I received a prayer request last night close to bedtime. It was for my dear friend I’ve been singing with for 52 years. All of his family (kids and grandkids) are at Disneyworld having left last Friday. That very night he became quite ill so one of his sons, who is a medical doctor, took him to the hospital. They say it is pancreatitis. They’re keeping him for a couple of days. The prayer request is that he’ll quickly get better so he and his family can enjoy their vacation together. This hit me like a hammer. Our friendship has been for so long and always solid, I just hadn’t ever seen him as fragile. Yet, all I need to do is remind myself we are flesh–human. That is enough to know we are temporary in our present state.
Our step study lesson this week has been to journal what has been good each day, bad each day, what we did to face each of them and lastly, record any patterns one sees from the week. I’ve been one who journals for many years now. However, consciously watching for patterns was a good reminder. I know that when I am tired I am vulnerable. Also, when I am totally alone I can be too. As I was journaling this morning and talking to Jesus about this, He reminded me to not only turn from the temptation, but to also look up to Him as I turn. Seeing Christ in the midst of temptation is solid. I lived a long time thinking I’d been abandoned so now being able to see Christ at these times is a blessing of His Love and His Grace. How I love this Savior, Lord and Friend–Jesus Christ. (He is also my friend’s HEALER!)
Today is not the typical Saturday. We have an 8:30 am mtg which is followed by a 9:30 practice for tomorrow’s worship for which I’m taking part. Following that I have another practice for the funeral service Monday for my dear friend’s mom. When I get home some other friends are coming by to pick me up so I can show them where the two Free Methodist churches were in a couple neighboring towns. They no longer exist but this particular friend is a social history researcher. She wasn’t raised in this area so she said she is dying to know where these sites were. I’m sure she’ll take pictures for her records. I was raised attending one of them and my family attended the other one at the time of my birth. For me, it will just be fun to spend some hours with them.
Yesterday I mentioned the 9:00 am mtg. It was one of those where God’s presence and influence had to take charge or else it was going to go down quickly. After about 20 minutes I could see the downward spiral and I prayed inwardly for God’s Almighty Holy Spirit to take charge and help the ones talking to hear each other with understanding and stop trying to defend their own message. The meeting ended after 1.5 hours where both parties agreed their greatest strength is their passion and in this case their greatest weakness was their passion. It had closed their ears from hearing the other one. God’s presence made all the difference and the meeting ended with a great plan for moving forward. I just love watching God work!
As only God does, one of the situations of yesterday has a 9:00 meeting this morning addressing it. I have been invited to attend. God is always amazing and I give praise to Him even now for the outcome. He is our One and Only True God!
Last night our Celebrate Recovery testimony was a video. The gentleman sharing his recovery story had a different one from mine, with the exception of the influences of his dad. Promises were made by his dad which always were left unfulfilled. By the time this man was entering adulthood his attitude towards God carried much defective thinking. As only God orchestrates, the last year of his father’s life was spent in the home of this man. During this time he found out just who his father was as a person. The gentleman said in the end, “I found out my dad really did love me, he just was a very poor father.” I wrote this down because it truly resonated with me. There were so many times I had wished I weren’t my dad’s son. I hadn’t looked at my dad as a person until last night separating him as father from him as a person. It would have been so much easier to have been a neighbor to dad or a friend to him. He treated all of them so much differently. Today I realize the truth of this man’s statement: “I found out my dad did love me, he just was a very poor father.”
When I finally had talked with my dad a few weeks before his death, I shared what my counselor had wanted me to share. It was then that dad told me, “I told everyone I knew how proud I was of you, I guess I just forgot to tell you.” Dad’s message to me that day was heard but it didn’t at that time replace the depth of damage his previous ones had caused. Last night’s speaker helped me close this door. I can now see dad as a person who was different than the one who was my father. Dad was a good man, he just wasn’t a good father.
The morning is quiet, no noises anywhere except in my head. There are questions about today’s work–finishing a school district’s federal review, a training this afternoon, a meeting following that with one of my pastors and then Celebrate Recovery tonight. Along with this there is trouble others are having which don’t have ready solutions. I’d like to help, but how to do this and if I should isn’t clear. Satan would like for this to destroy my day. However, I’ve bound him in the Mighty Name of Jesus Christ! He has no authority over me and none over these situations unless we choose to not follow Christ Jesus in them and the nudges He will give at the moment we need to respond or withhold from responding.
I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When I am weak, HE is STRONG. Today I surrender and want to stay surrendered so His Light will be the Light which leads in every area. This Light is also the LIGHT where Satan has to flee. His darkness is not only penetrated, but his darkness can have no residence when Christ Jesus is given authority.
Today has begun before I even got out of bed. There was a text for me from a struggling man needing to talk. We spent time on the phone where he vented and I prayed for him. He is truly in the pit of despair regarding his life’s current status and rightfully so. I know God is only beginning to awaken him to HIM, but he is so low he isn’t seeing any Light at the moment. We have probably all been at this point, and can relate. It is at this point in my own life when a dear lady who is now in heaven, told me I must be loved dearly by God or else I wouldn’t be struggling like I was. She went on to say that it will be from this struggle that God will eventually give me tremendous use for Him. Little did I know then what she was talking about. That is where I find this young man today. But, today I know much better how to pray for him and trust completely for him in the God we serve. I’d ask you to join me in praying for him.
The other thing I wanted to put in this blog today is the continued Light God is shedding of late about His Faithfulness. Today’s message is all about GRACE. My learning is that Grace is abundant when we are surrendered. Whatever effort we make to control the day for our sake, the more we restrict God’s Grace from being known. The other thing is that Grace is known for the present day. Even the Lord’s Prayer tells us, “Give us this day our daily bread….” It is not given for the future. It is given for today. The torments of life and all it holds are given Grace in the present. So our faith/trust needs only to be for today. There’s an abundant amount to hang onto here. My personal learning need is to remember this part about “today”. God’s Grace is for today. How I love Him for this!
As I had gotten out of bed and dressed I did what I always do–go to the coffee pot and pour my first cup. Well, when I found it empty I thought for a moment I’d forgotten to prepare it the night before, yet the new grounds were in it and water was in the reservoir. It too had entered the gates of heaven leaving me without my Folgers! Kathy has a Keurig so I resorted to using it. Enough of that.
As I began to journal I seemed to be greeted not only by Jesus, but by a kind, kingly Father. I was taken back by this. I have journaled to Jesus for years but today it was as though God my Father was welcoming me also, so I greeted Him too. Then as I began my devotional reading I found them to be addressing the loving Father our God is. Even in Nehemiah, the book I’m now reading in my Bible reading, was talking about the peoples’ need to worship and give thanks to their Heavenly Father. They had just finished rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem and rebuilt all of the gates. It was time to rejoice and give thanks to their Father who had provided their needs and protected them during this time.
I didn’t know an earthly father who was kind and loving. However, God is certainly demonstrating what He wants me (us) to know about what it is like to have a Father who is kingly as well as kind, nurturing and loving. Leadership doesn’t need to be cruel. I lived so much of my life knowing what I didn’t want to be. God has done so much to show me (us) what being a father is to be like. Today I give praise and honor to my Heavenly Dad. Tears well up inside of me just writing this.
Last evening a dear saint entered the gates of heaven. She is the mother to dear friends–a lady as sweet and saintly as all of us kids thought about our own mom. Her name is Betty. She and her husband loved to party and create a party for everyone. As I journaled this morning thanking Jesus for Betty’s entrance, I realized they were likely still partying! Betty’s husband passed into heaven last May and so they are now gloriously and eternally dancing for Jesus!
Yesterday’s sermon by our pastor told a line for which I want to remember. It was, “Delayed obedience is instant disobedience.” As soon as I was writing it down on my bulletin I heard God’s nudge to go sing Betty’s song to her. Several months ago she had asked me to sing a certain song for her funeral service. We had just been to their home Saturday evening and had sung a few songs to her then but not this particular one. So, when I got home from step study I asked Kathy if she wanted to go and off we went. I could tell time was short when we arrived. This morning I sense so strongly the meaning of the statement I heard. I so often try to negotiate what to do and when to do it with God’s nudges. However, yesterday brought clarity to me about any negotiating with God. Instead, I want to simply be obedient at the moment.
Our God is so much more than our human mind can grasp. But, what I do grasp only inspires me to seek Him more and more. He is so interested in every detail of our lives. Getting to be a Light-bearer for Him is such a privilege!
Yesterday was one of those days for which I’d like all days to be. Everything that I wanted to get done got done and in so doing, it was fun. Much of that had to do with the fact that gardening played a big part in a couple of the activities. This morning as I was thanking God for the day and praising Jesus for being so good, I heard that still small voice saying, “It is one thing to thank me for tasks, it is altogether another thing to thank me for who I made you to be.” I get overly involved daily in the tasks of the day and at the end of the day I rate my worthwhileness by the quality of the tasks done. I know not to find value (worth) in this, but I find myself doing it even without realizing it. God was pointing out to me that I can be joyful for a good, nice day; but, first and foremost, be joyful and thankful for who I am in Him–Jesus Christ. That is the value I have in God. What a blessed thought–knowing God is proud of us because–first, He created us and we choose to worship Him. I sure love this God of ours!
My humanness drifts back into the old ways of thinking and doing, but God is faithful to remind (me) us of Himself and who we are to Him. Praise God!
Have you ever thought about graveyard thinking? This hit me squarely in the face this morning. I was journaling about some mindsets (beliefs) that didn’t fit into the category of a new creation, but fit squarely with the old self. Things like, “I can’t do that Jesus, you know I can’t. I’ve failed every time I’ve tried.” “No matter what I do or say, they go right back to what they were doing.” I could write a hundred of these right now. As I was journaling about dealing with this kind of thinking, Jesus reminded me of Him raising Lazarus from the dead. Even though Lazarus’ sisters knew Jesus well and knew He loved them and their brother, Jesus delayed His coming until Lazarus had been dead 3 days. When Jesus arrived He found them mourning soulfully. Their belief was in the tomb, graveyard.
As I was journaling this morning about some beliefs and habits we come up against I was feeling helpless to know how to address them–move forward giving any kind of sage advice. It was then that Jesus reminded me that my thinking (beliefs) were in the graveyard. I’d buried the hope that “nothing is impossible with God” when one butts up against “these kind of things”. He was right too. For a moment I couldn’t believe anything would change what I was journaling about. However, as soon as I realized where I was coming from (my old self thinking) I surrendered it and will choose once again to believe.
God didn’t raise the old self that we were before Jesus Christ entered our life and leave us with it. He gave us a new life when He raised us from the death of sin! Satan never wants me (us) to live in our new life. I had a moment, but I’m not staying there. Thank you Jesus for reminding me to not live in the graveyard of of my old self. You have given me a new life which is filled with HOPE!
I was looking forward to sleeping a little longer this morning since I didn’t have to be at a school site. I have a lengthy list of things to do today in preparation for the coming week, but I also get to plant some seeds for the greenhouse which makes me happy. For whatever reason, I was fully awake at 5:00 am so I figured God had something He wanted me to learn from Him.
As I began reading my devotions I found a passage standing out to me. It said, “The source of our inspiration in our service for God is behind us, not ahead of us. The tendency today is to put the inspiration out in front–to sweep everything together in front of us and make it conform to our definition of success. But in the New Testament the inspiration is put behind us, and is the Lord Jesus Himself. The goal is to be true to Him–to carry out His plans.” (My Upmost For His Highest)
What stood out to me about this paragraph is the source of the inspiration. I’ve unfortunately always looked at what God had me to do as the source of the inspiration. I knew God was with me but I hadn’t truly recognized Him as the only source of inspiration. The work is to be done, but the inspiration to do it comes from Him. I have always gotten up in the morning to “go do”, that being the inspiration. God is wanting me to be up in the morning “to be” with Him. He is to be my inspiration and what I do He will guide. It is somewhat like He takes me there instead of me going there and meeting Him. I’m not sure I’m making myself very clear but I am needing to be much more cognizant of God within. It is there I find my inspiration to complete His Work for the day.