“Beauty For Ashes!”

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Messed up.

Tore up.

Jacked up.

Crazy!

 

Upside down.

Turned around.

Mind blown.

Thoughts, hazy!

 

Life crashes.

Dreams smashes.

Walls cave.

Crumbled messes!

 

Hope gone.

Pressure on.

What now?

Lord blesses!

 

Picked up.

Restored again.

Enemies –

God smashes!

 

Joy back.

Despair sacked.

Exchanged now,

Beauty for ashes!

 

“To give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness . . .,” Isaiah 61:3

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Glass of Water

Tired from holding on to the hurt, stress and worries of this life? Learn to put the glass down. Don’t know what I am talking about? Click here to read more.

Morning Story and Dilbert

Morning Story and Dilbert Vintage Dilbert
June 26, 2006

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of…

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“What Ever Happened to Thank You?”

My Project 238-001

 

The city I live has been declared as one of the cities with some of the rudest drivers.  I’d have to admit that this is very true.  Riding home the highway the other day I let a driver pass in front of me.  The driver proceeded and then drove on as if no one had done anything for them.  No hand gesture of thanks, a nod or anything.

This isn’t the first time this has occurred (and this isn’t the only act of rudeness shown, hence how we got the title of a rude city for drivers).  It seems that common courtesy is a lost art among many today.  A simple thank you goes a long way (not that’s our purpose for doing things for people).  It shows that one appreciate even the simplest act of kindness one is shown.  I believe if it is expressed more often our world would be a better place to live.

Why is so hard to show one’s thankfulness over anything in life?  I have always believed that no one HAS to do anything for you and if they do, then one should express it with a heart of gratitude.

With this in mind my heart focused on Jesus and the time when He healed the ten lepers:

“Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.  Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.  And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’  So when He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’  And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and feel down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks.  And he was a Samaritan.  So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed?  But where are the nine?  Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’” (Luke 17:11-18, NKJV)

A miracle had been done for the ten; something that seemed impossible was made possible through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Their direful situation was healed and now, because of His blessings over their lives, they could resume normal societal activities and functions, for now they were made whole again.

Yet, only one seemed to appreciate it enough to say, “Thank you.”  How sad is that.  In their desperateness they cried out for mercy and our Lord being the compassionate Savior He is, rescued them and showed the mercy they humbly sought.  But, after their healing that humility seemed to have quickly faded as they went forth in life as if no one had done anything for them.

There is a great danger in forgetting to be thankful, especially when it comes to recognizing the great work that God has done in our lives.  Jesus appeared a little shocked that only one recognized the marvelous thing that was just done for them, recognizing it enough to show appreciation anyway.

When one fails to appreciate what is done for them they of themselves can begin to get prideful.  Simply refusing to acknowledge that there was outside help to raise them out of a situation can make one think they have delivered themselves of their own accord and power.  Being thankful means being grounded.  It is recognizing that we don’t have it all together as we think we do and we need the assistance of another to help along the way.

Jesus didn’t have to stop and help them, but He did.  The human side of me wants to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe they were too excited that they forgot to come back and say thank you.  But, I can’t because even if that were the case, Jesus explicitly pointed out their refusal to come back with an attitude of gratitude.  To Jesus, there was no excuse or it would not have been recorded in the Bible this way.

Twice in Colossians 3 we are commanded to be thankful.  Verse 15 says, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful,” (emphasis mine, NKJV).  Also, verse 17 commands, “And what you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him,” (emphasis mine, NKJV).

1 Thessalonians 5:18 makes it super easy for everyone to understand if they should ever wonder if the situation calls for being thankful.  It says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” (NKJV).

How much kinder would the world be if we were all a little more appreciative to all that has been done for us?  How much would God love to hear from you and I a simple, “Thank you,” throughout the day, showing Him our appreciation for the events He has covered us in our lives by His sovereignty?

God is so gracious to us; let us not take Him for granted.  We may slight our fellow man once in a while (which we also need to continually watch out for and learn to do better), but don’t slight God.  Give Him His due.  Is it really that hard to simply stop during the busyness of our day and say, “Thank you?”  Does it really cause us that much extra work to simply acknowledge what has been done for you and me with an attitude of gratitude?

What ever happened to thank you?  Each of us can make an impact on our society by ushering in kindness many have seemed to have forgotten.  Let us bring politeness back as being popular and do away with rudeness.  Most importantly, let us NEVER forget or take for granted what God has done for us.  “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness,” (Lamentations 3:22-23, NKJV).

When the leper’s cried out for mercy, Jesus thought about them and healed them.  God bless us with new mercy every single day.  Let’s not forget to thank Him for that and live a life that is appreciative of all that He has done for us.

“Keep Your Eyes on Jesus!”

God wants us to step out into extraordinary living. By keeping our eyes on Jesus we can do the impossible.

Word For Life Says...

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Matthew 14:30-31 Wallpaper
“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying Lord, save me,” Matthew 14:30

There was a point in Matthew 14 where the disciples were not sure if the image they were seeing was actually the Lord. Finding out that it was Him, in a move of boldness, Peter requested, “Bid me come unto thee on the water,” (vs. 28).  Jesus’ response – “Come!” (vs.29).

How difficult, had we not known this familiar story, would it have been for us to get out of that boat and venture to do the impossible?  I mean – really?!  People are not known for walking on water, which is one of the reasons, they originally thought Jesus was a spirit (vs. 26).  Watching Jesus take command over what normally cannot be subdued, moved something inside of Peter to do what Jesus did.

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“Why Are We Fighting One Another?”

My Project 236-001

 

Yesterday was Father’s Day; a time to celebrate the dads is our lives and to give them honor for their service to their families.  Yesterday was also the day, on this very occasion, that my family and I went to a restaurant, one that we had never been to before to celebrate my husband.  What happened when we arrived kind of blew my mind.

After arriving the first hostess asked us whether we wanted to be seated outside or inside.  Since we were by the water and the day wasn’t terribly hot we thought outside seating would be nice so that we could watch the boats come in and out of the harbor.  She then proceeded to direct us to the outside seating host.  This is where our pleasant day turned unpleasant.

The outside host asked us how many and we told him five.  Looking to a member of our party who was dressed in his military uniform, the host began to take cheap jabs at him; asking him don’t you want to come over to our branch of the military?  He politely stated no.  After another attempt and another no, this host then turned to other customers and started to make a derogatory remark concerning the branch of the military the member in our party was representing as opposed to his.

Needless to say, we were all pretty dumbfounded at this arrogant and rude host.  Here, we came to this restaurant to eat and one of the members of our party, unprovoked, gets verbally attacked by the employee who is supposed to be serving us just because he is in a different branch of the military than he.  It was a bit unsettling for a time when we were supposed to be celebrating.

This got me to thinking how often we do this in the church.  How often are we found fighting amongst ourselves, in our own congregations or even with different denominations because they serve differently than we do?

John, the disciple of Jesus said one day, “Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we fobade him, because he followeth not with us.  And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us,” (Luke 9:49-50).

Instead of rebuking the one who was accused that “he followeth not with us,” Jesus set the record straight among His own disciples that they should not be focusing on some sort of reason for division, for Jesus said, “For he that is not against us is for us.”

Too often great emphasis is put on how one group may do things differently as opposed to another group or how one may work that gift that God has given them over another.  One may not care for the way another does something for God’s kingdom but Jesus Himself said, “For he that is not against us is for us.”  If he or she is working to build up the kingdom of God, don’t forbid them just because they are not following what you are doing.  Don’t forbid them just because they are not in your clique.  Don’t forbid them because they worship differently than you do.

There is no room for division in the body of Christ.  There is no room for in-fighting amongst the members of God’s family.  The Apostle Paul put it like this by saying, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12).

In 1 Corinthians 1:12-13, attempting to squash division, Paul said, “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”

Over and over again we see the Bible proclaim unity among God’s people and division to be put away with.  Jesus Himself prayed, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou has sent me,” (John 17:21).  Is this why the world can’t see the Christ in us and believe because there is too much in-fighting?  Does our rejection of another who “followeth not with us,” push the world away from believing in the Christ whom we proclaim?

In regard to the Scriptures and Jesus’ own prayer, I would have to say, “Yes.”  Let us learn from our Lord and say, “For he that is not against us is for us;” and let us work to build up God’s kingdom together.  We are all fighting in the same war.  Let’s edify one another and not tear down.

“Know Real Love!”

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Photo Credit: Microsoft.com

“. . . Because the Lord your God loves you,” Deuteronomy 23:5, NKJV

Those last three words, “God loves you,” are salve for the broken-hearted and for hurting souls everywhere. If nobody else tells you, it’s three little words that God wants you to know, “God loves you.” If nobody else will show you, God said, “I will!”

Human emotions are so fickle. One day we’re up and the next we are down. Depending on which phase of life we are in our perception of reality can be altered by how we feel about the moment we are currently in. If we’re up, then it’s not hard to fathom love coming from everywhere, centering on us and making us feel good about ourselves. But, it is just the opposite when we are experiencing a down-ward phase. We can be living in a whole house full of people, right under the same roof as yourself, and feel completely devoid of love; feeling empty, as you try to hand out to others what you don’t feel coming to you. Love!

Love is nothing to play with. It’s not a joke. It’s a passion that dwells inside each of us hungering to be fed, wanting to be filled. I don’t know anyone in their right mind who doesn’t want to be loved. Who in the world is there that doesn’t want to be cherished by another? Who doesn’t want to feel cherished by another? Who doesn’t want the tender security of love wrapped around them, embracing them until every inch of one’s heart can feel that affectionate overflow?

To deny the need for love is to deny the way God created us. 1 John 4:8, NKJV, says, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” Love is instilled in each of us as part of His creation. “God is love,” and in the Book of Genesis we read, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . .” (1:26, NKJV). We were made to feel and do as God does, and that means love, also.

“God loves you!” Throughout the pages of the Bible, the overflow of all He feels for us is pronounced over and over again. He has plenty of evidence to mark the extremes of His love for us. Here in Deuteronomy 23:5, He is noted as reversing a curse because He loves His people. But His ultimate show of love came when He initiated His plan to reverse the curse of sin once and for all. The plan was successful but it didn’t come without a price. His love for us cost the life of His Son, John 3:16. All that was done so that one day we might experience the joy of what it really means to be loved; such a tender embrace wrapped around us that can’t be felt anywhere else.

“God loves you!” While human love can and will be fickle, God said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you,” (Jeremiah 31:3, NKJV). There will come a day when “He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love,” (Zephaniah 3:17, NKJV). That’s the tender embrace in action; that strong love that quiets everything else and gives us rest. It’s like stepping into His arms, the arms of love and crying it all out, and feeling nothing but His love. Knowing that God loves us in such a way inspires us for today. When one feels this love, it makes the broken heart feel revived and the hurting soul feel lifted once again. We may not always get the love from humanity that we seek, (and I won’t downplay the need for that), but “God loves you!” Unlike our human counterparts and those we seek affection from; God’s love will not fail us. It’s the real thing!

“You Have to Work It!”

WORK IT!!!!

Word For Life Says...

work it-001“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough,” Proverbs 28:19, NKJV

 

“Something for nothing!”  It seems to be the way of the world.  Many are searching for the next big thing that is going to push them toward success yet, when the face of work peeps around the corner they run in the opposite direction.   Life takes work!  Anything worth having takes work!  Something will not come out of nothing!  It takes effort of heart and mind, strength and endurance!

The farmer will not dare to go out into the field hoping to reap that which he has not sown.  If no seeds were put into the ground, if the field had not be tended to, and if the work has not been done he knows that when the time of harvest comes there will be no produce. …

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“Jesus Didn’t Let Discouragement Win!”

Don’t let discouragement get the best of you and drag you under!

Word For Life Says...

My Project 55-001

“Jesus never fails,” is something I have heard quoted many times over in church.  There is not greater truth for the Christian to hold on to for in it we find consolation for our souls.  Reading the Bible this morning, this particular verse wouldn’t let me go.  It held on and refused me the opportunity to pass it by, demanding that more attention be paid to it.  It says, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth,” (Isaiah 42:4).

Knowing the power of our Lord, of course I know He never fails.  As a matter of fact, it is something you and I count on daily.  The part that really jumped out at me was that He does not get “discouraged.”  That is something that this flesh of mine CANNOT boast about.

We are easily swayed this way and that with the moving…

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Encouragement in God Alone!

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“But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God,” 1 Samuel 30:6b, NKJV

Distressed –  yeah!  Discouragement – you betcha!  Disappointment – inevitable!  Depressed – my middle name!

These were all things that David, the once proud warrior, was facing.  Upon returning back to Ziklag, David found everything was lost.  Not only had the city been raided and burned to the ground, but their families, their wives and children were now the captives of the enemy.

How devastating it must have all been!  Things can be replaced but to have your families at the mercy (or not the mercy) of an enemy – it’s too much to bear.  “David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep,” 1 Samuel 30:4, NKJV.

Have you been there before?  Crying until you can’t cry no more?  That’s a brokenness that can’t be easily healed.  It’s a state of desperation to where there is no quick answer.  Nothing but the tears on the pillows.  No solace.  No comfort.  No peace.  “No more power to weep.”

David’s situation grew even dimmer when the people who were closest to him turned their backs on him.  “The people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved,” 1 Samuel 30:6a, NKJV.  These were the men that rode with him.  Those that fought in battle with him.  Those whom David gathered together as a band and turned a bunch of nobody’s into somebody’s.  Yet, here they are at the brink of committing a great evil against an innocent man.

Everybody needs somebody to blame.  At least, that’s what you hear many say and we see this kind of primitive blame placing here.  To them, David is to blame and David will be the one to pay the price.

Have you ever felt that you were in this alone?  As if the whole world has turned their backs on you as David’s men did with him?  You feel like you are battling alone and everyone else is just ready to cast stones at you?

David’s desperation led him to where all of ours should – the LORD!

“David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.”  The only place where true solace and comfort of heart can be found – in God!

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy,
and find grace to help in time of need,” Hebrews 4:16, KJV.  Thank God we don’t have to go this alone despite what our circumstances may look like.  God has privileged us with an opportunity to invite Him in the process of dealing with our hurts and  disappointments.  How many times have you turned to a friend in a time of need and they were nowhere to be found?  Or, worse yet, they couldn’t do anything to add to your comfort or just didn’t care?

God does not do that!  He openly shows His love and concern by allowing us to dump it all on Him.  Come to the throne that we might get!  Get what?  “Mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

In a time of need?  Yes, David surely was.  He had nowhere else to turn.  He found out the hard way how quickly people will forsake you.  Regardless, it didn’t dim his hope.  David knew from past experiences where his help came from.  He could sing like the other psalmist, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help?  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth,” Psalms 121:1-2, NKJV.  Over and over again, God has proven himself in the life of David and this time would be no different.

I wonder how many of us have that diligent past relationship with God, knowing that when we are in a time of need, we can turn to Him over and over again?  Has our life been so, in following after Him, as David’s was, that the connection of encouragement we receive from the LORD is ever-present?

David initiated the search for God’s help.  He didn’t ask the people’s opinion of what he should do.  He didn’t continue to wallow in self-pity because everybody was against him.  He didn’t give up or throw in the towel because recovery seemed impossible.  “David said to Abiathar the priest . . . Please bring the ephod here to me . . . So David inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I pursue this troop?  Shall I overtake them?’  And He answered him, ‘Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all,'” 1 Samuel 30:7-8, NKJV.

“Without fail recover all.”  God is the only one who could ever make such a promise.

The point of this all is very simple.  God is our source for everything,  even encouragement.  It’s nice to get a “Good job!” from people once in a while or a pat on the back – but it is God whom we look to.  Sometimes situations will be so bad that we feel totally isolated from all.  Yet, we are also in a position to be so full.  To be able to recover all “without fail.”

Only what we find in strengthening ourselves in God can be labeled “without fail.”  Only the encouragement we have in Him will endure and never falter or fade.  He is our staying power.  He is our strength when we are weak.  Our shelter in the midst of the storm.  Our hightower.  Our fortress.  And, so much more!

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Sometimes those measures mean turning a deaf ear to everyone else and their negativity about the situation and looking to God for counsel and help.  And He will, “without fail,” be your help through it all.  Find encouragement in God alone!

Minister encouragement to yourself through God’s grace today!

Photo Credit: http://clckyogle.org/encouragement-part-4-clc-kyogle.html

“Your Tears Matter to God”

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“For the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping,” Psalm 6:8, NKJV

“Tears are an eloquent argument with God. Spurgeon called them ‘liquid prayers.’ They need no interpreter, and carry enormous weight at the throne of grace. David had sudden peace in his soul, and inner conviction that God had heard him. The rainbow shone upon the downpouring tears.” (The John Phillips Commentary Series: Exploring Psalms Volume One, p. 54, Kregel Publications 1988)

Tears have always gotten God’s attention.  Our God is a compassionate God.  He cares about the struggles we go through in life.  When we mourn, He mourns. When we hurt, He hurts.  When we are upset, He is upset. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” Hebrews 4:15.  In other words, He knows how we feel!

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy,” Psalm 126:5.  It might not feel like it now, but soon the suffering will be over, the pain will dull, and “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away,” Revelation 21:4.  It is only permitted to stay around for a little while. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,” Psalm 30:5.

Your “liquid prayers” have gone up before your heavenly Father.  He lovingly has every one recorded that moistens your eyes and falls from your heart of despair. “Put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” Psalm 56:8.

Take confidence today that your sorrow is not dismissed by God.  As with David, He is paying attention to the “voice of your weeping.”  “Your Tears Matter to God!”  Let your “liquid prayers” roll down before Him.

Photo Credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/05/Hilda_Dokubo_crying_1.jpg