Saturday, August 24, 2013

GIFTS OF THE HEART

I have so missed writing my blog!!! So much going on in my life right now prevents me the time to write.  Yet today as I was cleaning out some cabinets, going through some old journals and writings of mine, I ran across this piece I wrote in 1984!!!!!  I remembered these events like they were yesterday and still remember how much these special "gifts of the heart" touched me.  So I decided to share this with you today in hopes that it will inspire YOU to be a "people angel" too, and share a gift of the heart with someone who crosses your path in need of that special touch.

Do you love presents?  I do!! I am still a child at heart, I guess.   The sight of a gayly wrapped package always excites me, especially when MY name is written on it!  I have received some wonderful gifts, too. Just this past CHRISTmas my mother gave me a set of gorgeous crystal. . My mother in law has made me several ceramic pieces which I will always treasure.  My sweet husband has always showers me with wonderful gifts.  Our first CHRISTmas he gave me a beautiful gold heart necklace which I still wear.  And many, many more gifts, too numerous to mention.

But, you know, as wonderful as these and all the hundreds of other lovely gifts I've received are, they can never compare with the gifts of the heart which I've received.

You see a gift of the heart is more than an earthly treasure which "moth and rust can corrupt and thieves can break through and steal". A gift of the heart is eternal and its memory never fades.

I will never forget the first time I realized I'd been blessed with a gift of the heart by a "people angel".  I was in my early 20's and my people angel was my mother.  We worked at the same place, but we usually arrived at different times.  She came an hour early to enjoy her coffee and newspaper and I usually arrived a minute or two late because, unlike her, morning is NOT my time of the day.  However, this morning was different.  It was Wednesday and on Wednesday we both arrived an hour early to attend devotional services.

My husband and I had had a disagreement the night before and had not yet settled things.  My heart ached and I hated the silence between us.  All the way to work I had poured out my heart to the Lord.  As I walked into the building, Mother stopped me and handed me the most exquisite red rose I'd ever seen.  All she said was "I brought you something!".  She smiled and walked away.  She had no idea what she had done.  She had no idea that she'd just delivered a gift of the heart.

Big Deal, you say?  It WAS a big deal to me!  I was heartsick and I had cried unto the Lord and to me that red rose said "I heard you, my Child.  Everything is going to be ok."  And in just a couple of hours, my husband called and invited me to lunch and everything was made fine.

My most recent gift of the heart came just days ago.  As I said, I'm a child at heart.  I love birthdays and think they should be celebrated with all the pomp and circumstance possible, whether you're one or one hundred.

Well, my 32nd birthday came and went as uneventful as washday.  Oh, I received some lovely gifts from my family and they all wished me "Happy Birthday".  But that was over and done with in 5 minutes and that was it for my birthday celebration.  My husband had to work that night so our usual birthday dinner was off.  No cards arrived in the mail.  No calls came until after 7:00 pm and NO BIRTHDAY CAKE.  

Now no birthday cake should not have bothered me for I had not had one since I was 13.  Oh I had had cakes, ice cream or pies every year.  But not a G E N U I N E birthday cake complete with candles and "HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAT" written on it!  And for some reason that missing cake this year just did me in.  I thought this year might be different.  In fact, I had almost bought myself one, but I changed my mind at the last minute.  I just felt so alone, so forgotten and just plain unimportant.  I was really in despair.

The next morning, I woke up thinking, "Well forget it.  It's gone til next year...maybe NEXT year will be different."  But I just couldnt' shake the blues.  A friend called and after a few minutes of conversation she asked what was wrong.  I told her I didn't really know...I was just low and didn't care for anyone or anything that day.

That afternoon about 5:00 pm, someone knocked at my door.  When I opened the door there stood that friend along with another close friend of mine.  They both smiled and said "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Sorry we're a day late!"  In their hands was a real honest to goodness birthday cake with MY name on it and candles too.  The tears began to flow and the despair was washed away in a flood of love and concern.

That was a gift of the heart!  The cake itself was temporal and was gone in a day, but the love and concern that it represented will never leave my heart.  I had not mentioned WHY I was down to either of them, and had not mentioned birthday cake to either of them.  Yet they had sensed a real need in my life and they responded with a gift of the heart.  They could not not have known that NOTHING they could have done would have thrilled me more.

A gift of the heart originates in the heart of God and is transferred to the heart of a people angel by His precious Holy Spirit.  More often than not, the people angel has no idea the impact a small insignificant deed or word or gift will make on their recipient.  But to the one on the receiving end, it almost always comes as a direct response to a heart that is crying out in despair or grief or heartsickness.

If we are available and in tune with God's Spirit, we too can be a people angel.  There are those around us every day who are in dire need of a gift of the heart.  And when God impresses you to go to someone or call someone or bake someone a cake, even if you don't know why, do NOT suppress the urge.  God may be calling YOU to be a people angel and to make delivery of a gift of the heart.

Now that was almost 30 years ago, yet I have been blessed by many gifts of the heart since then.  And I've delivered a few of my own.  The invention of email has really been a great tool for delivering those gifts.  I can't tell you how many times I've felt impressed to email a friend or to forward a devotional that I thought might bless them, only to receive a reply that said "You have no idea how much I needed that today!"  And they were right.  I didn't.  But God did.  So I again I say to you.  Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  When you are prompted to send a card, an email, make a visit or take a gift, DO IT.  Don't ignore the urge, even if it seems odd to you.  I guarantee you, you will be a blessing as you deliver that gift of the heart.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

JOURNEY TO EASTER

Journey to Easter

Like me, most of you are busy with your day to day lives. We have our daily schedules which are overly full, then we add to that the "extra-ordinary" things that are occuring....babies being born, children getting married, people moving from one location to another, doctor visits, family illnesses, deaths, special projects we are undertaking, preparing our yards for spring.....the list could go and on! All of these are just part of life. Yet in the midst of all this busyness, we need to stop and reflect upon the significance of this coming Sunday..... Easter.

That day changed MY life..........has it changed yours?


I'd like to invite you to take a journey with me this week, back to Jerusalem, back to the roots of the first Easter. Let's take a few moments for the remainder of this week and reflect upon how Jesus, the centerpiece of Easter, spent his last week on this earth. Maybe by doing that, it will help us to truly appreciate Easter and make it truly a day to celebrate.


This past Sunday was Palm Sunday. What does that mean? Well, scripture tells us that on Sunday, Jesus arrived in Jerusalem and entered the city on the back of a donkey. So why is that such a big deal? Let's look a little further:


Matt. 21: 1-7
"When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethpage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, telling them, 'Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you should say that the Lord needs them and immediately he will send them' This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled,
"Tell Daughter Zion See your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden" (Is 62:11, Zec 9:9)

The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their robes on them and He sat on them."

The Roman leaders (who were then occupying Jerusalem) had probably paraded through the streets earlier that day. It was almost time for Passover and everyone would be entering the city in preparation for it. It was customary for the Roman royalty to come through in a fine chariot, the red carpet rolled out before them, the colors flying, a parade of great splendor! But when Jesus comes, he comes riding on the back of a lowly donkey, with borrowed robes for a saddle. He was probably followed by a rag tag group of followers, children, lame, poor, who were all expecting Him to become their king, roust the Romans from Jerusalem and FINALLY set up his kingdom. They laid palm branches and their coats on the road for him to ride in on, it was the best they could do. They had great expectations, yet little did they know what the week would bring as they shouted Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to God in the Highest!!

When He arrived in the city, he was not bowing and waving, cheering on the crowd and enjoying his moment of triumphal entry. No, he wept. He wept for Jerusalem. Luke 19: 41 says "As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it ..." He wept because they had hardened their hearts. He wept because they would not believe He was their Messiah. He wept for their loss.

Today Jesus comes to man and too often man does not recognize Him. They are looking for someone or something different and they fail to see Him as He really is. He has come to seek and to save that which is lost. John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that WHOSOEVER believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." Many are expecting something else from life. They are looking in all the wrong places. When what they really need is Jesus and He is right in front of them, yet they cannot see. It breaks His heart.

Even those of us who are His often miss seeing Him. We are so busy with our everyday lives that we miss the evidence of His presence all around us. I encourage you this week, TODAY...to look around, to realize how God is with you every moment of every day. He is in the small things and the BIG things! See him in the beauty of spring. See him in the blessings He loads you with every day. See him in the answered prayers. See him in the unexpected blessings that seem to just come from nowhere. It is NOT coincidence, it is NOT luck, it is your Heavenly Father who loves you and loves to give you good gifts. And even in the midst of your storms, He is there. He is holding your hand, watching over you, caring for you, meeting your needs before you even realize you have one.
This week, LOOK FOR HIM.. Be aware. Do not be asleep as those in Jerusalem were! Dont' miss the blessings!! Open your heart this week. Ask God to help you SEE Him as you have never SEEN Him before. If you don't know Him, ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He will!

Easter is coming!!!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

COME LET US ADORE HIM

On this Sunday morning, Lord, I want to worship YOU.

I acknowledge who you are...

The Messiah

Our Lord and Savior

King of Kings and Lord of Lords

The Alpha and Omega, The Beginning and the End

Creator God

Sovereign

Holy

Righteous

You alone deserve our worship and praise.

You came into this world in a lowly stable, born to a peasant girl and boy.

Your first bed was a manger filled with hay.

Your first witnesses to your glory, the ordinary cows and sheep and donkeys.

Your first visitors were common men...shepherds.

But you were anything but common.  Anything but ordinary.

Your story began in a garden, became manifested in a stable, was lived out on a cruel cross and will one day culminate in Heaven around the throne of God!

You and you alone are God.  You deserve all of our worship and all of our praise.

May you be our central focus today.  Not a man...not a teacher...not a particular church...not a style of music or a song....just YOU!

Worthy....Worthy is the Lamb of God.  Worthy of all honor and glory and praise!!




Wednesday, November 28, 2012

STINKIN' THINKIN'

I woke up yesterday with a lot on my mind.  A ton of things that needed my attention, things weighing on my heart, and I really wasn't sure where to begin.  I had fixed my coffee and was standing in the middle of my kitchen, contemplating what to do first.  I breathed a prayer and said "Lord, what do I do first?!"  At that moment, my eyes fell on my Bible lying on the kitchen table.  It was almost as if God shined a spotlight on it.  I sort of laughed, and said "Ok...I hear you."  Although I would be leading a Bible study in a few hours in my home and I did need to look over my notes, I sensed that I just needed to open it up and let God speak.

I did and He did.

After flipping through several passages, I landed where I almost always do...Psalms.  My eyes fell on the verses 9-10 of Psalm 119, "I have sought you with my whole heart.  Do not let me wander from your commands."  I felt that voiced the desire of my heart.  I continued reading and then came to verses 15, 16

"I will meditate on your precepts
I will think on your ways
I will delight in your statutes
I will not forget your word."

Those words just jumped off the page at me!  Two reasons.  One, I am the world's worst at rehearsing my woes over and over and over in my mind.  What I should have done or said, what can I do or say, how can I fix this, what if....., etc."  I talk to the Lord constantly about them (not a bad thing, but I have a feeling even HE sometimes wishes I'd give it a rest!).  I know better.  I know not to dwell on those things, not to worry, but I still do.

So when I read those words, it was as if God was reminding me GET YOUR MIND ON THE RIGHT THINGS !!

The second reason was that the Bible study I've been leading has been about God's Story.  We have been doing a chronological study of the Word of God and the one thread we have seen throughout the Bible has been the thread of Bible literacy and how important it is to the survival of a nation and of a life on a personal level.  These verses speak directly to that!

So I have challenged those in my Bible study to memorize these 2 verses for next week.

The first line says "I will meditate on your precepts."  

What does it mean to "meditate"?  Webster defines meditate: "to focus one's thoughts on, to ponder, to chew over, to study, to question, to 'kick around', to wrestle with."

What are precepts?  "A command or principle intended especially as a general rule of action".  

So, if we are to "mediate on your precepts", we will ponder, chew on, wrestle with and question a command or principle put forth in the Word of God.  That will require more than a mere glance at this principle or verse.  It will require that we take it with us, either by memory or in written form.  We will think on it again and again throughout our day.  We will contemplate what it means for us specifically.  We will ask the Lord to open the eyes of our understanding to His meaning for us and for our lives.  Once we begin to do that, we will begin to "own" that verse.  It will no longer just be words on a page.  It will be personal to us, to our situation, and that is when, I believe, that God will begin to change us and maybe even our circumstances.

"I will think about your ways."  God's ways are not our ways.  He is our role model.  When we begin to think about and read about His ways, we will learn to follow after Him.  We will begin to see how He wants us to live.  That, too, will change our lives.  We are to be image bearers to the world, witnesses to the world of the life that resides within us as believers.  If we never give any thought to God's ways, we will never be like Him.

"I will delight in your statutes."  A statute is defined as "an ordinance or a law."   God gave a number of laws and ordinances for us to live by.  Do we "delight" in them?  We should.  They are for our good and for our protection.  It is important for us to know what they are so that we can live within their boundaries.  We can feel secure and cared for when we know the laws that God has instituted for our good and when we obey them.  God never enacted any rule or law to harm us.  Just like we, as parents, make rules for the good of our children, so God has made rules for the good of us, His children.  It just shows He loves us and wants what is best for us.  For that reason, we CAN delight in His laws.

"I will not forget your Word."  If we are meditating on His Word, thinking on His ways, and delighting ourselves in His laws, we will NOT forget His Word.  It will become a part of us.  If we allow God's Word to fill our minds rather than our problems, agendas, and concerns, we will find those things somehow becoming "strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace". 

I challenge you to memorize those verses with us this week and free your mind from "stinkin' thinkin'"!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

WOE TO AMERICA!!

 After the children of Israel (the Israelites) went into the Promised Land, the land of Canaan, which God had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they were to possess the land, removing the people from each of the territories and removing ALL vestiges of their religious practices.  The Israelites were to be a 'set-apart' people, God's peculiar treasure.  They were to demonstrate to the world what it would look like to live in obedience to the one true God.  They were given strict laws and statutes to follow so that they would not in any way resemble these pagan nations.  God promised manifold blessings for their obedience, BUT....He also warned them if they did not obey, there would be severe consequences.  They were a wicked, obstinate, stiff-necked people and they continually strayed from His paths.   Time after time He showed them mercy.  He pursued them.  He sent prophets to warn them they were going to face dire consequences if they did not repent and turn back to Him.  They refused.  So, He took His hand off of them and allowed foreign nations to take them into exile for 70 years.  II Kings 17: 7-20 explains:
 

 All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced. The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right. From watchtower to fortified city they built themselves high places in all their towns. 10 They set up sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. 11 At every high place they burned incense, as the nations whom the Lord had driven out before them had done. They did wicked things that aroused the Lord’s anger. 12 They worshiped idols, though the Lord had said, “You shall not do this.”[a] 13 The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your ancestors to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.”
14 But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.”
16 They forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal. 17 They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.
18 So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left, 19 and even Judah did not keep the commands of the Lord their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced. 20 Therefore the Lord rejected all the people of Israel; he afflicted them and gave them into the hands of plunderers, until he thrust them from his presence.


Fast forward to 2012:

America left the God of her founding fathers and chose to worship what man could create.  Man's inventions and creations became the gods of America.  They sought money more than God.  Bigger houses, cars, vacation homes, and all kinds of technology soon consumed them.  The Word of God was removed from the schools and evolution and the Big Bang Theory was taught in their place.  The Ten Commandments were ripped from schools and courthouses and situational ethics became the by-word.  Children were murdered in the womb and old people were tossed aside as worthless.   Hollywood became their god, parading sexual immorality before their eyes and perversion of every sort, til their minds and hearts were corrupted.  What God called an abomination was legalized and uplifted, being taught as an alternate lifestyle in the schools and accepted in the pulpits.  The Word of the Lord was watered down and re-translated to suit the people.  False prophets proclaimed a false gospel but the people were too blind to see.  America has been led astray and no longer worships God, but does what is right in their own eyes and one day God's judgment will fall as surely as it did on the house of Israel!

 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

WILL WE BE BLINDSIDED??

"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered into the ark.  And knew not until the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Matt. 24: 37-39

So what was it like in the days of Noah...the days preceding the flood?  Genesis 6: 5 tells us, 'And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that EVERY imagination of the thoughts of his heart was ONLY evil CONTINUALLY."

Did you get that??

EVERY thought of his heart...not some of his thoughts....not an occasional thought of his heart....EVERY thought of his heart was ONLY evil CONTINUALLY!!

Let that sink in a moment...........

I think things are pretty bad now.  Just to peruse the TV programs on right now can make you sick to your stomach.  There is literally NOTHING they won't put on television or in movies now.  And what's worse, PEOPLE WATCH IT!!

It is as if all moral restraint has been removed.  There is nothing off-limits any more.  The old saying of "If it feels good, do it" is the motto of the day.

Yet there ARE godly people still left on this earth.  People who love the Lord Jesus and serve Him and worship Him.  So with that in mind, at least we can't say that EVERY thought of EVERY heart is ONLY evil CONTINUALLY....yet.

Still, it should make us aware how close we are to being there.

But, there's more.  God says that when the end times draw near, people will be doing life as normal, oblivious to the coming danger.  Noah had warned the people of his day for 120 years that judgment was coming.  No one paid him any attention.  He was just that insane guy building a huge boat in the middle of the desert! They were, you might say, blindsided by the flood that killed them all.

Last week our embassy was attacked in Libya.  Our ambassador was murdered and so were 3 other Americans.  Yet as I strolled through Facebook yesterday and today, I saw almost nothing about it.  No one seemed to care.  There was more outrage over football games than anything else.

And while the games played, and our teams won or lost, while Rocky Top was sung, "whopigsooie" and "hoddy-toddy" were yelled,  a world away our troops were being sent to the Persian Gulf along with other countries' naval forces as Israel prepares for possible war with Iran.*  Did anyone notice?

The U. S. has always been a strong ally of Israel.  I should hope so, for Zechariah 2:8 says "For thus says the LORD of hosts, “After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, [Israel] for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.  Our president has said America "will always have Israel's back".  Unfortunately, his actions speak louder than his words.  Israeli President Netanyahu will be in New York for the opening of the UN General Assembly and has requested a meeting with President Obama either there in NY or in Washington.  Our President's response?  Too busy.  Just no time in his busy schedule.  But...he WILL have time to appear on the TONIGHT show with David Letterman.* 

We are going about our busy lives just as in the days of Noah.   Doing business as usual.  Yet in the blink of an eye, our entire world could suddenly be turned upside down!  It's almost like watching a movie as the plot thickens and you can tell by the "JAWS" type music, that something BIG is about to happen.  The suspense is building up to the climax as the music swells.  You want to yell at the people "LOOK OUT!! CAN'T YOU SEE WHAT'S ABOUT TO HAPPEN??"  But, of course, they can't hear you.  They are about to be blindsided and there is nothing we can do to help them.

I wonder if God is trying to wake us up as well and we are all too busy with football and our jobs and our other activities to notice the impending doom.

I'm not trying to be dramatic.  Yet I can't help but wonder.  Are we on the brink of being blindsided??


Joel Rosenberg put it best:

"To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.

We didn't understand the threat posed by Adolph Hitler and the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930's and we were blindsided by the invasion of Europe and the death camps of the Holocaust.

We didn't understand the threat imposed by Imperial Japan in 1941 and we were blindsided by the attack at Pearl Harbor.

We didn't understand the threat imposed by Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda in 2001and we were blindsided by the attacks of September 11th."*  I remember that day.  I remember it well.  And I never want to feel the way I felt that day again in my life!! 

Maybe it's time we woke up, looked around and paid attention to what is happening on the other side of the world.  If we don't, we may wake up one morning soon to find life as we once knew it here in America to be gone for good.  

Instead of burying our heads in the sand, maybe we need to fall on our knees and cry out to God for our country, our upcoming election and for all those fighting men and women who are standing on the wall for us and fighting for our freedom.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

*http://flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/state-of-the-epicenter-2012-a-great-darkness-is-descending/





 

 





Friday, August 17, 2012

THE ANGUISHED HEART

The pain of the anguished heart is deep. It is a cutting pain, one that sears and threatens to take the very breath of life away.

Hatred and rejection are the knives that drive deep into the heart, cutting so deeply that the blood of heartbreak flows freely. How could something cause such searing pain and not be tangible? Yet the pain is as real as the slicing away of an appendage of the body without anesthetic.

Why would one human being choose to inflict this kind of anguish on another? It is not random. It is not accidental. No, but rather deliberate, calculated and enjoyed by the perpetrator. It almost seems to produce a sense of satisfaction to that one who is inflicting this pain upon its subject.

Jesus was acquainted with grief in all points like we are (Heb. 14: 15). Isaiah also tells us that Jesus was a man of sorrows “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. (Is 53:3). Yes Jesus knew a lot about the anguished heart.

It humbles me and deeply moves me that He would willingly endure such grief and heartache in order to reach me. I've often thought about how He bore the nails for me, but have never given much thought to how he endured the rejection, being despised, and hated, just for me. He knew the meaning of an anguished heart. For the rest of the verse in Isaiah says “we hid as it were our faces from Him; he was despised and we esteemed Him not.”

So only Jesus can understand the anguished heart. He alone can identify with one who is suffering from the blows of rejection and being despised. But He does. He knows. He understands. He cares. He has not left us alone to bear these burdens. He invites us to “cast all our cares on Him, for He cares for us.”

Furthermore, His love is not like human love. It does not end. It is everlasting, eternal, infinite, unconditional. Though we may be hated, despised, or rejected by those in this life, God will NEVER give up on us, nor reject us, nor ever, ever ,ever stop loving us!!!!!!!!!!!!

This song expresses it so well............