imperfect 3 devotional b is for blessed 7-2015

Imperfect!

The faded hydrangea is no longer the dewy sweet pink of weeks ago. It is drier, faded and splotchy. When faded and speckled they have a different kind of beauty all their own.

Imperfect devotional b is for blessed 7-2015  Our society would have us yearn for perpetual youth. However, like the faded hydrangea, I’m still hanging on!

How many times do we casually toss things aside or fail to appreciate things and people after the “newness” has worn off. Everyday routines and obligations can make us take for granted those dearest to us after their “shine” has long worn away.

How is it even blessings we ask God for and receive, we can so easily become bored with, dissatisfied or make last on our list of our priorities as we search for the next new “thrill?”

Relationships are never perfect as they are composed of imperfect people, but often our flawed (not destructive) relationships are more satisfying than having none at all.

Too many times we stare at the flaws instead of being in awe of the perfect people for us that God has gifted into our lives.

I dare you to look at those old and familiar things in your life with a fresh perspective.

imperfect 2 devotional b is for blessed 7-2015  Even though we may not be what we once were, we still have the potential for beauty in new and different ways.

The hydrangea pictured above reminds me that my flaws are part of who I am.

I don’t always have to war against them. I can learn to accept them, as God has accepted me.

God used many imperfect heroes in the Bible to execute His will. Most of the “major players” in the most familiar chapters had “major issues.” Jesus would go on to keep company with and use some the very “flawed” individuals of their day to preach the Kingdom of God.

The harlot.

Tax collectors.

Religious hypocrites.

As Jesus used them, God can still use us.

Flaws and all…

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV

DEADLY B IS FOR BLESSED DEVOTIONAL 3 7-15

Deadly!

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
And broke their chains in pieces.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!  
Psalm 107:13-15 NKJV

Small, seemingly insignificant things can be deadly.

I was reminded of this a few days ago. My oldest son was rushed via ambulance to the hospital because of a wasp’s sting. We now know he shares the same allergy issues as my husband.

Ironically, my husband was stung many times throughout his life before that last sting nearly killed him some years ago.

Other “small things” are also deadly. Literally and figuratively.

Like that wasp, some things are no less deadly even when we fail to acknowledge their killing potential.

DEADLY b is for blessed devotional 2 7-15  Some of our habits may seem harmless, but when they keep us from becoming our best, we are the ones who are ultimately stung.

It is often little things that keep us from our greatest potential.

Procrastination. Inconsistency. Negativity.

A poor attitude. Lack of gratitude.

Some would argue that small things don’t make that big a difference. Besides, God forgives us of our sins.

And, yes, He does.

However, forgiveness of sins is not the same as God’s blessings and favor finding you when you choose to make better choices!  

Are you always with people involved in criminal questionable behaviors? Guilt by association may close the very doors you are working to open.

Or, are you justifying white lies to ease your mind? If you want to be blessed with greater responsibility it will require greater accountability.

Don’t allow little things or habits to become deadly. You will find a multitude of people and things eager to pull you away from what God has purposed you to do.

Instead, stay the course! Eliminate those things and habits that would kill what God is wanting to birth in you!

Small changes can produce radical results.

DSC_2174 (2)  

A few minutes of prayer. A few moments alone.

Faithfulness.

A proper perspective.

Even the tiniest of steps will help you reach your goals if you take enough of them.

Don’t allow small things to kill off the best in you!

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  Psalm 16:11 NKJV

LOSS 2 B IS FOR BLESSED DEVOTIONAL 7-15

Loss…

“Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted” Matthew 5:4 NKJV

This week I lost something very dear to me very unexpectedly. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve handled it well. I realized that today when I showed up for an appointment that isn’t for another two weeks!

We all lose things in life. Some major, some minor.

Some losses signify a chapter is closing. When we move beyond our grief we can see the beginnings of another.

Others losses are harder still and hurt to our very core.

LOSS B IS FOR BLESSED DEVOTIONA 7-15 We rarely appreciate our blessings in their entirety. We take people and things for granted. We often don’t appreciate our “headaches” until they are snatched away. We often look elsewhere for the very blessings we have right at hand but are too blind to see.

Some losses make us reevaluate ourselves. Others are a wake up call to get back on track. Some losses we bring upon ourselves. Others hit hard without warning or fault of our own.

Living “blessed” is learning how to weather the bad as well as appreciate the good. Ideally, our losses would make us grateful for what we have instead of fixating on what is gone. I don’t know many people who always do that, myself included.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15 NIV

We all grieve differently.

Some things insignificant to us are a matter of life and death to someone else. Simply listening to someone for a moment or two can mean the world to someone in pain.

Now I’m sure some of you who have read thus far are wondering just what did I lose?

I lost Lucky.

photo_1 (6)  Lucky was a stray cat who arrived at my back door over a decade ago. His arrival prompted my four-year old to begin talking. For a child diagnosed with autism, this was a very big deal! We never imagined a stray cat would become the answer to our prayers.

Sometimes our blessings come in the least likely packages. My husband and I were never cat people. But this black tuxedo cat won us over. He must have really been Heaven sent as we had two unruly dogs at the time. However, it wasn’t long before Lucky would rule our roost, dogs and all, until his death a few short days ago.

I have no doubt God has a sense of humor. He does use the foolish to confound those of us who would think ourselves wise. I’m grateful I grudgingly accepted this gift even as I dreaded something else to feed and clean.

In the end, we were the “lucky ones.” Lucky chose us and gave far more than we would ever imagine.

Sadly, God’s blessings don’t always last forever. Just as seasons change, so can our circumstances.

When we find ourselves at cross roads or lost because of our losses, we would do well to realize there is more to be grateful for than to mourn. There is always hope for the peace and joy only God can provide when we allow Him to fill our voids. 

If you are grieving a loss, no matter how large or small, you don’t have to do so alone. Our God is waiting to comfort you with open arms.  

LOSS 3 b is for blessed devotiona 7-15  To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;  Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 NKJV

**Rest in Peace, “Lucky” Raphael. You loved us well! 

renew 2 b is for blessed devotional 7-15

Be Renewed!

I recently heard a sermon regarding the importance of “quiet time.” In our electronic age of email, texts, and other “alerts” it can become harder to experience peace and quiet. As we are increasingly connected to one another we may risk becoming “disconnected” from our Creator.

Time without digital distractions or other deterrents is vital if we are to be continually renewed.

Daily renewal requires a daily Word.

What we need today isn’t necessarily sufficient for tomorrow. As fresh manna fed the body, a timely word feeds the spirit.

When the Israelites tried to save manna from one day to the next, it spoiled and become inedible. Just like them, we need to trust God to “feed” us daily as well. Gaining God’s renewal requires that we make ourselves available to receive it.

Very rarely can I hear from God with a lot of noise going on. I admit I am easily distracted. I have to mentally hang up a “Do not disturb” so I can receive the renewal I desperately need.

It is only in silence that I hear God’s still small voice. When I prioritize time for a new Word or to simply “be still,” I am far less prone to make poor choices.

b is for blessed renew devotional 7-15  Renewal is essential for a “blessed life.”

But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s     Psalm 103:4-5 NKJV

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God   Romans 12:2 NKJV

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, Titus 3:4-6 NKJV

Proactively reduce the “noise” in your life. Allocate time for God and minimize strife.

We are all weary at times but we don’t have to stay that way. Moments of peace, a new Word and a fresh perspective will renew and equip us for whatever God is calling us to do.

Don’t long for yesterday’s blessings. Rejoice in today’s possibilities.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me
.”  Psalm 51:10 NKJV

JOY IN THE MORNING BLESSED DEVOTIONA 2

Morning…

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”  Lamentations 3:22-24 NKJV

 

Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.  Psalm 30:4-5 NKJV

JOY IN THE MORNING BLESSED DEVOTIONAL

As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.

Sow your seed in the morning,
and at evening let your hands not be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
whether this or that,
or whether both will do equally well.  Ecclesiastes 11:5-7 NIV

 

summer bee devotiona 6-15

Peace Keepers!

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification,” Romans 14:19 NIV.  

Paul was addressing Christians who were debating dietary restrictions. Paul saw their argument as insignificant, teaching them instead that God’s kingdom is more than food or drink and is of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 

We often allow ourselves to become bogged down in petty disputes. Trivial disagreements can often blow up to gargantuan proportions. Sometimes we are so determined to be right that we fail to realize when an argument is no longer relevant in the greater scheme of things.

Paul instructs us to make every effort to be peaceful and do what leads to “mutual edification.” We are implored to build one another up, not tear each other down.

When we go to extremes to prove our point or have the last word is that really satisfying? We can either draw people nearer to God with our actions or push them away. Do you have what it takes to listen to others, let alone respect their right to a differing opinion?

We won’t always agree with everyone but we should at least be able to communicate in a civilized manner. It isn’t necessary that we jump on every opportunity to prove others wrong.

We would all do well to evaluate the words we choose. Are our words helpful? Can they change a situation for the better? Or do we choose to expose the faults of others only to feel better about ourselves?

solitary white rose side 2014  Sometimes silence is the best solution. What we choose not to say is just as significant as the words we utter. When we choose not to condemn, criticize or gossip we perpetuate peace, not chaos.

“Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body, It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell,” James 3:5-6 NIV.

Every situation does not require our commentary. How often can we mirror God’s love by keeping quiet? Instead of commenting on what other people do, what if we prayed for them? What if we focused on correcting our flaws instead of exposing those of others?

God commands us to love Him and our brothers and sisters.

It is easy to love God. Loving our brothers and sisters is often much harder.

“My command is this; Love each other as I have loved you,” John 15:12 NIV.

“As I have loved you.”

Jesus showed compassion. Jesus forgave the very people crucifying Him. He even prayed for them! Jesus didn’t cast stones. Jesus met people right where they were, imperfections and all.

It isn’t always easy to love like Jesus, but shouldn’t we at least try?

“Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God,” Matthew 5:9 KJV

FATHERS 2015 BLESSED DEVOTIONAL

Fathers…

“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:2-4 NKJV

One of my first memories of my father is standing in the yard with him as he examined a blooming hydrangea. I have several planted in my yard in his memory. Like my mother, Daddy enjoyed working in the yard.

He wasn’t the most talkative Dad but the bits of wisdom he offered certainly stuck with me. He wasn’t one to preach, but rather taught by example. He was loyal to his friends and never shied away from having a good time. Daddy believed in the merits of hard work and giving everything you did your very best.

Daddy was also a humble man. I didn’t learn about many of his greatest accomplishments until I read his obituary. We often take for granted the people closest to us and the ones we love the most. I didn’t get to tell Daddy I loved him that one last time as planned. He slipped away just hours before I could make it home.

DSC_0950 (2)  Thankfully, our eternal Father never leaves us.

God is always present, yet I believe even He appreciates an “I love you” or a “thank you from us as flawed as we are.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to believe that He is here for us, provides for us and that we can trust Him even as the people in our lives disappoint.

If your earthly father was less than stellar, God is more than able to fill that gap.

Trust God.

Like a good parent, God doesn’t always give us what we want, but definitely provides what we need. If only we would seek Him and run toward Him with childlike faith could we begin to grasp just how much our God cares for us!

And should you happen to have a father still here on earth, love him. Enjoy Him. Appreciate him.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY  to all those fathers, uncles, teachers, coaches and other great men who tackle the role of “Dad.” Bless you who are strong when we are weak, provide wisdom and shelter us from life’s storms. Thank you who pulled us up when we fell down.

In memory of fathers who served and sacrificed, held thankless jobs and simply did the best they could…

“I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18 NKJV