Thursday, December 19, 2013

What Are You Giving Jesus For His Birthday?

Have you given any thought to what you will give Jesus this Christmas?  Since Christmas is the time we set aside to celebrate His birthday, it seems He should be at the top of our list, don't you think?

You may have given Him a gift already but are not aware of it.  Have you given to a needy family this Christmas?  Have you chosen a child's name from the Angel Tree, or given a gift to the Salvation Army or some other worthy ministry like Parkgate Pregnancy Clinic?  Have you supported a missionary this year, given to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering, taken food to someone in need, given household items to someone whose house burned or given clothes to someone in need?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 when we feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the poor and meet needs of the sick, we have done it for Him.  "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40 NIV)

Jesus loves our gifts given to those in need.  He also loves our gifts of thankfulness and obedience.  Let us give Jesus our very best this Christmas.  Let us give Him our worship for He is WORTHY.

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." (1 Peter 4:10 NIV)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Truth, Convictions or Opinions - Which is it?

I don't know about you, but I can be very opinionated at times.  There have been so many controversial issues lately and most of us have opinions on many of them.  But, I've been thinking - are my "opinions" just that or are they convictions.  Opinions don't really matter, but TRUTH does and convictions do.

Have we become so numb (callous) to what sin really is?  Have we let the world influence what we believe to the point of questioning what we believe to be a sin?  Do we search for the truth?  Do we have any real convictions anymore or do we only have our opinions?

God's Word is TRUTH.  We can't change it to suit ourselves.  Our opinions aren't really worth much but God's Word is priceless.  In 1 Peter 1:24-25, we find these words:  "For all men are like grass; and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever." (NIV)  I think our opinions are much like the grass!

God's Word is eternal.  It stands firm.  It doesn't change so let's read it and believe it as it stands.  If the Word says adultery is a sin, then it's a sin.  The same goes for greed, homosexuality, slander, idolatry (this one gets us all whether we realize it or not), drunkenness, etc.

Sin is falling short of God's standards.  We are all sinners - some of us are saved sinners by the grace of God (of which I am one) - but we are all sinners.  Okay, saved sinners (also known as Christians), let's call a spade a spade (or a sin a sin) and trust that God forgives those who have repentant hearts.  Let's stick to the TRUTH of God's Word and let it convict us.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Barbecue Beef Brisket

I have had several requests for this recipe so decided to post it on my blog.  Seasonings can be adjusted to suit your family's taste.  A high school friend (Carolyn Tyler) gave this recipe to me years ago and it has proved to be a favorite through the years.

Barbecue Beef Brisket

1 5-6 pound Beef Brisket (or any boneless cut will do)
3 oz. Liquid Smoke
Celery Sale, Onion Salt, Garlic Salt
Salt and Pepper
Worcestershire Sauce, Barbecue sauce

2 T. Flour
1/2 Cup Water

Place meat in shallow pan or dish.  Pour liquid smoke over meat (pierce both sides several times with fork).  Sprinkle generously with salts.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper
Pour on worcestershire sauce (about 2-3 T.)

Cover with foil and bake at 275 degrees for 5 hours

Uncover and pour barbecue sauce on meat
Bake uncovered for 1 hour

Remove meat to platter.  Let sauce cool, remove fat and add flour and water.
Cook until gravy thickens somewhat.

Monday, July 29, 2013

David - Low Self Esteem?

Yes, David could have suffered from low self esteem.  Some of us who suffer from this malady actually have less reason than David.  When God told Samuel to go anoint one of Jesse's sons as the king who would take Saul's place, Jesse, David's father, didn't even think David was worthy to make the line-up. (1 Samuel 16:8-10)

God did not choose any of Jesse's sons who passed in front of Samuel - those who made the line-up - so Samuel asked Jesse, "Are these all the sons you have?" (1 Samuel 16:11)  Almost as an afterthought, Jesse said "There is still the youngest, but he is tending the sheep." (Tending sheep - a very menial job.)

Jesse still seemed to think David just couldn't be the one God would choose as king.  We can be thankful that God sees us differently than man.  David's father saw a shepherd boy, but God saw a king when he looked at David.

Just remember,  "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)
If you experience low self esteem, quit focusing on how people see you and even how you see yourself and remember how God sees you.  He created you in His image and He sees you as worthy.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Patience - Not My Long Suit

Often, I am short on patience and yet, God's Word reminds me that God "acts on behalf of those who WAIT for Him."  (Isaiah 64:4)

Our world is an "instant" world.  We want everything now or yesterday!  We want our food "fast", we want instant gratification, we want whatever we desire and we want it now.  Scripture says, "Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength." (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)

Wait on the Lord - wait patiently for Him.  The Lord continues to teach me (in my later years) that waiting, being patient is an important part of the Christian life.  The Fruit of the Spirit includes patience ("love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" - Galatians 5:22)

The psalmist tells us to wait on the Lord.  "Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." (Psalm 27:14)  Waiting takes patience.

My prayer this morning:  "Lord, help me wait patiently for you, knowing you have perfect timing in all things."  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Godly Leadership

Nehemiah was a leader who was able to cast a vision of the work that needed to be accomplished (the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem).  He inspired cooperation from men of all stations of life.  They worked shoulder to shoulder - goldsmiths, perfumers, leaders, etc. (Nehemiah 3)

Our homes, churches and our country need leaders like Nehemiah who can cast a vision of what needs to be done, who set the proper example and who can inspire cooperation and unity.  We need leaders who stand strong even in the face of opposition from inside and outside (Nehemiah 6).  We need leaders with character and leaders who pray like Nehemiah.  "O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, . . . . ., let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open to the prayer Your servant is praying . . . . ." (Nehemiah 1:5-11)

Throughout the book of Nehemiah, we see instances of Nehemiah's habit of praying.  In Nehemiah 2:4, the king asked Nehemiah what he wanted and before he responded, Scripture states, "Then I prayed to the God of heaven."

When opposition and threats arose from their enemies concerning the rebuilding of the wall, Nehemiah prayed, "Now strengthen my hands." (Nehemiah 9:6b)

Several times Nehemiah asked God to remember him and show mercy and favor.  We need leaders who pray, who have character, who are able to cast a vision and lead by example.  "Where there is no vision, the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18a, KJV)

We need to pray for these kinds of leaders in our homes, churches, our towns, our state, our country and even in the world.  We are urged to pray for our leaders.  In 2 Timothy 2:1-2, we are told to pray for everyone, including kings and all those in authority so we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Pray America.  Pray church.  Pray, pray, pray for godly leadership.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Being Still - Times of Reflection

"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)  Sometimes it takes an injury or illness to get many of us to be still.  I am dealing with what most would consider a very small foot injury.  About 2 1/2 weeks ago, I turned my foot over/off of a comfortable, but too large shoe and probably broke it.  I have iced, elevated and rested it while looking at all that was going undone around me.

I have bemoaned the fact that I did not finish my "To-Do List" the day before the injury occurred -  specifically, buying groceries and vacuuming.  The groceries were bought a few days later, but alas, no one seemed bothered by the unvacuumed floors but me!  I have since managed to get that accomplished a little at a time.  During this time of being still, I have had much time for reflection.  I have been able to put in perspective this small injury.  It is simply a blip on the radar of my life.  It is not a permanent injury or loss.  God reminded me of those I know who walk with a walker, who have lost a foot or have to use a cane.  Wouldn't they like to have my little injury instead of their permanent situation?

My own carelessness caused my small injury but God has a way of working something good out of everything.  (And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. . . ." Romans 8:28)  He also uses times like this to still my spirit within me so I can know more of who He is.  I have been still and quiet and have had time for reflection.  God has spoken to me and shown me some areas in my life that need a little work (maybe a lot!).

"My plans" were put on hold/delayed but God has used this time to give me some much needed rest, time to read, relax and reflect.

Isaiah 48:17 says, "This is what the LORD says--your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'I am the LORD your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go'."  We need to be still so God can teach us and direct us.  May we choose to be still and know He is God - choose - without the injury.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Is it Okay For Christians to Cry?

Is it okay for Christians to cry, to grieve, to express emotions?  When Nehemiah heard the Jewish exiles, who had survived the exile, were in great trouble and the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, he wept.

Nehemiah 1:4 "When I heard these things, I sat down and wept.  For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven." 

Nehemiah wept, mourned, fasted and prayed - for some days.  He expressed the emotions he felt for his people and their plight.  He didn't ignore his hurt as we sometimes think Christians should.  We are not being honest if we ignore our emotions.  Are we being immature as Selwyn Hughes says in Every Day Light (pg. 67)?  "Regardless of our spiritual maturity, we will feel the pain of misfortune or loss acutely.  To pretend that we do not is evidence of immaturity."

Go ahead and allow yourself to feel these emotions that come from loss, hurt, betrayal, etc., but don't wallow in them.  Remember Nehemiah's example - weep, mourn, fast if God leads you to and definitely pray.  Then, get busy doing what God leads you to do and maybe, it will be rebuilding a "wall" as it was for Nehemiah.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Meditating on God's Word

Read it, study it, memorize it.  And there's more - there needs to be more.  Meditate on it.

When we meditate on God's Word, we get the truths of the Scriptures into our minds and hearts where  it can affect our lives.  The truths in Scripture will strengthen our faith as we think on them - ponder them - turn them over and over in our minds.  Meditate.

Some meditation requires the emptying of the mind which opens one up to be filled with anything.  Christian meditation is filling the mind, saturating it with truths from God's Word.  Meditating on God's Word will transform our lives as the truths permeate our very being.

The psalmist said: "I meditate on Your precepts and consider your ways.  I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word." (Psalm 119:15-16)  "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

If you want your Christian life to be transformed, read God's Word, study it, memorize it and meditate on it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Hope or Give Up?

I'm ready to "throw in the towel!"  Have you ever been there or are you there right now?

There are several situations where I have told the Lord, "I have almost no hope that these situations will every change or work out, but I know with You there is always hope."

Scripture memorization has been very important to me for a number of years.  (I have encouraged [pushed] my Sunday School class to participate and many have done really well!)  I chose my first memory verse for 2013 several weeks ago and wrote it in my new spiral as soon as I received it from Living Proof Siesta Scripture Memorization (Beth Moore) so I would be ready when the new year began.

I woke up really early on December 27, 2012 and decided to begin work on my first verse - not 2013 yet, I know - but I do tend to be a little over zealous at times.  This is the verse:  "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13 NIV)

I know I said "I" chose the verse, but it is obvious to me that it was not really my choice.  God knew what I was going to need in January, 2013.  He knew I was about ready to "throw in the towel."

Am I going to "Give Up" on several situations or am I going to "Hope?"  By the power of the Holy Spirit, I can not only hope, but I can "overflow with hope."  Don't give up!  We can overflow with hope when we trust and allow the Holy Spirit's power to work in and through us.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"If My People . . . . . ." 2 Chronicles 7:14

In these early days of a new year, I have been reflecting on the state of our country. Are you concerned? When tragic things happen like the shooting of innocent children and their teachers, we wonder how much worse can it get?

 We often blame many of our problems on politicians and leaders of our country and I will just say, they are only a part of the problem. Our main problem: We Christians aren't living like Christians. The familiar verse in 2 Chronicles 7:14 talks about God's people - not politicians or leaders.

 "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

 If we want our country to turn around, Christians must start acting like Christians, living like Christians, spending time in prayer and in His Word. We need to know God's Word so we know who He is and know His expectations. We need to put Him first in our lives - make Him the central focus - live to please Him. 

Christians, we have had another wake-up call. It is time to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, turn from our wicked ways. God promises if we do, He will heal our land and God always keeps His promises!