"Count it all joy when you fall into various trials."

Posts tagged ‘encorenow’

A Pure Heart

Vivian and Abner were pushing forty when they married.  The desire of their hearts was to have a child.  They knew the risks and yet were completely delighted when Viv found out she was pregnant.  They rejoiced in the Lord and began to speak to the little one in her womb.  Every day they spoke of Jesus and read Scripture and put worship songs on in their home.  The atmosphere was filled with the love of God.

The day came when Vivian went into labor and they were filled with anticipation.  It was an easy delivery but immediately the doctor seemed to be concerned.  He took the baby and left the delivery room.  After Viv was put in recovery, Abner and the doctor came in and told her that the baby had Down syndrome.  There would be challenges. There were some health issues that they may face and almost assuredly the baby would have some degree of mental retardation.  The nurse brought the sweet little bundle and laid him in her arms.

“I want to name him David ,” she said.  David slew Goliath and I believe this baby will be victorious no matter what the doctor says.

The years passed and little David was taught about the Lord every day.  He reached his teenage years and had learned how mean other kids were to anyone who was different.  They called him names and bullied him.  He just responded with love and remembered that Jesus loved him.  God began to show him what was true in the Spirit.  He saw angels and heard God’s voice.  He never felt alone.  He had the most amazing child-like trust that those who took the time to get to know him realized that he knew far more about almost all important things than they did.

Then it happened.  A troubled young man came into the school waving a gun, David’s classmates and teachers began to move in confusion.  David quietly said, “Step into the closet and close the door.  There are angels guarding the door.”  Many of the kids responded by crowding into the small space and soon the rest joined them.  The teacher followed them in. David didn’t go in the closet.

He stepped into the hallway and turned toward the man.  He had seen him at church a few times and knew that he was lost and alone.  He called his name, “Mr. Glen, what are you doing?”  He looked at David confused and began to wave the gun in his direction.  David looked at him and said, “You can’t hurt me, I have God’s angels to protect me.  I want to help you.”  Glen raised the gun and pointed it at David and pulled the trigger.  The gun didn’t fire.  He pulled the trigger again.  Nothing.  He looked at David and started to cry.

David walked up to Glen and took the gun and invited him to sit down.  By this time, the police had arrived and they took Glen while dismissing David as a mentally retarded boy who was of no consequence.  David didn’t care.  He knows who he is and who he belongs to.  Jesus lives in him and the heavenly host are his guard.

It was just as his Mom knew when she named him.  This little David defeated the Goliath that threatened the life of Glen and the school children as well as the teachers.

Today’s Lesson:

Unlike David, we are too smart for our own good.  We are not simple in our faith.  Often we complicate things and mix law with grace. We make it all about us.  It is only and always about Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and Father God.

Ask God to give us wisdom and purity as we walk as simple children who look to Jesus for everything as we face both challenges and blessings.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.  

The Renegade Vine

Shelly was in a high rise building with thick darkness. The city was in a complete blackout.  She was on the twenty-fourth floor and knew there was no elevator service.  Walking the stairs wasn’t a good idea because she didn’t know what or who she would meet.  She was truly alone. The batteries in her flashlight were dead and she couldn’t find the matches to light her only candle.  She was completely alone and quiet for the first time in many years.

She sat on the couch and listened to the silence that was intermittently broken by a distant siren.  She put her head back and sighed.  This was just one more dark day that punctuated the depression she had been feeling.   Thomas had left her for his administrative assistant three months ago.  She had been reeling ever since from the emptiness of the apartment and of her life.  Now this darkness closed in around her.

It had been a long time since she considered that God was watching over her or that He even existed.  If He did exist, she believed that He had forgotten her.  Yet now, in her despair she cried out, “God, if you are out there, help me!” The cares of her life began to lift and inside she heard a still small voice saying, “I have always been here.  You have only to ask for My help.”   A peace that she had never known came upon her and caught her by surprise.  Over the next few hours, she sat in God’s Presence and He ministered His love and healing acceptance to her.  “There is no condemnation for you, my child,” He told her.  “You are loved and have always been loved by Me.  I never left you and I know your pain.  I have a better way.” Shelly gave her heart to Jesus during the long dark night and when the daylight began to come through her windows, she was new inside.  There was joy and it felt wonderful.

She had been trying to live her life without Jesus.  She remembered that she had loved Sunday School as a child and Mrs. Pearson had led her in a prayer when she was ten.  God let her know that all this time, she had been His and He was just waiting for her to seek Him.

Today’s Lesson:

Shelly was trying to live a fruitful life apart from God.  She had been self-sufficient or at least she had tried to be.  She had music playing or the television on when she was alone.  At work, she managed multiple tasks and had been promoted to a Regional Manager.  Her life was filled with noise and activity.  She was never quiet and seldom alone.

She had turned off her power source and was winging her way through life.  She knew it wasn’t working

When the blackout forced the quiet and the solitary hours, she slowed down long enough to hear the voice of her Lover, her Father, her Savior: her God.

In the Scripture, there is a story of the Vine and the Branches.  Shelly had become a renegade branch.  She was trying to make leaves, blossoms and fruit apart from the Vine.  It seemed to work as long as the life force was still remained in the branch, but soon, the branch had nothing to draw on and it withered.

Shelly had withered and was striving to live apart from God.  She was empty and alone.  When she finally became still on that dark night, she heard Him and she knew that apart from Him, life was empty and without purpose.

Today Shelly is a different person.  When the lights came on, she searched her storage unit and found her Bible which she devours each day.  She is looking for a place to worship. The lights are back on not only in her apartment, but in her life.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

A True Merry Christmas Story

Today I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas, and I want to bring to mind the real reason that we pause this time of year.  In a world that is trying to neutralize all of our beliefs and traditions, there is something wonderful and real.  He is Jesus and this is how He came to save us:

The Creator of the Universe, Father God had been betrayed by the created being closest to Him in Heaven.  His name was Lucifer and he led a revolt, with some of the angels; he lost of course.  He realized too late that He could never again be exalted alongside of Father God.

He was exiled to the earth and here he raged around and wrecked havoc everywhere destroying the beauty of the planet.  He became known as Satan and because He was a created being filled with life, he could not be destroyed – even by Father God.

It is hard to believe, but Father God longed for a family and He had only One Son.  They decided that they would multiply the family and make more beings in the god class to live on the earth and take it back from this rebellious fallen being.  Father Himself planted a garden in Eden and gave life to another son, Adam.  He formed him in the soil of the earth outside the garden.  He then brought him into the garden and told him to dominate the earth and expand the garden.

Adam got to name all the animals and loved the Garden and spending time with Father God.  But God knew that Adam was missing a companion made like he was.  So He separated his wife from Adam’s body so that they could share in this adventure together.  Father came down from heaven often and spent time with them.  He gave them only one rule – not to eat from a tree that was called the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Satan was listening and saw this as an opportunity.  He slithered into the garden and began creating doubt in these two amazing people.  Soon, they took the bait and took a bite out of the fruit of the forbidden tree.  Too late they found out the error they had made.  Suddenly they knew they were uncovered from the wonderful Light and Glory of God and made a feeble effort to cover themselves.

When Father came to them, he asked them what happened and they blamed each other and the serpent.  It was the first time that blame was used.  Father couldn’t cover them with Light and Glory anymore, so he killed some of the animals and made coverings for them.  When the animals shed their blood, Adam and Eve’s sins were forgiven and they were covered.

Father spoke over them the results of their actions. They had to leave the beautiful garden.   To Adam he said, “Man would labor to bring forth with great effort what had previously been available without toil.”  To Eve, he said  ” Woman would have pain in childbirth, but her kind would have a Son that would be bruised by Satan, but he would crush Satan’s head.”

Eve herself was not the one to physically give birth to the Christ Child. Many centuries would pass until a young woman who had never known a man would be chosen to bring forth Jesus, the Christ.  (Christ means the Anointed One.)

So here we are, over 2000 years since the birth of Jesus remembering that He came with a purpose.  It was to redeem us and to take the keys of death, hell, and the grave from Satan.  He did it all through His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. He shed His blood, just a God shed the blood of animals for us in the Garden, and out sins were forgiven.

In Heaven Jesus is now seated with Father praying for each of us every day.  When we accept what Jesus has done for us, He gives us the Holy Spirit to live in us .  He is our Guide, Teacher,  Comforter and much more.  Now Father has a family of people who believe in the finished work of His Son and He has given us meaningful work here on earth, to bring more of those who fell as a result of the disobedience of our first parents, back into His family.

He longs for each of us and waits for us.  No matter what we have done, He still wants us.  The Scripture says, “For God so loved the world (you and me) that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus) that whosoever (you and me) believes in Him should not perish (die) but have eternal life.  He did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.”  Isn’t it great that there is NO Condemnation when we choose Him.

Satan doesn’t want us to know about the amazing love of Father God and His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  He does everything in his power to damage the name of Jesus and God the Father.  He wants us to think that the Holy Spirit is powerless and that we have no power to be who Jesus made us to be.  He gets us to do his work and we steal, kill, and destroy others and then he blames it on God.  But God only gives life and He gives it fully.

When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we change our citizenship and our family.  In that moment, we are citizens of heaven and part of the royal family of God who is now our Father, and Jesus is our big brother.  So, if you accept the finished work of Jesus, I promise you a life of excitement and adventure.  Find a church that understands both the Word of God (Bible) and the Spirit of God.

To accept Jesus, use your own words and pray something like this, “Father, Thank you for sending Your Son Jesus to earth to save me.  Jesus, come into may heart and forgive me of my sin and teach me to be all you have for me to be.  Lead me to people who know you so that I may learn your ways.  Thank you.  Amen

I promise that when you pray this pray, all the angels of heaven will rejoice with great joy.  This is my Christmas prayer for you.

Send me a note that I may rejoice with you. If you want to e-mail me with questions or to tell me of your decision, you can do so at joyinthejourney@gmx.com.

Aside

Repitition 101

When the Autumn colours began to riot over the hillsides, I took a ride to take in all the beauty.  I did this last year although I don’t think the variation in the hues were as beautiful.  As I drove, I thought, “What other things do I do year after year and day after day?”

There are a couple of special things that I get to do only once every four years.  Joe and I got engaged on February 29 and so it is a special day for us – every four years.  This year was our 8th celebration which translates into 32 years.

Another event, that happens only once every four years,  is the opportunity to vote for the President of the United States.  It is both a privilege and a responsibility.  This year, all of the choices are important and require prayer.

Year after year with the beautiful Autumn comes the fall!  Each year there are so many leaves from the big Oak trees in our yard and the neighbor’s that require mulching or burning.  It is a bitter-sweet activity as I know I am preparing for the Winter and colder weather.  On a happier note, I get to wear boots and sweaters which I like a lot!

Annually, I prepare for Christmas and spend many happy hours thinking of the greatest gift of all, the amazing Baby in a manger that grew up, just like we do, and became the One who put the upside down world right again.  Even more amazing, He redeemed each of us and when we embrace His gift, we are restored to the Kingdom.  It is also a time to reflect on my loved ones and to choose carefully gifts that will delight and encourage.  Last year, I made books for the children.

Another annual event is the Autumn Assembly of Prayer in Branson.  We pray, hear wonderful teaching, and connect with friends from around the world.  It is this week and I am anticipating it with joy.

Month after month, I pay bills.  Enough said.

Day after day, I straighten up the house, cook meals, make the bed, get ready for the day, have a quiet time, do laundry, blog, work, to to church, and enjoy friends and family.

As I reflect on all of the things that I do over and over again, there is a comfort in the repetition  but it is the serendipitous moments of the totally unexpected that bring delight and laughter spicing my life with joy.  Come to think of it, I have been there and done that before too!

Aside

Lessons from a Camping Trip

I had the  privilege of primitive camping with my daughter on the old farm that I lived on as a girl.  We don’t own it, but the land owner is generous in letting us set up our tent and have a camp fire   Rachel and I would hike the hills and take lawn chairs to sit out in the middle of creek and eat watermelon that had been cooled in the cold spring that fed the creek.  At night we could hear the coyotes in the distance and the lowing of the cows that grazed in the field nearby.  It was a magical time and we played awesome Christian music loud enough that it echoed through the hills.  My favorite title on that album was “The Trees of the Field.”  I could see those old oak trees dancing along the banks and clapping their branches in joy.

One night, we had a beautiful camp fire and God began to speak to us an allegory of the fire.  It went something like this:

The Fellowship of the Fire of God.

When a fire is started it needs bits of paper (the Word) to get it going.  It needs the wind of the Holy Spirit to fan the flames into greater brightness and as it begins to burn steadily, it needs the dead wood (those who didn’t know the light) to be brought into fellowship with the embers to give it new life.  When embers are scattered, they slowly lose the fire.

The more brightly burning logs that try to go it alone don’t have a chance of staying on fire – but add other embers of dry wood and a little paper (Word) and it will leap into a fiery pillar that shines light all around.  The fire left on its own, with no one to tend it and keep the coals together and feeding it by adding paper and old wood, will eventually die out as it consumes itself.

Then Father God taught us another lesson.  Birth of the Cold Spring:

Another day, we followed the cold spring to its head waters and saw where it creeps out of the earth – living pure water that you can drink and enjoy.  We listened attentively to the sound of the water.  It hurried down the canyon to join yet another spring and fed into the creek.

We had set up our camp at the place where the cold spring and the creek join as one.  When you look at the water, you can no longer can you tell where one ends and the other begins but when you are in the water however, the spring is very cold and the creek water is much warmer, but in just a few feet, it is all mixed together and it is one.

I pondered these lessons and this is what came to me.

The absolute absence of man and his influence draws us closer to our Creator.  We are able to stop and be silent and hear the sounds of God’s creation.  The woodpecker taps out his morning song in search of food.  The mourning dove sings her mournful sound reminding us that the fish are biting.  The cold spring laughing as it falls over an old tree brings joy to the heart.  The locust, crickets and birds add to the symphony.  There is barely a whisper of wind and the beautiful peace encompasses and fills us with the love of God.

The last night we saw the stars dazzle us with their beauty as they shone upon us in their full radiance seldom seen in our light polluted world.  Oh, how vast and limitless are the wonders of God.  How pleasing are His ways.

The Back Row Guest

Nick hadn’t planned to be in a men’s recovery center ever again.  He had been clean for five years until three days ago.  For absolutely no reason, he went on a three-day bender.  The hang-over was familiar yet he knew that he wasn’t that person anymore and he didn’t want to go back This is how he found himself as a guest at the shelter.  They were having a speaker that was seeing people set free.

Nick’s father and grandfather were both pastors and his religious upbringing had been oppressive.  He knew that God had called him when he was twelve years old to be in the ministry.  The commitment and price his family paid daily caused him to run.  He started drinking shortly after he heard from God and never looked back.  He was forty-five and until five years ago, he seldom been sober.

Now, here he found himself sitting on the back row of the center and the speaker was saying things that made sense – things he had longed believed but never heard in church.  The man was talking about an encounter with God, not rules and doctrines.  He felt a fresh wave of the Spirit wash over him.  He leaned forward.  Everyone and everything around him fell away and he was totally engrossed in the message.

The speaker called for people to come forward for prayer.  He didn’t remember getting up and found himself almost gliding down the aisle.  The man-of-God turned to him and told him the truth he had been running away from.  “You have a call on your life and you have known it since you were very young.  It’s not too late.”  Then he laid his hands on his shoulders and the Presence of God was so strong that he found himself on the floor.  He had an encounter with the Holy Spirit and he was being renewed and refreshed.  He got up changed.

The evening meal was served to them and the founder of the shelter and the speaker were sitting at a table at the far end of the room.  They were engaged in conversation.  He hesitantly approached them and ask the guest speaker a question.  He was invited to join them and felt unworthy of the honor.  He was encouraged to do so and sat.  Several hours later, they rose up.  He recognized that he had been holding unforgiveness toward his family and he now released them.  Life would never be the same.

That night, he stopped at home.  His live-in girl-friend shouted at him, “What have you been doing?”  He became defensive.  “Nothing.”  She angrily replied, “You have been up to something!  You look so different.”  He knew then that he was forever changed.  He told her of his encounter with the Most High God.  She was skeptical, but could see the change.

Nick has moved into the shelter and is no longer a guest.  He is engaged in becoming the man God intended.

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