Lean In A Little Closer

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God's Whispers Shouts Of His Love.Joan Walker Hahn

“And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”    1 Kings 19:12b (NIV)

Have you ever been on a spiritual high?  A place where you were seeing and feeling God really move?  But then, there’s a sudden crash.  The wonderment of God’s presence suddenly turns to a feeling of overwhelming fear and oppression.

Elijah experienced such a situation.  God had been using him in mighty ways.  Following the direction of God, Elijah confronted King Ahab and the people who were following the Baals.  The false prophets and all the people assembled to watch the showdown between the false god and the one true God.  The prophets of Baal built an altar and cried out to their god to answer from heaven with fire to consume their sacrifice.  All day long they cried out, but their god did not answer.  Then Elijah built an altar before God and prayed.  Fire from heaven consumed the sacrifice and altar.  All the people cried out, “The Lord – he is God!  The Lord – he is God!”  1 Kings 18:39 (NIV).

However, after that awesome display of God’s power, Elijah fled.  He went to the wilderness and cried out for God to let him die.  But God didn’t let Elijah stay in that state.  The angel of the Lord brought nourishment to Elijah, twice.  Then Elijah was told to go up to the mountain to see the Lord.

Once Elijah got to the mountain, the Lord spoke to him, telling him where to stand to see the Lord pass by.  Then there was a powerful wind, but the Lord was not in the wind.  There was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  There was a raging fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  But then … then came a gentle whisper, and the Lord spoke to Elijah.

Have you ever noticed that when someone is speaking quietly, we lean in a little closer, concentrate a little more deeply and hang on their every word?  I think that is why God whispers.  He wants us to lean in a little closer, concentrate on Him a little more deeply and hang onto His every word.  When we do that He can then reveal to us how He’s been there with us all along.

The Lord listened to Elijah tell Him what was bothering him.  But then He told Elijah to go back the way he came.  God gave him another assignment and the strength to carry out that assignment just as He had equipped him in the past.

Do you get weary doing the Lord’s work?  Are you weary because you are not doing what He’s asked you to do?  Either way, what do we do when we feel oppressed or tired or useless?  We listen.

Am I saying that I always hear Him speak?  No.  Sometimes all I hear is the wind blowing, the fires roaring and feel my world shaking.  But even then, God is there.  During those times when we can’t hear His whispers, maybe He is waiting for us to call out to Him.  Then when the storm is over and He sees we have leaned in a little closer, are listening a little more intently, He can speak.

So when you are going through things and find yourself tired, physically, mentally and spiritually, go to the Lord’s mountain.  Allow Him to nourish and feed your soul.  Tell Him how you are feeling.  Allow time for the noise to cease as you just wait before Him.  And then lean in a little more closely and listen for His whispers.

Heavenly Father, thank you, Lord, for Your love.  Thank you that even during the storms, even when I can’t hear or feel You, I know You are there.  Thank You for patiently caring for me when I feel alone.  And in those precious moments when I do hear Your gentle whispers, I praise You, Lord, for speaking.  May I always keep an attentive ear so that I may always hear what You want to say.  I love You, Father.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

 

Leaving A Trail

Leaving a Trail

I have a thirty minute drive to work and I often find myself enjoying the morning sky.  The changing colors in the sky as the sun rises always amazes me at the beauty of God’s creation.  My husband can assure anyone that I really am not a morning person but when I get out the door and see how God is telling me good morning, my attitude changes.

I was driving to work one morning when the air was crisp and I saw several contrails crisscrossing the sky.  Contrails, short for “condensation trail,” are the white streaks planes leave behind when the hot exhaust from the plane escapes into the cold air.

Seeing the contrails allowed me to know that the planes were headed in all different directions.  I only saw the evidence of a few of the thousands of flights that take place each day.  People are traveling in opposing directions all the time.  I then began to think of how it is the same spiritually.

People are headed in all different directions spiritually just as they are physically.  So many various teachings and religious ideas are rampant in our world.  People are told that there are many ways to heaven.  People are told that God loves everyone and that everyone is going to heaven when they die.  People are told they are their own little god and they can live life however they want.  People are told God will accept them if their good deeds outweigh the bad.  People are told there is no God and that this life we live is all there is.  I could go on and on about the different things people believe.

But, my friend, there is only one truth and one God.  There are not many ways to heaven.  The airplanes that are going in different directions do not and cannot all land in the same place.  A plane headed east does not land in California.  A plane headed north does not land in Florida.  A soul headed away from Christ does not end up in heaven.

In this day of divisiveness, it’s not always easy to speak with people about spiritual things.  Everyone believes their thoughts and opinions are superior to others.  I admit that in my stubbornness I also have at times thought that if everyone would just see things the way I see them then everything would be better.

God’s Word reveals to us how much He loves us.  But God’s Word is also divisive.  So many people focus and preach about the love of God, (and He is a loving God), and they fail to teach about the judgement of God.  He will one day divide those who have trusted and accepted Christ as Savior from those who have rejected Christ.  Those who have accepted Christ are headed to an eternity in heaven with God.  Those who have rejected Christ are headed to hell.

Which direction are we heading in?  Have we heeded that truth for ourselves?  Are we helping people to know that truth?

Or maybe another way to put it, which airplane are you riding on and are you leaving a trail that will point the way to Christ for others who are watching your life?

Beloved, do not believe every spirit [speaking through a self-proclaimed prophet]; instead test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets and teachers have gone out into the world. By this you know and recognize the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges and confesses [the fact] that Jesus Christ has [actually] come in the flesh [as a man] is from God [God is its source];and every spirit that does not confess Jesus [acknowledging that He has come in the flesh, but would deny any of the Son’s true nature] is not of God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and is now already in the world. Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind]. They [who teach twisted doctrine] are of the world and belong to it; therefore they speak from the [viewpoint of the] world [with its immoral freedom and baseless theories—demanding compliance with their opinions and ridiculing the values of the upright], and the [gullible one of the] world listens closely and pays attention to them. We [who teach God’s word] are from God [energized by the Holy Spirit], and whoever knows God [through personal experience] listens to us [and has a deeper understanding of Him]. Whoever is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know [without any doubt] the spirit of truth [motivated by God] and the spirit of error [motivated by Satan].  Beloved, let us [unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves [others] is born of God and knows God [through personal experience]. The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.] By this the love of God was displayed in us, in that God has sent His [One and] only begotten Son [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind] into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [that is, the atoning sacrifice, and the satisfying offering] for our sins [fulfilling God’s requirement for justice against sin and placating His wrath]. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us [in this incredible way], we also ought to love one another.             1 John 4:1-11 Amplified Bible (AMP)

“But What About Me?”

Well Done

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I’ve always been a quiet person.  I’d rather stay in the background than to be the center of attention.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t like the occasional, “Atta girl,” or “Good job!”

I think maybe everyone on some level likes being recognized for their talent, abilities and strengths.  Being praised for something can give us a sense of worthiness, it can make us feel needed, or it lets us know people notice our accomplishments.

But when no one notices our hard work, or even pauses to thank us for what we do, it may sometimes be hard not to become disappointed or feel unappreciated.  Especially if we see someone else receiving attention for their efforts.

The prodigal son’s brother felt that way.  When the wayward son came home, the father threw a party.  The older son became angry.  When his father found him, the obedient son listed the things he had done right, as though to say, “But what about me?”  The father responded, “’My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’”  Luke 15:31 NIV

A Mary Christmas

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today (December 28, 2016) over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

maryatchristsfeet

Sitting At His Feet

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”   Luke 10:41-42 (NKJV)

Sometimes I wish that everyone would just decide not to give and receive gifts at Christmas.  Does that make me a Grinch?  I worry so much about what to buy for people.  Will they like it?  Is it too little or too much?  Can I afford it?  Or what if someone gives me something and I don’t have anything for them?  Oh dear!

I believe most would agree that we have made Christmas about everything but the birth of Christ.  I do like cooking, but I’m always rushed.  I like decorating, but I run out of time to make it perfect.  I’m more like Martha of the Bible instead of Mary.  I stay busy, rushing from one thing to another, doing what I feel people expect me to do.  When what I really need to do is make it a “Mary Christmas.”

Holiday Separation – For a Time

If you stopped by because you read my devotion on November 18, 2016 over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

 

“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”  John 6:38-40 (NIV)

 

Holidays are exciting, joyful and greatly anticipated.  Sometimes.  But there are also times when the Holidays can be hard to handle.  There may be some who have lost a loved one and they face what is supposed to be a joyful time with dread.  Others may have no close family or friends at all to celebrate with.  Many struggle with disease or depression and seeing the happiness in other people’s faces amplifies the hurt in their own lives.

The first Christmas after my grandmother passed away was hard.  She was a petite woman and we used to love seeing her covered over with presents.  They would be stacked in her lap, around her feet and her sweet smile was barely seen over the pile.  And when she began opening her gifts, her face lit up like a child’s.

grandpa-grandma-wilhoit

The next year, my grandfather had also passed.  I had wonderful memories of Christmas’ past when he would leave the adults conversing in one room to come gather us grandkids together to sing songs with us as he played his little ukulele.

It was hard.  But as new babies were born into the family, the Christmas gatherings were filled with joy as new little voices filled the room even as we reminisced the past.

The first year after my father-in-law passed, someone gave a special gift to each of the 5 children.  It was a bear made out of shirts their father had worn.  A small piece of him was there with the family.

papa-j-bears

It’s hard facing the holidays with that pain in your heart.  But we can be assured that God sees and understands the separation from a loved one.

The Lights In The Heavens

sun-picture

As I headed to work one morning, I saw the still full moon as it was setting in the west.  It was becoming very dim in the pale blue of a morning sky not yet fully lit with the sun.  I tried to take a picture of that sight but the photo could not adequately capture the waning light of the full orb.

In the opposite direction, the sun was brilliantly shining as it began to ascend in the horizon.  As I tried to look for oncoming traffic in the direction of the sun, I could see nothing else because of the brightness.  I had to block the sun with my hand, but still struggled to see.  And what I could see seemed to be just images with no color.

The more I thought about those two contrasting sights, several things came to mind.  I thought both the moon and the sun to be beautiful.  I love seeing a full moon illuminating a night sky.  But when I saw that same full moon very pale in comparison to the sun and the competing brightening of the morning sky, it caused a mixture of emotions.

Good Times Or Bad?

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romans-8-28

Everything works for our good?  Really?

So many times when this verse is quoted, it is when something bad has happened to a believer.  Does all of the bad things that happen to believers really happen for good?

The times when we are enjoying the presence of our Abba, Father – those are good times.  When we are serving God and seeing results of truly trusting and following Him, that’s what I call good.

So why do we have to endure the bad things and then be told to trust that God will use it for our good?

R. I. P.

tomb

I have to say that I don’t really like the scary displays that are seen around Halloween.  The ghosts and zombies, headless bodies and tomb stones.   As I drove past one yard I saw a tombstone with “R.I.P.” written in big black letters.  That is seen a lot around Halloween but it is also used at other times when someone passes away.  I suppose it is meant as a tribute to the deceased person.  But when I saw it on that fake tombstone, I thought about the meaning of those letters in a different way.

Rest In Peace.

Do you know we can Rest In Peace now?  As a child of God, we can be filled with His peace on a continual basis.  After all, the Bible tells us that Christ came into this world as the Prince of Peace.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

So how do we get access to that peace?  We gain peace when we:

1.  Abide in Christ.

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:1 (KJV)

God is a holy and just God.  He judges sin.  Those who have not accepted Christ as their personal Savior are separated from God, warring against Him.  But when we come in faith and repentance, accepting Christ as our Savior, we are cleansed from all unrighteousness and are then at peace with God.

2.  Abide in God’s Word.

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”  Romans 8:6 (KJV)

As believers, we are to allow God complete control of our lives.  As we study His Word and crucify ourselves daily, His Spirit that lives within us will be evident in our outward behavior.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

3.  Abide in His Promise

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  John 14:27 (KJV)

It’s not easy to live a Christian life in this world.   But Christ promised that we are never alone.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (KJV)

4.  Abide Within His Commission

“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”  John 20:21 (KJV)

Jesus told the disciples that we are to go into the world and share with others the good news of salvation.  But we don’t have to go in our own strength.  He will equip us to do everything He asks us to do.  He didn’t promise it would be easy, but He did say that His peace would go with us.

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:7 (KJV)

5.  Abide in the Ultimate R.I.P.

“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.  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”  Revelation 21:4-6 (KJV)

I think this verse sums it all up.  We can rest in peace for all eternity.

I have never really liked saying, “RIP,” like many people do when a person has passed if I don’t know their spiritual condition.  The condition of a person’s heart, whether or not they have been saved, determines where the person will spend eternity when they die.

If they are a Christian, then they are immediately in the presence of Christ.  However, if a person is lost, they are immediately separated from God forever.  We can call that person’s name out and say, “RIP,” a million times, but if they were not saved, they will be forever in torment with absolutely no possibility of ever experiencing peace again.  In their case, it is completely useless for us to wish for them to rest in peace.

But for the Christian, it’s a totally different story.  We get to experience God’s peace even in the midst of this sinful world and then we get to be at rest in peace throughout eternity when we die.

So, are you resting in God’s peace every day?

But an even bigger question is – When you die, can R.I.P. be written on your tombstone?

Preparing The Garden…

…And Preparing For Harvest

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today (Sept. 8, 2016) over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

the-righteous-will-flourish

 

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.  For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.    1 Corinthians 3:7-9 NIV

My family plants a garden every year.  Some years the harvest is plentiful and other years it’s scarce.  One year we were still picking green beans up until the beginning of October!  It came to the point that I had canned all my cupboards would hold. I finally threatened my husband if he dared bring another bean into the house!  But last year the drought was severe and I didn’t have enough produce to preserve anything.

There’s a lot of work that goes into planting a garden.  The garden spot first has to be plowed, then tilled.  Once the rows are laid off, we add fertilizer as we plant the seeds.  Then the dreaded weeds have to be constantly hoed.  Occasionally we have to add a pest control product to keep the insects from damaging the plants.  Once the plants start to bear, we fully appreciate all the work we had done.

So much about gardening can be compared to spiritual things.  We all go through times when we are fully filled with the Holy Spirit and are growing immensely.  At other times, the cares of the world seem to cause a spiritual drought and that “pest” Satan, tries his best to choke out our joy as weeds do a garden.

Producing Fruit

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today (August 25, 2016) over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

plum tree

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”  John 15:1-2 NIV 

I have several different types of fruits growing around my house.  I have fig bushes, muscadine vines, plum trees, pomegranates, strawberry, blackberry and blueberry plants.  There’s no comparison between the fresh fruit that I can go out and pick and what is bought in stores.

I often make jelly from the produce that I gather.  Even though the jelly is costly to make because of the amount of sugar that is required, it also is better than store bought.   (Sorry, Mr. Smuckers!)  But I love sharing the jelly with others, which I often give as Christmas gifts.

But I have to confess, even though I have access to all of the various fruits I mentioned, not all of the plants bear much.  The fig bushes produce a lot, but often the ants will get into the figs before I can pick them.  The deer eat my blueberry bushes.  The muscadines were pruned improperly and produce less each year.  The pomegranates – I just don’t pick them.