Sunday, January 31, 2016

Unexpected Gifts

"For when  you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you."  (NIV)  Isaiah 64:3

Today is one of those days.  It is one of those VERY rare and unexpected days in New England when, in the middle of winter, you feel warmth on your skin.  We traveled into Boston today and were able to walk around, sun shining in our faces, with 55 degree temperatures - in JANUARY!!  At this time last year, we were up to our waists in snow.  Now, I'm not complaining about the cold or snow - my goodness, we do live in New Hampshire!  Yet, it still feels good during winter months to feel warm.  Today was an unexpected gift.

It made me realize how many other unexpected gifts we get in our lives.  Like the wonder of a spring day in the middle of winter, what other wonders do we receive?  Maybe it was an unexpected phone call or a visit from a friend.  Maybe it was a note in the mail (that's pretty unique these days).  Maybe it was a smile, a gift or a cup of coffee.  Whatever it is, the best part is the "unexpected", an act or something that was a surprise.  

That's why I love the verse for today.  "When God did awesome things that were not expected, the mountains trembled."  God certainly has done some incredibly awesome things in my life that just weren't expected!  Neither of my children were "planned", but God gave me two incredibly awesome girls.  I never "planned" to fall in true love, but God brought to me my wonderful husband.  I never "planned" to have more than two children, but God blessed me by bringing two more fantastic children through Juan, Gabby and Christian.  I didn't plan many of these things in my life, but I have been blessed by the awesomeness of our God.

We don't usually think about it, when the expected happens.  Sometimes, when unexpected things happen, we look upon it as a "problem" or something that "gets in the way".  The next time the unexpected happens, let's stop for a few moments and revel in the wonder and awesomeness of it.  Let's not rush past things that were unexpected as if they were an annoyance, but spend time realizing how God pulled all those things to give us an "unexpected gift" - much like a spring day in January.

"Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the unexpected gifts in our lives.  So many times, when our lives might be disrupted by something that we didn't expect, we can see it as an annoyance.  Yet, when we look back upon our lives, we see so many unexpected gifts that you have given to us, God.  Help us to appreciate the unexpected gifts Lord.  In your name we pray."











  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

One Mouth

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"Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing.  My brothers and sisters, this should not be."  (NIV) James 3:10

I wake each morning with much on my mind:  what meetings do I have today, what tasks do I need to get done, what am I going to prepare for dinner, what will I be wearing today?  Yes, the list goes on and on.  Then, I stop.  I then remember a commitment I have been trying to make to myself and to my God - to start the day with God.  I reach for my phone - not to check my messages, but to start my day by reading a daily devotion.  I then move onto my reading plan of reading the Bible in a year and review the Bible passages for the day.  I say prayers for those in need, for my needs and the needs of my family.  When I do this, I am able to start my day with a mindset that God is flowing in me and through me.  I might even sing a few praise songs on my way to work or while doing errands.

Then, it happens.  The rest of the day.   Yes, the same mouth that sang praises to God, the same mouth that read the Bible and prayed to my Lord, THAT mouth has stuff coming out of it that is shameful.  That mouth may not say nice things about situations.  That mouth may gossip instead of sharing joy.  That mouth may share words of anger.  That mouth, although not often, but may even curse.   That mouth is MY mouth.  As when those words flow from my lips, I am shamed.  Today's verse reminds me of the importance of watching what flows from my mouth.

Words are such a powerful thing.  Whether the words are said, written or inferred, words can truly build people up or tear people down.  Words can praise or words can chastise.  Words can lighten up or dampen a person's day.  Words are an important part of our lives, and we should carefully choose those words as we walk through our days.  

It is easy for us, for me, to chime in when someone talks about someone else in a negative way.  Bottom line, that is gossiping.  It is easy for me to get angry and let nasty words pass from my mouth.  Yet, that is cursing and is not acceptable.  It is easy for me to look at situations throughout my day, whether on the news or otherwise, and share an opinion that may not be Godly.  It is easy for me to fall, as I know I am a sinner.  I have been, and continue to, work hard on sharing words of encouragement and praise instead of nasty words.  Yet, today's verse, once again, reminds me to focus on such things and ensure that the words that flow from my mouth are used for praise - especially to my God.  

Do you find yourself in the same situation?  Do "nasty" words pass by your lips throughout the day?  Let's make a pact with each other.  Let's work hard in sharing words of praise and goodness.  Let's not only start our day with God - but let Him live in us throughout the day and may that be evident in our words with others.  The next time there are those "nasty" words on the tip of your tongue, remember that we have ONE mouth, and that mouth should be used for kind words!  I have faith that we can do this - together!

"Dearest God, there are many days where the words from my mouth are not words of kindness and encouragement.  They are not words that you would be proud of.  Please forgive me, Jesus, and know that I will continue to work hard on making all important words that I speak be words of goodness.  I humbly ask for your help to instill my mind and my mouth to be focused on you.  In your name I pray, AMEN!"

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Blind Richness

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  (NIV)  Matthew 6:33

Last week certainly focused much on the incredible large Powerball jackpot.  As each day went on, the jackpot became larger and larger.  Much discussion at the lunch table and dinner table included, "If I won, I would . . . .," or "The first thing I would do if I won . . . ,".  It was fun to dream a little and think about all the things you could do with that incredible amount of money.  Would you quit your job?  Would you give to others?  Would you share with charities?  Would you even let anyone know it was you?  Many questions come with that.

As those discussions occurred, many shared that it would be nice to be rich.  It helped me to think about my own life and do I consider myself 'rich'?  It's funny, nobody you speak with (at least amongst my friends), really believes they are rich - regardless of how much money they may have in the bank!  

So what constitutes richness?  I think we all have our own definition of that.  What I think is unique when we have these large lottery jackpots is that we tend to look at money as the gauge of being rich.  Yet, self included, we can be blind to what rich really is.  Let's reflect a bit on what rich means.

Rich can come in the wealth of relationships.  Family, friends, and community can provide us great relationships that help us in our daily lives.  Maybe a chat of comfort and support from a friend can be a sense of great richness.  Having a meal with your family can share richness.  The sense of companionship can fill us with a great sense of richness.

Rich can come in the wealth of love.  Love from parents, children, spouses, significant others, and friends can fill our hearts with richness.  When our hearts are filled with love, it's hard to think that anything can make us feel any richer.

Rich can come in the wealth of health.  Surviving a difficult health diagnosis, celebrating in good health, and even managing in the middle of health problems can have richness.  When we may be struggling with our health, it is a time for us to see the gifts God has given brilliant doctors and compassionate nurses.  We can see that we are surrounded by those who help us when we are sick.  Whatever our health status may be, we can see richness through it.

Rich can come in the wealth of giving.  Come on, I'm sure we all said that when we "won the lottery" we would give to others.  I know I did.  Yet, what happens when you give without all the money?  What happens when you give with what you have - no matter how small?  I don't know about you but I feel richer than any millionaire.  The blessing that comes from giving does not only make those we give to rich, but increases our richness as well.

Rich can come in the wealth of prayer.  When we pray for others in need, not only are we doing exactly what God wants us to do, but we are giving the greatest wealth we can to another.  God wants us to reach out to Him to aid ourselves and others.  I am certain that we have all seen the power of answered (or even unanswered) prayers.  There is such richness in prayer.

Rich comes in the wealth of Jesus.  As shared in our verse for today, as we seek the kingdom of God and the righteousness that He asks of us, He will always give.  He gave us the greatest gift, His Son - who give us the greatest gift - His life, for our sins.  Nobody on earth, or in heaven other than Jesus, has provided such wealth for us.  There is nothing this side of heaven that can give anyone such richness.  

As we might fall into complacency and be blind that we are not rich, may we reflect much on that which we have the greatest wealth in:  relationships, love, health, giving, prayer and Jesus.  With all that in our lives, we can't help but be so very rich!  Continue in simple faith of Him who gave us everything so that we might live a life on Earth of richness, and an eternal life with Him of greater wealth.  

"Dearest Lord, there are many times that we look at our lives and feel as if we are not rich, that we 'need' so much that we don't have.  May we take a few moments to realize that we could be blind to the great richness that we do have in so many facets of our life.  Help us, Jesus, to be reminded of these things as we pass through this earthly life.  May we thank you for all that we have, as it all comes from you.  In your name we pray, Amen!"

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Trusted Walk

"Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal."  (NIV)  Isaiah 26:4

A couple of weeks ago we had beautiful snow come to the ground.  The snow was followed with a shot of quick warmer weather, melting the top of the snow to ice.  As the sun shimmers off of it, I couldn't help but take a picture of its beauty.  It looked like glass and was just an awesome sight.

The best part though, was watching our dog, Duke, on this layer of ice.  He walked around our backyard, sniffing and watching the birds around him.  I noticed, though, that as he walked, he walked in trust.  Me?  I would have been "tip toeing" my way around the yard, afraid that I was going to make a fateful step that would have landed me on my behind.  Not Duke, he walked (and at times ran) with the trust that he would not fall.  It was pretty amazing to watch.

What I learned last Sunday afternoon is that many times, I wish I had the trusted walk that Duke had. He stepped out in faith that nothing was going to stop him from going where he wanted to go.  I know I have places that I want to go, in faith, but there are many times that I am afraid, unsure, of where those places will take me.  Can you recognize some of this in yourself?  Are there times when you would like to move forward to a different place and are afraid of taking that walk?  

There are many things I would like to do, in faith, in life.  I want to move forward in sharing God's word with others, furthering the wonderful message of our Lord.  Maybe a book, maybe a workshop, maybe speaking.  But taking that first step is a hard one.  What if, I don't know enough?l?  What if, people laugh at me?  What if I'm not good at this?  What if this isn't what God wants me to do?  What if????  

As we know, we can "what if" ourselves to death.  I know I have - it took me a long time to decide to write this blog on a regular basis.  What I DO know is that when we take that walk with God at our side, we can trust that the path that is ahead of us is being walked with our very best friend - a friend who listens to each of our concerns, sees our doubts, hears our worries, and loves us to pieces.  When we go to God FIRST before venturing out on the "ice", He will help to show us the way.  The walk ahead of us may be a difficult one.  Maybe you are looking for a new career, a new relationship, a new hobby, new friends, etc?  Maybe you are also thinking about a path with God.  

Whatever walk you are looking to take, please know that when we walk, in trust, with our Lord, He will always provide.  He will give us the strength we need to go "sniffing" for good things and "watching" for the beautiful birds around us.  He will guide us, direct us, be our BEST friend, and love us.  Has something been weighing on your heart?  Stop, drop to your knees, and pray.  Pray for guidance, pray for assurance, pray for love.  With a bit of simple faith, we can take that trusted walk that God wants us to.  May the year ahead bring many walks of trust with our Lord.

"Dearest Lord, as we take this journey of life, there are many times when we might be afraid to 'walk on the ice'.  Things before us may seem uncertain - they may seem difficult - they may seem unsure.  We ask that we have the certainty of knowing that you are always there for us.  May we go to you, ask for your guidance, so that we can walk in trust to those things in front of us.  Thank you, Jesus, for being our best friend and loving us unconditionally.  In your gracious name we pray, AMEN!"






Sunday, January 3, 2016

Preparing for 2016



"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."  (NIV) James 1:5

Happy New Year!!  As I shared last week, it seems as if time passes so quickly (especially as I get older)!  Yet, another year is upon us and I know there is much I need to prepare.  

My lifestyle, as of late, has me thinking of preparation constantly.  As many of you know, I embarked on a healthy eating plan this year and found myself truly wanting to be successful.  Yes, I have struggled with my weight my entire life, but I knew I needed to do this in order to FEEL better.  I also struggled with the verse, "you were bought at a price.  Therefore, honor God with your bodies." (NIV)  1 Corinthians 6:20.  I also knew that I couldn't do this alone - I needed to rely more on my Lord.  I tried this effort time and time again, but this time I knew I needed to pray about it daily, to turn to God when my own willpower wasn't enough, and to take time to prepare in advance so my choices weren't the wrong ones.   God helped me greatly in 2015 and I hope to continue this in 2016.
I prepare meals in order to be successful with a healthy living diet.  Yet, there are other things that I need to prepare if I want to live healthy with my Lord.

I need to prepare by taking time to gain knowledge about God and what he wants ME to do with my life.  We all have hopes and dreams to move forward in this earthly life.  Typically, around the beginning of the year, we spend time making a list of goals, or resolutions, to start the year.  I used to do that a lot.  Now, I begin my year asking God what HE wants me to achieve.  Sometimes, we are not on the same page - but we always know whose "page" is better!  We can gain this knowledge by studying his word, enlisting in daily devotions, and preparing ourselves to be ready when God gives us His plan for us.  In this special way, I am preparing my mind.

I also need to take time preparing my heart - through worship at church and service to others.  This type of preparation leads to a heart that is full of Jesus.   By worshiping and praising His name, I fill my heart with his goodness, I receive his grace, and I partake in the sacrament of Holy Communion.  By serving others, I am preparing my heart for a life of servitude, as our dear Jesus showed us how to do so many years ago.  Worship and service prepares my heart for the plans that Jesus has for me - for a heart that is filled with God's joy can do great things.

One of the greatest ways to prepare is to get my soul aligned with God.  Prayer is the greatest way for this to happen.  Prayer is our lifeline to our heavenly father.   By sharing our thoughts, our worries, our requests, and our struggles with our Lord, He is able to work through our soul to prepare it for a life focused on Him.  Prayer can offer us the peace that we so desperately need in this world.  When the life around us seems to disturb our soul, it is prayer that can prepare our souls with the peace we need to endure so much.

So as we begin to prepare for 2016, I ask that you go to God first before going to your "list of resolutions".  Let us go to Him and prepare ourselves by gaining knowledge, worshiping, serving others and praying so that our preparations will lead us to a year focused on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

"Heavenly Father, as we prepare for the year ahead, may we take time preparing for all that is good and righteous so that our goals bring us closer to you.  Bless our thoughts and actions and bring us to love and dedication in your will.  In your gracious name we pray, Amen."














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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.