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.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Listening


Listening

 


Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path.

-Proverbs 23:19 NIV

 

I love the sounds of the beach! The crashing waves, the gulls sqwaking overhead. The jingle of shells in my pocket and the squeals of children playing by the shore. Even the sound of a squeeky back door that slams in the wind is music to my ears. A drippy outdoor shower is even calming to me. This time of year especially, there is the sound of the sea oats as they rustle together in the fall breezes.  Many times a week, I put my hand into a bowl of  assorted shells and let them fall from my fingers back into the bowl.  Sometimes I think the wind has the sweetest sound as it blows between the old cottages and flaps a loose window shutter. It all feels like home to me.

I try to remain alert to the things around me and to listen to the Holy Spirit within me. For the last few weeks, the name of a old friend that I had lost touch with kept coming back to me, particularly in my morning prayer time. Over and over again. Day after day. I have learned that when God brings about a person like this, He wants me to pray for them as an intercessor. I prayed daily for God to meet my friend's needs and to surround her with angels for whatever she was going through. This week, the feeling was too overwhelming to ignore. Not only did I pray for her, I decided to try to find her. With the help of the internet, I did find my friend and called her. After 12 years, it was a wonderful reunion. It seemed like old times. She did in fact have things occuring in her life that needed prayer including two recent surgeries and more. The lesson is to be alert and listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. God talks to us through the Holy Spirit. Then just this past week, the names of an older couple in our family came to me in my prayer time. I asked God to protect them as that was the feeling I was receiving. I just learned that they were in a fender-bender but they were okay.  Perhaps it would have been worse if prayers had not surrounded them. Listen for the voice of God. Don't think it is a coincidence when the name of someone comes to mind more than once. Instead, get on your knees and lift up a prayer on their behalf. Stand in the gap for them. It may be your prayers that make a difference in their life.

 

 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Decisions


Decisions

 
In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
-Proverbs 16:9

What to do today? That is the question before us each morning. Decisions must be made: big ones and little ones. Important ones and those that must be made just to get through the day. If you are going about your daily life, you are probably a creature of routine and like me, can get bored occasionally with the same things day after day. God gives His Children free will. There is no reason to keep doing the mundane when we all, no matter what our age, our financial status or our health, can make decisions for ourselves. Many children are taught to only follow directions and not think things out, so regrettably they don’t learn how to make decisions on their own. That is how we gain experience by making choices and living with the outcome. Older folks may have the same routine each day for many years, and don’t think to rearrange their time and do something different to give their spirit a lift. Whatever decisions we make, it is important not to offend God with our choices. He allows us to tailor many things we do to our personal likes and dislikes, while staying obedient to Him.

How do you know if you have made the right decision? Experience has personally led me to know a peace that is abundant and full and the contentment that comes after the peace feels supernatural. And when I have made the wrong decision, the restlessness and doubt was overwhelming from the beginning. And then there are those times I jump into the driver’s seat and think I can drive better than God. So He lets me take the wheel and before long, I realize we are going in circles. I hand Him back the wheel and surrender my Will to Him and we get back on track. My insistence on “making things happen” only gets in God’s way and prolongs the outcome.

Everyone has a plan. Every day matters and so does our life. God lets us live here because He has something for us to do. Everyone, at any age has been given gifts, abilities and 24 hours each day. It is up to us how we use what God gives us and how we can glorify Him at the end of the day.  We strive to reach our goals. Being adaptable is good because sometimes when changes seem to “mess up our plan” it actually turns out to be for the best. Part of a plan is to have our list made, the priorities reviewed and our agenda mapped out. That is our part. Then we take it to prayer. The most important part of any decision is to lift it all up to God for his review. If God agrees with us, He makes a way and He will always confirm it. Then we will have peace. If God disagrees with our plan, although it may seem to be a good thing to do, the timing may be off so we must wait for God’s green light. Or, God may have a completely different path for us to walk and He will reveal it when He is ready. But prayer is the answer.

What’s on your mind today? Do you have a decision to make, big or small? Take it to Him and trust Him while you are waiting for the answer.  I am reminded of the lyrics to the hymn, “He Lives”…“He walks with me and He talks with me along life’s narrow way”.

 

 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Rejection



Rejection


The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
 
My two year old grandson has learned the art of saying no…to everything. Rejecting the manners we learned last week, tossing to the side his favorite toys and then there is his refusal to try anything new. At his age it is cute, that is, if this particular stage doesn’t last too long!! It started me thinking that rejection starts at a young age, much younger than I remembered.

What does rejection really mean? Is it the opposite of acceptance? The dictionary says, “It is throwing back something”. An example is, being given something and it is returned to you, not wanted, like hooking a fish and tossing it back. Has that happened to you? If so, then you understand rejection first hand. Easy for someone on the sidelines to say, “don’t let it bother you, get over it”. But the truth is, rejection, avoidance and being cast aside hurts the heart.  We try to counsel our children to not take rejection too seriously, but the fact is they do and we do too. Being left out of playground games and not being invited to a birthday party is painful for a child.  Adults, have those moments too. Someone not returning our calls or closer to home, not being included in family gatherings, for instance. Have you ever had someone say to you, “I’m done with you”? I have and maybe someone has said as much to you, but with their actions rather than words. Either way, as much as we reflect on all the times we have had our hearts ache, don’t you know that Jesus knows something about this too? He was rejected for so much of his life on this earth. Yet, nothing stopped him. He didn’t use rejection as an excuse not to fulfill his destiny. When we slip into sadness or loneliness because we have been “thrown back”, it is important not to reject our faith. That is all we have that we can absolutely depend on. People will let us down, they will disappoint, but our job is to pray for them and turn to God to fill the void. He never fails us.