Becky's Daily Devotions
Becky is the president of the Northeast USA Woman's Ministries. She shares daily thoughts through her special Facebook group. We thought we'd share them with you all.
Becky Nicoll Becky's Thought for the Day 2012 Becky shares thoughts for the ladies of the Northeast where she is the president of the Woman's Ministries. These are short thoughts she shares with them on a private Facebook group for the ladies to stay connected. In reading these, I thought that our Alton Bay friends would enjoy a little of her thoughts as well. Alton Bay Oasis Center Alton Bay Christian Conference Center 603-875-6161 www.altonbay.org You will notice that we are now putting the most recent devotionals at the beginning so that you don't need to flip to the back each time you open this up. Day | 1 Good Morning from Becky, We have a flip chart that we read from every morning and yesterday's message was right to the point. I would like to share it with you: "Never want while you have a God to go to, never fear or faint while you have a God to help you, go to your treasure and take whatever you need-there is all that you could want". I have heard this before and the person who wrote it is not mentioned so I am sorry I cannot connect it to the author. However, this is loaded with positive reinforcement: we are never alone and that our every need is cared for by our Heavenly Father! Of course it doesn't mean that if you want the 2013 Toyota Solara Convertible in robin's egg blue and tan leather and a tan top, if you present your "need" then you are going to be driving it! I know this to be true!! But it means that if God is the treasure in your life, no matter what you are facing today, He will be all you will ever need. My Dad is a minister and had the privilege of marrying all four of his children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren. At the end of the wedding ceremony, He looks the couple in the eye and says, "Walk with Jesus because in Jesus you will have everything you will ever need!" How true that is! In Jesus we have everything we will ever need! In Him we find Truth! We see that when we struggle to make sense of it all and we hear things coming at us in many directions, Jesus is Truth. Seek Him! Ask Him! Know Him! In Him is Strength! In Him is knowing that our strength is feeble compared to the power of the cross! We are able as His children to tap into that strength and make it through! In Him is Power! Wonder working power! In Him is the Power of the blood of Jesus that flowed down that cross with us in mind! When we make Jesus the Lord of our lives, we are able to claim that same power that raised Jesus from the dead! That power will bind Satan at our command in the Name of Jesus. That Power will heal the sick and the emotionally distressed. That Power will carry us through a day of grief, suffering and fear, that by description could easily knock a person off her rocker! That Power can make a crooked path straight! In Him is Peace! Where else can you go when the storms of life are crashing in on you? Who else, when your life is filled with so much noise and restlessness, can speak peace to your spirit? Where else but Jesus! Who else but Jesus? Peace, Peace~ Wonderful Peace! How Day | 2 many times have you heard people say, "If I could just have a little Peace?" It is yours for the asking! EVERYTHING you could ever need! After church yesterday, my friend Elaine was wondering about the words to an old song. I remember singing it growing up at the Waterville Church with Baden Frewin leading the evening worship time:"He's all I need." The words are as follows: "He's all I need, He's all I need; Jesus is all I need. He loves me so, that's how I know, Jesus is all I need". I know this to be true! In my life people have come and gone. Homes will changed out, children will break your heart, jobs you love will be gone in a day, health issues come up in a moment that can change your life forever, but JESUS: He is constant, steadfast and sure. He IS all we ever need! Thank you Jesus for completely satisfying our every need! Day | 3 Good Morning from Becky, "Something beautiful, something good; all my confusion, He understood! All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife; but He made something beautiful of my life". This song was written by Bill and Gloria Gaither many, many years ago now. Yet when the battles play out in my mind, I am reminded that God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. Satan would like to take our lives and twist them around in an effort to exhaust us as we try to figure it all out. Nothing pleases him more than seeing a Christian in a tailspin. And if he can keep us spinning so fast with our wishy-washiness, then he knows we can't see the trees for the forest! And when we can't see that, then where on earth have we placed Jesus? In life, we can experience many wonderful days in a row where things are rolling along smoothly. We have much joy and everything seems to be just right in our world! We love those days and there is nothing wrong with having them! But then life steps up the pace a bit and you are faced with a dilemma for which you have no answer. You can't see clearly what you should do. You call everyone on your phone list for advice but now you have so much advice that you can't sift through any of it! "All my confusion, He understood". I find it so amazing that the One who holds our lives in His hands, the One who knit us together in our mother's womb, the One who counts each hair on our head and knows us by name, we usually bypass! Day | 4 I remember after my husband left back in 1991 I couldn't see straight. I was going to run away, pack my girls up and "get out of Dodge"! I was going back to Portsmouth (which I considered my hometown) and start over! I couldn't stay in that home, I couldn't sleep and I couldn't eat. Nothing was right. I would walk around my living room in circles while my girls were in school, planning and trying to figure how to leave! I had already called U-Haul and was going to load it up and just drive off. I remember I caused such anxiety in my children as well as my brother Jon and his wife Laura, who were also living here in Easthampton and were not enjoying my spirit of confusion any more than I was! Nothing seemed right; I couldn't get a grip!! Have you ever been in a place where you just couldn't get a hold on what life was throwing at you? But then in the midst of the storm inside my restless and very broken spirit~ Jesus! While I couldn't see the way out of my whirlwind life, those around me saw the confusion and brokenness of my spirit and sent a "call to prayer" to the family! I can almost hear my brother now, "You better start praying; this girl is whacked!" But they did! And when I couldn't see my way out, the "Way Maker" intervened and took my hand. And as the wind started to die down and my feet starting walking again on the solid ground, I could hear Him whisper to my weary and hurting soul, "Peace be still, Becky; I've got you". Writing it still today brings tears to my eyes! How precious is Jesus! What a comfort to one's spirit! I started to relax my body and let the Lord carry me to the place I needed to be. I could see the confusion of my spirit melt away. It didn't change the reason for the storm; my husband had still left and he was never coming home. But I had the blessed assurance that I would never be alone! And I never have been! There have been moments in my life since then that I could feel the storms start kicking back up, but I am determined I never want to go back to that state of confusion again in my life so immediately now I go to my source of clarity and of peace~Jesus! The journey has not been smooth, not by a long shot. But one thing I know as I look back on it and I look ahead into the future is that Jesus gets me and will be there to keep me and hold me together! If you are going through the muddy waters of confusion today, I encourage you to seek Jesus. He is the only One who can speak Wonderful Peace to your spirit and set your feet on the clear path. By the way, I still live in Easthampton, raised my girls here, met and married an incredible man who loves and adores me and I continue daily to place my life in the hand of the One Who Knows My Name! He knows your name as well! Day | 5 Good Morning from Becky, John 17:17 "Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth". How many times in a given day do we wish we could just know truth? People say things and we are in disbelief of the truth. Our kids will look right at us and say one thing, but we are not really sure they are telling the truth. People tell you what you want to hear, but it isn't always the truth. And what about the fact that we are not really truthful to ourselves? But the worst of them all is listening to the lies of Satan and believing them. Satan is a liar; he does not speak truth, he will bring you down at every level and he is not happy until you are low in spirit. So how do we guard against such things, being in the world and hearing all of what people say about us and to us? Remember the "Wonderful Words of Life"? What I share with you in this devotional is tried and true! I have been there and have found the way to life. Many of you are going through a time in your life that is already difficult and you feel badly about yourself. If you do not pour yourself into the word of God, you will continue to sink until your feet are stuck in the mud and you are unsure of how to get back up. It is much more advantageous to know Scripture so that when someone speaks a word of discomfort to you, or you hear a lie from the evil one that Day | 6 says "you are not worth it" or that "you cannot do it", "no one really loves you", "you cannot make it", "you are about the ugliest thing put on this planet", "no wonder you have no friends", and the list goes on, then you have ammunition to fight against these attacks! You can face your enemies and tell them to "Go to grass and eat hay!" You are not buying what they are selling anymore! But, without the ammunition, your weapon is just shooting blanks! You can weakly and meekly say it, but the lies about you are too strong against your own flesh and blood! The only way to change lies to truth is to claim the blood of the cross! To know the POWER that comes from that shed blood. To look lies in the face and to say boldly, "I AM A CHILD OF THE MOST HIGH KING"! And remember Isaiah 54: 17:"No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you". Stand strong in who you are! Be secure in what God designed for your life! You are not sure what that is? You don't really know yourself enough to know if what you hear is truth or not? Then where have you put Jesus in your life? Jesus cannot dwell or take residence in a house of lies about His creation. You either have Him front and center and know "His word is TRUTH" or you are living in the lies where His power is not allowed to break through. Picture this scene with me and it is a scene most of us have lived one time or another: a lifetime of insecurities, a feeling of unworthiness, not having a lot to smile about because life has become so very heavy for us, feeling unlovely, not fitting in, no one really cares or loves you, people laugh at you behind your back, but you know and hear them and it makes you feel stupid. Lower and lower you go until your insides are filled with sadness and there is no light...Then into that life that has been so beaten down comes the brightest sun you have ever known! There is no room for despair because despair cannot live in such bright and beautiful light! JESUS! In your days that have been filled with lies, He is there. And the more you speak with Him and let His words cover over you, you see the darkness leave and you realize you are a pretty great person! No one can come against you when God dwells within you! And it is up to you and you alone how much of His Power and light you allow to come into your life! He is giving you the tools to fight the lies; it is in a Book that holds truth and life. Read it often. Read it daily. Memorize the words and take them into your being. They are indeed the "Wo nderful words of LIFE" and they are TRUTH and they will point you to the WAY! Thank you Jesus for the tools provided to fight the lies of the enemy and to know that I belong to you! Day | 7 Good Morning from Becky, I was thinking of the old Sunday school lesson of "Daniel in the Lion's Den" this morning and I turned to Daniel 6 and re-read this amazing story. Here was a man who was taken into exile from his home in Judah. He never wavered in his faith in God, and when it wasn't popular to serve the Almighty, Living God, he did! God blessed his life over and over again. After solving the issue with the handwriting on the wall for King Belshazzar, King of the Babylonians, Daniel received a purple robe with a gold chain about his neck and given the title of third highest ruler in all the land. All the while, he never compromised his belief in God! And God continued to heap blessings upon him! King Belshazzar actually didn't have such a good night, as that very night that Daniel explained to him the "handwriting on the wall", the King was slain and the Kingdom was turned over to Darius. Darius liked Daniel and knew that he served the living God. But the people who Daniel worked with also knew and they didn't like it or Daniel so much. So they devised a plan to get rid of him for good. They went to the King as a group and asked the King to issue a proclamation that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to the king, shall be Day | 8 thrown into the lion's den. The King agreed. Their scheme had worked! When Daniel heard this, he did not change his ways; instead, like he did every day, he went to his home and he prayed to the Almighty Living God! And didn't those work associates know this? They sure did and they headed out to Daniel's house to check out if he was obeying and of course they found him on his knees before Almighty God! Well can you just imagine them all running back to the king, tripping over themselves to be the first one to tell him of this rule breaking Daniel? His heart broken, the king had to carry on with the punishment. But interestingly the King said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!" He knew that God had power and that if anyone could rescue Daniel from this certain doom, it would be Daniel's God! And you know what? He was right! God sent an angel into that hungry den of lions and closed every one of their mouths! THAT is a Living, Almighty God! King Darius was so bothered about Daniel in the den facing certain death that the Bible says, "The king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep". Then at the first light of dawn, the king ran to the lion's den, yelling before he even got there, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?" And can you even imagine the joy within his spirit when he heard Daniel respond to him that indeed God had rescued him! Well, of course we know that the lions were perfectly normal; they had teeth and the cravings to eat people. We know this because the king had all of Daniel's accusers thrown into the lion's den and my word, the Bible says, "before they even reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones." The King then issued a decree, "that in every part of his kingdom people must fear and revere the God of Daniel." Have you found yourself being thrown into a den of lions? Have you been falsely accused of something or set up to fail? God sees all and knows all! The same God that rescued Daniel from the lion's den is here with us today! I close with the decree from King Darius. It really moved me to realize that when he speaks of Daniel's God, He is the same God that I serve today! This was a Bible story that I learned in Sunday school and over 50 years later, it has really ministered to my spirit and I pray it blesses you as well, "For he is the living God and he endures forever; his Kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions." I cannot tell you the times this same God has rescued me from situations both large and small. But notice the king referred to Daniel's God as "the one you serve continually". THAT is the Day | 9 key! Walking every day with the One who knows your name! He is mighty to save! Thank you, Almighty God! Good Morning from Becky, Well it's official! The end of summer is upon us! The season has changed for sure! The evenings are darker earlier and the mornings are darker longer! Why does fall and winter have to bring with it darkness? Now the air, that I love! The crisp clear air filtering into your lungs when you walk outside! The "let me just grab my sweater" type of day! And the beauty! Can you beat the beauty? The leaves are already turning here in Western, MA. Seeing your first tree changing color is like seeing the first robin in the spring! The newness and the beauty brings such excitement! At the same time, people are closing up cottages for the summer, campgrounds grow silent and still after a summer filled with growth, renewal of spirit, friendships and programs a-plenty to nourish your soul. Now quiet, they regroup for another year. This past weekend, people all over the country enjoyed parties and had friends over to celebrate the new season upon us! The old is gone and the new has come and many had parties to celebrate it! We joined in that as well! My husband looked at me with pleading eyes last weekend and said, "Now Betsy, we have nothing going for the three day weekend, right?" I looked back and said, "Well..." Day | 10 And by the time the weekend came we had a small gathering of 20 people on Nicoll Mountain for fellowship, swimming, and dinner, complete with a fire in the fire pit! And we had a blast! But then that, too, was over. So many things in our lives, just like the seasons, change! Try as we might to keep something the same, it won't and it can't. Life changes constantly. Some changes are needed, some not wanted, some affect us physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually. Often times, change will change us and we don't know how to get back to the person we were! In this season of "change" in our lives, there is a constant Companion who never changes, never sleeps, and is with us through it all. When our lives change because of circumstances that take over, we usually come out stronger and more determined to find God's will for our lives. When you walk the journey with Jesus, you walk it with the Most High King! You walk it with the One and only One who will not change! Seasons come and go. Life changes as we know it and can rock our world. Faith falters, hope is hard to find, discouragement overshadows us, but Jesus! He is the only One who is faithful to carry us through the changes in our lives! HE never changes! He is the one constant beyond our own understanding. Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same; Yesterday, Today and FOREVER"! Who else in your life can you say that about? Now, to grasp this Scripture for your life requires more than just a good feeling of knowing that no matter what Jesus is here and He will come through in the end. It is walking the journey day by day with Him! It is getting to know and understand Him so that you speak His words and know His plan. You experience the power of the Cross and you claim it! It is so when you lose your job, or your home, or a family member, or anything that has brought you security in the past and it is now gone. Because you know Jesus, the crisis takes on a different meaning. It is not all about the change that is taking place; it is about the unchanging Jesus carrying you through. The first one you go to is Him; the prayers of your heart cry out to Him. He already knows and He cares so deeply for the change going on in your life. Change happens to each of us at some time in our life. I pray you are so entwined with Jesus that when the seasons in your life change, you will cling to His faithful hand.! Seasons come (as we are experiencing here in New England) and seasons go. The sun comes up in the morning and the moon comes up at night. Life is great and life is hard. There is JOY and there is sorrow. But most importantly, there is always Jesus! I pray today, as the seasons flip from summer to fall, that Jesus is the one constant Companion that you are claiming to carry you through! HE NEVER CHANGES! What a promise! What a friend! What a Savior! Thank you, Jesus! Day | 11 Good Morning from Becky, I was reading in James and my attention turned to James 2: 12 &13: "Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment"! What strikes me about this verse is that it is more for the Christian and the responsibility we have to show mercy and to forgive. I think we are so quick to talk about the mercy given to us from Jesus and we are so grateful for that, but what do we do when we have been so deeply wounded by another? "Mercy triumphs over judgment"! There is enough "judgment" in this world but we tend to be a little shy on "mercy". As sinful as we have been and continue to be, Jesus went to a cross to show forgiveness and mercy. He didn't need to promote His cause or be sure everyone in the room knew how wonderful He was! He didn't have the angels herald His great gift of love for us! He endured for the Joy, and He displayed the greatest Mercy for our sins as He bore them on the cruel cross. Day | 12 Now, that is our example! So why is it that we hang on to things? I don't believe anyone has ever done anything to us that has made us have to go as far as death on a cross to forgive them. I share with you this life story so that you can understand the power of that cross in a person's life and how showing mercy gives freedom but judgment causes strife. Many of you who know me, or have heard my story, already know that in 1991, my first husband left my daughters and me for another woman. It was utterly devastating for me. I met him when I was 13 and he was 14. He was a major part of my life for those many years and I loved him dearly. We had a beautiful wedding and God blessed us with our precious baby girls. Life was good. It was going along smoothly when it was interrupted by sin. Eventually, after a bit of a struggle (I was happy it was at least a struggle for him to leave!), he left for good and joined this other woman. The only way I can describe the utter pain and sadness of my heart is that it felt like a bomb went off. However, there was God! Picking up the pieces, reminding me that a "man" is not my life or my happiness. It was not this man that gave me joy at all: it was Jesus! He gently reminded me every day that my life was in His hands not in the hands of a man! Many years later, after my girls were grown, God sent along Jim, this incredible man to walk beside me, cherish me and support God's love in my life! We were married. But still in all my joy, I had this inner deep seeded gnawing in my spirit of "hate" for a man and woman who had hurt my children and me. I had to face what I called the "buried ugly" for the first time on my knees before God and ask Him to guide me in the process of forgiveness. Well, I will tell you, get ready for the ride! When you ask to forgive, He won't let you down! The woman's name is Phyllis and soon after, it was discovered she had cancer. God laid it on my heart to provide meals for her, visit her in the hospital, rub cream on her to make her feel better, to pray with and for her. To give me a different love for this man who walked out the front door of our home into the arms of another. To feel his pain for the woman he loved, knowing it was not me. To hug him, and pray that he would feel Jesus from me! This was not because I was so wonderful! I was choosing mercy over judgment! Before I had my little chat with the Lord, I would not have been able to extend forgiveness and mercy. However, it freed me to be who God made me to be. It brought me JOY instead of ugly bitterness. I could see the change happening in me because of mercy shown towards another! Phyllis was healed and has been cancer free for several years. We are not best friends but we don't have to be. I can say their names without malice or thought now and that is God! Each of us has a "buried ugly" from sometime in their life. I encourage you to start the process with God. It doesn't happen overnight, but when you can forgive someone who has hurt you or another person you love, you are connecting to God, Day | 13 your life source! And showing Mercy brings peace over the stagnant shadow of judgment. Mercy! It is free for the asking and can change a life: YOURS! Good Morning from Becky, OH, have I got a good one for us today! Isaiah 46:3 & 4: "Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." This verse is amazing! God Himself is reminding us that He has upheld us since we were conceived and has carried us since our birth to present! This verse is taken from Isaiah and it is talking about idols. The people were worshipping these idols and, although they were so very heavy, would carry them all around with them. Attached to their hip, so to speak! God is asking them, "Why do you do this? I am the one who has been with you from your very beginnings, and will be here with you as you close your eyes in death, and will spend eternity with you. Why do you still worship these idols?" I can imagine His heartache as He watches His children close their hearts to Him and pick up the heaviness of sin and carry it around with them daily, worshiping anything and everything but God! Day | 14 How like that is today! "Listen to Me, ____________ (insert your name). I am He who will sustain you". There is no other God like Him!! He will take your life and hold you up. He will carry you! You do not have to even carry your burdens anymore! He wants to carry you and your burdens, sustain you, and hold you together. And not just for a few hours a day or a week, but for your entire life! I think of my cherished friend Deb who manages a Ronald McDonald house. The pain and the heartache that she goes through watching little ones fight for their lives is intense. There are joyful days and there are heart-wrenching, beyond grief moments. She has done this for over 30 years. I know Who holds Deb together, day in and day out! I know that God has been with her from her beginnings and it is her choice to keep Him with her until she closes her eyes to this world. He sustains and carries her daily. I think of the missionaries in a foreign field that said yes to God and are over in a land, foreign in language and far removed from their family. They know going in there that the main objective is not about them, but about sharing the love of Jesus. It is about showing through example the pattern of the Savior. It is teaching them, loving them and giving until there is no more to give! And all the while, God carries them and sustains them! I think of us and I ask what idols do we carry around that might hinder us from giving our all to Jesus? What are we holding on to that is keeping us from enjoying the Grace of God? Most times it is us! It is a choice we make, just like the people of Israel who wandered around for years holding on to the same things that keeps us from freedom in Christ! It can be a habit that we do not want to give up. It can be a friendship that is not good for us, but we can't seem to let go of it. It can be an attitude, a life pattern, or anything at all that would keep us from drawing near to God. AND only you and God know for sure what that is! He absolutely knows what it is, especially since He created you and is with you always! I have found in my own life that I get a pretty good sense when I am hanging on to something I shouldn't because it is then that I become defensive and my soft edges become sharp. It is then I must say to the Lord, "I have a pretty good idea what is going on here, but please guide me through". If I don't do that, the idol that I have chosen instead of Him slowly begins to take over and eventually God will say to me, "Listen to me". I will hear him less...and less... and then, it is dangerous! May this verse reassure you today that since you were born to this very moment, God has been a part of you! He will hold you up, He will sustain you through life, He will carry you through and He will rescue you! Is there any other god that will promise you that? The one true God knows you by name and LOVES you today! Doesn't it make you want to dance and Day | 15 sing and do a jig?! Now that would be something! Praise God and thank you, Lord, for completely loving us, your children! Good Morning from Becky, I was reading today in Ezekiel 34 about the shepherd and the sheep. For the most part, it refers to Pastors being the Shepherd and us as the sheep. But there were many reassuring verses in there that I took my highlighter to this morning! And then as I closed my Bible I continued in thought about the Good Shepherd, Jesus. I thought about His love for me, how He sought me, and how He bought me with His shed blood for my sins. I realized how very precious His love is for me. In my lost and lonely state: Jesus! Have you ever been lost before? I cannot tell you how many times I have been traveling to speak somewhere and I have gotten lost! It is a scary feeling for sure. I was given a GPS for Christmas from my daughter Katie about 3 years ago because she was tired of me getting lost all the time! BUT even with my newly acquired tracking device, I would often turn before I was supposed to or take the wrong on-ramp. It once happened on the entrance to a highway in NY, so I backed up � mile off the longest on-ramp I ever saw in my life at about 9:00 PM with a Day | 16 friend about ready to get out and walk (no worries, I did a great job and we lived to tell about it!). So really, the GPS helps but it is "not all that" for one like me! My husband Jim knows that when I travel, he has the road atlas at the ready. There have been many, "Quick Jim, I am at this exit! Is it right"? Usually I have a friend (or two) traveling with me, which makes for a much more enjoyable trip, but when I am alone in unchartered areas, it gets tense! I have said on more than one occasion that I felt I would be lost forever! Jim always replies by saying, "Betsy, I will always find you"! It is so reassuring to the crazy lady out traveling to know that I matter enough to him that he would always come for me. While reading about the Shepherd this morning, it made me realize that is what Jesus does for us. He seeks us out and He will find us (the lost sheep) and carry us safely back to the flock. Luke 15: 1-7 shares the parable of the Lost Sheep. That is you and me. How many times have we ventured off into areas that have been unsafe or unfit for us to be in? How many times have we left the flock of safety and decided to try it on the outskirts of His safety and boundaries of love. And yet even after all the times that we have turned to our own devices, to our own roadmaps, set our GPS for our own journey, still, He finds us! We are always found; where we are is no surprise to God! But do we allow Him to fold us up into His arms of safety, protection and love and carry us home? Or do we fight that and stay where we are? I think each of us has probably at some time been lost with no idea where to turn. It can be a frightening place to be. The voice of the Shepherd is what the sheep listen for. Jesus says that His sheep will hear His voice. With all the "things" that can cloud up our lives today, do you clearly hear His voice? When you hear Him speak, it is a guardrail for your journey. His voice can put you back on track, keep you from going or doing what you ought not be thinking about, give you the line of conscientiousness that each of us needs, and bring you the reassurance that each of us seeks. My husband has a very authoritative voice, deep and clear. When he reassures me over the phone that he will always find me, I find peace. But Jim is just my husband and although his words bring me the comfort intended, Jesus KNOWS where I am all the time! He sees what I am doing and with whom I am doing it! We cannot hide from God, even if we tried! He will be there every time we need Him. It is His desire for us to Hear His Voice and stay close to Him as He leads us Home. We serve a gentle and precious Shepherd and He knows YOUR Name! Thank you, Jesus, for finding me and carrying me back into the shelter of your love! Day | 17 Good Morning from Becky, Have you ever been faced with what feels to be certain "impossibilities" in life? I sure have! I have been up against the mountain and it hasn't moved! My legs have been too weak to climb over it and I have not had the will to walk around it! There have been many different occasions in my life when I have felt it is finished, just throw in the towel! It is those "impossible" moments of life that I believe require us to step back, take a seat and get into the groove with God. Too often we accept the impossibilities of our lives as defeat because in our own power and strength it cannot be done; the mountain just looms in front of us! However, when you take the needed time of reflection and seeking God, your mind can go to a Scripture verse that will make that mountain look like a little hill and it will recharge you and remind you that you do have the strength to go on! BUT GOD! How amazing it is that He is there for us when we call, that we can share the mountain, the problem, and change with Him. And by the time we are finished, we can have that peace inside that we are not alone and He has had the plan all along! Day | 18 I think of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, minding her own business, preparing for her marriage to Joseph. All is well and right in her corner of the world. But then the angel! The angel appears to her and explains how she has found favor with God. She will have a child and will name him Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins! What on earth?? "How will this be", Mary asked the Angel, "since I am a virgin?". It is the Angel that explains how the Power of the Most High will overshadow her. And how Elizabeth, Mary's relative, was also going to have a child. It was the answer to prayer for Elizabeth, for the Angel said, "For nothing is impossible with God". When I think back over the "impossibilities" that I have faced in my life and wondered how on earth I would get through, I can look back and trace the Hand that brought me through. For what looked to be an impossibility in my life, turned out, through faith believing, to be the best mountain climb of my life! All of the obstacles, that I felt were hanging out there looming before me, went away as I took each step toward my goal. Faith in action turns an impossible situation or change to positive life changing possibility! Mary was able to accept what the angel had just told her without kicking and screaming or running in fear because she believed in the power of her God. She heard in a few moments of time how her life was about to change forever and yet she answered, "I am the Lord's servant, may it be to me as you have said". Faith in God brought action to the impossibility she faced. I use this as my personal example in so many things that come my way and affect my life. Can I look at the impossibility and say the same thing Mary did? I want to have that kind of faith, to trust in the all-knowing God, to give Him all of me and know that in doing so, He will work out what seems too hard for me to handle. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that God wants the kind of relationship with us that is faith-based, intimate and personal. "And without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek H im." God wants a personal and dynamic relationship that truly will transform your life! When you seek the Lord, you will find that He will reward you with His intimate presence. You will not be alone. There are many types of mountains you may face, whether or not you should take a new job, for example. There are as many scenarios as there are impossibilities that we face but we know that we are not alone! We know that in our life, no matter what we are facing and as long as we believe in the sovereign power of God, that NOTHING is impossible when we place our life in His hand! He will see you through and bless you along your journey! This is a very good thing! Day | 19 Good Morning from Becky, I was traveling to work yesterday with quite a bit on my mind. I was in prayer for different concerns on my heart. And as I prayed for what concerned me, I was reminded of all the blessings in my life because of God's Amazing Grace and provision. My prayer went into the Hymn chorus: "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Sweetest name I know. Fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go". The last line hit me hard! "Fills my every longing..." How often in life have we hit a brick wall? Going right along on our journey and then splat! Head on into the wall. I consider the brick wall the times in life that we have longed for a different outcome. For example, the dream that we had as a young person and it never took shape or the hope for our future and it turned out totally different than we desired. I have seen on my journey people disappointed because they never found that one true love; they were never able to marry. I have seen people who wanted a family so badly, but it wasn't to be. Day | 20 I have seen people who thought they had found their true love, only to have their marriage end in despair and grief. I have seen families standing by the graveside of their child, who they loved so dearly and held such hope and promise in this life, now gone. I have seen men and women in powerful jobs that were bringing in the money that enabled them to have lovely homes, great vehicles, and no worries. And I have seen these very same people "downsized" to no paycheck, and wondering where grocery money is going to come from. I have seen retirement force people, who were once so busy and full of purpose, to grind to an almost complete halt. I have looked into the eyes of those souls, as they wonder where they fit in life and what their purpose is now. I have seen the face of a parent, their child accused of murder, with pain and grief in their eyes, as they walk away from the visiting area behind clanging doors and guards. I have seen a once healthy, vibrant person reduced to pain and pills because life has inflicted such disease upon them. I have seen life turn upside down for myself and others, and I, along with others, have experienced such pain that I didn't know if I would be able, or even want to, take another breath! But then: GOD! "Fills my every longing"! And here is the remarkable part of living and dwelling within HIM: all of the examples mentioned are real! I have either experienced them myself or know them to be true. Life is not about our "dreams coming true"; it is about serving God and letting your life shine through Him and because of Him! When our plans fall apart and we feel discouraged and defeated, it is because they were our plans from the beginning! We are on this side of Heaven, and on this side, there may be terrible things that happen to wonderful and Godly people. But Jesus himself will never leave us or forsake us through the trial and He continues to offer to us the "Hope" of eternal life. But in the meantime, we are here on earth and struggling to find our way. I have found that when you place Jesus first in your life, you will have all you need! He will fill every longing and desire you have with His love and His purpose for your life. The thing is, however, it just may not be what you had in mind. The desires of your heart are important to Jesus and His love is enough to cover and satisfy your needs. When you allow Jesus to "fill you up" with His spirit and love, you will experience His peace, His purpose, and His call for your Day | 21 life. Because life didn't work out the way you had planned does not mean it is over! Not by a long shot! As long as you have breath in you and Jesus in you, there is a hope and a purpose to your life! Has there been a longing in your heart that you perhaps felt was never fulfilled? I encourage you today to spend some time with Jesus. He cares, He understands, and He and only He can satisfy your soul! Thank you Jesus for your provision of purpose and love that you bestow upon us and for fulfilling the longings of our hearts! Good Morning from Becky, I have a great verse this morning that reminds us of God's protective care for our lives. It is found in Isaiah 48:17 & 18: "This is what the Lord says-your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. 18. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.' " How often have we heard our own parents say, "If only you had listened to me." Or perhaps we have told our own children that very same thing. Just like a loving parent, God is reminding us that when we listen to Him, seek Him out, and obey His commands, we will have "peace". I was told in my growing up years, "You may not be happy with my decision, but you will be happy you obeyed"! I was a strong-willed, crafty, spirited child and teenager. I had an answer for just about everything! I was capable of doing things as the oldest of four children and I enjoyed my "spirit". My mother was also an expert in her field of "motherhood" and she knew exactly how to rein me in when needed. I was the child, who in school, wanted to be the Day | 22 teacher not the student! I was the child, who was maybe two years older than the youngest one in the Church nursery, but I felt I could handle caring for the children during Church! In addition, my manner convinced others I could do things! Thankfully for me, my mother saw that I was a bit of a different duck, and while she would encourage me in ways that I will forever thank her for as her touches on my life have softened my edges and shown me sensitivity to the Spirit, it was her leadership over me that taught me to "listen" to God! When you tend to be a strong person on your own, you come out of the gate ready to go. You know yourself and what works best so you plow ahead. But God! But God made each one of us! He understands our natures, who we are, our abilities and what works and doesn't work for us! And the deal is this: not all things that we think are right for us actually are! Isaiah 55: 8 & 9 reminds us that, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord", despite how hard I have tried to convince Him otherwise! When we submit our lives to the Lord and give Him control, He does not take away our personality or our strengths. Instead, He enhances them to bring Him Honor and Glory! He is the One who created your personality to begin with. I am sure in my life He has kept an eagle eye on me and has burst out laughing at some of my antics along my journey! We were made for Him! We are not in this life for us or for what we can get out of it and that is what we forget way too often! When there is sin in our lives, there is separation from God. When we do not listen to His voice or wait upon Him and ignore His Spirit of direction, we lose His peace! There is no other god in this world that cares about what happens to you or the direction you take, except for the one true God! He holds your life in His hands and waits to communicate His will to you. I can tell you from example that I am still a strong-willed woman. But I have put my life in the hands of the One who made me. Since doing so, I have had instruction (some I didn't want to hear), and speed bumps on my journey that have slowed me down when I felt I needed to forge ahead, and I have the guidance of His will for my life! I am still the same person: I laugh all the time, I have joy in my spirit, I have thankfulness in my heart and because I know Who holds me together, I have PEACE! Day | 23 Who is leading you today? If you are out there on your own devices, I encourage you to place your life in the One who made you, knows you, and loves you! God has a plan for your life and until you surrender your life totally to Him, you will always wonder... "Hmm, what is His plan for me"? You can trust your life to the One who created it! How amazing is that? Good Morning from Becky, "AMAZING GRACE"~ Grace given to us today, as a gift from God, is the very same grace bestowed upon a sinner such as the apostle Paul at his conversion to Christianity. Paul had been a staunch enemy of the Church and in that role, he would capture and punish Christian believers, often to the extreme of taking their lives for proclaiming their belief in and following after Jesus Christ. Paul always knew in his spirit what he deserved for such behavior, but God picked him up, loved him, forgave him, and bestowed His grace upon him. I am always impressed with what Paul shares in 1 Corinthians 15:9-10: "For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10. But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect, No, I worked harder than all of them- yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." Paul knew that it was not anything of his own, but God's Amazing Grace. That God would take a man who had sought out Christians, persecute them, kill them, and do so zealously and then forgive him? GRACE~ Can you imagine that moment when Paul's spirit was so filled with the love of Day | 24 Jesus? Can you imagine how it felt for all of the hatred and bitterness to melt away from his cold, hard heart? Think for a moment of all that has taken place in your life and all the feelings that surround you, and how some of the events of your life have impacted how you live life today. I look at my life in this brief time of reflection and I see a sinner. I see a woman who has been a liar, both verbally and emotionally, to herself as well as to others. I see someone who has known to do right, but chose another way because she wanted to, not taking God into account. I see a woman who has been hurt by another and wanted to hurt back, bigger and worse than what was inflicted on her. I could probably fill a page and a half on just what I was and what caused my pain, which attributed to my actions! But I want to say to you that I am a sinner, but Saved by Grace! See, like Paul, I too feel like surely I am the worst of them. But God, in His precious love and mercy, rescued my life. He came in and cleaned me up and set my feet along a new pathway. LIFE! When you are in the midst of the enemy of sin, you see life for yourself and to your own advantage. You cannot see anything other than your main objective: you! And then~ now picture this with me if you will~ in open arms, Jesus! No matter what you have done: Jesus! No matter where you have been: Jesus! Forgiveness from sin! Do you clearly understand that? Can you even wrap your head around this knowledge that Jesus, knowing your sin, knowing your heart, attitudes, and feelings, offers you today Forgiveness for the past and Grace for the journey? It blows my mind! There is no other God like our God! There is no other God that saw the sin of the world and sent His only son to die on a cross for me~Grace! There is no one else that can offer me forgiveness for the many times I have failed Him in life~Grace! There is no other God that walks beside me on the journey, guides me, talks with me, and gives me life more abundantly! Even after I have hurt His heart and often times robbed Him of His Glory~Grace! God's AMAZING GRACE! And the best part of it all: it is yours for the asking! When you seek Him and ask Him to become your Savior and forgive your sins, you get the best gift of His love: His Grace! I encourage you today to "Think about his Love; think about His goodness, thi nk about His GRACE that's brought you through"... Like Paul, we all have a story. Some more dramatic than others, but not one of us is without sin. Not one of us is not in need of the Amazing healing power of Jesus! And not one of us is not without the need of God's AMAZING GRACE! Day | 25 Good Morning from Becky, I was the guest speaker at the Westfield A.C. Church yesterday and my message was Matthew 6: 24 34. The key verse of my message was verse 33: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well". In our lives we are faced with many choices. We are confused and overwhelmed oftentimes when decisions need to be made. We are impulsive and then regret the decision or we don't make the choice in time because of indecisiveness and we lose out. We often forge full steam ahead, but forget to seek Him first. It is important in our spiritual welfare to stop and seek His will. It gives us the perspective that we are not alone (which we don't want to be), and we have a Heavenly Father who cares greatly for us. This is not an insurance policy: you are not going to get everything that you want because He says "all these things will be added unto you". He is asking us to stop and remember Him. When you "seek first" God, you are opening up your heart to the One in whom you can trust. You are laying your life before Him and seeking His guidance. You are saying that you are willing to stop certain behaviors or actions in your life for His sake. You are saying that you desire to follow Him and only Him! Day | 26 Some of the people that I have counseled have come right out and told me that what they do in their life is what they want to do. They do not want to even read this verse because they have determined they like what they are doing and do not want to stop. I agree that it is very difficult to stay in sin and let it comfortably reside within you after reading verse 33, with any hope of not being convicted of what takes hold of your heart. I like to take this verse and say it as a prayer: "Lord, today I seek you. I seek your face and your grace. I seek the righteousness of your love for me. I seek to do your will more than my own. I lay it all down at your feet and I ask You to be my Lord, my Savior, and my Friend. I pray that I do not seek my own selfish desires, but to seek the kingdom of God, and pursue the plan You have for me. Then I know, Lord, that when I give up that which in your eyes is wrong in my life, You will come along with your arms of protection and give me strength. You will give me new vision! You will create within me a clean heart! And You will provide for my needs according to that plan You have for my life. I seek you today, Jesus. I seek You now". AMEN I encourage you to read this verse over and when doing so, take a few moments and ask the Lord if things might be a little different in your life had you brought Him in first? It is not too late to make important life changes! We change all the time in many areas of our lives: why not make the change to become who Jesus made you to be? I encourage you to place Him first in your heart and in your life! And peace you will feel; it is a very good thing! Good Morning from Becky, Next week we have some exciting changes taking place in our family! Our nephew Ben Taber will be going to Westfield State College and for the first year of school, he will be living on Nicoll Mountain with us! We have something to look forward to and we anticipate a wonderful year! However, in order to prepare for this event, there was work to be done on our part. Where do we put him? There were a few options, but we decided that Ben will just take residence in our spare bedroom. Instead of sticking him downstairs, he will be more a part of the family in there! NOW came the fun part! In order to have Ben come and stay in the spare room, there was a lot of cleaning out that needed to be done! In the past few years, I have added some nice little touches to that room. We painted it a nice blue (perfect for a boy, who knew?), I added a cozy quilt (that will be replaced with a guy spread), flowing white curtains, and lovely pictures around the room on the walls. When I walked into the room, it looked so pretty to me! It was just the eyes' view of course because had you opened the triple length closet, you could likely have been knocked unconscious! We don't have a basement in our raised ranch so storage becomes anything that will open, allow you to throw in quick and close quicker! You can Day | 27 imagine the "stuff" in that closet! ALL of the drawers of the dresser were loaded with my mementos! I had Christmas ornaments that I planned to add my grandchildren's names to (probably 8 years ago) but of course never did. All my children's books that I LOVE, my drawer filled with coloring books and crayons where the kids always just knew to go to... you get the very colorful picture I am painting! In seeing my distress and not knowing how Ben was going to add his things to mine, my daughters stepped in and gave up their Saturday, along with my son in law, and came to assist Jim and me in this daunting task (I do have a point coming up. Bear with me...) As they were helping me, I quickly headed towards a meltdown as they continually asked, "Mom, really? You don't need this anymore"! And of course I said I did! My "keep" pile was larger than the "throw" pile!! It was then that I told the girls, "You know what? I am going down to the garage to work on another project. You do what needs to be done for my good. I trust in your care for me." And I walked away. They were precious and respectful of my "things", but also knew that I didn't need to hold onto the 10 year old coloring book because 4 of my 8 grandchildren colored in it!! I was not able to clean up that space on my own. I needed help! And now here is the point (thank you for your patience)! In our lives, we too have an "event" we wait expectantly for! We are anxiously awaiting the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! BUT, before He arrives, we too have some cleaning out to do. We are bogged down with the heaviness of unconfessed sin, or the same issues keep coming up and we continue to give them to Jesus for spiritual healing. OR it could be that we are not even aware of all we have "stored" away in the secret closets of our souls that we have forgotten is even in there. The years of just continually throwing things in and closing the door quick may be catching up with us and it is now time to do something about it. Well, just as my girls came to my rescue in helping me throw away and organize, Jesus too is waiting to help you become new! 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old is gone, and the new has come"! No one can clean you out better, gentler, or more thoroughly than the One who created you and knows your sin. Sin is clutter in your life and it is not designed to give you freedom. Letting go of what you once held on to and giving it to Jesus brings you freedom and life! Today, I encourage you to take some time and think about your life. Are there areas in your life that you need to let go of? Do you need to ask the Lord to come in and do a cleanup? You can trust Him with that! And in doing so, you prepare for the upcoming event of when He calls your name at the sound of the trumpet. You will not have all that extra baggage of sin and guilt wearing you down! Day | 28 I am ready for Ben! I am also ready for Jesus! What a great time of expectation! Are you ready? Good Morning from Becky, Matthew 5:14-16: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be h idden. 15. Neither do people light a lamp and put under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father i n Heaven." Even as a child, this verse intrigued me. I can hear my Dad preaching about the responsibility of us being a "Light of the World". It seems like such a daunting task! The world is a very big place and I am one person. Well, what I have determined is that we all have our own little corner of this great big world that we occupy and live in and where we are is where our light must shine. There are many ways our home lights can shine: leaving the front light on to be sure people know they are welcome to enter or keeping one candle light in the window burning day and night so your children will know you are waiting for them! It is such a reassuring feeling to see Day | 29 something constant and comforting. It reminds you that no matter where you've been, when you pull into that driveway, you are "home". But this verse is talking about our lives! What kind of light is beaming from us? It is not enough to do "lip service" to God. If you were up on stage, presenting God's word and people were moved and blessed, but then you come off stage and snap at people or are sulky or moody, the light that you shone brightly dims real fast in hearts of the people! Jesus is reminding us that our "Light" is our character: it is the soul that people will watch, it is the attitude that we will present, it is the reflection of Christ in our lives. Showing our "light" is not as easy for some as others. Many find it difficult to speak up about Christ. I hear that all the time! "I wish I could speak more. I know I miss many opportunities to mention His name." I agree with you! It is not a popular topic. People do not want to hear about Jesus in today's world! I firmly believe that when you wake up in the morning and say, "Lord, equip me to do your work today" that He will! It is not like He is as king you to be an evangelist, just His light. If someone is going through a rough patch, you could offer to pray for them. When you do, your sunbeam begins to shine and people see that you are connected to Jesus! You will be surprised how many will then come to you and ask you to pray for them! We have to be careful as well in how we conduct our lives. If people know you live for Jesus, they will be waiting for you to cave, to give in to the popular choice, or to give in to the crowd, if you will! Living for Jesus and being His representative does not mean you get to live two different lifestyles. One so you won't be made fun of, and the other on Sunday when you are safe to raise your hands and praise the Lord! It means steady and sure, day in and day out. You will answer to Him and only Him for the choices you make! Your light will shine and people can choose how they want to receive it. That part is up to them, but you must stay true to the Light of the World! There is no greater "dimmer switch" than the weight of sin in our lives! We may have a sunbeam trying to flicker out, but when we are burdened down by the weight of unconfessed sin, there is no light in the darkness of our life. We are all sinners and probably each day we have issues for which we need to ask forgiveness. We are human beings, practicing daily our commitment to Christ. But when sin enters in and we do not ask forgiveness and restoration, it begins to dull our "beam of light." My last thought pertains to when we care for the needs of others! What a great extension of the hand of Jesus! To touch another human life~ to share a smile with someone you have never met~to make a meal for someone who is ill, etc. (you can fill in many more idea here!). Connection with one another and caring for one another - in doing so, our light will beam so Day | 30 brightly that they will need sunglasses! Oh that we would spread His light for a world in darkness! I pray to be a "sunbeam for Jesus"! Do you remember that old Sunday School song? I encourage you to let your sun shine brightly today for the Son of God! What a privilege to represent Him! Good Morning from Becky, Malachi 3: 6: "I the Lord do not change". I find this verse so very reassuring to my spirit. He is the one constant in my life! His love for me is steadfast and sure. He is not an indecisive God. He is direct and spot on when I ask Him what His will might be for my life. He never leaves and is as close as the mention of His name! What a blessed assurance to know in the middle of life's crazy trials we can depend on the same Jesus to uphold us and keep us secure. I know I have changed through my journey of life. Many times it has been because of circumstances that I didn't have any control over. I know that when I was in the valley, God was faithful to meet my needs. I know that when I have been on the mountaintop, God rejoiced with me. He is the same God in the good and the difficult times! So many things around us change on a daily basis and in the blink of an eye. The death of a loved one is one example~ they are with us in the morning and gone by evening and you do not know how you are going to go on with your life. It affects you to your inner core. And yet, Day | 31 He is the Same God as He always has been and He is waiting to give you life and walk you through the valley of despair. Trust Him. Whatever you are facing today, God is unchanging and faithful and we don't want Him any other way! Too many people in our lives have gone up and down, all wishy washy in their support and help for us. Can you even imagine if the foundation of our life was the same as that? He isn't! And that is why we can build our homes and our lives on His foundation. He is the one thing in our lives that is constant and sure. When everything else changes, people, jobs, marriage, children, finances, relationships, etc., He does not change! How wonderful to know that you can count on Jesus and His incredible love for you! I just find this to be so encouraging to my spirit and secure to my soul! Many times along my journey, I would have thrown it in: BUT GOD! How many times has His unchanging spirit of love and trust spoken to my spirit and infused me with His Spirit! There is nothing with which to compare His unchanging love. Everything in life is changing and is fleeting: BUT GOD! Saturday evening Jim and I were watching the Gaither Homecoming on TV. Lynda Randall was singing a song that she made very popular called, "God on the Mountain", written by Tracy Dartt. It shares some of what I am trying to say in today's devotional. Read over these words and while you do, I encourage you to take some time to reflect how God has been faithful and unchanging to you along your journey of life. "Life is easy, when you're up on that mountain, and you've got peace of mind like you've never known. But when things change and you're down in that valley; don't lose hope for you are never alone. For the God on the mountain is still the God in the Valley When things go wrong, He'll make things right And the God of the good times is still the God in the bad times The God of the day is still God in the night." Day | 32 I pray today that whatever you are facing, be it the mountain top of joy or the valley of despair, that you know in your spirit God does NOT change! He is the one constant in your life and He will lead you through! It blows my mind that my life He cares about and my heart He holds in His love! SO AMAZING! I can just say: "THANK YOU JESUS"! Good Morning from Becky, "Shout to the Lord" is a very popular chorus (by Hillsong) that is sung in churches around the world. It is a song of God's majesty and power and you cannot help but know that God is God when you are singing it. But it is the last line of the song that gets me the most! "Nothing compares to the promise I have in you"! As I flip the pages of my life backward and see where I was and what I have become, I see the hand of God upon my life, constant and true. In my life there has been betrayal, uncertainty, and pain. It has been through those trials that I have Day | 33 clung to the cross! I know that the journey that we each take is personal to us and while there may be similarities, they are never going to be exact. After my first husband left us, my daughters and I stayed in the house we were renting. This was our "home": we loved living there. I could host family gatherings and invite people in who needed a nice meal or a warm bed. One day, the landlord informed us that he was probably going to tear that house down to put in a bypass road to another property he owned. I was alone with two girls and very little income and we loved our home! I prayed and trusted and every day I thanked God for that home! He never tore it down! In fact, after I was married to Jim in January of 2000, my brother Jon and his wife Laura bought it from my landlord and they continued to host family gatherings and bring in teenage boys that needed a refuge. "Nothing compares to the PROMISE I have in you". Hebrews 13:5 "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you". What a PROMISE! What a GOD! His provision for us during the trial was amazing! We never had too much, that is for sure! BUT we always had enough! There is a big difference in what we think we need and what God provides for our needs. When we are not faced with a trial, it is hard to understand what those who are going through one are really dealing with. May I encourage you to have a family into your home for dinner, to give clothes from your already over stuffed closets to someone who could use a "new" outfit, or to be ready and willing to give of yourself when a need presents itself. And to be on the alert, with God as your radar, to be aware of your surroundings and who may need you. When we are in tune with our surroundings, God will use us to fulfill a "Promise" of protection to a soul in need. What a BLESSING! Every day I am blessed by God's provision and promise! You are as well! While bad things will happen to very wonderful people, God's promise to never leave you or forsake you is spot on! Never will you have to worry about the "Plan"; He has it in His hand! Never do you have to worry about how to live when your spirit is so grieved: "I have come to give you life and to give it to you more abundantly"! (John 10:10) This is a great promise! And one I have depended on many days! When I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me and I had no idea how to enjoy the life I was in, the focus went off of me and on to Him! Release, surrender and peace! He came so that I might have life and not just a" here and there" living, but ABUNDANTLY! Are you living an "abundant" life today? When I think about where I have been, I am amazed by His grace! When I think of my future, I know that no matter what comes my way, my life is in His keeping! The material things of life will all fade away at some time, but at the core of everything I have is Jesus and in Him is the Promise: "NOTHING compares to the Promise I have in you"! Day | 34 Is there a promise that has been a blessing to you? I encourage you to think about your life: where you have been and what "promise" of God has brought you through. I welcome you to share that with us if you would like. We grow from sharing with one another! "My Jesus, My Savior, Lord there is none like you; all of my days, I want to praise the wonders of your mighty love!" Thank you Jesus that "Nothing compares to the PROMISE I HAVE IN YOU!" Good Morning from Becky, This morning at 4:45 I heard the ever familiar sound of, beep, beep, beep! I turned over to hit the snooze button, knowing this was going to be a good three-hitter day! As I lay there trying to figure out again just why it is that I am getting up this early, I hear from the kitchen another beep, beep, beep, beep, beep! You guessed it! The coffee pot was letting me know that it is OK to get up now because my coffee is ready! As I sit here in my chair having my Bible reading time, the clock now chimes alerting me to the time of day. All of these "beeps" and "chimes" Day | 35 serve as reminders to keep me on track and on time for things. They are unmistakably present and necessary in my morning routine. It is a funny thing that I can hit that alarm clock ten times to temporarily silence it, but each time it comes back, stronger and louder! So, I might as well just get up since it wins anyway! In our spiritual lives, we also have some "beeps" to keep us on track and focused. They are in the form of the Holy Spirit. In His ministry on earth, Jesus was limited to being in one place at a time, caring for the needs of what was in front of Him. In John 16: 7 "But I tell you the truth; It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." When Jesus ascended into Heaven, His Holy Spirit was presented for the whole world! It is an infusion of guidance and conscience that He knew we would need to get through life. I wonder why people don't go the "Counselor" more often. I remember many times in my life when things took a turn for the unexpected causing heartache and grief. I went to Jesus and I was filled with a firm sense of peace. We would work through my issues with His Word and by continual prayer with Him. When life would "beep" at me, I knew where to turn. His Holy Spirit is the line of conscience that we need when we are faced with decisions that are difficult to make or even ordinary decisions that you struggle with. Inside, your spirit wants to go somewhere, do something, read something, watch something that deep down you know is not going to put you in the "pleased" category with God! The very idea that you are trying to rationalize your way around it tells you that you have a sense of what the Spirit of God is telling you. And while He is "beeping" at you to get you on track, you pretend you don't hear it and do as you please. This is a "Danger Zone" for sure! There will be no real peace when you step out of God's Will or direction for your life. That is one scenario. The other is that you have built up your relationship with Jesus and when the "beeps" of life come along, you recognize His will for your life and do the right thing. My alarm clock does not automatically set itself for 4:45 AM every morning. I have to sit by my bed at night and manually turn the numbers to when I want the clock to sound the alarm. Once it is set for the week, I still have to manually turn it on or it will not go off every morning. It takes work on my part for the beeps to sound in the morning! It takes work on our part as well to secure ourselves to understand the will of God in our lives. In order to have a sense of how to conduct our lives, we were left with the God inspired words of Scripture. In it, you will read the stories of Jesus, you will read how to daily cope with life, and you will find hope and promise of everlasting life! Day | 36 And by communicating with Jesus, allowing His Spirit to come in and take residence within you, directing you, and guiding you, you will hear the "still small voice" and when you do, it is the best "beep" of your life! It is the best infusion when you, through the gift of His Spirit, clearly feel His leading, live in His Peace and understand your purpose! The "beeps" from His Holy Spirit can keep you from trouble if you listen and wrap your spirit within His for safety. So tomorrow when my alarm goes off and I hit the snooze, I believe I will think of Jesus!. I pray He keeps "beeping" at me and I keep sensing His Holy Spirit! What an AWESOME God we serve!! Good Morning from Becky Psalm 28 "To you I call. O Lord my Rock: do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent; I will be like those who have gone down to the pit. 2. Hear my cry for Mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. Day | 37 3. Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. 4. Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back upon them what they deserve. 5. Since they show no regard for the works of the Lord and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again. 6. Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. 7. The Lord is my strength and my shield: my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. 8. The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. 9. Save your people and bless your inheritance: be their shepherd and carry them forever. This Psalm was written by David. He lays his heart before the Lord, open and real, as he pours out this prayer. Prayer, when surrounded by trouble or wickedness, is desperate prayer. We get right to the heart of the matter and we know that in it God will work it all out for us. He alone is our only real source of safety. Prayer is actually the best help we could ask for because prayer keeps us committed to talking with the Lord. Are you going through a time, or have you already been on this journey in your life, where you have prayed out the words to this Psalm? The heartfelt prayer of David is so real for us today! "Hear my cry for Mercy"; The Lord is my Strength, my shield." David knew of what he was speaking. God had poured His blessing on his life, for sure. And David was led by God on a tremendous journey of trust. That same God is here for you today. He will help you in the battles of your life. He is always there! Good Morning from Becky, Have you ever heard from people, "I would like to stop that, but I just can't. I've been doing it all my life and am not about to stop now!" We've become so accustomed to slavery of sin that the idea of changing and giving things over to Jesus just seems like too big of a deal. We have become like oxen where the yoke finally fits and while it is a heavy burden, it is our burden to bear and it has become part of who we are. You know that can be anything in life that is against the will of God. It doesn't have to be the big noticeable sins; it can be the silent sins as well. Day | 38 We become so used to certain lifestyles and my word! Can we ever justify our actions! The truth is there is no true justification of sin. It is wrong and it needs to be dealt with. We shy away from asking the Lord to reveal His truth to us because if He did that, it would be front and center and we would be forced to deal with our actions. Here is the real deal: when we are living apart from His will for our lives, we are slaves to sin and bound to the yoke of guilt. Galatians 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." The whole purpose of Christ coming into this world was to free us from sin! It is His desire that we let go of the chains that bind us and keep us from being who He created us to be. When we become content with the sin of our life, we are in a danger zone! Christ did not come to set us free so we could go ahead and do whatever we want in life because that would lead us back to the slavery of our own selfish desires. But because He came, we are now equipped to live as we couldn't live before: in obedience to His will. I will share with you that since November of last year the Lord has been dealing with me on my health (probably for years before that as well, but it was then that I chose to listen to Him). He was reminding me that my body is His temple! That no one but me can determine how it looks and how it functions. I am aware that physical afflictions can take over a body and sometimes you have no choice on what happens to you. However, I have Type 2 Diabetes. I am chunky (it sounds cuter than PHAT) and I needed a good kick in the pants! The Lord had been dealing with me for a good long time on this and I had been ignoring Him because I didn't want to change! I liked what I was eating and I very much enjoyed not exercising! I was a slave to the sin that kept me from changing. In November of last year, I decided to let go of the chains and let God redefine me. In doing so, I have felt stronger, lost 20 pounds, my sugar levels have never been better and I've felt such a freedom in my spirit! I actually felt the yoke lift off my shoulders: sin no longer had hold of me. Now, here is life and how things happen! When I fell off my deck a month ago and landed "kerplunk" on the left side of my body, I was badly scraped and bleeding. Ten days later, severe whiplash set in and for the past month, I have been out of control with no exercise, pretty much eating what I want and yes, gaining some weight back! Yesterday it dawned on me why I have not felt as well physically: while I had physical affliction, the yoke of my past sin and the "comfort" of it starting taking over and instead of seeking God's direction for how to live without being able to exercise, I threw it all away and did everything wrong! I again asked the Lord for His forgiveness, and started again with no chains of guilt! My point in sharing this is that we all go back from time to time to the guilt of sin, but we start recognizing it more and more when we let go and give it to Jesus. I will tell you this: I was never happier than when I was eating less and trusting more! Day | 39 That is one of my many sins that I share with you today so that perhaps you can relate with me in this. I will NEVER enjoy exercising! But it is the lifeblood that keeps me alive so with God's strength and help, I do it! And that is the point of this devotional! WITH GOD'S FORGIVENESS, STRENGTH, AND LOVE; WE CAN LOSE THE YOKE OF THE SIN THAT ENSLAVES US AND LIVE!! I encourage you to give your entire life over to the freedom of Jesus. Allow Him to break the chains of guilt you carry and live a brand new life! New life in Christ~ Abundant and Free~ What can be wrong with that? Good Morning from Becky, One of the most comforting moments in children's lives occurs when they run into the arms of their parent or trusted family member for reassurance when they feel scared or are hurt. Getting wrapped up in the arms of love is an incredible experience and it gives you all kinds of confidence and the ability to come away from that embrace to face the world again. Often times we comfort the child, speak gentle words of love and reassurance to their spirits. Not only have you reassured them that whatever it was that came against them is not as huge as Day | 40 they thought it was, you too had the pleasure of holding that soul in your arms and comforting them. This makes me think a lot of Psalm 17:8: "Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your wing." Can you imagine that? Asking God, King of Kings, to keep us as the apple of His eye? The apple of His eye is in reference to the protection of our eye pupils. We go to all extremes to protect our eyes and to make sure that, due to no fault of our own, we can see. In this Scripture passage, the reference is to keep us protected. Keep us as the pupil of the eye, that very important part of our vision, and protect us. David wrote this Psalm while he was being persecuted by Saul. It is a plea for justice in the face of false accusations and persecution. In this Psalm, David urges us to realize the true goal of life~ to know God~ to know the true reward of life~and to see God one day. One day we will all see God and the Bible says everyone will fall on their knees and worship Him. How wonderful it would be if you were already in the practice of doing that so that His appearing doesn't take you by surprise and you fall down in fear and trepidation. How nice it would be to know God so well that you could ask Him to keep you as the "apple of His eye"! That at His coming, it would be more of "You are finally here", instead of "Oh shoot! Those Christians were right!" Bringing Jesus in and making Him known in your life is personal to the believer and powerful to your life. But the verse continues: "...hide me in the shadow of your wings!" What protection from the storms of life that offers us! Think of that child again that comes running to you for comfort. Then think of your own life and how often you just need to be held, drawn close, and protected from all that is around you! Jesus spreads His wings of love and protection over you and draws you unto Himself. No matter what you are facing today, you are not alone! Are you feeling lonely today? Do you need a touch from the Master? Do you long to be drawn closer to Him? He waits for you today as He did in the time of David, to offer you the same protection and love from this crazy world. Today, I encourage you to run to the safety and protection under the wing of God. Allow Him to nestle you closely and to love you! In 1896, William Cushing wrote the Hymn, "Under His Wings". I share with you today the first verse of that hymn. "Under His wings, I am safely abiding. Though the night deepens and tempests are wild. Still I can trust Him, I know He will keep me, He has redeemed me and I am His child". Safely abiding! The heartbeat of a Christian is under the wing of God. To be renewed, refreshed, and regenerated under the wing of God! Our Heavenly Father is all about our emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing and He knows that drawing us close to Him puts life Day | 41 in perspective. When I see a bird fly, or open their wings for their young, I remember that I too have the protection from this world in the wings of love: Jesus! Good Morning from Becky, 1 John 4:19 "We love Him because He first loved us". I think too often we put our emphasis on what serving God can do for us. Really, it is very basic! Serving God begins and ends with LOVE. From the beginning of creation, to seeing Adam alone and creating for him someone to love; to sending Jesus into the world and His death on the cross; the resurrection power; the forgiveness of our sins; leaving His Holy Spirit Day | 42 for us; leaving us with His Holy word to learn and grow and the promise and hope of His soon return: LOVE! Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners; Christ died for us". What incredible love that is! Knowing that some would still turn their backs on Him, defile His name, go against His will for their lives, and He still died for us all! LOVE! I know that I cannot even for a fraction return the depths of love that Jesus Christ has lavished upon my life. His love never fails! No matter what we do or where we go, His love is in our lives as the glue to our troubled spirits. When earthly "love" has failed, it has been the love of Jesus that has brought me through! He understands your spirit, your heartache, your joys, your sorrows! He grieves with you and He rejoices with you! His Love is not invasive; it is offered to you from your Savior who knows your name, knows the number of hairs on your head, has been there since the foundations of your creation, and has an incredible plan for your life. He waits for you to share in His love! I know how much I love to hear my husband say, "I love you Betsy". It warms the heart! And I know he loves me but how nice it is to hear it! I was thinking of that one day in my quiet time with the Lord and I decided that I needed to say to the Lord, "I love you, Jesus"! I say it to Him daily and often! It works in the communication with Him and it is also a way of connecting with Him. His love is safe; it is sure! When someone gives their life for you, you can trust them with your heart! There is a hymn that has been dear to our family and was sung often by my Grandparents. I can hear my Grandmother singing it with such devotion to the Lord, to whom she dedicated her life. I share with you the words and if you know the hymn, in quiet devotion, sing this song to Jesus today. If you are not familiar with the song, let the words minister to your spirit. This song was written by William R. Featherstone in 1864. He was just 16 years old when he wrote this. My Jesus, I love Thee My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine; For Thee all the follies of sin I resign. My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou; Day | 43 If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now. I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me, And purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree. I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow; If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now. I'll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath; And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow, If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now. In mansions of glory and endless delight, I'll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright; I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow; If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now. Good Morning from Becky, John 8:7: "If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her". Imagine with me the excitement of the crowd and the importance of the Pharisees as a woman was brought forth, caught in the act of adultery, to Jesus. This was, of course, meant to be a trap in hopes that Jesus would say the wrong thing so that the Pharisees would be able to report to Day | 44 the Romans what Jesus had said that was against their law. Each Pharisee, from young to old, held a stone, as it was the custom to stone the accused to death. There was anticipation in the air; the crowd was gathering all around as they stood this woman in front of Jesus. After their excitable proclamation of her sin, they waited eagerly for the response from Jesus. They had to be dumbfounded when instead of responding right away, Jesus knelt down and began writing in the sand. "WHAT is He doing?" The crowd was ready for a good stoning and this man Jesus had just bent down and started writing in the sand? There are a good number of ideas about what He may have been writing, but I see it as taking control of an unruly situation. He wasn't emotional with them. He wasn't passionate about them hearing His side. Instead, He knelt down and wrote in the sand. Finally after they kept questioning Him for an answer; He straightened up and said to them. "If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her". One by one, from the eldest to the youngest, they d ropped their stones and walked away. How to defuse an angry crowd! But without this next part, it would all be for naught! Verse 10 & 11: Jesus asked, "Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir", she said. "Then neither do I condemn you", Jesus declared. "Go and leave your life of sin". That is so very powerful! Jesus the King of the Universe could have said "Stone her! She is a sinner!" His lesson and example here is as important for the one caught in the sin as it is for us reading this passage today! I am disturbed terribly at how we respond to others in sin. It is more and more apparent as I live my own life and travel around this great country sharing Jesus that people have made up their minds as to who has sinned, every time they have sinned, and that they cannot forgive that sin. And that the person, who has committed the sin, needs to prove herself to the other before she can be accepted back into their lives. This is happening in our Churches and in our homes, between husband and wife, parents and children, and even friends and neighbors! There is an epidemic of finger pointing, accusation, and unforgiving spirits and it scares me to death! I wonder how different life would be for both us and the accused if instead of reacting to a sin, we knelt down and prayed. Can you imagine how that would diffuse a tense moment? I wonder how much different forgiveness would look if we realized that we too are not sinless. I wonder if we would look at the "accused" differently if we saw them with the eyes of Jesus and noticed beyond the sludge of sin to the beauty that is waiting to be made known? I am not making light of the fact that people sin and that it is prevalent in the world we live in today. Sin is all around us; we could "label" it in many ways, that is for certain and for sure. And I believe we have a responsibility to hold each other accountable to sin, to pray each other through it and to support one another. But I also think it is important to remember, as we Day | 45 stand there all worked up with the crowd, holding our stone for the big, noticeable sin of another soul, that we have sin in our own lives. There is not one of us that would be able to throw that stone. Our judgment of another is sin enough to keep us from throwing that stone! The heart of Jesus~ The look of love from Jesus~ The touch of Jesus~ The true forgiving spirit of Jesus~That is what the world needs to see. People are accused on every level of one thing or another. They need us to encourage them with love and show by example how wonderful serving Jesus can be! "Neither do I condemn you; Leave your life of sin"! The last words spoken by the Forgiver to the accused! Words to save a soul, bring peace to a troubled spirit, and offer hope when all is despair! Thank you Jesus for the gift of forgiveness and may I offer it to anyone that you lay on my heart today! Good Morning from Becky, Romans 8: 28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purpose." Do you know that today? That in ALL things God works for your good? We go through life like we are all alone and that no one understands the things that concern us today. Serving and Day | 46 loving God is a reciprocal relationship. He knocks; you open the door. You present your sin; He forgives your sin. You take Him into your heart; He dwells within you. You call out to Him in your distress; He listens and answers your prayers. When we give our lives over to the Lordship of Jesus and take our hands off the wheel, then we know, in faith believing, that He will work out our life according to His purpose for it! That in itself is huge! And there's more! When you continue on to verse 35, you read, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword"? I am always amazed at these words! Anything you could think of to go wrong and yet nothing that could separate us from Christ! He is here for the long haul. He will guide you through, will give you hope for the journey and will present answers to your troubled spirit. The only thing that can separate you from God is you if you choose to walk away from Him. What a great promise of assurance we have in this verse! No matter what you are facing in your life today, it cannot take Jesus out of the equation. Satan will work hard at making you feel like Jesus is not there. And you may face a good deal of persecution, trouble and hardship along your journey. But that will not separate you from Jesus. All the bumps in your road should instead bring you into that "dwelling" relationship where you know He abides within you. BUT that is still not all!! Verse 37: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us"! You not only have the love of Jesus, you have won the battle at hand! There are many ways in which to conquer the enemy! They range from simply speaking the name of "Jesus", which makes hell tremble, to recognizing you have a struggle and giving it to Jesus to lead and walk you through it. Nothing annoys the evil one more than when we present our hardships and trials to Jesus instead of taking them on ourselves! When we try to work our trials out ourselves, we become irritable, we cry more than normal, we are nervous, we are scared, we have fear and doubt. And Satan does the dance of joy. When we call on the One, who is waiting to assist, to come in, Jesus will remove the fear and doubt as we cast our anxiety on Him! Jesus, and only Jesus, can bring peace to our weary spirits! We can conquer the battles at hand that present themselves day by day in our lives and we have the assurance that one day, He will win the war! Today, I want to encourage you to know that Jesus Loves YOU! You are not alone; He has a plan to work out for your good. Nothing and no one can ever take away who God made you to be! There is no separation of His love from you! I want you to remember that no sin is too great for Him to forgive and no mountain is too high for Him to reach your heart. And that through it all and in His name, you can conquer what concerns you today! You can take it on with Jesus and you can have peace in the midst of a troubled and storm-tossed life! Where else, but God! Day | 47 Thank you Jesus for these verses of encouragement as we walk life's pathway today! Good Morning from Becky, Nehemiah 9: 17 "They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate; slow to anger, and abounding in love." Day | 48 In this verse, Nehemiah is struggling to understand how the people, led out of slavery and who had seen the hand of God in miraculous ways in their lives, would instead choose slavery! Why would they not be patient in God's timing and wait for the appointed time for them to start their new life? This was where the rubber met the road and they were quickly failing the road test! They had witnessed firsthand the parting of the Red Sea so they could escape that horrible life of slavery and yet how quickly they forgot the precious Hand of safety that had led them through! How often are we like that? We trust God, but don't see His Hand or the plan yet. How many of us absolutely bail out on Christianity, choosing the life of slavery to this world and sin over God and His will and plan? It is the same today as it was in the day of Nehemiah: people running around in sin, feeling like they at least know their plan as the yoke of sinful slavery that they wear around their neck becomes as comfortable to them as that old shoe! I encourage you today to take a quiet moment with God present your life before Him! Go over it with Him by speaking aloud what you do, who you see, what you do when you think no one is watching, and what you say. When you are quiet with God, you have a better opportunity to be real with God. The funny part is that He already knows! He just wants you to come to Him, spend time with Him and reflect on your life as you live it. Changes will need to be made! Every time I go to the Lord with my confessing heart, I have areas in my life I am convicted to change. I usually know before I get there because when I think a thought, or speak something that isn't right or kind, it rubs against my spirit, as it should! But I also want the wall to be broken down so that I can become soft and lovely in the eyes of my Savior and that usually takes devotion to and time with a loving God! I believe, through what I read in the Scripture, that when we "confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" 1 John 1: 9. It is my prayer through today's devotional that you will take a moment and bring your life to the Lord. Go over it with Jesus and do not be anxious when you get the message that it is time to give up a certain lifestyle, or give to Jesus your words, your works, your motives or your deeds. Let Him break down your walls and give you peace; the real peace that you need to continue on in life and on your journey. Giving up sin and the consequences it holds for you is one of the strongest things you can do in your life to get rid of that yoke of slavery to guilt and pain. The last part of that verse is one to carry in your heart all day today: "But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and abounding in love" How prec ious is our God! Day | 49 In your life today, there is at least one "Red Sea" experience where in your desperate plea for help, you held up your rod, the seas parted and you were delivered over to the safety of the other shore. There is at least one time when God's forgiveness was so gracious and compassionate that it brought you to tears. I think it would be a very good thing if today we stopped to think about His love. To trace His hand upon our lives and say "Thank You" to our forgiving, gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and loving God! "Think about His love, Think about His goodness, Think about the ways He's brought you through..." Good Morning from Becky, This morning, I will be boarding a plane and flying to Charlotte, NC to attend Board Meetings. The preparation is always a project for me! I pack like I am going away for two weeks because I never know what I am going to need! I start the process in my mind about a month before I travel. I start thinking about what I might wear. I do not have new clothes, so it takes some Day | 50 creativity to put things together that look decent. So, I start to formulate a plan in my head. I don't actually pack until the night before, but the thought of what I need to pack is present with me all the time. This time, I will be presenting a program to the Board so I had to prepare my presentation in my mind as well. Last night, I put the big suitcase up on our bed, unzipped it and began loading. A lot of thought and planning led to this point! And of course for every old outfit, I needed to find some type of accessory to brighten it up! In goes everything I know I will need. The make- up and hair products will join my other belongings this morning before I give it the final zip of the day. I will arrive at the airport with butterflies and anticipation! I will check my bags at the curb and will go through security, which is usually a scene of some sort. Then I will find my gate, grab a cup of coffee and sit down to do some serious people watching, with an occasional chapter in my book. All of the preparation for this trip is over and I am in full swing! I find it amazing how we prepare to go away! I am only going to be gone for 3 days and yet I could easily divide my luggage into two suitcases (but since I have to pay for them, it is all secure in one)! Do you work hard in preparing for your vacations and trips? Do you write the famous list and check it once, twice and still forget something that is on it? There is a "trip", so to speak, coming up for each of us and the arrival time is "the twinkling of an eye"! Take a moment and blink right now. That is the notice you will have for the soon coming of Jesus Christ. Your prior planning is today. It is right now. It is surrender and it is laying it all down for the cause of the cross. 1 Thessalonians 5: 2 says that the Lord will come "like a thief in the night". No one knows when He is coming and the Bible continues to say "Every knee will bow". Not just those who have given the Lord their hearts and lives, but those who have turned their backs to His call and will bow down. Your preparation for the trip of a lifetime is simply making sure your heart is right. I am more and more impressed that people really believe if they are "good people", kind to others, give to charities, take people in, and show love to others that they believe they are going to Heaven. Here is the deal: the one way ticket to Heaven is only one thing - to prepare your heart! You will not need luggage, accessories or coordinating outfits. But what is needed is a heart in devotion to the One who knows your name! Recognition of Him who gave His life for you! Surrendering the lifestyle that is not pleasing to Jesus and not being so belligerent by thinking the way you are living is just fine! Surrender is being willing to hear what God says for your life, not what you "feel" is right! And to be willing to walk away from your old lifestyle when you finally do hear Him speak words of truth to your spirit! And waiting... You will not be packed, but you will be living for that day! In doing so, you see souls around you that you want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven as well and you pray that you will be an example of Jesus to them so that they too might surrender their hearts to Him. And to straighten out another misconception: not everyone does make it to Heaven! It is not a rite of passage; it is not part of the "family plan". It is personal to e ach Day | 51 individual. It is a gift of love and it is a reward for living for God and God alone! I may never have my list entirely right and there will always be things I forget at home. But one sound I wait for and one event I long for and that is the trumpet of Gabriel proclaiming the coming of Jesus Christ back to earth to claim His children! I do not know when this will happen, but I know it will! I live expectantly and full of Hope! Are you ready for that trip today? Is your heart right before Him? If not, I encourage you to take some time and give yourself over to Jesus! Heaven won't be the same without you! Now that will be the trip of a lifetime! Thank you Jesus for the Promise! Good Morning from Becky, I am lovingly reminded in 1 Peter 5: 7 to "Cast all my anxiety on Him, because He cares for you". Day | 52 Think about your life and then the word all in this verse. This is not just what concerns you in the moment; it is the whole kit and caboodle! Let Him have it all! There are times when we are so heavily burdened by life that we feel if we are not taking it all on, getting headaches over it, tightening our shoulders about it, and letting it really effect who we are, then we are not dealing with the situation! Why on earth would we want that? Have you seen the face of a person who is in a moment of intense anxiety and worry? My gracious! There is not enough wrinkle cream to erase the worry lines on that face! And for what purpose do we create those wrinkle lines? Because our spirits are full of concern! I am not being trite about this. I understand that there are all types of worry. It comes in many ways and it is personal to the person carrying it. However, I am saying that if your belief is that God is faithful and that He does have the plan for your life, to let go of the anxiety that surrounds your situation and let God take it from you. I believe with His strength and power that we need to forge ahead and do our part in all situations. Many times, our part is constant conversation with Him. It is following the pathway that opens up before us, closing doors behind us that are coming from a life that is not in our best interest, and trusting our future journey to His keeping. It is hearing from a Doctor that the news on your condition has worsened, but holding on to the steadfast hand of Jesus! It is in knowing that He heals us in many ways and it may not always be in the physical. He promises us that although on this side of Heaven we are subject to pain, illness and death, in Heaven we will live eternally with Him where there will be no more pain! Perhaps you wrestle with a financial difficulty, due to the horrific challenges present in our economy. You are doing what you can, plugging along, month by month by month, only to be further and further behind. You may be burdened deeply for unsaved children, grandchildren, or spouses. You fear because you want them in the Kingdom so you carry that with you internally. There is a song that was written by a lovely young woman. She is a wife and mother who has been through a great deal in her life as well. She has written some incredible songs and they come from her spirit. She is my daughter, Jennie Rebecca. She wrote this song one day and it ministers to my spirit when I feel anxious. When I need to remember to cast all my cares and anxiety upon Him, I find myself singing this song. It is just a chorus and I want to share it with you today: Day | 53 I GIVE IT ALL TO YOU I give it all to you, Jesus All to you All my hopes and my dreams and my failures in between I give it all to you. I wish Jennie could actually sing it to you. It would melt your spirit! But she is not here and I do not have the sound, so I leave you with the words. When life becomes more than you can bear, give it all to Him. He is waiting to take the burden. He is waiting to give you peace. He is waiting for you! I encourage you to give it all to Him today! Good Morning from Becky, FAITH~ What exactly is it and why do we need it? Faith is believing in something you have not seen. Faith is a deep trust in God that He does what He says He will do and, just as important, that His words are true. It is devotion to and loyalty for what you believe in. People will ask us Day | 54 to have faith in them and we may try to do that for them. But more times than not, they will let us down. Having Faith in Jesus Christ is putting your life in His Will and letting Him have the reins. It is knowing that beyond the shadow of any doubt that He does have it all in His Control. It is an understanding that life will not always be rainbows and ice cream, but there will be rain and hurricane force winds that will blow in and out of our lives. But the difference in having Faith is that we are not alone during the trials and that God has a plan. How do we know this? We believe it! That is Faith. So simple, yet so difficult for so many to believe in and let go! I was once told, "Becky, you have such a simple faith"! At first I wasn't sure how to interpret that comment. And then I decided it was a good thing. As I have lived this journey of mine, life has been complicated and wearisome at times. Have you ever wondered how you are going to feed your children? Where is the rent money going to come from this month? Did your car break down and you have no money to fix it? Have you had credit card companies call you and demand money that you don't have? Have you been ill and had testing to see if you maybe have cancer or another type of disease, but they will not let you know the results for two weeks? And then have you tried to put your head on your pillow and go to sleep at night because tomorrow is on its way and you have to face all of this another day? That has been my life at various times on my journey. And while the problems did not go away during my sleep, I was able to put my head on my pillow and sleep regardless, because I knew God had a plan and He would see me through! He has been most faithful, not only to my emotional needs, but to my physical and my spiritual needs. I stood on faith when I gave Him the puzzle of my life, trusting that He would put each piece into place. Hell trembled! The evil one does not like it when we stand on faith. When the emotional, physical and spiritual crises come in our lives, Satan is right there trying to make us feel badly about ourselves, to feel defeated, to feel as if no one cares about us. This is when we often times let our guard down and he will let himself into our minds faster than you can blink an eye. When we live by faith, we live IN Christ! Faith is saying that no matter what comes our way, God has a plan and He will see us through. 2 Corinthians 1:24 (the end of that verse) says ""Because it is by your faith you stand firm". When you stand firm and go directly to Jesus with whatever concerns you, Hell trembles! When you are in a crisis and you need to draw on your faith and you whisper the name of Jesus, Hell trembles! When you want to feel sorry for yourself because life is not working out the way you had thought it would and you can't see the light of day, but you then remember that God says, "I will never leave you or forsake you", and you feel His peace, Hell trembles! Day | 55 I do have a simple faith. It does not mean I am a simple minded person: it means that I know that no matter what goes on in my life, Jesus has it in His control. I believe in Him. I speak His name. And I communicate with Him often. And when I do, Hell trembles. I never want to give the victory of my life to anyone or anything other than the One who gave His life for me! Now that was a time that Hell trembled!! Life is going to come at you, one fiery arrow at a time. Put on the shield of faith and believe that God has His plan for your life. Stand firm in your belief and speak the name of Jesus! Hell will tremble at His Name! Have you made Hell tremble lately? It is a very good thing! Good Morning from Becky, This morning, as I sit here in quiet reflection seeking God's direction, I am reminded of a recent "spill" I had. I was working out on our deck cleaning in preparation for an upcoming gathering at our home. Everything was going beautifully all day long. It was a perfect Saturday: there Day | 56 was hardly a cloud in the sky! I had a song in my heart as I enjoyed being home with my husband all day (indeed a rare commodity for us) and everything was going smoothly! I think that is the illustration of life for us. We love it when life goes along nicely and we have happiness of heart. God is on His throne and we know it. As we work around and do the things that need to get done, we hum a chorus or two and we look at all we have and say "Thank You" to a loving God! We are so thankful to Him for the blessings and the peace in our spirits. As the beauty of my day continued, I completed a load of laundry containing pool towels. I folded them and was taking them out to the towel bin next to the pool when my day instantly changed! I was in my own world as I gazed over at the pool. Alone in that world of mine, I forgot to go down the three stairs to the lower deck. Instead, I chose the quickest way down, skipping the stairs all together and flying down to the deck! Oh yes, I mean "airborne" and then ker-plunck! And to top it all off, I hit my head on a steel ergo chair on the deck as I "gracefully" landed! I remember yelling out, "OUCH"! I knew instantly that I was bleeding as I checked for broken bones! You can't be 55 years old, fall down 3 stairs, land with a thud and not expect to break a bone somewhere! Especially when the only time you drink a glass of milk is when you are eating a piece of cake! Now, I am sure you are thinking, "No problem! Her husband is home and he must have come right out to take care of her!" That is so cute! The reality is my dear man was in his chair with the air conditioning on, rocking his little heart out and watching some home improvement show with the deck doors closed up tight! He had no idea about my mishap! I assumed had I broken something and couldn't move. He would not have found me for a few hours until supper time approached, at which time he would be wondering what we were having! No, I was alone out there on the deck, bleeding, scraped up and with an instant headache but no broken bones (I must be doing something right). So, why do I share this story with you? Because of the feelings of aloneness that I felt! In life, we are surrounded by loved ones and we have seasons where things are grand and glorious and we offer praise for the blessings. We are so thankful to God for all we have and all He has done for us. We don't have to be alone unless we want to. Usually we tell everyone that we love and trust what is going on in our lives and sometimes by doing that, we forget to tell God. But there are times, like when I fell on the deck, when life is going along pretty well and then ker-plunk! and you find yourself alone with no one to share what just happened. You are bleeding and sore and you find yourself just sitting there crying "HELP" but no one answers you and yet they are right inside the closed door. Day | 57 You, however, are never alone! On that deck, when I was hurting and not another living soul was around to come and "rescue" me, I was not alone. The very person I needed most was right there with me. I got to a sitting position (once I realized I wasn't dead!) and as I assessed my cuts, scrapes and bleeding legs, I realized I wasn't broken. And I praised God! We can take the cuts and bruises along our way, and we can take the falls and the "ker -plunks" because we are never alone. Jesus said in John 14: "I will never leave you or forsake you". No matter what fall you take in life, Jesus is with you. No matter what you are going through today, you are not alone! God is on His throne and He is right here beside you as well. He didn't stop me from falling but He cushioned me with His love and sat me up again. I encourage you today to remember that you are not alone! Jesus is as close to you as the mention of His name! Good Morning from Becky, Day | 58 Every action has a reaction: a result. I remember hearing my mother tell me so often growing up that I am just as responsible for my reactions as I am for my actions. I tend to be a reactionary type person. I have learned many lessons in my life about attitude and behavior, being loving and trustworthy, giving of myself and not taking all the time. I have been given incredible role models along my journey that have been strong, loving, compassionate Christian women and one of the most influential has been my mother. Today is her birthday! So, as I thought about today and what to share, her beautiful face came to my mind. Here are some of life's lessons I learned from being Priscilla's daughter: SERVICE: We are not in this world for ourselves. We are in this world to be a light and to reflect Jesus's love in and through us. I learned this by example as she unselfishly cared for, loved and counseled the many different parishioners along on the parsonage journey in the ministry. Her example as the wife of a minister is one I will never forget. The people in the various churches knew that Jesus lived within her. He radiates through her still today! She taught me that life is not about me, but about the people that need to know about Jesus. She taught by example to always be ready with a word of encouragement, to look around and see the need, to smile - always smile, to forgive when someone hurt my feelings and not hold on to issues. CONTENTMENT: Both my parents would say to us children, "The Lord is not going to bless you with more until you are content with what you have". Her example was never to grumble or complain. When God calls you to a job (no matter what it is), He provides and equips you with the tools and grace to live it. JOY: We laughed a lot and often and we still do! She has the best sense of humor! Our home was a happy home because my mother laughed at herself and taught us the joy of life as well. I loved watching her with people and hearing her laugh. I always feel like I can see the Lord smile when the bright brown eyes of Priscilla dance with joy! She wouldn't allow attitudes: we didn't get to be sulky because that gave ground to the devil! COMMITMENT: I am the oldest of 4 children. She will tell you today that Dad's call was to the people and her call was to her children. She invested her life into ours. It was her desire that each of us grew up and gave back to the Lord. To live for Him so that one day, we would share eternity. There are so many stories of how she made that work, but for the sake of time, I will share that it was because of the commitment she made to her Heavenly Father to raise us in His Grace. I would watch her doing her laundry and praying out loud for one of us. She, by example, had God's Word not only in her heart but on her lap, reading it often. All four of us Day | 59 today are in Christian service because we learned from our parents by example that there is no greater Joy than to serve Jesus! LOVE: Beyond anything in the world, our home was a haven of rest and love. It was a place where we could be safe and share our feelings, our hurts, our joys. A place where there was always a hug, a kind word, a smile. Our home was a place where we learned how to handle and survive the storms of life. For her whole life, my mother has been in step with the Spirit of God. Galatians 5: 25: "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit". Today because of health issues, she must use a walker to get around. Yet, she keeps "step" with the Spirit and still today her life is an example of God and His Grace. I pray to be an example like this to my children and grandchildren and may they say above all else; "She lived for Jesus's sake". I love you Mom! And I say to you today "Thank You" with a grateful heart. Good Morning from Becky, Day | 60 Do you ever feel like you have lost your perspective? It can happen so fast! A funny thing happened with Jim and me on Saturday. I looked around our living room and decided that I couldn't stand the carpet one more day! So he went to the hardware store and rented a carpet cleaner. While he was gone, I moved all the furniture out of the living room except the sectional sofa. Well the dear boy came back with not only the carpet cleaner, but a nice treat from the local bakery as well ( he thought it would be a hit and it surely was!). So with no other furniture in the room, and before we began the cleaning process, we sat on the sofa and enjoyed our treat. During our conversation, Jim looked at the living room wall. Over where his chair usually sits is a long metal sign above the door jam which reads "Faith, Family, Friends" given to us by our Katie. He stared at this picture and asked when I put that up? I was a bit stunned but responded it had been there for 2 1/2 years! He then looked at all the things on that wall, including a little framed stitching that I picked up that says, "We were meant to be" (in case he ever forgot that). He had no idea what was on that side of our living room! Well if you know me at all, you know I am not going to let that whole concept go quietly! So, I began introducing him to all the pictures, shelves, and little trinkets that are on that side of the house! We were in hysterics (well I was anyway)! In his defense, to which I feel he had very little, he explained, "Betsy, I come in through the kitchen, past the dining room, into the living room and sit in my chair that faces the TV and the big window looking outdoors. What is wrong with that?" And he is right! That is his pattern. For 12 years, he has never sat on the other side of the room! Of course, I suggested he visit all the other rooms in our house, just in case he had no idea there was a bed in the spare bedroom, etc. Just before he was about to throw me out our big window, I sensed it was time for me to stop having so much "fun" with him! How much do we miss on a daily basis or what God needs for us to see? We are so routine in our patterns and in the direction we take, do we look around and see anything different? While Jim's story was hysterical in that moment, I had to stop and wonder what is on the "other side of the room" of my life that I am not seeing and that might need some action on my part. Is there a family that could use a cookout and a night of fellowship? Is there a soul that is lonely and needs a word of encouragement? What would the view be if I opened my eyes and started looking around with intent? And then there is our own hearts! "Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see you." This is a song written by Michael W. Smith and what an invitation it actually is. When you ask God to open the eyes of your heart, you are inviting Him in to reveal Himself to you. And like my living Day | 61 room wall, there are things in your heart and life that you have not been "seeing" because you either avoid them by going through the kitchen or you know they are there, but have buried them instead of facing and dealing with them. When we cry out to God to "open the eyes of our heart", we can trust Him to take the areas of our life that we deep down kn ow are not good for us and are keeping us from a true and deep relationship with Him. There is so much in life still to see! There are people who need to know God loves them. There are organizations that need volunteers to help care for others. All of these things are important to service for God. But God wants our hearts first. He wants us to know all that is inside of us, not just half of who we are or were made to be! I encourage you to prayerfully ask Him today to "Open the eyes of your heart" and see Him. He wants to be "high and lifted up" in your life today! Good Morning from Becky, Day | 62 During my conversations with different women in the last few weeks, some have asked for prayer as they seek out new jobs, some for failing marriages, some for brand new beginnings, some with chronic illness, and some for children that have walked away from the "truth". They come to talk, often without hope, feeling destitute and alone. Maybe you have felt like that in your lifetime? I know that I have! Jeremiah was no different than us: he also experienced emotions of hopelessness! Jeremiah was known as the "Weeping Prophet". I would have had a lot to be distressed about as well if I lived in the days of Jeremiah with the destruction of Jerusalem caused by the Israelites disobedience to God. Oh, what a minute...is that much different than today? Maybe we do have much to weep over! In that time, the people of Jerusalem turned their back on the true God and opted instead for the various shiny idols they could put up in their homes. They lived for themselves and did not allow any conviction of sin to come their way. No matter how loud Jeremiah prophesied, they turned a deaf ear to what he was saying about the end of Jerusalem and what God would do! They had no place in their hearts for God, as that would mean change in their lives and devotion to someone other than themselves! And Jeremiah. wanting so badly for his people to listen to him, wept! In Lamentations 3: 17-26 "I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. 18. So I say, "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord." 19. I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. 20. I will remember them and my soul is downcast within me. 21. YET, this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22. Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions (Mercy) never fail. 23. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion: therefore I will wait for him." 25. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." Jeremiah trusted in the Lord. Jeremiah knew through personal experience that God was faithful and he trusted in Him. God said that punishment would follow disobedience and Jeremiah saw that first hand. He also knew and trusted when the Lord said that there would be restoration and blessing. He knew that God was willing to help and is ready to respond when asked. We are not living much differently than the people of Jeremiah's day. People want to seek out anything BUT God for guidance and direction. They will try to rationalize Jesus and interpret the Bible to make it work for them. I say "try" because you cannot do that. The word of God is as powerful today as it was in the scrolls that Jeremiah read to the people. And God told him what to write! Still, they hardened their hearts to the Word. And then, in all the distress of Day | 63 our lives today and the struggles we endure, comes verse 21." YET!" In all of this, Jeremiah knew he had hope! He knew this because his heart was secure in the Lord. He was content in "waiting" for the Lord's direction and will. I encourage you this morning to sit and dwell in the Lord for a moment (or tonight when you have more "quiet time") and wait before Him. It is a good thing to be quiet with the Lord. If you are looking for a job, wait and rest in Him. If you are going through physical or emotional pain, wait and rest in Him. If you are going through financial hardships, wait and rest in Him. If you are at the crossroads of your life with your past behind you and a new future facing you, wait and rest in Him. His compassion is new every morning! And Great is His Faithfulness! I know this to be true! HOPE~ JESUS! MERCY~JESUS! FORGIVENESS~ JESUS! NEW LIFE~JESUS! Thank you, JESUS! Good Morning, Day | 64 Last night, the women of our Church came to our home for our Annual July Night of Fun, complete with swimming, dinner, devotions, and fellowship. Following our dinner and fellowship on the decks outside, we came into the living room and though at this time I usually share a thought with my friends, this year I asked my husband Jim if he would come and share a devotional thought on something the Lord has been working up in his spirit. I am going to attempt to convey his thoughts, because I realized how important they are for all of us to be thinking about. Jim shared Ephesians 5:15-17: "Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." You can read on through verse 20; but for the sake of time, I will focus on these verses. GUARDRAILS: these are devices on the side of the road that if hit will either stop you from going down into a ditch or prevent you from something you might rub against with your vehicle and they will bounce you back out into the road. Each of us has a guardrail but it is up to us how we use it. On a personal note, for your own life you can have guardrails up by keeping the will of God in your life. If we focus on that, then when things arise that are not pleasing to Him, it should "rub on us" and bounce us back from the dangerous zone and put us back up on the road. Far too often we run as close to the guardrail as we possibly can without crashing, trying so hard to stretch our lives from the safety of the road to the edge of uncertainty. Today the voices of the world are screaming at us: "If it feels good, do it", or "You have no one to answer to but yourself". Of course we know that is not voice of Truth. There is always an answer that will fit a need you have today that is not Biblically sound and is not pleasing to God. As an example: the new book, Fifty Shades of Grey is a huge phenomenon across the land! Everyone is reading it and discussing it. Here is a guardrail: none of it is pleasing to God! You cannot justify that it is. The book's very concept alone is against the will of God. Is it fun to read and be a part of the excitement with everyone? Sure it is! Is it something that will edify your spirit and make your life a testimony of what God's word teaches? No it will not. Let me be clear to you that I am not telling you to read it or not; that is a personal choice of yours and your own guardrail on what is right for your life. I am using it to show how important it is for Christians not to get sucked into what everyone else is doing because you want to fit in. When you make Jesus your choice, oftentimes you are not going to fit in. You are not supposed to. Because if you did try to fit in all the time, your guardrail would become weak from all the times you bumped into it and eventually it would weaken until you crashed right through it. Then there is the thought of being the GUARDRAIL for those around you. Wouldn't it be wonderful to know that someone was looking out for you? Someone that you could pray with Day | 65 when you feel yourself slipping out of the breakdown lane and heading toward that guardrail? What about seeing others with the eyes of Jesus and approaching someone and asking if things are alright or if they would they like prayer? And what about you? Would you allow someone to come to you after observing that things perhaps aren't right in your life and offering to pray with you or give you a hug that means the world? God uses people, Church, devotionals, Christian fellowship, prayer, His Word and other venues to help us formulate our guardrails. The guardrail becomes our conscience: it is the still small voice and the protection of a loving Father. Jim closed with the thought that we need to know our guardrail so that when life bumps up on it, we recognize the danger zone and our conscience reminds us that we are in that danger zone. Without the guardrail, we just keep on going. And there is always a ditch right around the corner ready to claim its next victim. I encourage you to stop and think about some areas in your life that are bumping up against your guardrail that you need to ask the Lord to bounce you back into the safety of the road. And is there someone that the Lord may be laying on your heart today that could use a guardrail, a support, a prayer, a kind word? GUARDRAIL~ A whole new meaning to me and I pray you as well Good Morning, Day | 66 I have always been a woman who tries to ensure that the face people have to look at every day is made-up, so my rosacea red cheeks that make me look like I have been drinking all my life and my too flat, and very thin hair (the thinnest part of my entire body) has some volume to it! I stand in front of the mirror every morning for about 20 minutes from the make-up, and the gel, blow-dryer and curling iron! I am a production! Jim has made many adjustments to life since asking me to be his wife. Figuring out why haircuts, highlights and products must be a part of our very tight budget just blows his mind! I am not crazy about it either! But really, it is a necessity! My purpose is not vanity, but I do feel better about myself when I give my appearance a good effort. I do not have new, fancy clothes or even very many of them! But as my mother used to say: "If your hair, face and nails look good, you are good to go!" 1 Samuel 16: 7 "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outwar d appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." God judges me not by whether my eyeliner matches my outfit or my lipstick is the right shade. God judges me by my faith in Him and my character attached to Him. The outside of my life is what people visibly see first, but it is of no value if my life is not beautiful, if I do not love His people, or if I have an attitude that does not reflect Jesus. For all the time we spend in front of the mirror daily, we should be sure that we spend at least an equal amount of time one on one with Jesus daily, working on the inside of our souls. Far too often we think that if we thank God for our blessings and we ask Him to handle the concerns of the day, that we have a "relationship" with Him. A relationship with any one means you give a part of yourself to keep that relationship growing and active. You give and you take, but first you give. By giving your life to Jesus, you then can take the "make-over" that He offers! He looks at the soul. He sees where we need to change to improve our lives. As in any good relationship, there is change and improvement and a relationship with Jesus is no different. The matters of our hearts: where our attitudes are, what are we doing about the sin in our lives, (do we even know what that sin is?): that is what matters to Him. Oftentimes we are so used to rationalizing our sin, we are convinced we are good with what we are doing. In a relationship with Jesus, we ask Him to show us the areas in our lives that need to be changed, areas in which we need to commit to Him. While anyone I happen to come in contact with can see my face, covered over with concealer, Cover Girl cosmetics and bronzer, it is Jesus who sees my heart. Only God and I know, really know, what my heart looks like. But I can imagine that if I do not reflect Jesus or His love, you, too, will have a pretty good idea what is taking place within my heart. Day | 67 I am grateful that God looks at the heart: my heart. I want to be challenged and to be convicted of sin, wrong living and bad attitudes. If I don't let Him have my heart, there is not enough make up in this world to make me beautiful! My prayer is: "Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, All His wonderful passion and purity. Oh, thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine, Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me". AMEN! Day | 68 Good Morning from Becky, I love my backyard! God has blessed us with our home up on a bit of a hill which we lovingly refer to as "Nicoll Mountain". I am not a person who works in the yard or plants flowers, etc., but the back yard has a large pool that comes right off the lower deck. There are large trees out in the back that give all the privacy you would ever need. The birds are always singing to us: it is like our own private oasis! Last summer, we had a lot of family things going on, so I wasn't home on the weekends, while helping out my family. This summer, I have been so happy to be home that I actually started sprucing up our oasis by planting some flowers and spray painting old furniture! Of course Mr. Nicoll is just as happy in the house with the air conditioner on, but at least it looks nice when he comes out to grill every night (it is his summer duty!). I recently went to the store to pick up some more spray paint. I happened to be in a store I don't normally shop, so instead of walking all around, I went to the information booth and asked, "Hello, would you happen to smell splay paint"? They looked at me like I had two heads! I then said, "Oh my goodness, what did I just say"? So I started over and asked, "Do you spell splay paint"! I then looked at them and burst out laughing hysterically! They should perhaps have been pushing the silent "security" button, but they were too mesmerized by my one person show! One girl finally nodded and said they did sell spray paint, down the aisle to the left. I left the store still laughing, saying "spray paint" out loud until I said it correctly! I expected an intercom announcement stating "whacko in aisle 8" at any moment! As I drove home, I realized how really bizarre the whole experience was. Although in my mind I knew what I was trying to say, they just looked at me like I was crazy. It made me think of life. We often get confused by what is going on around us. I was reminded of the many times that we do things we know we ought not to do, but do them anyway because at the time they made sense. Or of how many times we say we are sorry to the Lord and didn't mean to say something or do something that did not bring Him honor. Day | 69 I thought as well of all the confusion that arises in life because of situations that are sometimes beyond our control and we have no clear direction on what we should be doing and we cannot think clearly. And again: there is GOD! There is a song that Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote and if you do not know it, Youtube or Google it and listen to it. The chorus goes like this: "Something Beautiful, Something good All my confusion, He understood All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife; But He made something, beautiful of my life." Jesus always knows what you are saying when it doesn't make any sense! He always has His hand on the pulse of your life! When you feel like you are in a downward spiral motion and you can't make sense of what is going on, He will pull you up and see you through. He wants nothing from us but our hearts. And when you don't feel like you have any real definition or purpose, He will build you up and make something BEAUTIFUL out of your life! I am so relieved that in this life, God gets me! He understands my thoughts and knows my heart! And when I may not feel so lovely, His love can shine in and through me, making me a creation of beauty! Do you know Jesus like that today? "Something Beautiful, Something Good; All my confusion He understood"... Day | 70 Good Morning from Becky, Psalm 98:1 "Sing to the Lord a NEW song, for He has done marvelous things". This verse is written on a lace banner ,with a beautiful bird sitting on a branch, that hangs on a wall in my home. It was a gift to me from another woman. It was actually given to me from "the other woman" after I helped care for her during her bout with cancer. My first husband left my girls and me in 1991 during an affair and later married this same woman. Unless you have been in that situation, you cannot imagine the utter despair, betrayal and rejection with which you are forced to live. I had no song in my heart to sing anymore. The life I had been living for years had been a lie and I didn't even know who I was. My husband at the time told me to "get over it" and "life goes on". Fine for him to say; he had everything he wanted and was having a fine time living it up. However, the day he told me the famous line of "I will always love you, but I am just not IN love with you anymore" and then walked out my door, a bomb went off inside my home and the shrapnel was felt not only in my life and the lives of our daughters, but it rippled down into our entire family. My world was dark, and for one who enjoys singing both privately and professionally, there was no more song... And then God! This is of course, for the sake of time in a devotional, a condensed version, skipping over so many incredible revelations that the Lord carried me through. But over time, by getting deep into the word of God and communicating with Him more than anyone else, the song started coming back into my spirit. I realized that no one and nothing can take away who God made me to be and I started rebuilding who I was. I let the Lord have my empty vessel of a soul and fill it up with His purpose and plan for who He made me to be. Several years later, the woman who had the affair with my husband, and who was now his wife, had cancer. God nudged me to care for her and by praying for her, bringing her meals, and learning how to love the unlovely was the start of the journey of true forgiveness. Today, she is cancer free and we are grateful for that. After the struggle she had been through, she saw the banner hanging in a bookstore and she thought of me. She knows I sing (she actually loves hearing me), and she felt at the time that she had a new song because of the care I had shown her. Day | 71 The truth is, because I could follow God's nudge and allow Him to lead me on during that time, it was me who experienced the new song. As I looked back on the 9 years of being alone after he left and raising my two daughters, I can now say I made it! I took the rubble of my life (and I asked God to never let me forget the pain of the day he walked away so I could be empathic to those living it), and I gave the rubble to Him. "Here you go, Lord; what now?". He gave me back my song, but it was a new song this time. A song of deliverance and the song of a soul set free from bitterness and grief! He gave me an opportunity to speak for Him and He opened doors to speak at Women's Retreats and Conferences! He gave me a desire to write (a passion I have always enjoyed), and I have written a book that is about to go to editing. My song is not on a slow 16 speed record, filled with feeling sorry for myself because the man I loved doesn't love me anymore. My song is filled with JOY, with PEACE, and with THANKSGIVING to God! He saw my brokenness and overshadowed me with His Spirit. I allowed Him to come in and break down my walls of anger and replace them with freedom and trust in His plan. "HE HAS DONE MARVELOUS THINGS" in my life and I imagine in your life as well. I encourage you today to take a moment and think about His love toward you. Can you say that you are singing a "New Song"? Day | 72 This morning I am feeling tired, like I can't get going. I slept until 6:00 this morning and I am feeling behind and I don't like that feeling. Other things in my life also seem to be coming in at me from both sides this morning and it is difficult to think about how this day is going to even take place. Then I remember John 10:10 "I have come to give you life and to give it to you more abundantly"! And there it is! Life as I see it can sometimes feel fragile and bleak. But God has broken through the fog of what is going on around you, and He has a GREAT Plan for you today, and you will live abundantly through it. In truth, just knowing my Jesus is here, walking the day with me, giving me strength for the journey and joy in my heart for the challenges I will face gives me promise. I am not alone: He has come to give me LIFE! May I live it for Him today, and give Him the glory! May you have an ABUNDANT LIFE kind of day today as well! Day | 73 Isaiah 26:3 "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee". This was one of my Papa Gedney's favorite verses; in fact, it was on a ribbon included in a display of flowers on his casket when he died in 1980. Imagine the words here for a moment. When our mind is "stayed" on Him: when it isn't off in deep worry, where there is no room for worry, where anxious spirits cannot exist, where sin has no dominion: "stayed on Him". I encourage you today to keep your mind "stayed" on Him, who already understands and knows all that concerns you today and enjoy the Peace that only He can give you. Day | 74 Today, as you begin your day, I want to remind you about John 15: 1-8 and being connected to the "vine". How important it is to be sure you are connected, not flipping around in the wind or maybe ready to fall off. Secure yourself by reading His word, by talking with Him today and throughout the day (He likes that), and by checking yourself often, asking if your attitude and actions are Christ-like. Being connected to the Vine is the lifeblood of the branch. I encourage you to take a moment and read that passage. I wanted to encourage you to pick up your Bible and sit to read Psalms 86. It will be an inspiration to you and an encouragement as well. Have a great day! Day | 75 On my way into work every morning (before calling Jennie for our Mother/Daughter chat), I chat with God. Usually, I have already spent time with Him, but when I go outside and am in His creation, I cannot help but start thanking Him and sharing my heart with Him. The funny thing is, there is chorus to an old hymn that I end up singing every day. It pops into my mind, and when I think of it, the words minister to me and can to each of you. So today I share it with you! "Oh Jesus, blessed redeemer, sent from the heart of God. Hold us who wait before you, near to the heart of God". What better place to be than "near to the heart of God"! May your day be safe, joyful, and near to His heart! Day | 76 I have a thought to share today that I think is important for all of us as women, whether out in the workplace, in the home, at the malls, or anywhere we happen to be. It is found in Ephesians 4: 2 "Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love". People are watching, especially if they know Who we represent. I remind you today that you are a precious being! And with a sincere smile, a touch on the shoulder to a hurting person, or whatever the Lord puts in your pathway today, it will bless a life and bless yours as well! Day | 77 When I was going through a devastating time in my life back in 1991, I found true and faithful the scripture found in Isaiah 43: 1-4 "Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name "Becky", and you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God... Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you". This was when my first husband walked out of my house to another woman after 17 years of marriage and two beautiful little girls. I was beyond distraught and during this storm of my life, I picked up what I knew to be sound and true: my Bible. This verse has become one of my life verses. My cousin Cynthia scripted this verse for me in her calligraphy class and it still hangs on my living room wall. No matter what you are facing today, God is with you and while the waters rise and the fires burn around you, God will hold you in the palm of His mighty hand. Day | 78 I am impressed with two simple words that changed the world: "Follow Me". When Jesus came upon the men that would work side by side with Him, He didn't have a contract, He didn't have a retirement package, He didn't have an incentive plan, He didn't have a financial agreement, and He didn't offer a vacation plan. He walked up to them and simply said, "Follow Me", and they did. And still today, that voice comes to us with the same words and when we listen and obey, we get peace that this world can never give us, we get a friend that is available in the good and the difficult times of our lives, we receive the gift of a Savior who died for our many sins, and we receive the promise of eternal life! Follow Me: giving up self and working for the Kingdom of God while here on earth. "Follow Me": having a purpose and a direction to your life. "Follow Me": knowing that you are loved to the Cross and back. "Follow Me": sacrifice, for all the right reasons. He is still calling us... Day | 79 Earlier today, I spent 20 minutes writing to you about God's faithfulness and the practice of inviting Him into your life throughout the day, as He has the Perfect Plan for you. It was a really good post and I was excited to share it with you! At the very last word of the post, Facebook decided to not respond and it kicked me out and deleted my post! I refuse to not give in to it, so I am quickly reminding you in the "shorter" version that Jesus is here to help you pick up your pieces throughout your day and to walk the journey with you! May your day be blessed with His love and presence! Day | 80 "Jesus Loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong, we are weak, but He is strong. Yes Jesus Loves me, Yes Jesus Loves me, Yes Jesus Loves me; the Bible tells me so. Jesus loves me when I'm good, when I do the things I should. Jesus loves me when I'm bad, though it makes Him very sad. Yes Jesus loves me, Yes Jesus loves me, Yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so." This is courtesy of my husband Jim who just came out for his morning coffee. I said "Honey, what is a good thought for today?". He looked at me and said, "Jesus Loves Me". I loved it, and am sharing it with you! Jim and I wish you a happy day today filled with the Love of Jesus. Day | 81 I am looking out the large front window of my living room this morning and I am amazed at the wonder of all the beauty I see. We got about 8 inches of snow last night! The pine trees are covered with snow and it is all white and green as far as I can see. It is still snowing and I am reminded as I look outside how the blood of Jesus "washes white as snow"! Snow washes away dirt and debris, it is new fresh and clean. Snow is lovely to behold, and sometimes can be shaped into things. My life needs cleansing and every day I ask the Lord to forgive where I may have failed Him, to point it out to me so I might change and be more like Him. As I look outside, I see forgiveness of sins, I see cleansing of a soul, I see new life for the weary and down trodden, and I see the beauty that Jesus can make in one's life, all outside my living room window! Thank you Jesus for taking my life, washing it in the blood of Jesus and making it as white as the beauty I view this morning from my window! ...Now to drive to work in it!!! Be safe everyone and enjoy your day! Day | 82 Good morning friends! I was thinking of the task at hand and why we are actually here. We are called to share God's redemption message to the world around us and to live so that His light exudes from us and as a result, people will desire what we have. As I have listened to women across this great land of ours, and more personally in my work setting, or even from members of my family, I find that their "need" for God is not all that great anymore. I did a message on this recently and while speaking, the fear of this knowledge became very real to me. People just do not have that overwhelming need any more for a Savior. The evil one is on the prowl and is blinding eyes and blinding hearts into believing everything is great: good jobs, two cars, beautiful house, 2 kids, etc. etc.. I read the passage in 2 Corinthians 4:4: "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers (and I will say some believers as well when we let our guards down) so that they cannot see the light of gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God". If you have a moment, read the rest of that passage. It is incredible and it will encourage your hearts! We are in the last days where Satan is on a roll and it is very difficult to be the light in a world so dark. We have family members that need to be reminded of their need of Jesus, co-workers, neighbors and friends and maybe even ourselves. Be reminded today of the ultimate sacrifice of love: death on a cross and the ultimate promise of love, which is resurrection of life! May even today God open up a door for us to show the light of His love and to share with someone the JOY of knowing Jesus! Have an incredible day today! Day | 83 Good Morning! This has the potential to be a glorious day, BUT are there worries creeping in around the corners of your heart that are taking away your Joy? Life is filled with worry, stress, and concern. My gracious! Just filling up your gas tank today can cause worry overload! We suffer with financial insecurities, family disfunction, job concerns, health issues and we wonder how on earth we are going to get out of bed and make this day happen! But then there is God...who quietly comes up along beside us and in His precious and loving way says, "Cast all your anxiety /cares on me; because I care for you"" 1 Peter 5:7. I like to personalize this scripture by adding my name in it. Whatever you face today, it is not bigger than the God who has you in His heart! Be encouraged and take heart: you are not alone! You can face today with all the crazy concerns that arise and you can overcome it with Joy in your heart! And when you lay your head down tonight, you will be amazed at the Grace of our Lord Jesus, who led you all the way! Day | 84 Good Morning Friends, This is Monday morning and it was a tad difficult rolling out of bed this morning. I get up at 5:30 so I can have my coffee and scripture time before I write a note to all of you. Monday mornings seem to be the hardest after having the weekend off and yet this morning, sitting here, I am reminded of one of my most favorite verses that I would like to share with you. It will definitely charge you up on this first day of the work week! Ephesians 3:20 says, "Now to Him, WHO IS ABLE to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to the POWER that is at work within us" The Power? It is like looking at that light by my bed and if I don't turn the power on, I can stay asleep. It will remain dark and I can be unresponsive still. OR I can flick the switch to on, let the power flow, and the light flood into the room and wait for me to get going! I believe that as women we do not claim the POWER of Christ to work within us as often as we could. I believe we allow things to clutter up around us to confuse our direction, and we allow difficult issues that come along to easily make us feel like failures. It is because we are busy taking care of everyone else in our world! Things come at us so fast sometimes: we are in a tailspin! I have always had a great imagination or been labeled a "dreamer". This scripture says that He is ABLE to do MORE than we can ask or imagine, according to that power that is within us. I encourage you to tap into that power today. Take 10 minutes for yourself and open the word of God and plug into that power. Communicate with God: talk to that Power and I believe that this Monday will be a day that you will see that Power at work within your being. It does not mean, of course, that stresses and difficulties are not going to come, or people are not going to be annoying to you at work or at home. But it means that God can give you more than you can ask or imagine as His power holds you together and carries you through it all! May this day be a powerfully blessed day and may your light shine in a dark world! Day | 85 Good Morning friends! Today I was thinking of all those women in our Churches who give and give of themselves to the Kingdom of God. Those who go behind the scenes and make things happen. The women who see a need and, without any fanfare, clean a bathroom, wash dishes in a kitchen, greet a new face, or quietly see a face that needs an extra reassurance and slips over to extend the Love of Jesus. There are so many doing so many precious deeds in our Churches, and really, what would the Church of Christ do without women like you? You are precious in His sight, and as President of the Women's Ministry, I thank you for your quiet and steadfast service. As we close up today, on my heart for prayer is my dear friend, Deb Ross. She is the manager of the Ronald McDonald house in Albany, NY. Deb is one of these "quiet" servants I described. The accolades that she could receive from people would blow your mind. All Deb cares about is the child fighting for his or her life, the family of that child, and what she can do to share the love of Jesus with them. And it is usually done by just being herself and allowing Jesus shine through her. She has witnessed more death than some of us will in a thousand lifetimes, yet she has a song in her heart and a joy in her spirit and she knows from Whom her strength comes. For some reason, she has been impressed upon my spirit this morning as one who might need prayer. She, too, is a "quiet hero" for God's Kingdom. Would you join me in standing in the gap for her today? May God bless you all, and never stop doing for Jesus. He sees it all and loves your heart of service! Have a super day today! Day | 86 Good Morning! So often we get stuck in not knowing where to turn or how to get something accomplished, and we feel frustrated or just give up. A verse that really helps me when things get a bit cloudy is Isaiah 58:11: "The Lord will guide you always". This is a great reminder that you are never alone and that what is going on in your life today matters to Him! When we get to that place in our lives where we are unsure of the next step, stop and rest in Him, He will see you through! Have a Happy Day today! Day | 87 GOOD MORNING! Today is a new day~ A day like no other! May you start it in the word of God by reading the wonderful words of life and invite Him to take residence within you. May you communicate often with Him throughout the day and feel the peace that passes all understanding. May an opportunity open up to share His Love with someone who is feeling lonely or has concerns about her life today. Let's start changing the world for Him! Each one, touch one! Day | 88 Good Morning! I spoke yesterday at the Westfield AC Church, and my topic was Psalm 91. It ministered to me so much that I wanted to share a few of those thoughts with you today. You will need to sit and read it, but I will recap a few of those verses. Verse 1 begins with "He who Dwells in the shelter of the most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty". "Dwelling" popped into my mind in a new way! We tend to "dwell" in many things: our jobs, our homes, our kids, our churches, our social life, even in hatred of people, or dislike of another. We dwell in what consumes us. But God would like to be invited to Dwell within you. And it goes on to say "IF" you make your Dwelling place with the Lord, it is a choice. You can decide to stay where you are, or you can give things over and Dwell within Him. And in verse 11, "He will command His angels, concerning you, to guard you in all your ways". Dwelling with Him is completeness for your life. It is a plan on your part to make your life connected with His. The second part of that verse is "REST" in the shadow of the Almighty! Resting in the One who knows us best and loves us most! When I get up every morning, I invite Him in to Dwell within me. I have learned in my life that the best benefit is to Dwell in Him. So take a moment to know Him better today, to talk often to Him, and "rest" in knowing that He does all things well! Be Blessed today! Day | 89 Good Morning! Are you Happy this morning? Well that would be lovely if you are! Happiness is great! It makes you smile and allows that song in your heart as you skip along in your day! But what about when the winds blow and you start to sway back and forth and life becomes a lot to handle? Are we happy then? Probably not, but we can and should still be JOYFUL! Happiness is lovely, but it is fleeting. JOY~now that is here to stay. Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us "The JOY of the Lord is our strength". God knew that claiming the JOY that comes from knowing Him would give us the strength to face the challenges of our life, or our crazy days, of our family disfunctions, our job crisis, of not making the bills quite meet this week. I will guarantee you that during those times in your life, you will not feel Happiness, but you most certainly can experience JOY. JOY is knowing that the God you serve has it ALL in His control. It is letting go of what you have no control over and giving it back to Him. It is certain and steady. It is Joy in serving Jesus through it all. It is steadfast and sure in the inner core of your soul. It is life! It is Jesus at work in you! Joy is our gift of walking with the Savior! I pray your day is complete in the Joy that comes from the source of life: JESUS! Day | 90 Good Morning, I am lovingly reminded this week of my Grandmother, Dorris Gedney and her Biblical Journey of truth. Grammie would share scripture with me often and one passage that comes out loud and clear to me this morning is Col. 3:17 "And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the Name of Jesus". I remember hearing this verse while half-heartedly cleaning the baseboards of her 11 room house in Stoneham, MA, while practicing the running stitch until it looked right before going out to play with my friends at Alton Bay, while practicing "Man of Sorrows" on the piano (which she would share that they would have had time to take the offering during my pause), and other countless examples. Grammie was preparing me to be the woman I am today, by breathing that scripture over and over to me when I was not doing something correctly or with enthusiasm behind it. Whatever we do in life, it should always be with Jesus in mind. We should absolutely be doing all things for Him and because of Him. When we start doing things in the Name of Jesus, we work better, love better, and are better people. By taking the focus off of us, we put it where it belongs: on Him. The last part of this verse is, "Giving thanks to God the Father through Him." I am thankful this morning for a Grandmother who invested her energy into this strong willed granddaughter of hers and lived that verse by example, and by training me to do all things for Jesus. I am challenged this morning to look at areas of my life and see where some changes need to be made to "do ALL" in His Name. May we live today with a renewed purpose and passion that our words and our deeds be done in His Name! Day | 91 Here is a great verse to challenge our spirits today found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16: "Be Joyful Always, Pray Continually, and give thanks in All circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus". Since this is God's will for us, I realize it is the perfect way to stay in God's Will. When you are "joyful always", you have the consistent peace inside of you knowing that God is in control of your day-in and day-out situations and your "joyfulness" is not based on circumstance. Notice it doesn't say to be "happy" always. It says to be joyful, at peace with God and His plan for you. Pray continually is not just having your good night prayer by your bed. God knew that constant communion with Him would keep you in Him and seeking His will for your life. Talking daily with Jesus is a life source we should crave. And being Thankful in all circumstances can really only happen once the first two are sincere within your spirit. That is when you know that while life will come at you from all sides, and not always as you have planned, you can be Thankful because you know that God will not let go of you, He will walk you through and you can trust His love. They say good things come in three's. Well here are 3 things that will bless your life abundantly once put into practice continually. Have a JOYFUL day today! Day | 92 Good Morning Friends, I was introduced not long ago to a woman who has very little self-confidence. She hears repeatedly that she should not try to make things better in her life because she will only fail. As we talked, she shared with me that she doesn't feel as if she "belongs" to anyone. Those of us who are in solid family situations take for granted so easily those who simply "exist" in life. Some people get up every morning and get ready for a day of pain and misery. I looked into her eyes and shared that she belongs to Jesus. Each of us belongs to Jesus. That alone gives us new purpose and belonging. As I thought of what I shared with her, the old hymn popped into my mind and I want to share with you verse 3 and the chorus: vs. 3 "Joy Floods my soul, for Jesus has saved me. Freed me from sin that long had enslaved me; His precious blood He gave to redeem, Now I Belong to Him. Chorus: Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me. Not for the years of time alone; BUT for eternity". This is the reassurance each of us needs to hear! We are not alone in this world. Jesus has claimed us; and we belong to HIM! I pray we share this wonderful assurance with the hurting world around us. Be blessed today in knowing you "Belong" to the God of this Universe! How awesome is that! Day | 93 Good Morning, I have been doing a lot of thinking over the past few months of God's will and what it is for my life. I believe that we get so busy doing all the tasks at hand in our day in and day out living, we forget to seek God and His will for our lives. I know that what we do well, we often believe is our gift from God and therefore it must just be His will for our lives, and that is usually what is comfortable and comes easy to us. I have been a Retreat and Conference Speaker for many years, and I will be honest that when I stand up to talk to the Ladies, I come alive in my spirit! I LOVE to speak to the people, to share the love of Jesus, to laugh with them, to share the Journey, and offer them Hope in the God who loves them so dearly. But lately I haven't been speaking as much. That comes easy to me. And while I love doing it, and I believe God uses me to impact other's hearts and lives. I believe when I take a step back to seek His guidance, He is waiting to stretch me in other ways; perhaps ways that are not in my comfort zone. But because of who Jesus is in my life, I would be able to let go of the comfortable and grab hold of the unknown. In taking time to reflect in God's will for my life, I have been able to work on some new ministries, to touch people in different ways, and have the peace inside that I am doing what He has in mind for me right now. He has still given me speaking opportunities, and when people call to invite me to speak, it thrills me to accept; as I know that He has brought me through this crazy journey called "my life", for reasons of being able to give back. But if it had not tapered off for a bit, and I had not chosen to seek His heart about my life, perhaps some of these other programs He had in mind would never have taken off. What I am saying here is: When the comfortable order of your life gets interrupted, "BE STILL" before God. He has the Plan for it, He knows the will for it, and when you are quiet before Him, and listen for His voice and direction, and are then willing to go forward where He leads; He provides the peace in it. I do not know day by day what the plan will be; but I know who designs it and that I am the vessel He can use to make it happen. God knows what I love to do; and He knows also what I need to do. THE ONE THING I DESIRE; TO DO WHAT HE REQUIRES May today be a day to Be Still before Him and seek His will for your life. If you are willing, He has the plan! Day | 94 Good Morning, I have been studying the book of Isaiah lately and have found some incredible passages of scripture, and today I am sharing with you Isaiah 42:10 "Sing to the Lord a NEW Song". As I have been reading these passages I am reminded about my life. That I have been guilty of hanging on to some "idols" in my life; where I have not let go of things that I have felt secure around. I have had to release my securities on the things and the people that I have depended on and put my total trust and security in the hands of Jesus. In my life I have been faced with many valleys, or you could say speed bumps along my journey. To quickly name a few, I have had a debilitating illness, went through a heartbreaking divorce, financial devastation, death of loved ones, and a child that is not walking in "truth". I have had quite a time of it, as have most of you have. Isaiah 42: 9 is a great verse and it goes so nicely with these thoughts, listen to this: "See the former things have taken place; and new things I declare". WOW! We do not live in the former way of life! Every day is a NEW day; filled with purpose, filled with possibilities, filled with letting go, filled with blessings from a loving Lord! Many are in the trenches of the battle going on in their lives today. I encourage you that no matter what the name of your battle is; He is with you, He will guide you, He will extend His hand of mercy. You are not alone. While going through the battle, walking away from the former things that held you captive, you will begin humming a few bars. And as you start walking through the fire and come out on the other side of your trial, look for the hand of God. Contemplate the journey, Praise Him for His faithfulness, recognize His Peace and you will "Sing to the Lord a NEW Song", as He has made all things new in your life! Praise Him for His Faithful Love! Day | 95 Good Morning, Today I want to share with you a verse filled with hope and promise and it is found in 2 Timothy 1:12, "For I know whom I have believed and am convinced that HE IS ABLE to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day". This is written by Paul while in Prison and suffering for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He knew more than anything that he could believe that God would be faithful and would guard the people and the work that Paul had done for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. Paul knew it wasn't about him. He knew that while suffering there, and praying for the people he had helped bring to the Lord, that he could lay them all on the altar and they would be safe there; in God's keeping. That while he was no longer ministering in person to the people, God was ABLE to guard the work that he had done until the day Christ returns. Do you have things in your life today that you have entrusted into God's care? There is another version of this verse and instead of using the word entrusted it uses the word "committed". In some cases I prefer that word. Many things and people along my journey I have committed to Jesus, including myself. I have made a commitment to God that I will serve Him and in doing so will commit to sharing His love and plan with a world who doesn't know him. I have made a commitment to my family to be the wife and the mother that God would have me to be, making a commitment to share His love and light within the family circle of those closest to me. I have made a commitment at an Altar twice to bring my children to the Lord in the act of dedication and to raise them in the way of God and to bring the life of Jesus into their little hearts. Here is what I know to be truth; God IS ABLE! He is able to guard and to keep all that I have committed to Him. Of that I am convinced. The day of the Lord is drawing near, do you have things in your life that have not worked out the way you had expected them? Have people, children, relationships failed you? Commit yourself to Him, and lay on the Altar all the things in life that you need to bring to him. Bring people, emotions, and situations, anything that concerns you today to Him. He is able to take it, guard what and whom you entrust to Him, and I believe with my heart when you let go of things, and give them to Him, he will work things out for your good. He IS able~ AMEN! Day | 96 Good Morning, Today is the day after the Palm Sunday Celebration. It was the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem by Jesus. Imagine the crowds and the excitement as Jesus was drawing close to them. The crowd knew that this was indeed a special man, one to whom all praise belonged. As they lay their palm branches down and shouted, "Glory in the Highest, Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord", I am struck at still how blinded their eyes were at His coming. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a parade, and to cheer with the crowd as the important one passes by, but many that cheered and lay down their branches had no idea this would be the one, who in a few short days would lay down His life for them. This week is a week of reflection, of sharing, and of reconnecting to the spirit of the Living God. To be used to open still blinded eyes to the purpose of God's plan, and to share that Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost; us! There is a song that I love to sing at Palm Sunday and it is entitled, "IN THE NAME OF THE LORD"; the words to the second verse are this: "And when my plans have fallen through, and when my strength is nearly done. When there's nothing left to do, but just depend on you; and the power of Your Name. And as I call upon your name, your strength through weakness to show, we can know the Master's plan, extend the Master's hand, when we come in the NAME OF THE LORD. Chorus: There is STRENGTH in the NAME OF THE LORD, There is POWER, in the NAME OF THE LORD, There is HOPE in the NAME OF THE LORD, Blessed is HE who comes in the NAME OF THE LORD. Today, because of that Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem so long ago and the events of this week, Holy Week; I can claim the STRENGTH, POWER AND HOPE that comes in the Name of the Lord. Open our eyes Lord Jesus; that we may see you for who you are. Glory in the Highest; You ARE the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Day | 97 Good Morning, This week, in the historical account of the life of Jesus, He had perfume poured on his feet with great love and service by Mary of Bethany. While the disciples were outraged over the use of such expensive perfume being poured out and used on the feet of Jesus, instead of selling it and using the profits to help the poor around them, Mary's act of sacrifice and love blessed Jesus. In fact, He told his disciples it was to prepare him for his burial. He entered the city of Jerusalem on a donkey where the crowds were lined up on the streets waving palm branches and shouting "Glory to God in the Highest; Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord". My gracious! All looks good on the outside, but behind the scenes trouble was brewing for our Lord. Behind the scenes, Judas was meeting with the priest, making a bargain to betray Jesus into the hands of the Roman authorities for 30 pieces of silver. Judas was just like you and me. He was a disciple who loved Jesus, who walked with him, talked with him, prayed with and for him. I am sure that many will be in the Kingdom because of him. But he did one thing: he took his eyes off the prize. He was consumed by greed and he took a short term deal over a lifelong commitment. During this Easter week, Judas gets a really bad rap among Christian circles, but I have many times looked at his life, and mine, and wondered how many times I, too, have betrayed Jesus. In viewing things that I knew were not pleasing to Him~ In reading books that were certainly not up to what He would want my eyes to take in~ In listening to music that we like (and sometimes this is a real struggle for Christians because we don't want to give up what we listen to, and we refuse to think about Jesus being part of it, because if we don't think of Him, it makes it alright) ~places I have gone (and hoped the Lord wouldn't return while I was there!)~ Secret sins that I feel I got away with, yet knowing deep inside Jesus sees and knows all things. In having an unforgiving spirit~ in wanting more than what I have to the point of not appreciating all He has given. We could make huge lists in comparison. But the one difference is the fact that Judas, in seeing what he had done to Jesus, went out and hung himself on a tree. No chance for repentance or forgiveness. We, however, can look at our lives and make the choice that nothing in this world compares to serving Jesus, nothing compares to giving our lives to Him. And that while Satan may do his best to tempt and entice us and dangle that bag of silver in front of us, we can forge ahead and decline the offer of betrayal by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. I encourage you to reflect on your life today, and to see what areas are being used as a betrayal to who Jesus is in your life. I have found that when I ask Him to show me the areas, they will pop out to me. And once confessed and given over, sweet peace and freedom will replace them. There is Strength, There is Power, and There is Hope in the Name of the Lord; Blessed is He Who Comes in The Name of The Lord! Day | 98 Good Morning, This is the crucial week in History. This week is the reason He came as a baby into this world, the reason we so joyfully celebrate His birth. His birth would not mean what it means if it were not for the events of this week. As I take time to think about this week and what it is about, I imagine the heart of Mary. She gave birth to her son under the most unusual of circumstances, and yet in every step of the journey was the hand of God on her life. The news from the Angel announcing that she had been chosen to carry the Son of God~ Joseph coming on board after a visit from his Angel~ leaving one town to travel to another to escape trouble~ finding no room to deliver their baby and when offered by the Inn keeper they gratefully accept the animal stall to deliver. And Jesus, the King of Kings was born in a manger filled with hay for the animals. Mary loved her son! She watched Him grow and develop into a young man. All the while, knowing there is a plan, one in which she did not fully comprehend. But I believe she always knew it would break her heart as a mother. Then you see Jesus, during this crucial week before the Passover feast, where, without fanfare, he simply disrobes and puts a towel about his waist so that He could wash the feet of his disciples. The Bible says in John 13 that He knew his time was near. This is a beautiful illustration of Jesus being a servant, and still teaching lessons for his disciples to take and to share with the world. Verse 16: "I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him." This is a precious example of humility for us still today. In that group of disciples was Judas. Verse 2 of this chapter tells us that "the devil had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus". He may have sat there thinking he had this in the bag. But while giving the appearance of being clean, Jesus ends the sentence in verse 10 with: "All of you are clean, though not every one of you". Jesus knows all. Judas thought he was getting away with his sin, yet Jesus knew who it was and what he was about to do. There are so many thoughts today and I apologize if they are confusing. But there are many things to ponder during this week. I pray that my thoughts will prompt you to ponder a bit today as well. This really is an amazing week in history! Day | 99 Good Morning, On this day of the Holy Week, Christians will gather in their churches to remember the Last Supper. It is usually referred to as Maundy Thursday. It is a reflective service in which we remember Jesus sitting with his disciples, breaking bread with them and announcing to them that someone in that room was about to betray him. I can imagine the confusion among the disciples, and yet Jesus knew exactly who it was. In John 13 the account is clearly described for us. Jesus announces this to his followers and then tells them that the betrayer the one to whom he will dip and give the bread. It was as we know: Judas. The Bible says in verse 27, "As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered him". Wasn't this just the moment Satan was waiting for? He had his man, and he was about to take Jesus down, finally and for good! After Judas departed, and rather quickly after that, Jesus continued to explain in brief terms how he would not be with them much longer, and they would not be able to go with him. An interesting conversation comes up between Jesus and Peter in verse 37, where Peter, in his bewilderment, expresses his desire to follow Jesus and to the extent that he would lay down his life for him. And in verse 38 Jesus shares with Peter the deal, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown (deny) me three times". Can you even imagine having Jesus look at you and say that? Jesus knows all. Like Judas, Satan did not know that Jesus' death was the most important part of God's plan all along! Jesus knew what was going to happen to him. He knew Judas was going to betray him and He knew Peter was going to deny him. He didn't stop them from their actions and he didn't change what was about to happen. He knows our hearts today and what we will do that will hurt him and betray him. He knows the battles that go on in our spirits. Yet, he still loves us with unconditional love and is ready to forgive when we ask him. Today as we think about the Last Supper and the events of that evening, and how they played as stepping stones in the process of our Salvation, we realize that God never lost control of the situation. He knew the players and he knew the game that Satan was playing, and He knew that the End of the Beginning was right around the corner... Day | 100 Good Morning, WHAT A SACRIFICE THAT SAVED MY LIFE! Today is what Christians around the world will keep in remembrance close to their hearts as Good Friday. Today is the day where the "rubber meets the road" in the gift of salvation. Today is when Jesus, sent by the Father to take on the sins of the world for you and me, stands before his accusers and we hear the cry of "Crucify Him, Crucify Him". This is the day, after being brutally beaten, he was made to carry the heavy cross by Roman soldiers down the Via Delarosa to Calvary's Hill. Crowds lined the streets to see the spectacle. Some cheering that finally this threat was being taken care of, and others in deep, deep despair for the Jesus they loved so dearly. This day is the day that they nailed the hands and feet of Jesus to the cross, plunged a spear in his side, and at his request for water, gave him vinegar on a sponge to quench his thirst. And they pushed down on his brow a crown of thorns in mockery because he called himself a King. And there hung our Savior. Before dying, still thinking of those who killed him and sent him there, He summons his Father and pleads, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". Such a beautiful expression of love from Jesus, showing that it was for us that he came. And then he hung his head and he died. The earth went dark, lightning filled the air, thunder boomed as far as the ear could hear. Jesus was taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb of a man named Joseph. The stone was rolled in front of the tomb and Roman guards were ordered to stand guard in front of it. For even though he was dead, Jesus still made the authorities nervous! Those who had followed Jesus were deeply sorrowed; the disciples were devastated. Human kind went dark. Jesus was dead. But think of the event: the Blood of Jesus was shed for my sin, for your sin. "Oh the Blood of Jesus, that washes white as snow". It was a sacrifice of love that Jesus knew was going to happen because there was no other way out of the sin in our lives. He died, so we didn't have to. I went last week to my daughter Jennie's Easter performance at her church. There was one song that really stood out to me and I asked her to write the words so I could share them with you today. I believe they sum up this day and the amazing gift given to us. "Oh, the Blood, the precious blood, price of life's demand. Savior Son, Holy one, slain so I could live, See the Lamb, the Great I Am, who takes away my sin. Oh the blood no greater love, Grace how can it be, that in my sin, yes, even then, He shed His blood for me! Today is a day of great reflection. "Low in the Grave He Lay, Jesus my Savior, Waiting the coming day"... Day | 101 Good Morning, What a Celebration we shared as believers across the world yesterday! Easter! This is the day when Jesus triumphantly conquered death, sin, and the grave. Because He lives, we too shall live! Many churches across the world sang: "Because He Lives I can face tomorrow, Because He Lives, all fear is gone". I am awestruck at the power of the Resurrection of Jesus. I am amazed always at the great love He had for me, that He would take on my sin and my failures as his own. I am amazed and in awe at the Power and humility of the stone being rolled away, and Jesus bursting forth from the tomb and no one there to witness it, except the prince of darkness. This was a defeat to Satan's plan for the world, when Jesus came forth holding now the Keys to Life and Death. Jesus~ King of Kings~ can now hold my life in His hands and keep my future under His control. No more fear of tomorrow! Because of His Resurrection, I can face anything that comes my way with assurance that He is with me, that He knows all about it, and that I am not alone. The Power of the Cross and the Glory of His Resurrection is the Gift of life for the Believer. Because He Lives, we too can live! We can take today and the challenges it brings, the heartbreak on the horizon of life, the pain of disease in our body, the despair of financial burdens, the yearning of that job so badly needed, and the regular day in and day out of living and WE CAN HAVE HOPE! JESUS IS ALIVE! HE holds us together and will not let us go~ Praise His Name! HE has the answers to the many questions of life! HE has the purpose and the plan for your life! HE IS ALIVE! No longer do we need to feel defeated~ HE DEFEATED DEATH~ for us! The Miracle of Easter will continue on for generations! I encourage you to take hold of the HOPE and the Promise in the Resurrection Miracle today. JESUS IS ALIVE; and He Loves YOU! Day | 102 Good Morning, "I believe, help thou my unbelief". These words are part of a song written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. I have always enjoyed this song, and the words always minister to my spirit. Then as I have been sitting and thinking of those days following the Resurrection of Jesus, and the fear in the disciples, I am see myself in them. Here they are minding their own business, hiding, if you will, in the locked upper room and here comes Jesus; "Peace Be With You". Are you kidding me? The disciples saw them hang Jesus on that cross. They saw that empty tomb. And now, right before their eyes, stands Jesus. Anticipating their unbelief, Jesus shows them his hands and his side. The Bible says in John 20:20 "The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord". But Thomas, absent when Jesus first appeared, was a bit of a hard sell, so to speak. But when Jesus again appeared in the Upper room, He said to Thomas in verse 27, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop doubting and believe". Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Can you even imagine this? Standing in the presence of the Risen Lord and seeing the nail prints in his hand and the wound in his side? Thomas couldn't believe it until he could see it. We don't have that advantage today. We have Faith. Faith in believing that what we read in the Bible is true, that what we experience is from God, and that He IS coming again. If we don't have Faith, we have nothing. The Christian experience is based on it: it is grounded in it. I remember in my life the many times, due to life's storms that I have been through, believing just that: Faith is the key to what sustained me. I had a choice to either believe that Jesus is alive, and I can cast all my cares upon him, or I could doubt his existence and try to do it on my own. I am a strong, independent woman. I have a strong mind, and am capable in many areas of life. All of this I know. But the one thing I know above all is that I am nothing apart from God and His Grace. He and I have walked this journey together. He gets me (he should, he made me!). He understands my strengths and my weakness. He knows what I struggle with, and what breaks my heart. He knows I love it best when I am speaking about Him, and sharing this journey we have been on. And that is exactly it: the journey that WE have been on. Today we do not have time to wait to see the nail prints and the wounds, we have to be about the business of living. In order to do that we have to trust in the God who rose from the dead, and have the faith that he is in control of our very lives and all that is around us. In place of himself (for now anyway), he sent us his word and when we read it daily, we get to know him better, to love him more, to see the pathway plan of his will for our lives. And he left us his Holy Spirit to communicate with him and to have personal and powerful times of worship with him. We don't get to see him like Thomas did, but we can know him as real and as endearing as Thomas knew him~ simply by letting him take over our hearts and dwelling within him. I would not be who I am today had it not been for the Lord in my life! I encourage you to take that step of faith today and know that Jesus Christ is indeed risen from the dead. He holds you in the precious palm of his hand and he is Coming Again! Now that is a faith walk! Day | 103 Good Morning, "Lord to my heart bring back the Spring time"! This song was sung back in the 70's by Anita Bryant. My Mom would play her album, and I would go around the house singing this one line! I loved it. You can see that ALL these years later, I still love that line! I think of it actually a lot during this season of Spring. Buds on the trees just waiting to pop out their bloom, flowers inching their way up from the cold dark ground of winter to new life, grass starting to turn that full rich color of green. Even the air smells different: everything is fresh and new! My husband and I live on what we affectionately refer to as, "Nicoll Mountain". It is not really a mountain, but it is on a hill, and it has way too much land around our house for us to care for! We ask ourselves often lately what on earth were we thinking 12 years ago when we bought this house! Aside from the fact that we were younger, not as busy, and we really just loved it, I look around and scratch my head! HELP! Spring is here and Nicoll Mountain is a mess! Of course the storm of October 29, 2011 did not help me any, but there is spring cleanup needing to be done! Yesterday, I met with some landscapers here on the Mountain and as we walked around the yard, I said "I just need a cleanup, to make the old go away and new to come forth". They looked at me like I had two heads: I don't think THEY even have enough time to do my yard! And I am faced with the reality that I may still be doing it myself, one square foot at a time, thanking God with every sweep of the rake for this home He has provided for us! But what I said to them hit me hard. Spring time: the old is gone and the new is come. And that of course leads to 2 Cor. 5:17, "If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old is gone and the new has come". How often in our own lives we need a "Spring cleanup". The heaviness of winter has trampled on our spirit and we are just waiting for the SON to come in and warm up our lives. Cleanup for a Christian is as simple as saying, "Jesus, here I am, weary, worn, and tired. Jesus come! Come in and clean me up, renew my spirit and refresh my soul with your amazing presence and great love". As I look around "Nicoll Mountain" and see the task at hand, and pray to be finished raking before the first snowfall of 2012, I also pray that the Winds of March would refresh me, the Showers of April Renew me, and the Flowers and buds of May would represent new life to this soul, who always prays, "Lord to my heart; bring back the Springtime"! Day | 104 Good Morning, Do you ever wish you could walk outside and the grass in your front and back yard was green, plush and inviting? Like you just want to take your shoes off and walk across the yard! Well, "Nicoll Mountain" is at the moment lacking that advantage, as we have had a "grub" attack! We used to have a most beautiful lawn, a perfect reason for Jim to go right out and get that riding lawn mower that he had always dreamed of owning. I couldn't understand why our lawn was starting to look sparse one spring when my son Jay, who was landscaping at the time, bent down and pulled up a huge chunk of grass to investigate. And in the ground under the grass were white ugly little bugs called grubs. After I calmed down and realized that we didn't have to put the house on the market immediately, Jay explained that they are often found when the grass is doing great because they can feed off of it. There are many steps that you must go through to get rid of the grubs that feed under the surface of your lawn. It is costly and expensive when you have a lawn such as ours. Needless to say, we haven 't done it yet, but now there is nothing more for those crazy grubs to feed on! That is of course one way of getting rid of them! In the years since that episode of discovering why our lawn no longer reflects the beauty it once had, I have thought often about my life as well as the human life and what goes on beneath the surface. We take great pains on our physical appearance to make sure we "shine" every morning. We stand in front of the mirror (both men and women) until every hair is in place, and then we spray it until it won't move until the next morning when we again start all over again. It is a good thing to look your best. The people you see every day appreciate it! That is on the surface and easy to take care of on a daily basis. Yet, just as my yard slowly became infected because of things devouring from beneath the surface, it started fading away. And so will we if our insides are not "grub free". Deep down inside we need to take a landscaping challenge of our souls. To do that fully, we need to spend time with the Lord, one on one, asking Him what might be inhibiting our growth. Is there a part of our past that we perhaps have not totally let go of on the inside? Do we try to just bury issues, hoping they will just go away? What we are on the inside will be reflective on the outside. The cost of Grub Removal can be substantial, but the cost for "soul Grub removal" has already been paid for! Might you be in need of a Soul extermination of Grubs that might be eating away at you, and not allowing you to grow into the beauty God designed for you? If so, I know a Landscaper who specializes in "soul challenges" and I have learned from experience that the only way to a complete "makeover" is to allow the gentle hand of Jesus to come in, pull out the grubs in my soul, take the concern away, replant me, and allow me to again grow in Him. Nicoll Mountain may go without green grass again this year: we will see. First I have to rake it! But those that live on Nicoll Mountain every day, we are growing in new ways, learning to lean and trust in the safe keeping of Jesus, and praying that what people see on the outside will match what is on the inside. I will never be grub free, but I can say that my Landscaper has all things in my life under His control! Day | 105 Good Morning, I was the guest speaker at a Church yesterday morning and was all prepared with my message until, about 6:00 AM, I felt the tugging that God had another thought that we might need to prepare for the people! Therefore, with coffee on one side and the Word of God on the other, we came to an agreement and the topic was: "Jesus calling my Name". I think often times after the Easter Story we move on to the regular messages again, but this week Jesus was whispering for John 20: 10 � 18 to be revisited. It is the account of Mary Magdalene arriving at the tomb on Easter morning and finding the tomb empty. She was beyond distress when she was visited by two angels sitting on the tomb bed, asking "why do you look for the living among the dead". This did not make sense to her! She had been at the foot of that cross when they crucified Him as she knelt with Mary the mother of Jesus in deep, deep sorrow. She witnessed them take Him from the cross and place Him in that tomb. And someone now has taken his body: it is not there! She then hears another voice which gently asks why she is in tears? And Mary, thinking she was talking to the gardener, asks in great distress if he has removed the body? And then she hears it: the voice, the authority, the command and the control. "MARY". Nothing fancy, no fanfare of his arrival back from the dead, just "Mary". In that voice, she knew and instantly cried; "Rabboni" meaning Teacher. She knew that voice: it was Jesus. I thought of what it will be like when He calls my name. I then thought of all the times in my life that He already has called my name. Have I listened? Have I really heard what he has to say? Have I wanted to hear it? In HIS name we know peace, in HIS name is direction. It is compassion, it is devotion, it is healing, it is freedom, it is forgiveness, it is... But what about my name? What is there when He calls my name? Does He get "not right now, I'm a bit busy; but thanks for thinking about me" or does he get, "Really, Lord? Are you serious? You know I can't do that"! Or does He get, "Yes, I know you gave me this talent as a gift, but I don't want to use it today. Maybe another time". We hear Him call our name as He whispers on the winds of our lives. He is there when we Day | 106 bow crying because we, like Mary, can't seem to find Him, when nothing makes sense in our world anymore. He is there in the life changing and difficult decisions we must make in our lives. He waits to guide and assist - we just need to let Him. And He is there in the joy and laughter of our children and loved ones. He is always there, calling our names. There was a song, probably back in the 90's, written by Phil McHugh and the Chorus goes like this: "One Day Jesus, will call my name; As days go by I hope I don't stay the same. I want to get so close to Him that it's no big change, On that day when Jesus; calls my Name". There will be a day coming, and I believe it is coming soon, when Jesus will call our names. It will not be the whisper on the winds of life. It will be the voice of authority and control that He used when He brought Mary out of her deep sorrow and mourning. I encourage you this morning to remember that Your Heavenly Father knows you by your name. He loves you so dearly and wants to communicate with you. Listen for His precious voice, as He guides you along on your journey called life. Is there a time when you have heard His voice and you would like to share it with your friends here on this page? We learn from one another! Day | 107 Good Morning, Isaiah 55:6 "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near". When Isaiah tells us to call on the Lord while he is near, it is not to give the impression that God is going anywhere, but it is us who far too often move away from him. We begin to erect walls or barriers in our lives when things don't go right, or we stop our daily communication with him. It will amaze you how fast you can get out of your daily routine of worship and seeking his face when you neglect to do so for even one day. One day will go into two, and before you know it your time of devotion has been replaced. It is the same for missing Church. You miss Church one week because you have something else going on and you figure God will understand. It becomes easier to skip the next week because really, you are exhausted from your long week and you need today to rest. By the third week, you don't even make the excuse. You are down for the count and start building up your walls. It is very easy to get away from the daily devotional in your life. That is why Isaiah urges us to "seek him while he may be found, and call on him while he is near". There is a risk in waiting to "seek him": life itself can become so much more difficult for us. When the constant communion with God has been minimized, we begin to feel a bit alone. The world will try to replace the presence of God in our life but it is unable to do that. Nothing can replace the peace and presence of God but God. The other risk in waiting too long is that God may decide to come back to judge the world and us individually before we choose to "seek him". It is so important to invite him into your heart and allow him to start chipping away at the walls and barriers that we have put in place and trust him with our lives. Every morning, it is my prayer that Jim and I seek God. To seek His face~ and to know His grace. I then pray for our 5 children and their spouses (and etc.) that they too would daily seek his face. Some of our children are not seeking God and are not walking in his way. They were all raised in the truth and know him, but stopped the daily communication and took their eyes off the prize. This mother every day and often times during the day brings them all (including our 8 Grandchildren) to the Lord. I ask him to knock them to their knees! To bring something to their minds that would reflect Jesus, something that might prompt them to "seek him". I know my children are responsible adults and the choices they make are their own. But this Mom, as long as I have breath in me, will fight against the evil one and bring my children to the throne and lay each of them at the altar. There I seek the Lord, while He is near. I seek after him many times during my day, and sometimes, I need to just sit quietly and feel him with me. I pray that today as you start your day, you will "seek after him". He is near, and he wants to walk your journey with you. Day | 108 Good Morning, We had drama on Nicoll Mountain Sunday morning when my dear husband went into his sock drawer for a pair of black socks and the sock drawer was bare! I was myself getting ready when I heard those chilling words, "Um Betsy, would you happen to have some socks in the dryer that you just didn't get up to the drawer yet"? OOPS! Here is the story: I was tired on Saturday! It had been an extremely long week at work, many things going on in the evenings, and by the time Saturday hit, I really did NOTHING all day! It was not a real "restful" feeling because I knew deep inside household "things" needed to be done. But I read, and napped, and chatted on the phone, and before I knew it, Sunday was here and Mr. Nicoll had no socks! What prompted to me share this tale of my dysfunctional housecleaning abilities is this: I had Monday off, so decided that I better get things done, and of course laundry was top on that list. Things don't function in my life so well when major things are not maintained. Yesterday morning, I again was getting ready for work when I heard: "Oh my goodness, I am filled to overflowing! I think the sock fairy came to visit me"! While he is adorable (most times), his phrase of being filled to overflowing really struck me! Yes, his drawer is filled. I found every sock in the entire home and washed it, folded it, and placed it lovingly where it resides, until he needs it! But it was the idea of what he said to me that got me thinking. Like his sock drawer, how often do we run on empty? If I had not physically done something about it, that sock drawer would have remained forever empty! It was my actions that filled it back up to "overflowing". What about our spiritual lives? Sometimes we work so hard and exhaust ourselves to the point that we forget to get that "fill up" of spiritual refreshment. We keep running and going in different directions and eventually we have nothing left to give and we bottom out. Or, like me on Saturday, we choose to not do anything right now and we do all kinds of other things that take us away from the task at hand. Being filled up by the Holy Spirit is work on our part. It is like an empty sock drawer and a pile of socks fresh from the laundry, dumped from the laundry basket now waiting on Day | 109 the bed to be folded. The socks are not getting in that drawer unless I take the time to fold them and place them where they belong! We are much like that! We have our lives that we live, and then there is the Holy Spirit. He is not going to take residence until I ask Him to come in. He is not going to dwell within me until I dwell within him. I find in my life that when I keep the lines of communication open with Jesus and I stop and think on him and his great love, I keep his spirit with me. I find that as I ask him daily and often for forgiveness of my sins that I can then forgive more easily those that hurt me. And most importantly, I find that when I do invite him in to dwell and fill me up, I am the most content and joyful in my life. Even while storms rage around me, if he is filling me up with his presence, I can face anything that comes my way! I encourage you to invite the refreshing spirit of the living God into your life today and be filled with all he has in his plan for you! Don't be so busy serving him that you forget to experience what it is to be filled by him. You do the work to place him where he deserves in your life: by inviting him in, communicating often with him, reading his word to know more of him, and asking him to fill you daily to equip you with his spirit in order for you to be all he created you to be! Today, Jim has socks in his drawer and he is still a happy man. But as he takes a pair out each day, it gets lower and lower until it gets filled back up. May we not let the drawer of our spirits get so low that we find it empty, but notice it in time and take action! "Fill me up Lord"! Day | 110 Good Morning! Jim and I have the awesome privilege of having two of our Grandchildren here with us for a few days while our daughter Jennie and her husband Jeremy are on a cruise. Jack is 13 and Abbie is 10. I was saying to Abbie last night to go and brush her teeth before bed, but she thought she might just stay up a tad longer and do it then. I decided I needed to take control of the situation, so I told her it was my job to advise when she went to brush her teeth and it was her job to obey me. She got right up and brushed her teeth. Of course this made me think of an incident that happened when my siblings and I were young and living in Portsmouth, NH while my Dad was in a Pastorate there. I am a few years older than my siblings, so I have a much better memory on what they did as children! I do not remember the reason behind this particular discussion, but I do remember it was between my sister Debbie and my Dad. They had gone back and forth over probably something she wanted to do, as she was active all the time. Dad had said no, but Deb kept trying. In an attempt to put the matter to rest, my Dad, having to leave for a meeting, left a note for Debbie on the table. It read very simply the verse from Ephesians 6:1, "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right". Now that should end the lesson right there! You certainly cannot dispute Scripture. But my sister, feeling frustrated at his answer and probably not understanding why he said no, responded with the verse from Ephesians 6:4, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children". She left that for him and went to bed. To this day, I believe my Dad still has that note! But as I thought of the conversation I had last night with Abbie, and then of Debbie, I am reminded how we too are children: children of the Living God. We are to obey Him and His word. We forget that the ultimate in obeying for us is the line of consciousness we get, when we activate the Holy Spirit, and use that as the filter for our lives. My Grandmother Gedney would say that we are never happier than when we Trust and Obey. A child is always happier when they have authority over them, guiding them and bringing them under control. They know they have boundaries and there will be consequences for stepping over those boundaries. Day | 111 How different really is that to us in the Christian walk? God has set up perimeters for us in life. When we go too far in either direction, He reminds us to Obey him and to keep our trust anchored in him. I for one, am happy for the perimeters he sets. I am happier in his will and doing what I know is right. And when I go out of his plan for me, I know that too! And usually anyone that I come in contact with knows it as well. After I spoke to Abbie last night, she went and did as she was supposed to do and she was happy. She knows I love her and that I am the authority over her and when I speak, she will listen and obey. The boundaries were set up, just as Jesus speaks to us with great love and his quiet authority. When he died on the cross he set up the boundaries for us. Thank you Lord that you complete what you began and you not only set up the perimeters for our daily living, you sent your Word and your Holy Spirit to keep us on track. "Trust and Obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus; but to Trust and Obey Day | 112 Good Morning, It never ceases to amaze me the life lessons that take place right under our own nose if and when we recognize the presence, or the absence, of Jesus and his example for us. Of course you know this is going to be a Becky "life-lesson", but one that hit me hard yesterday. As I came out on the other side of it, and more clearly focused, I thought of you all and that I might share this lesson with you. Coming home from the grocery store after a long day at work, my head felt full and tired. I had my moon roof open, the windows open, and didn't even want to hear music playing. I realized I was in a slump. Then out of nowhere this tiny truck with the back loaded and a child's bike hanging off the end, came off the highway ramp and decided it was ok to scoot directly in front of me and putt along, holding me up! At the traffic light, when it turned green, everyone in front of her went but her! So, I did a precious thing: I honked at her! Startled, she looked up and continued on. Do you know that she actually drove that little putt putt truck at a very low speed for the next 12 miles in my exact direction? Finally, at .5 miles from my home, she turned and took another street! Oh my goodness! I could have run beside her and arrive earlier (well not really, but at the time...)! And now the lesson: In 1993 I had not been feeling good: very shallow breathing, no strength or energy, and after a while I went to my Dr. who sent me to a specialist. A C-Scan was ordered and when I went to hear the results, it rocked me off my world. He told me that I either had lung cancer OR a virus called Sacroidosis in the lung. I could wait for 6 months to have the test taken again or I could be scheduled for a surgery called a mediasteinoscopy. This is a surgery that would go in and biopsy the lung. It was a very dangerous surgery as it is right next to the aorta and if got nicked at all, I would die. I was a young single mother with two beautiful little girls depending on me. I couldn't take the chance of waiting for 6 months: I needed to know! As I went to my car knowing I would be heading for this surgery and soon, my body shook. My hands were shaking so badly I dropped the keys trying to get them in my keyhole. When finally I began my short 8 mile journey home, I was unable to process the enormity of what I had just been told. I drove the stretch of road between Northampton to Easthampton at a posted 50 mph at only 20 -25 mph, and the people were honking at me, passing me, showing me ALL their Day | 113 fingers, etc. And I sat in my driver's seat, with tears rolling down my face, not sure what the outcome of my life would be. There is, of course, so much to this story that tells of God, and His amazing grace and healing and for that you will need to read my book (almost done). Because of this day on the road, and the way I was treated by the world around me, I was determined to make the effort not to upset anyone on the road because of my actions, as you never know what they are going through, you never know what news they have just received... I became angry quickly over this lady and her putt putt truck, and it hit me hard during the trip home, as I realized the lack of God's presence in my life. Jonah 4: 2 says that God is "slow to anger". Not me! My filter went right to "ticked off"! By the time the lady turned to go another way, I had refocused my attentions to praying for her, asking the Lord to bless her, and thanking Him for the longer trip home, as it brought me back to Him. How many times in life do we let what others do to us cause our emotions to go to anger? I want to be like Jesus: I want to be His girl, to show his light, and to understand the hurting world. This is not easy when life is about us! I asked the Lord for forgiveness and again remembered my ride on that very dreary day in February of 1993, when my life hung in the balance and the world around me didn't care to understand. I did not have cancer but did have lung Sacroidosis and it was most debilitating for over a year with many different treatments and medications. Thankfully, I am in remission. But never should we forget that life happens to everyone, and with anger, a quick trigger of human emotions. I guess the question would be: what would Jesus do? How would He react? And if indeed we are His ambassadors, how then are we to present ourselves to a hurting world? Jonah 4:2: "I knew you were a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity". Oh Lord Jesus, may I be a servant who does not cause calamity in another's spirit, but shows your compassion and love to those I come in contact with, even if they are in the car in front of me! Amen Day | 114 Good Morning, We are going to begin a 5 day series this week on the building of a potted plant and compare it to our own life. I have done this series over a 3 day retreat and I have also done it in a 1 hour message, but this week I am going to take each component and break it down over this 5 day week. I hope you enjoy the series and are able to see the comparison, as like the plant, we start from the very beginning, and with God's guidance, hope to become who He created us to be! Today is the clay pot. Nothing fancy, no decorations, just a simple clay pot. Psalm 139: 13-15 is a most precious scripture, referencing the fact that we are created by God: that He knit us together in our mother's womb, that it was His eyes that saw our unformed body. I encourage you to take some time and read this passage: it will keep you in awe! When we were born into this world, we all arrived the exact same way. There was no affluence attached to us, no designer clothes, no out of this world jewelry: just a baby with nothing but the cry from our fresh born lungs to draw attention to us. I use a simple clay pot because I love to remember that we are no different than anyone else in this life. No one is greater or less than us and each of us has been given the title "Kings Kid"! We were all created by the King and we are all his children. There is a reference in Matthew 23:25: Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and warning them about looking "oh so lovely" on the outside, but being a mess on the inside. Imagine a cup with the residue of chocolate milk in it. Think about what the inside of that cup would be like after a day or two just sitting there. If people were coming into your home and it was on the counter, you would clean the outside of the cup so it would at least appear clean. This is what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 23: 27 "They clean the outside of their cup, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence". Our pots may have all started out the same when we were born, but our natural born sinful nature soon became a part of what we have become. I would wager that each of us will spend a valuable amount of time this morning in the mirror preparing for the day we are about to face. We will make sure that our hair is in place and just the right amount of rouge is applied to our checks (we don't want to look like a clown). The final step will be the lipstick so while we speak our lips will just shine!! We will make sure our clothes are cleaned and pressed and our socks match our pants. And some of us even like to make sure our purses will match the Day | 115 outfit of the day! And men do the same thing, but in their own unique way! We take great pains to look presentable and that is a very good thing: those we come in contact with appreciate our efforts! All of this is important! But as our clothes cover up our bodies, what do we conceal from the inside out? It is the inside of our pot that matters to God, and it is the inside of our pot that should matter most to us. I look forward to our journey this week! Tomorrow we will discover how important proper drainage is in the life of our "pot". Psalm 139: 14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made: your works are wonderful, I know that full well" Day | 116 Good Morning, Yesterday we talked about the importance of our plant pot being made of clay. One reason is that it makes us all equal: not one "pot" more important than the other. The second most important reason is that clay is moldable, and God is our Master Potter. He is able to fashion, make and mold us. Today we look at what goes in that Clay Pot. A very important step is establishing the drainage system. The drainage system is used as a filter to allow the water to flow out of the pot. If there is a hole in the bottom of the pot, the rocks or stones you place in the pot keep the water from just settling into the soil and drowning the plant. I look at life and I see all the things that could stay within us and cause us to stay stagnant in the mucky waters of our lives. Life happens, and just when we least expect it, we are living in a place where we have no control over the circumstance. It just happens without our permission. There are several areas of events that I am going to touch on briefly today: bear with me. One event that we don't talk much about is Abandonment. Sharing briefly: all my life my Grandmother Gedney seemed to have it together! She was a power house of spiritual strength. God provided for her an incredible husband (whom she always referred to as her Prince) and together they had 5 children. I believe they ended up between Grandchildren, Great and Great- Great Children at 21? I know I was the first but for some reason they felt they needed more! Anyway, when she 93 years old, sitting in her chair in her nursing home out here in Northampton, (my brother Jon and I had care of her) she started talking about her mother. I didn't know much about my Great-Grandmother except to know she had not really been part of my Grandmother's life. And as Grammie talked, she started to cry. She sat there at 93 crying because when she was 5 years old, her mother abandoned her to her grandparents and left. She had a difficult time grasping that anyone could do that to their little girl. As I cried with her, it dawned on me that Grammie had to finally forgive her mother so that she could be free from this which was holding her heart. We held hands and we both prayed, and as we did, we started thanking God for all He had been in my Grandmot her's life and for all He had provided for her. All those years, she had kept this hidden in the corner of her heart. She had been physically abandoned by one she adored and now she was freed by the one who gave His life. Another area to cause issues in the "pot" is Divorce, a huge process in the filtering of life. Most times, divorce is not of your choosing. It wasn't my choice when I found out that my husband of 17 years had been having an on-going affair. What? I had no idea and it rocked my world! If Day | 117 you have not been through this, you can never understand the betrayal, the rejection, the pain and the ache that is caused when you look at your two beautiful girls and share with them that Daddy is not coming home to live with us anymore. It is a deep-seated pain when you realize that he is not going to fight for you, your marriage, or your many years of history and love together. You are faced with a choice; and while it is a process, you must get it into gear and fast. You can choose to be bitter and hateful or you can choose to trust your emotions to God. The natural reaction is to bite back: to hit low and hard. But that causes stagnancy,and you become a victim to the choices of others. I decided that with God's help, I had a brand new opportunity given to me and that I still had life within me to make my own choices. I chose to let the impurities drain from my life and to allow God to build me back up. It was scary; I am not going to lie. There were many tears, lots of fears, and constant communion with the One who held my hand. But I had a choice, and when I look back at what God has done in my life, I am amazed! Each one of us has choices when our lives are affected because of another person's actions. Nothing is a surprise to God when it comes to your life. He is just waiting to take you through when we let Him. Death, disease, bankruptcy, job loss, feeling misplaced in life, an uncertain future, addictions, attitudes, pride, just to name a few, are things that can cause the murkiness of life to just sit in the bottom of your pot and cause you to become stagnant. Drainage in our life is when you give to Jesus that which you have no control over and let Him carry you through. Drainage in our life is also when you do have control over your own actions and you make the choice to follow in His footsteps and release what holds you captive. Imagine with me a brook. The clear crystal water is rambling freely over the boulders of life and bringing refreshment to a weary soul. That is drainage for the human heart. Letting Go of what you have no control over and even that which you do have control over. It is giving of control back to the Master Potter so that He can shape you into what He had in mind for you all along. It is trusting your life into those masterful hands. It is letting go, giving in, and experiencing life like never before! I am sorry this has been so long! I could continue for several more pages on this topic. I guess this is why I love teaching this when I speak at retreats: I need 3 days! I pray that you take the time and turn over to Him that which takes control over you. Even if it occupies just a corner of your heart, it is too much. Day | 118 Good Morning, Today is day three of our series and we will be looking at the soil and the plant that will reside in the pot. Both go together in order for the foundation of our plant to take root. If our pot, (which is the simple clay pot that now has drainage in the bottom to filter properly), simply has soil added to it, then it is merely a pot with soil in it. But if we add soil AND a living plant to the pot, it takes on a whole different dimension! There is now a purpose to the pot, a building up to represent beauty around us. Add some soil to the pot, then with your hands, clear out the center and add your rooted plant. When the plant is just where you want it positioned, add more soil around it, tapping the soil firmly with your hands to be sure the plant is secure within the pot . If you added the plant to the pot without the soil, it would be all "flopsy doodle" in the center, moving to the left, right and every which way! It is only when you protect it with the safety of the soil around it that it is able to stand firm. It becomes anchored in and the roots of the plant will now meld into the soil, and you have yourself a vision of loveliness! Now, you know I have some comparisons here! Bear with me as I share: We too are living, beautiful creations! Designed by the Master Potter; what can be better than that! However, like the plant, if we do not filter out our issues, they take residence in our lives and can be detrimental to who we are. And as we sift through the rubble, God scoops into our lives soil: foundation. As we let go of things, we then are able to fill our lives with the foundation of our loving God. Some would say that the foundation is the center, the plant. I see the foundation as the soil surrounding the plant. I see US as that plant. In the soil of life, I see Jesus surrounding me with solid and safe arms that securely hold me so that I don't topple over during the storms of my life. A plant with soil packed in securely around it has a much better chance of not falling apart or tipping over when the wind blows. So it is with our lives. My plant will have life because it is connected to the soil. It will begin to take root into what that soil has to offer my plant. It becomes one: soil and roots. One cannot live without the other. Acts 17:28 says "In Him we live, move and have our being". There are some days that I know I am not secure within him, I tend to feel a bit flopsy in my life. But I know when that happens, I need to remember that planted within me is the soil of His love. I am not alone! The very life I live, I live only because of who He is in me. Today's part of the building up of the plant is essential to its growth and development. As with the plant, the soil and foundation are critical to our existence as well. I am so thankful to the Lord that His Spirit can fill in and around me, to offer me the foundation I need for the roots of my life to take hold. There have been many times when life came at me hard, and had I not had His secure presence, I would have toppled over! Today I can see what we are creating and the beauty in this pot of mine. But it is not finished: it has two more days to go! Day | 119 Good Morning, My goodness! What a lovely creation we see before us today! We have our clay pot, we have the drainage filter in place, we have added the much need soil, and we've added the beautiful plant to adhere to that soil. What we behold with our eyes is just lovely! But what about keeping it that way? In order for that plant to get the nutrients it needs to continue to thrive and become strongly rooted, it needs fertilizer! The right amount of fertilizer will give that plant the extra kick it needs to continue it's growth. Much like the plant and it's physical growth, we too need to be fertilized, but in our spiritual growth. For the plant, you can add a fertilizer spike into the soil or add a couple of drops every so often to give it that boost: easy enough but necessary. For us, we need to do daily work to keep our lives fertilized and growing. The flower in our pot can easily wither away if we do not take the actions needed to fertilize our hearts and spirits. My first recommendation on our personal fertilization needs is getting to know the Master Potter more each day. It is difficult to trust someone you don't really know. God provided a way for us to understand who He is and to see that we are not the only ones in life who have struggled. Reading God's word daily is a great way to get to know who He is! I read His Word every morning like it is part of my job. It cannot be an option; it has to be part of my daily routine. I sit with a highlighter in hand and I underline any and every verse or thought that I need to remember. It is my personal "road map for living", and by reading it, I see first hand the great love my Savior has for me. My second recommendation is open communication. When we meet someone in our life that we would like to get to know better, and we believe their friendship could enhance our life, we tend to call them and chat with them. We want to speak with them and get to know who they are. When we invite Jesus in to reign in our lives, we need to open the lines of communication with Him. We need to speak daily and often to Him as we journey throughout our day. He is already with us and He loves it when we bring Him in. I am so happy for the blue tooth invention! Now, when I am in my car having a good old heart to heart with the Lord, people don't look as strangely at me: they just assume I am talking on the phone with m y blue tooth! I talk with God personally so he is not a stranger in my life, but one who I know well, as He knows me. When you talk with Him often, it is easier to hear his voice. My third recommendation in fertilizing our life to the fullest is this: do not forsake the body of Christ. Day | 120 So often we feel that we are just too busy to get to Church. It always amazes me how Church is usually the first thing someone will give up when they are tired. They will stay home from Church because they have a family dinner and they need the time to prepare. Or they have had a very busy week, and since it is a day of rest anyway, God will understand. Not so much my friend! You are in danger when you stay out of Church, beginning with week one. When you find an excuse to not attend Church, then the next week's excuse will be easier. And by the next week, you will hardly need to find an excuse: you are just not going. Attending Church should not be the weekly punishment of our souls! We need to be excited about attending the service, to worship with fellow believers, to hear the word of God, to have time to pray with one another, to have Christian fellowship, to laugh together, and to be part of a family. I believe with my heart that if you follow these three simple steps, you will see a difference in the plant of your life. You will feel your roots take hold in the foundation of Jesus. And the benefits will far outweigh what it takes personally from you to fertilize your soul. I know these are tried and true: they are a part of my life daily. I am now at the point in my fertilizing plan that if I didn't take these important steps, I would notice the difference. However, and perhaps more importantly, others would notice as well. There is one more important step to the life of our plant and tomorrow we will complete our building process. Hope to see you here! Day | 121 Good Morning, Today is an exciting day as we look back and see what has been created. We took our clay pot, established a filtering system so impurities would flush through it, added our foundation soil and the plant and made sure it was fertilized to continue growing. The most important step is still missing...Water! We can have the most beautiful creation in our pots and put them on the table to admire them daily, but without the benefit of water, they will slowly wither away, droop down, and eventually die out. The Spirit of the Living God is that for us. He is the Spring of Living Water for our soul. When we choose to walk in His Way and obey His Will for our lives, we are refreshed daily. Sports enthusiasts know that in order to run a race, you need water. If you take a hike up the mountain, you need water. For me, walking on my Gazelle for � hour a day, I need water (and a respirator usually, but we don't want to get off the subject!). When you lack water, it is amazing how you crave it! Have you ever had to have blood work, and you were not supposed to eat or drink for 13 hours before your blood work? Then when you finally take that drink of cold water, you can literally feel it coursing through your veins? That is what it is like with the living water. When we keep Him filled in us, we are alive! We have a refuge with Whom we are in constant communion. We have our Joy that fills our lives daily! We pour the Living Water into our beings every day because we know we need to do that to stay spiritually alive. We know when we do not have the living water dwelling within us, we often feel incredible anxiety, we can't make sense out of things, we are easily angered, and we hold on to grudges. We are not at peace within our beings, so we cannot create peace within our homes. Everyone around us is affected by our lives and our behaviors. In John 4:10, Jesus talks about himself as the Living Water when He says that He can provide Living Water that would forever quench a person's thirst for God. Back on day two, we discussed the draining of impurities from our lives. How is it, do you suppose, that the impurities loosen prior to draining? If it were not for the water poured into the soil, the impurities would remain, infecting the root base and causing certain demise of the plant. Day | 122 This is what the Living Water does for our lives. It courses through our hearts and our minds and when we allow Him to have control over us, He will flush out those impurities so that they will not attack the root base of our lives. God has a plan for you! Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have made for you (insert your name; it becomes personal), declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; Plans to give you a hope and a future". Jesus has a plan for you! He has your hope and your future! He created you, and is with you, and now He wants to be allowed in to help you eliminate the muckyness of whatever is holding onto the roots of your life. Don't let sin bind you; don't let forgiveness issues be a stronghold; don't let the hurt and the heartache of your life dictate who you are. Don't go one more day without feeling the Living Water of the One who knows your name course through your veins! When you are watered properly in the Spirit of the living God, the SON will shine radiantly within you and you will be exactly the beautiful creation He created you to be. I hope you have enjoyed our little series this week. Each of you is precious in His sight! He loves you to the Cross and back! He knows what you can become! Trust Him to water you according to His Plan for your life! We serve an AMAZING GOD! Day | 123 Good Morning, Have you ever waited on the Lord with an answer for your life? I know in my life I've had times when I have waited for what seems an eternity to hear from God. This is not to say that He has ever been absent from my life or that while waiting, He has left me alone. He certainly has not! But, my timing is not His timing and my ways are not His ways! Waiting on the Lord is not always easy: It is a discipline in trust. Perfect trust in the One who made us and loves us most; the One knows the perfect plan for our lives. Psalm 40: 1-4 is the passage I would like to share with you today. Verse 1. "I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. 2. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. 4. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud." The Lord heard David cry out to Him! I love that He hears our cry. Doing the will of God means that we sometimes need to be patient and wait to hear from Him. It is what we do during the waiting time that matters. While we wait for God's answer and direction in our lives, there is a world of people that we need to love and to show God's love. There are people that need to know that the hurt and pain they carry can be replaced by a forgiving and loving Jesus. When we cry out to the Lord for help in our lives, and we seek His direction, it is not a call for us to stop serving Him until we get our answer. We must continue to trust that He has our lives in His control and we must work to serve others and share God's love those who do not yet understand or know Him. Waiting on God is not easy, but as we look at Scripture, we see the great benefits that David received during the "waiting" process. A. God lifted David out of his despair. God heard his cry and He lifted him out of the slimy pit into which his life had fallen. We can easily fall into a "Pit of despair" when life comes at you fast and hard, or when we lose the direction of our life and no longer understand our purpose for living. When you cry out to God, He will hear you and lift you up. He just needs you to raise up your hand to take His. Day | 124 B. He set David's feet on a rock! Praise God that He doesn't lift us up and put us on shifting sand! He is the rock! He is the anchor of our souls, and when He lifts you out of that Pit, He secures you on solid rock. C. He provided a firm place for David to stand. When you find yourself at a low point in your life, it often feels as if you are standing at the edge of the ocean beach. Although both feet are firmly planted in the sand, the waves start coming in, slowly at first, and then more forcefully. What happens then to the sand beneath your feet? It is impossible to remain firmly planted as the ground slowly dissolves away. But God lifts you up, places you on that rock, and sets your feet on the firm foundation. D. He put a new song in his mouth! But in order for the song to reach your mouth, in order for you to verbalize it, it must start from your heart! How many times have we sung words to ourselves of "why are we here, what is my purpose, why does nothing good happen for me?" (We all know the words to our own songs). But God has come to say "I hear you, trust in Me, I will lift you out, place you on the rock, firmly place you on the foundation of life and you will sing a new song"! Trust and work for Him diligently while you wait for His answer. And the answer will come, but in His timing and in His way. When it does, you will know it full well because you have allowed Him to work within you while you wait! You have taken Him at His word~ you have trusted His hand; even though you did not clearly seen the plan. Day | 125 Good Morning, Jeremiah 29: 11-13 "For I know the plans I have for you, Declares the Lord, Plans to Prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. What defines you? In my times on the road, speaking at many different Conferences and Retreats, I am struck by a common theme of conversation: people no longer understand their purpose in life. A woman, for example, has been a mother for years, loving her children, and pouring her life into her treasures. By the time the last child is raised and out of the home, she has no idea what her role in life is anymore. She has attended PTA meetings, headed up fundraisers, led the girl scouts, been to all the sporting events, and now the halls are silent...Who is she? I have seen people who have poured their lives into their jobs, worked long hours every day, skipped vacation times, attended every meeting, labored from sun up to sun down. And now their career is over. They have no idea who they are: the job defined who they were and with it gone, who are they? I have listened to people in tears tell me that their lives are over because the spouse they loved for so long walked out on the family. They are no longer "Mrs...." They don't know what or who they are anymore. They only know who they are not. I have sat with a grieving soul as they laid to rest their loved one. It matters not if it is a parent, a spouse, a child, or a dear friend. If your heart was connected to another, you feel as though a major portion of your own heart has stopped beating. How do you go on from here? Life feels so dismal. Each of these scenarios happens daily around our world. Whether one experiences a major life transformation or a gradual change, each of us has been affected by something in our lives that has changed and subsequently forced us to redefine who we thought we were. It is important to know that what we are is not as important in life as who we are. What we are in life is temporal, but who we are is permanent. And we are children of the Most High King! We have a Heavenly Father who knew us before we were born and knit Day | 126 us together in our mother's womb. We have a God who cares about us, so much so that He set a "PLAN" in motion for our lives. And although we have been certain things to certain people for a good part of it, when that era is over, a brand new one will begin! Never for one moment does God not have a "Plan" for your life! It is so important to remember verses 12 and 13 with this often quoted Scripture passage. And we don't hear these verses often, but I believe they go together like peanut butter and jelly: you can't have one without the other! God knows that when what has defined you for years is over, you will mourn your life, miss all that you did and wonder how to move forward. But He gives us direction: Go to Him and pray to Him. I love that He spells it out for us! When we are at the bottom, or even falling downward, it is then we start to pray and seek His will. God does not forget his people. His "Plan" is to give us new beginnings ~with a new purpose! He wants us to be renewed and refreshed with a new purpose and in His Plan. In those times of your life when you feel deeply troubled, you may feel like God has forgotten you. Instead, God is preparing you for a new beginning with Him at the center. As long as you have breath inside of you, God has a Plan for your life! Seek Him with all your heart and listen for His prompting! Trust His Plan! It will be an amazing journey! Day | 127 Good Morning, Jim and I have been blessed to overflowing with 8 incredible grandchildren! Each brings such joy and wonder to our lives. I could write a book on different things they do and say; this Grammie ponders everything in her heart! My granddaughter Abigail is ten years old. In her class at school, they are studying Greek Mythology. Abbie became very disturbed during the different discussions of the various "gods" of mythology and when a paper was handed out for her in-class work, she took her pencil and crossed off the word "god" before each description. So, the "god of thunder", and "god of love", etc. had no "god" in front of them. She then wrote on her paper, "There is only ONE GOD and it is Jesus Christ, who is God of the Universe"! This whole "mythology" concept upset her greatly, especially since she is concurrently studying the Ten Commandments in her Sunday School class. (She has actually listed them on poster board and hung them on the front of her bedroom door as the "Rules for her room"!) As my daughter and her husband were talking to Abbie about the difference between Greek Mythology and the True God, Abbie looked at them and asked, "Just tell me what I did wrong". Exodus 20:6 says, "Thou shall have no other gods before me". Abbie's story hit me hard. Her faith and the devotion to what she knows as "truth" overruled her desire for popularity or fitting in with her peers. Her defense of our God, that HE is the true God of Thunder because He made it, stirred my spirit. What do we have in our lives that could be interpreted as "other gods" and might be keeping us from a true relationship with the God of the Universe? As I pondered this thought over the past few days, I realized it would be anything that we put ahead of God. � Are your children more of a priority than the God who gave them to you? Do you take time in your day to spend with Him, to talk with Him? � Is your job and the money you earn more important than the God who provided it for you? Does it fill your life to the point that you cannot make it to His house on a Sunday morning, because you are so exhausted from a busy Day | 128 work week? Do you forget to contribute back to Him a tenth of what He has provided for you? � Is the TV, computer, X-box, Facebook, etc. so addictive that you do not find time to spend with the God who knows your name and loves you to the cross and back? � Are friendships more important? Do they consume so much of your day that you neglect spending time with Him, who desires to be your best Friend? Anyone or anything that takes us away from a true and fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ becomes our god. We must guard against that which is so important to us and keep our eyes fixed and focused on Jesus Christ. When you put Him first and recognize His place in your life, He will work with you as you love your children and care for them. He will assist you with your job and your finances. You can take a few moments to enjoy the electronic devices of our modern age without them overtaking your life. And as your best Friend, He guides you with your relationships and shows by example how to love each other. I was very proud of our Abbie and the stand she took based on what she understood in her mind. She was protective of the God of her heart: Jesus. And it inspired me to reflect on my own life and confirm that I too serve only one God. May we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and never be ashamed to say, "NO, there is only ONE God and He is in my heart"! Does He take full residence in your heart today? Day | 129 Good Morning, As I sit in my living room and look through my large window at the world outside, I look upon the little birds that are eating the berries and I am amazed at how small they are, and yet God has His eye on them all the time. When I look at these little creations and how God cares for even them, it reminds me of the song, "His Eye Is on the Sparrow". Ethel Waters made this song popular, singing it almost every time the Billy Graham Crusade was on TV. As I grew older, the song took on new meaning as I went through various storms in my life. I began adding it to my song line up when I was asked to do a concert; it was an opportunity to share with a hurting world that His eye is on us and He will never leave us! Here is the story of why the song was written. I think you will be inspired! This story is told by the writer of the song, Civilla Martin: "Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle --true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheel chair. Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while we were visiting with the Doolittles, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it. Mrs. Doolittle's reply was simple: "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me." The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" was the outcome of that experience." What about you? What is going on in your life that you feel is insurmountable and you cannot get a grip or where you can't see the hand of God at work and you want to give up? Hear the words of this song that was penned in 1905, as this couple saw the beauty of God's creation in a couple who were riveted with physical afflictions. Day | 130 How precious is our God, who sees us at our worse and loves us with His best! He gives comfort, and peace to the weary soul: no wonder we can "sing" in the storms of our lives! Verse 1. "Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come, Why should my heart feel lonely and long for Heav'n and home, When Jesus is my portion? A constant friend is He: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. Verse 2. Let not your heart be troubled, His tender words I hear, and resting on His goodness, I lose my doubt and fear. Though by the path He leadeth, But one step I may see: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. Chorus: I sing because I'm happy, and I sing because I'm free! His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me! His eye is on the sparrow; AND I KNOW HE WATCHES ME! Whatever it is you face today or is looming on the horizon of your life: be encouraged! He has you in His sight, He is working in your life for your favor, and He will never let you go! AND I SING BECAUSE I'M HAPPY! AND I SING BECAUSE I'M FREE!! HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW; AND I KNOW HE IS WATCHING ME! Day | 131 Good Morning, I love weddings! I love the beautiful decorations and to watch the people seated around me, excited with the anticipation of the Bride coming down the aisle! Guests are taking pictures, talking excitedly with one another and generally very happy! And then the music starts and everyone stands; here comes the beautiful bride! There is a smile on her face, as well as on the faces of all those watching her, as she makes her way down the aisle to her groom. And then the most important part of a wedding ceremony that is the cumulation of months of preparation: the vows! Some couples write their own vows and some use the traditional, but however they are read, it is not a wedding without their recital. The couple turns to look eye to eye and pledge to love and honor one another until death they do part. That is a long time! It is actually the rest of forever for their lives as they know them. There will be one constant in life and that is the commitment made to one another. Unfortunately, I have heard the music fade, the excitement wane away, and the routine of life become just that: a routine. I have seen the embers die out and the respect disappear; the result of which is two individuals who just co-exist together. No friendship, no happiness, no peace in their home or lives. They live together, but very separate. It is sad and it is unnecessary. Jesus is coming again! He is coming in great glory and He is coming as a Bride! The anticipation of His return should be on our minds every day just as we anticipate any other wedding. We need to live in the excitement of the hour, keeping our minds and our hearts on Him and the great love He has for us. We once made a vow to love Him and to honor Him when we asked Him into our lives. He walked into our hearts and made the sun shine brighter and the birds sing clearer. When Jesus came in we were able to love better and to forgive others that have hurt us deeply. We became better people because of His love. And then, the love grew old and sometimes we forgot the vow, the commitment to the Savior to love and to honor Him. We continued on with the routine because it was expected. We began to co-exist together, but the passion was not there anymore. What we did, we did because we have always done it and it is presumed. It is sad and it is unnecessary. Day | 132 Marriage is not always an easy journey. You take two separate lives and join them together as one: now be happy! You make a lifetime commitment, but many times your spouse drives you nuts and you would like to walk out the door and not return. Your heart often hurts deeply and you feel it is going to break in pieces, but you made a vow. The one thing I know about marriage is that if you make that vow, you are never alone as you live it out! It is when you take your eyes off Jesus, when you see your spouse with your own eyes and you stop seeing him or her with the eyes of your Creator, that you have issues. God equips you with all the tools for loving your spouse; you just need to plug into the source and ask Him how! It certainly outweighs the misery of coexisting! If anything changes in your relationship with the Lord after you made that vow to follow Him, I can assure you it was you that changed. Jesus is constant and sure. He is trusted and true. He loves you and has the perfect plan for you. It is when you take your eyes off the prize that you lose your footing and begin to live life your own way. As is the case in any relationship, that does not work so well. When you entrust your life to Jesus and keep your eyes fixed upon Him, you have a commitment to Him. As a result of that commitment, you find peace, JOY, correction, faithfulness, trust, and security. Similarly, when you bring Him into your marriage or other relationships, you find the same. Listen for the trumpet! Be ready for the coming of the Bride to take us to our heavenly home. While we wait in anticipation of that great event, let His love radiate through you to love those you live with, work with, go to Church with. I encourage you to take a moment and reflect on your vows, both in marriage and with God, and let Him lead your fragile heart to victory! Day | 133 Good Morning, 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness". This verse comes after Paul described a thorn in his flesh that kept him from boasting and from becoming conceited in his accomplishments. Paul was an incredible man and a great servant of God. He had a transforming life experience, from a "Christian Killer" in his old life, being transformed from within and doing his utmost to be a "Sin Killer". He recognized the amazing power that had been bestowed upon him as a chosen follower of Christ. He gave all glory to the Lord and didn't claim any of it for himself. He knew, however, that he could and so the thorn was placed in his flesh to keep him from becoming conceited. Paul asked of the Lord (I'm sure one could say that Paul begged of the Lord) to please remove the thorn from him. But instead of removing it, God said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness". There are so many today that walk among us with thorns in their flesh. For some reason or another, it seems as if burning coals repeatedly fall down around them. � It could be that the struggle is with finances: to hold on to your home, to pay the monthly bills (when the money ran out on bill #2), to feed your family, or to just live like you once did without all the worry and concern that you may not make it! � It could be your job, that once was so impressive, and now you have been demoted because of downsizing and you feel devalued. � It could be that the thorn in your flesh is an illness that will not go away. Everyone is tired of hearing about it and yet you still have no answers, are in constant pain, and feel very much alone. � It could be that the thorn in your flesh is your family. Perhaps you are not together as you would like. Maybe a loved one dear to your heart has moved away from God's embrace and the pain and ache you feel is your heart breaking into a million pieces. Day | 134 It is in our weakness that God's strength abounds. It is in our suffering that His power is displayed. Paul continues to say in verse 10, "that is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." Imagine that! "I delight in my weaknesses"! Paul grasped the whole picture. He needed his thorn of weakness to depend wholly on the power of Christ, rather than on himself or his own works. Suffering is a dreadful side effect of living on this side of Heaven. It is here that we experience death and disease, broken hearts and broken spirits. It is here that we experience the sting of tears as they fall rapidly down our cheeks and where pain of the heart and of the body are felt every day of our lives. BUT, we can break through that which holds us down, and even in the suffering, the pain and the tears, we can focus our minds on the things of Christ. He may not remove the thorn from us: Paul asked Him several times to take it all away but it wasn't withdrawn from him. Instead, Paul took the hardships of life and the persecutions of the day and he surrendered them to Christ. He knew he could overcome because his strength was not within himself: it was held in the power and love of Jesus Christ. Whatever you face today, whatever thorn is in your flesh, Jesus wants you to know that you are not alone! He wants you to hear His voice as He lovingly holds you close to Him and says, "My Grace (insert your name) is sufficient for you, and my power is made perfect in your weakness". Praise God that while we live on this side of Heaven, where things are not perfect, His grace and love are perfect and He will never let us go! Day | 135 Good Morning, "In the presence of Jehovah; God Almighty ~ Prince of Peace, troubles vanish, hearts are mended; in the presence of the King". Life sometimes feels like you are at a convention hall and people are talking at you from every direction. You hear the noise, but it is coming at you in a way that you cannot decipher who is saying what and when you heard it. I love it when my husband or one of my children come to me and say, "You looked right at me and said, OK"! I don't even remember looking at them, never mind saying "OK"! We are pulled in a million different directions and expected to be our best at each of our endeavors. We work hard, we are involved in our churches, we participate in outside interests, and we still have hearth and home to be concerned with. Oh, and there are only 13 hours of daylight to get most of it done, and when you work 8-9 hours a day, our lives easily extend into the nighttime hours! In the business of our day, with all the demands put upon us, we still have things that we are working out personally. We have unrest in our spirits about things in our lives that often we have no control over. Some are facing serious medical situations but still have to struggle through the ins and outs of daily living. Some are alone, raising children as single parents, having no one to bounce things off of. Being the only voice of reason in a home can be exhausting and when you add a full time job to that list, the day in and day out of your life is definitely overwhelming! And then comes the soft and gentle breeze of the presence of Jehovah! Imagine how it feels to walk outside from a stuffy office or home, and your first step out the door is the refreshing breeze that takes you by surprise! In an instant, it rejuvenates your spirit and you cannot help but experience JOY. Even though you still carry the burdens of life on your shoulders, that breeze, that presence, has renewed and refreshed you. So it is when we spend time in the presence of Jehovah. At Christmas every year we hear about the Wonderful Counselor, but we forget about that truth in the day to day routine of our lives when we need one! Isaiah 9:6 "And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace". WOW! All of those resources at our disposal and yet we forget to call on God?! Day | 136 We need to spend quiet time alone, not only reading our Scriptures, but time alone with Him. It is the best resource for your life. And to say you don't have time: that doesn't work! It is not time you do not have, it is desire. I have found that what I want to do in life, I make time for. As the opening chorus reminds us, when you make time to be in the presence of God, your troubles do vanish, your heart is mended, and you gain strength to handle whatever it is you are facing in life. You find yourself needing this time of reinforcement for your soul. When you enter into His presence daily and lay all your burdens down at His feet, you will notice a difference in how you handle your life and the issues surrounding it. If you are familiar the chorus I wrote at the top of this page, slowly sing it to yourself. If not, then I encourage you to clear the noise out of your head, all the voices of demand upon your life, and start saying the name of Jesus. Let the gentle breeze of the presence of Jehovah sweep over your life and renew you today. Day | 137 Good Morning, I was reminded this morning of a need that I brought before the Lord yesterday on my way home from work. It is an ongoing burden of my heart. It causes such a deep sadness in my spirit that it brought tears and an outloud, in the car, petition before God. It feels so hopeless, and yet in the desperation of my spirit and the despair of my soul, as I cried out to the only One who understands, I knew He was the one I could trust and I again laid it down at His feet. I thought of all the times we have been afforded the opportunity to trust in Jesus. In the middle of our lives, just when things appear to be going great, devastation hits full force! Trusting in Jesus is the only source of help and strength we have: knowing that He is with us, no matter the battle, by our side and guiding us through. I am the eldest of four children in my family. I have had the honor of being at the birth of each of my nieces and nephews. They were awesome moments for me, watching our family grow and welcoming each new life. My brother Jon and his wife Laura lived in the same town with me when their three boys were born. When they called to say they were heading to the hospital for the birth of their first child, I probably arrived before they did! Which was a good thing, as it was at Ben's birth that my brother ended up on the floor in a fainting spell, when they gave Laura her epidural. Bless his heart! He was awarded a free, big breakfast! During the birth of their second child, Laura was doing well, but as her labor increased, she insisted that Jon and I keep singing, "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus". Every verse and chorus was repeated several times. By the time Peter was born, even the nurses were singing it with us. With every pain she felt, we had to sing about trusting Jesus. And that experience has never left me. Every pain you and I have felt, He has been there. But have we cried out in the pain: "I trust you Jesus"? Those of you that have had children understand that the pain of labor is intense, especially before the "happy juice" flows through your veins! There are many options at that time for a mother to yell out to those around her. Laura chose to "Trust Jesus". There are many options for us as well: what do we choose? Day | 138 In my own life, I know that things may never work out the way I hope and pray for. I understand that people have their own choices to make. I also understand that I cannot live in a broken spirit. And I don't. It broke yesterday when I least expected it. And after shedding many tears and sharing my hurting heart, Jesus set my feet again on the solid rock, so I didn't have to dwell in the sadness. He wants to do that for all of us! It is His desire that we live free, even in the midst of pain. How do we do that? Trust Him! Speak His name over and over and over in your prayer time. There is healing to your soul in the name of Jesus! "Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him; how I've proved Him o'er and o'er Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus; O for grace to trust Him more." Whatever it is you face today that brings you uncertainty, that causes you unrest, that gives you momentary heartache, trust it to the One who waits to carry it for you. For me, it is the best option! Day | 139 Good Morning, Philippians 4: 5 � 7 "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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." This verse is power-punched with instruction, promise, and outcome! It amazes me how applying this verse can literally change your life as you know it. "Let your gentleness be evident to all". Do people see Jesus in you? Do they see that He resides in us during the good and the bad times of our lives? I think one of the more difficult places to display "gentleness" is our homes! We come home from a long day and we are tired in body, mind and spirit. Or at work: because of job stress, it is difficult to relax and you are often uptight. Or even at Church! That could be another whole devotional topic! "Be gentle" is an instruction. It is also to remind you that the Lord is near: He never leaves you and He knows that when you choose to live with gentleness, it benefits not only those around you but it uplifts your spirit as well! What about the instruction of, "Do not to be anxious about anything"? Seriously?! I don't know about you, but I could have a list as long as my arm with things I need to worry about! How will things work out if I don't worry about them? Aren't we funny sometimes? Listen to the instruction: "but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God". He already knows your worries and your concerns. It is much like inviting Him into your heart. He doesn't barge in uninvited; He gently stands at your heart's door and knocks. It is up to you to let Him come in to take residence. It is the same with worry and anxiety. If you want Him to come in and take care of you, ask Him! Talk to Him about it: have a chat with Him and let Him know what is on your mind. The verse also instructs us to do so "with thanksgiving". That may seem a bit farfetched, especially if you are in the midst of a struggle or circumstance that is causing unrest, or your life is turning in a completely different direction than you ever expected. How can you give thanks? You must give thanks: thanks to the One who directs the ocean to stop on the shore, thanks to One who changes the nighttime of our lives to the sunshine of His love, thanks to the One who gave His life for you so that you might have life, and thanks to the God "Who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine" Day | 140 (Ephesians 4:22). When you present your requests to God, thank Him for the circumstance, knowing that you will grow in Him because of it. "And the peace of God, which transcends ALL (your own) understanding"... We are in desperate need of peace in our minds and spirits. When we don't get it, He does! He understands the big picture. If you are living in a Red Sea experience and you feel trapped (in front of you is the mighty roar of the Sea and behind you are the trumpets of Pharaoh and the chariots thundering to attack), it is then you lift up your rod and cry out to God, the God of understanding. And you will be amazed as He parts the mighty waters and carries you over safely to the other side. And lastly," He will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"! What a promise! Who can offer you the protection of your heart and the keeping of your mind but Jesus? To me, that is such a precious promise. That no matter what I am facing today, I know that when I follow His instruction, He provides the rewards of Peace and Protection. I want to tell you that in my life, I depend on this verse often. I can also affirm that it is true. When you surrender your worry and anxiety to the One who already knows the outcome, you can let it be. So lay it down and let it go. You no longer have to carry it alone. Your life can remain gentle in the midst of upheaval and your soul will know peace! Our God is amazing! And His love and care for us is like no other! Day | 141 Good Morning, Psalm 16: "Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. 2. I said to the Lord, "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing". 3. As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight. 4. The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips. 5. Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. 6. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8. I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure. 10. Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 11. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Points to remember as you begin your day: ~You are not alone. ~God has your good and your wellbeing in the palm of His hand. ~Keep your eyes fixed on things of Jesus. ~You are secure and safe. ~When things come up and overwhelm you, you will not be shaken. ~And most importantly, which brings it all together, you have found the secret of true JOY: being in His Presence! We cannot base our lives on the circumstances of the day, but on the Joy of knowing that He has it all in control and is waiting to fill us up with His presence! What a way to go through the day: in the safe keeping, joy filled presence of the Living King! Day | 142 Good Morning, The following story is a perfect application of our discussion recently of Ephesians 3:20, staying plugged into the "Power": Last night around 6:00 PM, a huge transformer blew at the end of our street. Out went the electricity, cable, phones, and internet (we like to bundle). It was a rainy evening, and because of that "little" incident, my plans went awry! I had a lovely baked chicken dinner planned and I had just finished cleaning the last delicious chicken breast to go into the baking dish. Moments before, I had just put in the laundry a load of clothes. Feeling so accomplished with my day, I was humming away to myself and anticipating a wonderful evening with my Jim, as we were planning to watch the season finale to one of our favorite shows, NCIS! And then the big boom, a huge whistle sound, lights flickering, fighting to stay on with all their might, but to no avail. The house around me was quiet: no dinner, no laundry, and no NCIS!! So, we ended up with a "lovely" bowl of cereal for dinner as we sat with our flashlights, looking at each other, then at the large, black TV screen, willing it to come on, knowing that millions around the world were enjoying our show! Despite how hard we stared, that TV was not coming on without the power connected! Of course, in my mind, I went right to a devotional topic and considered how much our lives are like what I was experiencing throughout the evening. When you are unplugged from our source of life, then: You feel "blank" inside. You feel scattered and you can't seem to get a grip on your thoughts or your mind. You tend to feel lonely and alone. What you anticipate will bring you JOY changes when you become unplugged. Living is all you can do, and then life takes the living out of you. BUT~ when you allow the Power of Jesus to dwell within you, your soul begins to flicker with hope! The screen in front of you (your future) looks bright! There are solutions to your problems and answers for your worries. You don't have to wait for the power company to hook you back up. Just speak the name of Jesus and invite Him in as Lord of your life. Plug into His Power~ the same power that raised Jesus from the grave to give us life, the same power that parted the Red Sea for Moses, and the same Power that heals the sick. That same power today fills a life with JOY beyond words or measure! 1. 2. 3. 4. Day | 143 Good Morning, 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." This verse is a road map for our daily living! Every day we face difficult people, difficult decisions, and unpopular choices. When it comes to the situations at hand, we sometimes cower down and expect the worst. Circumstances can make us feel as though we have lost our minds. We feel and act discombobulated and we can easily become unglued. There are many reasons we should claim this verse on a daily basis because in our own way, each of us can identify with it. I believe the first step towards being a positive and reaffirming Christian is to realize that the spirit of fear we often have is not from God. God doesn't dwell in fear. There are so many "fears" that tend to creep their way into our lives, but I think for many of us the "fear" of the unknown is one of the top rated "fears" we wrestle with. Let's put this in perspective: Psalm 139 says that He knit us together in our mother's womb; He saw our unformed bodies. He has had His mighty hand on us since before birth. No matter how old you are, your future can be safe in Jesus. Starting over from an unhealthy marriage as a young mother with children, I have been there. I had no idea how to proceed. But I knew my future was in His hands and I taught my children that difficult times make us stronger and that we would make it. I never in my wildest dreams imagined all the incredible blessings in my life or where I would be today had I chosen to live in fear and stay in a "safe zone". We need to step out of our own safety zones and put our feet on the solid ground of Jesus and His plan for our lives. My sister's first child was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome. This is a debilitating syndrome and it has taken so much of her life to insure her son would have life. Her third son was born with Muscular Dystrophy. Heartache again, for my sister, as she wondered in fear about her children's futures. She lived in a terribly abusive marriage that she concealed from her family for many years and is now a single mother. Six years ago, she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and has the secondary disease of Rheumatoid Arthritis, in addition to several other issues related to this disease. She never knows where her next dollar will come from and she lives in the reality of seeing Day | 144 herself and her boys weaken daily. She has this verse in her living room. Her life is fearful every moment of every day and yet she knows God has a plan and she refuses to live in the "spirit of fear". Susan has had to claim the power of Christ just to survive, and she claims that power daily as she works with her children. She expresses love to all she comes in contact with and with a "sound mind". She gets up every day and starts over. Her relationship with Jesus is what keeps her secure. She knows that sadness could be right around the next corner, but for today, she will live in the moment. She is facing surgery on Monday to have a very large, silver-dollar sized lump removed from her breast and she was told by the first doctor that the probability of cancer was 90%. She took this in stride, realizing that if she didn't claim the Power, she would lose her mind! When she met with the surgeon last Monday, he told her it was a 10% probability! I would rather a zero percent chance, but look already at the difference because of prayer and claiming a Scripture verse. Life is uncertain for each of us at best. We do not know what tomorrow will hold, never mind 10 minutes from now. Some live a contented, controlled life: not much will come along to shake, rattle or roll you. But most of us live a fearful, on the edge, waiting-forthe-next-shoe-to-drop type of life. I encourage you to take this verse and memorize it today. When we walk with the Lord, dwell within Him and He in us, there is no room for fear. There is Power in His Name! We will feel His love and share it freely with those around us regardless of our circumstance! We can do that only because we trust our future and our lives to His keeping. As overwhelming as our situation often feels, He will keep our minds safe and secure. We can handle anything that comes our way! This is a perfect example of God's love: He cancels the fear, releases Power and love for us to live by, and is still concerned with our minds. He does have it all in control! Praise His Name! Day | 145 Good Morning, How often have your best-laid plans for your life fallen through? Have you experienced a shake-up in your life that you had no control over? What happens to you when it isn't just your plan that was interrupted, but your entire life has been emotionally charged and changed because of the loss of a loved one? People have poured their lives into careers, only to wake up one day to a phone call with the news that it is all gone. It only takes a matter of moments for one's life to change forever. For me, it was 6 words; "Your husband is having an affair." For others, it could be words from a doctor, telling them that they are in for the fight of their life. It could be the loss of a child, a parent, a sibling: anyone that you cherished. In this world, we will have tribulation and heartache. We live on this side of Heaven. And on this side of Heaven, we will experience pain, sickness, death, and heartache. We may lose that coveted job or our marriages may come unglued because of rejection and betrayal (no matter how hard you try to keep it). On this side of Heaven, we may feel insecure about our future and perhaps wonder how we are ever going to make it: how are the pieces to this puzzle of our life going to fit together? Did you forget one important part of the equation of your life? Jesus! What an incredible gift of life He offers to each of us. When you are up against that wall or you are unsure of your next step or direction: Jesus! I was reading this morning in Jeremiah. Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. Reading that book, we can certainly understand why! The enormity of his task, being God's messenger to a nation that wanted nothing of God, was heartbreaking to him. Jeremiah watched as the people chose idols over the true God. His heart poured out to God in prayer, proclaiming that there was only One True God and yet the people wouldn't listen to him. Jeremiah 10:23 & 24 is a great passage to remember for our thoughts today. It is titled, "Jeremiah's Prayer". Think about your life and what is going on at this moment and how you too could use the assurance of knowing that God has your life in His plan and He will guide your steps. Do not be afraid to let go of your life and give it over to Jesus. He will walk it with you! You will never be alone and you will experience NEW life. Breathe in freedom and have the security and peace that you are in His will and care. Day | 146 "Jeremiah's Prayer" "I know, O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Correct me Lord, but only with justice, not anger, lest you reduce me to nothing". Jeremiah recognized the power of God. He asked the Lord to correct him and to direct his steps. When we do the same, it is then that we can face what comes our way. It is then that we will not be shaken. Thank you Jesus, for You are a complete God! You not only created us but You are there to direct our steps, guide us through, and keep our feet secure on our journey. YOU are Amazing! Day | 147 Good Morning, As I have mentioned before, one activity that I truly enjoy is speaking. I love sharing the Story of Jesus in my own life and the journey that I am on. Before starting my talk, I invite the audience to bow their heads with me and pray. I most often end that prayer by reciting Psalm 19: 14 "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer". KJV. That is how I learned it many years ago, and today's more modern version NIV changes the words just a tad to be "pleasing in your sight, O Lord my Rock, and my Redeemer". I recite this before speaking, as I also do when I prepare for the talk. It is important that the words I speak be His words and the thoughts I have to share be His thoughts and that they are acceptable (pleasing) to Him. What about our day to day life and how this verse fits in to it? It is one thing to be on stage and in front of a lot of people sharing your heart: you must be sure that you are centered in God's will and that you are His mouthpiece. Reciting this verse brings you face to face with the reality that life is not about you; rather, it is about the representation of God in you. Whether you are a public speaker or not, you are God's representative in how you live your life. Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone recited this verse every morning and prayed it to change their ways? If people prayed this verse every morning before getting involved with their routines, they would speak in kinder tones, they would be more tolerant of others misfortunes, they would see more with eyes of Jesus, and they would love more passionately and true because of who Jesus is in their lives. I think that we forget that every word we speak and every thought we have is examined by God. I think that we forget that our quick tempers and short fuses are seen by God. I think we forget that what we meditate on becomes who we are. If we meditate on things of God, we become more like Him. If we take time to read His Word, we know His plan. If we take time to talk with Him, we begin to talk more like Him. I encourage you to begin your day with this verse. Every day. It will bring to your life a new perspective and it will guide you to be more like Jesus in your thoughts and in your words. "May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight; O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer". This is what I call a life changing verse! Day | 148 Good Morning from Becky, Have you ever wondered why something you loved doing so much had to come to an end? Why do things have to change in life, forcing us to start over in a new direction and leaving us to feel unsure of everything? Ecclesiastes 3:1 "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven". When Solomon wrote this verse, I believe he was reassuring us that whatever takes place in our lives, God has a plan for it and it is not a surprise to Him. When the hiccups or the speed bumps jostle your life and take you a bit off course, trust His plan. He sees it all, and will when you trust, you will be in perfect peace. And then there are those times when it isn't a speed bump, but rather a huge pot hole that totally takes you in a different direction and you are suddenly lost both within yourself and in the world around you. "There is a time for everything"... This is actually one of the most exciting challenges the Lord can present to you! God provides us with cycles of life. When one is over, another begins. That is from birth to death. In these cycles of change, we are presented with choices on how we will accept the challenges of the change. These times should not be viewed as barriers in our life, or that God has let you down and is no longer in control. These should instead present themselves to you as an opportunity to see that without God, without His presence in your life, there would be a void, and that nothing that is going on would make any sense. People feel the "season of life" change when anything that isn't in the normal routine takes place. It can be a result of the natural progression of children going off to college, getting married, and having children of their own. While that is a happy development of life, there are some who desperately feel the ache of loneliness after a child leaves the home. Day | 149 It can happen with a job change, whether it be your choice or your company's choice. Either way, it greatly affects you and can knock you off your course for a long while. It can happen when your precious love passes away and leaves you behind. The grief is so unbearable without them here to share your days. It can happen as you drive to work and out of nowhere, you are hit and your life changes forever. It can be a financial worry that overwhelms you and you don't know how you are going to recover. The scenarios can go on for several pages and perhaps you are thinking of your own right now. In Ecclesiastes 5:20, Solomon wraps this up so nicely for us. See, we worry about all the things in our life. We see all the changes happening and while they are going to happen regardless of our opinion, God equips us to handle them. Just like a winter coat, hat and scarf for the coldest season of winter, God provides us with the bundling of His grace. Ecclesiastes 5:20, "He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart". What we have in our lives is a gift from the Giver of life! Where we are in life is a gift from the Giver of life! And when we focus on the Giver of life, on the one who makes it all happen and holds all things together, we can face the journey. We can trust the season of our life to the One who understands it all. We can be content with where we are, with what we have, and with who we are when we realize that with God, we have everything we will ever need. The seasons will come and go. But God will never change and He will be by your side to reveal new and wonderful opportunities for your life according to His plan for your season. Let go, and let Him guide. You will be AMAZED! Day | 150 Good Morning from Becky, Today marks the beginning of Memorial Day weekend! This is a great weekend, filled with cookouts, family and friends, fire pits blazing, volleyball and softball games a plenty, and just good old American fun! You will be hard pressed to find any homes you visit without some sort of American Flag, banner, or symbolism of the holiday! And don't forget the parade! Every small town in America, with their telephone poles already holding proud the flag, will have everyone marching, from the local hardware store owner to the big fire trucks at the end, sounding their sirens right in front of you when you least expect it! I will never forget watching the parade in our small hometown and suddenly seeing my brother Jon, with flags stuck in every crevice of his 1970 Red Cutlass Supreme convertible, coming down the street in the midst of the parade! He thought it would be fun, so he spontaneously drove his car into the parade and continued on the parade route. And in the back seat were my two girls! All in good celebration of an incredible holiday I would like to dedicate this devotional to the men and women of the United States of America, who have stood on the wall of protection to fight for me and for you and for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. I would like to say "Thank You" for your incredible sacrifice and faithful service to this country. As I write this, I know there are many of you who have loved ones that have returned from war, are still fighting over in a foreign land, are serving here in America or perhaps they have recently enlisted. Memorial Day is a day of reflection for those who have gone before us and a day of honor for those who continue to secure our freedom. Memorial Day should be a day a prayer for their protection as well. I am a mother who has 2 adult daughters, 3 adult step-children and 8 incredible grandchildren. In my daily prayers, I pray that they will all be protected from harm so that they may enjoy the freedoms of this land. In speaking of freedom, we cannot be more thankful for serving the God that sets the prisoner free from the chains of the past, who sees the embittered soul, who sees the one in whom sin has wrapped itself in and around and will not let go! He came to break the spirit of slavery to our old life when He burst through the tomb, holding the keys to freedom, life and death! Praise God! In this land, we are Americans! But to have the most that life has to offer us, we can claim to be Christian Americans! And we can only say that publicly because of those who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom to say it. Day | 151 When people have fought so that we can have the freedom of a Bible in our home to read and yet we don't pick it up... When people have fought so that we can keep the freedom of attending the House of God on Sundays and yet we still don't attend... These are things to think about, for sure! In closing, these thoughts I write with tears in my eyes and with gratitude in my heart for each soul who wears now, or has worn in the past, the uniform representing the United States of America and I say thank you! And I commit to pray that the Lord will to continue to protect and bless each of you. May we never forget that on an Old Rugged Cross our spiritual freedom was bought. And because of that cross and the power of His resurrection, we today can claim the power to pray for our freedoms and for the men and women who fight daily or have sacrificed their lives so that I can freely say; "TO GOD BE THE GLORY"! Day | 152 "BE STILL"... In our world today and the crazy hectic schedules we keep, "Be Still" is at best a goal we would hope to happen for us. We are faced with the same schedules and routines every day. We get up early, get ready for work, grab a quick breakfast as we scramble with kids, lunches, and car pools. A long day awaits, giving someone else our best for 8 hours, then home again, supper, evening routines and bed, only to start all over the next day, doing the same thing. And in the midst of it all Psalm 46:10 says, "Be Still, and know that I am God". In what part of this day does it appear that there is a "BE STILL" in the schedule? To "Be Still" requires work on our part. It requires surrender, it requires reverence, it requires stopping and recognizing where you are in your day and how you are managing your activities. God says to "Be Still and know that I am God" not as a punishment in trying to fit Him in, but as a reward for doing so. Have you ever been so stressed and someone comes along and says "just breathe" and you stop and take a breath and continue on, trying to eliminate the issue at hand? In Being Still with the Lord, you are also taking that breather in the hectic part of your day, but you are not just breathing in, you are being still: giving it to Him, if you will, and letting Him be your all in all. God knew that in life we would have moments where we would need to have a check out time. Therefore, He prepared a way for us to connect with Him that would bring Him to our mind and allow Him to overshadow us with His presence. Being Still with Jesus is trusting in Him. Being Still with Jesus is breathing in His name and breathing out the stress of the situation. Being Still with Jesus rejuvenates your soul. And it doesn't take hours to do! It is simply the mention of His name: Jesus. I so often need to seek His face; I need to feel His Amazing Grace. I can be traveling in my car or working at my desk and the phone calls are coming in one after another and clients are waiting to see me and I feel like running. But then I whisper the name of Jesus. I take a simple moment to be still and know that He IS God and He has my back! No matter what you are going through today, I encourage you to stop in the midst and breathe in the name of Jesus. Let His presence wash over you and renew your spirit! Step back and Be Still and trust your life to His safe keeping! He sees your need and He has your answer. Be still before Him and Know that HE IS GOD! You will be amazed at the closeness you feel to the spirit of the Almighty when you stop and recognize His presence in your life. He is as close to you as the mention of His name! Shhh.... Be quiet: "Be still in your spirit and KNOW that I am your God!" Day | 153 Good Morning, We have been experiencing some major thunder boomers scooting across our territory as of late! The weather has been oppressively hot and when that happens, those crazy storms come along to cool us off a bit. I thought of a couple things with those storms; their timing and their power. I noticed on a Facebook post my daughter Jennie wrote last night saying she knew the storms were coming so she requested they come between 4 -7 PM, in the hope that they would not interrupt shower and bedtime for her daughter Abigail (who is not so fond of the storms). Of course, they come in their own timing and regardless of our schedules. How funny the similarities to our lives! If only we could choose when the storms of life were going to come! If only we could determine when the "other shoe was going to drop" and life would change forevermore! But like the weather storms, the storms of our lives come and go the same way: not on our timetable and usually unexpected. And think about the power of these storms. Looking out my window, I see the trees standing straight and tall. Yet during these storms, they bend over and look like they could snap in half from the power and force of the wind. And through the storm, it rumbles with lightning and torrential rain. We lose our power and we run to the basement for fear of a tornado watch, with a healthy fear and respect for the power of the storm at hand. Have you ever been in the midst of a personal storm and the powerful wind seems to be whipping at your soul? Have you ever felt like you have been rained on for far too many days? Do you run for cover because you feel like you will be overcome by even more calamity? Storms of the season are here and gone, but the damage they cause can stay behind for many years. Storms of your life are here and they often feel like they will never go away. They, too, leave utter devastation in their path. Day | 154 And then you hear: "Peace, Be Still". In the midst of the raging storm, the Master of the heavy seas of life, says "Peace, Be Still". He holds out His hand of love and mercy and quiets the storm of your life. He dries up the rain and quiets the wind. He covers you with His hand; you no longer need to run for cover. Be reminded of Mark 4, when the disciples and Jesus were in the boat going across the river. Jesus was asleep and a great squall came out of nowhere and the waves were crashing in over the boat and the disciples were in great panic over this sudden storm. The disciples rushed to Jesus, woke Him and asked, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown"? How many times have we said that to Jesus? "Do you not care that this or that is happening to me"? Jesus's response to the disciples is what we still can experience today: Mark 4: 39 says "He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves; Peace, Be still!" It was a command: the wind died down and it was completely calm. As we head into summer, I imagine there will be many storms brewing on our horizon and the intensity of each storm will vary. Much like our lives! Not one storm is the same as the other and not always are they the same intensity. I encourage you to remember the One who calms the storms, the One with His voice of authority that says to you and your storm, "Peace, Be still". Let Him in and allow His Power, Might, and incredible Love for you minister to your spirit and guide you to calmer waters. Day | 155 Good Morning, Prayer is a part of my life! For me, it is like breathing, being in constant communion with the One who knows my name! I have many that I pray for; my list is a long one. I think sometimes it gets a bit discouraging when you pray for something for so long and you don't see any results. James 5: 16 "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective". And so I pray, and pray and still sometimes I don't see the results! Sometimes we are too close to see the hand of God working and we need to listen when trusted companions do see and share with us. I have a child who is an adult and is not living the life in which she was raised. She is an adult, with a very successful career: she has all the "things" this world has to offer, but she is not living for Jesus. She is complex to me, because how she was raised is foundational to her soul, but how she lives is for anything but Jesus. She is a love, and her Mama loves her to the moon and back! I have been praying for her day in and day out and I feel like the more I pray, the more entrenched into my own life she becomes. I am looking for the "Big Bang" of miracles and I haven't been able to see it! But I continue on in my prayers. On a recent visit to her new, big and very beautiful home, we enjoyed a lovely time together. Everything was going fine, and then as soon as I pulled out of her driveway, before my car was even in drive, a huge sob swept through my soul like thunder and shook my whole being. I haven't cried that hard in a few years. I banged my steering wheel and screamed at God! In my brokenness, I cried out: He gave me this child, He knows the love I have for her, He created her to be a part of my life and my family. And now this??? What on earth was He thinking?? So, I asked Him exactly that. I didn't stop crying and speaking my mind until I was almost home from my 20 minute ride from her house. I was spent emotionally, and looked a bit spent as well! The feelings of failure so overtook my soul that I had no life in me and I could do nothing but sit in my living room chair and stare out the window. My spirit was empty. It was dusk when my husband Jim arrived home. The lights had yet to be turned on and as he walked into our home, I was the first sight to greet him! What a good man, that he didn't turn and run! He looked at me and just said, "Talk to me". And you can imagine what he heard! There was no judgment or condemnation towards his wife for Day | 156 talking to the Almighty God in the way I had. He got it and he knew that God got it too! Since God sees our every action, and knows our every thought, my outburst came as no surprise to Him! Jim sat and listened to me express how I have prayed and prayed and prayed for my child and not one time have I even seen a change! When I was finished with my ranting about how I knew God had to have His ears closed for this prayer, my husband, in a very gentle and precious manner, revealed to me all the ways in which he saw God's hand at work in my daughter's life. When he was finished talking, I was astonished! God HAS been most faithful to my most fervent prayer! Sometimes it takes the small changes to lead up to the big change. I am impatient, and yet God is faithful! That night I believe it was in God's plan to break me! I believe He knew that I felt in my spirit like He wasn't there for this one and He needed to bring me to my knees, take it from me and put it back in His corner. I had to again realize His great love for my child, His creation, and that He gave His very life for her! He used my husband to guide me to see truths, and I allowed His spirit to flow freely in and through me to know that HE IS GOD! I have taken this verse and changed it to " The prayer of a righteous mother is powerful and effective"! I share this journey with you, hopefully as an encouragement to not give up on what you are praying about. If it is about the life of a child or a loved one, don't give up. Pray harder! He hears your heart and He cares! I don't know the outcome of my precious daughter: only God does. I understand that we all have free will and she may never choose to live for Jesus. But until I take my last breath, this mother will never give up praying! God answers prayer and often along the way, it is we who are changed! Day | 157 Philippians 3: 12 & 13: "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13. 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." In this passage, Paul explains his goal and that goal is to know Christ. In knowing Jesus Christ, we discover who He is and when we discover who He is, we then know how to be like Him. In knowing Jesus Christ, we discover all that Jesus has created us for and we find our purpose in life. It is a bit of a challenge to attain all of this and the work must be done by you. But when you cross the finish line of life, you will know that you kept your eye on the prize and worked your entire life to earn your reward. I believe it is 13th verse that trips us up and takes us off course the most: "Forgetting what is behind". Far too often we cannot run our race effectively because we are too caught up with things that we are running from. Our past has a way of staying with us. Our sin has a way of creeping back in and reminding us of all we have done wrong. Our self-value has a way of plummeting to the bottom of the pit faster than the next breath we take. And as the lies that Satan whispers take over, you stumble and fall in your race. This is a technique that the evil one uses when you give your life over to Jesus. He doesn't like that so much! Therefore, he will remind you of that lifestyle you once lived and bring you down so low that you can hardly walk, much less run! Paul understood that. He too had much he wanted to forget in his past. Before Paul was "struck down" by God, he was a force to be reckoned with. Paul even had a different name and it was Saul. And Saul was a terror! He was a killer of Christians! Saul was a decorated soldier for the Roman Army, seeking out radical Christians and putting them to death. He stood and watched while Stephen, a precious servant of Jesus, was stoned to death. Can you imagine the "past" that he wanted to forget? When Jesus took hold of Saul's life (and the story is amazing, I encourage you to read about it), He changed his heart, changed his vision for the future, changed his name, and forgave him his sins! Nothing less than what Jesus offers to do for us today! Paul was now a changed man and he spent the rest of his life serving Jesus. He is a most powerful example for us today. Day | 158 He took the task of knowing Christ like an athlete running a race. He lay aside anything that would be harmful to him and forsook anything that would distract him from being an effective Christian. Do you ever see an athlete running backwards? Or do they constantly look turn around as they run to check out what is behind them? No! And Paul is saying that we shouldn't keep looking at our past either while we are trying to keep our eyes ahead. If you have repented and asked forgiveness for your past, keep running toward the prize with your eyes fixed on Jesus. If others on the sidelines of your life would try to remind you of what you did, when you did it, and how you hurt a million people etc. etc., that is the cheering of the demons of hell trying to get you off your course and bring you to a stop. Run past them with the redemptive power of the one who forgave you! Keep your eyes and your ears on those who would cheer you on in your race. Yesterday is gone, today is upon us, and tomorrow will be God's gift. Paul took the offer of new life: what holds you back? Our lives are precious in the sight of Jesus. Our sins will be forgiven when we repent and ask. And our future reward is eternal life in a place designed just for us: Heaven! This life is a race, that is for sure. It has speed bumps and detours and warnings all throughout it! But the road will lead home! "Forgetting what is behind": why live in that when ahead is the prize? Thank you Jesus for equipping us to run our race: You forgive our sins and offer us new life! May we stay the course You have set before us and keep our eyes on You! Day | 159 Good Morning "Softly and Tenderly Jesus is calling"... In the noise of our busy life, do you hear His voice? In the confusion of the hour, do you hear Him speak your name? Jesus is a very present God. He is not a God far away or far removed from your life. It is we who move away from Him. But even then, there is nothing hidden from Him that He cannot see. Jeremiah 23: 23 & 24: "Am I only a God nearby, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord?" God sees our lives; He knows where we have been, and He knows where we are going. He knows if you are going to let Him in or if you are going to make excuses to keep Him out. There are many reasons we keep God out of our lives and one I hear often is "I don't go to Church because I wasn't brought up that way"! Or people will honestly look me in the eye and say, "I believe what you say is true, but if I let God in and allow Him to have His way in my life, I will have to give up a certain lifestyle (and you can fill in the blanks here) and I have become too dependent to give it/ or them up". Jesus made you with a purpose. When He designed you, He had a plan: for you to live your life in Him. He knew what challenges we would face in life, He knew the hardships that would fall upon our beings, and He understood the brokenness that would break our hearts in pieces. He also knows that He is our answer. Jesus waits...and waits...for you to hear His voice. In the trouble of the day, stop and listen! If your day is not troubled and you are just going along at your own pace with no worries, still stop and listen! If you have been living your own life and you feel like you are doing just fine and you really don't want to upset your apple cart by inviting Jesus in, I encourage take the challenge and be quiet, to sit for a moment and say the name of Jesus. I encourage you to stop and listen for His voice to take hold of your heart. Just take a moment of quiet time for yourself and listen for Him. He responds in peace, He responds with JOY, and He responds with comfort for a burdened soul. He responds with conviction to a spirit that needs to "come home". Do not fear the gentle voice of Jesus. Yes, your life might just change, but be thankful for it! Hearing His voice today and changing your life to hear and recognize His voice in your life leads to eternal joy and everlasting life! Jesus is calling and He is waiting and watching. Choose Him. Choose the one who sees every hidden secret of your life and still loves and wants you! "Softly and Tenderly Jesus is calling, Calling for you and for me. See on the portals He's waiting and watching; watching for you and for me". Day | 160 GOOD MORNING, I think sometimes God is just crying out for us to look in His direction so He can open doors for us and we can start fresh on our journey of life. But we often times are so busy looking in any other direction than where He is! We might hear Him calling out our names, but we don't follow His voice very well. In thinking of this devotional, I was pondering what I could use to illustrate my thoughts and of course my Grandmother Gedney came right to mind. In the later part of her life, I had the privilege of caring for my Grandmother. Six short months after settling into life with my two girls and me, Grammie suffered a heart problem and it was determined that she would not be able to stay on her own during the day. She was placed in a home that would care for her. It was not far from my home so I could also care for her as well. She was just so adorable! One day she had a Dr.'s appointment and was not at all happy at the thought of riding in a wheel chair van. "Oh horrors!"- to think she would have to travel through town on that bus! Therefore, I arranged time off from work so I could take her to her appointment. It was never easy, as she was very arthritic and needed a wheelchair. She was ample enough to make it a challenge just to get her in and out of the car! (Once in the winter, while waiting for my brother to unlock the car to get her in it, I had her standing beside it (on sheer ice) and while holding the shoulders of her shiny puff coat, she somehow slipped out of the coat and ended up sitting on the ice, half under the car. I was still holding her coat! I had no idea I had dropped Grammie! But that is another story...) Back to this one. Before getting her in the car, I threw my purse and my keys in the car and then got her settled in and secured her seatbelt. I went to the trunk to lift her wheelchair in the back and that is when I heard it... the sound of the car doors locking! WHAT!?! No worries, I will just look at Grammie and she will unlock the door for me. Simple! This was her first time in my new car and she was very excited looking at everything inside. She looked at my key ring, pressed a button and the alarm went off! And I was on the outside looking in. ( How often God must feel that as he sees alarms going off in our lives and yet we still keep Him locked outside of our souls). I knocked on the driver window and called her name. She faintly heard my voice above the sound of the alarm but looked out her window! I recognized her confusion and so I quickly ran over to her window, knocked on it, called her name and she looked over at the driver window! We did this for a bit until I finally got to the one window where she cannot help but see me: the windshield! I laid over the hood of the car and as she looked at me, she smiled and waved! I kept her attention while I moved back over to the passenger side door. I shouted through the noise of the car alarm and the window pane and directed her precious, bent-from-arthritis finger to locate the door opener. She pushed the Day | 161 magic button and I ran back over to that driver's side door lickety-split! I got in the car, and turned off the alarm (which once I got in, I noticed we had entertained the parking lot, including the wheelchair van picking up patients for appointments!!!) As I started the car and we drove off, Grammie commented, "A very pretty car, Betsy, but it makes a lot of noise"! I share this visual because I wonder how many of us are in the car with the door locked while God is trying to get our attention? How often has He come right into your face and still you turn your head the other way? Acts: 28:26: Go to this people and say, "You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them." I believe that even back in Bible times, God understood our world today. This verse describes our culture and the apathy of not wanting to turn to face Him when we hear Him calling our name. There will be a day, and it is not far off, when every set of ears will hear His voice. That same day, every set of eyes will behold Him. There will be no other place to look but square on His beauty. Hear His voice today, when it tenderly wants to be invited in to guide you on your journey. For those that don't, the first time you "hear" his voice it could say, "Depart from me, I never knew you". I encourage you to turn your face and your ears toward Him today, to allow Him to chip away at whatever is holding you back. And open the door to a new journey, side by side with the One who knows your name! Day | 162 Good Morning, HOLD ON: HELP IS ON THE WAY!! No matter what it is you face today, God is your help! You may be heading for a surgical procedure or receiving treatments for a disease that is attempting to take over your body. You may be facing some very difficult decisions that will impact your life and the lives of those you love or your journey of life may be taking you in a totally different direction than you ever imagined. You may have to finally say NO to the sin that has taken over your life and your thought patterns, but you don't know how to do it because it has become such a part of who you are. You may be so financially broken that you are unsure of where your next dollar will come from or you may be so broken of spirit that mere living feels exhausting and overwhelming! Whatever your scenario, God is your help! Hebrews 13:6 "So I say with confidence: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me"? Can you say that with confidence today? When you are walking in the will of God, this world is not in charge of you! No matter what you face, God faces it with you. The Bible reminds us in Isaiah 55:8 "For your thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are your ways my ways". So I caution you, when you let God join the journey, the "plan" may change. The trade-off, however, is what you gain: from facing panic and fear to experiencing peace and comfort. Knowing that God has my life in His control is knowing that I have an army of angels present and around me. It is knowing that God is in the breath I take and it is knowing that the ultimate decision for my life is not dependent on what an employee or family member may say or do to me. Rather, it is dependent on His total love and care for my life: I cried out to Him and He came in and took over! This of which I speak is truth! Tried, tested and true on a number of occasions in my life! Help has always been at the ready and the peace that comes with it cannot be purchased anywhere! It is long-lasting and joyful! In the midst of trial, you can have JOY! Only God! You are not alone: reach out and take His hand, let Him lead your heart, and trust Him and His plan! Day | 163 "CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES, COME ON~ IT'S A CELEBRATION!!" This is a song that is played at weddings, parties, and any fun gatherings when a DJ and dancing are involved and "good times" are all around us! We hear the music and get excited because we are celebrating a happy occasion! This weekend I will be traveling to Alton Bay, NH to celebrate with my family the High School graduation of my nephew, Benjamin Clinton Taber! And adding to that celebration is the fact that on Wednesday, Ben turned 18 years old! We will be celebrating "good times" for sure! Many of you have celebrated children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews graduating from high school and colleges and you, too, have been involved in the celebration of their lives. I cannot help but to see the connection of walking up to accept your diploma, a great celebration, to the return of Jesus Christ to this earth, the celebration of a lifetime! In a graduation experience, you have worked your entire educational career, from Kindergarten to grade 12, to get to where you are today. You studied, you completed your homework, you participated in extra-curricular activities to help you grow and mature, and you received grades to keep you on task. If all goes as planned, you are promoted to the next level! And then you are rewarded: as you walk that aisle, with parents and loved ones beaming, you receive your diploma and shake the hand of your School Principal. You walk off that stage with the past behind you and the whole world ahead of you! So it is in the Christian walk! No matter your age, whether you grew up in the Church or if you just today decide you want to make Jesus first in your heart, Kindergarten, if you will, is your starting place. You learn that you need to start talking with Jesus, that His Word is alive with guidance and wisdom for your journey. You need the extra-curricular activities such as Sunday worship, Bible study, Women's Fellowship, and Christian friends to be your guardrails in life. You need to find a Church that will offer you a place of safety for you and your children, a place where your children will have friends to grow up with, as well as a place where there are people your age and activities for you to join. All of this is necessary so you have a subfoundation (with your solid foundation being Jesus). You have a responsibility to yourself and your children (if that is the stage of life you are in) to get into an active and growing Church. Because the people in that Church, along with your loved ones, are going to be the ones holding you accountable and helping you attain that next level! Day | 164 There is so much that goes into planning a celebration! You need good food, tables, balloons, decorations, a cake and of course, good music! A lot of work, but the end result is incredible happiness and blessing! Imagine how it will feel, after all this work in our Christian walk (and it is work!), and we stayed the course, grew and learned, and we allowed the Lord to come in and totally dwell, to "graduate"? I hear the music, but instead of "Pomp and Circumstance", it is the trumpet of Gabriel. I hear the voice, but instead of the school Principal, it is the voice of Almighty God. As I walk that aisle to Jesus, it is lined with a vast amount of Angels cheering me on as I go to meet my Savior, face to face. And I will hear one of two things from Him: "Depart from Me, for I never knew you", or "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest". I guess it depends on which school we attend for the outcome of the graduation. There is coming a day, and soon, when the clouds will depart and the armies of heaven will accompany Jesus to earth to judge each heart and life according to where you placed Him. It has nothing to do with how good you are or your good deeds: it is a matter of your heart and where you placed Jesus in it. Graduation should be a time of "Celebration and Good times". I pray and encourage each of you to be sure you know where you have Jesus in your life. It is a journey of a lifetime! And when you walk off that stage, your past is behind you and you have nothing but eternal glory for a lifetime ahead of you! Day | 165 Good Morning How "fit" are you? If you want to stay physically fit, there is a list of things you need to do to achieve that goal. There is a long list and a short list. I tend to stick to the shorter list! Several years ago, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. There is a history of it on both sides of my family. When I was diagnosed, I used the excuse that I was under a good bit of stress and if it weren't for that, I would not have diabetes! How funny the mind games we play with ourselves! The facts are I never exercised and I pretty much ate what I wanted, when I wanted. I was faced with the reality that if I did not begin to take care of myself, I would not be around to watch my grandchildren grow up! Still, knowing what I needed to do and actually doing it were two different things. I let my "desires" rule me and I was just too tired to exercise. Besides, I wasn't born athletic like my sister! But last November, after living with this crazy disease for 5 years, I sought out the help and guidance of an endocrinologist and my life changed! We looked at what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong and we set up a plan to get my life on track. I began eating less and making healthier choices. I brought my "gazelle" exercise machine up to our bedroom and placed it in front of a TV. I have worked myself up to almost 2 miles a day while watching a TV show. It is not crazy, high impact, but it is "slow and steady wins the race". I have lost some weight, which is a benefit of living better, but more importantly I have kept the disease, that wanted to claim my body, at bay by doing what I need to do to survive. Spiritual fitness is much like this! We can have a million excuses for not keeping spiritually fit! Like physical fitness, spiritual fitness takes work. It is not just going to Church every Sunday, just like on the physical side it is not just going to see a doctor! The next step for both physical and spiritual fitness takes action on our part. We can attend Church all our lives, but it doesn't take root until we make changes in our lives. We realize that it is not the "religion" of Jesus Christ it is the "relationship" in Jesus Christ that makes the difference. I hear from so many that they would love to think about what I am saying, but they were raised Catholic or it isn't their religion. Truthfully, I don't care what you were raised. I do care, however, about what you are now and the choices you are making to get" fit"! I serve the one and only Jesus Christ, who came into this world to establish a personal relationship with each of us. There are many "religions" out there. I don't care to be known as a "religious" person: I want to be known as a "relational" person. I want to be known as one who has let Jesus Christ come into my life, to live and to dwell within me. And I got to that point my sharpening my relational tools. Day | 166 I also know that you can worship God anywhere: out in the meadow, by the ocean, in your home, etc. But, the Bible says not to forsake the assembly of believers. It tells us to do so because God knows it is a good spiritual exercise to attend worship with fellow believers. It is there that you get your heart in shape. It is there that you hear words to carry you through your week, until you meet again the next Sunday. During the week to keep "fit", you open the Word of God, read over your list of people you are praying for and bring them before the Lord, and then you spend quiet time in worship, sometimes just sitting and breathing in Jesus and letting out stress. You sing choruses and hymns to yourself all week and you start feeling better about life because you made some significant changes to your spiritual diet. You notice the difference and it feels good. The disease of sin that would like to bring you down just got pushed away and you are maintaining a steady, spiritual workout. I caution you at this point to realize our physical and spiritual are alike in many ways and we must stay on our guard. We tend to get to a place where we think we are good and we just drift along. Just like we might not work out for a night, we may let a day go by without opening God's Word. We might decide that the disease is under control so it will be ok if we just go back to how we used to live. And on the spiritual front, you may decide that you deserve a break from having to go to Church, so you take a vacation from it! Well, let me be the first to remind you that God has never taken even a 10 minute break from your life: He is there 24/7. Why do you think for one moment, you have the right to take a vacation from Him? And more importantly, that is exactly what the enemy wants you to do! So if you begin to lose your fitness, what happens then? When you finally wise up, you have to work all that much harder to get back to where you were before you "fell apart". Keep your eyes on Jesus! Do what you know is right, both physically and spiritually, and you will feel better than you have in years! Make a change for the better, one moment each day, one day at a time. Day | 167 Good Morning, The old hymn that we often sang in Church "Take my Life and let it be" has been ringing in my head lately. Returning home from a trip this past weekend, I traveled 3 hours just singing hymns and choruses to myself. This particular song repeatedly came to mind. As I tried to figure out why, I thought about the first line of this song, "Take my life and let it be": full surrender to Jesus! Here I am! Take me! We often say, "Not my will Lord but Your will for me". And while both of these sayings are similar, they are each unique in their own way. Often at the end of a prayer, we will ask for God's will to be done in our lives. But how often do we say to the Lord, "TAKE my life and let it be"? Giving back to God the life He gave you is surrendering to His will for your life. You recognize that He has the plan, and when you surrender, you gain peace and understanding. God doesn't want just parts of us, or only when we have an issue or a need. He wants all of us. He wants us dwelling in Him so that in the good times, He is there, and in the difficult stages of life, He is there. The ideal is to inviting Him to come in and dwell within you every morning. Allow Him to take your life and to be a part of it so when the difficult times come, you are not strangers. You will already be within Him and His strength will be made perfect for your needs. Take my life and let it be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee. *Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in endless praise. Take my hands and let them move At the impulse of Thy love. Take my feet and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee. Take my voice and let me sing, Always, only for my King. Take my lips and let them be Day | 168 Filled with messages from Thee. Take my silver and my gold, Not a mite would I withhold. Take my intellect and use Every pow'r as Thou shalt choose. Take my will and make it Thine, It shall be no longer mine. Take my heart, it is Thine own, It shall be Thy royal throne. Take my love, my Lord, I pour At Thy feet its treasure store. Take myself and I will be Ever, only, all for Thee. This is my prayer today and every day. My desire is to be a beautiful creation, filled with the Spirit of Jesus. I want my life to count and for Jesus to be in every part of it. Are you with me? Thank you Jesus! Day | 169 Good Morning, This morning I want to share with you a verse of comfort. It is found in Psalms and it is the 23rd chapter. As we go through life, sometimes it feels like we are all alone: wandering around with no direction, going through the stages of life but not really living, facing all the battles and struggles of life yet feeling helpless! This one short chapter in Psalms offers us protection, restoration, guidance, confidence, peace, and hope! Psalm 23 1."The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want". David used his own experience as a shepherd to reference God as a Shepherd. He knew that sheep are completely dependent on the shepherd for their provision, for their guidance in the right places, and for their protection against harm. 2 & 3: He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He leads me in the path of righteousness for His name's sake. Our shepherd knows the "green pastures" and the "quiet waters" that will restore us. We get to those places of soul restoration by following Him. When we do not listen to His voice and we go our own way, we cannot blame God for the calamity that will befall us. It is God's desire to bring quiet restoration to our souls: let the Good Shepherd lead you, and remember that good sheep follow! 4. "Even though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me". We are helpless against death. We can be strong and fight earthly diseases that inflict our bodies, but death has a grip on our hearts. It is a reality and it is inescapable. Death also comes in many forms, some that affect our hearts: losing ones we dearly loved, either by natural circumstances of a life well lived or a sudden and untimely death that seems to be so unfair. No matter the circumstance, death is not easy! Only God can walk the dark valley of death with us. Life is uncertain, but allowing God to walk your journey with you means that when death becomes a reality in your life, you hold the hand of the One who knows your name and you have the eternal promise of new life and the reward of seeing your loved ones again. 5 & 6. "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Day | 170 In David's time, it was customary for a host to anoint guests at the banquet table with oil on their heads. It was also expected that the host of the banquet would offer protection for their guests at any and all cost. God offers that for us today: protection from our enemies. We may have to sit at their table, so to speak, but God reminds us that His Grace is sufficient to meet our needs and His protection is enough. He is the perfect Shepherd and Host for the banquet. When we follow the Shepherd, He promises to guide us, to protect us, and to bring us through this life to eternal life with Him! Day | 171 Good Morning, Today, the Gedney side of our family celebrates the arrival of a new little girl! She arrived into our world yesterday morning and she is beautiful! She is a welcome addition to our hearts and we will cherish her, as we do each new child that arrives into our lives. Have you had the experience of new birth or new arrivals in your life? Remember the feeling of excitement when he or she has finally arrived? From the time you hear of him (or her) growing and developing in his mother's womb, your excitement grows as you wait to greet him! How much like that when a person is "Born Again"! So many now use that phrase and think that those who have been "Born Again" are the whack nuts of society: watch out for those people! Similar sentiments are expressed in John 3 when a member of the Jewish council, Nicodemus, came to Jesus in the night. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a group of religious leaders who were often criticized by Jesus for being hypocrites. Nicodemus knew there was something about Jesus and he sought Him out in the night time to seek answers to his questions. Nicodemus knew that Jesus must have come from God because of the miracles He was performing. After Nicodemus's side of the conversation, Jesus declared in reply (verse 2), "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again". This utterly confused Nicodemus, as he too was a teacher and an educated man. His response to Jesus was (verse 4), "How can a man be born when he is old? Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" (And my I now just say a quick thank you to Jesus for that!! The first delivery was tough enough!) This is where everyone gets all crazy about the "Born Againers", and yet it is so simple and such a beautiful journey through the canal of sin and despair to new life! It is accepting Jesus into your heart and living for Him. It is denying self and living for Jesus, serving Him and others! It is in knowing, for certain and for sure, of your eternal destination! There is a myth out there that we are all going to Heaven. And it is simply that: a myth. We are not all going to Heaven. I am sorry if that thought upsets you. It is not my thought. It is truth and fact and it is in the Bible, God's Word. There will be a judgment in that last day and it will be determined then, by the King of Kings, if you will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. People are quick to say that their "sin" is too offensive, Day | 172 that they would never make it. Or that their "sin" is now a way of life for them and it is too late to change. I would like to encourage you today to remember that sin in God's eyes is just that: sin. If you are lying with your tongue or if you have committed adultery, it is sin of the same magnitude in God's eyes. What changes it all is repenting your sins to Jesus. It changes when you go to Him with the rags of your life, feeling weighed down and heavy with the burden of your day, and say "here I am Jesus. Take my life and let it be, wash me, and make me new"! Jesus forgives and (here is the best part): HE REMEMBERS YOUR SIN NO MORE!! John 3:5-7: "Jesus answered (Nicodemus), "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, You must be born again". Now does that sound "whacky" to you? Jesus, King of Kings, is making a way for us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven! I don't know about you but I love life. I laugh a lot, I have many friends, and I cherish my family! I also know the importance of putting Jesus first in all I do and how I feel when I don't. He is my conscience and my guide. I stay away from the things that I know would not please Jesus and when I don't, I ask forgiveness because I would rather to live in His grace than do what the "crowd" around me would encourage me to do. I am a certified Born Again woman who daily seeks God's Heart. What about you? It is yours for the asking! New life: whether we are celebrating the birth of precious little Madelynn Nicole or a sinner saved by grace, God is in the plan and "new birth" is a reason to celebrate! Day | 173 Good Morning, I have just returned from what I would describe as one of our most dynamic, inspirational, and actually "fun" Mission's Conferences that we have had in quite some time. All of them are good; however, this one was different in several ways and that is what I want to share with you today. The topic of the conference was "Running the Race~Going for the Gold". The Scripture verse was taken from 1 Corinthians 9: 24, "Do you know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." We had a great business meeting and an incredible prayer time for a young man named Austin, who, just last Friday morning (at the age of 18), opened his eyes to a world of possibility and by 1:00 that afternoon was air lifted, unconscious, to a hospital due to a terrible accident. We listened as speakers shared the various points on what it is like to run this race we are in day in and day out, and at the end of the conference, we had a medal ceremony where each attendee was presented with a gold medal! And then the real race! To close the conference, all of the conference Presidents and me, as Regional President, ran around the Green at the Alton Bay Conference Center to demonstrate the various styles of running and winning! I was so proud of each President that ran as well as the two VicePresidents (and yes there are pictures somewhere!) There were 7 of us in all and we lined up like we meant business! Most were in their running gear and the fire was in them. Here is the funny thing: I am in my outfit of the day, fooling around at the starting line, and actually thinking I could win this race! I never ran to prepare for this race, I had done no stretching, I didn't have on the proper running attire, but I thought "no problem, I got this thing in the bag"! I heard "On your mark, get set, GO!" and I took off running like I had been shot out of a cannon! I could hear the crowd cheering the runners on but instantly I knew that I was not prepared at all for this race. To run it required stamina and mine was quickly "running away"! As the other Presidents were zipping quickly past me, I decided I better walk the rest of the way in or die on the spot! At the finish line, we all hugged and after I could breathe again, I congratulated them all. You guessed it: I didn't come in first! In fact, I trailed in last! I was unprepared for my race and never had I experienced such a reality check as that! Day | 174 My mind has been reeling since then regarding our Christian race. I would like to share just a few steps to keep us on track and steady so that we run with the endurance we need, and when our race is done, we cross the finish line, not unprepared for eternity, not winded and out of breath, but with our fellow believers to receive the crown of life. � Don't come out of the starting line fast and furious! Prepare for your race. Get to know Who you are running for and spend time with Him. He will pace you for what His plan is for you. Then, instead of struggling with exhaustion, you'll have better endurance to keep you on the path. � Don't keep looking to the right and left to see who is passing you. Keep your eyes ahead and focused and fixed on Jesus. Everyone has a different race with a different purpose. Jesus has had your race mapped out for you since He knit you together in your mother's womb! Don't be so concerned with the people and things around you. � Don't be worked up if others seem to be "winning" and you still haven't made it in! Cheer one another on, be steadfast and complete in the One you are running for. The one who made it in first this time will need your support during another race and in this life, we are a team. There are no winners and there are no losers! We are just running the race with endurance and the prize will be "Well done, thy good and faithful servant". Be prepared, run steady, and run sure. Jesus knows your race. His Spirit accompanies you on your journey and He stands at the finish line to welcome you home! Day | 175 Good Morning, "Who do you say that I am"? In Matthew 16:13-16, Jesus asked his disciples who people thought He was. Verse 14-16, they replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15. "But what about you"? He asked, "Who do you say I am"? 16. Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God". Peter knew exactly who Jesus was and he was not ashamed to say so. When we acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, we go from curiosity to commitment! Once you understand who Jesus is, you then have a choice to make about what to do with that knowledge. Jesus was asking what others were saying, but then He looked directly at the faces of His disciples and asked them personally, "Who do you say that I am"? When you look into the eyes of Jesus and know that He is indeed the Christ, your life changes! You know that you can place your heart in His hands, your healing in His care, your future to His plan, and your sin at the foot of His cross. The commitment comes into focus when you move forward in the knowledge of who Jesus is in your own life. What are you doing with Jesus? It is not enough to know what others think about Jesus; you must know, understand and accept for yourself that He is the Messiah. You will see others working out their faith, but it is not enough for you to watch from the sidelines. You must answer that question for yourself. It is a life changing question and it is asked of you today. "Who do you say that I am"? Is He your all in all? Is He just your friends' God? Have you invited Him in to dwell and live with you? Is He your God when you have a crisis, but not with you as you walk, and talk, and make everyday decisions on where you go ~ what you are reading ~ what you are watching ~ how you are talking~ allowing Him make you a better person, a whole and complete person? One day, the Son of the Living God is going to return to this earth. I believe it will not be centuries away, but soon. Who He is, and has been in your life, is key to your eternal destination. Day | 176 Today I took this question that Jesus asked the disciples years ago, and I personalized it and asked myself, "Becky, Who do you say that I am?" In my life I have had many joys and many sorrows. I have questioned events and circumstances that have taken place. But I have always known, beyond the shadow of a doubt, who Jesus is to me. He is the very air I breathe, the Comforter for my broken heart, the Healer of my wounded spirit, the Restorer of my soul, the Forgiver of my many sins, the example of how I am to live my life; my Friend, my Confidant, my Savior. He IS the Son of the Living God! I encourage you to ask yourself that question today and see how you are able to answer it. If you know for sure who Jesus is, Praise God! Go and share it with others! If you are not able to say Who He is, I encourage you to spend some quiet time in His presence. Seek His face and commit your life to His safe keeping and extreme love. "____________, Who do you say that I am"? Day | 177 Good Morning, Yesterday morning I was sitting here in my chair in serious thought writing the devotional on "Who do you say that I am". Around the corner, just waking up for the day, came my dear husband, walking out to the kitchen to get that first cup of coffee. He stopped by my chair to say "Good morning, Betsy", and continued on. I continued my typing and then I heard it, "What the heck! This fool thing doesn't clean anymore? Now we need a new dishwasher?!!" He was beside himself as he opened the dishwasher to get his favorite coffee cup for his first morning splash of joe, and his favorite cup just sat there dirty! So of course you know I have to ask the famous question, "Did you turn the dishwasher on, dear?" To which Jim answered, "It must have turned on. I put the soap in!" Oh my gracious! I was in hysterics listening to this conversation from the kitchen. So, he looked inside the dishwasher and sure enough, the soap was in there. But the key part to cleaning the dishes was missing, which was my next sugg estion to my dear man. "Jim dear, you can put the soap in the dishwasher, but unless you push "on" it is not going to get clean"! I continued, `"Honey, I need a new dishwasher if this is not cleaning", to which Jim quickly replied, "Then I need a new wife, cause she's not either"! I never laughed so hard! I told him he was right: find one to take care of both of us!! So after he left to head to the shower, with his coffee in a different mug, (so you know it didn't taste the same!), and I finally stoppe d laughing at his adorableness, I thought through the whole scenario and how it is so similar to our Christian walk! James 2: 26 says, "Faith without works is dead". Action is required to make it happen. You can add all kinds of things to your life (like soap in the dishwasher), but if you do not turn it on, it will just sit there waiting, getting old and stagnant inside of you. You can sit and look at your exercise equipment, but it will do you no earthly good just looking at it. You don't reap the benefits of a good workout until you get "on" it! You can be happy about the decision to learn more about Jesus and you can look at your Bible all day long, sitting on your side table, but you will learn nothing until you "open" it and start reading. You can drive by your family Church, or even a new Church you have wanted to try, but you will not be blessed by fellowship until you "go" into it. You can wish all day you had a better prayer life, but you will not enjoy a better prayer life until you "speak" directly to Jesus. I encourage you today to put your faith into action! To live in the " action verb"of life! Realize that if you want to develop a relationship with Jesus, it requires that you make the first step of action. The most important words to say to the invitation given is "YES, I choose You, Jesus!" Then turn yourself "on" to all that He has for you in your life! It will be the best action you can take! Day | 178 Good Morning Isaiah 48: 17 & 18: "This is what the Lord says- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands; your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like a wave of the sea". As I read that verse, I can hear my parents (like it was yesterday) saying, "If only you had listened to me in the first place, you would have avoided all this". A while back I was asked that if God loves us so much, why does He leave "free choice" up to us? As parents, we protect our children to keep calamity and harm from befalling them. This woman who posed the question expressed how she would do everything in her power to protect her children and to keep bad things from happening to them. She didn't understand why does God not do the same for His children? And why so much pain and heartache? Why not protection from that as well, like any good parent would do! This question has not left my mind and I have yet to answer her. I know the answer, but I wa sn't sure exactly what I wanted to say. And then I remembered the very beginning of the Story: the Garden of Eden! Adam and Eve were given everything in the garden they could possibly want, except they were commanded not to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God was very clear with them: you touch it and you are punished! Those were the rules, the direction from God, their Heavenly Father. A clear direction on what they should and should not be doing and yet BAM! "What will one little bite do to hurt us?" Well that one bite affects our lives still today! Sin was born and Satan has been trying to bring us down ever since. Up until Jesus and the cross, we were believers, but with no hope. Jesus came to bring us new life! But that new life has consequences as well! God is a loving parent. You do what He says and live as you ought to and you will experience great peace and incredible JOY. Even in the midst of pain and hardship, you will know that God is there to direct your path. You are never alone. Free choice is given to us. As it is to our children, whether we want them to have it or not, and they take it! We cannot be everywhere for our children and things will happen that are beyond our control, no matter how good a parent we are. Things happen in life to each of us, but if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, then you have opened the door for your Heavenly Father to come in and instruct you, to give you insight in your life and how you are to live. You have the opportunity to ask him for guidance and listen to His answer for your life. I encourage you to spend some time with your Heavenly Father today and listen for His voice in your life. Yes, the world will come in and try to point you in a million directions, but God has the plan and He is just waiting for you to listen to it! Day | 179 Good Morning from Becky, There have been moments and events in my life that have shaken me to my roots and I have felt such utter despair and disbelief, unable to comprehend that what is going on in my life is actually going on! Feelings like this are often caused by betrayal: things that those you love are doing with their lives, such as your children, that mean the world to you. A few years ago, I was faced with news that rocked my world as I knew it and sent it spinning off course. I didn't know how to live anymore. I felt like I didn't know "me" anymore and I was about as low as I could get. This time period felt worse in my spirit than when my husband left us several years ago and that was an extremely difficult time. I am a woman who likes to have the answers. I start solving the problems as they come, but this time: nothing. In the disparity of my soul, I cried out to God and went to the only source I knew to be true and trustworthy: the Bible. I opened to Psalm 86 and I realized that whatever was going on in David's life at the time he wrote this Psalm, I could most certainly relate. This has been a comfort to me, and it is underlined and highlighted all throughout the verse, but it also gives me hope. I want to share it with you today: Psalm 86: � Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2. Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you. 3. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long. 4. Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I life up my soul. 5. You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. 6. Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. 7. In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. 8. Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. 9. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name. 10. For you are great and do marvelous deeds, you alone are God. 11. Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. 12. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. 13. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave. 14. The arrogant are attacking me, O God; a band of ruthless men seeks my lifemen without regard for you. 15. But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and Day | 180 gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. 16. Turn to me and have mercy on me; grant your strength to your servant and save the children of your maidservant. 17. Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me. This verse has brought comfort to my broken spirit time and again. I pray that whatever you face today, be reassured by this verse that there is no one like Him. He is your answer, as He was in the time of David for him so He is today for you! Not everything that brought me heartache has been resolved, but God has shown me new ways to deal with it as well as a new way to love and a new way to live through the pain. He is faithful and I know that He will see our situations through when we surrender them to Him! I can only say, " Thank you Jesus for the blessings of life!" Day | 181 Good Morning from Becky, Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I will be heading to beautiful Alton Bay, NH to the Christian Conference Center to enjoy "REGENERATION". Many of you have received information about this one day worship event, as it was sent to Churches and posted on Facebook for the last few months. Several famous Christian performers and groups will be on stage from 12 PM � 11PM. Food vendors and fun will abound! Don Plummer is even doing a twilight concert on the beach at Back Bay! Can it get better than that? This is going to be an exciting, happy time of reconnecting with friends and being ministered to through music. I don't ever want to lose sight of the prize. While those of us attending (hope to see you there!) will be enjoying the music, it is the worship in that music to the King of Kings that will unite our spirits as one. The following song written by Chris Tomlin has been on my mind and heart all week long. I sang it as I did laundry (very little of it, really), while driving in my car, and even at work, singing right out loud at my desk (they are used to me by now!). In doing so, I have lifted my heart to worship my God. Please take a moment and let these words soak into your spirit as well. Whether you will be with the hundreds of believers at Alton Bay this weekend as we worship the King together or home by yourself, you can worship by just quieting your spirit and saying "Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that You're my God"... HERE I AM TO WORSHIP Light of the world You stepped down into darkness. Opened my eyes, let me see. Beauty that made this heart adore You Hope of a life spent with You CHORUS: Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Day | 182 Here I am to say that You're my God You're altogether lovely All together worthy, All together wonderful to me King of all days oh, so highly exalted Glorious in heaven above Humbly You came To the earth You created All for love's sake became poor CHORUS: I'll never know how much it cost To see my sin upon that cross I'll never know how much it cost To see my sin upon that cross Here I am to worship... Thank you Jesus! And may I only and ever worship You! Day | 183 Good Morning from Becky, This is the beginning of a brand new week. I feel a bit like my life has been a little discombobulated with being busy with work and traveling. I have been somewhat out of my routine and I need to get back into my daily pattern! We know ourselves well and we know that if we stop our exercise, stop our Scripture reading, stop our Christian fellowship, we suffer for it. In searching God's heart this morning and praying on a subject to share, I felt led to open the Bible and see what would be revealed to me. I have been struggling with the busyness of my life: I am not getting the things done I need to in my home or taking the time to eat right. I have not been exercising and lately I feel as if my husband and I are "two ships passing in the night". Actually, since I am usually asleep, it is more of a "passed out" in the night! In life, we can become very overwhelmed with the little things that become huge if not put in perspective. God is a God of order. He wants us to live joyful, but orderly, lives. When we do it on our own, we become like the description of my life! Then this morning I opened to Psalm 25: 4&5. I had this verse in my living room for years as it was on a "Home Interiors" picture with a cute cow in the pasture, and I thought it all went together nicely. I always liked the verse, but I am not sure it hit me until today the importance of this verse! Psalm 25: 4 & 5: "Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths: guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long." Not a very long verse to memorize, but loaded with promise for a person who has lost the "order" of life! It isn't about me, or my own plans. God absolutely understands that I feel I have lost direction in my life! He created me; He gets me! But like David, I need to get to the point of crying out to Him: "enough is enough!" When I take the time to read these verses, I feel peace. I know what I have to face today is a full day of work after a very busy weekend. Following my busy work day, I have grocery shopping to do and then dinner to prepare and then you guessed it: let's get a load of laundry in there as well! But when I do it with the Lord and I follow His prompting, I will also get a mile on my Gazelle tonight and I will find some quality time with my husband. It is not about waving a magic wand and your house is instantly clean and your life is in perfect order. It is better than that! It is God Almighty seeing you where you are today and showing you the way! And it is knowing beyond anything else that you do not need to lose hope because our hope is in an unchanging, ever-faithful, always secure, ever-present, all-knowing, and forever loving God! Day | 184 Good Morning from Becky, I heard of a gentleman who passed away not too long ago. A great many were in attendance for his funeral service. This man was very active in his Church and worked an outside job full time as well. He had a wife, adult children and grandchildren. The church was packed and as the eulogy was read, people looked around a t each other in disbelief: "This man was a Christian?" Many commented that they had never heard the name of Jesus ever come from his mouth. The verse in Mark 8:38 came to my mind: "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in His Father's glory with the holy angels". Sometimes we try to act holy and work so hard within our Church walls, but we do not speak the name of Jesus outside to the world that needs to hear it. We do not all need to be called to "evangelize" the world, but when we see one of God's wonderful works, we should give Him the Glory no matter who we are with! For example, you may have a doctor's visit that you are concerned about and you tell you r doctor that you will be praying for him, for wisdom and for the results. I will never forget the day I looked my Jewish Dr. Katz in the eyes and told him that I pray for him. He was in disbelief at first, but in the next moment looked me square on and said, "Thank you. " A while later, I had another visit with him. He was having a stressful day, but he told me during my examination that he will be okay because he remembered that I pray for him. There are many opportunities that present themselves in our lives every day to give God the Glory, or when a mention of the name of Jesus is appropriate, but we fall back on keeping quiet. A great way to practice for the "real world" is to talk about Him and reference Him often around your family. Suggest praying for a need and when one comes up and you are stressed, take your spouse by the hand and bring your needs before the throne. When your child is having a difficult time with school, sports, or fitting in somewhere, take them by the hand and pray. It is the best preparation before taking a work colleague by the hand and leading them in a prayer if need be. They know then for Whom you live. Talking about Jesus openly in your family gives you the tools to talk about Him with others. Speaking His name until it is like the air you breathe gives you assurance. Doing things for others, bringing in a meal, giving a bag of unused clothes away, feeding the homeless, volunteering in a pregnancy care facility are all great ways to say, "I give because Jesus lives"! Day | 185 I did a Women's Retreat once on "Who we are as women". I went through all the "things" we do in life to keep our world running and in good order. But in the end, in the reality of the moment, I told them, "I just want to be known as a Jesus Girl". I want my family to know that no matter what I am facing, I face it with Jesus. I want my work colleagues to know that I walk and talk with Jesus and that He is my everything. I don't want my life to be different inside the Sunday walls of Church from the places He brings me during the week. You don't have to have a certain personality to proclaim His name. You just have to be willing to allow His Spirit to work within you. I do not want people surprised at my funeral that I serve Jesus! There is a chorus that I heard Chonda Pierce sing on a DVD once and I have kind of adopted it. When I speak on who we are as women, I usually find a spot for this: Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord, my soul to keep And should I die, before they wake They'll know I lived for Jesus Sake. I encourage you today to be BOLD. When that opportunity presents itself, take it! Share the Jesus you serve and let your light shine! Day | 186 Good Morning from Becky, Today is the 4th of July! Independence Day, a day we celebrate Freedom. We will celebrate with family and friends, have cookouts with potato salad, ice cream, and watermelon, along with lots of connecting and laughter! We love to have a reason to celebrate and get together and this holiday is one of the best for doing just that. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and people can enjoy the outdoors and the freedoms of doing that because others lost their lives to protect us. We mourn and grieve those that have given themselves in service to our country. The very privilege we have of hanging the flag proudly and freely outside of our homes is only because of those who have died under that flag to keep you and me safe. I am reminded of another who has given His life for our freedom as well. He was not drafted. He enlisted. He took us on in our unworthy state, forgave us our many sins and rebuilt us to live in the freedom He offers. John 8: 36, "So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed". Can you imagine the feelings deep down inside when you know that you no longer have to harbor the sin of your past? By saying yes to Jesus and asking Him to come into your heart, you will be on the journey of forgiveness and of restoration, all because of the freedom you have in Jesus. We live in a "Free" country where we can enjoy our liberties and freedoms. We serve a risen Savior who enables us to live in a world free from our past and free to celebrate life! Before closing, I want to personally thank everyone currently serving in our military. You are not forgotten and you are loved dearly. My prayer is for God's protection on your life as you serve the United States of America. And to your families, I say "Thank You" for letting go as you share your child or spouse with our great Country. And I want to thank Jesus for giving to us our salvation! Because of Your sacrifice, I have a life filled with freedom and liberty. God Bless each of you and may God continue to bless the United States of America. Day | 187