Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Faith


Faith


Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.-Matthew 21:21 NIV


Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. I once heard it said that it is faith that is the light that guides us through the darkness. A boat captain understands the importance of light to guide his vessel back to safety at night. Equally, a small child tucked in to his bed at night depends on the glow of a nightlight to comfort him if he wakes. Then sometimes we just feel the light fading in our life and our faith slipping away at the same time. It has happened to many of us. We want so hard to believe in God’s power and provision but our natural eyes can’t see anything supernatural in front of us, so our faith wanes and our unbelief builds. Thoughts and words come in like waves in a storm like “God will never heal me”; “my circumstances will never improve; “my child is never going to amount to anything” and so on. We can chase away our thoughts, but when we give our own voice to these thoughts by speaking them out loud or telling others, we are feeding the unbelief in our hearts and spirit so that it can take root on the inside of us.

So many times I have prayed to God to give me more faith, when actually I should have asked Him to bind the unbelief. The unbelief is not from Him. By not agreeing with those thoughts that come in our heads that rob of us our hope, we can be overcomers. There is always hope. This week a friend called to say they were going to close their business after a long struggle. It was taking its toll. They didn’t believe that it could work anymore. God has the answer but my advice was for them to seek God’s light. That He would shine light on the path they should take, to either stay the course or move on. How do we know it is God and not just us exercising our own will? God confirms it by the words spoken by a friend, the way circumstances are shaping up, or most of all, He uses His Word to speak to us.  While we are waiting for God’s confirmation we can do what a wise man once said…“As you practice counting your blessings, you will find your faith is being suddenly revitalized.” This is the first step in being positive towards getting out of unbelief and back into faith living.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Autumn


Autumn


Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.

-Matthew 13:32 NIV

 

One definition for the word “autumn” is reaching maturity.  Autumn is the time of year when the harvest comes in. The seeds planted in spring are ready to be harvested now. If summer droughts and disease didn't affect the plants and they made it through, then the harvest is to be celebrated. From just a tiny seed, so much is provided. This is a fun time of year to go to the various produce stands to see the pumpkin patch's, fruits, nuts and Indian corn. We have enjoyed decorating our home with a wreath of colorful fall leaves, nuts and acorns and miniature pumpkins. Each year when my children were little, we went to the country fields to walk the rows of pumpkins so they could each find their special one. We still laugh at the time I brought home a 75 pound pumpkin and had to strap it in the front seat with the seatbelt! Our front porch was always decorated with  pumpkins, pots of mums and that handmade wreath.  We even hung a cluster of Indian corn with a ribbon to the mailbox. 

In our spiritual life, we can also enjoy the benefits of a harvest. But we do have to plant seeds first. So how do you do that? First it is the prayer of salvation that invites God into our heart. Making Jesus our Lord and Savior. Then it is reading the Bible to learn how to apply the principles to our life. Did you know the Bible will talk to us about how to have relationships, how to raise our children, how to be a light in the darkness? Probably the greatest thing any of us can do to strengthen our bond with God is to meet Him each day in prayer. Hopefully we should have a hunger and thirst for Him. Making time to do this is also an act of obedience and it is good discipline. It is as though we are showing up each day for our assignment from God. We can ask Him to mold and shape our day so that it glorifies Him.

Praying is like planting seeds. We know if we have done the work, the harvest will come. We know that in our prayer life, the harvest is when our prayers are answered with a solution or wisdom for being able to cope.  Sometimes before we can plant seeds, we have to plow up the soil and amend it. The soil may not be good and if so, nothing will grow. That applies to us spiritually as well. Forgiveness and bitterness have to be pulled out by the roots. They are weeds in our garden. Letting go of anger and disappointment too. Again, more weeds. Only when the weeds are gone, and the soil is right can we plant our seeds with confidence. A harvest awaits us if we are willing to do the work. That is how we can begin to walk in spiritual maturity.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

November


 

November

 
May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.-Psalm 119:76

The fresh green of newly sprouted rye grass, the yellow, red and orange leaves on the trees, the smell of swirling smoke from neighboring fireplaces and the cool, crisp air is what November means to me. The swishing sound of raking leaves and pine straw is music to my ears. A bright orange pumpkin and pot of yellow potted mums by the front door says “welcome”.  Okra pods and dried hydrangeas are ready to set aside for spraying with gold paint for handmade Christmas wreaths and centerpieces. McIntosh apples are plentiful now for that warm chunky applesauce at supper. I believe it is true what they say, that the heart of the hone is the kitchen. That’s the gathering place. Good food warms hearts and souls. Laughter and conversation spills forth when everyone converges upon the kitchen at the end of the day. Reading the mail, petting the dogs, setting the table, starting supper and sharing the day.  With the cooler weather and shorter days I find myself looking for comfort. Warm supper, a soft afghan to curl up with afterwards and my pup beside me. The perfect evening. I believe November is a nurturing time of year. In a few weeks it will be Thanksgiving. The time we devote to counting our blessings and sharing food and hospitality.

When we have to change our clocks, I can easily remember how to do it….spring forward and fall back. And I get it right every time!! (Now if I could just get help changing the clock in the car!!) Besides changing our clock in early November, I am also reminded to staring getting ready for the change of season because of the cooler weather and shorter days.  To shift gears. When seasons bring change, it is also a good time to take stock of things, including our spiritual life. To sit before God and see if we are still on the right track. Are we doing what He would have us do?  Are we growing, increasing our faith with each day? Are we doing more for Him and others and mumbling less? Are we loving a lot and always forgiving? Is our spirit open to Him or are we going down our own path? We can find peace and comfort in God’s Presence. In His Arms. Whatever may be in our hearts that we carry and are concerned about, we can turn it over to Him. He allows us to “fall back” on Him when we give our concerns over to Him; we now have room to seize the many opportunities He brings to us to “spring forward”.   

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Prayer


Prayer

 


If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” –Matthew 21:22 NIV

 

Oil painting is a new found passion and the subject I enjoy painting most are seascapes of the Outer Banks, particularly Pea Island. To paint requires having many tools such as paint thinner, brushes, paints, palette, canvas, easels, etc. Each item is very important to the success of the painting. Before I sit down to spend a day at my easel, I have to be sure I have everything I need. If I am out of brush cleaner, my brushes will harden with paint and be useless. Having the right tools are very important.  This week my husband was doing some repairs around the house and brought out his tools. Drills, hammer, screwdriver and nails and so much more. He has learned that before he starts a project, he needs to have the necessary tools at hand first. His knowledge and expertise are great, but without the right tools, he would not be able complete his task.

Spiritually, our greatest tool is prayer. There are times in our lives when we have to endure unpleasantness. Perhaps we have been treated poorly. Maybe we have been falsely judged or accused. Perhaps we are taken advantage of. Maybe we are simply not liked. All those things we cannot change because unless the person doing these things has the Holy Spirit residing in them, change is not likely. But God does equip us with prayer for times such as these.  We can pray for those that act as our enemy. In fact, the Bible says “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:28 NIV A daily simple prayer, asking for peace for oneself, peace for the situation and for the accuser to accept God’s Salvation is the best thing we can do. Prayer has mighty power and those that are faithful know that. But those that live without peace and have hardened hearts need the faithful to pray for them. Who do we know today that needs prayer? While we can let things go and allow distance to form between us and the situation, we still have the obligation to pray for those that know no better or choose not to live in God’s peace. A hardened paint brush has to be tossed out as it will never be the same. But a hardened heart can be prayed for and through God, anything is possible.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Right Tools


The Right Tools

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)

Today the exterminator came to get rid of outdoor ants that were uninvited guests. After all what is more important than playing baseball with my grandson in the backyard!! It is so nice to make one phone call knowing the ants will be taken care of. No worries. Regular visits from the exterminator throughout the year will keep us pest free and for that I am happy. Play Ball!!!!

A pest is definitely something that is unwanted.  It is an annoyance and a nuisance. Enough said!! We can say the same of those negative thoughts that creep into our minds, replaying old “hurts” over and over, being mad at situations we can’t change. Negativity opens the door to more negativity and bad thoughts. Neither being good for us.  When we become consumed with the pain of the past or frustrated with the problems of today, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make it go away like my phone call to the exterminator!! But you know, we do have all the right tools we need to get back on course and walk the right path. Faith, trust and belief….and of course The Word….. Scripture is our weapon against negativity. We can live a peaceful life if we stay connected and covered by God’s laws. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! – Isaiah 23:6 NLT

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Transition


Transition

 In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.

-Psalm 25:1 NIV

Last week I took a flight to California. We flew over the desert. Looking down from the plane it was like looking at the moon…..craters, dips, valleys, smooth, rough surfaces. No roads, no power lines…absolutely nothing in sight. It looked lifeless and abandoned. And all of a sudden there was a town with green lush grass, swimming pools, square plots of land with homes and all that goes with a busy town. I have to say I was surprised that there was no transition between the dry, empty desert and the thriving landscaped town.  I guess I thought there would be a division between the two areas like fields of scrub brush or cactus plants. Something. Anything. It was an interesting sight.

Life can be like that…no transition from one thing to another. How many times has a phone call changed our life? We were fine one minute and the next we would have a situation or crisis to handle that we didn’t expect. This happens more than we like it to, because if we are honest, we like time to get used to things changing. We have to ponder how to handle something, how to react, try to make a plan. But when we don’t have the luxury of time we can feel overwhelmed, uncertain, feeling a lack confidence and more. It is God that we can lean on. He understands us, our abilities, shortcomings and our strengths.  Nothing stays the same and things are constantly changing. When we are thrown a curve, that is especially the time to stand on our faith and rely on God to give us the wisdom to know what to do and when to do it. I know people who say, “I won’t bother God with that problem…it is too small for Him, I can handle it”. And of course we know there is a better way. God can handle it all, big and small.

 

 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sea Birds and Shore Birds


 

Sea Birds and Shore Birds


 

 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to this life?

Matthew 6:26-27

 

Sea birds and Shore birds. These birds appear so peaceful and carefree. They make their existence look easy. Pelicans gliding together in graceful formation are a photographer’s treat. The little sandpipers that skirt the water’s edge are frenzied in a dance to keep their feet dry.  The noisiness of the gulls as they scavenge down below and herons that high-step through the salty marshes are familiar sights on the coast. So many sea birds and shore birds living in and depending on the environment. It is true what today’s scripture shows us. The birds greet each day with an empty stomach and nothing stored up. The have expectant hope and faith that their needs will be met. Isn’t that an awesome display of faith!

Is it easy to identify with the phrase, “Always worrying about tomorrow, regretting yesterday and too busy to live in the present”? Maybe we can learn a life lesson from our feathered friends about faith and trust.

God says to trust Him. Give Him our needs and concerns.  Philippians 4:6-7 tells us  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Worry, anxiety and fear do not line up with the Word of God. They are the chains that tie us down when God wants to lift us up!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pressing Through


 

 

Pressing Through

 

 

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

-Roman 8:31 NIV

 

When I was a little girl playing at the ocean’s edge during our many vacations to the Outer Banks, the big waves would knock me down and I would get back up in time for the next wave to tumble me once more. I wasn’t out far, maybe just up to my knees but the swiftness and force of the water knocked my legs out from under me each time.  Many times I’d repeat this over and over until exhaustion set in and I would come ashore and rest before going back out again.

Life is like that at times, one wave after another can come against us. We can hardly stand up straight before we get knocked down again with trials, problems, conflicts and demands that won’t go away. If this has happened in your life, you know that the only way to get past these times is to press through. Giving up, “washing our hands of it” or running away won’t give us the victory we seek. Pressing through means to stay with it and never give up. Find another way around the situation. Patience, persistence and determination are all we need to press through to our destiny. God is for us and He is greater than any obstacle or problem we face. Possess a “never give up” attitude. We can reach up to take hold of God’s hand and strength during these times. Having an “overcomer” mentality will keep us on the road to our destiny instead of getting sidetracked by the difficulties we stumble upon on our journey. When the waves of life rise up against us, we must rise up even higher.