GIFTS- part 1 {7.24.18}

God-given gifts. We all have them. Yes – even you and even me. gifts given by GodSometimes we look at others and recognize their gifts but miss our own. Last night we met up with our cousin and his wife. We had not seen our cousin in years and met his wife for the first time.  It was a great evening getting to know them and share a bit of our lives. They were driving through our area on their way to an art show. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? They are both artists. Great artists I might add. His paintings are fantastic, and she makes lovely jewelry. We had the privilege of seeing samples of both of their arts. Our daughter, son-in-law and grandson were there too. They each have wonderful gifts of their own. I was thinking about that and realized that all of us have been given gifts. Some just seem more “special” than others – in our minds. Not with God though. He carefully gave them to us – specifically, on purpose. You have one (or many).

Can you identify your gifts? I am not musically inclined, and I do not have the gift of painting or making jewelry. But, I do have a big smile. Even though it shows teeth that are not straight and makes my eyes almost close, I have had people tell me my smile brought them joy. Imagine that – a crazy looking smile bringing joy! I think tha a gift. Maybe you have a green thumb. That’s a gift. Are you organized? Can you hit a homerun on a baseball field or make a 3-pointer in basketball? Do you swing a mean hammer? Cook a great meatloaf? Bake brownies like nobody’s business? Are you a great storyteller? Those are all gifts. Are you “tech savvy”? Now that’s a gift I could use! We mustn’t think more highly of ourselves, but we also must not think less of ourselves because our gifts aren’t visible to the multitudes. Maybe our gifts were to be shared one-on-one. Take a minute today to identify your gifts. Then thank God for them.

James 1:17-18 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

gift gods greatest loveBack to our evening with family…

Isn’t it amazing how love can just pop up? We didn’t really know these two relatives but last night love showed up and now we have a love connection as well as a blood connection. That’s the greatest gift isn’t it? LOVE. GOD IS LOVE. GOD GAVE US LOVE. GOD INTENDS US TO SHARE THAT LOVE. We all have that gift and can put it on the top of our list. LOVE. The greatest gift of all.

Love {2.14.17}

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! I hope you are giving and receiving love on this day and every day. It’s hard not to think of love this time of year in our part of the world isn’t it? We are bombarded with suggested gifts for our loved ones. flowers I was in our neighborhood grocery store yesterday and before I even got into the store, the “in between area of carts” was FULL (I mean full) of flowers! It was beautiful! There was hardly room to get in the door. Our retailers help remind us all to give up some cash and show someone we love them. It’s not all about cash though. There are many things we can do and say to show our love. We can get creative and think like a child. They usually know what it’s all about.

I have felt God calling me to write a message on love for this Valentine’s Day and I actually typed one up yesterday but never could get it finished. It just didn’t seem “right” somehow. This morning I realized why. God gave me a message as only He can.

I checked Facebook to see how a friend is recovering from her surgery. Praise God she is doing well. While I was in Facebook I saw a post from another friend. It was a prayer request for a dear friend of hers who is waiting for a transplant. Then it hit me – right in the heart. You see I had a dear friend years ago who was also waiting for a transplant. It’s a terrible time of mixed emotions. You want the transplant because it will give the person needing it hope for continued life here on earth. However, you realize that in order for them to live, someone else must die. We don’t wish death on anyone (or at least we shouldn’t) so that’s a hard thing to wrap our heads and hearts around. Usually the person dies of illness or accident. While that’s a tragic time in the life of their family, it brings hope to the one waiting the transplant. Hope and despair sometimes go hand in hand.

There was another though who died so that we could live. His death was no accident. It was caused by no illness. He willingly gave up His life out of love for The Father and love for all of us – ALL OF US. His name is Jesus. He suffered more than any of us will ever be able to truly imagine and He knew exactly what it would be like before going down that road. Now that is love – true love – sacrificial love – pure love – everlasting love.god-is-love

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:16-21)

We all seek love. Millions of songs, poems, books, movies, etc. are centered on love. We all want to be loved and to love. But this Valentine’s Day, let’s remember where love started in the first place.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

spread-loveToday it seems like we see a lot of hate in our world rather than love. Don’t you wonder what would happen if we turned that hate around by loving others? Let’s give it a try. It’s possible even to love our enemies when we have God in our hearts. We can make the world a better place – one person at a time. Like the song says, “Love is all we need.” Let’s share it.

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-38)

Terror from the Tempter {7.13.16}

I don’t know about where you live but when I turn on the news each morning, there seems to always be sad and tragic news in abundance. I really don’t remember the last time I watched the news and there was no killing reported. It’s so sad. It rouses many emotions in us but I wonder how often it prompts us to do the things we can do – pray and love.

Matthew 5:44: “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

The terror we are seeing is from the tempter, Satan. He wants to steal, kill and destroy. He appears to be doing quite a fine job of it, with help from us. God never tempts us to evil but He does allow us free will to choose good over evil.

James 1:13-15: “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

1 Timothy 5:15: “Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.

Remember, when we are tempted to sin/evil, God will ALWAYS provide a way of escape for us. We need to look for that escape route and take it.

Loving our enemies is hard to do, hard to even think about doing in our own strength. That’s why we need GOD. It’s only possible through His love and His Strength working in and through us.

1 Thessalonians 5:15-24: “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire, do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

Sometimes we let these awful things we hear go in one ear and then out again if it doesn’t happen to our family or friends. But, we know that it affects us all. This is a war we are in the middle of and the battle is fierce. It’s a war against good and evil. It’s a war against our nation, our families, and even our sanity. The great news is that God has provided us all we need to fight this battle. Check it out below.

Ephesians 6:10-18: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the saints”

So, I guess the purpose of this post is to remind myself and others who may read it to keep on praying, keep on trusting God and keep on fighting the fight, on our knees and with love. Loving God first and foremost and then with His help, loving others – all others. After all, Christ died and rose again for EVERYONE.

If you have not yet joined the family of God, you can do that right now. Admit your sins, accept the gift of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ as your savior and then love, trust and follow God. It’s that simple. God will help guide and direct you and give you understanding through His Holy Spirit.

Mighty things can happen when we all join together in love and prayer. Are we with God? Or, are we with Satan? Those are our only two choices. If we don’t actively choose God, we choose Satan by default. His team may win battles but they lose the war and end up in terror and torment for eternity. Choosing Satan is a choice leading to death. With God, we will spend eternity in heaven. Easy choice – choose God and live!

Addicted to Love {6.20.16}

Do any of you remember the song “Addicted to Love”? For some strange reason it’s been in my head for about a week. I’ve been thinking about addictions and it popped up. Like a song you hear and can’t get it out of your head until another one takes its place. This verse is what I keep thinking about:

“You might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.”

Addiction: The act of devoting or giving up in practice, the state of being devoted. To devote or surrender oneself to something habitually or obsessively.

We can find ourselves addicted to many things. It can be fame, money, certain foods or drinks, alcohol, drugs, exercise, hobbies, television, internet, Facebook, pleasing people (fill in the blank for your life). addictive behavior

We want to feel like we control our lives. And, we do have control over some things. We have control over the choices we make. We have control over our attitudes. Maybe that’s why we are so easily tempted to the bondage of addictions. It’s our self-satisfaction we desire and sometimes think we deserve. I believe we all have tendencies to addictive behavior. Whether it is having to have a cup of coffee, soft drink, or tea before we think we can begin our day, an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or not letting anything or anyone disrupt our exercise or TV schedule, they are all types of addiction. I mean, the fact that I can’t open a bag of chips and stop at 1 or 5 or 10, but can keep eating long after the hunger is gone, that’s addiction. The fact that I will stop at McDonalds to get a tea even if I’m not thirsty, that’s a habit turned to addiction.

When we realize we have an addiction that is starting to control our lives instead of us controlling it, we need to take action. We all have a void in our lives that only God can fill! He is the only person who can really help us and fill void. After all, He knows our struggles already. He knows everything about us (Psalm 139:1-16). He created us to love and worship Him. And, NOTHING is too hard for God. He is creator! (Jeremiah 32:17) He loves us with a love that we can’t even comprehend. And, God’s power in us is strong enough to demolish any stronghold (2 Corinthians 10:4-7). The Spirit of God gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

God’s Word tells us that no temptation has seized us except what is common to man and God is faithful. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. And, when we are tempted (and we will be), He will provide a way out from under the temptation. We just need to be willing to take that escape route. Sometimes I’m willing and sometimes I’m not. I do like to get my way, even if I know it’s not in my best interest. Maybe that’s another definition of insanity. It’s like doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

1 John 4:8, 16 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because GOD IS LOVE.” “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. GOD IS LOVE. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”

1 John 5:3 “This is love for God: to obey his commands.”

I don’t know about you but…I need GOD and I need His help to put Him first in all things and only be addicted to love – Love for God and others. After all, GOD IS LOVE. Only through God’s power in me will I be able to truly love Him and all others. Because, like me, not everyone is always loveable.

addicted to love I want to be addicted to God to the point that being with Him and following His lead are both a habit and obsession. In order to truly love others, I must love GOD FIRST and MOST – all the time. Only then will the light of God shine in my life for others to see.

I pray that one day people will say to me, “You might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.”

Sacrifices Remembered {5.30.16}

memorial day prayerThis Memorial Day I am remembering all those in my life who have sacrificed on my behalf. They include family members and friends who have given up their wants for my needs. They include those I have never met to fought for the freedoms I have and sadly sometimes take for granted.

In the midst of our “holiday weekend”, let’s take time to remember with thankful hearts those whose service have allowed us this freedom to celebrate. THANK YOU seem such simple words but I don’t know of any better ones to use so I say THANK YOU to you all.

The best and most lasting sacrifice and service given for all of us was memorial day Jesuswhat Jesus did for us on the cross. I thank God for the love that we can’t even comprehend. Praise His Holy Name! Thank you, Jesus. I’m counting my blessings today with love and gratitude. Have a blessed day.

False Fantom Feelings {5.11.16}

Before I begin, I’m sure some of you are thinking the same thing I did [that is NOT how you spell phantom]. Well, I looked it up in the dictionary because I just had to keep with same letter words for this title. I can’t explain it – just one of those weird things about me. Now that the spelling issue is out of the way, on with the story…

On Mother’s Day one of our sons took me to see Phantom of the Opera. I had never seen it before and did not know the story. I was immediately impressed with the singing (and the capacity of those singers to hold notes for so long). The set design and changes though were amazing. I was enthralled just watching it all. I’m sure I had my mouth open part of the time wondering how they came up with the idea and then pulled it off. Of course, I liked the dancing too. As we came to the end though, I was overwhelmed with the sadness of the story. I have thought about it afterwards and realized that many of us have had similar thoughts as that of the Phantom. He felt alone and isolated. He was disfigured, avoided, mocked and feared. He lashed out at others because of those feelings. Don’t we often do the same? How many times have you let yourself fall into a “self-pity party” and blown things out of proportion, causing you to act unkindly to others or fabricate motives for certain actions or words of others? Like all of us, the Phantom wanted to be loved for who he was. What is so sad is that all that time, God’s amazing love was waiting for him, just like it is waiting for all of us. The Phantom’s feelings were false. For truth, we must go to the ONE TRUE GOD and HIS WORD which IS TRUTH.

God created all of us, just as we are. There is nothing in our creation that surprises or disgusts Him. We were perfectly formed and are perfectly loved. In case you have forgotten, read His Word that assures us of this fact.

Psalm 139:1-18 says:  O Lord, you have searched me 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 know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake I am still with you.”

If you ever begin to think you are not good enough for God to love and that He doesn’t know all the “uglies” about you, please read these verses above. There is NOTHING about us that God does not already know. His love for us is unfailing and the depth of His love is more than we can comprehend.

He loves us enough that He sent His Son to die for us. He’s waiting for us to live with Him in Heaven (John 14:1-4). Christ has gone to prepare a place for us – for all who have repented and accepted the free gift of salvation through Jesus. If you have not done that already, would you accept His free gift now? God loves YOU (just as you are)!  The extra bonus of God’s love is that He doesn’t leave us as He finds us. When we allow Him to be Lord of our lives, He will change us and mold us to be more Christ-like so that our light might shine before men to bring others to this incredible lover of our souls. Here are just a few other scriptures that confirm God’s love for us.

Psalm 13:5, Psalm 25:10, Psalm 33:22, Psalm 36:5, Psalm 63:3, Psalm 100:5, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 108:4, Psalm 149:4, John 3:16, Zephaniah 3:17, Ephesians 3:14-19, 1 Corinthians 2:9, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:38-39, Matthew 10:29-31

But, we do have a responsibility to share that love. Read Mark 12:30-31 and Luke 10:27.

As you read this post, please pray to God to reveal His great love for you and then return it back to Him. I assure you that if you do that, your attitude will reflect Christ and His Light will shine through you as you go about your day. Remember, Fantom Feelings are False! STOP them in their tracks and reflect on TRUTH – God’s Truth, His Word, His Love. HE IS TRUE and can be trusted! God Bless!

Love {2.21.16}

Love means a lot of different thing to a lot of people, doesn’t it? To a child it might mean a kiss and Band-Aid on a hurt knee or a hug when they are scared. To a teenager it might seem like the do all or end all of their daily activities. To a young couple, it might mean flowers, movies, love notes (probably in the form of text messages). To an older couple, it might mean taking care of and helping each other remember things. No matter what stage in life, we all hunger for love.

valentine flowers

A friend showed me the Valentine’s Day gifts her husband gave her this year. She received a beautiful necklace and earrings. Her smile beamed as she showed them to me. It made me very happy for her. I am a romantic at heart, I have to admit. The rub comes in that my “valentine” is not so much. But, he shows me love in a million ways and after many years together we know and accept each others differences in how we share and show love.

There is one expression of love, however that all of us need and desire (even if we don’t know it). It’s the unconditional love of God. It’s a redeeming love, a saving love, a true love –  that Christ died for all of us so that we may live a victorious life here on earth and an everlasting life in Heaven after this life is over. Once we receive (accept) this love offering from God, we are able to share it with others. Sometimes it’s easy to love others. Sometimes it takes the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit to enable us to truly love. I think this quote is a great expression of our responsibility to love others. love others

As you go about your day, look for those who seem to need some love and share yours. I’d love to hear your stories. Please share here – it will encourage the rest of us.