Thursday, February 28, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Colossians 1:21-23

Colossians 1:21-23 New International Version (NIV)

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Colossians 1:21 Or minds, as shown by

Morning Scripture Reading - Psalm 86:5-7

Psalm 86:5-7 New International Version (NIV)

5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
    abounding in love to all who call to you.
6 Hear my prayer, Lord;
    listen to my cry for mercy.
7 When I am in distress, I call to you,
    because you answer me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Hebrews 10:5-10

Hebrews 10:5-10 New International Version (NIV)

5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
    but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
    I have come to do your will, my God.’”[a]

8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 10:7 Psalm 40:6-8 (see Septuagint)

Mid-Week Message - Prayer

"In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words."  Romans 8:26 (AMP)

"The weakest Christian can at any period of his life at any moment of the day and in any circumstance cry out to God for help and instantly have the resources of the infinite, sovereign God at his disposal".  James Montgomery Boice

I have spent more time in prayer during the last year that I believe I have in my entire life combined.  My husband's illness, along with all of the uncertainties that went with it, drove me to the one place that I could find refuge and kept me there.  I always thought I understood what "praying without ceasing" meant, but I was wrong.  It wasn't until there was absolutely nothing within my control that I learned to trust in the Holy Spirit to assist me in laying my petitions at the feet of the Savior.  

Today, as we have now seen the three miracles that we were praying for come to fruition, I find myself yearning to stay in the oneness that communication with the Father creates.  His nearness is what I crave the most.  As we are preparing to move from the home that we have lived in for the last five years, I have no fear because I know that there is no place where He cannot be and I praise Him with my whole heart for that.  

So many of my friends and loved ones are going through hardships at this moment.  My personal problems have eased but now it is my turn to do for them what they did for me, lift up their names and needs to the One who can help.  The Great Physician.  He who has power over all things.  The Master Artist and Designer.  Our Provider, Father and Lover of our souls.  

I understand so well how it feels to be without words.  Sometimes I would sit before Him and just shake my head and weep.  Sometimes I would ask Him for the right words to say.  But I had the assurance that the Holy Spirit would convey my feelings and needs even though I was unable.  I cannot express to you how precious that became to me.  And so now, it is with honor that I pick up the needs of my friends and take them before the Throne of God in whatever way I can.  

For my dear friend that was just diagnosed with stage 3 cancer, my college friend with heart problems, another friend's granddaughter who needs a heart transplant, my aunt who is aging and having health problems, my cousin who endures many of the same personal issues that I do plus is about to have surgery on her eyes, a dear lady from our previous ministry who now has alzheimers and her precious daughter who is caring for her, the wife of a former co-worker who is battling back from a devastating illness, a sweet friend with breathing problems and the other loved ones suffering various health problems I say this, "You are not alone.  When the days are long and uncertain, the Lord knows where you are and what you are going through.  He is the Creator who was there with you in the womb and knows each of your cells intimately.  He knows what your body needs and is able to heal with just a thought."  

For those who are facing financial difficulties, remember that He owns the cattle of a thousand hills.  Everything belongs to Him. There is no resource that is out of His reach or control.  Trust Him.  He will provide because He loves you more than you can ever conceive of.  You are His child and He will not abandon you.  

There is no difficulty that He cannot help with.  Go to Him.  There are no special words you need to speak to get His attention.  You already have it.  Just lay your heart before Him.  If you don't know which words to say, that's okay.  The Holy Spirit will carry your thoughts and feelings to Him for you.  Just be still and let Him be God.  

There is no power greater than prayer.  It takes you directly to the King of Kings.  In whatever state you find yourself, wherever you are in life, no matter what you are struggling with, He longs for you to come to Him.  He will not let you down.  I promise, but more importantly, He promises.  God bless.

Morning Scripture Reading - Matthew 20:20-28

Matthew 20:20-28 New International Version (NIV)

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

21 “What is it you want?” he asked.

She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Revelation 21:9-14

Revelation 21:9-14 New International Version (NIV)

9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Morning Scripture Reading - Psalms 118:22-28

Psalm 118:22-28 New International Version (NIV)

22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.

25 Lord, save us!
    Lord, grant us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    From the house of the Lord we bless you.[a]
27 The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
    up[b] to the horns of the altar.

28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.

Psalm 118:26 The Hebrew is plural.
Psalm 118:27 Or Bind the festal sacrifice with ropes / and take it

Monday, February 25, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Matthew 5:17-20

Matthew 5:17-20 New International Version (NIV)

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Morning Scripture Reading - Romans 2:5-11

Romans 2:5-11 New International Version (NIV)

5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a] 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

Romans 2:6 Psalm 62:12; Prov. 24:12

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Psalm 16:9-11

Psalm 16:9-11 New International Version (NIV)

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful[a] one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Never Too Tired of Doing Good

Like most people, there are times when I am so tired that I cannot even find the energy to do the most simple things. We all find ourselves so exhausted. Think about the holidays. We race from store to store and spend time looking for the perfect gift. By the time Christmas comes, we are too exhausted to even enjoy the holiday. Even when we go on vacation, we try to squeeze everything there is to do into a short period of time. When we return to work, we are exhausted.

It seems that we always find ourselves in the same place. We are just too tired to do whatever it is that is important to us, because we spent our time doing other things. Sometimes that exhaustion comes from other situations in our lives. We endured a very difficult and troubling situation at work, home or in our relationships with others. Just the thought of what we went through makes us feel even more exhausted. It just seem like we go from one exhausting situation to another and never enjoy a moment of rest and peace. We are always doing things. However, I would ask, “Are we doing things for ourselves and not for others?”

Think about the question carefully. Are we more interested in doing things for ourselves rather than others? Are we also too tired to do things for others simply because we spent our time chasing after something that we thought would be great for ourselves? As you think about these questions, I ask you to consider what things should be important to you. If something or someone is important to us, we should always have the energy to do those things.

Paul, in his epistle to a number of early Christian churches in Galatia, writes in Chapter 6, “9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Paul makes it a point to tell not only those early churches but also us that it is important for us never to give up or say that we are tired of doing what is good. As you think about Paul’s words, I ask you to think about the energy you receive when you do something good for others. How does it make you feel when you go out of your way to help another person? You feel energized and ready to take on more tasks. You look for other things to do for those in need.

When I volunteered to work in community food banks, I felt a great sense of satisfaction and energy. Although I may have been physically exhausted and had an aching back from lifting heavy boxes, my spirit was alive and full of energy. When I had the opportunity to work in the distribution area and see the faces of those receiving the food, my heart filled with love and my body was energized to do more for others.

When we do good things for others, we receive a blessing from it. Although we may not receive words of praise from them, we know that our Heavenly Father rewards us for doing good things for others.

In Matthew 6, Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount to the masses, said, “4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

We are not here to seek the approval of those around us. We are here to give glory and praise to our Heavenly Father. Our goal in life should be to work for the Kingdom and not for the delight of others or ourselves. We find our purpose in life through working to help those who need it most during those rough patches of life’s journey.

God searches the hearts of all and rewards those who work hard in the Kingdom. God, in Jeremiah 17, tells us, “10 But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.

God is the only one who knows our intentions and the motives of our hearts. He sees through us and knows what is in our hearts and why we do things. If our intentions are motivated out of love for others, especially His children, God will reward us in accordance to our actions. 

We should always find the energy to do those things that give glory to the Lord. We should never be too tired of doing good. Even if we receive nothing in return from those receiving our acts of kindness, we should never allow that to stop us from continuing to do good for those around us.

In Romans 12, Paul writes, “21 Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

It is our responsibility to overcome evil with good and not to repay evil with more evil. We should not allow evil to influence our decisions or actions for good. Evil only begets evil. Good overcomes all and is in keeping with the teachings of Jesus and the desire of our Heavenly Father. 

In Luke 6, Jesus says, “27 But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.

Never allow anything or anyone to cause you to do evil or falter in your ability to do what is good. You should always be ready and willing to do those things that are good for others and seek nothing in return.

When you do good for those around you, you feel good on the inside and it shows to the rest of the world. When I feel that I cannot go any farther and that my energy is low, God puts opportunities into my life that allow me to serve and those opportunities remind me of the good that I must continue to do even when my strength is waning a bit and I feel that I cannot move another inch.

When you do those good things for others, I ask you to remember the words of Jesus. In Matthew 35, Jesus tells us when the Son of Man comes into his glory, all will be brought before the Father. The sheep will be on the right and the goats on the left. Jesus then says, “34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

No matter how exhausted you are, never give up or say that you do not have the energy to do what is good for those around you. Your efforts and deeds will be rewarded by the Lord. 

As you continue through the rest of this week, I ask that you remember these words when you have the opportunity to serve but may feel that you do not have the energy to even move. I can assure you that you will find the energy to do good and when you do, you can stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 John 5:1-5

1 John 5:1-5 New International Version (NIV)

5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Matthew 20:29-34

Matthew 20:29-34 New International Version (NIV)

29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

Morning Scripture Reading - Romans 7:21-25

Romans 7:21-25 New International Version (NIV)

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[a] a slave to the law of sin.

Romans 7:25 Or in the flesh

Friday, February 22, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - James 2:12-13

James 2:12-13 New International Version (NIV)

12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Morning Scripture Reading - Psalm 17:3-5

Psalm 17:3-5 New International Version (NIV)

3 Though you probe my heart,
    though you examine me at night and test me,
you will find that I have planned no evil;
    my mouth has not transgressed.
4 Though people tried to bribe me,
    I have kept myself from the ways of the violent
    through what your lips have commanded.
5 My steps have held to your paths;
    my feet have not stumbled.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Romans 13:8-10

Romans 13:8-10 New International Version (NIV)

8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:9 Exodus 20:13-15,17; Deut. 5:17-19,21
Romans 13:9 Lev. 19:18

Morning Scripture Reading - John 1:15-18

John 1:15-18 New International Version (NIV)

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[a] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

John 1:18 Some manuscripts but the only Son, who

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Ephesians 1:11-14

Ephesians 1:11-14 New International Version (NIV)

11 In him we were also chosen,[a] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:11 Or were made heirs

Mid-Week Message - Who Are We?

"But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God."  John 1:12-13 (NLT)

One of the fun memories I have of my daughter when she was little comes from a time that we were a one car family.  When she and I would go to pick her father up from work, we would arrive a bit early and park in front of the building.  As people were coming out she would ask, "Is that my Daddy?" She would ask it about every man that exited then get very excited when she saw her dad.  It was a game.  We had lots of games we played in the car.  I'm sure you did as well.  

As Christians, we never have to ask, "Is that my Daddy?", because we know that our true Father is Almighty God.  Our identity is in Him and was sealed with the blood of Christ.  We are told that we are co-heirs, children of the Most High God, paid for with the most precious possession He had.  We have a home in Heaven where we will spend eternity in praise and worship.  Oh, what a promise!  

As I was thinking about this article, several other things occurred to me as to who we really are.  The scriptures tell us many stories and introduce us to people just like us, through whom we learn about the grace and mercy of our Lord.  So, who are we?  

We are the lepers who were touched by the Savior and healed.  We are the blind who have had our sight restored.  We are the lame who walk because His power is greater than our own.  We are the deaf who hear and respond to the voice of our Shepherd.  We are the wanderers who find our way through and by His direction.  We are the lonely that He has promised never to leave.  We are the grievers to whom He sends His comfort.  We are the poor who find our wealth in innumerable blessings and lay up our treasures in Heaven.  We are the dead who are dead no more but raised up in His likeness.  We are the sinners who are forgiven and adopted as family.  We are the bride who waits expectantly for her groom.  We are the wordless to whom was delivered the Living Word.  We are the orphans who are now members of an eternal family. We are the prodigals whose Father runs to welcome.  We are prisoners whose chains have been removed.  We are the outcast who have been sought out and brought into holy fellowship.  We are the lost who have been found, the frightened who have reassurance and the homeless who have found our forever home.  

I could go on and on.  What I hope that you see is that He is the answer for wherever we find ourselves in life.  Nothing is beyond His power.  You cannot out-love Him nor out-give Him. He is greater than any problem you may encounter.  Hear me.  He is greater than ANY problem you will ever have.  All He asks of us is that we turn to Him and let Him be who He is.  He loves it when His children ask Him to be present in their lives.  His angels rejoice when we accept Him as our Lord. 

Who are we?  We are His.  Created in His likeness and fully loved and accepted.  There is nowhere better to be than in His arms.  He chose to love us.  He chooses each day to give us life.  Our choice is this, what do we do with the life He gives us?  Oh, brothers and sisters, my prayer for each of us is that we learn to rest in the miraculous reality of being His children and that we lovingly share that with those around us.  I look forward to the day that I can look each of you in the face and share a heavenly hug.  God bless.

Morning Scripture Reading - Colossians 1:15-20

Colossians 1:15-20 New International Version (NIV)

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Psalm 17:6-9

Psalm 17:6-9 New International Version (NIV)

6 I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
    turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
7 Show me the wonders of your great love,
    you who save by your right hand
    those who take refuge in you from their foes.
8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
    hide me in the shadow of your wings
9 from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
    from my mortal enemies who surround me.

Morning Scripture Reading - Hebrews 9:15

Hebrews 9:15 New International Version (NIV)

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - 1 John 4:13-16

1 John 4:13-16 New International Version (NIV)

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Morning Scripture Reading - Revelation 21:1-4

Revelation 21:1-4 New International Version (NIV)

21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21:1 Isaiah 65:17
Revelation 21:4 Isaiah 25:8

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Nahum 1:7-8

Nahum 1:7-8 New International Version (NIV)

7 The Lord is good,
    a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
8     but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh;
    he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Day by Day

One of the lessons I learned during my illness was also the most difficult for me to learn. It was remaining patient and living my life day by day or, put in another way, one day at time. Each day that I lived with the uncertainty of what was to come, I began to worry about everything. I worried about whether or not the infection would spread to other bones in my face. I worried about our financial issues that we faced due to the medical bills. As I sat quietly, my mind would start to think about tomorrow. I wondered what would be the next thing to come. Would I receive more bad news? That one question plagued me daily. What was going to be the next thing that would happen in the lives of my family and myself?

I am sure that many of you have faced similar situations in your life. You may have dealt with medical problems, financial issues or spiritual uncertainty. Each day seems like it brings more and more problems and you worry about the problems of tomorrow. As humans, we worry about a lot of things that come and go in our lives. But, we, as Christians, need to remember that the problems that we face are only temporary and that we should not worry about tomorrow. Jesus said it best in Matthew 6, “34 So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.

For me, each day began and ended the same way. I would wake up with worries and woes on my mind and go to bed with more worries and countless woes. There would be nights when I would cry myself to sleep as I worried about everything and anything that came creeping into my thoughts. When I would tell my wife about my fears, uncertainties and doubts, she would remind me of Jesus’ words and I would soon find comfort and rest in those words.

As I thought about what he said, I began to truly understand his words. Each day will be filled with things that, if we allow them, will take our focus away from the Lord. We concentrate on those things that will not only cause us to worry but also ruin our moments with our Father.

I began to reflect on a particular story that brought me peace and comfort. It is the story of Martha and Mary. In Luke 10, Jesus in his travels with his disciples came to a small village. A woman, Martha, opened her home for him and prepared a meal. While she worried about the meal, her sister, Mary, spent her time at Jesus’ feet and listened to his words. Martha became upset by her sister’s lack of work and asked Jesus to tell her to help her. Jesus responded, “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 realized the most important thing that she could do was to spend her time with Jesus and not worry about the meal or all the things associated with it. While Martha scurried away worrying about the meal and the things in this world, Mary found her spiritual food in the words of Jesus. Mary truly understood the words of Deuteronomy 8. Moses told the Israelites, “3 Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

When Martha worried about the food of this world, she became obsessed with the things of this world. Mary focused her attention on the things not of this world, the words of Jesus. We, like Mary, must not allow the things of this world to cloud our judgment or cause us to lose focus on our relationship with the Lord.

God takes care of our daily needs and we do not have to worry about anything. The psalmist writes in Psalm 37, “18 Day by day the LORD takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.

By focusing our attention on the Lord, we know without a doubt that He will take care of us and that our inheritance does not come from this world but from the Father and it will last forever. The things that we face will soon come to an end. Our problems, whether they are medical, financial or spiritual, will pass away when we focus our attention on the Lord and not elsewhere.

As I began to realize the lesson that I was being taught and saw my needs met daily, I realized that I did not have anything to worry about. My anxieties went away. Remember the words of Peter in his first epistle, “7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

By giving all of your worries and cares to God, you proclaim the power of the Lord. There is nothing too great for Him and nothing that He cannot do. He can overcome all things.

Peter further tells us, “6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” 

When we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will lift us up in honor. Think back to the story of Martha and Mary. Where was Mary? She was at the feet of Jesus listening to his every word and not worrying about anything else.

So when you face what you think is insurmountable or think that all is lost, remember things are temporary and they will change as long as we give our worries and cares to God. We know that He cares for us and that He will lift us up in honor and victory over the things of this world. Nothing should stand between the Lord and ourselves. No matter what happens, we need to live our lives “by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”

As you go through this week, I challenge you to spend your time with the Lord and in His word. When the worries and woes of this world begin to creep into your mind, look to Him and know that He cares for you. If you do that one and only thing of looking to the Lord day by day, you will soon find that your life will be easier and that there is nothing that God cannot do to help you rise above all of the strife that you face.

If you do not have a relationship with the Lord, I ask that you reflect on the words of the Lord and allow them to be absorbed by your spirit. Let the words speak to your heart. If you do, I guarantee that you will find comfort, strength, peace and, most importantly, a love that surpasses everything that you have ever known.

Just remain focused on the Lord and rest assured that you can and will stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Morning Scripture Reading - Psalm 18:16-19

Psalm 18:16-19 New International Version (NIV)

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Malachi 3:16-18

Malachi 3:16-18 New International Version (NIV)

The Faithful Remnant
16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.

17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

Morning Scripture Reading - Luke 10:25-37

Luke 10:25-37 New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:27 Deut. 6:5
Luke 10:27 Lev. 19:18
Luke 10:35 A denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer (see Matt. 20:2).

Friday, February 15, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Matthew 25:31-46

Matthew 25:31-46 New International Version (NIV)

The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Morning Scripture Reading - Colossians 3:15-17

Colossians 3:15-17 New International Version (NIV)

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Romans 8:31-39

Romans 8:31-39 New International Version (NIV)

More Than Conquerors
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:36 Psalm 44:22
Romans 8:38 Or nor heavenly rulers

Morning Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:28

Psalm 118:28 New International Version (NIV)

28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Ephesians 5:3-7

Ephesians 5:3-7 New International Version (NIV)

3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.

Ephesians 5:5 Or kingdom of the Messiah and God

Mid-Week Message - Self Talk

"Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."  Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

It was a sunny day on the playground.  I was with a class of second grade students, watching them run and play during recess, amazed at the energy they had.  As I was talking with their teacher, one little girl came up to tell her that another little girl and said the "S" word.  Before getting alarmed, this wonderful woman said, "Whisper to me what she said."  As the reporter spoke, the teacher smiled.  Her response was, "You're right.  That is a word we are not supposed to say.  Please ask her to come and see me."  Apparently, the "S" word was the word "stupid."  

We teach our children to be kind to each other.  Certain words just aren't nice to say, and I'm not speaking about curse words necessarily.  Hearts are easily wounded and children who hear pronouncements upon their character often enough tend to start believing them.  That's why we are vigilant, as parents, at listening to what our young ones say and directing them if need be.  We are careful to instruct them to speak nicely to others, but do we address how they speak to themselves?

I am one of those people that talks to myself.  Sometimes I have full conversations.  Do you do that?  If I have something on my mind, I work it out orally.  It helps me to think things through.  Unfortunately, I also talk to myself when I am frustrated about something I have done or when I feel insufficient.  That is when I will say things to myself that I would never even dream of saying to someone else.  I call myself names.  Accuse myself of being less than.  Basically, I tell myself that God made a mistake when He created me.  

Today's scripture gives guidance on what language we are to use with others.  However, remember that when Jesus was asked which was the most important commandment, His response was that we were to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. To me, this indicates that if it isn't acceptable to treat others in a certain way, then it shouldn't be acceptable to treat ourselves that way either.  When I call another person a derisive name, I wound that person.  Equally, if I use that word to refer to myself, I inflict damage to my own heart.  This is a new way of understanding for me and one that has caused deep introspection and driven me to the Father.

It is easy to say things when we are alone and think no one will hear, either out loud or just think them in our minds.  The truth of the matter though, is that there is One who is always aware and is grieved.  The Lord loved us enough to send His son to die in our place.  He was there from the beginning, forming us in His image cell by cell.  His mark is on our souls and we insult His workmanship when we say things to ourselves that would not bring Him glory.

There will always be times when we are disappointed, whether it is by the actions of another or of ourselves.  No one is perfect.  We will make mistakes. But it is important to remember that condemning others, or ourselves, is not a remedy for those times.  Hearts are tender and need TLC.  One of the best ways to provide that is to guard our thoughts and words.  Jesus loves us totally and completely.  We can honor Him by speaking encouragement, even when we are the only ones around.  May God fill your week with reassurance.  

Morning Scripture Reading - Psalm 105:1-4

Psalm 105:1-4 New International Version (NIV)

1 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
3 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
4 Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Galatians 5:13-15

Galatians 5:13-15 New International Version (NIV)

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Galatians 5:13 In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit; also in verses 16, 17, 19 and 24; and in 6:8.
Galatians 5:14 Lev. 19:18

Morning Scripture Reading - Psalm 119:113-120

Psalm 119:113-120 New International Version (NIV)

ס Samekh
113 I hate double-minded people,
    but I love your law.
114 You are my refuge and my shield;
    I have put my hope in your word.
115 Away from me, you evildoers,
    that I may keep the commands of my God!
116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live;
    do not let my hopes be dashed.
117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered;
    I will always have regard for your decrees.
118 You reject all who stray from your decrees,
    for their delusions come to nothing.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross;
    therefore I love your statutes.
120 My flesh trembles in fear of you;
    I stand in awe of your laws.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Proverbs 18:10

Proverbs 18:10 New International Version (NIV)

10 The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
    the righteous run to it and are safe.

Morning Scripture Reading - Psalm 29:10-11

Psalm 29:10-11 New International Version (NIV)

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
11 The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Isaiah 40:3-5

Isaiah 40:3-5 New International Version (NIV)

3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord[a];
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.[b]
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 40:3 Or A voice of one calling in the wilderness: / “Prepare the way for the Lord
Isaiah 40:3 Hebrew; Septuagint make straight the paths of our God

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Humble Before the Lord

Last week I celebrated the first anniversary of two events that changed my life forever. Those two events taught me some very important lessons. They taught me that God’s grace is sufficient and that I am to be humble not only before the Lord but also to act humbly as a servant.

It was one year ago that I was admitted to a local hospital with a life-threatening illness. According to the members of my healthcare team, I was within hours of dying in a most horrific and painful way. What other doctors thought was a simple sinus infection or sinusitis turned out to be a very rare infection that required two surgeries that resulted in the removal of most of the bone in and near my right sinus and the right side of my palate. During the battle to save my life, I endured medical treatments that many describe as the worst and most terrible. I underwent treatments that were almost as devastating as chemo and equally as fraught with horrible side-effects and danger. 

For weeks and months on end, I suffered through this illness and its treatment with only the love and prayers of my wife, family, friends and, most importantly, the grace and love of the Lord. Each day was a challenge to get through. I lost over 70 pounds and most of my hair. The medications that I was taking were extremely expensive. Between battling the illness and dealing with the crushing medical expenses, I felt that I was doomed and would not survive both or either of those battles.

All along the way, I tried very hard to remain faithful to our Heavenly Father. Each day was a struggle. There were moments during my treatment when I was literally on my hands and knees with tears pouring to the floor. I cried out to the Lord and asked why I had to endure all of this. I prayed for the miracle of complete and instantaneous healing, but did not realize it.

During all of this I remember the words from the Book of Job and the words of Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians. Both men suffered through the hardest moments of their lives and were able to maintain their faith in God. As I remembered their words, I found within my soul the faith that would sustain me through the darkest of times.

As I continued to write and serve in our online ministry, my story was being shared with others who were going through their own problems. Some of them had medical problems like cancer while others faced financial problems. Each, when told my story, found their faith and continued their walk with the Lord. One of my dearest friends and fellow brothers in Christ Jesus described it as being in many places at one time and witnessing to all. My own doctors told other patients about my life and the illness. Each found the comfort and the strength needed to rise above their situation.

My daily walk with the Lord during my illness and financial problems took on a different meaning. I learned to humble myself before the Lord and lean completely upon Him. In Micah 6, the prophet records the words of the Lord, “3 O my people, what have I done to you? What have I done to make you tired of me? Answer me! 4 For I brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from slavery. I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to help you. 5 Don’t you remember, my people, how King Balak of Moab tried to have you cursed and how Balaam son of Beor blessed you instead? And remember your journey from Acacia Grove to Gilgal, when I, the Lord, did everything I could to teach you about my faithfulness.

God, through my illness, taught me more about His faithfulness and His love in the many months of my illness than I had ever learned in the many years of my life. Through God’s own words, He reminded me that He and He alone got me through my slavery to sin and through the valley of darkness that I was facing. He reminded me of His blessings and those around me who prayed for me and encouraged me to remain faithful. My spirit was lifted up and I learned what it truly meant to be a child of our Heavenly Father.

Later in Micah 6, God tells the Israelites, “8 No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

For me, the most important lesson was to walk humbly each day with the Lord. As I suffered through my illness, I walked humbly with Him daily and worked as a humble servant to spread His word and plan of salvation to all those who would listen. Each day was not only another step in my walk with Him but also another lesson from Him to serve.

As I served and followed His will for my life, my attitude changed completely. I forgot about my illness and the financial problems that my wife and I faced. We were able to transcend all those things and focus on God and His will for our lives. We ministered to all and prayed for all those who needed comfort and strength. In the words of Paul in his letter to the Philippians, we fixed our “thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable” and only thought about “things that are excellent and worthy of praise”. Because we knew that God would provide for us, our thoughts did not linger on my illness or our financial difficulties.

After one year of treatment and two surgeries, the infection was finally eradicated. God provided for our financial needs daily. We had nothing to worry about, because we knew, according to Psalm 55, that we could give our burdens to the Lord, and that he will take care of us. We knew that He would not permit the godly to slip and fall.

Instead of worrying about tomorrow, we praised Him daily for blessings of shelter, food and clothing. We never went without and we were able to pay our bills on time. Because of all of this, I knew what it meant to walk humbly with the Lord. All that I have and am came from Him. He knitted me together in my mother’s womb and blessed me with a loving wife and daughter and with brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus who continued to pray for me.

The psalmist writes in Psalm 139, “22 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

In that one year of my illness and financial problems, I learned that I am nothing without Him. He is everything to me and that His will for my life is my will. His desire for me is now my heart’s desire. I am nothing without Him. It is only through His plan of salvation through His son, Christ Jesus, that I am saved and have life eternal with my Father and Creator. My one and only duty is to love Him and to love those around me. No matter who they are, friend or foe, I am to love, pray and provide what I can to all.

These lessons came at very high cost but they cannot compare to the one lesson that I learned so many years ago. I learned that He loved me so much that He gave His one and only son for me as a sin sacrifice so that I would have eternal life and would not perish. 

As I continue my daily humble walk with the Lord, I ask that you reflect upon your own life and think of all the times that He has blessed you and given you all that you needed when you needed it. When you remember those times, I can assure you that you will be humbled by them and that you can stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Morning Scripture Reading - Psalm 34:8-14

Psalm 34:8-14 New International Version (NIV)

8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Ephesians 3:14-19

Ephesians 3:14-19 New International Version (NIV)

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:15 The Greek for family (patria) is derived from the Greek for father (pater).

Morning Scripture Reading - James 4:11-12

James 4:11-12 New International Version (NIV)

11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[a] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

James 4:11 The Greek word for brother or sister (adelphos) refers here to a believer, whether man or woman, as part of God’s family.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Psalm 139:13-18

Psalm 139:13-18 New International Version (NIV)

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

Psalm 139:17 Or How amazing are your thoughts concerning me

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 10:31-33

1 Corinthians 10:31-33 New International Version (NIV)

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Ephesians 1:3-10

Ephesians 1:3-10 New International Version (NIV)

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[a] predestined us for adoption to sonship[b] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he[c] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

Ephesians 1:5 Or sight in love. 5 He
Ephesians 1:5 The Greek word for adoption to sonship is a legal term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture.
Ephesians 1:9 Or us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he

Morning Scripture Reading - John 7:37-39

John 7:37-39 New International Version (NIV)

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”[a] 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

John 7:38 Or me. And let anyone drink 38 who believes in me.” As Scripture has said, “Out of him (or them) will flow rivers of living water.”

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - James 1:12

James 1:12 New International Version (NIV)

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Mid-Week Message - An Unexpected Lesson

 "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."  Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

Our house has a deck in the back that has four steps that lead to the yard.  When our dogs need to go out they have to go down those steps.  Our thirteen year old miniature poodle, Custer, has arthritis in his hips and back legs and has a difficult time during cold weather.  When my husband is home, he will carry him down and back up.  But when he isn't here then it becomes my responsibility to help Custer.  Last week I put him on a leash and walked him out through the garage.  This week is warmer and he has been walking better and has wanted to go in the yard.  Yesterday he was fine.  He went up and down the steps on his own with no problem.  Today, however, he went down but was afraid to come back up.  After watching him stand at the bottom and bark and cry for help, I went through the garage where we have another set of steps that has railings on both sides.  This is important because I also have arthritis and need support on both sides in order to be able to handle steps.  

When I managed to get to the steps where Custer was, at first he moved away from me.  I guess he was unsure of how I was going to help him.  When he finally came over, all it took was for me to place my hand on him and he went right up.  All he needed was to know someone was there in order to find the confidence to do what he needed to do.  This took place twice today.  He needed help getting up the steps and I needed the assurance I could go down and up and not fall.  

We all encounter times when we need courage to be able to do what is before us.  Just as I placed my hand on Custer to give him the courage to go up the steps, so the Lord assists us when we are fearful of going forward.  Last year I learned deep lessons about trusting God.  While dealing with my husband's illness and all the uncertainties, leaning on Him was the only way I was able to make it through each day.  My continual prayer was, "Lord, please don't loosen your grip on us."  I praise Him for honoring that prayer and getting us through the most trying year of our lives and our marriage.  

As I was going up those steps this morning I realized something.  At all times, especially when we are struggling, our Father has His hand on our backs to remind us of His presence and to allow us to draw our courage from Him.  Each step we take is taken through the power He provides.  The ability to put one foot in front of the other is a gift that comes directly from the Creator.  He is also the supporting rails that we hold onto so that we don't fall.  By placing our hands in His, we gain the assurance that we don't ever have to rely solely upon our own strength. We grow tired.  We ache and think we can't continue.  But by accessing the power of the Almighty, what is seemingly impossible becomes possible.  

Little Custer had no idea that I would see the Lord through his weakness today.  Neither did I. I am constantly amazed at how He reveals Himself through everyday occurrences.  All it takes to learn divine lessons is to have our minds and eyes open.  Ours is not a God who is far away and disinterested.  Rather, He is always present, always available and always ready for us to turn to Him.  My hope is that we all remember the all-encompassing love He provides and allow Him to be all He wants to be in our lives.  May this be a week of eye-opening revelations.  God bless.   

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 2:11-16

1 Corinthians 2:11-16 New International Version (NIV)

11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[a] 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,

“Who has known the mind of the Lord
    so as to instruct him?”[b]

But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:13 Or Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual
1 Corinthians 2:16 Isaiah 40:13

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Afternoon Scripture Reading - Psalm 46:1-3

Psalm 46:1-3 New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 46[a]
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth.[b] A song.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

Psalm 46:1 In Hebrew texts 46:1-11 is numbered 46:2-12.
Psalm 46:1 Title: Probably a musical term
Psalm 46:3 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verses 7 and 11.