24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25
Has worry ever grabbed you, and suddenly you feel suffocated by a situation beyond your control? Worry is a condition many live in regularly. We all know there are some rather large situations in life that can escalate our concern to full-blown worry.
If you are a Christian, I can tell you Jesus doesn’t want His children to make a practice of worrying. Worry is a sin, and any effort we put forth to get it under control is time well spent. Some of those efforts are talked about in other blogs on this site, but spending time in Scripture or prayer is some of my go-to strategies.
The immediate reward of choosing to slow down and engage with God’s Word or talk to Jesus is undeniably beneficial. Ultimately, worry harms our mind and body, which could be why God doesn’t want His children consumed by it. Our heavenly Father knows His children, and He knows when we worry, our hearts and minds are not on Him. It’s as if we agree with our flesh and/or the devil about situations instead of trusting Jesus and gaining strength through the Holy Spirit to wait on His outcome.
All through the Bible, solutions are given to help us give our worries to Him, to turn our worries into prayers, and cast our burden on Him. Maybe this is where you find yourself now.
If you are in this consuming situation now, take a healthy break, and be intentional. Sit down and read these scriptures. The mind will move from worry to the Word if you read out loud. Do it repeatedly if needed, and your mind will engage with Scripture.
Psalm 19 (the whole chapter)
Then take a few minutes and write these scriptures. Then pray the scripture back to God.
This is a winning way to follow Jesus. If you are a Christian, then you will feel God’s peace inside. You will be more relaxed. Then you will know God is in control of the situation. Then you can praise Him for the beautiful work He did in you over the last few minutes, and you can thank Him for what He will do in your situation.
The theme of my website is “Winning Ways to Follow Jesus,” and taking care of our bodies is a winning way to follow Jesus. So in this article, I have a healthy, easy recipe to help you out this weekend and spur you on toward love and good deeds(Hebrews 10:24). But since we’re on the topic of taking care of our bodies, let’s look a minute at verses from scripture that go along with this idea. These are not all verses that apply to this topic.
I Corinthians 6:19-20 – Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God with your body.
Every follower of Jesus has the Holy Spirit. He comes to live in us at the moment of salvation. We belong to God. He is our master from that point, so our bodies are to glorify Him.
Ephesians 5:29 – For no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…
We are not to hate our body. Jesus had a real flesh and blood body, which was given to pay the price for my sin and yours. Our body is His temple. How can we hate our body? We can make daily choices to lovingly care for it and protect it.
Ephesians 2:10 – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God has work for each of His children to do until the day we die or until Jesus comes again. When we fail to care for our body, His workmanship((Genesis 2:7), then we will feel bad. Then we don’t have the energy or desire to do the works God has for us to do. We will miss out on what He had planned and lose our purpose.
Have fun researching this topic for yourself. And enjoy this tasty recipe!
Wash 2 boxes of cherry tomatoes and dry
Open 1 frozen bag of vegetables(keep frozen)
Combine tomatoes and vegetables in a bowl
Drizzle olive oil on the tomatoes and vegetables
Add your own spices. Last night I used garlic powder and a little salt, and generous pepper
Stir until all is covered with oil and spices
Spray oil on a foil-lined pan and arrange tomatoes and vegetables on pan
Bake on 400 until tomatoes pop and vegetables are browning
1st picture – tomatoes and frozen vegetables:
2nd picture – roasted tomatoes and frozen vegetables
If you are a Christ follower, then you know that spending time with the Father through Bible reading and prayer is not a legalistic exercise, but you cherish this practice; it is life to you.
As carelessly as some followers approach reading His Word, there can often be little attention given to prayer unless in a crisis. A Christ-follower can engage with God through the power of His Holy Spirit in prayer. If you only go to God when something immediate is wrong in your life, then you are no better than the characters on a soap opera. I used to watch them, and characters prayed only in a crisis to a god they didn’t know. So, how do we keep from being or becoming people who only pray in crisis?
Expect results. Prayer is a discipline. I know that sounds like “eat your vegetables,” but to get out of “crisis mode only” with prayer, you will need to practice. Now that is not to say you can’t pray at other times. You can pray all day long, anytime. But praying as a choice is necessary to learn how to pray effectively.
Expect to hear from God. We all fear that God might speak to us in our prayer, and we aren’t sure we want to hear what He has to say. But once you pray intentionally, you become fearless. Your faith strengthens and you are willing to accept any instruction, comfort, or guidance He gives. Even if something is hard to hear, you can pray about it.
Expect better relationships. Prayer keeps you honest before God. It stands to reason that if you are honest before God, your relationships will get more honest, and more peace will be produced in your life. Every relationship problem may not be solved, but you will have more peace.
Expect to use the Bible in your prayer time. Use the scripture you read earlier in devotions. Or find a passage particular to your situation. Praying scripture is a submissive choice to agree with God that His Word is true and true for you.
Expect answers to your prayers. God honors those who honor Him and He is waiting to hear from you. The more you pray, the more answers you will get. He will answer prayers that are for your good and His glory which is directly connected to His will for your life.
None of this means that you’ll be spared of sufferings. God is not a genie. But a fervent prayer life will sustain you in suffering. True followers of Christ will suffer in this life. That is theologically based right out of God’s Holy Word, but your prayer life will give you strength and wisdom for each trial.
Do you need to get on your knees?
I choose to get on my knees because something supernatural happens there. It’s a humble posture, and once I begin, I have no trouble thanking God for who He is. Praise comes out of my mouth easily. I confess my sins. Isn’t this what you’d expect to do in prayer? It goes from being a stiff “have to” step in my quiet time to a desire to know Him and enjoy His presence.
I hope these tips will encourage you to enter into God’s presence with expectation and gladness.
“True prayer is a way of life, not just for use in cases of emergency. Make it a habit, and when the need arises you will be in practice.”
Some people love adventure and roaming the earth to have an adventure is done with ease. Home is where my heart is. I love everything about home. I have a Pinterest board with that title.
My family moved a lot when I was a child. I have always had trouble leaving the familiar. I need a plan. Anxiety began to reside in me at a young age. Every move was another traumatic, lonely excursion. It never occurred to me that I could do something about it and over time, like a stubborn weed grips hard soil, it became part of me. I tried hard not to let it stop me, but I’m sure opportunities were missed.
In the late 90s, my husband and I took two mission trips to Ukraine and while those trips showed us spiritual lostness on a world scale, I battled anxiety. The first one we went as team members. Once we returned to our comfortable life, pride and amazement swelled in me. That trip was my first time flying too! Mission accomplished, good job. A big check for such a feat. Barely enjoying normal life again, to our surprise, we received a message requesting my husband be the team leader of another trip to Ukraine, to take place only six months later. I could not believe it. But I knew God was doing this. Me resting on my laurels was not in His plan.
Thankfully, the Lord used a completely different situation in the early 21st century to call me to pay attention to my issue with anxiety. I won’t explain that, but the result was I obeyed. Through the power of His Holy Spirit, God guided me to some practices that put me in scripture consistently, daily. These practices were in addition to a morning quiet time I’d had for decades. The result was His peace and a transformed mind. Anxiety starts in the mind. Much of what was begun then remains in my spiritual practices today.
In 2019, my husband sensed we needed to call the IMB (International Mission Board) as our next assignment in ministry. I could not believe it. I knew this would mean we wouldn’t visit a foreign and unfamiliar country, but we would live in a foreign and unfamiliar country.
For years, whenever I’d read Psalm 139 my eyes would gaze on vs. 9 which says, “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Thoughts would swirl as I wondered if Psalm 139:9 would ever be true for me. Today as I live in a foreign country writing this, I am aware I am very far from the familiar, it is on the far side of the sea, and I’m living in the verse to the praise of His Name.
Yes, anxiety visits still, but God’s Word has long-term effects and I benefit greatly from the years of investment. You can too.
“Let God’s promises shine on your problems.” Corrie Ten Boom
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Every person in Christ has a treasure inside. It comes by way of fruit. The fruit within shows the world our Friend and the quiet display of His love.
It is said we become like the ones nearest us so the fruit should be picked every day.
Evidenced through the trials we bear; down here there’s suffering and testing that tear. But it’s here when fruit bursts forth and grows strong, for endurance is needed and can be so long.
For how else will love grow but when put with a foe. Someone who is tiresome or one who is gruff. As God’s Word our guide and this fruit down inside commands love burst forth, alive!
Joy unending, flowing under it all, is the oil that yields produce, the soothing gladness of soul.
But joy brings peace and peace is still because peace is the space where the soul can heal.
But peace walks with patience and patience is lovely. What a relief when we do not act ugly.
Kindness can flow from a heart that is patient because kindness is known by a desire to be gracious.
Next on the vine, goodness joins kind because goodness describes God’s heart. God, if anything is always good, and goodness beside kindness is best understood.
To be a friend, to walk through a trial, to love when it’s hard is where faithfulness is found.
It may be the root of all the fruit, for faithfulness is lost now and needs to be found.
Gentleness, how lacking in this cruel world, is stolen, replaced by asserting ourselves. Passivity its counterfeit, but so far from right; Gentleness is strong and a soothing, warm light. To comfort, to calm, and quiet a fear. Gentleness works and draws us near.
But self-control beats a loud drum indeed. Dominance it needs in order to lead. The flesh needs a pause, self-control to rule, it’s payback is great, and it makes no fools.
So what is this fruit that comes from above? Is it useful and profitable and marked by love? Yes, winsome it is to a weary world and brings humility in midst of trial. So how can fruit be good to the taste? It is in spending time not in want or in waste. And linger in quiet, the Spirit transform. For an increase of His company is how to reform. The flesh or the Spirit, this forever our choice, until He returns and then we’ll rejoice!
Have you wondered how to get to heaven? Many people have ideas about getting to heaven. The sources for information that are readily available many times are the ones least likely to have the answers you’re looking for.
There is an idea out there that if one has not offended humanity in some overt way, then heaven is surely possible. This is a popular belief of our day. Good works is a gospel quite prevalent in many religious sects. One must abide by a set of rules or do many works. This will surely reserve one’s place in heaven. The perpetrator of these lies leading people to hell is the enemy of our souls. The Bible says the devil, a predator, roams around seeking who he may devour (I Peter 5:8). He is successful in leading millions to believe in these ideas or others. Each of these mentioned is putting trust in oneself for salvation. It seems like a glance at humanity could bring an intelligent conclusion that salvation surely does not come from within the heart of humanity. But the enemy is vicious and clever, so the lies perpetuate from one generation to the next.
The Bible is clear that our works do not get us to heaven (Ephesians 2:8-9). We will express our faith through works once we are saved by faith in Jesus, but that is a compelling expression of our love and service to Jesus and His church, not out of obligation. The Bible is clear that no one is good, so all our sin is an offense to God (Romans 3:10-12). We all sin (Romans 3:23).
Many are missing the best information. There is only one way to fix the human heart. God made us in His image (Genesis 1:27), and He desires for us to know Him. God loves us. He loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die so we could have eternal life(John 3:16). Because there is only one way, there is no guessing. Jesus stated in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” The statement is clear and spoken with authority by the One and Only One who can provide the way. The only way to God is through Jesus.
The world religions make it complicated and exhausting to get to God. Thank God for Jesus!. Jesus never sinned. This fact made Him the perfect sacrifice. In John 1:29, John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The purpose is clear why Jesus came to earth. Jesus came to take away our sin. Because He never sinned, He could take our sin. He bore our sin when He bled and died on the cross. Because our sin is an offense to Him, we cannot get to heaven because no sin is in heaven. We have to be righteous and when we receive Jesus then His righteousness covers us and we are declared righteous.
Jesus made the way for everyone to come to God through Him. Although He provided the way with His flesh and blood sacrifice, not everyone will choose Him. It is a personal choice that every person on the planet, past, present, and future, must make. What to do with Jesus? Those who choose Him can know that His resurrection ensures resurrected life for them too. The assurance is when He returns, every person who has put their faith in Him will be resurrected, whether in the grave or still alive (John 14:1-3).
Some people reject Jesus in their last bitter breath. Some receive Him in their last believing breath. But everyone will decide. It is not an objective decision. It is not an arbitrary decision. Philippians 2 tells us that one day every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess when Jesus comes again. What you find the hardest to do now will be forced out of you because no one will be able to be in His presence, see His presence, or know the reality of His coming without being in submission. But it will be too late at that moment. Every human on the planet, past, present, and future, has to decide whether they will make that choice now. Now is the time. It will be too late the moment you die, or in the moment He appears. Now is the time.
I’ve included verses that will help you ponder so great a salvation. The most important decision you can make now is what to do with God’s Son, Jesus.
As you read these verses, I pray that you will believe these verses. I pray you will receive Jesus as your Savior. Jesus is the only One who ever claimed to be God. In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” This so clearly declared Jesus is God. This is a life-changing statement of truth. Only Jesus could state this.
Please read and ponder these verses today. Jesus is the only way to God. I hope you decide to receive Jesus and claim Him as Lord of your life. He is so wonderful. He will be your dearest friend every day of your life. You will find His friendship the best and His love for you dear and kind. He is worthy of trust and He has a plan for your life that you would never think of on your own. If you decide to follow Him, you will wonder what took you so long. I know others who would agree with me about this. Please give your heart and life to Jesus today. I’ve never heard anyone say they regret it. Jesus is the way to heaven and once you know Him, your place is reserved.
If you are reading this and already have this relationship with Jesus, then please share this post with someone you know who needs to know how to get to heaven.
How to get to heaven:
John 3:16 & 17- “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
Romans 3:23-for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 2:8-9 – I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. 9 It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it.
Acts 2:21 – And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
John 11:25 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live.
Romans 10:9 – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Years ago, my husband and I shared this wonderful news with a group and when we led them to consider these truths, one man declared aloud to his wife, “Now we know how to get to heaven.” This man was around 90 years of age. The Lord was merciful to him and let him live long enough to believe and receive Jesus in his heart. Maybe wherever you are now, you too will receive this wonderful gift of grace, given freely by Jesus the Son of God.
Now is the time. May today be the day you can say with assurance, “I understand now how to get to heaven.”
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
In the Fall of 2000, my husband and I, along with a mission team arrived in Odessa, Ukraine. Our assignment: to prayer walk in a village in the Crimean peninsula. Although we’d been trained in the months preceding, the journey was new. Preparing to go was an extraordinary undertaking and prayer walking, a new concept in our lives. Our team leader trained us using a book entitled, Prayer Walking: Praying On-Site with Insight by Graham Kendrick.
The day arrived for the 12-hour flight. Once landed, the Odessa airport experience was uncomfortable and primitive. The environment was punctuated with a quiet mystery looming as armed guards watched suspiciously from a distance. The freedoms we enjoy in America seemed suddenly gone and replaced by a grey, colorless, restrictive environment. No bustling people, announcements, television newscasts, bathrooms, food kiosks or shops. We were in a new land and the mission was before us.
The poverty, unpredictable electricity, potties in the ground, undrinkable water and dirt roads all normal to Ukrainians, were unusual and humorous at times to us. We saw God at work and were rewarded immediately and consistently for our obedience, yet still, the lay of the land was unfamiliar and kept us on our toes.
This is why Thomas and June Nolen were key to our navigation from the familiar to unfamiliar. Their easy demeanor and genuine joy gave us strength for this incredible task. Their humor was medicine to our weary souls. We will never forget their attentiveness, and reliability. Their smiles, even their appearance spoke of a couple ready to serve, able to care for those who’d come to be on mission. The week was inspiring and faith building, but it was the Nolens who God used to orchestrate it.
The Nolens are a retired couple from Mantee, MS. They served in Ukraine from January 1999 – Fall 2002 being Coordinators for the Mississippi/Ukraine partnership. Many Mississippians went to Ukraine those years. As far as our week in Ukraine, the Nolens presence felt like protection; their cheer and humor like familiarity; their appreciation like confidence.
Last fall I saw the ad in the Mission Mosaic magazine for a Walk of Faith garden being constructed at the WMU headquarters in Birmingham, AL. June Nolen came to mind and I decided to purchase a brick in her honor.
If you decide to do this, the WMU Foundation will send a letter to the person you are honoring with your gift or to the family of the person you are memorializing. The letter they receive lets them know you gave. This is a picture of the letter I received showing a replica of the brick going in this garden to be seen by generations.
It’s my joy to honor June Nolen. A kind, organized, thorough, sometimes funny, real, and beautiful missionary. She and Thomas have loved me and Clark through the years and enriched our lives with palpable memories and spiritual commitment.
If you would like more information so you can honor or memorialize a person who’s impacted your life through missions, visit the website here.
See a video telling about the Walk of Faith garden here.
The Nolen’s walk of faith certainly impacted our walk of faith. And now you can impact those who’ve impacted you with a Walk of Faith brick too.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
June Nolan went to be with the Lord in 2019. In light of the events today in Ukraine, there’s no doubt in my mind that her spiritual legacy lives in the hearts of many there and is bringing encouragement and help. She and Thomas brought spiritual strength to the believers there and it was not in vain. Clark and I are indebted to Thomas and June Nolan and their mission hearts and love for Christ, and we carry their influence with us always.
And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart,so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God.But as for those who long for vile images and detestable idols, I will repay them fully for their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”
As Valentines Day approaches, may I recommend a sharp focus on Jesus! He meets all our expectations. He never fails. The world groans. It is predictable. If you follow Jesus, then you are in a relationship with the only One who gives hope and provides us perfect love. Remember, this world is not our home when we know Jesus. We don’t have to follow the world’s customs. Valentines Day can be a time for followers of Jesus to tighten our grip and be all the more devoted to the One who saved our soul and who lives in our hearts!
Because of Him we have a new heart. We have His unconditional and intentional love. He loves us with an everlasting love and He sees us. Here’s four ways God shows us His love and we can know His love is not blind.
God’s love is NOT blind – Lost people act like lost people and He sees. He is not turning a blind eye. Lost people do wander in darkness and produce much wickedness and evil. It is up to us, His children, to live exemplary lives, to live set apart, to pray for hearts of the lost to to be transformed through the power of the Gospel. And we His children are commanded to witness, to share the gospel on a regular basis.
God’s love is NOT blind – Even believers can produce surprising amounts of wickedness and evil which He sees. Although we are His children, we still give in to our sin nature for a moment or even a season. When we do, His discipline, designed to chase us back will come. (Proverbs 3:12). As for consequences, those soon become self-evident. Grace is wonderful, but it is to be cherished and keep us humble. God’s love is not blind to our confessions and desire to turn back to Him and follow His ways. (1 John 1:9)
God’s love is NOT blind – He sees the good things His children do out of love for Him and He brings brings a harvest(Galatians 6:9). This is particularly encouraging if you’re in a thankless and under appreciated environment. God’s love is not blind, and it is thrilling when we sense His approval of who we are becoming as we obey Him.
God’s love is NOT blind – For His children, we are given grace and mercy in all of life’s seasons whether we are devoted or not. God’s love is not blind. It can’t be overstated how kind God is to His own. But just as God is love, we should be motivated by love to desire to obey Him and this should give us good testimonies and ensure a pure heart before Him.
As believers, we are to walk humbly before our God. God is all-knowing. We can rest in His love and know His love is not blind. For His devoted ones observing this world, this is a comfort to us. God sees all and He has a justice system that is not based on human emotion. God does not change. He will punish the wicked. He will uphold the righteous.
Here are a few action tips for believers living in this dark world:
We can sharpen our spiritual disciplines in prayer, Bible reading, witnessing, sharing with those in need, fasting, memorizing and meditating on scripture, taking care of our bodies, praising Him, holding our tongues, committing to kingdom work through the local church.
We can remember that God is light and in Him there is no darkness, at all. Make times to focus on Jesus.
We can take a break from the news.
We can examine our own lives and ask God to show us any ways that don’t please Him.
We can humble ourselves and ask God to fill our hearts with His love for this world.
We can pray that the hearts of people won’t be hardened especially those who are in places of authority.
We can remember God loves the righteous and the unrighteous. We can remember that we used to be enemies of God.
We can strive to live in such a way that the Lord takes pleasure in us and provides His protection to us.
With all that is going on so rapidly in our world and in our country, it is comforting to know that God’s love is not blind. It is also important for His children to look for where God is working. Ask His Holy Spirit to show you and then thank Him for these good things. We must pray for those in authority over us and live our lives in a way that pleases Him. We are God’s way of reaching the world. When He looks at His kids, we want Him to see us actively involved in His work. After all, God’s love is NOT blind.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
I don’t know about you, but time and again, I’m amazed by how one can take great photos from an iPhone! In my day, great photographs came from a traditional, expensive camera and there were people called photographers who took those photos. The rest of us attempted great shots but were often disappointed by blurry, oops, our finger in front of the lens, not great at all pictures. But these days, technology is so advanced that our devices can capture our lives with precision and clarity that is beyond our expectations. Additionally, free online classes that teach how to shoot these eye-catching photos with the iPhone give us skill at our fingertips.
One day as I was listening to an iPhone photography video, the instructor taught me how to frame a photo. There was one tree in a field that was his focus. When he talked about framing the picture, he said, “ It’s just an ordinary tree.” He was setting me up to show me how he could make an “ordinary tree” look spectacular. Instead, he sent my mind thinking, “ there are no ordinary trees!” As a lover of trees, I thought of the times a tree initiated my worship of its Creator. Trees are amazing as most things in creation, but trees have a presence and display God’s glory and what they offer to humankind, and the animal kingdom is magnificent.
Some trees are stunning in their form whether my amazement comes from their stately form or their spindly or gnarly details. Others are dead, yet still, display a hollow, docile beauty of their own, and others are floral or bear fruit, and fragrance wafts from their verdant form. Still, others are puny, unpruned, out of control and fruitless. Whatever the tree’s condition, trees are incredible. There are no ordinary trees.
I think this is what our Creator God thinks because He uses trees throughout His holy Word to make points and underscore principles. There was one tree from which our Savior hung so that all who believe would be forgiven and gain eternal life. If you’ve not paid attention to the trees nearest you lately, perhaps these verses will bring awareness to the fact that there are no ordinary trees.
Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. Genesis 1:11
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Psalm 96:12
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.” Luke 6:43
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and those who win souls are wise. Proverbs 11:30
Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” I Kings 19:5
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:3
Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and he was unable due to the crowd, because he was short in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree in order to see Him, because He was about to pass through that way. Luke 19:3&4
The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine, to beautify the place of my sanctuary, and I will make the place of my feet glorious. Isaiah 60:13
Then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Leviticus 26:4
His shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like the Lebanon. Hosea 14:6
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on the a cross. Acts 5:30
I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.
Cleaning up my data on my phone recently when I discovered these notes. I’m passing them on to my readers. Remember the word content is not mine. Priscilla Shirer (daughter of pastor Tony Evans) was in person a few years ago at FBC Jackson and this is notes from that message. Take what’s useful.
Prayer doesn’t manipulate God, it gives you access to what He already has planned for you.
The enemy wants to devalue.
Psalm 133- God commands a blessing.
Unity- He commands that there be a blessing.
We sit on our feelings like they are fact
You don’t execute- you just hold on to your knowledge.
We never need to pray about a command.
Only the Creator can define you and call you by your name.
You are not defined by anything other than who God says you are.
The applause of those around or lack of applause doesn’t define you.
Even your weaknesses can become a platform.
When I surrender all I am to God then I become a temple for the Holy Spirit.
When God encountered people He changed their name.
Align everything with your identity.
Over 8000 promises. To grab hold of them you gotta know who you are.
When you don’t know who you are you get attacked by the enemy.
And everyone was doing what they thought was right in their own eyes.
The Middianites had conquered them.
Vs 11&12- Gideon was met by the angel and the angel called him a valiant warrior.
The angel of the Lord came to meet with mere people. It is God. Gideon is threshing wheat in a wine press. He is hiding. The angel of the Lord went to him. vs 11- He was there but in vs 12 he became aware he was near.
Open our eyes to see Him.
We want the manifest presence of God. We see Him. We see His tracks.
He hilights the word!
Spiritual senses so that our spiritual radar is up.
If you’ve not been able to detect God, and you can’t trust His hand then trust his heart.
You know you are hearing from God, when you hear truth. He will not conform to us. We must turn into His likeness.
Truth doesn’t change just cause we don’t like it.
You’re entire family is waiting for you to figure out who you are.
The whole nation was waiting on one person.
Daniel- God didn’t take them out of the fire, He joined them in the fire.
Isaiah 65- I allowed myself to be found by people who didn’t want to be found.
It’s only January 5th of 2022 but a bad day has already showed up and you are discouraged. Is this your situation? If it is, let’s remember that if you follow Jesus then He is with you. He loves you. You need not fret, or allow your spirit to be troubled. Bad days are a reminder of how dependent we are to be on Jesus. They are not a commentary on how life really is.
Psalm 73:26 says, ” My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Often bad days are full of lies. They are meant to discourage you. While there is some truth that comes from bad days, don’t let everything about them become your truth. While there usually is something to learn from a bad day, it is not a reason to give up hope, lose faith in God, or believe that a plan He’s made clear to you has ended. A bad day isn’t that serious. Try to keep your perspective because the same God who is with you before and through the bad day is with you beyond the bad day! Praise the Lord! Last night in a devotional piece by Amy Carmichael, I read this reflection:
And if the day ends in what seems failure, don’t fret. Tell Him about it. Tell Him you are sorry. Even so, don’t be discouraged. All discouragement is of the devil.
She went on to say this…
Then let your soul hang on Him. “My soul hangeth upon Thee” (Ps. 63:9, PBV)—not upon my happiness in prayer, but just upon Thee. Tell Him you are sorry, and fall back on the old words: “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee” (John 21:17)—unworthy as I am. Let these words comfort your heart: “The Lord . . . lifteth up all those that are down” (Ps. 145:14, PBV). “Cast not away . . . your confidence” (Heb. 10:35); there is a “great recompense of reward” waiting for you a little later on. Carmichael, Amy. Edges of His Ways (p. 243). CLC Publications. Kindle Edition
There are a few other things to remember after a bad day:
1. God is still working. If your bad day was a direct consequence of your actions, then confess that sin to God and to the other person. If it is because of another then forgive them now. Move on.
2. God sings over you and He is the lifter of your head. Zephaniah 3:17 says,
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
You may not be singing but He is. That is a mystery to me, but I choose to believe it.
But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. Psalm 3:3
3. God is your hope. A bad day is not a predictor of the future. Go to Him in prayer. Sing a hymn. The devil is not coming around anyone singing to Jesus. Determine to focus on Jesus.
It’s a new year. Your emotions are not telling you truth. Turn to scripture for truth and keep trusting God and putting all your hope in Him.
Christmas music abounds with scads of beautiful and touching carols, but none has captured my heart more than “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” I checked a few lists and this triumphant, happy song makes the top 20 Christmas songs. The theology in the hymn is crystal clear, and my heart rejoices to hear and sing it. The imagery of angels singing is not hard to visualize. The story told within the verses is joyful and masterful.
You may pick out some other Christian themes in it, but these are the ones obvious to me.
God sent Jesus into this world to save us.
All the nations rejoiced at His coming.
The angels proclaimed His birth.
Jesus is the highest and all supreme God, born of a virgin.
He deserves our devotion and allegiance.
The Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were all present at His conception and birth.
HE IS WITH US.
He is the epitome of hope because He brings life to all who accept Him.
For those who accept Him, death is just a passage to the best life.
He is PEACE, He is RIGHTEOUS, He is LIGHT and LIFE.
He put His glory aside to come to earth as a humble babe.
Those who know Him, one day will rise to reign with Him. And lastly…
All glory, any amount, should be directed, and freely given to Him.
HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations, rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King
Christ,the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold him come
Offspring of the Virgin’s womb
Hail the Flesh, the God Head
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King
Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace
Hail the Son of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His Glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King
This carol thrills my soul. Hearing the introductory notes, my heart and spirit get simultaneously glad and the words bring tears to my eyes . True worship to our King Jesus is contained in this song. It’s easy to see, why the angels sing!
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests’.” Luke 2:13-14
Do you remember a time when you thought you needed something and it didn’t come? Maybe it was a report from the doctor, a friend to show up, for a situation to end, for a situation to begin, or a hug. But it didn’t come. What did you do? Did you cry? Did you pray? Did you question God? Did you harden your heart? Did you praise God? Did you give thanks to God? Did you complain to others or to God? What did you do?
Sometimes God has you in a place. Sometimes that place has no door for exit and no window for hope. What do you do? What can you do?
There’s a sense of powerlessness. Whatever you desire is not in your control to fix or attain. You can’t push things along. You can’t escape.
God has you in a place and you are forced to do things His way. You are forced to beg him for His intervention. You are forced to seek His perspective. You are forced to praise Him. You are forced to give Him thanks.
Not too long after you begin to be honest with God and you quit carrying the desire, burden, need, hope, or longing, then you realize there is a burden bearer. There is a caregiver for your soul. There is a tear wiper and a compassionate ear. Even though He may seem silent, He is not inattentive. He is present.
When was the last time you poured out your heart to God? When was the last time you gave up being strong? When was the last time you went to your knees in surrender?
For the follower of Christ, this is where Christianity is proved. These are the places where no human can fulfill. You may know that God doesn’t even want you to share this with another human. It’s just you talking to Him. You didn’t think He was enough. You thought you needed a friend. A human. He is teaching you that HE is enough. He is your best friend. He is the one who can fix, fulfill, and fan into flame whatever the plan is. No matter how long you have to wait. Even if you don’t see Him do anything. Even if what you thought you needed never happens.
I could tell you what the Bible says about how valuable giving thanks is, being content, how He gives perseverance, how He gives strength to the weary, and so on. If you are a follower of Christ, you are familiar with all these promises. It’s your choice to cling to them.
What you may not be familiar with is waiting the way He wants you to wait. We will do most anything other than wait well. It seems so counterintuitive. But that is where the presence of God is. It’s that still, silent place, sometimes full of peace, sometimes uncomfortable.
Let’s not rush the process and ruin His plans with our own plan. He is a God of love who longs to give His children good things. Wait.
Psalm 25 is hidden in my heart, but recently when I revisited it, the first nine words grabbed my attention like a diamond in a well-lit jewelry case. My eyes and heart were fastened to it, and I could not move further into the verse or chapter. Here are the first nine words to this beloved Psalm:
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul…
This is what saturated my mind as the Spirit of God had me slowed to a stop on these words. God is the only One trustworthy to care for my soul.
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul…
The Spirit undoubtedly directed David’s heart, and David knew that God was his absolute help for the eternal core of his being, whether in peace or crisis.
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul…
Why wouldn’t I, too, lift up my soul to the only Soul Lifter?
Is there anyone more trustworthy than the Lord?
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul…
To experience what David knew in the very first line of this Psalm, then certainly we have to go to the Lord to lift our soul to Him. We can not remain unaffected by this great God we know.
We can not hide in our super busy life avoiding Him.
We can not be puffed with pride in our significant space.
We can not run by Him in ministry mode.
We can not excuse our presence with Him because of a caretaking call.
We can not rest in complacency in our relaxation room.
No, we must choose to go to God.
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
Are you overwhelmed that you can even approach God?
God is available to every follower of Jesus. He is our Father, and He is there for us anytime, any day, any season of our life. But we must choose to stop our life, and go get His life each and every day.
Why not every morning say to Him…
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
The soul actually demands as much attention as the body…the soul was made for God, and without God, it is restless and in secret torment.