Archive for November, 2007

We’re on a mission…

Friday, November 30th, 2007

“God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into…making things right between them” (2 Corinthians 5:20 The Message).

My Purpose Driven Life calendar has the following quote…

MADE FOR A MISSION – God is at work in the world, and He wants you to join Him…You are the only Christian some people will ever know.

Dad used to quote some other person and I’ll quote Dad, “You may be the only Bible some people will ever read.”

If we allow this to sink in, how will that affect our reactions and interactions today? Is it really that big of a deal if someone pulls out in front of us only to turn at the very next driveway? Will our world really stop if the cashier at Wal-Mart is a tad clueless and takes longer to check us out than the experienced clerk at the next register? What will our reactions and interactions reflect? If I am the only Christian that some people will ever know, how am I doing? If I’m the only Bible some will ever read, what am I saying?

We’re on a mission to reflect the love of Christ. How are we (you and I) doing?

Hope

Guide my steps…

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

“As your words are taught, they give light; even the simple can understand them. I open my mouth, panting expectantly, longing for your commands. Come and show me your mercy, as you do for all who love your name. Guide my steps by your word…” (Psalm 119:130-133 NLT).

From the time my feet hit the floor this morning I was pulled in several different directions. What should I do today? What is the best way to use my time? Where should I go first? I ended up skipping the treadmill for sake of time and I was really bummed. I need that exercise desperately! So I set out to make a couple of visits at the hospital and there were many steps to take! I used about 5 gallons of gas riding around in the parking deck trying to find a parking place, then I walked MANY steps to get down to the ground level and into the hospital. One patient was in the “main hospital” and the other was in the cancer center. Have mercy, I was exhausted by the time I reached the “main hospital” only to find out he was in the heart center undergoing a test. So I left the main hospital and walked the inside corridors to the heart center. As I was panting along, I said “Okay, God. You knew I was going to walk a country mile today so it was fine that I didn’t get on the treadmill. I’m getting my exercise!” Each time I rounded a corner from the main hospital to the heart center I watched for signs that were pointing me in the right direction. After visiting with my friends Billy and Ellen, I set out for the cancer center. There is construction for a new breast cancer center in what used to be the parking lot for the cancer center so there is no parking. I decided there was no need to move my car around to the Gibbs entrance so I just walked inside the hospital, following the signs. Finally I arrived at the Palliative Care center and found Billy, a friend from church that is battling brain tumors. Both patients that I visited today are named Billy. I prayed that I would reflect God’s truths as I visited both Billys. Before we make any turns to the right or to the left, we should look to God’s word for directional signals. There are so many there! If we trust His word, we won’t make any wrong turns.

I realized I left Billy #1 without praying for him because the nurse was working to move him back to the “main hospital”. I didn’t want to make that trip again! As I prayed with Billy #2, God brought to my mind the scripture that His ways and His thoughts are not ours. We cannot understand strokes or cancer or death, but God doesn’t require us to understand. He just wants us to trust Him…trust Him with each step.

So I prayed as I trudged along the hospital corridors that I would be exactly where God wants me to be today. Yesterday I hibernated in the office and didn’t even leave for lunch. I planned to do the same today but God had other plans. My sisters just called wanting me to meet them for lunch. I almost said no but then I realized that I need them and their twisted sense of humor today, and they probably need me and my twisted sense of humor as well.

Guide my steps, Lord. I have so many directions that I can take today. I want to be where You want me to be! May I reflect you in each step.

Hope

OVER the floods, rivers, lightning and storms

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

“I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.  O my Strength, I sing praise to You; You, O God are my fortress, my loving God.”  Psalm 59:16-17

Oh Father, the richness of Your word for this new day.  You take me once again to the Psalms this morning and I stand amazed at how You speak new truth every time I reread a passage I have read maybe many times before.  You bring to my mind the Holbein family this morning – it has been 3 months ago today that You brought young Alex into Your presence.  I pray for his family today Father, that You would continue to wrap Your love, Your presence, Your peace around each of them in a most incredible way.  Give them continued “eternal” perspective for even this day.  Continue to use his life to bring forth eternal fruit in the lives of many and remind each of us affected by his life today to be faithful to carry the torch he left for us. 

I will never forget encouraging some of the girls, who were his friends, to read the Psalms together the night of Alex’s Home-going.   They were all going to spend the night together to draw strength from each other.   I had challenged them to read the Psalms that corresponded to the day of the month – the 29th, the 59th, the 89th, etc.  The next morning a dear friend, who had heard my exhortation, asked if I had read those Psalms that day and I had not.  She exhorted me that I must go and read them.  On that day, in the 29th Psalm, David was praising God for revealing His great power in nature. 

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.  The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.  The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. . .  The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.  The voice of the Lord shakes the desert. . . The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forest bare.  And in His temple all cry, “Glory.”  Psalm 29:3-9

Oh Father, I was humbled by the power and reality of Your word.  You were teaching me once again about Your sovereignty, about Your power over every earthly element – the lightning and the thunder.  You were telling me that You had been completely sovereign over Alex’s death and that You had called him to Yourself.  You wanted me to understand and know that this had not taken You by surprise – You had not “stepped off” of Your throne but that You were so closely present in an amazing way.  Oh Jesus, speak peace and comfort and even Your joy over the hearts of his family and loved ones even this day, in the name of Jesus, I pray and Amen.   

As I look outside my window this morning the sky “screams” once again of Your great power in nature!  You are once again on Your throne today, Lord and I bless Your name for that reality!  As I move on in the Psalm, You teach me another “truth” I have not really noticed before.  “The Lord sits enthroned OVER the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever.  The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.”  And in Psalm 89:9 “You rule OVER the surging sea; when its waves mount up, You still them.  You say about Your anointed servant David in verse 25 that You will set his hand OVER the sea, his right hand OVER the rivers.” 

Oh Father, You are OVER the floods, the rivers, the lightning, the storms in our lives.  You tell us in Isaiah 43 that we will pass through the waters, the rivers and the fire.  But what You are telling me in these Psalms this morning is that You are OVER all of them!  Bless Your name! 

You tell us, speaking of David, that “I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.  I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered.”  89:33,34 

You won’t ever take away Your love!  You will never betray Your faithfulness!  You will never violate Your covenant!  You will never alter what Your lips have uttered.  How amazing is that!   Oh Father, bless You for Your love and  Your faithfulness.  Teach me, even this day, how to love more like You do and teach me to be faithful to You and to others, in the name of Jesus, I pray with thanksgiving, Amen.

Help me to “Remember how fleeting is my life”  89:47  and that “What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave?”  89:48  Remind me of the preciousness of this day You have given me and direct me to use it wisely. 

A Christmas miracle…

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Okay, cyber friends, I have a challenge for you. God has lit a spark in my heart that just won’t go out! I have been reading the Red Glove series by Karen Kingsbury. The series consists of four small books, each book an easy read in just a few hours and they are Christmas miracle stories. While they are fiction, they are scripture-based and at the end of each book Karen submits Red Glove projects that your family and/or church can participate in. I was reading Gideon’s Gift Monday morning and I could not get off the treadmill fast enough! I went to Wal-Mart in Boiling Springs and cleaned the shelf of their red gloves! Red is the color of Christmas, and it represents a gift. What an appropriate time of year to talk of gifts, the time of year that we celebrate the greatest gift ever given – God’s gift to us, His only Son. The Red Glove projects are that you give red gloves to individuals who may need a miracle for Christmas. How do you know? You just have to trust the Lord to lead you to the appropriate project.

Caleb’s heart has always been tender for the homeless and Clay’s heart is for prisoners. So we plan to visit the soup kitchen and a local prison to share our red gloves. Attached to the gloves I will have a short Christmas message about the birth of Christ and then challenge the individual to pray for a Christmas miracle. I’m sure there are those of you out there who could really use a Christmas miracle yourself. Believe! Hannah’s last words on this earth were to her friends, “Keep believing.” Believe God for a miracle in your heart and/or the heart of someone else. The greatest miracle of all was that a young virgin lady could give birth to the Son of God, that He would live on this earth for 33 years without commiting the first sin, die a cruel death on a cross to pay the penalty for my sins and yours, and three days later come back from the dead, ascend to heaven and is now there preparing a place for us all. That, my friends, is the greatest miracle. So can a God who performed the greatest miracle ever perform a miracle for you? Absolutely! Believe!

Ask the Lord to show you what He wants you to do this Christmas for others. Monday as I was purchasing the gloves, I prayed that God would not let me miss an opportunity to show someone love. A couple of hours later, Clay and I were in Jade House eating lunch and there was a young man eating alone. His hair was matted, looked like it hadn’t been washed or combed in months and his face spoke of hurt and pain. Just as we sat down I heard him ask for his check. I had not had a chance to tell Clay the Red Glove story that God had placed on my heart (or that I had just returned from buying every red glove in Wal-Mart) but I said to Clay, “Tell the waitress you want that guy’s check. Hurry, before she takes it to him. We’ve got to buy his lunch! And tell her to tell him Merry Christmas. Hurry, honey!” Clay jumped up, had a look on his face that said, “My wife’s losing it, but I would love to buy this guy’s lunch” and he did what I asked (or insisted). The only glitch in the whole moment was that we were in Jade House restaurant, and the waitress didn’t speak a lot of English, if any. She looked as caught off guard as Clay but she finally understood what we were doing. She told the guy that Clay bought his lunch, that was the only down side. I didn’t want him to know. But he came to the table, shook Clay’s hand and thanked him. Clay teared up, wished the guy a Merry Christmas and then looked at me and said, “Do you wanna tell me what that was all about?” As I shared the red glove story, Clay shed tears and immediately jumped on board with my vision. He has a great heart, and a lot of patience with his random fruitcake wife.

So there you go. That’s my Christmas challenge. Adopt a special project this season and see how God works miracles in your own heart, and quite possibly He’ll do the same in the hearts of those you minister to. Did this young guy at Jade House need money? Could he afford to buy his own lunch? I have no idea. All I know is that his expression reflected loneliness and pain. How do I know that he had not said just that morning, “God, if You really exist, please give me a sign today. Let someone do something nice for me.” You just never know. Don’t miss an opportunity.

Want a blessing and need to shed a few tears? Read the Red Glove series by Karen Kinsburgy, www.karenkingsbury.com. The title of the books are Gideon’s Gift, Maggie’s Miracle, Sarah’s Song and, get this, Hannah’s Hope. Oh yes, I believe in miracles.

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ’Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” (Luke 2:9-18).

This, my friends, is the first and greatest Christmas miracle.

Hope

“God goes to those who have time to hear Him”

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

What a beautiful evening – the moon is just gorgeous.  Maybe this was how the sky looked on the night the angels came to the shepherds in the field to announce the birth of Jesus.  A beautiful, clear, moonlit, quiet night when You became flesh to dwell among us – Emmanuel.   Speaking of the shepherds, Lucado says, “Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels.  God goes to those who have time to hear Him – so on this cloudness night He went to simple shepherds.”   God goes to those who have time to hear Him. . . Oh what a statement is that!  He goes on to say that “those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren’t looking.”  Oh Jesus, I want to be looking for You everyday and I don’t want to miss You.  Thank You for showing me Yourself this day through the lives You brought across my path today and even in the moon You shine so brightly tonight.

What a sweet day – You have written on my heart today in a new way that life is not about a list being completed and checked off but life is rather about the people and relationships You bring into our lives.  It is so easy for us to get caught up in our lists of things “to do” that we forget to smell the roses along the way.  And many times, we miss Your plan and purpose for our lives by not opening our eyes to see and acknowledge You. You remind me that in other cultures they have this idea more crystal clear than we do many times. Their focus is on the lives of other people – not completing or accomplishing any “task.”  Teach me to have my focus on the lives of other people. 

A walk around Dorman’s campus with a friend – praying and sharing; A phone call and prayer with a mother whose two children are experiencing incredible physical difficulties; Lunch and encouragement with my sister in love; A new friend – Joyce – that “just happened” to wait on me in a store – it didn’t take anytime to find out she was a believer and knew You.  Our spirits connected immediately.  I went on to find out that she had been at Homecoming – last year and this.  We hugged before we parted ways – a little taste of what heaven will be like – one in mind – one in spirit instantly.  And then supper with my guys – You know, Lord, I think part of the beauty of “eating out” every now and again is that my preparation and clean-up don’t have to occur, we sit longer and talk more, and no one leaves the table for anything – it is a sweet blessing!

I didn’t get all of my “list” accomplished today, Father, but somehow I find a certain peace in knowing that You had a different list in mind for this day.  Thank You for not letting me miss it.  Everyday until Christmas keep my focus upon Your plan and purpose for my life and not my own.  Allow me to “lay down” my agenda and rather take Yours.  In Jesus name, Amen. 

Jesus – The Living Water – Rain on Me

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Lord, When You close a door, You always open a window.  They aren’t our doors, are they?  You hold all the keys – we don’t have to be concerned about the doors – we just have to be faithful to walk through the ones You open.  It’s all about You – it isn’t about us.  And Father, You are so faithful!  You will accomplish all that You purpose to accomplish.  You tell us that in Your word in Acts chapter 5 – the apostles were being persecuted.  Peter and the apostles were standing before the Sanhedrin and were being told “not to teach in this name.” (Jesus name)  Gamaliel, a Pharisee and teacher of the law, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while.  And this was his advice to the Sanhedrin, “Leave these men alone!  For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.  But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”  Acts 5:38-39

You know Father, Your purposes, Your plans will prevail – that is just the way it is.  You get the last word – You get the final say.    What I think doesn’t matter – what matters is the heart and mind of an eternal God.  Even this morning, Lord, in Psalm 57, verse 2  You showed me that yet again.  “I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills His purpose for me.”  You are the God who is looking to see that Your purpose is fulfilled – not mine – and for that I bless Your name!  Let me always know and rest in that truth.  The kings and the kingdoms of this earth are working toward Your purposes – to see that Your will is done on earth, “as it is in heaven” even when we don’t acknowledge it.  You have encouraged my heart with that truth this morning – thank You Father.

Yesterday, Lord, You awakened me with the sound of the rain just pouring from the sky and You spoke to my heart about You being the Living Water.  What precious scriptures You have given us about the Living Water.  In John 4:10, Jesus was speaking to the Woman at the well and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  And in John 7:37-39 it says that “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”     Oh Father, that Your Spirit would be streams of living water flowing through my life.  That is my prayer.  That is my request.

In Psalm 42:1 the writer says that “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?”  His soul was so thirsty – he was longing to have his thirst quenched by God.  You are the only soul quencher.  Another scripture I ran across in Psalm this morning from 87:7 that I just love, “All my fountains are in You.”  That is it, Lord.  All my fountains are in You.  You are the only satisfier, the only one who can fill my deepest longings.  But You can fill those longings perfectly.  The KJV says,  “all my springs are in Thee.”  Oh Jesus, carve that eternal truth upon my heart and help us as Your children to understand the reality that only in You and You alone will we ever be satisfied.  Help us seek You anew and afresh.  Help us lay aside those things that “beset” us – those things that hold us back.

Yesterday, Lord, was a day of reflecting and going “back through.”  I spent a good part of day going through cards, notes, letters we have received over the last year – Some that I really want to respond to – many others that I will never be able to respond to.  One precious long letter from a mother whose infant son had come into Your presence after only a very short time on this earth.  She had given me wonderful, practical instructions about cemeteries, flowers, etc. – a two page letter that she had poured herself into.   I called her, Lord, and what a sweet conversation we had.  She talked about Your goodness and Your faithfulness to she and her family.  You take care of Your children, Lord, even through the hardest of times.

I called another mother, whose daughter is in heaven with You, that I just love and respect so much.  There are certain folks that You have placed in my life that always when I have looked at them, You bring to my mind the loved ones they have lost.  It is a blessing to remember those loved ones and an even greater blessing to see how faithful You have been to them.  Your faithfulness to them gives me strength.

Later in the day, I spoke with Nancy and she exhorted me that going back through – revisiting is a very good thing.  I will “go back” many times for the rest of my life.  And then, she said, “you put it away and you press on.”  We can’t stay where we have been but who we are and who we are becoming has certainly been shaped by the past journey You have had us on.  I want this journey to have shaped me for good.  And I pray this journey will continue to shape me for good, in Jesus name I pray, Amen. 

From a mountain to a molehill…

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Our Pastor preached from Zechariah 4 Sunday night. What a great word from the Lord!

“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. ’What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground…’” (Zechariah 4:6&7).

Don’t you wish your mother had named you Zerubbabel? Not that it has anything to do with my update, but you gotta love that name. I imagine the telemarketers would really butcher it! Anyway, if we are to conquer any of the mountains in our lives, it will not be by our might nor by our power, but my the Holy Spirit that is within us. By His Spirit, our mountains will become level ground, just a molehill. Isn’t that a great word? God said it so it makes it great.

How timely for us, isn’t it? When we come up against opposition, don’t see it as an insurmountable obstacle, but view it as God’s responsibility. “This is Your mountain, Lord. I’ll allow You to do the work so that it will become level ground.” Caleb’s grandmother told me one time many years ago (that would be my former mother-in-law, a wonderful Godly woman) that our problems are not ours to worry over. She told me that when big things come her way, she bows before the Father and says, “This is your problem, Lord. It’s too big for me to fix. I’m giving it to You” and she goes about her merry way. Oh, that I could be so merry!

The rest of that verse in this passage says Zerubbabel will bring this about with shouts of “God bless it! God bless it!” I like The Message translation…

“‘You can’t force these things. They only come about through my Spirit,’ says God-of-the-Angel-Armies. ‘So, big mountain, who do you think you are? Next to Zerubbabel you’re nothing but a molehill. He’ll proceed to set the Cornerstone in place, accompanied by cheers: Yes! Yes! Do it!’”

Yes, do it! Allow God to work in your situation today and you will find your problems have gone from a mountain to a molehill…

Hope

 

When the fog has lifted…

Monday, November 26th, 2007

This Monday morning is a rainy, foggy morning. We have been in a serious drought for months in the south so this weather change is taking some getting used to. Caleb has been driving since mid-April and this is the first morning that I’ve had to tell him to leave a little early and drive careful due to the wet roads and fog. The temperatures are cool and if it weren’t for the desperate need for rain, we could be singing, “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” Not this Monday!

In our Christian walk we go through really smooth times, often for months at a time when all is sunny and bright and there are no rains or fog to dampen our spirits and block our view of the Son. If we’re not careful, when the dark times hit, we can be caught off guard. When the fog has lifted it’s pretty amazing to see how blue the skies are and how bright the sun. We need to remind ourselves that just beyond the clouds of doubt, sorrow, heartache, sickness and/or death, the Son is shining brightly. These clouds and fog of troubles are brought to us so that we will rely on God. They are to teach us to depend on Him even when we can’t “see Him” or “feel Him.” He’s still there – faithful and true and is much aware of our whereabouts. The fog doesn’t cloud His view. He can see right through them to our very hearts.

Take heart today. When the fog has lifted…you’ll see the blue skies and will be able to see the affects of the rain on your circumstances. Grow from the rain and foggy days! Don’t miss what God wants you to learn from them.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Hope

 

“We were eyewitnesses of His Majesty”

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Good Morning Father!  I awaken this morning being very thankful to be home.  Truly, there is no place like home.  And the reality is that we are not home yet, are we Lord?  I cannot even imagine how wonderful it will be to be “truly home.”  What rest, what peace, what satisfaction, what completeness.  You know, Lord, I believe that when we arrive in heaven we will feel at home immediately – we will understand that we were created in the beginning for our eternal home and that the place we have just come from was only the “preparation ground.”   I think we will wonder why we didn’t long to be in Your actual presence and “home” more than we did.  David said in Psalm 61:4 “I long to dwell in your tent forever. . .”  I long for that Lord – to dwell in Your tent.  The end of the 23rd Psalm says, “. . . and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  We won’t ever “move again” or have need to travel.  We will have finally arrived in our forever home – the house of the Lord. 

David said in Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”  The amazing, awesome thing is that while we live on this earth it is possible for us to live in Your presence each day of our lives.  Being in Your presence while we are still on this earth, Lord, is the place of greatest rest, peace, blessing, satisfaction and completeness.  Nothing compares with being in Your presence.  And Your heart’s desire is that “being” and “dwelling” in Your presence is available to us 24-7 – all the time.  We are the one’s that move – You never move away from us.  

Last night, on the last leg of our trip home, I had Andrew read to us from Lucado’s “God Came Near” book.  Ma-Maw had the book on one of her shelves and we brought it home.  I have read it before and always recall Mr. Carl telling us he reads it every Christmas and how much the book has meant to him.  So, last night, I decided that we would read it as a family before we celebrate the holidays.  Two of the first scriptures were John 12:21 and II Peter 1:16  “Sir,” they said, “We would like to see Jesus” and “. . . we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”  Oh Father, what powerful verses!  I desperately desire to see You Jesus – I have been an eyewitness to Your majesty and have my appetite whetted!  “Have you caught a glimpse of His Majesty?” Lucado writes.  “Something happens to a person who has witnessed His Majesty.  He becomes addicted.  One glimpse of the King and you are consumed by a desire to see more of Him and say more about Him.  Once you have seen His face you will forever long to see it again.”  Jesus, today, I want to be an eyewitness of Your Majesty!  I am looking for You, Lord, I am anticipating You. 

You have shown us Yourself over the last week – You have shown us Yourself as the God of great mercy.  Ma-Maw just went to sleep and awoke in Your presence.  She was just sitting in her chair – no sign of struggle – her feet still propped on her stool.  It looked as though she was planning to fix a piece of toast – butter beside the toaster – setting ready.  We believe her heart just stopped – what an easy way to leave this earth.  One of Mickey’s comments was that if it had been last year, he might have been distraught, but after losing a daughter. . . everything has a whole different perspective.  Many, many folks are struggling with things much graver than leaving this earth and going to live in heaven.  We had watched You work in her life over the last several years, in particular, and grow her relationship with You.  She was ready to meet You.  Other comments we heard while we were home were, “I just thought we had more time,” and “I thought she would just keep trudging along.”   You know, Lord, I suppose many of us live our lives like that, don’t we?  Thinking we have more time, thinking that tomorrow is a certainty.  It isn’t, is it, Lord?  You have given us this day – the only one we are promised.  Help me live my life as though today were my last day on this earth and help me plan like I am going to live forever.  Because You know, Lord, I am going to live forever – just not here!!

Thank You for the reality of a daughter and a grandmother in heaven together.  Thank You for allowing them to “run their race, finish their course, and keep the faith.”  Thank You that death for the believer is not good-bye.  Thank You that now they are among the “great cloud of witnesses” that the scripture speaks of. 

One of Ma-Maw’s last outings was to buy a couple of Christmas gifts. She loved Christmas and had already begun to worry about how she was going to get her shopping done.   She had gone to Belks, gotten a wheel chair and managed to purchase some kitchen dishware – it appeared to be for her daughter, Brenda’s home and our home – 2 identical gifts.  I will wrap them and put them under the tree and on Christmas morning we will remember that last act of her “giving” to us.  Our mothers – those chosen by You to give us the gift of life itself.  “Giving” is the life of a mother.  You know, Lord, Jesus came to give Himself for us and as mothers our greatest blessing is to give ourselves for the lives of our children – the only thing that will remain forever.  Lord, I tell You over and over again that there is nothing more important to me in this life than the spiritual well-being of my sons – I would trade everything for them to passionately “Love the Lord their God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength.”   Oh Jesus, be working to complete that which You have begun in each of their lives as You have promised.  Phil. 1:6 “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

Thank You for the time with all of our family. Oh Jesus, be working in every single heart to shown them Your majesty – to reveal Yourself to them.  Write eternity on each of our hearts.  Thank You for the “God encounters” mother and I experienced as we had some time together on Friday.  People whose lives have crossed our own over the last year and a half – people who have prayed for us.  There is a deepness and a richness in those relationships – we shall spend eternity enjoying those friendships – “A faithful friend is a sure shelter, whoever has found one has found a rare treasure.”  Ecc. 6:14  Help me be mindful of the preciousness of my family in a new way as we approach Christmas.  Give wisdom and discernment for decisions that need to be made in each of our lives.  Help us anticipate Your working in our lives – on our behalf.  As a young lady – a clerk, a stranger, in Belks told me on Friday, “We are in His favor.”  Yes, Lord, we are in Your favor and I bless Your name.  Thank You for allowing me to continue to share Hannah’s story as You continue to open doors of opportunity.  I want to see You Jesus!  Thank You for already showing me Yourself at the beginning of this new day. . . In Jesus name, Amen.      

 

      

Thanksgiving 2007 – With Great Thanks

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Father, I pray that every Thanksgiving for the rest of my life You will call me aside and allow me to reflect and be quiet and still in Your presence.  I don’t suppose I will ever look at Thanksgiving the same again.  Maybe at some point in every person’s life they come to the point of pondering the holiday and its meaning and significance – pondering the lives that have impacted their own and those lives that have gone before them.  As for me, I don’t ever want to take Thanksgiving for granted again.  I don’t ever just want to eat a big meal, enjoy good fellowship and not be reflective and deliberate of my celebration.

You awaken me with several thoughts on my heart this morning.  Last night I “just happened to be reading” from Your word in II Thess., Chapter 1.  I had just begun reading and hadn’t even paid attention to the section title until I had finished – “Thanksgiving and Prayer.”  You always amaze me the way Your word fits every day and situation. 

“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.  Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.”

“All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.  God is just; He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well.  This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.  He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power on the day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed.  This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.”  

“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.  We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”   

Pauls words of encouragement to his brothers who were enduring trials – Paul tells us the key to surviving persecution and trials are perseverance and faith – knowing that God is fair and just gives us patience in our suffering because we know that He has not forgotten us.  In God’s perfect timing, He will relieve our suffering. 

Our trials can help us look upward and forward – Phil. 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” 

Our trials can build strong character – Romans 5:3-4  “. . .  we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us. . .”

Our trials can be used to help others who are suffering – II Cor. 1:3-5 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

Yesterday I spoke with Mary, Lord.  It was 20 years ago this past August when both her son and son-in-law were killed in a car accident.  She spoke of how You had used that experience in her life to be able to comfort others.  She told me she didn’t know how she would have made this journey without You.  Another mother, with two children in heaven, shared with me recently that the only way she still gets up in the morning is because of Your grace.  Both of them shared with me that every day – from that day until this – they have remembered and thought about their children.  It is a wonderful comfort and blessing to remember those who have gone before us and it also has a way of keeping our own “lives in check.”  This morning Father, I remember and pray for the Foggs, Pam, the Mitchell family, Alex’s family, the families of those precious teenagers who were at the beach, those who will remember loved ones who have gone before them today and so many others whose lives this year have been changed forever.  I also pray, Lord, for others who are experiencing their own trials even this day – I pray You will show Yourself strong on their behalf.  In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

 

You are the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort and for that I give You great thanks on this day.  For the healing, grace, strength, and mercy You have poured over our lives this past year, I give You great thanks.  For a daughter who lived out in great faith the journey You chose for her, I give You great thanks.  For the way You have allowed us to see how You continue to use her life and testimony, I give You great thanks.  For the strength You have given us for yet another week of parting on this earth, I give You great thanks.  For the ease with which Mickey’s mother came into Your presence, I give You great thanks.  For Your strength and grace that will be sufficient for this day, I give You great thanks.  For being completely Faithful and all You promise to be – I give You great thanks.

 

You know, Lord, I have just recently seen a book entitled, “It all goes back in the Box.”  I have never picked it up and have no idea what it is about but I would surmise that it is a book about the end of our lives here on this earth.  I would think it might talk about how all of our trophies, our diplomas, our pictures, our riches, our collectables, our important papers, our books of higher learning, those “things” we hold most dear – will at some point end up in a box somewhere.  You have written those truths on our hearts again this week as we have sorted through and through and through. . . You remind us again and again how the only thing we will leave on this earth that is of any value is the lives we have touched and impacted while we are living.  Even yesterday, Lord, as I went by the cemetery of Mickey’s mother, I saw that all of the flowers had been neatly clipped from the arrangements.  After inquiring, I was to discover that “the deer eat all of the flowers.”  Even the flowers, Lord, given in memorial, don’t survive very long on this temporal earth.   Remind me of that truth, Lord, each day.  May You use my life to touch and impact the life of one person this day for eternity. 

 

You are worthy of praise and thanksgiving, Lord and I bless Your name.  In Jesus name, Amen.