JOY - A Fruit of the Holy Spirit

This week we look at this uplifting and very much needed fruit of the Spirit!

You know what joy feels like! Remember? Your heart is full of zest! You feel lighter, the weight of issues, stress, life has been lifted off of you! The Holy Spirit living inside of you has blessed you with this unspeakable joy!

The enemy would love to steal your joy each day. He wants to keep you weighted down with his artillery of doubt, fear, despair, deceit and lie after lie. But Jesus has already defeated Satan! And with God our Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, our joy can be restored each day!

Here are several definitions of what real joy is all about:

  1. Great delight; gladness of heart

  2. The happy state that results from knowing and serving God

  3. That deep, abiding, inner rejoicing in the Lord

  4. To rejoice, to be glad

  5. Happy, joyful, cheerful, rejoicing, festive

source: https://www.bible-knowledge.com/joy/

What does JOY mean in your life?

Here are some Bible verses to read and reflect upon:

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy," 1 Peter 1:8 NIV

"Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people." Philemon 1:7 NIV

"Indeed, you are our glory and joy." 1 Thessalonians 2:20 NIV

"......do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."  Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

When you feel the stirring of the Holy Spirit cleansing your heart and mind of all the churning of daily life troubles, issues and emotions...STOP!  Exhale and deeply breathe in JOY!  He is blessing you with this glorious and inexpressible fruit! 

ruit of the Spirit - PEACE

Peace, as one of the fruits of the Spirit is so beautiful to experience. The Holy Spirit within us pours into us God's peace. Pure peace can only come through him. Our hearts and minds need to be free from sin, from distractions of the world and our relationships in a good place. There is a calmness that comes with peace.

"Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:3 NIV

"Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." 2 Peter 1:2 NIV

We can take on a peacemaker role, helping others.
"Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness." James 3:18 NIV

Enjoy when peace enters you! Give thanks for this fruit! "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15 NIV

When we experience peace, the enemy has to get behind us. There is no room for deceit. Our hearts and minds are protected by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen!

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7 NIV

The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: LOVE

We are looking at the fruit of LOVE this week as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. There seven Greek words that are used to define love. Here are the four most prominent:
1. Agape: Unconditional love; the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation.
2. Phileo: Love between friends
3. Eros: The sense of being in love; romantic love
4. Storge: Love of family
Source:(gods-word-first.org. Minister Daniel Sweet)

Love, as the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is the Agape kind! In John 13:34, Jesus commands us to love one another as he loves us. When Jesus died on the cross for each of us, he ultimately gave us the true Agape love.

When we genuinely act on this fruit given to us from the Holy Spirit, our hearts and minds are tender. There is only room in our hearts and minds to share love. Love pushes out any other thoughts and emotions. It is a generous, unconditional love for someone specific, or a group of people. We make a deliberate decision to love without anything in return. You hand over your last bit of money to someone in need. You carry groceries to the car for someone who is having difficulty with the task. You help someone walk across a busy street. You wrap the swollen legs of a woman who suffers from diabetes and cannot do herself. You forgive a debt owed to you. You mix and pour concrete to help a village family in central America have cement floor instead of sleeping on dirt. You pay for someone to enjoy a meal. You buy a fan for an elderly person who stays at home. You listen to your neighbor who has no one else to talk with concerning life issues.

At Tim's Gift, we witness Agape love weekly! The Holy Spirit meets us here daily with His fruit of love as people come in with pure, unconditional love to help someone in need and ask for nothing in return. When you witness this type of love, you yearn to receive this type fruit of the Holy Spirit to share with someone else!

Summertime! Fruits of the Holy Spirit Never Spoil!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 
(Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

Over the summer months, Tim's Gift will share the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit as identified in the Galatians scripture above!   We are excited to talk about each of the fruits!  Please join us weekly as we begin next week sharing.    Last year, our Sonshine kids learned about the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  We read from the Bible, shared what each meant to us, completed a fun art project and continue to play an energetic 'Fruits of the Holy Spirit' game!  During our summer program this year, we will re-visit the 9 fruits.  Together, let's refresh ourselves.  Just as bites of cold fresh fruit in the heat and humidity of summer refresh our mouths and senses, so will the review of the fruits of the Spirit!

what were your plans for the last long weekend of May?...

 What are your plans for the last, long weekend in May when most Americans will enjoy a day away from work and school? Will you take time on Memorial Day to remember and honor those who have dedicated their lives to our country?

Reflecting on three family members - I will love eternally - who served our country stirred this story. I see their faces, feel their love, and recount with honor, pride, and joy the ‘slim pickings’ of what they shared about their duty of service in the army and navy. Memories of each of them swirl inside as do winds of approaching storms that cause me to gaze into the May sky with wonder.  My husband, daddy, and father in law live in heaven and in … my heart!  

James, my husband of two years, and I loved sharing stories about our day during dinner. One night, I told James about taking the Sonshine Kids to salute Mr. Billy at Farmer’s Hardware. James lit up like our singing Christmas tree and let loose with ‘Billy and James Army stories’ that left me longing to hear more. James, the middle son of Herbert and Willa Vann, newly married to his high school sweetheart, Sarah, bravely dealt with being drafted in the early seventies.  He told of coming to Clinton, saying good-by to his family, and climbing into the canvas covered back of an army truck filled with strangers (local young men) being swept away from home to serve their country. James’ humility and shyness kept him quiet during the long ride to ‘boot camp’, but the guy from Clinton sitting beside him - put their my the One who had James (and has all His children) engraved on the palm of His Hand - defended James when he was picked on for being quiet and refusing a cigarette.

James said, “Billy and I became buddies in the Army, stuck up for one another through tough times away from home, and we’re still good friends today.”

After we were married, James and were cleaning out his house and came across a photo album of Army pictures.  We sat down in the middle of his den floor for the longest time as he pointed to pictures and told about his duties of service and the joyful arrival of Sarah in Germany.  They had a small apartment and were blessed to be together for the rest of his service time there.

Mr. Odell, my father in law, shared sailor stories with Tim about loading guns on the ship where he was stationed. Tim said his Dad told him it was so loud when those guns boomed and it seemed the war would never end.  I never heard first hand stories from my father in law but cherish the pictures of him dressed in sailor suit and cap. Oh, how handsome he was!

Daddy, my hero, was also handsome and shied away from telling sailor stories.  One day when Daddy and I were taking a break from working at our country store to watch a baseball game on our black and white television with aluminum foiled rabbit ears, the subject came up during a commercial about the Navy.  Sitting on the floor beside his recliner, my ears stood at attention as he shared about working on a huge warship and missing his future wife…my mother!  Daddy told about his father serving in World War I and two of his brothers being drafted during World War II.  When Daddy didn’t get drafted (being the son left to keep the family farm going), he slipped and joined the Navy. For a few precious moments, he shared war stories I soaked up like a sponge, like when his brother, Bronzie, was killed on Friday, April 13, 1945 while helping blow up a bridge over the Ruhr River in Germany.  Uncle Bronzie’s heroic efforts to go back and make sure the dynamite was in place, as German forces approached the bridge, ended his life here and earned him the coveted Purple Heart. 

When mother passed away in 2001 and my siblings and I divided precious treasures, I was elated to receive her box of love letters.  In 2010, I finally sat down in my prayer room and read daddy’s and mother’s letters to one another.  Their words were testimonies of devoted love that deeply touched their daughter’s heart seventy seven years after they were written.  I divided the love letters into five stacks, attached my own love letter, and sent them to my three siblings and two sons. Sharing stories of war and peace can keep families in touch and strongly united.

Writing this Memorial Day story has stirred memories of dearly beloved family members living in heaven.  Picturing my daddy and father in law in their sailor suits with his wavy blonde and straight black hair and James in his Army uniform with hat covering his red hair, I thanked God for each of them, for the years they served their country proudly, for the wonderful years we shared loving and looking after one another as family, and for the peace of knowing they are where God is!

Are you also thinking of family members who served faithfully, shared few facts, and are in heaven as you honor their memory and service to America this weekend?  Let us take time to recount each precious memory we have of their time spent serving God, country, and family!  Oh, the joy of sharing stories of those we love and respect who have colored our world with love…and made the world a better place to live!

James Garfield said, “For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”

“Heroism doesn’t always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history”   Mary Roach

President Roosevelt declared, “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.”

His wife, Eleanor, said.  “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being.  With freedom comes responsibility.”

Words by President John Kennedy end this story with a challenge for each of us.  “As we express our gratitude we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them!”

God bless America, the land of the brave and the free!  And Father, please forgive us when we take life and liberty for granted and forget to give glory and honor to THEE!  Amen

What are your remembrances of Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter?

Reflecting on Easter, I think of Jesus’ mother and the tears of joy and sorrow she shed throughout her Son’s short lifetime.  For thirty three years, Jesus was misunderstood and mimicked, hated and heckled; yet, there were those who admired and adored, honored and heralded Him as best friend and beautiful Savior.  Imagine the tears Mary and Joseph wiped when wondering what would happen to the Son they were given through a miracle.  Imagine the tearful tragedies and joyous celebrations they experienced as Jesus’ example of love and leadership moved Him closer to the cross.   His mother, some disciples, and scoffers watched Jesus suffer and die on the cross. Those who loved and believed in Jesus endured pain that turned to joy when words of life rang out joyfully…. “He’s alive”!

After His resurrection, Jesus did not call for a huge celebration or boast of His life after death experience. Instead, He chose to calmly join two men walking home after witnessing his death. They talked of the sad event… grieving the man they believed in, wondering why he had to die, and had no idea He was walking with them! They asked him to spend the night, knowing he was exhausted.  Jesus agreed to go inside and dine with them. During their meal, Jesus broke bread and His scars visibly screamed in their hearts, “This man is Jesus. He is alive.” They didn’t believe until they saw His scars, then He disappeared. They went and told the rest of the disciples, but they did not believe them either.

Later, Jesus appeared to the eleven; He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart.  He said unto them,

“GO into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will follow those who believe… So, then after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into Heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.  And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.”   Mark 16

What an amazing love story!   The greatest love story ever written in red that caused multitudes to cry during His lifetime and death, rejoice in His resurrection and ascension, and wonder why they did not believe in Him when He walked, talked, performed miracles, and taught ‘by example’ lessons of love relevant then and today in any language.  Oh, the tears of heartache and happiness that were surely shed as Jesus left them to carry on the cause of Christ.  

In Luke 22:62 we are told that “…he (Peter) went outside and wept bitterly.”

Have you wept lately?  Last Wednesday during Holy Week, I wept with a dear lady who came to Tim’s Gift for a case of Ensure.  She has come to Tim’s Gift for years as a prayer partner and to receive medical supplies for her brother. Now, she needs supplies as cancer treatments have taken a toll on her body.  We anointed her and prayed as sisters in Christ who believe that God still works miracles of healing today!  With clasped hands, we cried out for healing in the name of Jesus. She wiped tears and said, “Thank you so much; I needed that”!

Then, she told how her church family shared a story, from my column about her faith, with the congregation on Palm Sunday. Her sweet words and gentle hug humbled me beyond words, and I wept in remembrance of Jesus who died on the cross over two thousand years ago and we celebrated His resurrection on Easter Sunday - April 21st, Tim who passed away fourteen years ago on April 22nd - my daddy who passed away  thirty six years ago on April 22nd, Kurt, my brother in law, who passed away April 21stand was buried on Easter Sunday eight years ago, and a dread pounded inside my heart as tears turned to sobs. Grandmother Baggett always spoke of having dreads and told us to pray them away when they hammered our heartstrings.  Praying with Mrs. Jackson, a humble woman in need of healing who honors God and helps comfort others even in her travail- and knowing that my daddy, Tim, and Kurt who all passed in April are celebrating along with James, my mother, sister, and other loved ones ‘gone on to glory’ chased my dread away.

My remembrances of Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter remind me how much I love THEM (loved ones in heaven and here, plus people God puts in my path) and THEE (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and how much they love me.  Also, I’ll remember tears shed this Easter that have soothed my heart and shown me the power of conviction and cleansing in the name of Jesus! 

Tears still trickle down my cheeks while typing this closing by Max Lucado, a gifted Christian writer shares his take on ‘tears’ at the cross where Jesus died.

“There was on group in attendance that day whose role was critical.  They didn’t speak much, but they were there.  Few noticed them, but that’s not surprising.  Their very nature is so silent they are often overlooked.  In fact, the gospel writers scarcely gave them a reference.  But we know they were there.  They had to be.  They had a job to do.

Yes, this representation did much more than witness the divine drama; they expressed it.  They captured it.  They displayed the despair of Peter; they betrayed the guilt of Pilate and unveiled the anguish of Judas.  They transmitted John’s confusion and translated Marys’ compassion.

Their prime role, however, was with that of the Messiah.  With utter delicacy and tenderness they offered relief to HIs pain and expression to HIs yearning.

Who am I describing?  YOU may be surprised.

Tears!  Those tiny drops of humanity.  Those round, wet balls of fluid that tumble from our eyes, creep down our cheeks, and splash on the floor of our hearts.  They were there that day.  They are always present at such times.  They should be, that’s their job.  They are miniature messengers on call 24 hours a day to substitute for crippled words.  They drip, drop, and pour from the corner of our souls, carrying with them the deepest emotions we possess.  They tumble down our faces with announcements that range from the most blissful joy to darkest despair. 

The principle is simple; when words are most empty, tears are most apt.”

I hope your Easter was filled with happiness and honor for our Lord,  lots of love and laughter, tons of food, fellowship with faithful family and friends,  amazing worship and wonder for God’s Son who shed His blood for you and me… and TEARS of joy - for we know the rest of God’s Love Story!

( I am leaving Tim's Gift to go to visitation for Durwood Boney...so many people are being called home and felt led to send this story to yall.  I hope it touches you as it did me. I'm still crying!  I thank God for Dwight, who celebrates another birthday (Praise God) next week and Billy, who is home after more hospital stays than most will ever experience and they are both MIRACLES!   We are all so blessed; I thank God for LIFE and our Big Happy Family!  Happy Easter!

Are you bound by burdensome living that can steal joy, stop new beginnings, and stall blessings?

Are you bound by burdensome living that can steal joy, stop new beginnings, and stall blessings?  While eating Sunday lunch alone on my deck and enjoying signs of a new season with squirrels scampering and leaves fluttering in the wind, this story stirs in my heart that has been broken into pieces many times like unto Humpty Dumpty. Seasons of sadness and solitude seemed never ending when death called my husbands, parents, sister, brother in law, and many precious people I loved and cherished Home for eternity in a place with no heartbreaks or hurts.

Are you thinking of loved ones who have left your side and are living with Jesus? Going through grief with God is a personal journey no one can give directions or do for the one whose heart is broken. Yet, it happens in His perfect timing when we stomp bitterness, stay closely connected to the Lord and loved ones, and step in in faith to His plans for new beginnings and blessings beyond anything we could ever imagine!

Sitting still in my old metal chair - a gift mother and daddy gave Tim and me  in 1982 in honor of our 7thwedding anniversary - made comfortable with a new cushion - a gift I gave myself in 2018 to celebrate my 65th birthday - precious memories kept me company while enjoying a cool breeze and delicious dessert!  Signs of a new season on the calendar showed the majesty of the Master. Signs of a new season in my healed heart and body show in my respect and reverence for the past,  my  passion to enjoy each new day ( gift) God gives in my sunset years, and my faith to trust as He guides and gives joy on my journey. 

The good news is, God is no respecter of persons!  He will do the same for each of His brokenhearted, burdened, bewildered children who trust and take steps of faith to new beginnings with Him at the helm.  Are you ready to put the past in its proper place and push to new seasons with sunshine trumping sorrow?  Have you tried by trusting all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to put your heart together again - as happens in the nursery rhyme…to no avail?  Then, take it to the Lord, look to Him for help and happiness while trusting that He will put all the pieces of your broken heart together again.  The good news is: Yes, HE CAN!

New Beginnings can come when we embrace God’s Word and live by Jesus’ ways.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.”  Lamentations 3: 22-24

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  Ezekiel 36:26

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the gold for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:13-14

“He has made everything beautiful in its time...”  Ecclesiastes 3:11

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9

While writing this story, God convicted my heart to be careful of negative words and ways that can keep us going around the mountain of misery and mishaps as did the children of Israel while wandering in the wilderness.  Those of us who have tasted the sting of loved ones leaving us behind or separation of families make choices to stay stuck in the past or soar to new beginnings. We can stew in continuous lamenting of being by ourselves with burdens and bitterness keeping us company or stepping in faith to new seasons  by speaking words of life, trusting God to mend wounds, heal hearts, and send sunshine in ways only He can do. The good news is: Yes, He will!

Before writing the ending to this story, I bowed my head and asked God to forgive me when I try to fix my hurts and heartaches without seeking His Word and way.  Then, I praised Him for healing my heart, body, and dining with me every day…especially on an Autumn Sunday when the enemy tried to pull me away!  The good news is: Jesus will never leave or forsake us!  These are His words of hope to restore joy, orchestrate new beginnings, and send blessings every day!  

Where is your treasure?

The word 'Treasure' may mean different things to many people.  Tangible and intangible descriptions can describe this word. Family, belongings, career, vacations/travel, relationships with people, wealth, jewels, and personal passions and causes can be a treasure to us. 

In the verse,   "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21 and Luke 12:34 NIV).  Where is your treasure?  What is in your heart?  What wakes you up each day and gives you reason for pressing forward?  We start to care when we invest into someone or something. A relationship with Jesus Christ truly is your first and lasting treasure. When your heart is full of the love of Jesus Christ, He will guard your treasure!  He will give you new gifts and talents to glorify Him in all that you do on this earth.  

Each day is a gift for each of us.  Beginning our day by giving thanks to God for waking us up, gives us great joy to know we have a new start to store up new treasures in our hearts!  

Can you comprehend never ending?

Can you comprehend never ending? Believing that life after death is never ending, it is wise to press forward in faith writing love stories and preparing for eternity. Seasons of living on earth - with pleasures, problems, and promise beyond understanding - will one day end. Then, eternity begins!

Throughout life, we make choices that determine where we will spend eternity for a never ending life of happiness in heaven or torment in hell!  So, how many seasons of preparation do you have under your belt? My 260 seasons scroll through my mind, taking me on a sentimental journey of precious memories.  Knowing our seasons on earth are waning like the moon shining through my window, fleeting thoughts of when and how I will leave this world surface.

My grandson and I enjoy playing a game of questions and answers and making up songs when I drive him to drum lessons.  Connor enjoys games on his phone traveling to Dunn; he turns it off during our meal together and ride home. Our songs and questions bring laughter and a good time together without our cell phones causing us to ride in silence.  On a recent trip home, Connor asked if I was trapped in a room, would I rather die with the walls closing in on me vertically or horizontally.

Thoughts of such an agonizing death made me cringe while crying out, “oh my gosh - neither one”!

When I talked to Jesus (yes, we can talk to Jesus and contrary to what naysayers announce on daytime television - Jesus does talk to His children) that night, he knew my thoughts about death. With a peaceful assurance that only comes when Jesus lives inside hearts that trust and obey, dreadful thoughts the enemy could easily magnify were cast away.  I chose to concentrate on living and trusting my life in God’s Hands for when my time on earth ends and my forever more begins.

However, we cannot stick our heads in the sand and pretend everything will be just fine when our hearts are not in tune with Jesus. We must believe with hearts pruned and prepared for eternity in heaven where God is.

Connor’s question caused me to reread a book, Driven by Eternity, given to me by Doris McArthur years ago when her church used it for a Bible Study.  She walked in Tim’s Gift with book in hand and told me God told her to give it to me!  We prayed, she left, and I stood holding her gift - a book filled with perplexing questions and powerful answers that would change my life and cause me to ponder life everlasting with reverent fear and renewed faith!

Connor’s poignant question and the perplexed times in which we live led me to reread the book. In Driven by Eternity, John uses Scripture to explain how critical it is for people to have a mindset focused on eternity.  After months of heart stirrings to write this story, I do so in faith that those who read it will be convicted of sinful, passive, lukewarm living, come closer to Christ, slow down, prune packed schedules, stand up for Jesus, let lights shine, and make more time to communicate clearly and cherish a close relationship with the Lord and loved ones. 

In closing, sharing passages from Driven by Eternity will hopefully convict readers’ hearts as the

“Jesus is coming for a church without spot” (Ephesians 5:27) 

James stated that if a Christian wanders from the truth and remains in that state, his soul shall die.  John says there is a sin unto death for believers.  Jude states, ‘for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.’

Jesus said this about His coming and the judgment.  “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching…but if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming, ‘ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few.”   (Luke 12:37, 45-48)

This is a servant who knew his masters’ will yet did something contrary to it. Bitterness can open the door to defilement when harbored in hearts. For this reason, we read of God’s people “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”  (Hebrews 12:15)

The greatest trap for pulling people away from their walk with God is unforgiveness.  In Matthew 18, Jesus tells the parable of a great king who forgave a servant whose debt was ten thousand talents (ten thousand talents of gold would be worth roughly fourteen billion dollars. Jesus made the point that the servant owed a debt he could never pay. Yet, when his huge debt was forgiven, he later refused to forgive one of his servant’s smaller debts.  In Matthew 18, the Master called the man a wicked servant who had been forgiven his debt but refused to show compassion on his fellow servant as God had shown to him…”And his master was angry and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Bitterness almost always leads to anger and offense toward God. The person’s faith becomes defiled, and if there is no repentance and forgiveness, their end will be fatal.  The unforgiving servant now has to pay the unpayable debt he is required to, which is impossible.  This is the debt Jesus paid at Calvary. 

Jesus said in another account: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25

Jesus says, “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”  (Mark 11:26)

The writer of Hebrews emphatically tells us to carefully examine ourselves and let go of any form of bitterness, for by it many are defiled.  Now, we can understand Jesus’ words concerning the latter days of the church. 

He says, ‘Many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another… And because lawlessness will abound, the LOVE of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:10, 12-13)

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.  It is God’s way of preparing us in every way… (2Timothy 3:16 NLT)”

Comprehending eternity in a place - where God is not - would be an eternal nightmare. ‘For such a time as this’, may we all make things right in our hearts, release bitterness, forgive and go forth with the calling on our lives, enjoy a close relationship with our Father and family, and be prepared to leave this world and head to heaven at any given moment. When our time here is done and we stand before the Master, may we hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant”!

Then, we can celebrate never ending life in a place where God is!


Do you believe the Holy Spirit was sent as the Helper to guide us into all TRUTH?

Do you believe the Holy Spirit was sent as the Helper to guide us into all TRUTH!  John 16:13 does.  “But when, He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth)”!

The Word given in John 14:6 confirms that the Holy Spirit and Jesus are both the Truth, so they are One!  Jesus said He Himself is “…the Way and the Truth and the Life”

Jesus told His disciples before He departed into heaven - after His death, burial, and resurrection - that He still had so much He wanted to share with them, but they were not yet ready for it.  Then, He told them the Holy Spirit would continue revealing things to them as they became ready to receive them.  This is the same way the Helper works in our lives today. He gently guides and works with us, showing us what we can handle through each season of our lives.

Truth is wonderful and sets us free.  Reflecting on three hurricanes - whose names begin with the letter “F”- that brought destruction to our state stirs memories when truth was tested after the storm. The claim adjustor (helper) sent to Tim’s office from Texas spent months in Clinton helping people and sorting out truthful and false claims.  Sitting in my son’s home two decades later waiting out slow moving Florence, we talked about damages to people’s properties. The thought of suggesting he claim something not truthfully covered stirred inside, but The Truth kicked in - like the generator on Cameron’s carport when we lost power - with guidance and a sickening - gut wrenching feeling that brought conviction to my heart!  Cameron read my mind and made his momma proud with words of truth that showed The Helper was alive and well inside his heart.

There is wonder working power in the blood of the Lamb and Truth of the Spirit!  Thinking of all the little and Big sinful things people justify that grieves the Spirit and halts The Helper’s nudging causes one to wonder what God would say to His children in a State of the World address!  The Truth surely convicts hearts of Christian leaders and followers who have silently watched while God has slowly been deleted from places where He once provided a hedge of protection.  Yet, The Truth prevails in remnants God is raising up all over His Creation to keep His Word, His Son’s ways, and His Helper’s Truth alive and well…’for such a time as this”!

This story stirred inside as the storm’s fury still stirred outside the open windows providing relief from the heat. My wrongful thinking was quickly checked by The Truth living within. Speaking and doing things truthfully truly sets us free from skeletons that can lurk in closets and sinful ways and untruths that can callous hearts!  I confessed to Cameron sitting on his couch of past untruths that popped up in my mind, like telling my young sons, growing up in a Christian home, to tell someone that I wasn’t home when I was too busy or did not desire to talk on the phone, that it was ok to leave our shopping cart in a vacant parking place instead of pushing it where it belonged, and other personal untruths which have been repented for, forgiven, even forgotten by God - Father - and Holy Spirit!   Daily cleaning our hearts with close connection to The Vine provides a healthy, happy home for The Helper to guide, thrive, and take us to levels of serving Jesus and living out loud in love we never imagined possible. God’s peace, protection, and provision shine in lives where Truth, faith, and love prevail! 

Cameron’s grin told me he knew exactly what I was thinking and said words that made my heart smile. “Momma, that’s not gonna happen because I couldn’t sleep if I was not truthful.”

The Holy Spirit can bring us into a great deal of truth for it is His way of bringing us into wholeness.  Most of the time we live in an unreal world we develop to protect ourselves.  When we have difficulties in our own lives, we easily blame them on other people or our circumstances.

When facing the approaching fury of Hurricane Florence without Tim or James by my side aroused anxious pity, the (Truth) Helper came to my rescue.  Instead of sitting on my laurels and sadly stewing over my circumstances, I rose up with rigor and rest assured The Helper would provide guidance and guts to go through the storm.  Truthfully facing my fears days before the storm hit, I did everything I could possibly handle to prepare.  Then, I waited and watched as God sent people with helping hands and loving hearts to provide and meet every need I had wondered about in the middle of long, lonely nights. I realized how changing my attitude of grief to one of gratitude gave God an open door to bless me beyond what I ever thought possible throughout storms that continue to change the plot of my love story. 

What about you?  Have you become bitter over storms that changed circumstances and took away your sunshine? Have difficulties destroyed dreams and sent you to a pitiful place - with hardened heart - where people don’t know what to do with you and The Helper’s guidance and God’s blessings are blocked? 

March storms can be twisting tornados causing catastrophic changes like unto September hurricanes. Choices to truthfully deal with storms that threaten to destroy happiness within hearts, homes, government, churches, schools, and a never ending list is crucial! Being untruthful with ourselves and others through sunshine or stormy seasons is a dangerous way to live!

The time is nigh for we, the people of God’s world, who have been hurt, hindered, or halted by heartaches and untruths from the devil, to stand up for Jesus as soldiers of the cross, live out loud in love by The Spirit of Truth, and let our little lights shine for all the world to see … God is great, God is good, and His truth will set us free with provisions and protection from Thee.  So, let it be, let it be… happiness here and forever with the Spirit of Truth living in you and me!

Compassion

Where does your mind go when you hear the word, "compassion"? Do you instantly have a person, group of people, an activity or event that took place come to the forefront of your mind?

From a definition standpoint, compassion is linked to someone who shows kindness, caring, and a willingness to help others. The word is an emotion that is 'categorized' as a positive one that displays a person being thoughtful and helpful.

This week's email Bible verse tells us that our God, the Father of Jesus Christ, is the ultimate Father of compassion and comfort! He gives to each of us His great compassion and comfort when we call out for His help. Indeed, it is His gift of compassion that helps and heals us, so that in turn, we can give compassion to someone else in need.

When did you last share compassion to someone? When was the last time you received compassion? Let's ignite a compassion campaign! Giving and receiving love, help and hope are healthy ingredients for compassion! Join us as we continue our compassion campaign in our community!

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12 NIV

Who is Guiding You?

From birth we are guided by our parents, guardians, people who love and care for us. As we grow, our sphere of guidance/influence grows to include teachers, friends, additional family, social media, our hobbies/lessons/sporting teams, boyfriends/girlfriends, husbands/wives, travel, church community and God's Word - the Bible and your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. WHEW! Our guidance comes from a few sources initially, but then accelerates as we get older.

In our lives, some relationships and/or activities we are involved in are only for a season. At times, we have to walk away as the guidance and actions we are receive and partake in, is not good for us. Words that are spoken, actions that are taken can lead us astray.

God's Word - The Holy Bible is one source that will never lead us astray! Please read these verses from several books of the Old and New Testament. God's guidance, His counsel, His forgiveness, His unconditional love will guide us here on earth until we meet in Heaven.

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.” Proverbs 2:6-9 (NIV)

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.” John 16:13-14 (NIV)

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8 (NIV)

Do you know God intimately? ,,,

Do you know God intimately?  This story stirred in my heart while a storm stirred off the coast of our state and I reflected on truths in Joyce Myer’s book about knowing God intimately. Weather forecasters seemed certain the category four storm would hit the Carolina coast as I scanned chapters and prayed the direct hit of the storm’s fury would hit another shore.  

With fingers resting on the dedication page of Joyce’s book, conviction of my selfish prayer consumed. Knowing God was tugging, I whispered another prayer asking Him to change the course of the storm and send it out to sea.  Then, I settled down on daybed with book in hand and hopeful waiting that the storm would pass us by and believing people would grow closer to Christ across the planet God created and satan craves to control.


Joyce’s words humbly, yet boldly shared her closeness to Christ, “This book is dedicated to the Holy Spirit, who leads and guides me and who is ever teaching me how to grow spiritually and dwell in the presence of God”!


The chapter that sparked this message was dogeared and waiting for me to write a Valentine story about its central theme:  Put Love First!  When February Fridays were already filled, writing this story would wait until next year; so, I thought!   Then, another dismal weather forecast followed a storm of negative news blasting hatred and hatefulness of God’s children from sea to shining sea in the land founded on Christian principles with God as our cornerstone. And I knew this story is meant to be shared now - ‘for such a time as this’ - when all His children need to know God intimately.


Turning the page to Table of Contents to find the chapter about Putting Love First changed the course of this story just as I believe God can change the course of the storm headed to our shore.  Taking breaks while writing gives time to listen and hear His promptings that help me share the story He sends.  Those who read with raised eyebrows - who might  have grown distant from God - can doubt or cast stones, while  readers who know God intimately can embrace and understand the meaning of His messages sent to us in many ways: church services, fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters, embracing our calling, time in prayer, reflection and relaxation in the beauty of His Creation, and stories inspired by HIs Helper who loves and lives within.


Sharing the titles of Joyce’s chapters can bring reflections and reasons for each of us to crave knowing God intimately.  Read them and take time to think of your own relationship with the Lord and your loved ones. Mrs. Myers who loves telling His stories and teaching His Word, shares four levels of Intimacy with God after an introductory question that should fuel our faith: “Is There More?”   Is there more in life that you feel you are missing?  Is there more in life that you feel God is calling you to do?  Is there more in life that can bring you joy here and happiness in eternity where God will be?  Is there more in life that you have rejected, disbelief that can destroy relationships and intimacy with the Lord and loved ones and send you to hell for eternity where God will not be?  These titles can spark your own stories to color your world with love and draw you closer to Christ and His children.

Intimacy Level 1   -  Something Seems to Be Missing; Yes, There Is More!; The Home of God; and Live under the New Covenant”.

Intimacy Level 2:  “Not by MIght, Nor by Power, but by My Spirit”; THe Divine Helper; THe Seven Spirits of GOd, The Supernatural Realm, Receiving the FUllness of the HOly Spirit”.

Intimacy Level 3:  “Ever Be Filled” with the Holy Spirit; Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit; Do Not Quench the Holy Spirit; The Gifts of the Spirit.

Intimacy Level 4:  God’s Everlasting Fruit            

Gifts for Everyone; The Baptism of Fire; The Communion of the Spirit; The Wonder of It All!

Hopefully, this story has sparked seeds of Holy Spirit intimacy and revival that will sprout and spread like wildfire across America and throughout God’s Creation.

May we, the children He created - red and yellow black or white - rich or poor -  denomination or non denomination, seasoned or baby Christians, Jew  or Gentile - embrace a close relationship with Jesus Christ and give glory and honor to God who is great and good!

May people recognize that we are Christians by our loving attitudes toward them.  Then, they will understand our intimacy with God as we enjoy life and write the love stories He sends!


What song have you written in your heart that tells your life story?  

What song have you written in your heart that tells your life story?  This story stirs after reading pages in a 2009 journal and notes in the margins of a favorite book, ‘The Search for God’s Own Heart’!   Reflecting on how David’s heart was shaped from experiences he encountered and choices he made, I was encouraged to write songs/stories instead of continuously crying, shortly after Tim was healed of cancer to heaven and I was healed of cancer here in 2007.   Like David, we make choices of attitude daily. Every choice - whether for good or bad - shaped David’s heart, just as choices made shape yours and mine! God can use experiences in our lives to prepare us for our life’s purpose. 

In Romans 8:28 we are reminded, ‘He is able to work good in every situation for those who are called by Him, according to His purposes.’ 

David could have cried himself to sleep every night and stayed stuck in a cave when he made very poor choices. Yet, he sought forgiveness and set out to use his God given talents to write songs and fearlessly fight wherever he was led. David realized God was in control of timing and trusted him from fields as a shepherd,  battle field as a young giant slayer, caves with his renegade soldiers,  and mourner of King Saul with the nation he would be crowned King of in  God’s perfect timing.

David did wrong many times and paid the consequence for his choices. The difference in David and Saul was David prayed and waited on God to guide him.  David was truly a man after God’s own heart.  His amazing love songs in Psalm soothe hearts longing for direction as they did when David wrote them in perilous and precious seasons of his life.

When David felt he was close to the bottom of the world in those desolate caves, he chose to look to the heights of the heavens and write this song from his heart. David’s love and longing for God to guide and help in his desperate situation so that he could praise God for what He did can be felt in Psalm 42,

“I cry aloud to the Lord; I life up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.  When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way… set me free from my prison so that I may praise your name.”

David reminds us of the power of love in every song he wrote and example he set through real life experiences (good and bad)!  His actions were not always pleasing to God but His heart beat with love and respect for God. Through hardships and hallelujahs, David’s heart was molded by His Maker to be a great lover of God and leader of men.

What about your heart?  Are you reading this story and relating to David in his cave, being hunted and hated, on a rooftop of leisure, in depths of grief, and wondering what God could do with your life after making poor choices? God was with David and will be with you and me when tough times try to destroy dreams and keep us crying in pits of pity.  Though hardships and hurts try to take us down, just maybe the tough times in our lives are great gifts used to help mold our hearts?  

Even in our golden years, hardships and hurts can try to steal our joy.  David experienced many such times in his old age and almost threw in the towel, but his love for God rose up inside with emotions that came flowing out of him in a song.  David wrote a song from his heart in 2 Samuel 22.  Find it in your Bible and read it after you finish this story.  David tells of all God has done for him and how he rescued him over and over from battles, depression, grief, close calls with death, distress, and the list goes on. Then, David  writes how he envisions God: powerful, mighty, angry, rescuer, healer! David ends his love song with words that each of us can understand… God does all He does because God loves us so and He delights in us!  Has God rescued you, healed you, helped you, been silent, been faithful and never failed you in battles of life?  God loves and longs for us to be faithful and love Him.  Our Father loves to love us.  He delights in us.  And the most amazing truth is: God loves us despite our shortcomings!

Personal messages in the margins of “Search for God’s Own Heart’  relate seasons of pain and praise for God in the love story God is allowing me to write.   The scribbled love note I wrote in 2016 simply says,  “God, my life is in your Hands”!  In May of 2014 my hurt and happiness filled a page that ended with this plea and praise , “Thank you Lord for helping me, take care of my family, Father; I love you with all my heart”!  God longs to talk with and get love letters from HIs children as we do from ours.  Write to Him in journals, agendas, margins of your Bible, sing Him a song, and talk to Him throughout the day. He listens and loves to be closely connected!

In closing, I share words about love from tattered pages in my 2009 journal. “…there is a lack of love in our world.  The love of God brings healing. Love never fails. Thank you for healing me God. We must love ourselves but not be in love with ourselves.  Love life, love your body - take care of it. Real life is to get yourself off yourself and walk in love.  God will give you a real life. Stop trying to make yourself happy and make God the love of your life. He is our source of happiness even when our hearts are broken; He puts them back together again and again.  Love out loud and enjoy the journey. Write your love story”

May each of us find love songs in our hearts that will please loved ones and praise God!  Sing songs and share love that reaches from here to heaven.  Write  notes to Valentines you might have overlooked who need to know they matter and deliver them in the spirit of love…and make every day a day to celebrate God's Love

What does God see in our hearts?...

What does God see in our hearts?  Would we be pleased if people could see all that lurks within our hearts? Sincerity of Heart stirs strongly ‘for such a time as this’ when our planet is plagued with   scandalous situations and perplexing people!  Watching nightly news and dealing with everyday life at work and play surely cause concern for children throughout His creation.

What is stirring within people’s hearts?  Who is sincerely seeking what is right and good for mankind? Who among us leads lives of integrity with sincerity reigning and our Savior shining? Discouragement and disillusion spread like wildfire in a world where people’s hearts have become calloused and corrupt! Yet, as faithful followers of Jesus Christ, we must nurture sincerity within hearts and stand firm for Christian principles. The focus within our hearts where only God sees and our way of living and doing business that man sees must be sincerely rooted in Christian principles if we hope to make a difference here and live eternally in Heaven.  So, what does God see in your heart, in mine?

“The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

There are believers who quietly do the Lord’s work without fanfare or attention. They may never discuss their faith, but our spirit tells us that something about them is different.  They do not become entangled in situations where integrity and sincerely standing for what is right and good in God’s sight is questionable.  Yet, their quietness can cause uncertainty in man’s eyes. 

Then, there are those believers who are bold and vocal about Jesus.  They never shy away from bringing Him up, quoting HIs Word in conversations, and praying with people in a skinny minute.   They may not be as approachable and warm as the quiet believer, but we know where they stand on spiritual matters.

God loves all HIs children of faith, red or yellow - black or white, quiet and calm, bold and vocal, leading the pack with loud praise and witnessing to multitudes by quiet example…they are all precious to Him! 

God knows each and every human heart. Some of His children may be soft spoken and lead gently, but that does not mean they have less faith.  Other children may be more vocal and lead people with gusto and grit, but that doesn’t mean they have more faith.  Neither are doing it wrong when there is sincerity in hearts and motives to move people to embrace and enjoy precious, personal relationships with Jesus Christ.

Think of preachers and people God puts in your paths to nurture and help meet your needs along life’s journey. They do things differently with the cause of Christ being the central theme in their lives. We can glean, as Ruth did in the fields, and glow, as King David did being a man after God’s own heart, when our lives are enriched by both types of believers.

Are you a more reserved believer who quietly carries out the work of the Lord or a bold, vocal believer who stands up and speaks out for Jesus while following the calling to serve Christ out loud in love?

We are not the judge of people’s hearts or the sincerity of their faith and what they are doing to further the kingdom of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!  When we feel frustrated with other believers with ‘over the top’ devotion to Jesus or those whose perceived lack of enthusiasm for Jesus  and what He did on the cross for all of us, let us remember only God can see in their hearts!

Embracing a good blend of how we witness, work, and worship as believers can help us reach more people and expand our territories as God did for Jabaz.  The prayer of Jabez showed sincerity in the heart of a simple, quiet man who boldly believed and faithfully asked God to bless, protect, and expand his territories. Does God see our hearts as He did David’s…madly in love with the Lord, yet making mistakes along the way that kept him asking for forgiveness and forging forward in faith, whether quietly in caves or boldy in battle?

Do we pray with that same bold belief that God will hear and help us wherever we are?  Do we praise Him for moving mountains and making a way for us to sweetly, surely, stand up and shine for Him every day?

Now is the time for all of God’s children to quietly or boldly  stand up for Jesus and embrace love for the Lord and loved ones!  We should do it with sincere hearts filled with passion and purpose.  Then, we can praise Him with everything as did King David in Psalm 150.

“Praise the Lord. Praise God in his holy temple. Praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his powerful acts. Praise him because he is greater than anything else.  Praise him by blowing trumpets. Praise him with harps and lyres. Praise him with tambourines and dancing. Praise him with stringed instruments and flutes. Praise him with clashing cymbals. Praise him with clanging cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord”

And all of God’s children say… “Just Do It…AMEN’!

Do you believe witnessing a winter sunrise is...

Do you believe witnessing a  winter sunrise in your backyard or at the beach is a soul healing process…even in January?  I do! Early morning walks welcome happy places that my heart embraces.  When endless thoughts cause weariness and wonder to plague minds, pondering what we could have done or should do about life decisions can keep us wide awake in the still of the night. When restlessness settles in, rising up to read, pray, journal, even take a winter walk on the beach or in one’s backyard can bring blessings to burdened hearts.

Are you dealing with long, sleepless nights that send you out the door cranky and concerned? Do you embrace sound sleep and awake at the crack of dawn to enjoy a powerful sunrise and day in the place Dr. Seuss encouraged people to cherish…the happy place?  Sunrises can be just what the Great Physician orders to chase away sleepless nights and give promise for a new day, a new opportunity, and a fresh start.  If night wears you down, get up and go watch the sun come up! 

Can you imagine the sleepless nights Job endured when he had no idea why his world was being turned upside down?

Reading Job 7: 3-4 paints the picture of a worn out, weary man seeking a new sunrise.

“So, I have been allotted months of futility, and wearisome nights have been appointed to me.  When I lie down, I say, ‘When shall I arise, and the night be ended?’ For I have had my fill of tossing till dawn.”

Job was restless, brokenhearted, burdened, and wondered, ‘why me, Lord’?

The Lord waited as the enemy tormented and took Job’s family, home, livestock, even friends who questioned why he stayed faithful to God, wondering what Job might have done to cause his troubles?  Reading the story in the Bible brings life to the joyous ending when Job could sleep again and each new sunrise held promise as he recounted his new blessings with gratitude and glory to God.

Sleepless nights can cause people to miss blessings of new days.  Job could have listened to advice from his well-meaning but faithless friends. However, he chose to trust God, listen but not be swayed, and reap  rewards of faithful living even when he could not see the sunshining in his world.

Do you feel your sunshine has been taken away and sweet sleep seems impossible? Are you plagued by things in your past and perplexed by fear of the future? Does worry keep you up nights and down in the dumps during the day? 

The Lord says we are not to worry about tomorrow for…  ‘sufficient for the day is its own trouble’!  Matthew 6:34

When past mistakes, heartaches, and troubles spoil sunrises and ruin days, the only cure is to hand them over to the One who created us and cares for us like He does the sparrows in the trees.

The past is gone, we cannot change it!  Walking down the beach, in the backyard, on the treadmill, or around the block,  without Tim or James by my side sometimes makes me sad. Often, I wipe tears while remembering morning walks with them when we witnessed sunrises and new days together.  Yet, I cannot change the past, neither can you! We must rise up like the sun and shine for Jesus even when it seems we get stuck in winter! Satan longs to spoil dreams and destroy lives. However, when we put our trust in God and keep walking on in faith to new sunrises…happiness happens in His perfect timing.

No matter what has happened in your life, you cannot go back and change it, nor can you predict the future.  Like Job, we do not always know exactly why bad things happen to us and to those we love.  However, we cannot stop enjoying life and witnessing sunrises with hope and promise in our hearts just because our life might not be turning out the way we planned.  We can move forward when we keep our eyes on Jesus!

When our hearts are cleaned out and minds clearly focused on God’s will and living by His way, we can have a little talk with Jesus and sleep, sleep, sleep!  Then, when morning breaks, we can rise up and enjoy a splendid sunrise.  As we step in faith, we can cry out for God’s sufficient grace each morning, knowing He will provide according to our needs!

Dawn is coming with a fresh start, a new day, and a clean slate when we get things right with the One who made us and will one day welcome us Home!

Lord, thank you that by Your Son, we can receive grace and mercy. Each new sunrise is a reminder that every day starts anew and so can we!  Glorious sunrises and great days are reasons to give God glory and go tell it to our families, peers, and people God puts in our paths!

Do not get stuck in winter season!  Even though it’s cold outside, we can get up and do something that warms our hearts. Try writing in your journal wrapped in a cozy blanket, reading by the fireplace while sipping hot cocoa, watching a splendid sunrise from your favorite window seat, or taking a walk outside and enjoying wonders of the season at hand. Talk to Jesus, tell Him your troubles, shed a few tears, face your fears, decide it will be a good year, and soon, you will be in forward gear…feeling grand!

What holiday saying stirs your heart with holiday happiness?

What holiday saying stirs your heart with holiday happiness?  Do you have a special Christmas saying that calms holiday crazies and creates joyful peace as the countdown to celebrating Jesus’ birthday begins?  Holiday music fills my heart with lyrics that keep me singing throughout the year.  From, ‘it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmaseverywhere I go’, ’city sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style - in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas’, ‘O come, let us adore Him - Christ the Lord’, ‘Joy to the world, the Lord has come…let every heart prepare him room’, we choose to seek Christ or commercialism. ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus - sweetest name I know’ created quite enough love to massage calloused hearts and cause the world to sing in perfect harmony. Celebrating Christ the King or commercialism is a personal choice each of God’s children must make. Stay grounded in God’s grace and enjoy a simple, sweet, Christ centered season!  When powerful Christmas lyrics and sayings pour from our mouths, a contagious spirit of love fills hearts and homes every day of the year.

‘Mary, did you know…?’ is recorded in my heart as a favorite. Surely, it’s one of your favorites too! The song tells the story of a loving, lovely lass God chose to be the mother of His only begotten Son!? Can you imagine the faith Mary mustered up at a young age to stand strong against irate accusers ready to stone her for adultery. Knowing she heard from God, Mary did not know how it would all work out but trusted and obeyed. She must have embraced her own special sayings through seasons of visiting Elizabeth, seeing Joseph’s faith shine, nine months of carrying the Holy Child and feeling him kick inside her body, giving birth and placing baby Jesus in a manger, fleeing to Egypt, watching Jesus grow up with Joseph teaching him to be a master carpenter, leaving Him in the temple, hearing him preach and perform miracles, watching Pharisees and persecutors put Jesus on trial, torment Him, tell King Herod to take Jesus’ life and free Barabbas, and walking to Calvary with cheering crowds mocking the Master - her sweet baby Jesus - the ultimate sacrifice - the Savior - the Son of God who gave His life for you and me.  Mary did know that God gave her an awesome assignment. She stayed true to her calling and stood by Jesus from cradle to cross!  

‘Joy to the world, the Lord has come…let every heart - prepare him room - and heaven and nature sing’ is another favorite that reminds us to prepare room in our hearts for Jesus to come in and live, to guide, to give peace and promise as our Savior, to be our Best Friend every day…not just Christmas.  Are you enjoying the peace and promise that comes when Jesus feels right at home in your heart?  If not, seek Him as the Wise Men did, give Him your heart, get a satisfied mind and sweet Spirit that will keep you company through sunshine and sorrow, and enjoy everyday life living for Jesus and sharing His love. 

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.  Embrace every gift He sends (many we take for granted - air, water, healing, happiness, family, friends, working body parts, joy, peace, hope, and the greatest of all…LOVE, extend hospitality and happiness wherever He leads, live excitedly and expectantly with an eagerness to give Jesus your best at Christmas and every day of the year, and look for His return in the eastern sky…for the time is nigh!  What a gift we get to open every day - ‘for such a time as this’ when signs are fulfilled and Jesus could come to call us Home…soon and very soon - ‘morning, night, or noon’!

Give yourself the gift of a satisfied mind and happy heart…’love Him first, love one another, love your neighbor as yourself’, honor Jesus every which way…and you’ll 'have yourself a Merry little Christmas Day'!

Does the love of Jesus shine in our words and ways while preparing and planning for a Merry Christmas Day?

Does the love of Jesus shine in our words and ways while preparing and planning for a Merry Christmas Day?  Are we celebrating the love of Christ by spreading joy all around or giving in to commercialism and ways of the world where the real reason for the season is not to be found? Do we cower in fear - choosing to sit safely on the fence, refusing to stand up for Jesus when times get tense? Have we lost the joy and hope given on that silent, holy night when Jesus came and all was calm and bright?   Will we pray and prepare for Christmas 2018 to be centered on Jesus’ love, with peace and promise of eternal celebrations when we are called to heaven above?  If we will embrace and share the love of Jesus, then we can celebrate Christmas every day of the year.  May this story spark fires to humble hardened hearts and encourage lukewarm Christians to rise up and shift to forward gear!  If we will love and if we will pray, Christmas can teach the world to sing in harmony and live by God’s will and way.  Then, all His children can celebrate a Merry Christmas Day!

Remembering a song titled Love of Jesus in Granddaddy’s hymnal, I pulled it from my journal and read the precious promise with teardrops falling on the yellowed page.  Love of Jesus is the greatest give we can give and receive in this sacred season when what the world needs NOW is Love sweet Love!  Read the song, make up a tune and sing the song, internalize the meaning of the song, and feel the love of Jesus make Christmasblues or burdens be gone!

LOVE OF JESUS

Can you comprehend never ending?

Can you comprehend never ending? Believing that life after death is never ending, it is wise to press forward in faith writing love stories and preparing for eternity. Seasons of living on earth - with pleasures, problems, and promise beyond understanding - will one day end. Then, eternity begins!

 Throughout life, we make choices that determine where we will spend eternity for a never ending life of happiness in heaven or torment in hell!  So, how many seasons of preparation do you have under your belt? My 260 seasons scroll through my mind, taking me on a sentimental journey of precious memories.  Knowing our seasons on earth are waning like the moon shining through my window, fleeting thoughts of when and how I will leave this world surface.

  My grandson and I enjoy playing a game of questions and answers and making up songs when I drive him to drum lessons.  Connor enjoys games on his phone traveling to Dunn; he turns it off during our meal together and ride home. Our songs and questions bring laughter and a good time together without our cell phones causing us to ride in silence.  On a recent trip home, Connor asked if I was trapped in a room, would I rather die with the walls closing in on me vertically or horizontally.

 Thoughts of such an agonizing death made me cringe while crying out, “oh my gosh - neither one”!

When I talked to Jesus (yes, we can talk to Jesus and contrary to what naysayers announce on daytime television - Jesus does talk to His children) that night, he knew my thoughts about death. With a peaceful assurance that only comes when Jesus lives inside hearts that trust and obey, dreadful thoughts the enemy could easily magnify were cast away.  I chose to concentrate on living and trusting my life in God’s Hands for when my time on earth ends and my forever more begins.

However, we cannot stick our heads in the sand and pretend everything will be just fine when our hearts are not in tune with Jesus. We must believe with hearts pruned and prepared for eternity in heaven where God is.

Connor’s question caused me to reread a book, Driven by Eternity, given to me by Doris McArthur years ago when her church used it for a Bible Study.  She walked in Tim’s Gift with book in hand and told me God told her to give it to me!  We prayed, she left, and I stood holding her gift - a book filled with perplexing questions and powerful answers that would change my life and cause me to ponder life everlasting with reverent fear and renewed faith!

 Connor’s poignant question and the perplexed times in which we live led me to reread the book. In Driven by Eternity, John uses Scripture to explain how critical it is for people to have a mindset focused on eternity.  After months of heart stirrings to write this story, I do so in faith that those who read it will be convicted of sinful, passive, lukewarm living, come closer to Christ, slow down, prune packed schedules, stand up for Jesus, let lights shine, and make more time to communicate clearly and cherish a close relationship with the Lord and loved ones. 

 In closing, sharing passages from Driven by Eternity will hopefully convict readers’ hearts as mine has been. Being cleansed by the blood of the lamb and sanctified by the Holy Spirit gives peace, 'for such a time as this'!

“Jesus is coming for a church without spot” (Ephesians 5:27) 

James stated that if a Christian wanders from the truth and remains in that state, his soul shall die.  John says there is a sin unto death for believers.  Jude states, ‘for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.’

Jesus said this about His coming and the judgment.  “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching…but if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming, ‘ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few.”   (Luke 12:37, 45-48)

This is a servant who knew his master's will yet did something contrary to it. Bitterness can open the door to defilement when harbored in hearts. For this reason, we read of God’s people “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”  (Hebrews 12:15)

The greatest trap for pulling people away from their walk with God is unforgiveness.  In Matthew 18, Jesus tells the parable of a great king who forgave a servant whose debt was ten thousand talents (ten thousand talents of gold would be worth roughly fourteen billion dollars. Jesus made the point that the servant owed a debt he could never pay. Yet, when his huge debt was forgiven, he later refused to forgive one of his servant’s smaller debts.  In Matthew 18, the Master called the man a wicked servant who had been forgiven his debt but refused to show compassion on his fellow servant as God had shown to him…”And his master was angry and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Bitterness almost always leads to anger and offense toward God. The person’s faith becomes defiled, and if there is no repentance and forgiveness, their end will be fatal.  The unforgiving servant now has to pay the unpayable debt he is required to, which is impossible.  This is the debt Jesus paid at Calvary. 

Jesus said in another account: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25

Jesus says, “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”  (Mark 11:26)

The writer of Hebrews emphatically tells us to carefully examine ourselves and let go of any form of bitterness, for by it many are defiled.  Now, we can understand Jesus’ words concerning the latter days of the church. 

He says, ‘Many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another… And because lawlessness will abound, the LOVE of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:10, 12-13)

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.  It is God’s way of preparing us in every way… (2Timothy 3:16 NLT)”

Comprehending eternity in a place - where God is not - would be an eternal nightmare. ‘For such a time as this’, may we all make things right in our hearts, release bitterness, forgive and go forth with the calling on our lives, enjoy a close relationship with our Father and family, and be prepared to leave this world and head to heaven at any given moment. When our time here is done and we stand before the Master, may we hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant”!

 Then, we can celebrate never ending life in a place called heaven...where God is! 

Do you believe each of us has a tremendous part to play in taking a stand for America?

Do you believe each of us has a tremendous part to play in taking a stand for America? One by one, could we make a difference by being Good Samaritans and sharing the love of Christ in the country we call home sweet home? I believe that and so do two ‘Good Samaritan’ gentlemen (one I have never met; the other is a prayer partner and volunteer at Tim’s Gift) who love the Lord and enjoy doing acts of kindness wherever they go.

Mike began frequenting prayer meetings on Tuesday mornings after stopping for tacos and curiosity getting the best of him. He read the sign - ‘Tim’s Gift’ - Giving Help and Hope - and entered one morning in 2016 to inquire what we did. Jennifer shared our mission of giving medical supplies, recycling medical equipment, helping with financial needs due to medical situations, and greatest of all - praying with people! Thus, a dear friend, prayer partner, volunteer, and avid supporter of Tim’s Gift was on board. Mike is a veteran who served our country for four decades in several capacities. Recently retired, Mike sought out a rural homestead and settled in Sampson County where he, his wife, and three children reside. HIs loyal participating in prayer, helping Jennifer, Diane, and myself with odd and end jobs or technology needs, and willingness to give a helping hand to people in need who come to Tim’s Gift has given him the honor of being our Good Samaritan. His love for God, country, and family are evident in the way he lives. He doesn’t just talk the talk; Mike truly walks the walk.

Last winter, a homeless man from out of state, trying to get a fresh start in Sampson County, came to Tim’s Gift. Mike was seated at the prayer table and offered to help “get the man out of the ditch and supply his needs” when he heard his story. For three months we worked together to help the man. Sadly, his attire brought raised eyebrows wherever he went, even while visiting four different local churches. One day, I called the gentleman to tell him to head downtown to a men’s clothing store and ask for the manager. He asked, “why”?

I told him a Good Samaritan wanted to bless him with new clothes. Late that afternoon, the gentleman pulled in Tim’s Gift parking lot riding the bike we gave him and looking like a million dollars. This man trying to make a new start came to Tuesdaymorning prayer every week. Mrs. Patty Cherry had told him over and over during those prayer meetings the importance of dressing with dignity. We gave him Tim’s Gift t shirts, food, encouragement, tools to do yard work. Mike gave him work to do and helped him get jobs. While everyone at Tuesday morning prayer encouraged, prayed for, and helped, it was Mike who went the extra mile to make sure the man was okay…just like the Good Samaritan we read about in the Bible.

Recently, during Tuesday morning prayer, we called the names written in our book sharing specific prayers for each of them. One man we prayed for was a patient at Duke Hospital, a friend of Mike’s; yet, he had no idea he was hospitalized. When prayer was finished, Mike asked directions to Duke, since he wasn’t raised in North Carolina and had never been there. He called his wife to tell her he would be home late that afternoon, for he was going to Duke to visit and pray for his friend. Mike’s Good Samaritan ‘on the spot - right when needed - no procrastination’ act of kindness got our attention…and surely got Gods!

Another Good Samaritan I enjoy reading about, and hearing his wife preach the gospel and help people with battlefields in their minds, is Dave Myer. Dave feels he is called to Pray It Forward and help others see the need to help protect our liberties and bring healing to America.

Dave challenges all Americans to honor God through praying and striving to make a positive difference in the direction our nation is headed. His words powerfully put the truth in a nut shell easily understood by people living in America who are willing to Pray It Forward.

“When it comes to praying for our country, 2 Chronicles 7:14 is undoubtedly the most quoted verse in Scripture. The Lord says:

“If my people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

I think it’s important to really pat attention when the Lord uses the words ‘if’ and ‘then’ in His Word. It signals that God is giving us a part to play, and if we do our part, then He will do His part.

Our part includes four specific things to do: Humble ourselves, pray, seek the Lord, and turn from wickedness. When we do, THEN God will do His part - He will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.

I often say the future of ‘America is in the hands of those who act or those who watch. What America will look like tomorrow, next week, next month and next year will be decided by those who engage or those who stand on the sidelines as spectators.

If you love your country and value your freedom the one place you don’t want to be is on the sidelines…and the one person you don’t want to be is the spectator!

With you help and with your diligence, we can protect our liberties. But without your help and your diligence, our liberties will continue to be lost!”

These two American Good Samaritans, one living in Sampson County - the other in St. Louis, understand what is needed to make America great again…putting God first, reaching out to help people in ditches, and living by Jesus’ example. One by one, we each have a tremendous part to play in taking a stand for America.

Dave Myer’s words are the perfect ending for this story stirring in my heart - hopefully yours and many other Americans too.

“As we are faithful to do what we can do, the Lord will be faithful to do what we can’t…and bring healing to our land.”

Mike’s words, at a recent Tuesday prayer meeting, ring in my ears and resonate in my heart, “God is good to us and wants us to be good to Him and His children.”

Now is truly the time for Americans to Rise UP, reach out, and share God’s grace from sea to shining sea!