Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Daylight Saving Time Ends this Weekend

Daylight Saving Time comes to an end this weekend.

DST ends Sunday, Nov. 4, so you should set your clocks back one hour before you go to bed Saturday night. The change officially comes at 2 a.m. local time on the first Sunday in November.

DST started March 11, 2018. It will restart on March 10, 2019.

Sunday’s change means sunrise and sunset will be about one hour earlier on Nov. 4 than it was the day before, meaning there will be more daylight in the morning hours.

Daily Word of God - Romans 10:16-18

Romans 10:16-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

16 But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, “Lord, who has believed our message?”[a] 17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ. 18 But I ask, have the people of Israel actually heard the message? Yes, they have:

“The message has gone throughout the earth,
    and the words to all the world.”[b]

10:16 Isa 53:1.
10:18 Ps 19:4.

Mid-Week Message - Jesus Understands

"But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children. And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left ."  Matthew 19:14-15 (NLT)
First grade.  Lamar Elementary School, Amarillo, Texas.  Each week during "Show and Tell" time, a little girl named Natalie always showed and said the same thing.  She would point to her head and say, "My mama got me this new headband."  I thought it was boring at the time.  Age and maturity has caused me to wonder why that was the only thing she ever had to show.  I also wonder how she felt about it.  Was she embarrassed by never having other things to bring?  What was her home life like?  

What do you remember from your childhood?  It seems that every child has something that sets them apart from the others in some way.  Maybe it was big ears or a big nose. Maybe you lived in a not so enviable neighborhood.  Was it being from a one parent family?  Did you or a sibling have a handicap?  You may have had an alcoholic or drug addicted parent.  Or was it something harder to see?  Emotional sensitivity possibly, or abuse that no one knew about. Whatever it was, I bet you can still get in touch with those feelings even today.  

Jesus was very clear about how He felt about the children.  When the disciples tried to stop the young ones from getting to Jesus, He told them to stop.  I can hear just a touch of a reprimanding tone when I read that passage.  He tells them that, 'the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children."  I know what I have always been taught about this.  Children are innocent and have abundant faith.  They don't try to reason around things the way adults do.  I'm sure that type of faith is precious to our Savior.

I want to propose something that may be new to you.  Might there be more reasons?  I'm sure the purity of faith is a huge part of it, but what if there was more?  What if our Lord, knowing us the way that only He can, knew that these little ones were carrying many complicated feelings and fears?  Times today are much different from then but are people really that different?  When I read scripture I see basically the same struggles then as I do now.  So, I believe that children, even then, carried confusion, doubt about their own abilities, feelings about abuse and being accepted, fear of disappointing parents and worries about fitting in the same way they do now. So, is it possible that one of the reasons that Jesus loved for them to come to Him was that He understood all of that and He desired to minister to them in a very special way? I think so because He knows everything about each one of us.

I chose this topic because I wanted to remind each of us what it felt like to be a child.  Wasn't it easy to harken back to those days?  Those memories will always be a part of us.  And in that way, there will always be a part of each of us that remains that small child.  The Bible tells us that we are God's children.  That means that each of us can approach Jesus as the child we are inside.  And we can lay all of those insecurities at His feet knowing that He understands and loves us.  When we are able to go before Him in that manner, we are displaying pure faith.  Faith that says, "Lord, I'm scared.  I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint those around me.  I am sad or angry or confused.  I am hurting because of abuse or addiction and I need You to hold me."  Do you know what will happen when we do that?  Just as He did in verse 15 of Matthew 19, He will lay His hands upon our heads and bless us.  

Maybe I see things in a different way than you do.  That's fine.  You see, what I have learned from my own struggles is that all of those things that make us feel set apart from everyone else serve to drive us to the comforting, healing, saving power of the cross.  Are you experiencing some of those difficulties today?  I will say this to you.  First, cry if you need to and second go talk to Jesus.  He's waiting and He won't allow anyone to get in the way.  He didn't then, and He won't now.  He adores you.  God bless. 

Daily Word of God - Colossians 4:5-6

Colossians 4:5-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

5 Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive[a] so that you will have the right response for everyone.

4:6 Greek and seasoned with salt.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Daily Word of God - 2 John 1:7-9

2 John 7-9 New Living Translation (NLT)

7 I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came[a] in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what we[b] have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. 9 Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.

7 Or will come.
8 Some manuscripts read you.
Luke 10:22 New Living Translation (NLT) (Jesus speaking)

22 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Monday, October 29, 2018

Daily Word of God - Isaiah 12:1-2

Isaiah 12:1-2 New Living Translation (NLT)

Songs of Praise for Salvation
12 In that day you will sing:
    “I will praise you, O Lord!
You were angry with me, but not any more.
    Now you comfort me.
2 See, God has come to save me.
    I will trust in him and not be afraid.
The Lord God is my strength and my song;
    he has given me victory.”

Daily Word of God - Colossians 4:2-4

Colossians 4:2-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

An Encouragement for Prayer
2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. 3 Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. 4 Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 119:1-8

Psalm 119:1-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 119[a]
1 Joyful are people of integrity,
    who follow the instructions of the Lord.
2 Joyful are those who obey his laws
    and search for him with all their hearts.
3 They do not compromise with evil,
    and they walk only in his paths.
4 You have charged us
    to keep your commandments carefully.
5 Oh, that my actions would consistently
    reflect your decrees!
6 Then I will not be ashamed
    when I compare my life with your commands.
7 As I learn your righteous regulations,
    I will thank you by living as I should!
8 I will obey your decrees.
    Please don’t give up on me!

119 This psalm is a Hebrew acrostic poem; there are twenty-two stanzas, one for each successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the eight verses within each stanza begins with the Hebrew letter named in its heading.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - The Blessing of the First Kernel of Corn: God Loves Us

As the Pilgrims faced harsh winters and very poor harvests, they were reduced to rationing their remaining food. Each person would receive five kernels of corn daily. These meager rations, along with their faith, sustained them. Because of their faithfulness, God blessed them with an abundant harvest of food. While they prepared for their first Thanksgiving, five kernels of corn were placed on each plate. The kernels served as a reminder of their blessings from the Lord. Even in the midst of their horrible struggles, they remained faithful and knew that God would continue to provide for them.

The first kernel of corn reminded them, and reminds us today, that God loves us unconditionally and provided an atonement sacrifice. As Paul tells the Romans in his epistle to them in chapter 6, “23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” What was meant for each one of us, death, in order to repay that debt, Christ Jesus repaid on the cross, once and for all time, to erase that debt. It is our responsibility to receive that wonderful gift of salvation and enjoy life eternal with our Heavenly Father.

After receiving that gift from our living, loving Lord, we are to live a righteous life and show the world that we have died to its old ways. The love we have for one another as Christians is not of this world and this world does not understand it. When we were sinners, we did not even understand His love for us. Even now we struggle to fully understand or imagine it. There is no way we can truly understand the depth and breadth of His love for each one of us. We are His children and He provides for us daily. 

John, in chapter 4 of the first of the Johannine epistles of the New Testament, provides us with the best description of God and what we are to do, “7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” 

By loving one another without condition or any pretext, we exclaim to the world, “God is love and we should love one another just as God loves us.” When we do those things, God lives in us and His love manifests itself in us. The early Pilgrims, when they suffered dreadful illness and poor crop failures, loved one another and looked out for one another. Even when it came time to ration the food, each took their portion and gave thanks to the Lord not only for the five kernels of corn but also for their love for their fellow Pilgrims. Because they loved one another, they worked together to survive the harsh winter months. Through the help of their new friends, the Native Americans, they were able to sow the right crops at the right time correctly. Their new friends showed them where to find food. After all of the sowing and reaping, they set aside a day to celebrate not only the bounty of their harvest but to also praise God for His blessings and love.

Let us look at some natural disasters and how people responded. We witnessed complete strangers coming to the aid of those in the path of hurricanes Michael and Harvey. People with boats, who later became known as the “Cajun Navy”, volunteered their time and boats while risking their own lives to save total strangers. I remember watching grateful people hugging their rescuers and thanking them for their help. Many were stranded with no hope left. Everything they owned was swept away by the tidal swells of the hurricanes. Most only had the clothes on their backs. However, as soon as they were rescued, people began an outpouring of donations in clothing, food, shelter and money to help those they did not even know.

Throughout history, we see wonderful examples of how people, when faced with tragedy, respond to those in need. Charlie Chaplin, I believe, said it best in his last speech from his movie, “The Great Dictator, “You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural!”

Since we are God’s creation and made in His image, we have God’s love already as a part of our very soul. In Genesis 2, we read a wonderful story of our creation, “7 Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man's nostrils, and the man became a living person.” It is through His breath that we received not only our first breath but also our souls and love for Him and for each other. John, in chapter 4 of his first epistle, writes, “7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.” True love can only come from God. The love of this world and the things in it are temporary and born out of lust, greed and unrighteousness. We are not to love things. We are to love one another. 

In the Gospel of John Chapter 13, Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment for them to follow, “34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” By loving one another, we fulfill that new commandment. It is not done out of duty or the adherence to a law. We love one another because we are God’s children and He lives within us. 

After being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God will come, Jesus responds, in Luke 17, “21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” God has manifested Himself in us and we are to show the world that His love is truly for all and is available to them. All they have to do is accept that gift of salvation and know a “peace that surpasses all understanding.”

As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holidays, let us remember the blessing of the first kernel of corn and what it really means to us. It is a reminder of God’s love for us as demonstrated through the gift of salvation provided through His one and only son, Christ Jesus. Jesus took upon himself not only the punishment meant for us but also our sins. He gave up his place at God’s throne and bore the whip, the crown of thorns and the cross for us because he loved us and continues to love us to this day and for eternity. He took away the sting and victory of the grave and death to give us eternal life with the Father. It is through his sacrifice that we have a glimpse of our Heavenly Father’s love for us and a better understanding of its depth and breadth.

 When we love one another, we give those in this world a glimpse of God’s love and can share it with them. God lives within us and knowing this we can stand firm in His grace.

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

Daily Word of God - Micah 4:1-5

Micah 4:1-5 New Living Translation (NLT)

The Lord’s Future Reign
1 In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house
    will be the highest of all—
    the most important place on earth.
It will be raised above the other hills,
    and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
2 People from many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the house of Jacob’s God.
There he will teach us his ways,
    and we will walk in his paths.”
For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion;
    his word will go out from Jerusalem.
3 The Lord will mediate between peoples
    and will settle disputes between strong nations far away.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
    nor train for war anymore.
4 Everyone will live in peace and prosperity,
    enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees,
    for there will be nothing to fear.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies
    has made this promise!
5 Though the nations around us follow their idols,
    we will follow the Lord our God forever and ever.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Daily Word of God - Joshua 24:16-18

Joshua 24:16-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

16 The people replied, “We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods. 17 For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, he preserved us. 18 It was the Lord who drove out the Amorites and the other nations living here in the land. So we, too, will serve the Lord, for he alone is our God.”

Daily Word of God - Deuteronomy 33:26-29

Deuteronomy 33:26-29 New Living Translation (NLT)

26 “There is no one like the God of Israel.[a]
    He rides across the heavens to help you,
    across the skies in majestic splendor.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
    and his everlasting arms are under you.
He drives out the enemy before you;
    he cries out, ‘Destroy them!’
28 So Israel will live in safety,
    prosperous Jacob in security,
in a land of grain and new wine,
    while the heavens drop down dew.
29 How blessed you are, O Israel!
    Who else is like you, a people saved by the Lord?
He is your protecting shield
    and your triumphant sword!
Your enemies will cringe before you,
    and you will stomp on their backs!”

33:26 Hebrew of Jeshurun, a term of endearment for Israel.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Daily Word of God - Genesis 21:1-6

Genesis 21:1-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

The Birth of Isaac
21 The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. 3 And Abraham named their son Isaac. 4 Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5 Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.

6 And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter.[a] All who hear about this will laugh with me.

21:6 The name Isaac means “he laughs.”

Daily Word of God - Isaiah 40:26-31

Isaiah 40:26-31 New Living Translation (NLT)

26 Look up into the heavens.
    Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
    calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
    not a single one is missing.
27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
    O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Daily Word of God - James 3:17-18

James 3:17-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.[a]

3:18 Or of good things, or of justice.

Daily Word of God - John 14:23-26

John 14:23-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. 25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you."

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 127:1-2

Psalm 127:1-2 New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 127
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of Solomon.
1 Unless the Lord builds a house,
    the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
    guarding it with sentries will do no good.
2 It is useless for you to work so hard
    from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
    for God gives rest to his loved ones.

Mid-Week Message - Who Are We?

"What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to.  But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him—and in seeing him, become like him. All of us who look forward to his Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own."  1 John 3:1-2 (MSG)

Who am I?  That is a question we all ask ourselves at one point or another during our lifetime.  As for me, I spent much of my life believing that I was who the world said I was.  I was the daughter of my parents, a sister to my siblings, an overweight child that was always nice to everyone.  I liked dolls and playing with my friends.  I was just one of the kids.  That's who I was, I thought, when I was a child.  
As a teenager I was a good student.  I did well in class and became the person that others came to if they needed to copy notes or get the answer to a homework question.  I didn't cause problems for any of my teachers and was generally obedient.  In the hallways, I was the person that was teased and mocked because, I thought then, that is just who I was.  I guess I thought I deserved it.  My shelter was my youth group at church where I was accepted as long as I kept my place in the hierarchy of personal relationships. 
Young adulthood brought more assurance that who I was had to do with my performance in college classes and jobs.  As long as I did what was expected, I was praised.  My identity became tied in with how well I carried out my duties.  It was sometime within this time frame that the Lord began working on changing my viewpoint of who I was, and more importantly, whose I was.
The world will define us as long as we allow it to.  Part of being in the world but not of the world is breaking the thought cycle that carries that characterization.  We are so much more than any earthly definition!  When we study the scriptures we find out that we were created with purpose by Almighty God who is without beginning or end.  He is the perfect Creator and chose to give life to each of us for His glory.  Imagine that for a moment - you and I are here because He desired us.  Before we were born, He already loved us and saw us as a part of Himself.  We carry His very breath inside of us.  
Brothers and sisters, that is who we are.  We are His children.  Sons and daughters of the great I AM!  He molded and made us and gave us life because He wanted us.  Can you grasp that?  We are not here to satisfy the world and its ideas of who it thinks we should be.  We are beings created to be with the Eternal Father forever.  Our time here is to be a beckoning to those that have yet to find Jesus.  In us they should see a holy difference that will draw them to the cross.  We are His children and we are His ambassadors.  How much more could we ever hope to be?  
I know we are all struggling with something.  However, this struggle, in view of eternity, is momentary.  We were made for so much more.  Let's fix our eyes on Him and ask Him to reveal to us His true self.  When we see Him as He is then we will be able to better understand who we are.  As we learn more of His Word and our relationship with Him grows stronger, the more confidence we will have in the royal and holy identity we were meant to have.  May you be blessed this week by His nearness.

Daily Word of God - Isaiah 46:3-4

Isaiah 46:3-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

3 “Listen to me, descendants of Jacob,
    all you who remain in Israel.
I have cared for you since you were born.
    Yes, I carried you before you were born.
4 I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
    until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
    I will carry you along and save you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Daily Word of God - Romans 12:14-16

Romans 12:14-16 New Living Translation (NLT)

14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

Daily Word of God - Titus 2:11-14

Titus 2:11-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Daily Word of God - Ephesians 5:15-20

Ephesians 5:15-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

Living by the Spirit’s Power
15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Daily Word of God - Colossians 3:12-15

Colossians 3:12-15 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 27:4-6

Psalm 27:4-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

4 The one thing I ask of the Lord—
    the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    delighting in the Lord’s perfections
    and meditating in his Temple.
5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
    he will hide me in his sanctuary.
    He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6 Then I will hold my head high
    above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
    singing and praising the Lord with music.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - The Blessings of 5 Kernels of Corn

As the holiday season quickly approaches, I see more and more people worrying about what they will be serving and who should be invited to the holiday meals. Some wonder whether or not they will have the meal at one relative’s home and dessert at another one’s. Still more are planning on flying to visit family and friends. No matter what the situation, all seem to be preoccupied with the details of the season rather than the true meaning of it. 

When you consider the first Thanksgiving and the circumstances leading up to it, the meaning becomes clear. We need to be thankful for what we have rather than focus on what we do not have. Many reflect on what should have occurred in 2018 and wished that things could have been better. Some think about the promotion or raise that should have been given rather than being thankful for the job they have.

Several days ago, a dear friend shared with me that his company had just gone through another massive layoff. While others lament the lack of a raise or promotion, others now face the prospect of a tough, competitive job market. As I think back to all of my friends who have been laid off, each has told me the same thing, “I am so grateful that I have a job.” When you go without something for an extended period of time and then receive a blessing, you are extremely thankful for what you have received. 

Back in 2008 when the economy went into recession, many of my friends went eighteen or more months without a job. Many did odd jobs or took on temporary work just to make ends meet. They lived from one dollar to the next and prayed for a change in their financial situation. 

As I reflected on their plight, I thought about the early settlers of the new land we now call “America”. The Pilgrims faced one hardship after another. Of the original 102 Pilgrims who came to this new land, a little less than half had died due to illness and starvation within the first couple of winters. Crops failed to grow or the harvest was too small to help. The new colonists remained optimistic and used their faith to see them through the hard times. I am sure that many wondered whether or not God had forsaken them. They indeed faced tragedy at every turn.

It got so bad that food had to be rationed under extreme measures. William Bradford, the leader of the Pilgrims, rationed out the food. Each person received five kernels of corn a day to eat. Can you imagine trying to live on five small corn kernels? I am sure many of you cannot even imagine it. The Pilgrims faced that winter with only those five corn kernels and their faith to see them through the hardship.

In time, the harvest came and God blessed them with abundance. They soon had more than enough food for everyone. God truly became their Jehovah Jireh, “the Lord will provide”. God provided more than just food. He provided them with new friends, the Native Americans, who showed them what to grow and when and how to plant so that there would be a bountiful harvest. God showed them how important faith is and that love for one another was equally important. They certainly had more than just food to be thankful for. They were thankful for God’s blessings which became their lesson for the rest of their lives.

During that first Thanksgiving meal, each plate had five kernels of corn on it. Those five kernels of corn served as a reminder of the things that they should be thankful for. The first kernel reminded them that God loved them. The second reminded them that God always provides for their needs. The third was dedicated to their new friends, the Native Americans, who showed them how, what and when to plant and where to find food. The fourth kernel symbolized the love and devotion they had for each other. The fifth, equally as important to the first, reminded them that God not only listens to their prayers but also answers them.

When I read this story so many years ago, I told my family about it and it became a tradition to have five kernels of corn on our plates. We, like the Pilgrims of old, are thankful for each one and the blessings associated with them. Even when we go through the worst of times, we still are thankful. As many of you know, this year has been extremely difficult for my family and myself. I faced and continue to face the ravages of a horrible, insidious illness. This illness has pushed us beyond our limits and, at times, caused us to wonder the same things as the early Pilgrims, “Has God abandoned us?” Our faith was and continues to be tested each and every day and sometimes every moment of every day. There are days when we grow spiritually weary. 

When we feel like we cannot go on, we turn to the words of Isaiah 40. “29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. 30 Even youths will become weak and tired, young men will fall in exhaustion. 31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

God never promised us that we would have an easy, smooth life. We, as Christians, still have the trials and troubles of a sinful world. We are not exempt from tragedy or strife. In fact, it, at times, may even seem like we receive more than our fair share. However, we need to remember the words of Paul. In 2 Corinthians 12, he writes, “8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

It is only through our weakness that we truly recognize the power of Christ working in our lives. Paul boasts of his weaknesses and is glad for them. Each weakness, like those kernels of corn, reminds him of the power of Christ and the salvation provided by our Heavenly Father. Our weakness, setbacks and trials should serve as our reminder of Jesus’ power in our life. If we believe in him and have faith in the Lord, we can overcome everything that life throws at us. Jesus tells his disciples in John 16, “But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” If we follow his example and remain faithful, God will hear our prayers and will provide us with answers and wisdom to get through the valley of darkness. God will provide a plan “for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” and a path that will lead you to life everlasting and heavenly rewards.

In the weeks ahead, we will, like the Pilgrims, reflect on the lessons of the five kernels and how they apply to our lives when we face times of fear, uncertainty and doubt. Like Paul, it is through our weakness that we are strong, because we cannot rely on our own flesh and understanding to see us through our problems.  Proverbs 3 tells us, “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

If the Pilgrims remained faithful to the Lord, trusted Him and sought His will in their lives to see them through their hardships, we, too, can do the same and, through our weaknesses, can stand firm in His grace. 

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

Daily Word of God - Proverbs 28:13

Proverbs 28:13 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 People who conceal their sins will not prosper,
    but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Daily Word of God - Acts 20:33-35

Acts 20:33-35 New Living Translation (NLT)

33 “I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. 34 You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. 35 And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Daily Word of God - Romans 8:1-4

Romans 8:1-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

Life in the Spirit
8 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power[a] of the life-giving Spirit has freed you[b] from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.[c] So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

8:2a Greek the law; also in 8:2b.
8:2b Some manuscripts read me.
8:3 Greek our flesh; similarly in 8:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Daily Word of God - Isaiah 29:22-24

Isaiah 29:22-24 New Living Translation (NLT)

22 That is why the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the people of Israel,[a]

“My people will no longer be ashamed
    or turn pale with fear.
23 For when they see their many children
    and all the blessings I have given them,
they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob.
    They will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 Then the wayward will gain understanding,
    and complainers will accept instruction.

29:22 Hebrew of Jacob. See note on 14:1.

Daily Word of God - Psalm 51:7-11

Psalm 51:7-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

7 Purify me from my sins,[a] and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Oh, give me back my joy again;
    you have broken me—
    now let me rejoice.
9 Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
    and don’t take your Holy Spirit[b] from me.

51:7 Hebrew Purify me with the hyssop branch.
51:11 Or your spirit of holiness.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Daily Word of God - Hebrews 10:23-25

Hebrews 10:23-25 New Living Translation (NLT)

23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Daily Word of God - Psalm 26:1-8

Psalm 26:1-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 26
A psalm of David.
1 Declare me innocent, O Lord,
    for I have acted with integrity;
    I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
2 Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.
    Test my motives and my heart.
3 For I am always aware of your unfailing love,
    and I have lived according to your truth.
4 I do not spend time with liars
    or go along with hypocrites.
5 I hate the gatherings of those who do evil,
    and I refuse to join in with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands to declare my innocence.
    I come to your altar, O Lord,
7 singing a song of thanksgiving
    and telling of all your wonders.
8 I love your sanctuary, Lord,
    the place where your glorious presence dwells.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Daily Word of God - Proverbs 13:6

Proverbs 13:6 New Living Translation (NLT)

6 Godliness guards the path of the blameless,
    but the evil are misled by sin.

Mid-Week Message - Tailgating at High Speed

"Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed."  Proverbs 3:13-18 (NIV)

As I was on my way from Carrollton back home to Newnan today, I was passed by a small red car.  The driver seemed to be in quite a hurry to get wherever he was going as he was travelling at a much higher rate of speed than was legal.  One thing he did not take into account was that this particular stretch of highway is a "no passing zone."  Once he got past me in the short passing lane he had to contend with another vehicle that was obeying the speed limit.  I watched as he followed this car very closely - too closely.  I backed off because I was concerned that there could be an accident if the front driver braked for some reason.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened.  However, as I watched, the Lord spoke to my spirit about wisdom.  Some of us are in the same position as the driver of the red car.  We find ourselves in a hurry to get somewhere.  Maybe it is to a higher paying job or a more impressive title.  Maybe it is to get married or have a family.  Possibly it is just looking for that feeling of being complete or peaceful and we find ourselves in various addictions or in with groups of people that lead us where we should not go.  We work and work to get to whatever it is that we're seeking.  

The only place that we can find true happiness, true joy, true peace or true fulfillment and satisfaction is in Christ.  He is "the way, the truth and the life."  There is no person or substance on this earth than can provide for us the acceptance or completeness that we are searching for.  I am not in any way saying that it is wrong to strive for a better life.  It is certainly not a bad thing to wish for a mate or a family.  But, once you have them, you need to be aware that you may still find something lacking and there is only one place to turn to fill you to the brim and that is Jesus.

Proverbs contains many verses about wisdom.  I'm sure you are familiar with them.  Wisdom comes from seeking the mind of God Himself.  When we align ourselves with Him and begin to ask Him to reveal His desires for our lives, then we begin to open ourselves to His solutions for what we feel is missing.  Sometimes, He grants us exactly what we have been asking for and sometimes He doesn't.  The one thing we can always be sure of though is that He loves us with an everlasting love that is deeper and purer than we can even imagine.  When He says either yes or no, it is because He knows it is the best thing for us.  

Are you chasing something today?  Is something lacking in your life?  Are you looking for something or someone that will complete you and fill you with the love and acceptance that you long for?  Jesus is waiting and He desires to be your everything.  Rather than tailgating at high speeds and falling into dangerous traps, slow down and look up.  Ask for wisdom for your life.  Ask the Lord to show you His plans and dreams for you.  You cannot out-dream Almighty God.  Blessings.

Daily Word of God - Job 2:3-4

Job 2:3-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

3 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.”

4 Satan replied to the Lord, “Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Daily Word of God - Titus 1:7-9

Titus 1:7-9 New Living Translation (NLT)

7 A church leader[a] is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker,[b] violent, or dishonest with money.

8 Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. 9 He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.

1:7a Or An overseer, or A bishop.
1:7b Greek must not drink too much wine.

Daily Word of God - Romans 6:15-18

Romans 6:15-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

15 Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. 17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Daily Word of God - 2 Timothy 1:13-14

2 Timothy 1:13-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. 14 Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.

Daily Word of God - Proverbs 17:22

Proverbs 17:22 New Living Translation (NLT)

22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,
    but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Daily Word of God - Isaiah 49:5-6

Isaiah 49:5-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

5 And now the Lord speaks—
    the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant,
    who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him.
The Lord has honored me,
    and my God has given me strength.
6 He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me.
    I will make you a light to the Gentiles,
    and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Facing Uncertainty

We all face uncertainty or situations that do not seem to have an end or that may lead to an undesirable outcome. We feel powerless and unable to do anything. It seems no matter which way we turn, all paths lead to more uncertainty and more problems. I am sure each of you have felt this way. You feel a sinking uneasiness in the pit of the stomach each night before you go to bed and toss and turn all night long. Your appetite along with your rest begins to take a toll on your health. Your blood pressure steadily goes up and up. The same things happen to me each time I face an uncertain situation. I worry and pray for guidance, but I still let fear, uncertainty and doubt cloud not only my mind but also my heart and soul to the point that they ruin my relationship with the Lord. I no longer wish to praise and worship Him, but rather, I spend time in hopeless worry and begin to wonder if He is even listening to me. In short, I begin to doubt God. We have all been there and we all do the same thing.

Instead of seeking peace and wisdom, we choose to wallow in self-pity and worry. There is a great example of how worrying can come between what we are to truly do and what we feel is something that must be done. In Luke 10, Jesus visits Martha and her sister, Mary. Martha opens her home to him and is preoccupied with the preparations. While Mary sits at the feet of Jesus and listens to him, Martha is running around the house trying to make things perfect. Finally, she just blows up and says, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” What is Jesus’ response? Jesus tells Martha, “41 Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

Mary chose to worship and listen to the words of Jesus instead of worrying about all the little, inconsequential things. Jesus was not there to rate her home or judge her for keeping a cluttered household. Jesus was there to share his words and Mary was there to listen and take in those words. Martha allowed life to bring her down and she chose to stop worshiping and listening in order to concentrate on the little things. 

Part of dealing with uncertainty is knowing when to stop worrying and allow the power of God to work in our lives. Many, if not all things, are outside of our control. We may think we are in control of our lives, but, if you really think about it, we are helpless and cannot change one item.

This past week is a perfect example of just how powerless and prone to uncertainty we really are. With Hurricane Michael barreling towards the Florida panhandle, there was no human power that could stop it. Even with all of our technology and knowledge, storm models had the hurricane making landfall and going in every different direction. My wife and I live in Georgia and we watched to see where this storm would head next. Would it stay south of us as one model shows or would it radically change course and head more north toward us? All of our worry and uncertainty would not change anything. The hurricane would go where it would and no amount of worry or pacing the floors late at night would change that. 

So, why do we let uncertainty ruin our relationship with the Lord? Why do we allow it to obscure our view of the Father and become the chief and center occupation of our life? The answer is very simple. We believe we are in control all the time and that everything will be a part of our plans for the future. Life is ours to live and to control. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Consider for a moment my illness. I had no idea that there was an infection destroying my bones. I had no fever or any other symptoms to alert me that something was wrong. I went through my daily rituals completely oblivious to this life-threatening infection. Finally, late in December, 2017, everything began to fall apart and now my life was to forever change.

I could have remained in denial and become bitter and angry, but I soon found myself closer not only to God but also to my family and friends. I met new people who would work tirelessly and feverishly to save my life and give me back some normalcy in my life. It took time. There were times when I just got tired of waiting and prayed for a quick fix to all of this, but God, instead, provided a lesson to me that I will never forget. I learned that I had to rely on Him completely. My life was not my own but rather His. I, like Martha, concerned myself with the petty little things and chose not to sit at the feet of my Lord and just listen to His word. I should have been more like Mary and enjoyed the moments with the Lord by praising Him and listening.

If I had chosen to listen to Him, I would have realized a few things. First and foremost, He promised many wonderful things to me. While I was going through the early days of my illness, I allowed the petty problems to get in the way and ruin my relationship with the Lord. I should have found peace in the scriptures. The psalmist in Psalm 37 makes a wonderful point, “37 Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace. 38 But the rebellious will be destroyed; they have no future.

By allowing the uncertainty to become a wedge between the Lord and myself, I became rebellious. The outcome of that action would be disastrous. There is no future in that choice. Once I began to allow the Holy Spirit to work on my heart and deliver the words of the Lord back into my life, my anxiety level dropped to zero and I was at peace. I did not worry about all of the little things and knew that God would take care of me and give the doctors, specialists and nurses the knowledge to save my life. 

In Isaiah 43, the Lord is talking to Jacob and tells him, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. 2 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

We always need to remember that the Lord has called us by name and that we, as His sheep, know His voice. His voice brings us comfort. Just knowing that He is there should be more than enough to face the uncertainty of life. We should, like Mary, be drawn to His feet and listen to His every word and not run around wringing our hands in idle desperation. God has everything under control and has a plan for us. In Jeremiah, the Lord says, “11 For I know the plans I have for you. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you. I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.

In order to face the uncertainty, we must understand the certainty of the Lord. In those verses in Jeremiah, we see the promises of God. He has plans for us. These are not our plans. The plans He has provide us with a future and a hope. Our plans can only lead to more anxiety and uncertainty. If we find ourselves wandering away from the Lord and find ourselves being like Martha, we must seek Him out wholeheartedly. The Lord promised us that if we do that we will find Him. He will remove the hold of uncertainty in our lives and allow us to enjoy the blessings that He has for us. God will open the windows of Heaven and pour out His blessings upon us if we only allow Him to do so. If we choose to allow uncertainty to rule our lives, that path will lead us only to destruction. Uncertainty leads to anxiety and that will, in turn, cause us to lose our appetite, sleep and our blood pressures to go up. High blood pressure will lead to destruction in the form of a heart attack or a stroke.  

If, however, we choose to hold on tightly to our faith and trust in the Lord, He will see us through the uncertainty and keep His promise. The writer of Hebrews eloquently states this in Chapter 10, “23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

By having an unwavering hope we can rest assured that God will keep His word and promises. He will keep all of them without reservation. Remember, we are His children and He will give us only good things. A good parent does not give his or her child bad gifts. A good parent gives only good gifts. Our Heavenly Father blesses us each and every day. We just need to remain focused on listening, praising, worshiping and, most importantly, loving Him with all of our heart, mind and soul.

When we choose to do those things, we can know, without a doubt, that God will take away the uncertainty in our life and that we can stand firm in His grace. 

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

Daily Word of God - Ephesians 6:10-12

Ephesians 6:10-12 New Living Translation (NLT)

The Whole Armor of God
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

6:12 Some manuscripts read you.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Daily Word of God - 1 John 4:4-6

1 John 4:4-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 5 Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.

Daily Word of God - Psalm 84:10-12

Psalm 84:10-12 New Living Translation (NLT)

10 A single day in your courts
    is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
    than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
    He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing
    from those who do what is right.
12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
    what joy for those who trust in you.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Daily Word of God - Deuteronomy 32:1-4

Deuteronomy 32:1-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

32 “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak!
    Hear, O earth, the words that I say!
2 Let my teaching fall on you like rain;
    let my speech settle like dew.
Let my words fall like rain on tender grass,
    like gentle showers on young plants.
3 I will proclaim the name of the Lord;
    how glorious is our God!
4 He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect.
    Everything he does is just and fair.
He is a faithful God who does no wrong;
    how just and upright he is!

Daily Word of God - 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

2 Corinthians 1:8-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters,[a] about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 11 And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.

1:8 Greek brothers.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Daily Word of God - John 17:9-12

John 17:9-12 New Living Translation (NLT)

9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name;[a] now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me.[b] I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.

17:11 Some manuscripts read you have given me these [disciples].
17:12 Some manuscripts read I protected those you gave me, by the power of your name.

Daily Word of God - 1 John 3:18-20

1 John 3:18-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Daily Word of God - Proverbs 2:9-11

Proverbs 2:9-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

9 Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair,
    and you will find the right way to go.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
    and knowledge will fill you with joy.
11 Wise choices will watch over you.
    Understanding will keep you safe.

Mid-Week Message - Setting the Example

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."  Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)

I am a Starbucks fan.  Yes, I am one of those people that is willing to pay entirely too much for a cup of coffee.  Except, I don't see it that way.  For me, it is a treat.  Something special that I don't have to share with anyone else.  Aside from the coffee though, I enjoy how I am treated there.  Even when they are extremely busy they take the time to talk to me and make me feel special.  I enjoy that.  We all do, don't we?  

Being treated kindly is appealing to everyone.  Occasionally, if I can, I will pay the bill for the person in line behind me and ask for the barista to tell them I said, "God bless you."  I'm not trying to impress anyone, just bless someone.  It has been done for me before and I know how surprising and nice it feels.  If I can brighten someone else's day then it is worth the extra amount I pay.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to turn on the evening news and hear about how kind people were to each other rather than the stories of robberies and murders?  Now that is the kind of news I would never turn off.  I find myself shedding tears over the few reports we see of kindnesses paid.  How I wish there were more.

During the last couple of weeks I witnessed unthinkable acts being perpetrated by persons in leadership positions.  Their actions were driven by anger and they didn't care how many people got hurt or who they were.  The only thing that was important was that their own agenda was advanced. There was no kindness, no compassion, no forgiveness. And the really sad thing is that many of those people confess to believing in Jesus.

I wonder how grieved the Father must be to witness this type of behavior on what is now a regular basis. Too many people allow frustration, worry and negativity toward others to run their lives.  As we drive down the road we see aggressive drivers and hear horns blaring.  Standing in line in the grocery store we hear offensive language as people wait.  Children disrespect their elders because the elders disrespect each other.  Television, movies and other media are filled with hate and violence.  Gone are the innocent days for any of us, including our children.

It is up to those of us that love Jesus and worship Him as our Lord to obey His Word.  We are the ones that need to set the tone.  Loving those around us, practicing kindness, exhibiting compassion and watching our own attitudes and words is where we can begin.  I know how easy it is to fall into the ways of the world.  The question of "What Would Jesus Do" is a good way to redirect ourselves.  We are to be examples of the love that was shown to us.  

I pray that this week would be eye-opening for each of us as we notice what is going on around us and what is happening in our own minds and lives.  My heart is full of love for each of you and I pray that everyone can see and hear that in my actions and words.  You matter to me.  God bless you.