Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daily Prayer

I feel miserable today. I just got back from the doctor where he put me on a round of anti-biotics. I hope I feel better before I go to Oklahoma Saturday to see my little granddaughters. I'm going to share a prayer that has helped me get through a lot of difficult days:

"Good Morning, Father! Good Morning, Jesus! Good Moning, Holy Spirit!

Heavenly Father, according to your Word, I present my body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable in Thy sight. (Romans 12:1) Now, Father, I gird my loins about with truth. I put on the breastplate of righteousness, I shod my feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, I take the shield of faith wherewith I shall be able to stop all the fiery darts of the wicked. And I take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:14-17)

And, according to your Word, the glory of the Lord is my rear guard. (Isaiah 58:8) Now, Heavenly Father, I praise you and I thank you for the armor you have provided for me to dress in this day. I am completely covered now, in the name of Jesus according to your Word, Father. Upon Jesus I have built my life, my home and my marriage, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

You are my shepherd. I shalll not want. For you have supplied all my needs according to your riches in glory, and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Psalm 23:1; Phillipians 4:19, 13)

I cast down all imaginations and bring into captivity every evil thought and I cast all my care upon you, for you care for me. (2 Corinthians 10:5; 1 Peter 5:7)

I praise you for walking in divine health, for you are my God who heals all my diseases, and by your stripes I am healed. I just praise you and thank you for my prosperity and good health, even as my soul prospers. (Psalm 103:3; Isaiah 53:5) For the joy of the Lord is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

Father, I have prayed according to your Word, and you have said you would watch over your Word to perform it. (Jeremiah 1:12) Father, just rise up and live big within me today, for I am yours, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Jesus Is My Personal Assistant

My cell phone plan was up in October, so I succumbed to all the hype from Apple and pre-ordered my new iphone4s. I picked it up a week later, excited about all it could do. I was especially intrigued by the new voice recognition system, touted as my new personal assistant, Siri.

I've found that Siri is not all she is advertised to be. Sometimes she works great, but sometimes she doesn't understand what I'm saying. Sometimes she just opts out by saying "I'm having trouble getting a connection". I've learned when she's in that mood you might as well forget it.

I admit the idea of her is fascinating, and how she works is way above my head. When she's working right, what she does is mind-boggling. I often say to my husband, "How does she do that?!"

But she's like everything else that the world offers us: a quick fix, a temporary pleasure, a few minutes of escape. I've wasted a lot of time in my life seeking those quick fixes. Now I'm older and I hope, wiser. I know that the world provides nothing of eternal value, nothing that is lasting, just numbing for brief periods of time.

Siri, at her best, is no match for the real thing. I'd rather have Jesus as my personal assistant any day. He never says He doesn't understand me. He is never too busy, too distracted, or too moody to be there for me. He has never lost His connection to me. He has never let me down, never offered me a quick fix. What He offers is real, and lasting, and fully satisfying.

"Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you." So we can say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?", Hebrews 13:5-6, NLT.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Zinnias Gone Wild

The first hard freeze is expected tonight where I live. Yesterday we pulled out the gorgeous zinnias growing across the front of our house. It broke my heart to do it. Those zinnias had grown taller than me, and were the talk of the neighborhood. All the neighbors picked some. The more we picked, the more they'd grow.

They bloomed in a wondrous riot of every color: pink, purple, fuschia, red, orange, gold, yellow, white, and every shade in between. It didn't matter to them whether our weather was hot and dry or cold and wet; they just kept growing and growing, gone wild in a glorious way.

Every time I looked at them out the front windows of my house, they lifted my spirits. I wanted to be like them. I want to bloom profusely with the glory of God. I want to keep growing amidst the circumstances of life. I want to live with freedom and abandon, my joyful existence a witness of the glory of God.

But, alas, I'm more like the little holly bush growing in the corner of my yard. It is not big, not showy, not spectacular, barely noticeable. It doesn't grow much, but it does persevere through the most frigid of winters. It isn't showy, but in it's own way it is a witness to the steadfastness of God. It survived the record-breaking two feet of snow we had last winter, testifying to the faithfulness of God. In His wisdom and grace, God knows we can't all be zinnias gone wild, but there is value in every one of us.

"How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in Him should ponder them. Everything He does reveals His glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. He causes us to remember His wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our God!", Psalm 111:2-3. NLT

Monday, October 17, 2011

He Gathers the Lambs

I just got home from a wonderful 40th wedding anniversary celebration weekend at Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri. The weather was picture perfect for this early autumn season with glorious color beginning to display in the trees. My mind is still there enjoying all the beauty so I'm going to let Charles Spurgeon speak for my blog this morning from his "Morning and Evening" devotional.

"He shall gather the lambs with His arm", Isaiah 40:11

"All the little ones He gathers, for it is not the will of our heavenly Father that one of them should perish. What a quick eye He must have to see them all! What a tender heart to care for them all! What a far-reaching and potent arm to gather them all!

In His lifetime on earth He was a great gatherer of the weaker sort, and now that He dwells in heaven, His loving heart yearns toward the meek and contrite, the timid and feeble, the fearful and fainting here below.

How gently did He gather me to Himself, to His truth, to His blood, to His love, to His church! With what effectual grace did He compel me to come to Himself! Since my first conversion, how frequently has He restored me from my wanderings, and once again folded me within the circle of His everlasting arm!

How shall I love Him enough or serve Him worthily? I would fain make His name great unto the ends of the earth, but what can my feebleness do for Him? Great Shepherd, add to Thy mercies this one other, a heart to love Thee more truly as I ought".

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Divine Exchange

My pastor, Steve Dixon, preached on "the divine exchange" last Sunday. This was the exchange that took place when Jesus Christ took my sins in His body on the cross and in exchange gave me His innocence. Anyone can see that's not a very equal exchange but that's how God is. God is not about giving what is deserved. God is about mercy and grace. His mercy doesn't give us what we deserve and His grace gives us much more than what we deserve.

Pastor Dixon gave in his sermon some other exchanges that took place on that cross 2000 years ago:
*Jesus took our despair away and filled us up with His joy.
*Jesus removed all of our guilt and shame and clothed us with His glory.
*Jesus suffered all the pains of hell so that we could enjoy the bliss of eternal life in heaven.
*Jesus removed the anxiety of living in a sin-filled world and replaced it with the assurance that there is a good God in control of all things.
*Jesus showed us that what was impossible could be made possible by His shed blood on the cross.

And what does this mean in my life? It means that Jesus took that sick, messed up, shame-ridden little girl that I was, bathed me in His grace, and transformed me into a new creation, shiny and clean. It means that I
no longer have to go through life wanting to be invisible, wishing I was dead;  I can now hold my head up high because I know that my true identity is in Jesus. It means that I know that I can never be good enough;  but I know that my sacrifice, Jesus Christ, was perfectly good and blameless in every way, and because of Him, that is how God sees me. Now that's a divine exchange!!!

"But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's path to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all", Isaiah 53:5-6. NLT

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Picture of God's Grace

My husband and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary yesterday. I can't help but think what a picture of god's grace our marriage has been. We had only dated two months when we got married and didn't even know each other. We married for all the wrong reasons and none of the right ones. We are the most unlikely pair to ever get together, being total polar opposites in every way.

We have been through good times and our share of bad times, but by God's grace we've stuck it out. And not just stuck it out but we love each other still; we're still each other's best friend; and we still enjoy doing things together. We made a commitment early on that we would stay married and not leave each other for any reason. There were times that it would have been so much easier to just walk away. The hardest thing is to stay in a marriage when things are not going well. But God gave us the strength to stay the course.

There is great reward in being in a long and loving marriage with someone who knows you so well and loves you still.  See what I mean about our marriage being a picture of God's grace. It is highly unlikely that Jesus would have given his life for a great sinner like me. But He did. Jesus has been with me through the ups and downs, through the doubts and unbelief, through the worldliness and selfishness, through the self-hatred and sef-destruction . He has never left me or abandoned me. He knows every ugly thing about me but He loves me still. Amazing Grace!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

One More Miracle

While I'm writing about my "miracle" grandchildren, I have one more story to tell of God's goodness. My oldest daughter is single. She had her share of problems growing up but, by God's grace, has turned into an accomplished, successful, professional woman.

Her life was humming along very well a few years ago when she began to talk about adopting a child. At first I thought she was crazy but when I began to see how strongly she felt about it I knew it was the right thing for her to do. She said that she had never felt so strongly that it was God's will for her to do something, right down to the very marrow of her bones.

She took some parenting classes, required for foster and adoptive parents, through the Department of Human Services. She thought it would be years before she had a placement, being that she was a single woman. But at the last class, the social worker showed her a picture of a thirteen year old girl and said "I keep thinking this child would be perfect for you". Within a week she had moved in and my daughter's life was forever changed.

Psalm 68:6 says "God places the lonely in families; He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy".
I've seen this firsthand in this situation. After a bit of a rocky start, with two females who were essentially strangers adjusting to living together, she was adopted into our family. She is fifteen now, a beautiful young lady, talented in dance and drama. She has been a blessing and a constant reminder of the grace and mercy of God.

I've been sharing this week about my "miracle" grandchildren. I have two more who came along healthy and relatively problem free. But really, aren't all grandchildren miracles of God? For that matter, aren't all children miracles of God? In fact, aren't we, each one of us, miracles of a good God?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another Little Miracle

I have another grandchild who is a miracle. She is nine months old. Mt daughter didn't think she could get pregnant because she had endometriosis really bad. When she told me she was pregnant I rolled my eyes and thought "You couldn't have picked a worse time to get pregnant". I thought my daughter and her husband needed to get on their feet financially before they had another child.

But God knew best. Several months later both my parents died unexpectedly one month apart. That left a huge and painful void in our family. I was so thankful my daughter was pregnant because my family desperately needed a new life after our double losses. I told my daughter "This is the best possible time for your to be pregnant".

She developed serious complications in her pregnancy and I was terrified something would happen to the baby. But God worked a miracle and the baby was induced ten days early and she was perfectly normal and healthy. And everytime I hug that little head or kiss that little face, I feel like I'm hugging and kissing my mom.
Mom, This one's for you!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Walking Miracles

Every now and then in life we come face to face with a walking miracle. In my case, there's two. My first grandchildren were born twins. They have been so much fun, especially when they were babies. My husband and I each had one to hold. We kept them every Saturday night for 6 years to give their parents a break.

They are 15 years old today and I praise God for the miracle of their lives. They came into this world 4 weeks premature, weighing 3.13 and 3.14 pounds. It was touch and go for them at first. They spent their first 6 weeks in the hospital, hooked up to all sorts of wires and apparatus, so that they barely resembled babies.
And for their first year of life they were hooked up to heart monitors and couldn't go anywhere without them.

But, praise God, they survived and thrived, and today you could never tell they got off to such a difficult and scary start. It's by the grace of God that every now and then we come face to face with a walking miracle and I'm eternally grateful to Him for my two.

"From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another", John 1:16. NIV