Sunday, November 19, 2017

Anchor for our Soul

River Surrounded by Green Trees

At times our soul is grieved about issues in our life, is overwhelmed with the negative aspects piling up on us, or is anxious about some impending issue that makes us feel insecure.

The Psalmist gave us good advice to follow during times like these (Psalm 42:5-6). When we place our hope and trust in worldly anchors, we often find our self drifting once again in the currents of life.

Yet, if we put our hope in God, He is our rock, our strong anchor for our soul (Hebrews 6:19). He alone is our sure and steadfast hope. We sit in His presence and wait silently until He floods us with His peace and joy (Psalm 62:5).

Placing our hope in God never disappoints us, like the things of the world that we often cling to for our deliverance and salvation. He pours out His love into our hearts by His Spirit who resides within us (Romans 5:4-5).

There is real power in praising God through both the abundance and deprivation that we experience in life. He is with us and in us through the good times and the bad.

It may seem strange to praise God for the downturns in our fortune, health or relationships, but He has everything under His control according to His plans to bless us (Numbers 6:25; Romans 8:28).

The Lord is good. He turns misery into miracles for us, covering us with His feathers, offering to provide us with a stronghold and refuge if we will run to Him (Psalm 91:4; Nahum 1:7; Proverbs 18:10).

Father God, as we remember all that You already did for us in our life, we realize how trustworthy You are. You never interfere if we are determined to attempt to control our own life; but You are always faithful to us when we consult You every moment of our day, and when we are willing to abandon our human understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).

You are our Savior and our God. You are the lover of our soul and we can trust in You for every need in our body, soul and spirit (2 Corinthians 1:3-5; Psalm 63:1-8). We give You all of the praise, glory and honor due to Your name, because You are worthy of all of our praises, regardless of our circumstances.

Thought for the Day:
Our faith, love and hope in God are the only steadfast resources that we possess that we can rely on to see us through every trial and storm in life. - 1 Corinthians 13:13

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Finding Freedom in Surrender - Stages of Deliverance

Gazebo Against Trees

There is no way that our human psyche can surrender every area of our life to God in one fell swoop. It usually happens in stages, as God gives us faith to trust Him in each portion of our body, soul and spirit.

Surrender is often a struggle due to the fears, bonds, and connections we have with the various facets of the issues in our life. Desiring to keep our self safe, we attempt to solve our concerns in our own way.

We may get caught up with the advice and philosophy of the world, through articles that we read; but these often tend to sidetrack us from the real issues that we face. Only as we fully trust in God can we experience complete deliverance.

Fear of the unknown is a barrier to letting go and allowing God full reign in our life. At times we have to overcome Satan's lies or our insecurities first, in order to fully surrender to God's will and plan for our life.

I had to come to the place where I realized that I was simply surrendering to God's love, and nothing less. Surrender became easier as I realized that God would not bring anything into my life, or take anything away from my life that would hurt me eternally.

He has only our best interest at heart. He is not a cosmic ogre or a spoil sport or a vindictive and heartless being. Love is His sole motivation as He purges our life of detrimental and unhealthy aspects to which we cling.

When we experience firsthand the compensations that God showers on us during each stage of surrender, this encourages us to trust Him more and to yield more quickly and willingly to His will and provision.

We continually surrender until things of this world no longer matter to us, and we focus our thoughts and emotions on heavenly issues instead. We give up control of every facet of our life into God's safe keeping.

Father God, thank You for helping us to break down our resistance to Your loving direction and plans for our life one stage at a time. Some people are more willing and trusting and surrender earlier in life, but some of us cling to the allusion that we can protect our self and keep our self safe.

We are eternally grateful to You for proving Your love to us; not only by taking on human form and dying in our place, but also by coaxing us to surrender to Your wisdom one step at a time. We believe in You, but we depend on You to help our unbelief (Mark 9:23-25). We trust in You and we will not be afraid (Psalm 56:11).

Thought for the Day:
When we surrender to God, we give Him all of our fears and insecurities, and we gain His full provision and abundant love forevermore.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Where is Our Confidence

Our vulnerability is paramount in our thinking, and we strive to keep our self safe by every means we can muster. If our confidence is in our abilities and talents, we will suffer from fear and insecurity.

We feel anxious about our looks, accomplishments, success rate, relationships and vocation. We end up expecting too much from our self, and we set our self up for failure. This is no way to live; it leads to a dead-end existence.

We start the journey into improving our concept of our self-worth by taking small steps into recovery. First, we accept our self just as we are, because Jesus died to redeem us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). Since He loved us first, we can love Him, others and our self (1 John 4:19).

We stop burying our short-comings in our subconscious mind, and we pay attention to who we are and how we feel during each moment of our day. We accept all of who we are - the good, the bad and the ugly. Accepting our insecurities and fears helps us to resolve them.

Make a list of the concerns and burdens in your life today. Spend time in prayer, surrendering each one to God. Put the list in a heart-shaped box, a symbol of the heart of God. Then, each time you encounter something from the list, remember that you already placed that issue in the heart of God, and thank Him for His faithfulness.

The next step is to pay attention to physical symptoms that may manifest in our body, along with our negative thoughts. We can change our focus from our insecurities and Satan's lies, to God's truth about each one of our issues. We make a list of these truths too and reread them often until they become an integral part of who we are.

Taking stock of how we are feeling and what we are thinking in each moment of our day helps us to deal with negative emotions and thoughts as they arise. When we realize that God is protecting, providing for and filling us with Himself in each moment, we can relax (Colossians 1:27).

If any thoughts or emotions rob us of our joy and peace, it is not God's will for us at this time. Accepting His will with joy, regardless of our circumstances, frees us to be who He created us to be, and allow us to walk in His will by His Spirit each moment of our day.

Father God, You make it clear in Your Word that if we focus on our fears and insecurities, our fight-flight instincts kick in and disrupt our peace, rob us of our joy, and cause us to strike out at anyone whom we perceive as a threat to us. Remind us that when we focus on Christ in us, we spend more time thinking about spiritual and eternal concepts rather than on any earthly concerns.

Teach us to surrender control to You, to stop striving in our human strength, and to relax and let You do the work of perfecting, healing and leading us. We honestly cry out to You, and You help us to relax and to rest in Your love and care for us. Help us to fully trust in Your goodness to us, and not to lean on our human understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).    

Thought for the Day:
Confidence comes not from what we do, but who we are. As authentic Believers in Jesus Christ, He lives within us; and we live, move and have our mental and emotional concept of who we are in Him alone.

- Acts 17:28

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Good Marriage - One Flesh

Adult and Cub Tiger on Snowfield Near Bare Trees

Today is our 22nd anniversary and we bought each other new glasses and ate at Dairy Queen. The point of an anniversary is to do something thoughtful and to spend time with each other.

This unhurried, quality time makes a huge difference in our feelings for one another and takes the pressure to perform or to buy expensive gifts or to eat at fancy restaurants out of the equation on special days.

God created Eve as a helper for Adam. Not someone to assist him with chores as he tended the garden, but someone to share his life with and to sincerely care about him.

Our Creator could have grabbed some dust to create Eve like He used to create Adam, but instead He took a rib from Adam to show the intimacy that they now shared (Genesis 2:7, 23).

I used to think that God played a huge trick on human beings, because opposites usually attract to one another, and these differences that drew us together often cause conflict in our marriage.

However, I have since learned that the Lord gave Adam a special gift in Eve, just as He directs us to our mate as His special gift to us. We each have strengths that compensate for one another's weaknesses. Life is better together than if we lived separately.

Of course, we can marry outside of God's will for us; but once we join as one flesh (Genesis 2:24), God will teach us to abide with each other in peace and harmony. If we are willing to submit to one another, and to discover and appreciate our differences, He will bless our union.

In a marriage, two individuals meld together as one flesh, humbling our self and submitting to each other as co-heirs to the Kingdom of God (Ephesians 4:21).

We bear with one another's faults and quickly forgive each other - not holding grudges or keeping a record of slights and imperfections (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13).

We no longer place our individual needs ahead of our union in Christ, and we learn to lovingly discuss ways to adapt to our differing needs, making a beautiful picture that fits neatly together as the pieces of a puzzle.

Father God, the devil hates Christian marriages and families. He knows that good marriages make strong churches, and he desires to disrupt a church family and cause rifts and strife among us. Bitter conflict arises in a couple, a family and a church family that appear to be unresolvable. Yet, there is always a way to work together in harmony, if we put You as the center of our focus.

Help us to stop any viscous downward spiral in our relationship, and teach us to discuss our differences until we discover a mutually acceptable action or manner of thinking that will solve the issue. Teach us to view one another as Your gift to our life, to protect our union, and to love one another in spite of our differences. 

Thought for the Day:
When God joins us together, two become one flesh, and we care for each other as we would like to be cared for and treat each other as we want to be treated.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Treading or Floating

clouds, conifer, daylight

Autoimmune issues have robbed me of so many physical functions over the last 40 years. I was not aware that I had this issue until after I turned sixty years old. At that time, I asked for prayer from our church pastors and deacons, and trusted God for the results.

Several months later, a man who also received prayer that same day, walked into my husband's office with a book for me. He used the advice in the book with soaring results and wanted to share the info with me.

I started the Autoimmune protocol from The Autoimmune Solution by Amy Myers, MD - through a detox diet and ridding my life of as many toxic chemicals as I can - some are in the air, and I have not yet figured out how to stop breathing outside air and still survive!

I am currently looking into getting rid of all metal fillings in my mouth, since they too are toxic. This is the only thing that I know about that still may be preventing my total remission, healing and recovery.

Recently, I lost my balance on the right side of my body. This issue has been increasing slowly over the last year, and finally I realized that I needed a cane to prevent any more falls due to this lack of balance.

I spent the next day storming Heaven for answers and wisdom. I told our heavenly Daddy, "Frankly, I am tired of treading water in this ocean of health issue." God's answer made me laugh as usual.

He said, "Well, that is good news. Since you are tired of treading, now you can float; and rest in my wisdom, love and care." So simple and yet so profound. He always has our best interest in mind.

As a "doer" it will take practice and effort for me to "Let Go and Let God" in yet another area of my life. I will keep you posted; but until then, if you need me, I will be floating through life. LOL.

Father God, thank You for yet another area of life where I can learn to trust You implicitly for the positive results that I need (Romans 8:28). I desire to continue as a viable member of our community, and I resist the devil and his ploys to physically stop me from serving You (James 4:7-11). I trust in You with all of my heart, and I refuse to rely on my human strength and understanding.

I will continue to consult with You in all of my activities, and I know that You are directing me along the path of Your will (Proverbs 3:5-6). You brought me to suppliers for organic meat and veggies in Florida and now in Illinois, and I know You will direct me to a functional doctor if You do not decide to heal my "gut" and immune system supernaturally by Your power and authority.

Thought for the Day:
There is no crisis that we can face that God does not see and have a plan for in our life; He ultimately uses them to perfect us, to open doors for us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as for Him to get the ultimate glory. 
- John 9:1-3

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Keeping Our Focus on Jesus

Free stock photo of landscape, holiday, vacation, water

When we honor and respect the Lord as King of all, He is a sure foundation for us and a rich storehouse of salvation, wisdom and knowledge. This treasure comes to us through our "fear" of the Lord (Isaiah 42:6).

I used to be a very negative, melancholy person, drowning in the depressing circumstances of my life. The intense dread I felt over the situations I encountered kept me living in a constant state of anxiety and tension.

I lived most of my time with my stomach in knots, taking very shallow breaths. The situations deepened so much at times, that I felt like I would burst if I held my breath a minute longer!

Then I read in God's Word how Jesus reacted to His trials, especially the way in which He faced His scourging, crucifixion and death on Calvary's cross by focusing on the glory awaiting Him in Heaven.

I realized that this same glory awaits all authentic Believers. I started to look for the hope hidden in all of my circumstances. I learned to trust God for positive results from every trial.

Jesus changed His focus from having to drink the cup of God's wrath to atone for the sins of the whole world, and his momentary loss of our Father's focus on Him, to His rightful place on the throne at the right hand of our Father.

Paul changed His focus and placed it squarely on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). He kept his mind on spiritual aspects rather than on earthly matters, in spite of his many trials and persecution.

We too can take our eyes off our earthly circumstances and put them on the joy that Jesus provides in the midst of each situation.

Father God, Your Word is truth and You sanctify us by it (John 17:17). We are heirs of Your promise (Ephesians 3:6). We find our rest in Your everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27). Thank You for our salvation through Jesus Christ alone (John 3:16-18).

We praise You for giving us Jesus as both the fulfillment and the guarantee of Your covenant with us. We trust in You because You help us to walk in Your ways and to keep your statutes (Ezekiel 36:7), and You give us Your assurance by Your promises (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Thought for the Day:
If God does not show you how to change your circumstances, then ask Him to help you to change your focus about the dilemma, so that you can accept it as His will for you at this time.

Monday, November 13, 2017

We Cease from All Striving

There is a fine line between attaining and obtaining. We achieve a goal either by attaining it through hard work or by obtaining possession of it through no effort of our own (Hebrew 4:10).

For years I strove to keep all of God's commandments to the letter of the law. I wanted to please God and pay Him back for His sacrifice on the cross. I tried to attain Salvation by my own efforts (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Most religions require their followers to attain paradise through an uphill struggle throughout life. Christianity is just the opposite, however. I heard it said, “Christianity is the only religion where God came down to man.”

We are actually encouraged to cease from all striving as God did from His work on the seventh day. We trust God's wisdom and grace as He works in us to achieve the results, from the work, which He lead us to accomplish.

When Christ takes possession of our spirit, He gives us His rest for our soul – our mind, will and emotions. His righteousness, peace and joy give us a new life, which replaces our life of worry and deprivation (Romans 14:17).

We no longer seek to sanctify our self by crucifying our flesh or by our works for God (Galatians 3:1-3), but we accept the work of Christ on the cross for us, which gives us eternal salvation simply by our relationship with Him (John 17:3).

Father God, You provide all of our needs according to Your glorious riches (Philippians 4:19). We live in ceaseless wonder at the sacrifice You made for us and at the heavenly home, which You provide for us, as we abide in You forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

By faith, we accept Your sacrifice on our behalf (Hebrews 7:22), and we submit to Your Spirit as You crucify the deeds of our flesh (Romans 15:16). We enter into Your rest and obtain Your righteousness as a free gift (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23). We love You above all and give You all of the praise and glory due to Your name.

Thought for the Day:
The Holy Spirit transforms the lives He inhabits; so that we stop striving and obtain the gifts, which God has for us when we follow His lead each moment of the day.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

God of Comfort

Free stock photo of dawn, landscape, nature, sky

Our Father God loves to comfort His children. Regardless of our circumstances, He never, ever leaves or forsakes us (Matthew 28:20). Since He abides within us, He is our ever-present help in any time of need (Colossians 1:27; Psalm 46:1).

No matter what we suffer, He is concerned about our well-being, and He exhorts us not to be afraid or discouraged (Exodus 3:7; Joshua 1:9). He heals the brokenhearted in addition to those with physical infirmities (Psalm 147:3; Luke 18:42).

Jesus comforted those in His neighborhood and community, reminding them that they did not need to cry when He was there to care for them (Luke 7:13). He is risen; yet, He lives within us to care for us as well.

Our Lord did not condemn sinners; and He helps us to face the root of our issues and to repent of our sins (John 8:11; Romans 8:1). He shed His precious blood during cruel persecution and a horrendous crucifixion to pay our sin debt in our place.

God continually directs us toward a place of health in spirit, soul and body. The Trinity cares not only for our earthly needs, but for our eternal needs as well (John 14:2).

If we yoke up with Jesus, we do not carry our burdens alone. He helps us to pull the weight of our load. We humbly give up our attempts to control our own life and we totally submit to Him.

Father God, we count on You to provide us with Your peace that goes beyond any solace we can receive from this world (John 14:27). We rely on Your joy as our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). We humble our self in Your sight and trust in You to lift us up (James 4:10). Daily, we read Your Word and find Your comfort in Your Bread of Life.

We bring to You our brokenness, our betrayal, our abandonment, our abuse and our deprivation, because we know without a doubt that You care about us (1 Peter 5:7). Your Spirit is our Comforter in any time of distress; and we run into Your everlasting arms for safety, provision and security (John 14:15-18, 25-27; 15:26; 16:7; 20:22; Deuteronomy 33:27).

Thought for the Day:
Rather than over-reacting in anger at some slight or confrontation, we give God our hurt for His healing touch; so that we can respond to others with the fruit of His Spirit. This is easier to say than to do; but with practice we will walk in this truth all of the time. 
- Galatians 5:22-23

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Healing from Fear

Green Tree Plant Leaves

Fear is a debilitating emotion, which lends power to physical illness. Fear is also contagious. We pass it along to others - our children, grandchildren, neighbors, workmates, friends and other family members.

I read a story by a niece who "inherited" the fear of storms after spending time with her aunt while her parents went out of town. As an adult, she realized that she quite enjoyed storms. We often inherit our family dysfunction, which causes us to feel alone, shamed, grief, deprived and/or abused.

News casters also inspire fear in us by sensationalizing the evils in the world and the natural disasters heading in our direction. We are influenced to adopt a fearful attitude by the expectation that something dangerous is coming our way that may harm us.

Our perception of possible injury initiates the "fight or flight" response in our mind, which causes distress in our body and induces symptoms of disease. Our mind converts emotions into physical symptoms and illnesses. Scientist call these psychosomatic illnesses.

We can combat the effects of these negative combinations by trusting in God's will and ways, as we flexibly accept life as it happens, rather than fearing and fighting what "might" happen.

We stop struggling with negative emotions, which occur with illnesses, and we renounce our tendency to give in as a victim to sickness or to spend all of our energy "fighting" it.

Instead, we allow our body, soul and spirit to accept healing from God's gracious hands. This prevents our imagination from creating mental illness and physical microorganisms that really do make us sick in body, soul and spirit.

God created our body to regulate and heal itself from many illnesses. Even organs such as the liver have this capacity. We can use vitamin and mineral supplements and eliminate toxic ingredients from our food, personal hygiene and household cleaning supplies in order to aid the body in healing.

Once we understanding the root cause of our illness, we can change our lifestyle, go to counseling, and spend time praying for God to reveal the real root cause of our issues. Some of them are generational in origin passed down in our genes.

These practices go a long way in healing our maladies, because we realize that the illness is simply a courier of a deeper issue going on in our body and soul. Once the root is uncovered by God's Spirit, He sets us free from the fear inherent in them.

When we embrace our negative emotions as normal and necessary, a red flag to signal a problem causing these reactions, we rest in God's love, peace and joy. This creates a place of joyous acceptance that can transform our poor health to healing.

Father God, we thank You for inspiring medical and nutritional practitioners to study methods of healing for our body, and for giving them the wisdom to help us to experience freedom from many physical illnesses. You also designed our body, soul and spirit to adapt to events in our life by reacting with physical developments that cause illness to signal a deeper issue within us.

As we come to You for resolution of these profound spiritual, emotional and mental conflicts, our body often heals as a result. A positive, trusting attitude in Your faithfulness eradicates fear from the equation and allows us to relax physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally so that healing will result.

Thought for the Day:

We can always trust God to help us to shift our focus from fear and illness to uncover the subconscious cause of our concerns, rather than to continually treat the symptoms, which often causes new illnesses from the side effects of the medication we take. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Our Eternal Hope

Trees Under Blue Sky during Daytime

As we rest in God's peace, even in this world full of turmoil and unrest, we cease from our constant striving to survive and learn to trust the Lord (Hebrews 4:3, 10-11).

We change our focus from our earthly circumstances to our spiritual ministry - according to the direction of God's Holy Spirit. This occurs when we completely surrendering to God's will for our life.

By giving us the mind of Christ, God transforms our negative thoughts and behavior to those that honor Him. He fills us with calm confidence in His love and shrouds us with His power.

Having the veil of sin removed from our eyes by faith in the Son of God, we know without a doubt that He loves us and gave Himself for us. As His Spirit changes us from one level of His glorious image to another (2 Corinthians 3:18), each day we are more and more like Jesus.

Our flesh decreases and our desire for His Kingdom increases. Surrendering to His will, drawing closer to His heart and obeying His call on our life enables us to abound in His peace and joy and to bear His fruit in our life (Galatians 5:22-23).

With Christ abiding within us, we enjoy the promise of our eternal hope of living in His glory for eternity (Colossians 1:27).  While we remain on this earth, we live for the praise of our Father; and everyone we meet recognizes His glory manifested within us (Philippians 1:11).

God is able to do more through us than we could ever accomplish on our own; and working through His Body all over the earth, constantly enables Him to perform His glorious works world-wide.

Father God, as Your Spirit sanctifies us, we see Your glory revealed in our life more each day. Help us to fulfill Your purpose for us during our lifetime. We look forward to spending eternity with You whenever You see fit to call us Home to Heaven.

Thank You for taking on the form of a human as Jesus and for dwelling among us. We can never thank You enough for laying down Your life to pay our debt of sin and for coming as Your Spirit to abide within us. Help us to always walk in Your Spirit and to fulfill Your will for each of us as Your Body.

Thought for the Day:

The law was a tutor to point us to Christ, but how much more glorious is the new life we have through God's Spirit, because He remains in us forever. 
- 2 Corinthians 3:8

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Our Divine Refuge - Part 2

I like to picture my refuge as the wings of God, beneath which I can hide and find solace, protection and love. I snuggle safely and warmly in my hiding place where no circumstances may harm me.

Regardless of the crisis - physical, mental, emotional, financial, spiritual, etc. - God is always there to carry us through each trial. He even provides a seed for a miracle within each trial.

God gives us several other resources to use in our times of trouble (2 Corinthians 4:8-9): His Word is living water, a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105); His Body gives us sounding boards, encouragers, prayer warriors, fellowship and hugs - even those members from all over the world; His Spirit within us allows us to have courage, power and wisdom, which provide the needed resources to overcome our circumstances.

As we mature spiritually, we are no longer babes, needing a constant spot under our Father's wings. We simply run there for comfort during the storms of life, all the while maintaining a continual connection with Christ in us, who is working through us as we surrender to the direction of His Holy Spirit.

When we feel deserted, alone, discouraged, rejected and overwhelmed, we can run to our strong tower (Psalm 61:3). He never leaves or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5). He has an individual plan for each one of us that brings us joy, peace and fulfillment in this life and the next.

Father God, when our friends turn against us, when the gossips share lies that ruin our reputation, when we lose our job, family member or our mode of transportation, we cry out to You for our salvation from the rising tide of evil all around us. Often these trials bring us to our knees in total surrender to You.

It is these defining moments that set us free from trusting in our human understanding and from attempting to control the people and events in our life that are actually uncontrollable. Surrender is one of the sweetest words we can utter, because it releases us from striving to make a success of our life. It frees us to walk in Your Spirit and to live just one moment at a time.

Thought for the Day:
God is our mighty Rock, our Refuge. We trust in Him at all times and pour out our heart to Him in prayer. - Psalm 62:7-8

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Good Marriage - Look for Common Ground - Part 2

Free stock photo of nature, flowers, garden, animal

We have two choices in a relationship: 1. To focus on our differences or 2. To cherish what we enjoy in common. Satan will do everything he can to disrupt our unity, by getting us to focus on our dissimilarities.

This puts wedges between us as individuals and causes dissatisfaction with our bond. We start to pick apart our relationship, and this encourages unhappiness and makes our soul sick.

Focusing on the negative diminishes our love and respect for one another. Only the eternal optimists will insist on keeping their focus on the positive. We would do well to follow their example.

When we fall in love, we stretch our imagination in order to find what we have in common. After the honeymoon, however, we get back into the routine of life, and our attitude gradually wanes until we stop cherishing one another.

The enthusiasm and energy of first love is replaced by irritations over the differences that the devil makes sure that we see. We stop appreciating the good that we do for one another and start grumbling about our dissimilarities.

The antidote to this issue is to take the time to refocus our view on one another. What did we first love about each other? How did our fiancé surprise us? What hobbies, interests and expectations do we share? What do we still have in common?

How can our strengths fill in the gap for one another's weaknesses? What new, amazing aspects of our personalities may we discover the longer we are married? How can our differences act as a positive aspect in our relationship?

Every morning we can make a list of 3-10 aspects about our mate that make us cherish them in our life. Every evening, we can make time to share these characteristics and habits with each other to encourage more positive feelings between us during the next day.

Father God, help us to break Satan's trance that he uses to numb our mind and to change our focus to the little issues between us that he blows up out of proportion as a matter of importance. We often come to despise the very characteristics in one another that caused us to fall in love in the first place. Help us to see that You combined our differences to bless each other, not to drive a wedge between us.

Show us that differences are a blessing. Point out to us that the Morning Dove can set up our day and get the family started, whereas the Night Owl can wind things down and prepare for the next day. The one who is always on time can keep the one who is always late on target. The planner can give our marriage purpose and goals, while the spontaneous one can bring flexibility, excitement and adventure into our life together. The extravert will make new friends for us and allow the introvert to move into these new relationships a little more slowly.

Thought for the Day:
We can look for commonality in our relationships at the same time that we learn to appreciate the qualities that our differences bring to our marriage; so that our feelings of love will grow, rather than turn into irritations and log jams that diminish our love and appreciation of one another.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Pleasing God with Our Life

Free stock photo of light, dawn, landscape, sky

As a newly saved, totally committed follower of Jesus, I did not want to displease God. Therefore, in my first few months after being Born Again, I made lists, using my trusty concordance to look up verses about what pleased Him and what displeased Him.

I diligently researched verse after verse, making two columns on a legal pad, so that I could fully comprehend what He wants from His Saints. I religiously adhered to even the most vague letter of the law (Matthew 5:18).

My heart was in the right place in desiring not to disappoint God; however, what I eventually learned was that no amount of striving could produce righteousness in me (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9).

All of my religious effort to walk in holiness amounted to no more than a pile of old dirty rags (Isaiah 64:6). All of my determination simply built my house on the sand and gave me boasting rights, because of my accomplishments, that did not really belong to me (Matthew 7:26).

God finally got through to me and convinced me that I could accomplished nothing lasting or valuable by trusting in my own self-efforts. Only as I drew near to God, and resisted Satan, could I walk in freedom and truly please God (James 4:7-8).

I learned that the real key is to walk in the Spirit each moment of the day. Listening to His directions and following His peace takes practice; but once learned, it turns into a lifetime habit that results in righteousness, peace and joy (Romans 14:17).

Father God, our old way of life is gone forever. You made everything completely new by Jesus' sacrifice on Calvary's cross (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:23). Thank You for ordering our days and blessing us in every area of our life as we trust in You (Psalm 139:16; 2 Corinthians 9:8).

Your ways are perfect. Your Son dwells within us and is the God of truth with no iniquity in Him (Deuteronomy 32:4). Thank You for drawing us closer to You, for filling us with a fresh union with Your Spirit, and for blessing us in each new day beyond anything we could ever imagine.

Thought for the Day:
The Spirit of God empowers us, fills us, directs us, comforts us, and enables us to shun evil and honor God with all of our thoughts, words, emotions and actions.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Future Security

Free stock photo of sea, dawn, sunset, beach

The Southern Baptist Convention has a special fund for Pastors and their wives who gave away all of their earnings to the poor and to Kingdom causes; but then, ended up in retirement with no money to pay their bills.

I not only give to this ministry every year, but I also spent the bulk of my 60s saving every penny that I could squeeze out of our budget in order to save for our retirement years.

Eventually, I had a good cushion in certificates of deposit that, along with social security and a couple of IRAs, would see us through the first few years of retirement.

I was also counting on the sale of our Florida home to help us through another couple of years; however, you know what they say, "the best laid plans of mice and men."

Well, about this same time, we met hurricane Irma of 2017, a record-breaking storm that covered the entire state of Florida at one time and slowly moved up the middle of the state wreaking havoc with every gust of wind and its torrential rain.

Although it did not destroy our manufactured home like it did so many other places in our former community, it did so much damage that I had to cash in our meager retirement fund to pay for the labor and repairs. 

At first, I felt angry with God for not helping us to sell the place when we first relocated to Illinois to serve as Pastor of the church where God sent us. He also allowed the insurance to drop us since we were selling the home and no one lived there.

In my distress over the added financial stress this caused, I kept repeating Habakkuk 3:16-19 to keep my focus on God's faithfulness and to release these negative feelings in my soul: "16 My inward parts trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for deliverance from the day of distress.

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls,

18 YET I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. 19The LORD GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds' feet, And makes me walk on my high places."

Then, God led me to read a devotion posted by a fellow Pastor and it brought about the needed conviction in my soul to help me to repent and move on.

I realized that I was more concerned about saving for our future than I was about trusting God to provide our daily bread (Matthew 6:11). I placed my confidence in our meager savings, rather than in our God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10).

Father God, I repent of my self-centered notion that I could provide for our needs better than You can. Saving money became an idol in my life, which I trusted in to care for us more than I trusted You. I know that saving is important, but I had my priorities in the wrong place. Now, I verbally, mentally and emotionally place our care in Your capable hands, because You always care for us (1 Peter 5:7).

I trusted You all of my life to protect, nurture and provide for me and everyone that I love. Now, I put our retirement years in Your loving hands too (Hebrews 13:5). I will trust in You to continue to supply our daily needs with Your glorious riches (Philippians 4:19). I stop striving for this and I go back to trusting in Your benevolence and watch care over us every moment of every day.

Thought for the Day:
In this world, we encounter so much tribulation that it is easy to fall into the trap of worrying about tomorrow; yet, Jesus exhorted us to seek His Kingdom first and to allow tomorrow to worry about itself. Living in the moment with gratitude in our heart to the Lord is where we will find true serenity and joy. 
- Matthew 6:34-35; Proverbs 3:5-6

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Joy in Negative Circumstances

 Scenic View of Beach

God exhorts us to pray without ceasing throughout our entire day (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). He also encourages us to walk in His Spirit (Galatians 5:15-25). He inspires us to unflinchingly trust in His faithfulness and to love Him with all of our heart (Proverbs 3:6).

The Lord advises us to disregard the desires of our flesh, the lies of the devil, and the draw from the world, so that we do not rely on our human wisdom. Instead we consult and submit to Him continually in everything we say and do, so that He may direct our steps (Proverbs 3:5).

We cherish the presence of God in our life and the leading of His Spirit, because they are our lifeline to enjoying a fulfilled life. We emulate Jesus' example, spend time alone with God, and stay in the Trinity's presence as we perform our daily responsibilities (Luke 5:16).

God provides us with everything we need. For instance, God inspired us as a couple to purchase a large double-wide mobile home in Florida, after we leased our little house to our neighbor, because he eventually wanted to buy it from us.

Hurricane Irma of 2017 almost destroyed our double wide. This was devastating news for us, because it meant we could not purchase the land and building next to our church facilities in Illinois.

Yet, we trusted God's goodness even in this trial. We grieved our losses, and then joyfully waited to see what miracle God planted in all of this expense and devastation in Florida. We knew from experience that He had an ultimate plan.

A regular visitor to our church family in Illinois heard what happened and realized that our vision to open a cafe across the street from our church facilities, as an outreach and ministry opportunity to our little village, was no longer an option for us.

Therefore, he donated the money for us to purchase the land, building and much of the needed equipment for a fully operational cafe. He and his wife did all they could from out of town to help us to get the Bluebird Café open and operating.

In any lifetime, people often experience a similar "birth, death and rebirth" of a vision from God (Bill Gothard). When our only door shuts, God breaks down a wall and builds another one for us.

God always plants a seed for a miracle in every trial, and this gives us the faith to joyfully endure the worst of circumstances and trials with His peace and hope.

Father God, when we trust in You, we will never experience the depression of hopes dashed against the cold reality of a faded moon. We will rest in the solid constancy of Your never-changing Son, because You never fail us nor forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5-8).

Jesus constantly makes intercession for us to You, our Father, during every moment of our life (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34). Satan may bombard us with doubt and anxiety, but if we look to You, then Your perfect love will cast out all of our fear (1 John 4:18).

Thought for the Day:
Someone said, “Fear knocked. Faith answered the door and no one was there!” I remember that little "proverb" every time the world or Satan or God inflicts us with some change or trial that I did not plan nor have any control over. This helps me to refocus my attitude to one of faith in God's faithfulness.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Spiritual Weapons  

Close Photography of Red and Pink Rose

God does not recommend that we wallow in fear; so He gives us His power, love and a stable mind, along with the fruit of His Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Timothy 1:7). He sheds the light of His Truth on the devil's lies and exposes them for the hollow threats that they really are.

God's presence within us gives us courage to face the giants in our life. We use weapons in spiritual warfare that are not of this world, but fashioned in Heaven. They dispel Satan's lies and the philosophy of the world.

As we walk in the Spirit, we do not fulfill the lusts of our carnal flesh, but we reap righteous rewards for righteous actions (Galatians 5:15-25). We trust in the guidance of God's Holy Spirit, even if His directives make no earthly sense - consider the Battle of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27).

When our insecurities rise to the surface, we simply whisper a worried prayer. This allows God's peace to come flooding into our soul and to fill our spirit, changing our fear to faith, and preventing our body from succumbing to sickness caused by stress and anxiety.

God rarely answers our prayers according to our dictates, but He always answers them with a "Yes," "No," or "Wait for My timing." While waiting for His answer, we condition our mind to focus on what is honorable, pleasing to God, righteous, beautiful, excellent, faithful, of a good report, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Bible teachers tell us that fear constantly knocks at our door, but we can overcome it by allowing our faith in God's faithfulness to answer the door. This allows us to look for the seed for a miracle in every trial.

Father God, at times this world frightens us with its evil potential and the threat of danger all around us. We would end up in an asylum, except that Your presence within us allows us to maintain an unwavering mind of faith in Your faithfulness. We are thankful for Your everlasting love and that You draw us to Yourself with your loving kindness (Jeremiah 31:3).

Praising, believing and trusting in You in the good times and in the bad times gives us a habit of rejoicing in Your presence and Spirit, rather than in keeping our focus on what we think we need. This means that we do not beg You, quote scripture at You, or try to manipulate You to provide what we want, because we only find fulfillment in the center of Your will.

Thought for the Day:
We will probably not find fulfillment, even if God gives us what we want, because we will just find something else to want; therefore, living in the center of God's will is the happiest place on earth.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Avoiding Anxiety

Free stock photo of dawn, landscape, nature, sun

Anxiety comes in many forms and to people of all ages, races and creeds. Christianity is not an insulation from anxiety. That is why God's Word exhorts us not to be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:5-7).

In today's society, we think that sleeping for less than eight hours is commendable, we fail to give our soul time to recuperate before starting yet another project, we overly commit our self, we attempt to divide our attention between two or more activities at one time, and we set goals that are too stressful for us to reach.

We are not satisfied with food and clothing, but need more to make us happy; or so we are told by the consumerism of the world and the covetousness of our flesh (1 Timothy 6:8-10). However, this only causes us to drown in stress and anxiety.

Our failings haunt us, our worries overwhelm us, and our problems attempt to engulf us. We make a concerted effort to control every aspect of our life, but control continues to allude us.

Life tends to control us instead. Our only salvation from this malady comes from totally surrendering everything to the Lord. This allows us to live in His will for our life rather than following our own plans.

We consult Him before we do anything and then we walk by the direction of His Spirit (Proverbs 3:5-6). Trusting God to provide what we need is paramount to reach stress-free living.

A simple life is much more advantageous than continually striving for more of this world's goods. If we do not have something in this life that we think we need, then God does not want us to have it; otherwise, He would provide it for us.

God will give us what we need, when we need it, and not before time. If we praise God for what we do have, we see that we do not really require what we think we need. This realization allows us to live in contentment rather than in anxiety.

Father God, we do thank You for all that You give to us and all that You already provided for us. We thank You first and foremost for our salvation, for the fellowship of other authentic Believers, for our daily bread, and for all of Your many blessings. We thank You for enabling us to totally surrender our life, our wants and our dreams to Your perfect will for us (Philippians 2:12-13).

Trusting in You protects us from the negative consequences in our body and soul that come from attempting to succeed in this world, it erases our need for more than what we have, and it gives us Your peace that surpasses our human understanding (Philippians 4:7). You give us love and companionship in Your Body and You promise never to leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Thought for the Day:
The Trinity abides within us; and as we trust in His provision for every aspect of our life, His peace floods our soul and guides us each moment of every day.