God’s Word and Love Endure Forever

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136

In the early 1900s, my dad’s grandfather bought the Virginia farm pictured above. On the property is a historic home built in 1790. Over the hundreds of years, many lives have come and gone, withered and fallen. What did their day look like? Perhaps, after a long day of farming, by candlelight, they read the Bible and learned of the love of Jesus, His wisdom for daily living and placed their trust in Him.

I’m so thankful that I have the enduring Word of God to read, glean, be instructed and encouraged by especially on difficult days. I have felt like withering grass and that my petals are falling off. I’ve been distressed by those hurting around me (Romans 12:15). I’ve cried out to God to help me be stronger to be able to encourage them. Yet, it’s difficult to encourage when you yourself feel discouraged.

Unfortunately, discouragement can keep us from God. The further away from God we become, the easier it is for sin and discouragement to fill the void. Our lives, like the grass, withers. It is at times like this, that I choose to soak in God’s Word. I don’t just sip on His water, I gulp it in. His word is refreshing and renewing, healing and energizing (Psalm 51:10 and Colossians 3:10).

No matter what circumstances we are facing, let’s not forget that God’s Word and love endures forever.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You are the only One who can truly give life. I am so thankful for those You placed in my life to lead me to You. Bless their lives and if any shall have withered, renew them to continue encouraging others. Please help us all to be courageous encouragers. It is by Your love and strength alone that I write. May it be honoring to You and encouraging to those who read this. In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

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Waiting For Jesus

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the Archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

Waiting for Christmas day was excruciating when I was a child. My siblings and I knew the joy that awaited us and we would often recount them to each other in the month of December.

We would wake up early, eager to begin the day with a few special gifts before our Christmas breakfast of scrambled eggs and warm cinnamon rolls. However we were not allowed downstairs until our father knew the time was just right. At his signal we would burst upon the scene in our living room and then stand transfixed as we gazed at the splendor before us.

The beautifully lit tree, the smell of fresh evergreen boughs and the many sparkling presents held us in silence and awe for at least 10 seconds. Then the thrill and excitement of the day would overcome us, as we began to laugh and talk and dance around the room. Oh what a day it would be!

Extended family would arrive, and the game playing would begin. From board games to cards, we loved them all. After a wonderful early dinner we would gather around the tree to open gifts. This was a slow process as each person’s gift was recognized and appreciated by all.

But truly the greatest gift of the day was just being together with loved ones and celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus.

Waiting for Christmas day is just like waiting for Jesus to return. We know there is great joy ahead for us, but we must wait until our Heavenly Father deems the time is right. At His signal we will burst upon the splendor of heaven and stand in awe and silence as we gaze upon the beauty of our Savior Jesus.

Then we will begin to laugh and talk and dance as extended loved ones also arrive. The Lord will recognize each one of us and reward us for the good that we have done while on earth.

And the greatest joy of heaven will be abiding in the presence of the Lord and with our family and loved ones forever. In heaven, Christmas day will never end.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, oh what a great day that will be, when we arrive in heaven! Help us encourage each other while we wait, and remember the great joys that lay ahead for us. We love you Lord. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

For further reading: 1 Thessalonians 4

We are God’s Purposeful Masterpiece

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

Several years ago I had the chance to travel to Chicago with my husband on two separate business trips. Each time, I visited a new section of the city; the zoo, the shops in the city, the river, and the pier. However, on both occasions, I absolutely had to go to the Art Institute of Chicago.

I have studied classic artists as well as dabbled in creating fine arts myself. I can analyze art for hours especially scenes that invite me into their world such as Georges Seurat A Sunday on La Grande Jatte as seen above. I have always been so curious as to why there is a monkey with the dogs. Did Seurat actually see a pet monkey or did he add that in for viewers to pause and wonder?

At first glance, one might not think the artwork is extraordinary, yet if you look closely at the original, the viewer will see layers of lines and dots in complementary colors that create the shapes of the people, animals, and nature. Each dot or stroke of the brush was purposely positioned.

We have a loving Creator who carefully designed his people. To others, we might seem ordinary, yet through Him, we are a masterpiece created to do good things that bring honor to Him. Like being kind and loving to one another, sharing each other’s burdens, and praying for those who do not yet know Him.

Take a moment to pray for someone and thank God for the wonderful masterpiece that they are!

May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth! Psalm 115:15

Prayer: Dear Lord, I look around and see many hurting people. They need you, Lord. May many see the Truth this season as we celebrate the birth of Christ, who came to save all. In His precious name, Jesus. Amen.

For further reading: Ephesians 2

Coming Home

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So, he returned home to his father, and while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion he ran to his son embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:17

The autumn season with all its beautiful changing colors, makes me think of apple cider, foggy mornings, jean jackets, pumpkin spice lattes and coming home. When I was in college I loved to come home in the fall. Being away meant constant new challenges; educationally and spiritually, and by the end of my first month at college I felt drained and lonely (even though I was surrounded by people). Coming home reminded me, who I was and who loved me.

I heard a story about a farmer whose son went off to college. The father was concerned about the atheistic teaching his son would be exposed to while there and sure enough when his son returned home for a visit he was struggling with his faith in God.

As they were conversing one day under an oak tree, the son suddenly blurted out, “Dad, I just can’t believe in God anymore. Why, look at those pumpkins over there on the ground. They are big and heavy yet have small and tender vines.”

“But, this big oak tree, capable of supporting the weight of the pumpkins, only produces teeny acorns. If there really was an intelligent God of this universe, he would’ve placed the pumpkins on this oak tree, and the teeny acorn on the fragile vine.”

Suddenly an acorn fell from the tree, bouncing lightly off the top of the young man’s head. As the truth slowly dawned, he sheepishly spoke, “Dad, thank God that was not a pumpkin.”

Throughout our lifetime we have moments when we question God. Are you real Lord? Do you care for me? We have periods of time we walk in the ways of the world, like the prodigal son, separated from his father by sin.

Whatever it may be, I urge you to come home to God today. Seek His presence, His forgiveness, His love and companionship. Get a hot spiced pumpkin latte and sit down with your Heavenly Father for a nice visit. He’s waiting for you to come home.

Prayer: I miss you Father. I want to come home to stay. I love you. Amen.

Made New

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You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”      Ephesians 4:22-24

One of my sons got a new white sweatshirt and decided to wear it to his grandpa’s to sell Christmas trees, although we recommended that he not because it would most likely get dirty. When he came home the next day, he had this big grin on his face as he said, “Well, you know how you and dad said not to wear my white sweatshirt because it might get dirty? Ummm, well, here it is mom, you’ll need to wash it.” Oh, boys will be boys!

This same son went to a youth group retreat a month or so ago and came home with the same type of grin when he said, “Mom, I kinda spilled my hot chocolate on my white hoodie. Can you spray it with something and wash it?” Both white pieces of clothing required two washes with Spray N Wash to get the stains out. When my son saw that it was washed, he was so happy that he immediately put on the clean sweatshirt. 

God wants us to be washed clean from our sin to no longer live like our old sinful stained self and to happily put on our new self. Through His Word and the Holy Spirit, He lovingly warns us about our sin. Yet, He made a way for us to easily turn to Him for forgiveness. When we confess our sins, He washes us completely clean and we are made new.

We are washed clean through the blood of Jesus. God no longer remembers our sin (Hebrews 8:12)! Do we truly understand that He has fully washed us clean, no longer remembers our stains and created us to be like Him in true righteousness and holiness? When we grasp this truth, we will overflow with relief, happiness and joy, so much that, we will desire to share Him with others. 

Prayer: Dear Father, thank You for forgiving and forgetting our sins. What joy it brings knowing that You see us as righteous and holy. Please take our stained lives and wash them clean for Your glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

For further reading: Ephesians 4

Overflowing Thankfulness

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38

My sister Debbie stood in line at Dollar Tree with her granddaughter Ava, waiting to pay for the items they had picked up for Samaritans Purse. They had gathered needed essentials for two operation Christmas Child boxes.

As they waited they observed the woman in front of them. She looked as if she had fallen on hard times, with her shabby coat and worn shoes. The woman turned to smile at them and they noticed she had several teeth missing, but her happy mood was what kept them watching her.

At the end of her purchase, she said to the clerk, “I would also like to pay for the customers purchases behind me”. Debbie was taken off guard, and tried to tell the lady that it was OK, that she didn’t have to do that, but the woman was insistent.

With a big smile and joy radiating from her entire body, she clapped her hands and said, “Please let me pay for your purchase! I just got a job as a caretaker, and I am so thankful to God, I want to pay it forward.”

Debbie humbly thanked the woman as they gathered up their purchases and headed to the car. On the way home 12 year old Ava wanted to keep talking about what had happened. She couldn’t believe that someone that appeared so needy herself would share what little she had with a complete stranger.

Is that what real thankfulness looks like? That you are so filled up with the goodness and mercy of God that it overflows to others. It was a beautiful outpouring to witness and a lesson they would not soon forget.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all the blessings you have poured out on us over the years. Help us to be thankful people, full of joy, that long to share your goodness with others. For truly our greatest gift has always been you, Jesus. In your name we pray. Amen.

For further reading: Luke 6

Homesick for Heaven

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3

There are many things in life that are difficult; losing a loved one is by far the most heartbreaking. Almost three years ago, my father in love, Louis, passed away and has been in his eternal home of Heaven. Louis was a builder, among many other things. We like to think that he is in Heaven building our rooms in our Father’s home.

Those of us left behind, miss him. His wife, Violet, grieves daily. She spent 70 years with him. She often says that she can’t wait to be with him and Jesus. Yes, she will miss us here, but she prays for Jesus to bring her home.

I recently heard someone say, “In a way, all Christians are [homesick], because our home is with Jesus. Even though He’s always with us in our lives now, we can’t see Him face-to-face. But one day we will, either when we die or when He returns and makes everything right. Then all those who know Him will be able to live with Him together.”

Such a comforting and encouraging thought.

Prayer: Lord, thank You that You are with us always and we can turn to You in times of sorrow and times of joy. Please comfort us and give us peace today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For further reading: John 14

Sinful Choices

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, “Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are.” 1 Chronicles 21:1-2

Our sinful choices have far-reaching consequences, they do not just affect us.

David’s counting of his army was a great sin before the Lord, even Joab, David’s commander of the army knew this. The Lord did not want his leaders to count their soldiers, for then they would rely on their great numbers of men, instead of the Lord to win their victories.

For whether there are many or few, success is always in the Lords hands.

70,000 men of Israel died, because of David’s sinful decision. The more power and influence you hold, The more people you will effect.

From small choices too big, our actions have consequences that touch the lives of others. We may like to think we can do whatever we want, that it’s no one else’s business and it has nothing to do with them, but that’s not true.

We are social people, we do not live in a vacuum. Our decisions directly affect those closest to us and then have out reaching consequences as the ripple effect continues to spread outward.

Bounce your thoughts and actions off the Word of God. Is this something the Lord would have me do? From hurtful comments to adultery, and laziness to abuse, our sinful actions affect others.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, show me how to live with others in mind. Guard my tongue from hurtful words and my mind from evil temptations. Help me to live each day focused on how to please you, instead of myself and then I can know my actions won’t cause others pain. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Considerate Peacemakers

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18

Right now, right as you read this, what is on your heart? Are you frustrated because of the current political climate? Are you fearful because of the pandemic? Are you depressed because of isolation, loss of a job, or a loved one? Are you anxious about your health? What is weighing you down?

Seek God and His wisdom through prayer and by reading the Bible. Scripture reveals how we should respond to our circumstances and to others: be patient, considerate, pure, impartial, peaceful, show mercy, and be sincere. We can accomplish this by trusting God and knowing that He is in control. His grace will guide us to help one another and to show His love to a hurting world.

Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Philippians 4:5

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for hearing our prayers and caring for each individual. As we remember that you are coming soon, help us to be considerate peacemakers in all that we do. In Jesus’ name. Amen

For further reading: James 3

Running The Race Called Life

Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Psalm 119:33–34

My husband and I like to watch the reality TV show Amazing Race. Teams of two travel around the world, competing in challenges that relate to each country. They get instructions at each pitstop of what they must do, and then they complete the task as quickly as possible. Inevitably, the teams that don’t read the instructions well, get eliminated. They either read them too fast, think they already know what to do or forget some of the details. This makes a huge difference in finishing well.

The show made me think about how important it is for believers to read the Bible. I have heard the Bible described as an acronym that I thought was appropriate – Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

The Bible teaches us who God is who we are and how to live a life that glorifies Him. What does God value? What should we be doing? What makes a difference in heaven and how do we finish well?

We must read God’s instructions carefully. Not too quickly, and not thinking we already know what the Lord would have us do. We need God’s word daily, because we forget the details. We need to read thoughtfully and thoroughly, seeking God’s intentions and apply them to our lives.

Believers in Jesus Christ want to finish well. We long to hear our Lord say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Read your Bible, dwell on the words of truth, and you will do well in this race called life.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your personal instructions and guidance for us, through the Bible. Help us to read your Word daily, so we can be confident and joyful when we stand before you in heaven. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For further reading: Ephesians 4:17-32