Friday, December 6, 2013

A 12th Month Redemption

Good morning friends.

I was so blessed by this short devotional this morning I had to share it.

Whatever your memories so far this year, God is still able to redeem the time and bring blessing in such a miraculous way of reversal that His joy is what you recall from 2013.


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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Magnetic Hill

I always look for her every Sunday.  She sings in the choir and she is the happiest looking lady.  You have to notice her.  Others smile momentarily, but she glows.   The joy of the Lord radiates.  It's not a fake smile or one that forms upon recognition of someone in the congregation, it is birthed in Who's she is and all that Christ has done for her.

Recently I've heard or received several teachings about what being filled with Jesus looks like, or 'should' look like.  Those who know the Lord personally and intimately need to be going out of their way to celebrate the gift of Christ and His salvation.

Sitting at Tim Horton's last week, there were seven of us enjoying a time of friendship and fellowship.  There was laughter and sharing.  There was unmistakable joy.  Several times as I let my eyes wander to others sitting nearby, they were looking at us not in an annoying, be quiet kind of way, but in a longing, I wish I had that much fun kind of way.

My Pastor said last Sunday that Christianity should be a magnet.  We need to live Christianity lavishly in our communities.  Tozer writes that we need to deliberately encourage a desire of God.  Complacency is a foe.  Acute desire must be present.

Do you love coming to church and gathering with God's family?  Does your face show it?

Oh Lord, give us a holy longing and desire.  Birth a new freshness in our hearts.  May we be, as my Pastor said, gripped by the grandness of God's grace.  God's power on display in us can be breathtaking, captivating and inviting.

I don't know how many of you have ever visited Eastern Canada, but in Moncton, New Brunswick there is an attraction called "Magnetic Hill".  It's really a type of optical illusion.  When a car is placed in neutral at the base of the hill, it will begin to roll backwards, apparently uphill.  To observers it looks like the car is being drawn by an uncontrollable, magnetic force.

I was thinking last Sunday as my Pastor was sharing, that our church sits on a "hill".  Could we be our cities "Magnetic Hill"?  Could we become known as such a contagious collection of Christ-followers that others are drawn to come and check us out, desiring to see and know the Force that compels us?  In order for that to happen we need to put smiles on our faces and live with spectacular, radiant joy.

Can others really see Jesus in you today?

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

This and That

This. is. a. busy. season.

Over the past month or so I have been writing a blog post immediately after having my quiet time with the Lord first thing in the morning.  Discipline and time would coincide, but unfortunately right now, instead they collide.

It's so frustrating.  The Lord speaks to my heart.   I journal and get so excited.  Then I look at my clock.  I'm already running late for the days activities.  December is a happening month!

I'm also praying about what the Lord wants me to do in 2014.  Recently the Lord has brought the idea of an on-line chronological daily Bible reading endeavor  that would provide interaction and accountability to those wanting to stay consistently connected to God's Word.  So many need a place and a friend with whom to be accountable.  This would be a huge commitment for me.  Writing. Video's. Guest posts. Daily consistency.

(I have a Christian broadcast on in the background as I'm typing this and the speaker just said: "We need to be accountable!")

Waiting on the Lord for His direction.  Wondering if anyone would even be interested.   Then there's the four Bible Studies I'm keeping up with that will resume in January.  Lord, give me wisdom.

In other news, today my church hosted the Message of Hope, Christmas Event Special for ladies.  Over 200 women attended the catered breakfast and were encouraged to keep trusting the Lord.  It was a delightful morning.  One precious elderly lady who was visiting for the first time, shared with me through tears afterwards, that the morning reminded her of teaching she received in her childhood and how much she loved Jesus.  She shed tears.  Not tears of sadness, but tears of great love.  So overwhelmed by His love there is no other response.  Words fall short.  Emotions overflow.  I think sometimes tears are the most beautiful compliment of loving expression.

Anyway, just wanted to share what was going through my mind tonight.  I feel like I fail the days I don't have time to write here.  I can be very demanding on myself.

Not sure what tomorrow will hold.  I miss not being here daily.

I love all of you who take the time to visit. You are each so dear to my heart.



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Monday, December 2, 2013

Easy Out

"...be imitators of God..." Ephesians 5:1

Did they really just say that?  I must have heard incorrect.  Yes, that was it; I had to have missed a word because they couldn't have said what I thought I heard.  Then the sentence was repeated again.  No, that's what was said.  Really?

Recently I heard someone say this more as a statement than a question:  Do you really think we should follow Jesus as our example?

Uh...yes!!!

Their thinking was that Jesus is perfect, making it impossible to truly follow Him.  We will never be able to walk completely in His footsteps.  His shoes are just too big to fill.  Maybe He's not realistic to follow.

OK, I'll grant you that there is only one Perfect, and that's Christ, but this isn't reason not to use Him as our Guide.  A student is only as good as their teacher.  Following a sinless Teacher we have the best example.  Others may fail and lead us astray, but there is no fear of that with Jesus.  Because of a sinless Savior we can always trust His teaching to be truth.  He is Truth.

Yes, His standard is high, and His commands unattainable on our own, but what is being suggested by this other way of thinking?  We lower the bar and accept less?   I would rather spend my life making Christ my goal.

Here's the thing.  Following Jesus we start off knowing that this side of heaven it's impossible to be completely like Him.  We have already failed.  If we instead follow a good, yet somewhat flawed guide, we can justify and excuse our own shortcomings and maybe we won't be expected to be quite so "holy".  I mean, we want a little "fun", right?  Following Jesus is going to mean submission and surrender.  On the whole, we're not usually great with either.  Life would be easier if we followed David or Paul, Jonah or even Abraham.  They all cut us a little slack.  But Jesus?  Really?

I guess one question would be what's your motive in following?  If obedience is rising from a heart of love and thankfulness for all He has done for you, there is absolutely nothing He could ask that would seem too much.

Another question might be, how are you trying to follow Him?  Are you doing it in your own strength?  No wonder you're weary.  It's only with God that all things become possible.

How full are you of self?  Are you pretty much in control and hate giving up the reigns?  Jesus requires us to deny self.

Yes, His Word calls us to be imitators of God, yet we continue to long for an easy out.

One more question.

Did He take the "easy out" for you?

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Grace


Hi dear friends....I'm so sorry I've been "missing in action".  I have much I want to share with you, but limited time.  My husband was off work yesterday and he whisked me away for a fun day of Christmas shopping out of town.  We started like this:


That's a Cranberry/White Chocolate Scone and a Gingerbread Latte. (Just want you to fully appreciate it!)

We mostly "window-shopped" but we had such fun.

We picked up supper from Dairy Queen, (and no we didn't just have ice-cream), and then came home to watch a video by the fire....until...we lost our power and all electricity was out.

We discovered I had 5 flashlights under the bed on my side (always prepared!) and we had candles lit in no time.  Just when it was starting to really feel chilly, the power came back on.

As I sat by the limited lighting I reached for my devotional book to do a little reading and had to smile when I read: "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6

His Word is always timely.  Trust you are finding it to be so as well.

Crazy day today and tomorrow.  Home days, but a full plate.  No guarantees I'll be able to make it back here.  I knew this would happen eventually, but I'll do my best to return as soon as possible.

It's been fun reading so many American updates today as friends are celebrating Thanksgiving.  I'm going to jump in and express thanks to all of you who bless me in countless ways with your comments, messages, emails and cards.  So thankful to know you as friends.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Obey

"Who hindered you from obeying the truth?" Galatians 5:7

Well, if you read yesterday's post on "Truth", to open my Bible and read the verse above this morning, it seemed like a needed follow-up.  I had several people comment, email or send me Facebook messages regarding God's call on their lives to be truth-tellers.  A few said it was God's Word of encouragement over a situation that they needed to speak truth into at this moment.

So...have you, or have you at least set that coffee visit in place?

Here's the thing, if we don't do it immediately, we probably won't do it.  Time, excuses, busyness and life will steal away obedience and opportunity.  What we felt so impressed to do yesterday, will be suppressed in our tomorrow.  Hesitation begets procrastination which begets termination and elimination.  The fervor felt to follow through fails with the passing of each moment.  Resolute decisions resign.

Yes, we need to pray and not run ahead of God's plan, but when is speaking the truth in love not part of God's plan?  It was Christ's lifestyle.  We look at it as an event; it was His moment by moment evidence of being God's Son.  He is Truth.

Let me share more from the passage above:

"Who hindered you from obeying the truth?  This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.  A little leaven leavens the whole lump.  I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgement, whoever he is."  (Galatians 5:7-10)

Please don't allow anyone to stop you from sharing truth.  As the Scripture says, this persuasion is not from God.  Those who reject the standards God sets in His Word would love to play the enemy and cause you to doubt and remain silent.  Why?  They'd rather not adhere to these standards themselves and your call to holy living sets them on edge.  They feel the encroachment of truth hitting too close to home.

Friends, look around you.  Morality is at an all time low.  Absolutes have been tossed aside.  Everyone does what is right in their own eyes, often even twisting Scripture to justify actions.  It's breaking my heart.  We accept everything so as not to offend, more anxious that we'll hurt the sinner than sadden our Savior.

Has God called you to truth?

Obey.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Truth

"...if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.  Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?"  Galatians 4:15b-16

Boy, I tell you, this is a tough one.  It's not always easy being a truth-teller.  I'm not talking personal truth, I'm talking God's truth.

Last week a friend was sharing with me how her heart was hurting for a gal she knows is living in sin.  She has made some choices contrary to Scripture.  She has indicated that she is a believer, but she is choosing not to live God's Word on this one.  What a mess.

A faithful follower immediately hears alarm bells ringing.  Now, like a smoke detector, do we remove the battery until the smoke clears, buying us more time until the fire in our soul ignites again over this concern for another, or do we let this alarm in our spirits immediately try to pull a friend from danger?

I could just write volumes here.  I've done both.  I've kept silent for a period of time praying God would convict of sin.  Yes, that would be the easy way out for me, yet that can backfire too.  I recall one situation when afterwards my precious friend came sobbing to me asking, "Why didn't you tell me?  I just didn't know."  She was completely broken over her choices, and as a fairly new Christian she had simply not understood God's Word pertaining to her actions.  She just needed guidance.  Conviction and repentance followed her understanding.

Another time I shared truth repeatedly, yet sadly it was never received.  Oh agreement was spoken as Scriptures were opened, but there was never change.

Then, as the verse speaks above, dearest of friends can sadly become enemies when truth separates.  Enemies is such a harsh word.  It's not so much you they are opposing, but Christ in you.  God's light in you reveals the darkness in them and they don't want to be exposed.  They are content with their lifestyle and to follow God according to every detail of His Word is going to mean too much change.  It's easier to cover their sin with a blanket of truth that God is love, then to walk in obedience to His Word.  They are deceiving themselves.

So what do we do?

First, this is not about personal preferences, but God's precepts.  We have to know His Word.  We have to know it in context.  We can't be pulling out verses that justify our ideas.  Dig into Scripture.  Scripture!  Not the latest book on the topic regardless of how well-known or acclaimed the author might be.  Man is fallible.  God and His Word will never fail.

Prayerfully, with a heart of love, share truth.  We are not responsible for their reaction, but we are accountable for our actions.  If you are following the Lord, you know when He is nudging you to speak up.  The nudging is usually accompanied with human fear so we can easily tell it's God prodding our heart, because on our own we'd never say a word.  If you can't wait to show someone the err of their ways, the longing to correct might be birthed in a desire to 'be right'.  Pause and consider your own motives first.  Does your purpose come from a heart aching to see another walking in truth?  Is God encouraging you from His Word to confront in love?

There are no guarantees of the outcome.  That's the scary part.  Hopefully truth will be received and obeyed.  Truth-tellers aren't popular.  They weren't in Jesus day either.

If God is stirring your heart to speak His truth to someone, I'm praying He will give you wisdom and courage while filling you with His love so that the other dear soul will only see Christ's heart in the heeding.



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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sabbath Selah - Glory Beyond


Often we spend far too much time behaving like cows.  Yes...cows.  Cows regurgitate their food.  They bring it back up for some further chewing.

People tend to do the same thing.  Instead of letting the past be the past, (it is called that for a reason), many spend countless hours clinging to, living in and "chewing on" what Paul tell us to forget.  Those things behind.

Today's quote comes from D. L. Moody:

"Many are always looking on the backward path and mourning over the troubles through which they have passed.  They keep lugging up the cares and anxieties they have been called on to bear and are forever looking at them.  Why should we go reeling and staggering under the burdens and cares of life when we have such prospects before us?

If there is nothing but glory beyond, our faces ought to shine brightly all the time."

Change your focus today from behind to beyond.


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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday Sharing


Had an incredible day at the Teen Challenge Christmas Concert. Thrilling stories of transformation. Laughing.  Crying.  Thanking the Lord for changed lives.


Clicking on this link: Teen Challenge, will take you to a page where you can watch a short video clip.

Already looking forward to next year's celebration of young people whose lives have been redeemed and hearts fully home for Christmas.


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Friday, November 22, 2013

A Tender Branch


My heart has been quite touched by the following verse in my reading this morning:

"There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease."  Job 14:7

Does that speak life into anyone else?

Some words have a way of touching me deeply, and the use of "tender" is stirring emotions.  Defined as easily crushed or bruised; fragile; vulnerable, frail, delicate, sensitive; easily damaged, gentle, requiring care in handling; breakable.

Haven't we all been there at some point?

Reading the verse again, I see that the "tree" has been cut down.  I'm imagining a life that has severed it's once life-giving attachment to the Life-Giver.  For whatever reason, they have wandered away.  They have separated themselves from family, friends and fellowship.  But, this Scripture speaks of hope sprouting.  To sprout is to come forth again and grow.

How does this happen?

There's a tender branch that will not cease.

What is that tender branch?  I'm envisioning teaching from loving parents.  A sweet Sunday School teacher who imparted truths at a young age.  Generations of praying grandparents.  A relentless friend who continues to share her faith despite despondency.  And the tender root of Jesse Who's Spirit is still breathing, hidden deeply in the core of the tree, not letting go.

I don't know how this is resonating with you, but it is giving hope to me.  Hope to continue persistent in prayer for the tender branch to sprout again in the lives of a few trees I know that have been cut down.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Obedience

One of the reasons my post is so late is because I had the very special privilege of being part of a handful of people invited to witness the baptism of a friend's dear mom today. A sweet 75 year old lady felt the call on her life to further follow the Lord in obedience, according to God's desire for us in Scripture. It was overwhelmingly precious.  I was beyond blessed to be included in this inner circle as eye-witness, seeing and hearing the humble confession of this senior saint.  Imagine the delight of her daughter and young adult grandson seeing mom and grandmother saying 'yes' to Jesus.  Beautiful.

Well...you see for yourself...


Whatever your age, it's never too late to say 'yes' to Jesus.  



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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Can God Call You 'Titus'?


"...we were troubled on every side.  Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.  Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus..."  2 Corinthians 7:5b-6

In the past month I will have attended three funerals.  The third is today.  A dad, a mother-in-law, a husband.  Three precious family members of three special friends.  Cause of death, a varying form of cancer.  Makes me nervous and thankful at the same time being a two-year ovarian cancer survivor.  However, this is not a "cancer" post, just noting the similarities.

I think what has spoken to my heart over the recent weeks as I've attended visitations and funerals is the response from loved ones and friends.  Having recently been the recipient of a showering of love and support at my own dad's passing, I know first hand the comfort that comes from God's family.

I know this time of year is busy, but it deeply saddens my heart when others don't make the time to show their love by their presence at these vital opportunities.  Speaking from experience, it means something.  My dad's funeral was quite large.  Family. Friends. Neighbours. Nursing staff. Past employers and employees.  Young people.  Folks we hadn't seen in quite some time drove great distances in the middle of their summer holidays to make the effort to be "Titus" to us.  Just remembering again, my heart is overwhelmed by the kindness extended.  To look around and see such love.  Some faces truly touched my heart.  The sacrifices they made to be with us at this time...I'll never forget.

Yes, love has a face, and it might be yours.  Someone is needing to see you today.  God uses each of us as He did Titus, to bring His comfort to one who is troubled on every side.  It might not be the passing of a loved one, but something has caused a need, whether outside conflicts or inside fears.

Don't hesitate.  Today is the day.  Like times of visitation and funeral, you can't get it back.  When the opportunity is past don't be filled with regret.  Remove self, agenda, discomfort, awkwardness and excuses.  Go and love.  You do it for the living.  You do it to be God's Hands to the hurting, delivering His comfort through a kind word, a hug, a shed tear, an arm around the shoulder, a shared remembrance, a meal delivered, or just being there.  If you can't say one word, show up.  Your presence speaks more than anything you could verbalize.  It speaks volumes of love.

The "coming of Titus" comforted many.  Will you be a "Titus" to someone today?




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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Promiser

Stink!  I felt nothing had jumped off the page of His Word to me this morning.  I desperately wanted the "perfect promise" to send to my sister who is having a small, routine medical procedure performed after lunch.  So often the Lord has given her the exact Scripture to send me at such times and I longed to encourage her heart similarly.  Suddenly a short writing in my journal caught my eye.  It was taken from a book authored by Hannah Whitall Smith.

"It is grand to trust in the promises, but it is grander still to trust in the Promiser."  "The God who is behind His promises and is infinitely greater than His promises can never fail us..."  "Behind the prayers and behind the promises there is God, and He is enough."

Oh friends, again the Lord has rerouted my heart.  Joy, don't look for the promises, look for Me.  I am all you need.  My promises can be misunderstood and misapplied.  If you rest in Me, you will find "perfect peace".

Are you looking for direction from God's Word today?  Are you wishing you had a verse to hold on to as you walk a new or uncertain road?  Take the Hand of your Heavenly Father.  As your feet fall in step by His side, the presence of the Promiser is all you really need.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Wild Winds

"Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall."  Isaiah 25:4

Having a very teachable moment this morning.  I don't know what the weather is like in your area, but the wind here was quite wild, giving me a restless night.  Just after midnight I moved to a quieter room in the house so that I could hopefully get some sleep.

Opening my devotional book this morning the very first verse I read was, "He stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind." (Isaiah 27:8).  I smiled.  Only God could immediately direct my attention to a verse about weather.

As I continued reading, I came to the verse I wrote at the top of this post.  Suddenly the truth about God being that shelter for someone during a difficult time became real.  Experiencing the battering of wind at our windows, what about when it blows at the heart?  Although not made of glass, sometimes it can be even more fragile.

Last evening I was so saddened to read a friend's post on Facebook that spoke of "church bullies".  A mean-spirited, need-to-be-right man had deeply wounded the heart of her mom while at church yesterday morning.  Winds of abuse blew in, shattering and hurting.

Pain is compounded when it's delivered to us by those whose faith and beliefs walk the same path as ours. The Psalmist David was familiar with this pain: "If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him.  But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God."  Psalm 55:12-14.

I look outside and visually see evidence of wind's whipping force.  Items uprooted and tossed carelessly.  Who can stand against such unrelenting power?  The whipping against our hearts might not be as easily seen, yet often yields more irreparable damage.

"...the blast of the terrible ones is a storm against the wall".  Yes, this precious lady has been the recipient of a cruel blasting from a terrible one, but her faith will remain.  Like my home that is still standing after the passing storm, her life is built upon the Rock, and although weathered by caustic gales she intimately knows the One who calms the storms.  As a kite rises against the wind, so too this precious lady will soar as she responds with integrity, secure in her Father's care.

Maybe you know someone who has been the target of "a blast from a terrible one".  Or, possibly, "a storm against the wall" is fiercely howling around your heart.  The Lord is our strength, refuge and shadow providing hope, comfort and protection.  May Jesus Himself calm the winds and speak peace over all that is raging around and within you today.




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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sabbath Selah - Chambers

Oswald Chambers continues to be one of my favourite authors.  Sharing a short thought with lasting impact.

"Maintain a continual watchfulness so that nothing of which you would be ashamed arises in your life."

For some of us, it might be too late.

Thankful for the Lord's forgiveness.

From this moment on, "Therefore we make it our aim...to be well pleasing to Him."  2 Corinthians 5:9

Sweet Sabbath friends.

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday Sharing - Free To Fly

I'm trying to remember how I first "met" Kathy.  I know our blogs brought us together, and I've enjoyed her company for so long now I feel like we've always been friends.

When I first "found" Kathy's blog immediately there were a few things I loved.  First, her heart for the Lord.  It was very obvious she loved Him deeply and was living a life surrendered to Him.

Second, Kathy owned a gift shop on her property, "Bittersweet Farm".  I wanted to purchase every product she sold.  It is a good thing she lives so far away because I would have had a hard time limiting myself to a budget if I visited her quaint country store.

The pictures she would post were always so inviting.  I mean, wouldn't you want to have a long chat and cup of tea with her here:


Also, a visit to her blog, originally titled, Blessed Builder, also found me humming along to some sweet song she would have playing.  I think one of my favourites was by Sixpence None the Richer: Kiss Me.  Precious lyrics for this romantic, and a tune I had never heard before.

A couple of days ago Kathy wrote a blog post that resonated in my heart.  It honestly is a sad reflection of complacency that has crept into the lives of many.  We have become desensitized to the world around us, taking part without feeling remorse.  Even yesterday a dear friend and I were speaking about the lack of moral absolutes.  Everything is excused and relative.  God's Word often is referred to as a "good Book", but not followed an obeyed as our "guide Book".

I'd love for you to read Kathy's writing, Flying Requires Two Well-Balanced Wings and What That Has to do With Cussing Christians.  Write a word of encouragement and tell her Joy say's 'hi'.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

The Essence of His Presence

"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing."  2 Corinthians 2:14-15

As a little girl my mom would always pray with me at home each morning before I left for school.  In fact, she would pray with ALL the friends who stopped at our house to walk to school with my sister and I.  At times our front entrance would be filled with a dozen youngsters.  I don't know that my sister and I were really that popular, but our home was known for refreshing cool drinks of water and candy, so it was a wonderful half-way mark for many making their journey to school each morning.

My mom had another beautiful practice as well.  On exam days she would spray a little perfume on my wrist and remind me that when I was writing the exam, and maybe a question appeared a little daunting, the aroma of the perfume would help me remember that she was at home praying for me.

One day I arrived at school and was talking with a girlfriend when she suddenly asked, "What smells so nice?"

Without hesitation I answered, "It's my mother's prayers."

She replied, "They sure do smell nice."

God's Word tell us that we are to be the fragrance of Christ to the saved and the perishing and that our prayers rise as a sweet smelling aroma to Him. (See Leviticus 23:13, 18.)

Whenever you apply a little touch of your favourite scent, may the lovely perfume throughout the day remind you to diffuse His essence reflecting His presence.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Undeniable Beauty

"Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!" 1 Chronicles 16:29

I'm starting to get a complex.  Every time I take her out the same thing happens.  I'm not kidding!

Deciding to stop for a cup of coffee before taking my mom back to the nursing home, we had just settled in our seats.  Almost instantly two ladies approach my mother.  I have become very familiar with this occurrence.  They begin telling her she is such a beautiful lady.  Repeatedly they express kind words. My sweet mom humbly accepts their compliments.

After the women leave, my mom is almost in tears.  Not recognizing outward beauty in herself, she finds their admiration overwhelming, yet this happens all the time.  Often sitting beside her, I begin to feel like "chop liver", even on the days I thought I had put myself together rather well.  Sometimes they will turn to me and say, "Oh, you look lovely too dear".  Yah.  Thanks.

After mom dries her eyes, she shares this secret with me.

Every morning during her quiet time she prays, "Lord, may Your beauty be seen in me today".

Although I think of my precious 88 year old mom as an attractive, elderly lady, I don't believe it is outward beauty that is drawing all the attention.  Others are seeing the beauty of Jesus and are drawn to His radiance in her life.

I remember back when my sister and I were in High School.  On the evening of Parent/Teacher interviews our parents had stopped to meet the English professor.  In speaking with this gentleman, at one point he paused and said, "Your girls are such...(hesitation)...refined girls."  Loss for a word to describe what he saw, refined was the adjective given to us.  Yes, refined.  Refined through fire and coming forth as gold to a world that can't define or describe Him yet His presence is found in both youth and elderly.

Is the beauty of Jesus evident in your life?  Is your life radiating His presence?  Let's all join in prayer with my mom today.  "Lord, may Your beauty be seen in me today."

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

God's Pleasure

I love the line from "Chariots of Fire" when athlete Eric Liddell says, "When I run I feel God's pleasure."

Have you ever felt the pleasure of God?

Reading in 1 Corinthians 10 Paul writes: "Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink.  For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased..."

He wasn't pleased?  Gracious look at the list of those do-gooders.  Check out the number of times the word "all" is used, indicating obedience by everyone. Yet, with most, God was not well pleased.

Caught up in appearance, visibly their actions seemed compliant, yet their hearts were complacent and callous. The verses that follow that passage tell us that they had fallen into lust, idol worship, sexual immorality, temptations and complaining.  No wonder God wasn't "well pleased".

All outwardly looked the same.  All traveled together.  All experienced the powerful work of God.  All heard the same sermons.  All recognized the Lord.  Yet obviously something set a few apart who received God's pleasure.

Here was my takeaway.

Association isn't enough.  Just being with Moses didn't add their names to the hall of faith fame.

Adapting to a certain behavior or ritual isn't enough.  It says each one was baptized.

Activity isn't enough.  You can never be busy enough to avoid temptations lure.

Assembly isn't enough.  We know they were "all" together.  We heard that several times.

God is looking for abiding.  It's only by spending time with the Lord personally and intimately that when trials and temptations come we are going to have the strength in Him to resist, stand, and in the end know His pleasure...the pleasure of His well done, good and faithful servant.

God's pleasure is found when we choose Him in all.  Before we knew the Lord as our Savior, we sinned mostly due to our sinful nature.  Once we receive Christ, sin becomes a choice.

What are you choosing today?  Sadly, this Scripture could be written today, "But with most of them God was not well pleased..."

However, it does mean that with a few of them He was pleased.  Are you part of the "most" or the "minority"?

Let's bring God pleasure today that His Name may be glorified in the choices we make.



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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tradition or Truth

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Hosea 4:6

With Kim Collingsworth at the piano, strains of the Hallelujah chorus began triumphantly resounding through the sanctuary.  Immediately everyone was on their feet in recognition of our Lord and God to whom all praise is due.  A few young people standing in the balcony began clapping to the rhythm unaware of the sacred song and the reverent response initiated years ago.

Driving home in the car I was wondering.  Did the young people stand just because everyone else was standing or did they know the reason why the audience so quickly rose to their feet.?  Did they think they were giving an ovation to Kim?  Had they ever been taught about this tradition?  Was their standing birthed in awe of the King of Kings or just formality? Was mine?

The story has been told that King George II, attending the London premiere of "Messiah" in March of 1743, was so moved by the "Hallelujah" that he stood up - and if the king stands, everybody stands.  Since that time, spontaneously standing during the performance of Handel's great oratorio has continued.

I've continued to ponder about the next generation.  How many traditions will be lost and forgotten for lack of teaching?  Have we been diligent about passing down customs marking our heritage?  These questions sparked a greater concern.  What about our faith?  Have we made the effort required to share the Gospel for future generations to know, receive and live the truth found in God's Word? Have we taken time to tell experiences of walking day by day with the Lord often enough and with enthusiasm that children yet to be born will hear the miracles that God still performs?  Will the Bible become history because His story isn't shared with purpose and passion?  Are we raising a generation that worships God, but does not fear God?

"'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?  As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'"  Romans 10:13-15

Friend, responsibility falls to us.  Earlier this morning I read the following statistic.  Less than one out of every ten believers possess a biblical worldview as a basis for his or her decision-making behavior.  Our young people especially are being defeated in spiritual warfare because they do not know the Bible, its promises, its power, and its illuminating effect on every choice required in life.

Let's be intentional in our living and in our sharing.  Lives are at stake.  Precious people are perishing for lack of knowledge.  Who can God use you to open His Word with today.  Do it!

Here is a picture of sweet Kim Collingsworth and I.  If you'd like to hear her play the Hallelujah chorus, watch the video below and be blessed.






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Monday, November 11, 2013

God's Encore

Needing to make 35 table centerpieces for an upcoming Ladies event at my church, and desiring to be a good steward of finances, it was decided that a couple of us would be responsible for purchasing the needed material by using discount coupons offered in sale flyers weekly until the desired supply could be obtained.  So, with 40% off coupon in hand, I headed to the cashier.  I was excited to receive my savings.  Along with the receipt of purchase I was given a 50% off coupon effective the following day! Bonus!

I contacted the other gal who would also be shopping to let her know of this offer.  I didn't want her to miss the half-price deal.  I was so excited at the way the Lord was supplying for our needs and honouring our desire to use His money wisely.  She and I sat in my home the previous day praying and asking the Lord to guide all the details.  We asked Him to stretch our budget and help us use His money wisely.  God was answering with these 50% off coupons.  We excitedly praised and thanked Him for His provision.  God is so good!

The following day I returned to the store with my 50% off coupon to purchase another item for the centerpieces.  It was going to take time to accumulate all 35 one coupon at a time, but the savings were worth it.  As I handed in my discount ticket at the check-out counter for 50% off, the cashier looked at me and said, "Oh, I'm sorry I can't use this coupon on this item."

What?  That was the entire point!  If I couldn't receive a discount today, then I would wait and purchase it another time.  This was strange though.  I knew I checked the date on the coupon.  It was redeemable today.  Why couldn't it be used?

Suddenly the cashier responded to my puzzled look, "The item is already on sale so I can't use this coupon."  It was on sale?  There weren't any signs indicating discounts. I immediately looked at the amount displayed on the register screen.  This item that was regularly priced as $19.99 plus tax, was ringing up at $3.99!  Seriously?  Only $3.99?

I quickly contacted the other gal doing the purchasing and it was decided I would buy material for all 35 at this incredible price in case the sale ended or supply diminished.  We were able to buy $174.00 worth of supplies for $36.00...tax included!!!!  WOW!!!

As I shared with my partner in "craft crime" what the Lord had done, I told her I believed He came back for an encore.  He saw our happiness in receiving the 50% off coupon.  He saw our delight in the savings and heard us giving Him all our praise.  He heard our prayer asking Him to help us steward Him finances well.  I imagine Him saying, "Ladies, if you thought that was good, wait until you see what I have planned for you tomorrow!"

The Lord is interested in every detail of our lives.  His Word tells us that when we commit our plans to Him, He will enable them to succeed, and in doing so, He just might give an incredible, unbelievable encore in response to our praise to Him.


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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sabbath Selah

"When we say, 'What a wonderful personality, what a fascinating person, and what wonderful insight!' then what opportunity does the gospel of God have through all of that?  It cannot get through, because the attraction is to the messenger and not the message.  If a person attracts through his personality, that becomes his appeal.  If, however, he is identified with the Lord Himself, then the appeal becomes what Jesus Christ can do.  The danger is to glory in men, yet Jesus says we are to lift up only Him (see John 12:32)."

Oswald Chambers.  Read the entire devotional here :  Sacred Service

Praying for humility and lifting up the Name of Jesus today.

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Saturday Sharing

Good morning lovely friends.  I've been debating what to do on weekends.  I must say that writing every day, first thing in the morning, demands much time!  I was thinking for my own sanity, I'm going to change up my Saturday and Sunday posts a little.  The Lord has directed me to two great ideas!!

On Saturdays I'm going to do a "Saturday Sharing".  During the week while reading other blog posts, I'm going to choose one that has deeply ministered to me. On Saturday I'm going to share that link and why I chose this writing to share with all of you.  There are a lot of wonderful writers out there who inspire me.  I'd love you to "meet" them.

On Sunday's I'm going to offer a "Sabbath Selah".  It might appear as a quote from an author such as Tozer or Oswald Chambers.  It may be a "sticky statement" that continues to run around in my head.  It could be a song.  Possibly a single Bible verse for you to ponder.  A "Selah" is a pause for a time of personal reflection.  I'd love to hear in the comments how the Lord speaks to your heart on these days.  You don't need my interpretation.  Allow the Holy Spirit to breathe a fresh Word to your heart.  He is the best Teacher.

So, to begin today, I'd love to direct you over to my friend Leah Adam's blog at "the POINT ministries".  It's the perfect follow-up to my post yesterday.  She has shared some of the most powerful quotes from Rev. Billy Graham's recent broadcast.  May they stir you to respond.

Oh...and don't forget to tell Leah in your comment to her, that Joy says hi when you visit her today.  You can see one of my favourite quotes in her comments.  :-)

Here's the link to the specific post: "The Cross".

Enjoy your time with Leah.  She's become a precious new friend.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

I'm a Mess

Like my title declares, I'm a mess!

As I logged into my computer this morning feeling fully persuaded as to what I would share with you today, I made the "mistake" of checking Facebook first.  A sweet friend had posted the link to "The Cross - Billy Graham's Message to America."  Last evening I had tried to view it on-line but was unable to get the link to work.  I was eager to see if this recording would play.

Literally within seconds I was in tears and basically cried my way through the entire thirty minutes.

Friends, Rev Billy Graham will always, always hold a special place in my heart.  For one reason, I remember attending Billy Graham Crusades as a child.  I recall the fun of the bus trip into Toronto every night.  I fondly remember the "Greeters" who tried to keep crowd control.  Our family even brought chocolates to one Irish gentleman who every evening entertained us in the line-up outside the gates as we waited to take our seating.

Another wonderful experience at one Crusade was the opportunity to meet and visit with Evie Tornquist (now Karlsson).  My sister and I had knit an afghan for her.  At a Mayor's Breakfast, my dad had spoken to Leighton Ford who at that time was Associate Evangelist with the Billy Graham Association.  Dr. Ford in turn had spoken with Evie.  Imagine the surprise when our home phone rang and it was Evie herself inviting us over to her hotel room!  That plan didn't work as we were too far away at the time, but later that week we did indeed meet Evie at the Crusade grounds about an hour before the conference was scheduled to begin.  The home movies and pictures are still a treasure to this day.  With the event being held in an outdoor stadium, Evie actually used the afghan we made her to cover her legs when a lake breeze began to blow.

However, that still isn't the reason why I love Rev. Billy Graham so much.  It wasn't about attending a conference or association with Evie.  It was about my daddy accepting Jesus.  You see, years ago, a young man running from the Lord, literally hiding in a cornfield so he wouldn't have to attend church, finally responded to an invitation to attend a Billy Graham Crusade.  It was that night that my daddy surrendered his life to Jesus.

Rev. Billy Graham was instrumental in my heritage of faith.  I think of him fondly as a grandfather in love.  The moment the video started to play, I started to cry.  My daddy always reminded me of Billy Graham.  Oh, my dad didn't speak to thousands and millions of people at one time, but he faithfully shared the Gospel every Sunday in churches big and small.  With each request to speak the denomination changed, but like Rev. Graham, my daddy's message never did.  Although different in many ways, these two men always preached Jesus, as Max Lucado writes about the Apostles, not for the lack of another topic, but because they couldn't exhaust this one.

Oh Lord, I miss my daddy so much.  Has it only been four months since he went home to be with You?  Father thank You for using "grandpa Graham" to guide daddy to You.  I have such an amazing godly heritage.  I know the day I hear that Rev. Graham's life on this earth has ended, it will be a difficult day.  Another one of the good guys will be gone, but I know my daddy will be with many others waiting to welcome him into the presence of heaven.

Rev. Billy Graham...thank you.

If any of you have not had opportunity to watch this thrilling video, filmed partly at the Graham home, please take the time to do so now.  I'm including the video with this post.  At the age of 95 Rev. Graham's message is as clear and Spirit filled as it ever was before.  As he says in concluding, "I've given my life, not to a dead Christ, but to a living Christ."  Yes, Jesus is alive, and He's waiting for you.



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Thursday, November 7, 2013

One-Sentence Biography

Good morning lovely friends.

I'll be honest, my heart is full with something the Lord spoke to me this morning, and although my heart is full, my time is empty!  Meetings and needs are pushing in and today I can't push back.  The clock is dictating my day.

So, this morning I want to quickly share the last thing I saw as I headed to bed last night.  I was closing down all the programs running on my computer and as I went to sign out of Facebook, I noticed my son had written a status update.  This is what he wrote:

" 'So he did what the Lord had told him.' (1 Kings 17:5 NIV)  A one-sentence biography that outshines others of great length.  Hope it can be mine."

Oh friends.  When my misty eyes cleared I wrote a comment and asked him: Did you write that or are you quoting someone?  He immediately responded with, "Straight from my own noggin."  :-)

I am one blessed mom.  My son's "noggin" is not only brilliant (yes, I can say that, I'm his mom), but far more importantly His heart is desiring for His life testimony to be one of obedience.

That's what I desire my one-sentence biography to be.  So she did what the Lord had told her.  That's all that truly needs to be said.  Can it be said of you today?

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Everlasting

"The everlasting Father."  Isaiah 9:6

I had a new idea presented to me last week.  An interpretation of a Scripture verse that I had never thought of in this way before.

One of the four Bible studies I am currently involved in is Beth Moore's "The Patriarch's".  I am thoroughly enjoying the classes each week.  It's so great to be a participant instead of the facilitator for a change.

In our homework this week we read the passage in Genesis where Abraham called the Lord, the "Eternal God".  Beth then directed us to Ecclesiastes 3:11.  "...He has also set eternity in the hearts of men..."  She went on to explain her understanding of this verse.

I have always reasoned this verse to mean that the Lord has placed in His children a longing for heaven.  We are aware that this is not our home, and we have a desire for eternity when we will see Jesus and be welcomed into His presence forever.  Beth explained it a little differently.

If I'm comprehending correctly what Beth described, this verse is teaching that we have a longing inside to see things continue.  It's a passion for more.  It's hating hearing "the end".  We resist endings because of an inner heart longing for an "always and forever".

This concept resonated in me.  It's why I dislike seeing the credits begin at the completion of a wonderful movie.  It's why reading the last page of a beautiful story brings a sad parting.  It's what fuels the excitement for a "BFF".  It's why an evening with great friends and family seems to end too quickly.  All of these are birthed from an eternity in our hearts.

Beth writes that even the fight to live at the end of life with astonishing tenacity "originates neither in worldliness, selfishness, nor lack of faith."  Beth suggests it is birthed in our makeup.  We are wired to want to live.

There will come a day when this longing is satisfied.  Currently we live "in time", but our hearts are living for eternity.  We resist the end because we were meant to be without one.

One day our endless longings will be satisfied in our everlasting Father.



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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Giggling

This morning I had to do it.  I had to draw a smile in the margin of my Bible beside the verse I had just read.  I trust no one will find that completely and totally irreverent, but that's the kind of intimate relationship God and I share.

I was reading in 1 Corinthians 7.  Paul is teaching the principles of marriage and then gives a discourse to unmarried and widows.  I came to his closing verses, and honestly, I laughed.

"A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.  But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment - and I think I also have the Spirit of God."

Does that last phrase strike anyone else as funny?  I love Paul's personal opinion tossed in at no extra cost.  He not only throws in his thought on the matter, but backs his decision by saying, and just so you know, I think the Spirit of God agrees with me on this one.  :-)

I think it seemed extra humourous to me because recently I experienced a similar thing.  I had received a gift.  The lady giving it to me was expressing hope that I'd really enjoy it.  She knew it was the perfect gift, yet feared it might not be as meaningful to me.  So, just in case I might not appreciate it with the same fervour, she said, "I felt the Lord tell me to purchase this for you so if you don't like it, you don't like what the Lord has chosen."   Nothing like having the gift sanctioned by God.  What choice would I have now?  It just made me giggle inside.  Later when I showed the gift to my husband I told him he couldn't say anything against it, God had chosen it!

I'm having a bit of fun with this passage today and I hope you all don't mind.  Sometimes Scripture makes me chuckle.  Is there a verse that makes you laugh?  As long as we're not laughing in doubt or ridicule, I think the Lord is OK.  I imagine, like us, He might have even laughed at Himself sometimes.



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Monday, November 4, 2013

Removing "Yeast"

God's Word is not easy.

This morning I was reading in 1 Corinthians 5.  Paul, through the inspired Word of God, tells us to remove "yeast" and not keep company with someone who is eagerly greedy, uses abusive language, gets drunk, is sexually promiscuous, attains wealth through threats or misuse of authority, exploits others for personal gain or is an idolater.

That list at first glance seems easy to obey.  I mean, who's going to hang out with the likes of them?  But wait!  Paul says, I don't mean that you shouldn't have anything to do with people of the world who behave in such manners.  You'd need to leave the world entirely to do that!  We need to be a witness to those who have not yet received the Lord.  Paul is referring to brothers and sisters in the Lord who act in these ways.  He says do not keep company with them and then instructs further, "not even to eat with such a person." (1 Corinthians 5:11)

I don't know about you, but names come to mind.  Please understand, Paul is not talking about those whose lives were marked by these practices in the past but have been forgiven and redeemed from such activity, but he's referring to those who now claim to be children of God whose lifestyle hasn't changed.  The behavior above is still part of their habits.

I fear that too often in our desire to obey the command of loving everyone, times of correction and needed, wise confrontation never happen.

I have a sweet and precious friend who did not grow up in a Christian home.  I always enjoy spending time with her.  She did not know the Lord when I met her.  During the course of our friendship she accepted the Lord as her personal Lord and Savior.  One old way remained.  She would speak the Lord's Name in vain.

I'll never forget the day that very gently it was mentioned to her that speaking the Lord's Name in this way was sin.  She was completely broken.  She said she had no idea.  She had grown up with God's Name in everyday vocabulary.  She sobbed and sobbed.  She asked for forgiveness.  She said no-one had ever told her.  Through tears she asked, why hadn't anyone told her?  It truly was the most beautiful response of repentance, yet heart-aching as well.  She wished someone had just told her.

Not all correction goes that well.  Some resist.  Some deny.  Some find ways to justify.  Some refuse to accept or see.  Some excuse.  Some receive the warning, but continue in the sin.  God's Word then is hard, but clear.  Don't pretend you don't notice.  Don't ignore.  Don't hope it goes away on it's own.  Don't keep silent thereby condoning and accepting the continuing behavior.  If after the conduct is addressed and nothing changes, if there's no repentance or desire to walk in righteousness, the Lord says, do not keep company with them.  Do not even eat with such a person.

It's not a small thing.  Don't remain with the "yeast" or you too may become infected.



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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Nothings Wasted

Well, quite honestly, I thought it would be easier to stop!

For anyone reading my blog for the first time, yesterday I completed my goal of writing 31 days in a row.  Quite honestly, I was looking forward to a morning's rest.  It takes disciplined scheduling to get up early, spend time in God's Word, pray, then sit before this screen and write something that I pray is prompted and inspired by the Holy Spirit.  I truly was not expecting to be back this soon.  Yet, when God speaks, I feel such an urgency to share His Word.

Today I must choose which one of three possible directions to take.  I think what I'll do is share the short writing that has moved my heart deeply this morning from a book entitled, "Kept for the Master's Use", by Frances Ridley Havergal.  Since Sunday's are a day of rest, I may continue to choose to impart a Sabbath sharing on the Lord's Day of quotes or other readings that are so powerful my mere words couldn't do justice in the retelling.  I pray the following will speak as powerfully to you as it did to me.

Used by God

"But the Holy Spirit will come upon you 
and give you power.  Then you will tell everyone
about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria,
and everywhere in the world."
Acts 1:9 CEV

"We are not all called to be the King's ambassadors, but all who have heard the message of salvation for themselves are called to be 'the Lord's messengers,' and day by day, as He gives us opportunity, we are to deliver 'the Lord's message' unto the people.

He who made every power can use every power - memory, judgment, imagination, quickness of apprehension or insight; specialties of musical, poetical, oratorical, or artistic faculty; special tastes for reasoning, philosophy, history, natural science, or natural history - all these may be dedicated to Him, sanctified by Him, and used by Him.  Whatever H has given, He will use, if we will let Him.  Often, in the most unexpected ways, and at the most unexpected turns, something read or acquired long ago suddenly comes into use.

We cannot foresee what will thus 'come in useful'; but He knew, when He guided us to learn it, what would be wanted for in His service.  So may we not ask Him to bring His perfect foreknowledge to bear on all our mental training and storing?  To guide us to read or study exactly what He knows there will be use for in the work to which He has called or will call us?"

I was so blessed by that reading.  Is there something you have learned that you feel was quite a waste of time?  It is not.  If God led you to it, He will use it one day for His glory.  I loved that closing sentence.  So many days the exact verse someone is looking for later in the day, I have read that very morning and can share the reference with them.  God knew I was going to need that passage, maybe not directly for a truth requiring application to my life at that moment, but to be His channel for another that He knew He was placing in my path that day.  What if I hadn't had my time with the Lord?  I would have missed the thrill of being used to be His answer to a seeking heart.  Let's face it, it's not all about me...or you either.  

Blessed Sabbath



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Saturday, November 2, 2013

I Did It!!!

"What is not started today is never finished tomorrow." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Well...I made it!  Day 31 !!!  I committed to write a blog post for 31 days in a row, and today is the last day!  I have thoroughly enjoyed being more intentional again with my writing, and I absolutely love how the Lord gave me something daily to share with you all.  I always wrote first thing in the morning, right after my quiet time with the Lord.  It has brought back so many memories from 2009 when I shared here every day as a form of accountability.  WOW...how did I do that?  That was 365 posts!

So, what happens now?  Quite honestly I don't know.  I know I have two readers, and they have been so encouraging. Thank you for your faithful comments.  I also know there are days when my fingers can't type as fast as my thoughts flow.  There are times that I am overwhelmed with such a compulsion to write that my heart is racing until I'm able to release His words in me.

Is blogging discouraging?  Yes...often.  Some days I think the Lord has impressed such an urgent message on my heart to share, and He appears to be the only One who sees my obedience.  Then I question...Lord, why?  Those days have become special.  They are the days He is sharing sacred secrets with me.

Other times I see or hear of bloggers who receive such following, input and advancement and I wonder what are they doing differently?  Yes, some comparison creeps in, but for consideration and teaching.  What are they doing that is drawing readers to return?  What can I learn from them?  I don't want to ever write here in competition, but in compliment.  God has given many of us a similar message, but we reach a different audience.

I know I have a very small social media following, and quite honestly, it takes time to develop connection with others in "blog world".  My priority is face-to-face so no doubt that limits the time it takes to make consistent networking relationships.   I don't want to be responding to you just to get my presence out there and my name seen.  I respond when heart meets heart and Jesus speaks to me through His Spirit expressed in His Words.

I also realize it's not all about statistics and numbers.  I often think of the gift I'm giving to family for generations to come.  Great-great-great grandchildren will one day read a legacy of faith lived generations ago, and precious children,  Lord willing, be encouraged and blessed by an old lady who even prays for them now.

So friends, I don't know what the plan is tomorrow, but God does.  I will wait on Him for direction.  Thank You for giving me the gift of your time, a precious commodity.  You have blessed me.


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Friday, November 1, 2013

Watching and Waiting


"Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors."  Proverbs 8:34

The anticipation of his arrival.  The excitement.  It was almost time.  Clock watching.  Window peering.  Any second now the car should be appearing.  Suddenly my eyes caught sight of the one for whom I'd been waiting.  With a squeal of delight accompanying the sound of running footsteps, I hurried to swing open the door.  In just a moment I would be giggling with delight, held in the arms of the one I was longing to see.  Daddy's home.

This memory flooded back this morning as I read the verse from Proverbs.  Watching daily at the gates.  Waiting at the doors.  Every afternoon it was the same.  The expectancy never waned.  It never became routine or tiresome.  Neither did the pleasure found in the moment of first sight.  Happiness swells in my heart even now as I close my eyes and relive the absolute elation of welcoming daddy home.

Am I as eager each day to see Jesus?  I'm not so much speaking of His return to earth, although certainly we are to be watching for Him, but what about His presence in our daily lives?  How would watching at the gates and waiting at the door posts look today?

I love the way "The Message" has reframed this verse.  "Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listen to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day's work."

Do you start your day with anticipation of 'seeing' the Lord?  We see Him primarily in His Word.  Are you daily spending time with Him?  Are you "awake and ready", "alert and responsive" to God's activity around you?  In the Bible Study, "Experiencing God" by Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King, the student of God's Word is reminded that God is always at work.  The tragedy lies in encountering Him daily, yet failing to recognize Him.  We don't recognize Him because we don't really know Him, nor are we actively looking for Him.  We've neglected the time it takes to watch at the gates and wait at the doors.

Today I want to be awake and ready, alert and responsive.  Lord, fill my heart with an even greater passion to watch and wait.  Renew my excitement as I pull back the curtains of complacency and anticipate the sound of Your footsteps in my life today.

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Undivided

"Is Christ divided?"  1 Corinthians 1:13a

Growing up I was never certain which church I'd be attending each Sunday.  With my dad "filling the gap" when Pastors were ill or on vacation, we traveled together as a family and that found us here, there and everywhere.  The denomination might change, but not the message of salvation.

At a very young age I learned about the "body of Christ".  Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am not a "denominational" girl.  If God's complete Word is being taught without apology, then I can feel at home in a variety of congregations.  That's why what I heard recently made me so happy.

Our church building is bursting at the seams.  During our summer Vacation Bible School all our rooms fill and fire regulations dictate attendance. On Tuesday nights our Kids Clubs are met with the same room restriction.  Women's Bible Studies are meeting in small groups scattered throughout the building.  Every nook and cranny is utilized.  Space is a lost commodity.

Recently it has come to my attention that our "overflow" is meeting in churches across the street from our location.  We are situated on "church corner" for lack of a better description.  Baptist, Wesleyan Methodist, Alliance and United Pentecostal mark each direction.  The need for more room was shared and doors were opened.  I can't tell you how this blesses my heart.  This his how it should be!

With Jesus Christ the Head of the church, as believers we are His body...singular. To see and hear us all working together in unity speaks volumes about our relationship with the Lord, as well as declares to a watching world that in Jesus we can all serve beside one another in love.

Christ is not divided, and neither should we be.


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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The "Again" of God

"...'I will bring them home again,' says the LORD."  Hosea 11:11

Lord, there is still time to intervene.

This morning my heart is with precious friends.  Their 21-year old daughter will be moving out today, deciding to live with her boyfriend.  How did it happen?  When did her heart begin to turn?  She loved Jesus as a little girl.

Another single mom shared yesterday that it was her daughter's 18th birthday.  She hasn't seen her in two years.  The young girl moved out at 16, and in tears this dear mom shared that she has no idea where her daughter is living right now.

A couple in their late 60's continue to cry and pray for the son that wandered from the Lord many years ago.  He is living a life of sin, yet was raised in a Christian home where God was the center.  What caused him to walk away?

My words are few today.  Let's get on our knees and pray.  I'm sure everyone reading this has either heard a similar story, or you've living the painful scenario right now.  Please, let's not stand in a place of judgement over these dear ones...the children or the parents.  We have all fallen.  We all have the same potential to fail.  The same enemy is watching our weaknesses.  The same arrow stands ready to shoot and our armor had better be in place.

Wounded soldiers need help.  Bearing another's burdens means standing with them in the mess.  Let's get in the trenches, providing the safety they need of a listening ear and a heart and tongue that doesn't condemn.

And, dear ones who are weary in this walk, you don't have to carry it alone.  Allow the family of God opportunity to minister to you.  Please, in the comments today, either just write "Praying" or leave the first name of someone who has wandered from the Lord and let's pray for one another.  God is able.  His Word says, "I will bring them home again."

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Unrequited Love

I honestly couldn't believe what I was seeing.  I was both stunned and heart-sick at the same time.

The Pastor had just challenged us from God's Word to love one another.  The new commandment had raised the bar.  This was a different measure of love.   It was no longer just enough to love others as we love ourselves (Romans 13:9), but now we are called to love as Christ loved (John 13:34).  This is radical, intentional, sacrificial love.

Drawing the sermon to a close, as an immediate response and act of love, we were asked to stand, reach out and take hold of the hand of the person standing on either side of us while the Pastor closed in prayer.  All across the sanctuary the body of Christ was coming together as one.  Brothers and sisters were uniting in the bond of love.  Until...

In the row ahead of me a precious lady reached out to take hold of the hand of the one beside her.  She was met with a wall.  Not only was a receptive hand not extended in response, but this one to her right, stood untouched, both by human contact and God's Word.  Resistance was written across the body language.  The hand extended was not acknowledged or accepted.

With a pitiful, "I don't know what to do" look, this sweet lady glanced back at me.  She tried again.  Nothing.  At this point I wish I could have grown a third hand.  The Pastor began to pray, and quite honestly I couldn't tell you what he said.  My heart was broken.  Shattered for the dear one who tried applying God's Word, and aching for the one denying His Word.

If seconds after hearing truth, while still sitting in church pews we can remain unaffected, how on earth can we live out God's Word in the world?  How are others going to see Christ's love if we can't even extend His love to those in the body of Christ?  You know what hurts too?  I know both these people.  It was so hard for my mind to wrap around what I was watching take place in front of me.  Have some of us become so set in our ways that even God Himself couldn't penetrate our stubborn hearts?

In absolute stunned silence, I prayed the Lord would take the hand of the one met with unrequited love.   Jesus knows exactly how she felt.  His nail-scarred hands reached out on the cross to take the hand of a lost world.  His hand still reaches out today.  I'm reaching back in response.  How about you?

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Celebrating Mom!

"Let's celebrate together!"  Matthew 25:21,23

It's a day of celebration.  My precious mother turns 88 years of age today.

When I think of my mom, so many words come to mind.  Loving.  Prayerful.  Disciplined.  Faithful.  Devoted.  Caring.  Giving.  Self-sacrificing.  Gracious.  Hospitable.  Tender-hearted.  Gentle.  Encouraging.  Supportive.  Godly.

Her life has changed a lot in the past year.  She has gone from taking care of her house with her precious husband for just shy of 70 years, to selling the family home, moving into a long-term care facility and the passing of her Prince Charming.  She has done so with a strength that has been incredible to all walking with her.  A strength that will continue to carry her into this next year of living.  A strength that only comes through her personal Lord and Savior.

Shortly after daddy passed away she declared to me one day, "I am not going to sit here, shrivel up and die."  No, mom has no intention of fading into the background.  She has prayed that the Lord would make her "faithful in the land of her affliction" and is living, as my sister would say, in A.W.E. - "aging with enthusiasm"!

Mom attends exercise classes, Senior Saint luncheons, monthly Mission Circle meetings, as well as most recently registering for 2 hours of weekly Conversational French Lessons.  In addition to all of this, we have joked that the nursing home could retire a few of it's full-time staff since mom's arrival.  She sweetly encourages others who have lost their appetite, to eat.  She looks after some of the lesser needs of the ladies on her floor.  She spends time with those who don't receive visitors.  She often has some small treats that bring a smile to those going through a difficult day. She always shares Jesus in Word and deed.

With the simple act of hiding her face in her hands, daily mom enters her "prayer closet".  Her life may be reduced to one-room living, but from her chair, with eyes closed, she prays for the needs of many, including her own.  Mom has always been a prayer warrior.  As long as I can remember, mom has been rising each morning by 4:00am to spend time with her Lord, studying His Word and lifting her family and loved ones to Him in prayer.  Her days begin and end with prayer.  Unable to kneel, her heart still bows before His throne each day.  It's our heart posture the Lord is most concerned about anyway.

Today will bring mixed feelings and emotion.  Mom's first birthday since the passing of daddy.  A difficult day for us all.  Dad always made every day special and his presence will be missed, but we are thankful for so many memories. Daddy would most often surprise mom on her birthday by scheduling the day off work and taking her out to some grand place for breakfast, then a day of shopping at one of her favourite out-of-town malls.  Although I would never have called my dad a shopper, he adored my mom and enjoyed being with her, even if that meant spending time in and out of stores.  Both my parents are expert window shoppers and holding hands they would spend millions of dollars, mostly on others, as they enjoyed imagining how they would bless friends and family should they have the resources.  Yes, daddy would have made today special.

So, it's up to us daughters!  Keeping up tradition, mom will indeed head out for breakfast and then we will see how she would like to spend the remainder of her day.  No doubt some cake will be involved.  I will celebrate the gift of my precious mom today.

For those of you reading this who are blessed to still have your mom living, as a gift to my mom, will  you contact you mom today and just tell her you love her?  Then, come back here and let us know you did. I will share that blessing with my mom.  If your mom has passed away, would you leave a comment of blessing for my mom today?  She will receive it in honour and representative for the precious life your mom lived.  I know it's not Mother's Day, but let's celebrate moms today!


My sister Japhia is to the left, then mom, my sister Sharon and me.

PS.  I have to share one more thing.  After writing this, I opened up the Devotional Journal I use daily and the heading for today was "The Blessings of Aging".  No one can ever convince me that God is not 100% aware of every moment of every day!  That is not a coincidence!  Can't wait to share that with my mom :-)

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Guide Us With Your Grace

Well, a little change of pace today.  First, if you haven't read yesterday's incredible story about a little girl named Grace and our amazing God, click here: "Saving Grace"  It's too great a story to miss.  Do you need a miracle?  God is still doing miracles today!

Friday night my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.  The actual date was almost two weeks ago, but our tickets for the Josh Groban concert were this weekend.  We had such a wonderful evening out together.


I have always enjoyed Josh Groban's voice, even when I can't understand one word he's singing.  Italian is such a romantic language. 

Just in case you aren't familiar with Josh, enjoy the video below. Josh and Celine sing a duet of "The Prayer", written by Canadian composer, David Foster, the man who first "discovered" Josh at the age of 17.  Enjoy!



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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Saving Grace

"If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."  Matthew 18:19

It was less than a month ago I received the first email.  A friend had forwarded a prayer request regarding a precious little girl named Grace.  Only 7 years of age and diagnosed with a malignant form of cancer called "Ewings Sarcoma".  Only 1 in 2,000,000 people develop this type of cancer.  By the time Doctors were able to confirm her condition it had already metastasized to various areas in her body, including her clavicle (collar bone), ankle, heel, toes, and under her left arm, as well as some other potential places.

The message contained a request to help cheer up Gracie.  "She loves rainbows and dolphins, friends and family, special cards, glittery girl things, and the colour pink.  She also loves Jesus with all her heart."

Folks responded from all around the world.  There was an outpouring of gifts, cards, letters, emails, phone calls and prayers.The support and encouragement received was a testament of God's love.  Although feeling total devastation at times, and running on very little sleep, the Lord was holding this dear family as they walked this difficult road.

This past Monday I received an update that more biopsy results would be read at the end of the week.  Grace's mom was encouraged by a friend to pray the tumors down and out.  Believing in a God who answers us when we call to Him, we were all asked to stand with this family, asking God for a miracle for Gracie.

Many began calling on the Lord to remove the tumors and restore health, that the Lord may be glorified through His healing of this little child.  Grace's parents recognized that the healing might mean heaven, but they were confident God would heal Grace.

Last night I received an email from my friend who knows this family personally and has been forwarding the updates to me.  All she wrote in her message to me was: "Well Joy, you will enjoy this!"  I knew instantly!

With enthusiasm and a heart already thanking and praising the Lord I began to read evidence of what my heart already knew.  This precious family had just received a phone call from the pathologist at Sick Kids Hospital.  They had the most recent biopsy results and all were NEGATIVE of any cancer!!!  In fact, as Grace's mom writes, the pathologist "cannot detect the problem at all.  PRAISE THE LORD!!!"

Grace's mom then continued to share how just recently she and her husband had been called to take some very radical steps of obedience to follow Jesus.  She describes both she and her husband as having been "intellectual Christians", studying God's Word with their minds, but not applying it to their hearts.  In April the Lord deeply convicted Grace's mom to quit attending law school and stay home full-time with her children.  Next came a move from the United States to Canada.  She and her husband began studying God's Word, repenting and obeying Him in radical ways.  Does God honour obedience?  Most definitely.

Skeptics may say that Grace never had cancer at all.  Some may claim the original test results were wrong.  Friends, this was a little girl who less than a month ago couldn't walk normally because of a large tumor on her ankle.  A little girl unable to swim because of the golf-ball sized tumor on her clavicle.  Today...Grace is running!!  Praise the Lord!  This is a miracle.  God's healing in Gracie's life.

I cannot say it any better than Grace's mom:

"We have seen many children in severe health situations while we were at the hospital.  We also have family members who are experiencing life-threatening disease, and we have friends, and friends of friends who are experiencing life-threatening cancers and disease.  Dear friends and family - by no means are we beneficiaries of a 'special' grace from God, and others are not.  We believe all prayers of healing are answered.  We believe that some prayers are answered right away, some take time, and others will happen on resurrection day.  However, everyone who prays for healing in His name will experience it at a time appointed by God alone.  We cannot even begin to understand His almighty works and ways, and why He does things, but what we CAN do is glorify Him in our lives, every day, all day!

Just like with the children of Israel that wandered through the desert and from time to time turned away from His statutes and His commandments, and worshipped Baal, etc., let us remember that they had to TURN AWAY from the idols in their lives, and follow Him, to experience temporal and eternal blessings!  The promised-land for them was Canaan, and the promised-land for us is Heaven.  So today, whatever is blocking us from a deep and true relationship with God, let us turn away, and follow Him!  Let us take up our cross, and follow Him!  Let us also be burden-bearers and help those around us!"

To anyone who wants to explain this away, here's the answer: God answers prayer!  Miracles happen!  God is alive!  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Grace may have been 1 in 2,000,000 but we have a God who denies statistics and I thank Him for His saving grace.

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