Archive for December, 2013

2013 – A year of mercies…

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

As we close out 2013 I can’t help but thank God for His mercies. A couple of weeks ago I talked about tender mercies. This past year has been packed full of God’s tender mercies on my life and in my life. He has been faithful to go before me, to walk beside me, and to hang out behind me so as to have my back. He is ever-present. He’s been involved in every uncertain turn of Hannah’s Hope Ministries. It’s been a year of trusting Him completely. It’s been a year of recognizing our frailties, our inadequacies, our lack of self-dependence, our lack of control. Having God at the helm of the ministry, allowing Him to throw up stop signs, yield signs, and even road blocks brings great freedom. God set the ministry in motion in December 2006, and it is His ministry to twist and turn as He sees fit. Our job is to keep pedaling while He steers. We close out 2013 with great anticipation for what 2014 will hold for Hannah’s Hope Ministries and for our family. God is at work. He is faithful and just and sure. We see His hand. We feel His hand. We trust His hand. We couldn’t ask for this to be a more exciting, exhilarating, yet fearful time for us. Anytime we represent the Father, there is fear. It’s a holy fear, a Godly fear of the Almighty. Even as I type this I find myself shaking my head, never knowing why God chose me to represent the ministry, the family, Hannah’s hope. Yes, 2013 has been a year of mercies. And I thank God for every single one of them.

2014? No idea! But I say “Bring it on, Lord!!”

“…because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:78 & 79).

Happy New Year to each of you!

Hope

Where self is, there’s always a struggle…

Monday, December 30th, 2013

I was cleaning out one of my Bibles this morning and found this note I had written in 2011.

Where self is, there’s always a struggle. – James 4:1-3

So many times we get ourselves in a mess because we decide “I deserve better”, “I don’t like how I’m being treated”, “They hurt my feelings so I’m through with them”, “I don’t want to get hurt so I’m distancing myself”, “How could God do this to me?”, “They think differently from me or have different tastes or different preferences therefore they’re wrong.”

Where self is, there’s always a struggle. 

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3).

Ouch! Those are some strong words that Brother James laid out there for us. But his words are God-breathed. After all, they made The Book. Look back to your last serious “falling out” or confrontation with someone. Where did “I” come to play in that? Look back at your last really big disappointment in life. Where did “I” fit in? What disappointed you? Why did it disappoint you? I can tell you that my answers to these questions all point back to me. Where self is, there’s always a struggle.

Today take self out of the picture. Respond to others with self on the back burner. Respond to circumstances beyond your control with self pushed to the back. Try putting your own feelings and wants and desires last and see how your day goes. According to James, the battle is within.

I hate it when these devotionals stomp all over my own toes.

Hope

Have you been amazed lately?

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Today I was blessed with a couple of opportunities to pray for folks in crisis. A family who is preparing their hearts in the best way they can to lose their husband/dad/granddad to cancer. He is the rock of the family. My heart has been very heavy for that family all week. And a female coach from Caleb’s high school who is battling breast cancer. As I prayed for both of these individuals today I prayed, “Amaze them with Your grace, Lord.” Then I couldn’t help but shake my head in wonder how we should be amazed by His grace everyday. If we’re not amazed, it’s not God’s fault. He doesn’t have to heal cancer or perform some big God-size miracle. His grace sweeps over us daily. It rushes in to cover our sins, to carry us through difficult times, to trump any lie that Satan flaunts in our face. 

Have you been amazed by His grace lately? Look back over your Christmas holiday. Do you see God’s grace on any area of your life? Does it amaze you or do you take it for granted?

“Receive and experience the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, deep, deep within yourselves” (Philippians 4:23).

Hope

The best gift ever!

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

I hope each of you had a wonderful Christmas. Our family is blessed beyond measure, as I’m sure yours is. I got many nice gifts, none of which I deserve! Clay has been after me to take up golfing so we can do something “recreational” together. So I got a set of golf clubs…??? I am so athletically challenged. But the few times I’ve played I enjoyed it so hey, why not give it a shot? And I got a larger Keurig coffee pot. My first one was the small one. I had it for over a year on a trial run, and Clay ended up liking it as much as I do. So now we have a Keurig Elite. And I got a pair of running shoes – in girlie colors. I love them! And a Bible cover that has my name on it. And some pajamas, a scarf or two or four!, some clothes, a couple of gift cards, etc. etc. You’re probably saying, “So did I!” on several of these things. What fun gifts.

Listening to the radio this morning the DJ said, Jesus is the greatest gift of all. I thought, “He’s the best gift ever!” What do I mean by that? Because of sin we, humans, were separated at birth from our Creator. We are born sinners. Thank you, Adam and Eve. And the payment for sin is death. Someone or something had to die. Blood had to be shed. For hundreds of years, once a year, a spotless animal was sacrificed and the blood of that “best” was offered for the remission of sin. But it was impossible for the blood of an animal to cover the sins of the world. So every year the sacrifice was made, year after year. God wanted more for us. He wanted a permanent fix. He looked down from heaven and said, “I will sacrifice the spotless Lamb – My only Son – so that man’s sin can be covered once and for all.” It was God who gave the best gift ever. He gave His Son so that I could live forever. Forever! We celebrate Christmas, a day set aside to remember the birth of Jesus. The angel told Mary to name her baby Jesus, because He would save His people from their sins. I’m His people! How did I become one? It was easy. All I had to do was believe that I am a sinner in need of a Savior; that Jesus lived, died and conquered death, hell and the grave so that I could live; confess my sins; and ask Jesus to be Lord and Savior of my life. On May 15, 1972 I did just that. I accepted the best gift ever!

Jesus IS the best gift ever! I pray you’ve accept your gift.

“…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Hope

It’s all in the message…

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Last night our church took a group of close to 40 individuals of all ages Christmas caroling in the POURING down rain. We spent about 30 minutes at the Hospice Home then we visited a couple of our senior citizens who are unable to attend church. Mrs. Jean is one of the charter members of Cudd Memorial Baptist Church and is 95 years old. Her hearing and her sight have failed her, but her spirit has not let her down. She clapped and raised her hands and waved toward heaven during all of the songs. At one point our Pastor leaned down and spoke loudly and clearly into her ear, asking if she had a favorite Christmas song. In spite of her lack of hearing, she recognized his voice. It blessed my heart when she called him by name and responded, “Oh Danny, it doesn’t matter. I can’t really understand the words but it sounds beautiful! I love them all!” Mrs. Jean wasn’t rejoicing because she could understand all of the words. She was rejoicing because she knows the message of each song. Jesus, her Rock, her Redeemer, her Savior. Her sweet spirit is not based on her health. It’s all in the message.

I love listening to Christmas music. It makes me sad to think that in a couple of days they’ll be tucked away in the music library for ten or eleven months. I love all the songs from Hard Candy Christmas to Christmas in Dixie to Winter Wonderland to Oh Holy Night. They all warm my heart and make it “feel Christmasy.” But the songs that proclaim the Christmas story are the ones with the only true meaning. It’s all in the message.

Saturday night as I checked out at one of the local stores the young clerk said, “Happy Holidays!” I looked at her and smiled and said, “Merry Christmas!” She smiled back and said, “Yes ma’am, Merry Christmas.” Happy Holidays…just exactly what holiday is it that “they” are giving happy wishes to? Happy Holidays. What holiday is it? If you ask any of the politically correct advocates what holiday it is that is bringing in so much revenue, the only answer is Christmas. Christmas? What is Christmas? Oh, it’s a holiday that has been set aside to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. Maybe we shouldn’t wish anyone a Merry Christmas for fear of offending, but if it were not for Christmas there would be no holiday to be happy about. Happy Holidays? I don’t think so. Christmas is the day that we celebrate the birth of our Savior, the King, the Messiah. Our calendar that each of us live by is based on that birth. That birth is what this holiday is all about. It’s not about Santa, though I love “Santa.” It’s not about Elf on the Shelf, though we have a great time with our Clarence the Elf. It’s not about shopping or gifts or trees. It’s about Jesus – God’s only Son Who was born in a manger to give eternal life to you and me. Christmas – it’s all in the message.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests’” (Luke 2:10-14).

Yes, it’s all in the message.

Merry Christmas to each of you and your family! Thank you so much for continuing to read our posts and pray for our family. God bless you! I’ll be back with you on Thursday.

Hope

He does’t miss a thing…

Friday, December 20th, 2013

A sweet young lady who is solid in her faith posted this status on Facebook:

Because You are God, and You don’t miss a thing.

That statement took me to Psalm 139…

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely” (Psalm 139:1-4).

I love it! There is nowhere I can go that God is not already there waiting on me. There is no crossroad in life that I will happen upon that God didn’t engineer. There is no crisis that I will face that God didn’t allow. And He doesn’t miss a thing in your life, either. There is no broken relationship that threatens to tear your heart out that God misses. He’s watching, He’s looking out for you. There’s no disappointment or unmet expectation that you’ll encounter that slips past God. There is no sickness or separation or death that will come into your life that slides by God. He never has to do a double-take and say, “Woe, how’d I miss that? How’d that get by Me?” Because He’s God, and He doesn’t miss a thing.

I hope each of you have a great weekend. We (our quartet, Echoes of Hope) are having an Echoes of Hope Parents Christmas dinner tonight at our house. This is the first year we’ve been able to do this. We’re so thankful to have Poppy and Grandma Ellen living in the same town! We’ll talk again on Monday…

Hope

Point them to Jesus…

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

In light of all the media attention of the controversy between Phil Robertson and the homosexual community and A&E network, I posted the following statement on Facebook:

God is love. He loves the sinner. But He hates the sin – all sin. Sin, all sin, separates us from a Holy God. God loves the sinner and He receives us just as we are. But He loves us too much to leave us that way. He paid too high a price – His only Son. Jesus spent His time on earth reaching out to the sinners. He didn’t condemn them, but He called them out and told them to leave their sin and follow Him. The message is the same today. Love the sinner, don’t condemn them, but point them to Jesus who will set them free from the bondage of sin – all sin. Check out these two stories in John 4:1-26 & John 8:1-12. #gospel #goodnews

Here are excerpts from both of these passages of scripture…

“Jesus answered,’Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’ He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’ ‘I have no husband,’ she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true’” (John 4:13-18).

“…He <Jesus> straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ’Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:7-11).

Jesus was full of grace and love. But Jesus called sin sin and He called the sinner to leave the life of sin. This world is full of pain and sorrow. It is full of ungodliness. But because of Jesus, we can be a light in the midst of darkness. Don’t trump what Jesus did. Love the sinner, don’t condemn them, and point them to Jesus who will set them free from the bondage of sin – all sin.

Hope

Immeasurably more…

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

This is the verse that Joy McAbee shared with Deb on Monday morning, May 8, 2006 during their Moms in Touch meeting. They claimed the “immeasurably more” part of the verse for their two daughters who were best friends – Hannah Sobeski and Erin McAbee. The next night Hannah found herself in the Emergency Room and a few hours later was told she had a tumor in her groin area. 

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. I assure you that the “immeasurably more” that Deb prayed for Hannah did not include a cancerous tumor. And the immeasurably more would have never included a fight for her life with an aggressive cancer. Immeasurably more in our finite minds could not comprehend how the Lord could take a terminal illness of a beautiful 17-year-old girl and get so much glory from all of it. But He did. And He continues to seven years later.

God has used Hannah’s life in ways that far exceed anything Deb or any of us would have ever asked or imagined. Not in the the way we would’ve chosen, but in the way He chose in His great power by working within each of us, including Hannah. Then He took Hannah out of here and continues to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine through her story.

Here’s this same verse from The Message paraphrase:

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us” (Ephesians 3:20 The MSG).

God doesn’t do immeasurably more by pushing us around, treating us like puppets. He does immeasurably more by working within us through His Spirit. All He needs is a willing vessel. And He found one in Hannah Sobeski.

Hope

 

Scale a wall…

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

I was listening to a couple of Psalms on my way to work this morning and I happened upon this verse…

“With your [God's] help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall” (Psalm 18:29).

I’ve run that verse around in my head much of the day. “Scale a wall” is a phrase that is used in reference to a battle, to soldiers. You and I are in a battle for our spiritual life. We are soldiers in God’s army. This verse reminds us that with God, there is nothing we can’t handle. That reality provides me great courage, strength, and determination. I hope it does the same for you. I don’t know what you’re facing, but no matter the task, no matter the mountain, no matter the unknown, with God’s help you can advance against it. With God, you can scale a wall. I love that visual. On our own we probably couldn’t begin to climb the wall that is before us. But with God, allowing Him to have control, we’ve got this!

Don’t back down. Don’t run. Don’t retreat. Trust in God and you will scale a wall.

Hope

You’ll get through this…

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Max Lucado has a new book out, and I can’t wait to read it all the way through! The title alone has me hooked, You’ll Get Through This. I love that man. He is my all-time favorite male author. I’ve started reading it but haven’t had time to really get into it, because I know when I focus I won’t want to put it down. 

Today alone I’ve had the opportunity to encourage two individuals with those words, You’ll get through this. When we’re in the depth of the valley it doesn’t feel like we will ever see our way out. Sometimes it’s difficult to put one foot in front of the other. And when our lives are turned upside down during the holidays it feels like the valley is even darker. I want to give you a word to hang onto, to believe, to claim as your own. You’ll get through this. I don’t know what “this” is in your life, but God promises to see us through. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He promises that all things – ALL things – work together for our good if we love Him and trust Him. Love Him today. Trust Him today. And be assured, You’ll get through this.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

“to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:79).

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

Hope