  Also, as he spoke of his impending sacrifice on the cross for our sins, Jesus said: “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31 ASV)  Satan is the prince of this world, he is the roaring lion overcome by the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

In the end, there will be a final battle. Jesus will defeat Satan and his angels. In Revelation 12:10, John tells us:Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” (NKJV)

Dearest Heavenly Father,

You have made provision for us.  You have given us a place of safety under the protection of a mighty King, your Son Jesus.  We take refuge in Him and rest on His promises till He comes again in glory.

Amen

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Worthless Rubble or Holy Dwelling?

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And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2 NKJV)

 … the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20-21 NIV) 

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV)

The Fitzpatrick Hotel is located in Washington, GA.  It was built by John and Thomas Fitzpatrick in 1899. After a fire threatened to drain the life out of their hometown, the two brothers returned home with the intention of giving the economy a boost.  Therefore, they not only built the hotel, but used it as a base of operations for their thriving businesses.   Their endeavor was a success and brought economic life back to Washington.

Over the years, the hotel has had several owners and several name changes.  As the economy dwindled, however, the building fell into disrepair, and would have remained that way, except that new owners rescued the structure, by cleaning, remodeling, and restoring it to its original pristine condition.  Mike and Christy Todd, who are part owners, and attend our church, saw potential in the architectural and historical features of the old building.  After a labor of love that took over two years, the hotel now sparkles and exudes the charm of ages past along with the comforts and technological advances of the present.

Outside picture of the restoration of The Fitzpatrick Hotel in Washington, GA

Outside picture of the restoration of The Fitzpatrick Hotel in Washington, GA

This inside restoration of the lobby at The Fitzpatrick Hotel in Washington, GA

This inside restoration of the lobby at The Fitzpatrick Hotel in Washington, GA

When I saw the “before” and “after” pictures of the hotel, I was amazed at the faith and vision it took to believe in a positive outcome for the old building.  I was reminded of the vision God has for each of us.  He sees our underlying worth, our potential.  God takes our dilapidated minds, our burned out lives and our decrepit old bodies and restores them according to His heavenly and eternal plan.  We might give up on ourselves, but once we are His, He does not give up on us. Layer by layer and piece by piece He transforms us till our minds are renewed, our bodies are glorified and our spirits are remade in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

You are our hope.  You are the potter, the skilled craftsman, the author and refiner of our lives.  With patience and diligence you scrape, polish, refine and rebuild the broken pieces of our existence.  Sometimes the process is painful, leaving exposed, those hidden places we do not wish to see.  When the work of sanctification is complete, however, we will shine.  Forgive us when we run away from you, afraid of the painful process of regeneration.  Today, we submit ourselves to you.  We invite you to cleanse us, to remove the debris, to make us lovely for you.  We even give up to you those secret places so long in need of tending.  We open ourselves to you completely, claiming the freedom of full disclosure, and the joy of transformation through your tender mercy and grace.

In the name of Jesus, in whose image we wish to be remade,

Amen

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Debt Free and Ready to Love

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 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. (Matthew 18:27 NIV)

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  (Romans 13:8 NIV)

When my husband and I decided to retire, our goal was to be debt free, so that we could live on a reduced income.  One by one we have managed to pay off our debts.  A few weeks ago I sent off what I thought was the last payment on a credit card.  The amount owed was 351.06, which is exactly what I sent the credit card company.  I was excited about getting my next statement.  I thought of the joy and relief I would feel when I looked at the bill and the amount due was $000.00.

However, a few weeks later, I got my statement and I was terribly disappointed to see the amount due was $2.57.  I paid the bill on time, but they still charged me interest.  I immediately sent the $2.57 to them and am hoping they don’t charge me interest on that amount.

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My experience with the world’s economy made me appreciate God’s economy. In Matthew 18:23-35, we find the parable of the unmerciful or unforgiving servant.  A king wanted to collect outstanding debts his servants owed him.  One man owed the king 10,000 bags of gold.  When the man begged the king to give him more time, the king cancelled the debt and let him go.  No sooner was he free than he went after one of his peers who owed him 10 gold coins.  When the man could not pay his debt, the servant had him thrown in prison.  When the king found out about the forgiven man’s lack of mercy toward his brother, he handed him over to the jailers to be tortured till he paid his own debt.

I am a sinner saved by grace.  I did not deserve God’s mercy.  God sent his son, Jesus to die on a cross in order that my debt might be paid in full. When I first believed and asked God to forgive me, he cancelled my debt and set me free.  The only outstanding debt left to pay is “…to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly…” (Micah 6:8 KJV), or as Paul puts it: “…the continuing debt to love one another…” (Romans 13:8 NIV)

When we are saved by God’s grace, our debt is cancelled, but there is a continuing debt: to love God and to love one another as God has loved us.  Every time I remember that bill for $2.57, I will remember the commandment of love.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

You love us with an everlasting and incomprehensible love.  You are patient and always ready to forgive us when we cry out to you for mercy.  Thank you that our salvation has set us free to love you and one another.

In the name of Jesus, who came to seek and to save sinners,

Amen

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A Young Boy, A Small Army, and a Light Lunch

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My granddaughter was a small baby. While she seems to be developing well for her age, she is still the shortest student in her 4th grade class.  Recently she complained to me about her size.  As so frequently happens when grandmothers get the opportunity to share wisdom with their grandchildren, I had nothing to offer.  However, I did not stop thinking about how I could encourage her.  Today, during my morning walk, God spoke to me.  I decided to write her a letter, which I will share here.  Though I wrote this for my granddaughter, what I have written here applies to all of us, because without God, we can do nothing.

Dear Ashley,

A few days ago you complained to me about being short.  I don’t know whether I was able to give you a good answer, but I have been thinking about it.  Grandmothers don’t always have all the answers, but the Bible does.

This week, when I was reading my Bible, I came across the story of David and Goliath.  Compared to the giant Goliath, David was very young and very small.  He was just a young shepherd boy, who had not been trained to fight.  Do you remember what happened when he faced Goliath?   Yes! He defeated the giant with one little stone.  Sometimes God uses little, even unimportant people, to do his work.

Do you remember the story of Gideon.  He had to fight a huge army of 145,000 men.  Gideon had 32,000 men, but God kept telling him he had too many men.  So after God sent home all the men who were afraid and the ones that weren’t alert and watchful, Gideon was left with only 300 men.  Which army do you think won the battle, the big army or the little army?  You guessed it! Gideon defeated the Midianites with 300 soldiers.

Do you remember the story of Jesus feeding 5000 people? He fed them with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. Do you remember whose lunch he used? He used a little boy’s lunch.   So don’t worry about being small.

God can use you no matter how big or small you are, but he seems to prefer to use little people, who are also humble and sometimes weak.  When God uses a small person to do great things, we know that it was God who helped them do it.  Then, God gets the glory. God made us the way we are for a reason.  Besides, I love you just the way you are and so does God.

Love, Grandmommy

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Dearest Heavenly Father,

Thank you for our weaknesses and imperfections.  They make us humble and yielded to you.  Thank you for using the “weak things of the world” for your glory.

In the name of Jesus, who urged us to become as little children,

Amen.

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FREE e-Books – Today Only – September 24, 2013

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If My People Will Humble Themselves and Pray…

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He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. (Psalm 46:9 NKJV)

On September 11, 2011, President Obama read Psalm 46 during a memorial service honoring those who died during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  As I read the news report, I asked myself: When was the last time we had peace?

According to several online sources, the longest period of time in history without war is from the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914.  Though many reasons are given for the absence of worldwide conflict during this time, I believe that one of the reasons is that the hearts of mankind were turned toward God.

In all my searching, I discovered that this peaceful time coincides with the Second Great Awakening in the United States, a time of spiritual revival, when many acknowledged and embraced Jesus Christ as Savior.  During this time, most of the student body at Yale University is saved. Itinerant preachers travel from place to place in the South preaching the Gospel to ordinary people.  As Western expansion progresses, the throngs of settlers moving into sparsely populated lands take their Bibles with them into an untamed land.  They rely on it for inspiration, for instruction and as the foundation for building character in their offspring.

Salvation brings about individual and collective change.  It shifts our focus from self to God, and consequently, to others. Being a Christian promotes selfless giving. As a result, benevolent societies are created.  In response to the Great Commission, organizations such as the American Bible Society, spring up to propagate the Word.  A true relationship with Jesus Christ leads people to examine matters of conscience.  Therefore, the issues of temperance, women’s rights and slavery come under scrutiny during this time.

After the September 11th attacks, we rallied together to give aide and assistance to those affected by tragedy. Many flocked back to our churches out of fear.  But fear is not enough.  Fear does not make us free or hold us together for long.  When the danger or crisis is past, we tend to revert to our old way of living.  Instead, we need true conversion, which comes through love, and is powered by faith and undergirded by the hope of a future with God in heaven.

Jonah 2:9 says, “Salvation comes from the Lord.” Peace also comes from Him.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

You are our refuge and our strength.  Thank you for the gift of salvation.  Thank you for sending us your Son to redeem us from sin.  Forgive us for keeping your Word to ourselves.  The nations are hungry for the power they contain.  Through your great mercy you make it possible for us to reach millions through the air waves and electronically. You give us opportunities daily to tell others about you.  Though today we are faced by a new threat of war with Syria, we know that you hear our prayers and that we can trust you to answer. 

In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace,

Amen

 

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When You Walk Through The Fire

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“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV)

In April 2013, Oconee Street Methodist Church, in Athens, GA, a church that has served the needy for 25 years was gutted by a late-night fire. The day after the fire, my husband and I were driving into town with our 9 year-old granddaughter and she noticed the yellow tape and the burned out steeple.

She immediately asked; “What happened?”

We repeated the information we had heard on the radio about the fire.  We also told her about the ministry of the church and how they fed the homeless and the poor people in Athens through a program called Our Daily Bread.

Her next question was one we ponder when bad things happen to good people.

“But if they were doing good things, why did God…?”

We responded that we did not know the cause of the fire, but a building can be repaired or rebuilt.  We assured her that nobody had been hurt in the fire, and that surely God had a plan to expand and bless the ministry of that church.  Our job was to pray for the workers and the people who depended on the meals served there.

Our words turned out to be prophetic.  Yesterday’s newspaper confirmed God’s faithfulness to replace our losses with something better than we could ever have dreamed or imagined.  The fire destroyed a building, but the faithful in the church and community persevered.  The very next day meals were served on the lawn. Four months later, Our Daily Bread has relocated to First Baptist Church in downtown Athens. The end result has been better facilities and a 15% increase in attendance.  Due to the central location of First Baptist, more people are being fed physically and spiritually.  To God be the glory!

Dearest Heavenly Father,

We all face trials in this life.  In your Word, you tell us that your plan is to refine us, to build up our spiritual strength, our faith and perseverance. We know that there is nothing we can do in our own strength, but when we rely on you and remain faithful till the end, we are rewarded with evidence of your love and presence in our lives and in the lives of those for whom we pray.

In the name of Jesus, who is the Bread of Life,

Amen

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More Precious Than Gold and Sweeter Than Honey

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I delight in your decrees;
 I will not neglect your word.” Psalm 119:16 (NIV)

All of my life I have been a reader.  When choosing a profession, I chose to be a Library Media Specialist. While books can inform and entertain, newspapers can sway public opinion, and magazines can address a multitude of topics, there is one book without which I would not want to live.  That book is The Holy Bible, the Word of God.

Psalm 19:7 says that the Word of God is perfect and restores the soul.  It is trustworthy and makes wise the simple.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

Your Word breathes life into me, revives my soul, and gives me hope.  It is a fountain of wisdom.  When I am thirsty, I can drink from it.  When I am tired, I can rest on its promises. Thank you for your Word.

Psalm 19:8 says that the Word of God is right.  Therefore, it brings joy to the heart.  It is also radiant and brings light to the eyes.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

When I spend time in your word, my eyes are opened to those things that please you. When I know my life is pleasing to you, I am filled with unspeakable joy, and I want to share that joy with others. Thank you for your Word.

Psalm 19:9 says the Word of God is pure and endures forever.  It is sure, certain and true and reliable. 

Dearest Heavenly Father,

Jesus is the Word. Therefore, I can rely on the Scriptures to guide me through good times and bad times.  Because your Word lives in me, it is available to me every minute of every day. Thank you for your Word.

Psalm 19:10 says the Word of God is more precious than the finest gold and sweeter than honey from the honeycomb.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

Your Word is a treasure that cannot be taken from me.  It is food for my soul that I can delight in daily.  Thank you for your Word.

And finally, Psalm 19:11-14 says that the Word of God gives us warnings so that we do not sin. 

Dearest Heavenly Father,

Your Word shines a light on my own sin, prompting me to seek your forgiveness and making me more willing to forgive others when they sin against me. Thank you for your Word.

Amen.

 

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Beating Around the Bush and The Cow’s Tail

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“And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.” (Deuteronomy 28:13 NKJV)

Subtlety was not a teaching strategy when I was growing up.  At home, my parents never “beat around the bush” when telling us exactly what was expected of us.  In school, the teachers did not mince words when it came to making their expectation for behavior clear.  Noncompliance was not an option.

As I read Deuteronomy 28:13 recently, I remembered a former teacher’s words to us:  “If you do not listen and follow directions, you will always wind up being the cow’s tail.  The cow’s tail is always last.” That made an impression on me.  I had no desire to be the cow’s tail, so I resolved to listen and be obedient.  Besides, I loved my teacher and wanted to please her.  Love always spills over into obedience.

In the Scriptures, God does not mince words.  He is not concerned about our fragile egos or worried that we might take offence.  His desire is not to harm us, but to prosper us and to save us. (Jeremiah 29:11) Therefore, clarity and honesty are of the utmost importance.

In the tradition of Deuteronomy, Jesus was also clear.  He said: “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”  (John 14:21 NIV)

On the other hand, He says: “Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”  (John 14:24 NIV)  True, lasting  and whole-hearted obedience always hinges on love and respect.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

You are I AM.  We love, respect and fear you with reverent awe.  Thank you for loving us enough to send Jesus to pull us out of the dark pit of sin and into the light of your presence.  We love you, because you first loved us and revealed to us what we must do to be saved.  Today we make pleasing you our top priority.

In the name of Jesus, who is the head of the church and Savior of the body,

Amen

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A Life Lived Full and Well

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Dear friends,

Today I take one more step toward the middle of my sixth decade.  It seems like just yesterday, I was excited about celebrating my third birthday.  My first memories of church are of trying to see the altar through a wall of tall adults.  Was it that long ago?

It seems like only yesterday I went to school for the first time.  I can still remember the excitement of opening the crisp pages of a brand new reading book.  I can still remember how exciting it was to put those first words on paper with a newly sharpened pencil.  I can still picture my first grade teacher’s smile.

Has it been so long since I crunched autumn leaves with my cousins or had snowball fights with my brothers?  Has it been that long since we found new lives in states far removed from one another?  One day I was in college.  Then I was a bride saying I do, and before I knew it, a mother cradling a little girl.

How did I get from Delancey Street to the Bronx, and from the Bronx to Queens, from Queens to Puerto Rico and New Jersey, and finally to Winterville, Georgia? I don’t know the answers to these questions, and perhaps I don’t even want an explanation.  Maybe I just want to marvel and be grateful today for every wonderful moment of my life.  I am thankful for each and every day and for every person God has given me to know and love.  Today I feel rich in years and rich in love.

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Dearest Heavenly Father,

Before we existed, you knew us.  Thank you for keeping us close to you all these years.  Thanks for being with us in the valley and on the mountain top. Thank you for our families and many loved ones, especially those who belong to the Body of Christ.  We praise you, Lord for every day you have given us. We thank you for today and any future days you see fit to add to our lives.  May they be for your glory!

In the name of Jesus, who is from everlasting to everlasting,

Amen

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With Love and Prayers on Every Side – Moore, Oklahoma

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“12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13 (NIV)

2…I Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to Jeremiah, the prophet… 3.So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:2-3 (NIV)

On Sunday, my son and several friends left for Moore, Oklahoma to do disaster relief work there.  It is his first mission trip as an adult. This time, he would not be taking a church bus. This time, he would be making the trip on his own.  As a mother, I was nervous about this 1000 mile trip across four states.  At the same time, however, I felt blessed by his choice to dedicate his time and energy to helping others.

Moore, Oklahoma Disaster Relief Trip

Moore, Oklahoma
Disaster Relief Trip

In preparation for the trip, we had the car inspected, tuned up, and new tires installed.  We shopped for working gloves, appropriate clothes, and purchased snacks for him to eat and share along the way.  We gave him a Subway gift card, and people in our church gave him gas cards and money for expenses.  All of these things were important, but the most important thing we did was to pray and to ask others to pray. I know Christians in Moore are praying for this project.  Because we have Facebook, Christians in other states are also praying.

A few Sundays ago, I taught a Sunday school lesson about two prophets separated geographically, but bound together by prayer.  One man, Daniel, was called by God to serve Him in captivity. The other man, Jeremiah, was called by God to stay in the destroyed city of Jerusalem to preach and prophecy. During his lifetime, he was beaten, arrested, thrown in a cistern, humiliated, ridiculed, and abused.  But the beauty of God’s plan is that though the people of Jerusalem did not heed Jeremiah’s warnings, a man in faraway Babylon understood Jeremiah’s message, turned to God, and prayed.

And so, in the wake of a disaster in Moore, young people have decided to go and lend a hand. People in Georgia and Oklahoma pray, and others, who know them and even those who do not know them personally, all across the country, turn to the LORD in prayer.  United in prayer and in the beauty of God’s plan, we are strengthened, a town is rebuilt, and God is glorified.  Praise God!

Moore, Oklahoma Disaster Relief Team

Moore, Oklahoma
Disaster Relief Team

Moore, Oklahoma Disaster Relief Team

Moore, Oklahoma
Disaster Relief Team

Moore, Oklahoma Disaster Relief Team

Moore, Oklahoma
Disaster Relief Team

Dearest Heavenly Father,

Lord, today we recall Philippians 4:6 (KJV): “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God”. How beautiful it is to be bound together in prayer, to know you are always present in our lives and ready to receive our praise, our thanks, concerns and petitions.  Today, we make our requests known to you.  We ask you to restore the town of Moore, but most of all we ask you to do a mighty work in the hearts of the people there.  We ask you to bless those who have gone there to help and return them safely to us.  We thank you for your guidance and protection, and in all these things we seek your glory.

In the name of Jesus,

Amen

One of our Christian authors, Rene Gutteridge, lives in the Moore, OK area and in her blog she shares her experience of that day.  It was scary and makes it so real.  http://www.renegutteridge.blogspot.com

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