Archive for November, 2012

No accidents here…

Friday, November 30th, 2012

I love this quote from Max Lucado this morning…

You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the earth by the Master Craftsman.

The first thing I thought was, “Then why don’t I live like it??” There are no accidents here. I was planned – deliberately. Not by accident, no mishaps, no huttos, deliberately planned. I was specifically gifted when I was formed in my mother’s womb. No accidents with the gifting. I didn’t just happen upon a talent or a special gift. God specifically chose my gifts and equipped me accordingly. And lovingly positioned on the earth?? I did not mistakenly appear in the family of Clyde & Faye Nations. I was not an accident. There were no huttos with God. He lovingly positioned me in the Nations family in Bryson City, NC where I was born and raised a North Carolina Tarheel. No accidents here! God is the Master Craftsman. He planned it all, specified the gifts, and lovingly positioned me right where I am. The only question is, Will I live like it?

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” (Jeremiah 1:5).

“The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I havepurposed, so it will stand” (Isaiah 14:24).

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares theLord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

I pray each of you have a great weekend. I imagine we will. My nephew, Jordan “Jordie” White marries his sweet little best friend tomorrow, Lacey Tinsley. We are so excited for Lacey to officially join our family! She brings a deep respect for family and an even deeper love for the Lord and for Jordie. What a blessing – who could ask for more?

Hope

Others first…

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

After our Board Meeting Tuesday night we were sitting around the conference table debriefing, the conversation was comfortable and relaxed, and therefore to no one’s surprise turned to college football. Glenn Robinson was in attendance via telephone and enjoyed a congratulations from Steve Corso (University of South Carolina grad) to Baylor for taking down Kansas State, thus bringing his (Steve’s) favored SEC teams back into the running for the National Championship. Glenn also pointed out that Texas A & M had taken down Alabama, and Paul Zion, our attorney and also a SC grad, said he was hesitant to get excited about that because that win brought A & M ahead of SC in the rankings. There was much laughter and joking around the table and again to no one’s surprise, I snatched a devotional thought from all the banter.

We’re hesitant to celebrate the win of another team because it may take our team out of the spotlight. Isn’t that how we respond to life far too often? We don’t want to build someone else up because it may take attention off us. I pray that’s not the case for any of you, and I pray it’s not the case for me. But if we’re all honest with ourselves, we’re at least tempted to feel that way. The scriptures encourage us to put others first in order to experience true happiness. “Me, me, me!” brings jealousy, envy, pride, discouragement, and ultimately heartache. When others are first, self is denied, and with that comes peace and joy and contentment, and ultimately fulfillment. There’s nothing more satisfying than to know I’ve denied my selfish wants and wishes and taken care of someone else.

During this Christmas season, look for ways to build others up – even if it means you’ll be hidden in the shadows. Much love to you!

“Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’” (Luke 9:23).

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13).

Hope

Those arms are for you…

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

One of my favorite lines from the Christmas movie, The Ultimate Gift, is when the little girl who is dying of cancer is looking at a statue of Jesus with His arms stretched out and her friend says, “I don’t know much about God or Jesus. But I do know those arms are for you.” Tonight I thought about that line. There’s a lot I don’t know about God or Jesus. I think I know them pretty well – but there’s a lot I don’t know about them. But what I do know is those arms are for me, and for you.

When you are tired, those arms are for you. When you can no longer hold yourself up, those arms are for you. When you are burning the candle at both ends and need an extra hand or two, those arms are for you. When you are sad and need a big ole hug, those arms are for you. When you’re dying and you fear the unknown, those arms are for you.

“‘His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe” (Psalm 91:3 The Msg).

Hope

What if God says no…

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Yesterday’s Sunday School lesson was from 2 Peter 3, and Peter started the chapter out by saying…

“Dear friends, this is my second letter to you…as a reminder…” (2 Peter 3:1 & 2).

As I sit down to write this devotional, I know where I want to go with it but I also know I’ve been there many times before. So I started to go another direction, only to be reminded of Peter’s words from yesterday’s lesson. Peter recognized the need of his audience, so he did not hesitate to repeat himself. Paul repeated himself over and over because he, too recognized the need of his audience. And our best example is Jesus. He knew his audience needed to be reminded of simple truths. So I’m going on that same assumption. Because I need the reminder, I’m assuming you do as well.

What if God says no? We’ve talked about that before, many times. But what is your answer, from the deepest part of your being? How far can God go with you or your family and you not bail on Him? Have you secured your trust in Him so that when He says, “No – but I will provide more than enough grace to get you through” you will not fall from that secure position? You may go through the majority of your life and never be faced with a very hot, fiery trial of the faith. But that’s no likely. Troubles and trials and temptations and discouragements are very real, and they are no respecter of persons. Know what you believe, know God intimately, read His word, study His scriptures, so that when He says no you know enough about Him to know He provides grace to sustain you, every single time. He’s a loving, patient, long-suffering, gracious and merciful God. He can be trusted, even when He says no.

“The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble” (Proverbs 19:23).

Hope

Even when…I will praise you, Lord

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

On this Thanksgiving Eve 2012, my thoughts and heart are drawn to the lyrics of one of my favorite Praise & Worship songs, Yet I Will Praise You by Nicol Sponberg. Here is just one verse of the song…

Even when I feel deserted I will praise You Lord
Even in the darkest valley I will praise You Lord
When my world is shattered and it seems all hope is gone
Yet I will praise You Lord

It is the tradition of most of us, prayerfully all of us, to spend a few minutes on Thanksgiving Day giving thanks to the Lord for our many, countless blessings. We list all the good things the Lord has done for us over the past year. And we list all the good stuff going on in our lives right now. And we say, “God has been so good to me. I can’t praise Him enough.” That’s a great tradition.

But how much time do we spend on Thanksgiving Day praising the Lord for the “even when” times? Even when I feel deserted I will praise Him. Even in the darkest valley I will praise Him. When my world is shattered and it seems all hope is gone, yet I will praise Him. That’s hard, real hard. What we’d rather do is forget the “even when” times. Just push them to the back of our minds so that we don’t have to revisit the pain.

Or maybe you’re in the middle of an “even when” time and you are just praying for this holiday season to get behind you so you don’t have to face the difficult situation you are in. Maybe this is your first holiday without a loved one who passed away this year. Maybe your spouse walked out on you and this is your first holiday “single again.” Maybe one of your children have strayed and they won’t be in their spot at the Thanksgiving table this year. Maybe you just received a diagnosis that is frightening and you have no motivation to celebrate the holidays. Maybe you lost your job this year and finances are so scarce you dread the holidays. Or maybe I haven’t named your “even when” time. It is in these times that God longs for our praise and thanksgiving. It doesn’t take much effort to thank Him for the good times and good things. No sacrifice at all. But to praise Him in spite of, that’s true thanksgiving. He’s a loving, faithful God. He deserves it.

Here’s my challenge to you this Thanksgiving 2012. When it comes time to tell what you’re thankful for this year, make it an “even when” time. Look back at that time and praise the Lord for what He taught you or is teaching you through it. Look back and praise the Lord that He brought you or is bringing you through it. That is sweet, worshipful thanksgiving.

“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).

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you! I pray you have a safe and fun weekend with your family and friends.

Hope

From state to state…

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Growing up in Bryson City, NC we were friends with a family who moved around a lot. They were the only people I knew that moved from state to state. Just when we were used to having them around, they’d move again. Just when we were used to them not being around, they’d move back to town. This went on all of our childhood. Just when the children got settled in, they moved again. I found out just in the past several years that the reason they moved from state to state was because the dad/husband suffered from paranoia. He always thought someone was following them, someone was out to get them. He was very restless and discontent, so they moved from state to state.

What a sad way to live. Yet we do that in our spiritual lives. We are restless or discontent, therefore we spend our life worrying or running or moving from state to state. The Bible calls us to be content in whatever state we’re in. Obviously not South Carolina or Texas or Utah, but whatever state of mind or state of circumstances or state of health or state of employment or state of financial standing we are in, we must be content in the Lord. We must trust that He will sustain us and strengthen us and provide for us. He is faithful, from state to state.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11b-13).

Hope

Get out of the middle of the road…

Monday, November 19th, 2012

I don’t know how many times I heard my Mom say, “Get out of the middle of the road before you get run over!” And I’ve said it – and still say it – to Clay and Caleb. It’s not uncommon for an evening of throwing the football to end up in the middle of Maplecroft Street. Statistics prove that if you stay in the middle of the road long enough, you’ll get run over.

Yesterday Alex McFarland was our special speaker at church. He has written several books on apologetics – why we believe what we believe and how to defend our faith. He challenged us Christians to take a stand, a firm stand on what we know to be the truth based on the Word of God. He pleaded with us to get out of the middle of the road – warning us of the danger of walking the middle line to keep from having to muddy the water, walking the middle line to keep from offending anyone, walking the middle line so as to be popular. He said that if we stay in the middle of the road long enough, we will get run over. That really challenged my heart.

I know what the Bible says, and I settled a long time ago that I believe it – every word of it. I am convicted of the many times that I have intentionally avoided opportunities to take a stand for Christ. I am convicted of the many times I have skirted around controversial issues to keep from offending someone. I’m convicted of the many times I have let actions and comments and slanderous remarks slide rather than taking a stand for what I know in my heart to be solid Biblical principles. God has not changed, and His Word and values and standards have not changed. He hasn’t “come into the 2000s” with His principles. He is the same, His Word is the same, as it was 2000+ years ago. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He doesn’t change. And as Christians we have got to get out of the middle of the road before we get run over by the enemy.

How’s that for a soap box? I love you all and thank you for continuing to follow our devotionals. I stand amazed every day at the hits to this site. Only God.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1 & 2).

“So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace” (Hebrews 13:8 & 9a).

Hope

Like it was yesterday…

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Wednesday night of this week Mickey (Hannah’s dad) had the opportunity to share a portion of his testimony with the youth of FBC Spartanburg at Crossfire. It was sort of a last minute thing so Clay and I did not get a chance to rearrange schedules and be there, but I watched it on YouTube. As Mickey relived what we call our July 21, 2006 miracle, I was taken back there like it was yesterday. Mid-day on that day Mickey, Uncle Clay, Caz McCaslin and Jacob Robinson went into Hannah’s room, gathered around her bed, read James 5:13-16, prayed their own personal prayers of confession, anointed Hannah’s bald head with oil, and claimed healing over her cancer-stricken body. A couple of hours later Clay and I were standing with Mickey in the hall just outside Hannah’s ICU room as Dr. Trent, arguably the greatest sarcoma doctor in the world, told us that the blood in Hannah’s lungs was indication that the cancer had spread there, and she would only survive a few more days. Hannah was watching through the glass from her bed, where she had been sustained by a ventilator for 14 days at that time. As soon as we walked back into her room, Hannah’s big brown eyes never left her daddy, and she raised both hands in the air as if to say, “What was that all about? What did Dr. Trent say?” Mickey took Hannah’s fevered hand in his, leaned in close to her and did as any loving Daddy would do. He spoke life to his daughter. He told her that the cancer had spread to her lungs which meant that it was harder for the doctors to treat. But that it wasn’t harder for God to treat, and our trust was in Him where it had been all along. There were 30-40 friends and family there from Spartanburg, and we gathered in the prayer room on the 4th floor – a room that had a sign outside the door that said, “No Large Groups. No Talking.” We packed as many people as we could into that room and cried out loud to the Lord for the life of Hannah. While we were doing that, Mickey was in the room with Hannah talking to her about the importance of believing the Lord for her healing. Mickey believed it. He believed it with every ounce of his being. So much so that in spite of the word from Dr. Trent that Hannah was dying, early the next morning he boarded a plane with his two boys and flew to Spartanburg for all-star baseball tournaments. On Tuesday when Mickey returned to Houston, Hannah was off the ventilator, sitting up, talking and smiling from ear to ear! God answered the question in each of our hearts that weekend, “Can God heal cancer?” Oh yes He can! Cancer in Hannah’s lungs was never mentioned again to her dying breath 3 1/2 months later.

Below is a link to YouTube so that you can watch Mickey’s testimony from this past Wednesday evening. I encourage you to take a few minutes and watch it. Mickey addresses the question that is probably going through some of your minds right now. If God healed Hannah of lung cancer, then why did she die? Why does He totally heal some people on this earth, and heal others eternally through earthly death? God always has a plan. He’s always up to something. He wants to work in each heart involved, not just in the body of the sick. It’s all about trusting God our Creator, and believing Him to know what’s best.

The Lord continues to encourage our hearts with this July 21, 2006 miracle, like it was yesterday. I pray He’s doing the same for you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR2J7pXmZp0&feature=plcp

“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:13-16).

Hope

No more excuses…

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

I love this quote from Max Lucado…

Rise above the past and make a difference rather than remain controlled by the past and make excuses.

Our Ladies group is winding down our Jonah study by Priscilla Shirer. This past week’s lesson was on second chances. God gave Jonah a second chance. He allowed the great fish to spit Jonah out on the shore in Joppa – right where Jonah started from. And God gave him a second chance to make the right decision. I feel like I’m on my 22nd chance. God is so gracious and merciful to me. He has allowed me to rise above my past and make a difference by doing what I’m doing right this minute, writing daily devotionals. And He’s allowed me – a divorced daughter of a Baptist minister – to partner with my second husband and counsel young couples. Even tonight we had a young couple in our home and spent close to two hours counseling them. I could have remained controlled by my past and spent the rest of my life making excuses for why I did what I did. But God dipped into His deep well of grace and said, “Nope, I’m not through with her yet” and He gave me a second chance. Amen!

And He will do the same for you. No more excuses. Rise above your past and make a difference. Allow the Lord to turn your mess into a message. He wants to use your test to make a testimony. Tell your story. Use your experiences to change someone else’s life. No more excuses.

“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you’” (Jonah 3:1).

Hope

Still getting flowers…

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

One of my Facebook friends posted a picture of flowers that have bloomed in her yard even this week, and she captioned the picture, Still getting flowers.

I thought about how the Lord does that for us during our spiritual winter months. When times are hard, temperatures are cold, the nights are long, dark and lonely, the Lord plants beautiful flowers in the midst. We will miss them if we’re not looking for them. We’ll be too caught up in the dead leaves that have covered everything to see the flowers. We’ll be too caught up in rushing inside to get out of the cold to see the flowers. We’ll be too caught up in the circumstances that are causing the dark, lonely nights to see the flowers. Sometimes the flowers are in the shape of a hug, or a kind word, or a prayer whispered by a friend, or a scripture from a devotional, or a smile from a child, or a kudo from a spouse. We are still getting flowers in the midst of the hard times. We just have to look for them.

“Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man” (Psalm 112:4).

“For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12).

Hope