Turning A New Leaf


Did you turn over an old leaf or a new leaf in 2017? Everything in my old body—which is bound for extinction—desires to turn over an old leaf as the New Year begins. Less eating, less spending and less speaking along with more exercise rise to the top of my list. Everything in my new body in Christ Jesus—which is bound for eternity—leads to Turning a New Leaf. Psalm 1 (read on day one of January) inspired my decision. I resolve to be as a tree planted by streams of water which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither…one who prospers (v.3). 

Ads for fitness products, health choices, life insurance, safety provisions and financial security are touted on airways and cyber space as beneficial for self-preservation and family well being. None of these compare with being firmly planted in faith in God. Therefore, I purpose to edify my faith in 2017 by seeking to know more of God and less of the things of this world. At the end of the year, it is my guess that I will have also eaten, spent and spoken less and exercised more. Turning a New Leaf is a win win resolution! 

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit (Jeremiah 17:7-8) 

The mark of a leaf is dependent on the tree that nourishes it. Trees rooted in Christ produce leaves that live on into eternity. Together let us resolve to turn to God in new ways in 2017.  Turn a New Leaf and leave a faith mark in your family, your community and your Nation.

Let me know what New Leaf Resolutions you are embracing this year. I will gladly support your efforts in prayer.

Mark Your Calendar

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Here are seven reasons why you should attend church with your family on Christmas Day.

 

 

1. The Genealogy of Jesus was complete.
2. Mary believed the angel Gabriel.
3. Joseph obeyed the dream.
4. It was tax time in Bethlehem.
5. Herald angels appeared to shepherds.
6. Wise men from the East followed a Star.
7. Ancient prophecy was fulfilled.

Now, if God sovereignly arranged for all these things to be in place for the birth of Jesus on earth, imagine what he could do in your family on Christmas Morning. Bring God Into the Moment. Make a faith statement to your children today. Tell them why you are Marking Your Calendar—December 25th: Attend worship as a family.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14).

Save the date for a date with the Savior!

Too Little Too Late?

 

imageThis morning I circled my local polling place in prayer—seven times around. I prayed for God’s mercy and His grace. I asked Him to raise his Divine Hand over America. I sought the Lord for repentance and restoration. I begged for His justice and righteousness to blanket our Nation. And,  I entreated our Heavenly Father not to give us what we deserve. Scripture flowed from my lips and praise splashed out of my heart. All glory, honor and praise to our Sovereign and Mighty God. Amen and Amen!

I exhort you to follow suit in your our own community in the next 24 hours. Bring God Into the Moment at your own polling place. Better yet, Join God in His Moment for the sake of the USA and faith in our next generation.

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream. Amos 5:24

Too Little Too Late?”, you might be thinking. NOT! Just ask the boy with five loves and fishes (Matthew 14:13-21). Just ask Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha (John 11:38-44).
If you cannot do seven laps, do one. If you cannot walk, sit in your car in the parking lot. If you cannot leave the house pray at home. For all other can’t or won’t thoughts, consider Hebrews 10:39: But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

CIRCLE UP!”, dear ones. For the sake of faith in the next generation Bring God into your polling place and rest in Him. Let me know how you joined God in His will for our country and the nations of the world. It is Never Too Late on God’s watch!

Through the Roof

As I was cleaning out a pile of papers from the past I found a printed copy of a devotional I wrote over eight years ago.  I read it and discovered I needed it TODAY.   I thought you might need it too!

Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. Luke 5:18-19

Which of life’s occasions takes you through the roof?  Is it disappointment, anger, fear, hopelessness or perhaps just weariness? Sometimes we find ourselves wading through the deep water of our own futility.  When the full realization comes to us that our lack is greater than our need we explode.  In common language, we go through the roofWhen that happens we are prime for an encounter with Jesus.  He is the only one who can override our insufficiency.  My grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9).

In Jesus’ day on earth four men formed a team to reverse the route through the roof.  They came from outside to inside to get to Jesus. They realized that Jesus was the only hope for the man on the mat that they lowered through the roof.  Can you just hear them as they came together to form a healing team? “Hang on, buddy. Help is on the way!” Before he knew it his mat was lying at Jesus’ feet. The overt action of these faithful men spoke louder than their words.

In Luke 5:17 we are told that the power of the Lord was present to heal the sick. The friends of the paralytic revealed Jesus’ power to heal the sick and even more.  The onlooking teachers of the law were aghast at Jesus’ first response to the faith of the men with the mat. Take heart your sins are forgiven. This Man had power to heal and power to forgive. In the process, the physically crippled man became a son to the Living Lord. The Healer revealed his identity as the Son of Man, His authority to forgive, His power to heal and His response to faith in action.  And by the way, His omniscience surfaced when He told them what they were thinking.  Going through the roof may have been daring and risky, but it was not in vain. God used it all to His glory.

Much was revealed about the team of men as well. Their faith produced conviction, compassion and character.

  • Conviction-they knew it was worth the effort and risk of going to extreme measures to get the man to Jesus.
  • Compassion-they took on the paralytic’s plight as their own
  • Character-they had a collective righteousness that brought Jesus’ power to bear on their cause.

In one plunge through a first century country side roof the men fulfilled the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. The man walked out the door.  They exposed Christ to the crowd. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.  Matthew 9:7

How is God revealed in my life?  Am I willing to take overt faith actions on behalf of others? Are conviction, compassion and character markers of my faith?    

Do you know someone in need of the all sufficient Christ? Take them Through the Roof!

God’s timing is perfect. Did you need this focus on God’s Word today?  Let me know!

OPP (opportunity for action): Tell your children the story of Luke 5:18-19. Take your children through the roof to Jesus as they encounter fear, disappointmeant and hopelessness in their young lives.  This will help them grow in the likeness of Jesus which is our What I Desire for our Children # 2 for the month of February. And Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all people. Luke 2:52.

 

 

 

 

The Prisoner Exchange

The American prisoners have been released from captivity in Iran. For this we praise God and offer gratitude for His grace and power. We also continue to pray for the one soul that has not yet been freed and ask God to sustain his family in their waiting. A Bible verse comes to mind as I think of this prisoner’s beloved: I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; I will wait for him.’ Lamentations 3:24

For several days three thoughts have been circling in my mind about the good news of the freedom of these Americans. I share them with you to encourage your faith and inspire worship and thankfulness in your own heart.

+  Once upon a time I, too, was held in captivity by my sin. God so wanted to have a relationship with me that He exchanged the death of His Son for my freedom. I did not earn or deserve such a gift from God. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

+  The Iran/American prisoner exchange was unjust at its core. The guiltless were ransomed for the guilty. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. 1 Peter 3:18

+   It would be unfathomable to think that one of the prisoners whose release had been arranged would have chosen to remain in captivity. How must it grieve God when one of those He sent His Son to die for rejects their freedom in Christ? Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

I earnestly pray that the former American captives will truly live to the fullest in their new found freedom. Likewise, I pray that you and I can do the same…that the Jesus Prisoner Exchange will not be in vain in our own lives. I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed from death to life. John 5:24

It is for your freedom that Jesus died. Go then and live freely in the Good News of the Gospel.

OPP(opportunity for action): Mothers, Grandmothers and all others of faith influence: As we close out January 2016 let us purpose to help our children live in the presence of God (12 Things I Desire for our Children #1). Find ways to bring God into the moment in your home. I encourage you to establish a daily habit of doing a devotion with your child. It will serve to secure their faith conscience and remind them of God’s love for them. Heaven knows they will need these things as God’s presence is diminished in the world around them. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on           on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

The Twelve Gifts of Christmas

 

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As a wife, mother, Grandmother and woman of faith there are 12 things I desire for our children.

I want them …

 

 

1. To live in the presence of God
2. To grow in the likeness of Jesus
3. To find their value and significance in God their Creator
4. To walk in ever-increasing faith
5. To be raised in godly discipline
6. To be surrounded by people who believe in them
7. To know God will fulfill His purpose in their lives
8. To know that God loves them and gave His Son to prove it
9. To trust in the unlimited understanding of God
10. To place their hope in God regardless of their circumstances
11. To earnestly love God and others
12. To reflect godly character and integrity in all they do

These 12 things are the essence of Faith Feedings…12 principles to nourish your child’s spiritual development. Each of these is an extract from the book I have written to cultivate the conscience of the next generation for faith in God. They will frame and establish faith in your home.

These 12 things are also the essence of Christmas. They are Twelve Gifts that only be grasped through the Gift of God’s Son in the form of the Christ-child. This Christmas I pray that God will richly bless your family with a legacy of faith!

I invite you into my passion to change the faith landscape of our homes.  Join in! Let’s stop the bleeding that is draining faith from our families and leading out children further away from God.

Let Justice flow like a river; righteousness like a never failing stream. Amos 5:24

OPP (opportunity for action): Purpose to pray The 12 Things I desire for our Children on a regular basis. Commit them to memory and heart speak them to the Lord when you awaken in the night. Adorn you child’s Growing Robe with these 12 Gifts of Christmas. They are gifts to last a life-time…even into eternity!

Give the gift of Faith this Christmas. Faith Feedings is available to purchase at http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Feedings-Principles-Spiritual-Development/dp/1940269520/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448914097&sr=8-1&keywords=faith+feedings

 Faith Feedings is also available  at http://christianbook.com

I Pledge Allegiance…

 

It seems that my tidy list of Christmas Blog reflections has been interrupted by terror on the home-front. My All I Want for Christmas theme has been overshadowed by considerations of allegiance and unthinkable encroachment on the land of the free.

The words, I Pledge Allegiance…, came to the fore-front for me on December 5th during my early morning meeting with the Lord. The Bible passage scheduled for me that day was Philippians 2:5-11. Verses 6-11 are oft quoted ones and are invaluable for understanding the Nature and Character of Jesus Christ. On this morning, however, it was verse 5 that got my attention: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. In deep humility and outrageous courage, I share my Journal entry for that day with you.

“The word attitude grabs me. How could my attitude be the same as the One who offered up everything for the sake of my eternal life? I have such a long way to go. But, praise God, I am on the way. My attitude is growing toward Jesus, not away from Him. It is allegiance that makes the difference. Allegiance rules attitude. The word allegiance stands out to me today because of the recent murder of innocents on the west coast of the American mainland. The female (wife) of the couple pledged her allegiance to the rule of terror just before spraying a room with bullets that ended life on this earth for fourteen and permanently scarred twenty-one others. To this end, the man and the woman offered themselves up to their misplaced allegiance. O God of abounding Love and Truth, I offer myself up to Jesus. Enable me to have the attitude of Christ who offered all He had and is for me.”

“We call it radicalization. They call it allegiance.
We call it violence. The Bible calls it murder.
We call it hatred. God calls it evil.
We call it unforgivable. Jesus calls it crucified.”

On second thought, All I want for Christmas stands. All I Want for Christmas is radical faith in an allegiance-worthy God. It is what I want for you as well!

Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory the Father (Philippians 2:9-11)

OPP (opportunity for action): Nurture your child’s spiritual development by introducing God’s radical love for them in the form of the Gift of the Christ-child. At this time of year there are numerous opportunities for giving…from food and warm clothing for the needy to the Salvation Army bell ringer at the storefronts. Aid them in finding ways to be givers rather than getters this Christmas. Pray in your home for comfort for those who lost their beloved and covering on our Nation for the sake of His Beloved.

Shelter In Place

 

The term Shelter in Place did not echo from the mountains of Central Pennsylvania when I was raised in the valley. It was not sounded in the years of schooling for my children. Sadly, however, Shelter in Place is a “must know” concept in the era of my grandchildren. It is noteworthy to me that I stated that my next blog would be called Shelter in Place two days before the terror invasion in Paris. How timely. My oft repeated words are fitting: The Lord knows!

The police directive to Shelter in Place is a warning that violence is at hand. Our increasingly volatile world demands such caution to be exercised. Shelter in Place signifies the imminent possibility of danger and the need for finding refuge from those who would willfully snuff out human life. While it is true that this public safety alert is new to our present realm, it is not a new message for God. He has been bidding His created to Shelter in Place since the beginning of time on earth. God is our Shelter. The psalmist knew God as his shelter: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’ (Psalm 91:1-2)

God is our Divine Protector. Everyday, all day, all night dangers and risks loom around us. They can be as apparent as gun violence and as secretive as a lurking disease. Our need for God’s protection and presence comes to us in our homes, our travel, our schools, our public places and even in the need to shield our personal identity.

As a young mother, I vividly recall the nights when my physician husband was called out at all hours of the night. Every time, I had to make a choice either to be fitful with concern for his safety or to trust God with my husband. I knew he was fatigued and stressed about what he might find when he reached the hospital. I knew he was traveling into a characteristically unsafe area. And I didn’t want to even think about life without him. Thank God I knew something greater than all my fears and nighttime thoughts. I had committed a Bible verse to memory: On my bed, I remember you; I think of you in the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 63:6-7). I Sheltered in Place in the Lord.
Reflect during the next seven days on the times when you need God’s covering and refuge. Listen for God as He bids you to Shelter in Place in Him. Days and nights of travail are sure to be on the horizon for each one of us. Trust in the One who has your eternal back. I earnestly pray that you will never hear the shout Shelter in Place on this earth. Even more, I pray that you will Shelter in Place in Him daily. Let us sing together in the shadow of (his) wings—remembering always that the Lord knows!

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

OPP (opportunity for action): Teach your children how to live in the presence of God. Allay their fears and concerns by incrementally exposing them to the precepts of the Bible. Start with Hebrews 13:6 The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. Help them commit it to memory—T L i m h, I w n b a-f (The Scripture Code…unlocking spiritual wealth by DeeDee Cass). Make God known as a shelter and refuge in your home. Compile your own list of scriptures that build your faith and give you confidence before the Lord. Let your family observe you as you Shelter in Place.
Recommended reading and memorization: Psalm 91

LEFT OR RIGHT?

imageThe ultimate question we must consider about Left or Right is not political. In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus assigns a left or right position to the sheep and the goats. Where will I sit? Where will you sit?

It is sobering to picture all nations gathered before the eternal throne of the Son Man for the purpose of left and right separation. There is no mid-line. Either, we trust God’s Son for the forgiveness of our sins or we choose to trust in our own deeds. Either, we respond to Jesus’ saving grace with compassionate care and service to the hungry and the poor or we choose our own way and act on our own behalf.

The Bible exposes an unspoken pitfall in Jesus’ words. Our eternal life rests on our belief in Jesus. Without faith in Christ our kindness, our giving, and our service on the behalf of those in need casts us on the side of the goats. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).

The Bible pictures Jesus as the Shepherd of the sheep. Do not be a follow along goat in his herd. Change into sheep’s clothing—a robe of righteousness—and assume you’re your position on the right side of the King of Kings. Make it your daily prayer that you will be able to discern the good works which God prepared in advance for (you) to do.

This is the day of Christ’s compassion. The Lord knows it is needed. Take your RIGHTful place in God’s kingdom and serve others in His Name.
Only one life, will soon be past.
Only what’s done in Christ will last.

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King, will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40)

OPP (opportunity for action): Use the parable of the sheep and the goats to start a discussion about faith in Jesus. Raise your child’s awareness of the needs of others. Take can goods, blankets or coats to a shelter and remind them that their good deeds are being done for Jesus. Introduce the concept of helping others out of gratitude to God for His gift of heaven for those who believe in His Son. Give your children a right choice perspective so that they are not left out of the kingdom of God.

A Go To God

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Who or what is your Go To? Is it a cup of coffee or a call to a friend…a chocolate bar or a shopping spree? Where do you find comfort or solace in the midst of the intensity of daily living. Where do you unwind? Where do you seek refreshment and courage for your next step?

As you ponder these Go To questions consider this: God wants to be your Go To. Every aspect of God’s character; every letter of His Word; every longing of His heart bids you to rush to His side. Listen anew to Jesus’ words… Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light  (Matthew 11:28-30).  Sounds to me like a cup of God is all we need!

Near the end of Jesus’ life on earth. Jesus expressed regret to the very people He came to save: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing (Matthew 23:37). Make God your Go To today. Do so for the sake of your eternal future and your present well being. Jesus longs to gather you and your beloved to Himself. Be gathered, dear one. No regrets here!

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)

OPP (opportunity for action): Our culture is gathering our children through social media. Give them an alternative source of acceptance. Be diligent in making sure that God’s Friend Request is all they need.      #Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Be a God is a Go To voice in your home.