"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock & my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken."
Psalm 62:5-6

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Storms

I love a good storm.  It's no secret that I don't like living in The Devil's Playground, but I will pay it this compliment ... they have some great storms here!  It's been a while since we've had a really great one, but last night we had thunder, lightning, & rain off & on, & then this morning it was amazing!  It was as if someone was doing a 4th of July fireworks finale on my front porch.  The lightning was so bright, & the boom-boom-booms of the thunder literally shook the house!  Although the storms have subsided for now, more are predicted for today   : )

The word storm, as a noun, has several definitions.  Of course there's the obvious weather-related one ... "a violent disturbance in the atmosphere...with rain, thunder, lightning...."  It can also be a bombardment of something, as in "The soldiers were taken by a storm of bullets."  A storm can relate to an uproar or controversy ... "His book caused a storm in South America."  It can also mean "a violent or noisy outburst" ... "The crowd raised their voices in a storm of protest."

The word storm can be a verb ... "to move angrily or forcefully in a particular direction," as in "She burst into tears & stormed off."  It can refer to shouting ... "'Don't patronize me,' she stormed!"  It can also refer to attacking & capturing a building or other place by means of force ... "The French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille."

A storm can also relate to circumstances in our lives.  Storms in our lives can be situational.  An example of a situational storm would be getting ready to leave for work only to discover your car has a flat tire.  Since your husband has the day off, he tells you to take his car.  On the way to work, you get caught in traffic & end up being late.  When you arrive at work, you have missed an important meeting & your boss is quite upset.  An hour later you receive a phone call ... your daughter has gotten sick at school.  You have to tell your boss that you need to leave work to pick up your daughter & take her home.  When you go out to the parking lot, you find that your husband's car has a dent that wasn't there before.

Storms in life can also be relational.  For example, a friend suddenly starts telling you she's busy every time you ask her to go shopping or have coffee with you.

We can also experience emotional storms in our lives.  A close friend or family member suddenly passes away, or you lose your home in a fire, or your doctor diagnoses you with cancer.

The Bible describes a storm in Matthew 14. The disciples are in a boat on the sea of Galilee when a huge storm develops.  The sky is dark, strong winds are blowing, & the waves are crashing against the sides of the boat.  As if they weren't terrified enough, they suddenly see what they believe is a ghost walking toward them on the water. They began crying out in fear, but Jesus speaks to them & says "Take courage!  It is I. Don't be afraid."  Peter says to Him "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water." You know the rest.  Jesus says "come," & Peter gets out of the boat & starts walking toward Jesus.  The storm didn't suddenly stop when Peter got out of the boat.  The sky was still dark, the strong winds were still blowing, & the waves were still crashing. When Peter realized what was happening around him, he started to sink & cried out to Jesus to help him, which of course Jesus did, saying to him "You of little faith ... why did you doubt?"  What is the lesson here?  Peter was not aware of the storm when he kept his eyes on Jesus.  The moment he took his eyes off Jesus & focused them instead on the storm, he began to sink.

When we have storms in our lives ... any kind of storms ... we need to keep our eyes on Jesus & focus on Him only.  Not on our problems or on our circumstances.  Not on other people.  We need to focus on Him.  You may be wondering how we can do this.  Of course should pray ... not only when storms enter our lives but during storm-free periods as well.  Paul doesn't tell us in I Thessalonians 5 to "pray without ceasing" for no reason!  We also need to memorize scriptures.  Matthew tells us how immediately after Jesus was baptized, He spent 40 days/nights alone in the desert devoting Himself to prayer & fasting.  Satan then brought "storms" into Jesus' life by tempting Him.  How did Jesus respond?  He quoted scriptures.

There are many Bible verses & passages that are good to memorize.  The Book of Psalms, for example, is full of prayers that we can incorporate into our own prayer lives.  I also think it is good to memorize verses & passages that describe God's goodness.  The devil can't defeat us if we are focused on God's goodness.  Psalm 145 is an excellent psalm to remind ourselves how good the Lord is & to throw in the devil's face   : )

"I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise Your name for ever & ever.
Every day I will praise You
& extol Your name for ever & ever.
Great is the Lord & most worthy of praise;
His greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends Your works to another;
they tell of Your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of Your majesty -
& I will meditate on Your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of Your awesome works -
& I will proclaim Your great deeds.
They celebrate Your abundant goodness
& joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious & compassionate,
slow to anger & rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
He has compassion on all He has made.
All Your works praise you, Lord;
Your faithful people extol You.
They tell of the glory of Your kingdom
& speak of Your might,
so that all people may know of Your mighty acts
& the glorious splendor of Your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom
& Your domain endures through all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises
& faithful in all He does.
The Lord upholds all who fall
& lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to You,
& You give them their food at the proper time.
You open Your hand
& satisfy the desires of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all His ways
& faithful in all He does.
The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
to all who call on Him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;
He hears their cry & saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love Him,
but all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise His holy name
for ever & ever."

When storms come into your life, keep your eyes on Jesus.  He promises to never leave us & never forsake us (Hebrews 13).  There's no better promise than that   : )

Sunday, July 20, 2014

No OMGs

There are many verses in the Bible telling us that we should honor God's name.  Exodus 20:7 & Deuteronomy 5:11 are two familiar examples.  In most translations, these verses are identical in both books.  

"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain...."  (KJV)

"You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God...."  (NIV)

I especially like the way the MSG & VOICE translations render these verses.

"No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter...."  (MSG)

"You are to not use My name lightly or flippantly or as a curse...."  (VOICE)

My spirit, in fact my entire being cringes when I hear someone doing this.  I'm sure we have all heard people saying things like ...

"Oh my God, look at that cute outfit!"

"Will you go clean up your room, for Christ's sake?"

"What in God's name are you doing?"

"For the love of God, get in here!"

I remember watching The Weather Channel one day while they were showing a home video someone took of a funnel cloud heading toward their neighborhood. Someone ... either the person filming the video or a person nearby ... kept saying over & over again, "Oh my God!  Oh my God!  Oh my God!"  I don't think I can adequately explain how grieved I was at this.

Did you know that there are words that people use in place of God's name but they are still the same?  I first was made aware of this when I was in 7th grade.  I attended a catholic grade school (grades 1-8) & one day I was standing with some friends & one of us said something like "Geez, will you look at that!"  One of the nuns at the school happened to hear this as she was passing by & she really laid into us for using Jesus' name like that.  It never occurred to my friends & I that "geez" was just a shortened form of Jesus ... a "polite" way to dishonor God's name.  At the time we all thought that nun was crazy, but of course with age comes wisdom (hopefully).  Geez, gee, gosh, golly, egad, "oh my goodness," Jiminy Crickets, & similar words & expressions are all "polite substitutes" for God's name.

If you love God, if He is important in your life, if you want to honor Him at all times, listen to the words you say & to take a good look at the things you write.  If you discover that you are dishonoring God by using His name "lightly or flippantly or as a curse," pray for His help to stop.  In Psalm 141, the psalmist asks God to "set a guard over my mouth."  I ask God to do this for me every day.  I encourage you to ask Him to do this for you as well   : )

Monday, July 14, 2014

Beginning a New Week

"To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in You I trust, O my God."
Psalm 25:1

"Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth & teach me, for You are God my Savior, & my hope is in You all day long."
Psalm 25:4-5

"The Lord is my strength & my shield; my heart trusts in Him & I am helped."
Psalm 28:7

"Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior & my God."
Psalm 42:11

"God is our refuge & strength, an ever present help in trouble."
Psalm 46:1

"Be still, & know that I am God."
Psalm 46:10

"I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven & earth.
Psalm 121:1-2

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you & help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10

"Be not grieved & depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength & stronghold."
Nehemia 8:10

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Peace

I couldn't find any scripture images for what I'm sharing today so I've chosen this nice peaceful autumn scene of cows grazing in a field.  It looks to me like this photo was taken somewhere in West Virginia.  I remember driving through West Virginia on one particular occasion ... my first drive through the state in fact ... & seeing hills & fields & fog lifting like this.  It indeed gave me a very peaceful feeling.

During my morning Bible time these past couple of weeks I have read many passages describing the difficulties & unfairness experienced by the apostles.  I am also currently reading a book written by Beth Moore titled "To Live Is Christ."  It is a study of the ministry of Paul & includes various accounts of the injustices he had to suffer. Stoning, beatings, prison, chains, mockery, etc. If you know anything about Paul, you know that he patiently endured these things without complaint.  These two lines from one of his letters (Philippians) have always been very meaningful to me.  

"...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."

"I have learned the secret of being content in any & every situation...."

Paul never complained.  He never asked God why he was having to deal with the various situations with which he was presented.  No matter what, he chose to be content.  No matter what, he chose to praise God.  No matter what, he chose peace. 

If you've been reading my Sunday posts for the past few months, you know that this year my goal is to have peace.  I can't control what's happening around me, but I can control how I view it & how I respond to it.

As I've been reading my Bible & this book about Paul, I have been finding many references to choosing to have peace in your life despite what's happening around or to you.  I have been coming across so many of these references that I sort of jokingly wondered if it meant something.  Well, this past week I found out that God was apparently preparing me for some attacks on my peace.

This Past Week's Events

1.  A buyer of an item I sold on eBay wrote me a nasty email saying the item which I described as being "brand new, never used" had a part that was broken.  She accused me of being dishonest in my description & stated that she was going to leave negative feedback & report me to eBay so no one else would ever be fooled by my dishonesty again.  There was no reasoning with her.  She refused to accept my offer for her to either return the item for a full refund or to allow me to purchase a replacement part for the broken part & have the manufacturer send it directly to her.

2.  I had a one-month post surgery appointment with the nurse on Thursday.  I described for her a particular symptom that had recently developed.  She looked over my medication list & told me that one of my medications ... a medication I have been taking for several years ... was most likely the reason for this symptom.  When I told her that I researched this medication thoroughly before starting to take it, & that none of my doctors have ever had a problem with me taking it, she treated me as if I were an idiot & that she knew better than anyone what I should & should not be taking.

3.  The landscaper we have used for 3 years came to trim, weed, edge, & mulch our foundation gardens which are around the front of the house, one side of the house, & half way around the back.  He & his employee also pulled out a few plants that died over the winter.  They spent a total of 8 hours doing this work.  They have done this type of work for us before, & to a much more extensive degree, & the most it has ever cost us was $600, so it was quite a shock to be presented with a bill for $1360 ... money we could ill afford to spend at this time.  Two truckloads of mulch was billed at $400 with the remaining $960 being billed as "labor."  $60/hour per man!  John was not happy, to say the least.     

4.  A lab where one of my doctors sent my blood for testing in March sent me a bill at the beginning of May.  There was no indication that insurance had been billed. When I called to ask about this, I was told that there was a computer glitch ... it was sending out bills before insurance payments were received.  The rep told me to just ignore it.  At the beginning of June, I received another bill.  I called & spoke with 2 representatives ... one who told me the same thing the first one did & to just ignore the bill, the second who told me that he did not even see the bill in the system so the insurance payments must have been received thereby closing the account. Yesterday I received another bill, this one with a big PAST DUE stamp across it   : (   

In my Joyce Meyer devotional, yesterday's & today's entries are both interestingly applicable to my current situation.  Joyce began yesterday's entry with these words ...

"It is a learning process to keep the devil from stealing your joy, because he constantly tempts you in new ways to lose your peace."

Today's entry, titled "Triumph Over Troubles," references this scripture from Romans 5 (AMP) ...

"Moreover...let us exult & triumph in our troubles & rejoice in our suffering, knowing that pressure & affliction & hardship produce patient & unswerving endurance."

Well, happy-happy joy-joy   : )   I will not let the devil rob me of my peace.  I will not sit here worrying & complaining.  I will let the eBay chips fall where they may, comfort myself knowing that I will never have to see that particular nurse again, find a new landscaper, &, if necessary, travel to wherever this lab is & take care of this billing issue in person.  

Perhaps your stresses this past week are equal to or make mine pale in comparison. Won't you join me in pursuing God's peace?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Colossians 3:1-17


"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, & your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will also appear with Him in glory.  

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:  sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires & greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these:  anger, rage, malice, slander, & filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices & have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator....

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy & dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness & patience.  Bear with each other & forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach & admonish one another with all wisdom, & as you sing psalms, hymns & spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

Monday, June 30, 2014

Best Online Shop for DMC?

I need to purchase a bunch of DMC floss for various punch needle projects.  I need to buy it online & am looking for an online shop that has the best price per skein.  Any recommendations will be greatly appreciated   : )

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Choosing to Have a Good Attitude

Do you know anyone who lives their life based on Philippians 2:3-5?  I knew someone like this a few years ago ... a pastor of a church in a neighboring town.  I had never met anyone like Pastor Mike before.  I am not being irreverent in what I am about to say, but whenever I was in his presence, I saw Jesus.   He was not merely a hearer of the Word, but a doer (James 1:22).  He was a visible definition of being Christlike.

All of us who are Christians should be living our lives in a Christlike manner, but few of us do.  It is not an impossible goal.  God would not have told us in His Word how to live like Christ if it were impossible for us to do so. Nothing is impossible with God.

How does a person act when they choose to have a good attitude?  Among other things, they don't focus on the negatives of life. They don't complain.  They don't blame others when things go wrong.  

As I have mentioned a time or two in the past, I read a daily devotional written by Joyce Meyer.  In a recent entry, she used her God-given humor to get the point across regarding how we should choose to have Christ's attitude in all things.    

"Think about Jesus.  Immediately after He was baptized & filled with the Holy Ghost, He was led into the wilderness to be tested & tried by the devil.  He did not complain & become discouraged & depressed.  He did not think or speak negatively.  

Can you imagine Jesus traveling around the country with His disciples talking about how hard everything was?  Can you picture Him complaining about how difficult going to the cross was going to be, or how uncomfortable it was to roam the countryside with no bed to sleep in at night?"  
The next time you catch your thoughts dwelling on negative things ... the next time you feel like complaining about something ... picture Jesus being faced with whatever it is that's going on in your life at that moment & imagine how he would respond.  Then you do the same. 
Shine in this world like Jesus did.  Pastor Mike chose to do so.  We can too   : )