Mindful Of Me

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained. What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him” Psalm 8:3-4

Last night, I stepped outside to take out the trash and was immediately reminded of the verse above. As I looked at God’s handiwork: the brilliance of the stars, the constellations and the light that shines on the earth from the moon, I was reminded of how awesome God is. There is no mistaking it– in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth– this all did not just happen by some random act.

When you look at the magnificence of the universe and then you look at man in comparison, we seem so insignificant. Once you go so far into the atmosphere, we disappear from sight. Yet, God is mindful of us. He’s more mindful of us than any of His other creations. He’s so mindful of us that He sent His One and Only Begotten Son into this world to save us from our sins. He didn’t send Him to save the stars, the moon, the sun, the planets, the trees and other plant life, nor did He send Him to save the animals, fish and reptiles. He sent Jesus, so that we could have fellowship with Him for eternity.

This Holiday season, never think that God doesn’t care about you. Never think that He doesn’t see you and isn’t aware of you. Never think that you are too small for Him to notice. He loves you. He cares about you. He sees you. He knows where you are. Even the billions of stars and the vast galaxies can’t hide you from Him. He is mindful of you and where you are. As 2014 comes to an end and 2015 begins, remember how much you’re loved by God, reflect on His amazing grace and purpose in your heart to know God more.

-Micah E

Surrender

The other night I was reading from the book of Luke to my ten year old son. I was sharing with him the true historical events that occurred regarding the birth of Jesus. Since there is so much talk about Santa and Olaf (snowman) this time of year, I thought it was important to remind him of what really happened and why we celebrate Christmas.
This time reading Mary’s response, of being told she would conceive Jesus, had suddenly stood out to me.
Luke 1:38 says, “Behold the maidservant of The Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”
Another translation says, “I am the Lord’s servant, May your word to me be fulfilled.”
I was amazed on how Mary was so obedient and willing. I imagine her being young and at first really afraid. She was no doubt astonished by the glorious angel, and then she naturally questioned, “How can this be, for I am a virgin?” She questioned just like we often do. “Why did my car break down today?”, “How can I share my testimony with them?”, “Why didn’t I get that raise?” Or even “Why did they have to leave so soon, God?”
It’s ok to sometimes question and ask the Lord why or how. I’m sure Mary had a million other questions as we have had in our own lives. She knew this was going to be difficult because of the persecution ahead. What would Joseph say? What would her family say? Imagine trying to explain that one to your fiancé. Back then women who had babies outside of marriage were despised, some even put to death. Despite all that, she was still willing. She was obedient and she was joyful. Not because of the difficulty she would endure, but she was joyful that God would use her. God wants to use you for something great. Are you willing?
As I shared with my son, I will share with you. We need to be like that! We need to be ready to do whatever the Lord has called us to, even if it seems hard or impossible. Mary was completely surrendered to God. Knowing how difficult it would be, she still rejoiced in the Lord. Mary knew she was blessed to be used for His glory.
Hebrews 12:1b-2 “…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
As we face our own trials and difficulties or whatever God sets before us, may we remember how the Christmas story started. Mary surrendered her womb, her heart, and her everything to God, knowing and trusting and believing that “with God nothing will be impossible”.
My prayer is that we would do the same in truly surrendering our lives to God’s will for us.

Jeanine B.

The Gift

The season of giving and receiving gifts is here; as a nation Christmas has become a symbol of consumerism, we are bombarded with Black Friday advertisements offering the lowest prices of the season for that perfect gift. Are you feeling overwhelmed this season in search of that perfect gift? In Matthew Ch. 2 we have an example of how wise men searched for the perfect gift.
The wise men searched for the King of the Jews by following His star, “ We have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him (Matt. 2:2), We can search for Christ through worship as we listen to and sing Christmas carols. These Christmas carols are really worship songs that proclaim His birth, who came for our salvation, “ Glory to God in the highest,” “Oh come let us adore him, Christ the Lord,” “With all our hearts we praise His holy name. Christ is Lord.”
The wise men knew scripture “So they said to him, In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet” (Matt.2:5), they knew where to find the newborn babe because scripture prophesied of His birth. So this season be a psalmist who says “I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word” (Psalms 119:16)
The wise men rejoiced “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy (Matt. 2:10). The definition of rejoice is to feel joy or great delight. As women we experience many joys, but the one joy that will always be embedded in my thought and heart is the day I asked Jesus Christ to forgive me of sins. My heart was full of joy for that day I found what I was searching for, it was that reconciliation with the Father. Matthew 1:21 says “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
The wise men worshipped Him and gave Him gifts, “And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother and worshipped Him. When they opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him; gold, frankincense, and myrrh”( Matt. 2:11). It is said the gifts symbolize heaven, prayer and His subsequent death of our sins. The wise men found the King and they worshipped Him. So too, this season search for Him and worship Him for He gave us the perfect gift, eternal life.

Elsa D.

Being Thankful In all Things

Thanksgiving is here. Our lives are full of things we can be thankful for whether it be small acts of kindness and generosity, words of hope and encouragement, gifts of love and caring. All we have to do is look around us and start counting! I am thankful for the best husband I could ever want or need. As I’ve been recovering from my knee replacement, he has been patient, loving, and attentive to my every need. He’s set his phone clock more times in the past couple of weeks than he has all year just to give me my pain pills, hook me up to my CPM machine, or get me my ice pack. I’m thankful for our children, our grandchildren, our parents, family and friends. Our church friends that have brought us dinners and just given us their time of fellowship since I got home has been an example of how God has taken a difficult circumstance and turned it into a blessing.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name. PSALM 100:4
Perhaps you stopped somewhere for lunch and when you got to the drive-up window, you were told that the person before you had paid for your lunch! Or your spouse gave you an extra long embrace before leaving the house. It could even be that your Grandchild cried for you when he was told that the Dr. was taking out your staples. Yes, Benjamin did that! We need to recognize God’s presence and the part God plays in every detail of our life.
There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and saw that she had only three hairs on her head. “Great,” she said. “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” So she did, and had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. “Hmm,” she said, “I guess I’ll part my hair down the middle.” So she did, and had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only one hair left in her head. “Wow,” she said. “Today I get to wear my hair in a ponytail!” So she did, and had a wonderful, wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that there wasn’t a single hair left on her head.
“Thank God,” she exclaimed. “I was running out of things to do with my hair!”

When we make a conscious effort to see God working even in the difficult circumstances turning them into positive ones, we nurture an attitude of gratitude, which is everything! Let’s be grateful for the things God has given us and ask Him for one more thing. A thankful heart, which takes time to notice those small precious gifts. If you are thankful for even the little things that come your way, let God know.

Patti S.

Stress or Rest? A Choice For The Holidays

Sandwiched between 2 big holidays is a Thursday holiday that is slowly becoming more minuscule in the minds of the American public. Thanksgiving’s definition in the dictionary says it is the expression of gratitude especially to God. As we learned in school the first Thanksgiving was in 1692, the Pilgrims celebrated a successful harvest. It wasn’t until 1789, George Washington named Thursday Nov. 26 to be “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer”. Still it wasn’t an annual celebration. President Lincoln after the civil war proclaimed the last Thursday in November to be a day of thanks and praise to bring hope & belief in bringing the nation back together. In 1939 President Roosevelt was influenced by complaints of retailers that they only had 24 shopping days to Christmas and begged him to push it one week earlier! So Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving to November 23rd .Somehow our perception of Thanksgiving has gone askew. We’ve forgotten the reason for celebration, GRATITUDE. ….. In 1961 the day after Thanksgiving , Black Friday was named as the beginning of Christmas shopping at 6am.In the late 2000’s, it crept to 5 and 4 am. In 2011 several stores opened [email protected] midnight. 2012 retailers announced they would open 8pm. on Thanksgiving! This year again even earlier, stores are opening at 5 and 6pm Thanksgiving.
The whole meaning of the holiday has been lost. Unbelievable reports of violence occur between shoppers who have camped for days to be first in the store. What are the holidays to you? In asking people, some have said Thanksgiving means football; others say no work and eating a lot. Have we totally forgotten the real meaning of the holidays? It reminds me of the story in Luke 17:12-19 the healing of 10 lepers. Only 1 of them who was a Samaritan came back and fell down on his face at Jesus’ feet and gave thanks. Jesus then said, “ Were there not 10 cleansed, where are the 9?” I’m afraid to say we all have been more like the 9 at some time or another. Perhaps you’d like to redirect your family towards gratitude this year? My extended family, after being through many changes this past year , have agreed we have a lot to give thanks for. We have said this year, a table setting, elaborate menu, or fancy dish ware doesn’t matter. What’s important is we are going to be together to eat, give thanks, pray and fellowship. We are choosing to keep focus on what’s most important. I usually stress out with all the preparations. Thanksgiving can be the beginning of a roller coaster of stress. It’s the time of setting up the tree, unexpected guest, cooking, traditions, decorating, baking, shopping , parties, sending cards and on and on. Matt 11:38 says “Come to ME all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Using the old insurance commercial slogan,” I can’t take that ride”, choose not to get on that roller coaster! Rest in the Lord and don’t stress. Does that mean relax and do nothing? No, but reflect on why we celebrate, give thanks for what Our Savior has done., and lastly give to others. May the Lord Bless you as you experience the holidays in an attitude of gratitude, choosing to focus , resting in Him.
Rev. 7:12 “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever Amen”

Zelda D.

Making Choices

I have always enjoyed studying David, the first God-appointed King of Israel. Although God referred to him as a man after His own heart, David was also a deeply flawed individual. Behaviorally speaking, he was capable of the highest highs and the lowest lows. Yet, whether in good times or bad, victory or failure, confidence or fear; David always turned to God. David understood his own frailty and where his strength came from. He had a relationship with the living God developed in his boyhood when he spent many lonely nights out in the field watching the sheep. His understanding and trust in who God is allowed him to stand before Goliath and say, “You come to me with sword, spear and javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.” David’s courage and strength in that situation came from a conscious and determined CHOICE to rely on his God.

The Bible gives us insight into the many times when David’s choices were not so courageous or God-honoring. In a flash of anger over Nabal’s insults, David was going to wipe out an entire village; while looking for safety from Saul (apparently forgetting that God was his protector), David allied with the Philistines, Israel’s archenemies; and after becoming complacent in his relationship with the Lord, David committed adultery and murder. Like us, David responded to life’s circumstances by making choices.

In Psalms 101:2 David says, “I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.” David is making a determined choice as he proclaims that he WILL behave wisely in a perfect way and WILL walk within his house with a perfect heart, but how does a flawed man actually do this? Right in the middle of David’s two “I will” declarations we can see a familiar battle playing out. David tries to change his conduct, but quickly recognizes he must have God’s help. He cries out to God “Oh, when will You come to me?” I sense urgency in this request as David struggles to live out his commitment. As much as he desires perfect conduct and a perfect heart, David knows that he is unable to sustain this behavior in any meaningful way. In his own strength he will repeatedly try and fail.

Like David, we can experience a desire for a victorious and transformed life; however it is important to note that a mere desire is not enough. We must make a determined choice to pursue it by turning to God for His guiding and equipping. David asked God, “Oh, when will You come to me?” We still need to cry out to God for His help, but unlike David, we have access to the Holy of Holies and we have been assured that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil 4:13).

Jacque B.

Seasoned with Encouragement and Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. Who comforts us in all our tribulations that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Have you ever stopped to consider how powerful a spoken word inspired by the Holy Spirit is to those who need to be encouraged and comforted?

Scripture records a special interaction between two relatives in Luke 1:39-47, that gives us an example of a word that brings encouragement. Let’s consider what scripture reveals.

Mary didn’t waste time after receiving a message from the Angel of the Lord. She quickly left for the hills of Judah, to visit her cousin Elizabeth.

Do you ever stop to consider what this young mother was thinking about on her journey. I wonder if she was lonely and afraid. I know the Angel of the Lord told her not to be afraid, but she was entering uncharted waters. Although scripture doesn’t answer those questions it does record a confirmation of what the Angel of the Lord told Mary earlier and I’m certain that was both encouraging and comforting.

Mary stepped into Zechariah and Elizabeth’s home and greeted Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s baby jumped inside the womb and she was immediately filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth proclaimed “Blessed are you among woman and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” In addition, scripture records Elizabeth exclaiming, “Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.

Elizabeth’s Spirit filled words prompted Mary to proclaim in Luke 1:46-47 “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. In this wonderful outburst of praise and worship inspired by the Holy Spirit, Mary joyously lifted her voice to the skies and rejoiced with a her strength.

I pray that you are a woman empowered by the Holy Spirit and that the Word of God is on your lips, so that your able to encourage and comfort others.

Micah E.

His Divine Power

Today I had a root canal done; now this process was not easy. First, the Endodontic (a specialist) had to inject pain killer three times to make sure I was numb before proceeding to work on the root. Then he started to perform oral surgery on my tooth, this process involved drilling, pushing, and suctioning. The DDS was so gentle; he explained each procedure from the noise of the drills from high pitched to a loud grinding noise. He was so gentle when he placed the needle in my gums. The whole surgery took one hour. Afterwards, he explained what he did he showed me the before and after pictures of my tooth. The whole experience was awesome because I was in the hands of a gentle Doctor, who removed the decaying and infected root. He put medication in the root so it would heal. Yes there is pain, pain that brought me to dentist, pain during the removal and restoration of the root and now pain as it heals.

So too, we experience the removal of the infected decaying old man by a loving Father who through His Word and the Holy Spirit makes us new a man. Galatians 5: 17 say “The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict. V 18 But when you are directed by the Holy Spirit you are no longer subject to the law.”

Unfortunately, this sin nature rears itself when I gossip, become jealous, have selfish ambitions, quarreling, outbursts of anger and not being submissive to authority figures in my life. Praise God, that He doesn’t leave us in this state but He changes us to be like him. 2 Peter 1:3 says that “as we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness.” He has given us His word, the Holy Spirit, prayer, fellowship and worship. The more we know Him, our sinful natures is being removed and replaced with His nature. Galatians 5:22 says “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Yes, when he reveals all the ugliness in my life, he is in the process of removing the decayed old man, it is painful, but that pain results in a new person, a new life. Also during this process we have His promise that we are equipped, He gave us his divine power to live a godly life. Therefore, remember His promise, act on His promise by knowing his divine power in you.

Elsa D.

Wisdom as we Change in Order to Mature

So it has taken me 7 months to lose the weight that I have been wanting to lose (yeah). I share this, not to boast, but rather to share a point that God used this time to show me. This time around, my attempts at weight loss did not come easily at all. I was becoming frustrated and was about to give up. I began to pray really crying out for peace with where I was or for guidance with what I should do next. What worked (to manage my weight) in my 20’s did not work in my 30’s. What worked in my 30’s, did not work in my 40’s. You get the picture.

In our spiritual walk, many times we begin to take this same (lack of) approach. We think that the way we went about doing being in His Word should stay the same. We do not take into account our changes, prior knowledge, new circumstances, etc. By doing so, we may end up being stuck in our growth much like being stuck in our weight loss.
While His Word never changes (Malachai 3:6), we do. Parts of our bodies work slower and parts might stop working all together. We need to make adjustments in our approach to many things. In the same way, God wants us to exhibit signs of maturity, He wants us to be doers of His Word not just observers. He wants us to wean ourselves from spiritual milk and soft food and move into healthier, meatier food with more substance. Thus life in general and spiritually can become more meaningful.

Benjamin Jowett, an influential theologian, wrote, “Though I am growing old, I maintain that the best is yet to come-the time when one may see things more dispassionately and know myself and others more truly, and perhaps be able to do more, and in religion rest centered in a few simple truths. I do not want to ignore the other side, that one will not be able to see so well or walk so far or read so much. But there may be more peace within, more communications with God, more real light instead of distraction about many things, better relations with others, and fewer mistakes.”

We are encouraged to make changes and adaptations, taking into account our physical and mental changes, but embracing these to help us continue to grow. With our weight management, as our metabolism slows down, we are not told to give up or to completely stop eating, but rather we are encouraged to make changes and find new approaches to food and exercise. In the same way, we should be encouraged to not stop reading His Word, but rather to find new approaches or new groups in order to foster continued growth. 2Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to a god as a workman…accurately handling the word of truth.”

My prayer is that we may continue our growth while focusing on His Word until we meet Him for even more intimate studies in heaven.

Alex B

Finding Joy in Trials

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have it’s perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:1-6.

At times, the last emotion we would expect ourselves to feel is joy when we just lost our job, when the laundry pile is taller than we are, when the bills are mounting and your paycheck was gone the day you got it, when your kids are sick or when you’ve just been told that you have cancer. We don’t even want to think about perseverance when just making it through the day seems impossible. James tells us to consider these trials pure joy. What was he thinking?

Trials can make us feel depressed, helpless and out of control. When we let our problems overwhelm us, thinking that the burden is ours alone to take care of, Satan loves this. He loves it when we put all of our energy into anger and denial. Satan is waiting for the chance to fill our minds with doubt and frustration. He tells us that God allowed these things to happen to us because we don’t deserve any better. Satan may even convince us that God doesn’t love us and that’s why He allowed these trials to happen, which will eventually drive us away from God.

But according to James our trials are really sources of joy because they are signs that God loves us and wants to pull us closer to him. Trials are a good thing when they bring us to our knees to ask God for help. Our faith is strengthened as we give God the control and put our trust wholly in God’s promise. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28.

Paul struggled with many trials in his life but he realized that in his weakest moments, God’s work in his life was the strongest. Like Paul, we persevere when we lean on God’s power and trust completely in his promises.

God knows we are weak and our faith is sometimes shaky but the blessing for those who persevere under trial is contentment and peace. It is the contentment and peace that comes from knowing that God is in complete control of this world and He has only our best interest in mind, knowing with confidence that our earthly life will end with eternal life in heaven.

This is the joy that James is talking about; a deep-seated contentment and peace that we have through Jesus.

Patti S.