Still Searching for a Real Love, Baby?

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:9-12 NKJV

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37-39 NKJV  

 WHITE ROSE PETALS 2015 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

May God’s love surround you and manifest through you this day.

B Blessed!

Sow Good Seed…We Are What We Speak!

We reap what we sow.

This principle is demonstrated many times throughout the Bible. Yet, one of the simplest ways for us to sow good seed for our lives is something many of us struggle with.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. James 3:8 NIV

We “God folks” tend to worry far more about the things we do and not contemplate as much the things we say. I wonder if we gave more thought to what we say, would we then “do better?”

This doesn’t require fancy words or eloquent speeches. A few kind words at the proper time can mean the world to someone on the brink of a meltdown.

“You can do it,” may be the encouragement someone needs to apply for that job or enroll in classes.

“I’m thinking of you,” can ease the pain of grief or loneliness.

Our words are impactful, powerful.

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; Deuteronomy 30:19 NKJV

Very few of us would intentionally choose death, yet sometimes that is exactly what we do. To curse others is to curse ourselves. The vile with which we speak will eventually find its way back to us.

 I’ve heard it said “our words should be sweet so should we be forced to eat them, they will go down smoothly.”

Choose to sow kind words.

Our voice may be the most powerful weapon we have.

The Bible prompts us to “declare” the works of the Lord. We are urged to “sing” God’s praises.”  Jesus instructed His disciples to “proclaim” the message. These three words are mentioned nearly 800 times in the Bible.

The use of our voices isn’t for God’s benefit, but our own.

Words are seeds that activate our faith. Our professions and confessions can bind and liberate.

God spoke the world into existence!

Be bold.

Be deliberate!

Give thought to your words.

Exercise restraint.

Don’t allow words said in jest, haste or anger to curse your future.

Our words set the stage for our lives, our prayers facilitate the changes we seek.

What say you, today?

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24 NIV

Let It Go!

With the year’s end looming, many of us are reflecting on the pains and gains of 2017. Or, we are thinking ahead to what the New Year may bring.

Last year was a rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows for me, and most of it is still a blur. I sit here typing at the end of December as I’ve done annually for the last decade pondering what I can do differently next year.

At the end of 2016, I could sense a significant change was imminent though I had no idea of just how substantial those changes would be. We were anticipating a graduation. I was pondering retirement. I never anticipated the loss that would follow.

I don’t think I am alone haunted by “should have, could have and would have,” creeping into my consciousness.

The reluctance to let go of past hurts, affronts and disappointments can make us stagnant and complacent. There is a danger in becoming so comfortable in our pain and discomfort that we don’t dare move away from the very things that make our hearts ache.

 It takes more than resolve to lose weight, become fiscally responsible or keep any other resolution that enables us to move forward. Prayer and discipline are often vital to relinquishing the old, so we can grasp something new.

Whatever is wearing on you, let it go and leave it behind in 2017. Don’t drag your “baggage” into 2018. Trust me, I’ve a few things of my own I plan to leave as well.

We often fail to walk away from a job, a position, or a relationship even when God’s anointing is obviously gone. Many of us desperately hold on to something lifeless rather than become empty-handed.

Where is the wisdom in that?

What are those things you prayed for that you need to make room for?

Let go of disappointment.

Let go of regret.

Let go of the past!

Anticipate answered prayers.

Hold yourself accountable.

Grab hold to God’s unchanging hand!

        Happy New Year!

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 NIV

…and the Ivy

In the Christmas carol The Holly and The Ivy the characteristics of the holly reference our Savior Jesus Christ. The ivy is barely mentioned at all!

I’ve given this a bit of thought and wonder if there is a lesson here. For the most part, the carol refers to the holly. Only the smallest snippet is given to the ivy.

I’ve read all about the pagan rituals and the symbolism of holly and ivy and the contest between men and women. But I’ve got another take on this carol and its inclusion of the ivy. Maybe, this song lends itself to offer a deeper message.

 What if we are the ivy?

Ivy requires support if it is to climb higher.  It is often found clinging to walls or trees. It can’t reach any height on its own. Ivy has three “points” to its leaf. Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

Ivy is hardy. It’s tough to kill and its roots dig deep. We must be “hardy” to survive the perils of this life and still thrive. We have to have roots that can “dig in” to sustain us.

Ivy prefers growing in the shadow of larger trees that can protect it from the heat. I know I desire our Savior’s protection. God has saved me from many “hot” situations in the past. I certainly trust Him to save me through eternity.

The references to the holly in the song’s lyrics overshadow the ivy. Shouldn’t we allow our Lord and Savior to overshadow us? Rule over us? Should we not depend on Him (and not ourselves) if we are to ever reach the heights God intends for each and every one of us?

I may be reading far more into this carol than the author intended.

Or, God may be using my love of Christmas and all things green to once again reveal His truth to me. Jesus must be the most prevalent influence in my life. I must allow my will to be diminished and submitted to Him if I am ever to meet the heights He desires for me. I must cling to Him for support.

And live in His shadow.

The Holly B is for Blessed Featured 12-2015  One of my favorite carols is not about the ivy. It’s all about the holly!

Life is not about me. It’s all about Him.

Take this Christmas Season to enjoy your friends and family, eat great food, meet, greet and be merry.

Yet… it is all about Him!

 Merry Christmas!

The Holly…

As a kid, one of my favorite Christmas carols was The Holly and the Ivy. I’m sure I had no idea how both related to Christmas back then. When I finally recognized and understood the words I was curious why this carol called the holly and the ivy. There is very little mention of the ivy!

  Holly has roots deeply embedded into the pagan solstice celebration. Its evergreen qualities nod to a promise of better times to come and were absorbed by Christians. Holly and other evergreen plants later became part of traditional Christmas celebrations.

The consensus from various sources is that the white lily flower alludes to the purity of Jesus Christ. The red holly berry is symbolic of His blood. The prickle of the holly represents the crown of thorns our Savior wore. And finally the bitter bark may reference the drink offered to Christ upon crucifixion.

I’m grateful I can find God not only in His Word but in His world…

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown.

The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Saviour.

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good.

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.

The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown.

I pray we all seek more of Christ this Christmas Season as we give of ourselves and receive more of Him.

Be Blessed and Merry Christmas!

Wise Guys!

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,  saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:1-2 NKJV

A few years ago, I passed a Nativity scene near my home. The simple structures were at least forty years old. The faded plastic stood proudly without touchup or fanfare as a testament to tradition.

The Joseph, Mary and baby were placed prominently in a simple display.  Yet, it was the Wise Men that caught my attention.

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” Psalms 9:10

The Wise Men actively sought The Messiah. The Bible is full of verses about seeking God. These men were wise enough to seek, recognize and worship giving the very best that they had. They did not despise their journey. Why do we despise our hard roads that bring us to God?

Is there a lesson in that?

  My curiosity piqued, I read those first chapters of Matthew again. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”  Matthew 2:12

King Herod never indicated to these men he was threatened by the birth of Jesus. Herod lied and told them to return so he could also worship him. However, these Wise Men heeded the warning not to return the way they had come.

I can think of a few instances I would have benefited by heeding the warnings God gave me not to go a way that looked harmless. I didn’t recognize my “warnings.”

The Wise Men did.

I wonder if their zeal to seek God made it easier for the Wise Men to hear from God? Not only did they recognize their “warning,” they obeyed it.

I can’t say that I’ve always done the same. Still, I’m hoping to end this year wiser than I began.

Presents under the tree are nice, but the best gifts can’t be purchased…

“For wisdom [is] better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.” Proverbs 8:11

 “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge; [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7

“Happy [is] the man [that] findeth wisdom, and the man [that] getteth understanding.” Proverbs 3:13

Joy to The World!

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people,” Luke 2:10 KJV 

These words were spoken on the very first Christmas. The message the angel brought was a joyful one. This verse precludes, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” Luke 2:11 KJV.

No matter what trials we may face or are forced to endure, our situation is temporary. Not eternal. Yet many of us become overwhelmed, frustrated and despondent by situations, people and circumstances. The very fact that we indeed have a Savior is reason enough to be joyful!

Though we must deal with those situations life brings upon us, it is important that we keep them in perspective. The odds are great that the very things that bring out the very worst in us now, will be inconsequential years later.

In this Christmas season, if each of us makes a concerted effort to be joyful, it would be a greater testimony than any scripture we could quote or sermon we preached If we allow our conduct to become a testimony, especially as we walk through our fires, how many more people would be interested in learning about our Savior, the only One who can offer true joy?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,”
Galatians 5:22. KJV

If we would allow ourselves to be overcome by the Spirit instead of overcome by the world, we could turn others toward the one true God. As Christians, our testimony should include behavior that others would strive to implement not circumvent!

We should draw men toward the Light, not repel them with pessimism, condemnation, or a critical spirit. Who wants any of that!?

A joyful heart invites people to want to learn more about our God Who provides peace and joy even when circumstances aren’t necessarily peaceful or joyful.  The increasing stresses of this world do fight us at every turn. I readily concede it is not always easy to be joyful. Thankfully, we aren’t relegated to doing this in our own power.

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost,” Romans 15:13. KJV

  Allow this Christmas Season to be a joyful one. Focus on the Source of all true peace and joy. As followers of Christ we have something to be joyful about! Let us allow our joy to overflow onto others, especially those who don’t know our God. May our love, joy, peace, gentleness and goodness draw men toward the Light.

Merry Christmas! 

“But let all those who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. Psalms 5:11 NKJV

 “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy,” Colossians 1:11 NKJV

“Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy,” Psalms 126:5 NKJV

Restoration!

  A few weeks ago, in my mother’s house, I found a Christmas ornament from 1996 that was lost in her office.  Unlike the others, this one was never wrapped up and put away each year to annually find its way on the Christmas tree. Two decades of neglect left it looking more like a relic instead of something to ring in great tidings of joy! Still, that not so shiny silver bell somehow managed to minister to me.

As we come to the end of this year, many of us are at a loss trying to figure out what happened to 2017? I’m confident that I am not alone with “to dos” left undone and more than a few things that fell by the wayside.

 As I polished the “lost” ornament, I was reminded that God restores us as well. Through Christ, we can not only renew our minds, but God can restore whatever we may lack including the time lost for those things He purposed for our lives.  The sin that continually tarnishes us and would keep us from our destiny, our Savior’s blood wipes away.

It may have taken twenty years, but “Christmas 1996” is finally on a tree.

Never give up on your goals and aspirations that seem long-lost. Whatever we lose (or was stolen) our Father’s love can surely restore!

Our faith.

Our family.

Our finances.

Our hope!

If you feel like you’ve lost more than can ever be found, I challenge you to trust God. Our Savior descended from Heaven not only for an eternal promise, but that we can live fruitful and meaningful lives now.

Amazing Grace!
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
John Newton 1779 

My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
And from those who persecute me.
Make Your face shine upon Your servant;
Save me for Your mercies’ sake.
Psalm 31: 15-16 NKJV

He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake
Psalm 23:3 NKJV

Merry Christmas?

Although Christmas is my favorite time of year, Christmas is not “merry” for many.

The holiday season can become a catalyst that accentuates grief, sparks depression and brings about a range of emotions, some of which we would rather not face. Not everyone has a legacy of Christmas memories that leave them feeling warm and cozy.

This Christmas will be one for many who are struggling with loss, and a great number of them may be relieved when the holidays are over.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Some people may very well need to tend their wounds instead of catering to the expectations of other people.

Insisting those who are hurting be joyful is unrealistic. We can’t always understand someone’s pain, but we can certainly respect it.

By faith, I am trusting God that much joy and laughter awaits us this Christmas.

 One reason we celebrate the birth of Christ is the promise of a new life that doesn’t suffer the ills and pains of this earthly world. Those who trust Him have a promise of something better for eternity.

Through faith, we win the mental battle that allows us to see the light that eventually breaks after every storm. Jesus is the Light of the world elevating us above despair and defeat. If you are feeling overcome, look to the Light!

Call on Him.

If you are hurting this Christmas season, my prayer is that you receive His peace on earth and goodwill from men!

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NKJV

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

 

into the woods devotional 11-2015 Traveling over the river and through the woods or staying close to home, give thanks for blessings large and small; with God we are never alone.

B Blessed!

Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! 1 Chronicles 16:8 NKJV

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34 NKJV

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 15:57 NKJV

 

 

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