Don't Lose Hope

Don’t Lose Heart

By Mavis Tipton

Isa. 41:10 “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

On the morning of July 17th, the Lord gave me the above scripture.  I thought to myself I’m not afraid, all is good.  I have peace about the procedure Buddy will be going through tomorrow. Thank you, Lord for Your Word. 

Early on July 18th our day began.  We headed to Melbourne, checked into the hospital and then the wait began. Several hours after the appointed time for surgery it was finally Buddy’s turn.

A couple of hours later the doctor came out to talk with me, and due to his heavy accent, I didn’t hear him say they weren’t able to do the procedure. Instead I thought he said he had taken care of the problem.  

Several hours later the nursed mentioned that Buddy was still having PVC’s and we both said “what?” She said they weren’t able to ablate them, and the PA would be in tomorrow morning to explain.

The next morning the PA explains everything, and informs us that we will be contacted by a doctor in Orlando to robotically do the procedure.

A few days later I was looking through my journal and saw the scripture the Lord had given me, and realized He had given it to me in advance of when I would need it.

I was so grateful to the Lord for His Word and peace, that I could rest in. 

A few short weeks later, as I do every night after turning out the light, I thanked the Lord for the day, for rest and good sleep to be equipped for the next day. Then I tearfully asked the Lord “why aren’t you healing Buddy either through a miracle or the doctors?”  I didn’t get an answer, but the next morning three scriptures were given to me. 

1.  Jer. 33:3 “Ask Me and I will tell you remarkable (isolated inaccessible) secrets you do not know about things to come.”

2.  Psalm 4:3 “You can be sure of this:  The Lord set apart the godly for Himself.  The Lord will answer when I call to Him.”

3.  Matt. 7:7 “Keep asking and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on knocking and the door will be open to you.”

It wasn’t the answer I thought I wanted, but it was and is the encouragement I needed.  God has a plan and He will reveal it in His timing. Stay steady and trust in the Lord.

September 30th, we went to Orlando Fla. Hospital being assured by our new doctor that he could “fix” the problem. 

Seven hours later, the doctor tells me he got most of the PVC’s but couldn’t get the dominate one.  He was frustrated and I was disappointed. 

On the way to the hotel the Lord reminded me that I had shifted my peace from Him to the doctor.  I cried and repented, still asking the Lord to heal the problem. 

Oct. 30th, we went to Orlando for Buddy’s post-op checkup. During that month Buddy grew stronger, feeling better every day.  We went expecting a good report.

The doctor came in and said “you are not having any PVC’s.”  He was very happy about it.  Throughout the appointment we talked shared and asked questions, and then the doctor raised his arm with hand and index finger pointing to the heavens indicating who had brought the healing.  He recognized who had done the impossible. One more powerful than him.

That act of acknowledgement was for me. The Lord was saying “see, I had it all along.” 

We are rejoicing and thanking the Lord daily for His healing power and His faithfulness.

God’s Word tells us in Isa. 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

This scripture was spoken by the Holy Spirit the morning Buddy & I surrendered our hearts to the Lord. He is in control, and I thank you Lord that You are.

Thank you to the Body of Christ for praying for us each and every day.  We couldn’t have done it without your prayers.  We Love you,

                                    Buddy & Mavis

 

When Everything SEEMS to Be Going Wrong

When Everything SEEMS to Be Going Wrong

By Denis Schmeer 

Did you ever have one of those hours, days, weeks, months, where everything SEEMS to be going wrong?  Well, this is exactly what happened when one of my young friends was trying to return to Florida after visiting family in Vermont.

First, her flight was delayed and then it was cancelled.  When it finally got off the ground, the plane was diverted to another city in the northeast.  So, my young friend was no closer to Florida.  After another series of delays, she finally made it home.  What should have been a 3-hour flight turned into more than a day of travel.

As I listened to her re-telling of each event, I felt awful for all the frustrations she encountered as she tried to make her way back to Florida.  So, I thought perhaps sharing some of my and my families wild travel stories would make her laugh.  But then it happened . . . I heard about someone else who thought a day had been “wasted,” and it turned out to be a divine appointment set up by God.

Of course!  A light went off in my head – that is, a revelation from the Holy Spirit.  Perhaps when everything SEEMS to be going wrong – God is busy setting up divine appointments . . . either for you or someone else.

So, I had my young friend carefully re-tell her travel tale again.  And at each travel “roadblock,” God had her ministering to: one of her fellow travelers, to the cab driver, to the massage technician and so on and so forth.  Divine Appointments!!!

“. . . for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

 Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?”  (Matthew 25:35-40)

Just saying . . . when everything SEEMS to be going so wrong – take a minute and check-in with Jesus.  There may be a divine appointment in the making for you or someone else.   

My Favorite Child

My Favorite Child

By Tammye Hamilton 

Okay, it’s true confession time: I have a favorite child. 

My children all have their opinions about who the favorite is in our family. Now that they are grown, I’m sure they think they know. I can clear it up for them.   

Actually, I have eight favorites. And I am not being disingenuous. It is as true as it can be. 

I love certain things about each of my children that make each one my very favorite. I could tell you why each one is my favorite but that would take a while because there is a bunch of them. Let’s just say I know them intimately, because they are mine. 

I know how their minds work and how their hearts feel. I can tell you what is special and wonderful about each one. And I can back it up with details, because each one is a unique and interesting individual. 

You could say I’m an expert on those God entrusted to me to mother, and who, in that moment, entered my heart for the rest of my days.  

I even love the things about them that others might find unlovable. Because everything they are, including their quirks and imperfections, make each child of mine who they are. Each one is a unique, special design of our amazing Creator. And each one is my favorite. 

I’ve heard people say that God doesn’t have favorites and I understand what they mean but I am convinced that I AM His favorite!  

And I believe you are His favorite, too! 

Psalm 139: 16 says: 

Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in Your book

before one of them came to be. 

This understanding of how special and unique you are to Him can be the foundation of who you are, if you receive it.  

My love for my kids is not based on their behavior. I might grieve their bad decisions but nothing can shake my love.  

This is even truer of our perfect Father.  My relationship with each of my children is unique because each one is so different. Our Heavenly Father knows and loves us as the individuals He created. 

His relationship with you is unique to you. He loves you deeply and individually. He knows your heart, your dreams and your disappointments. He is always by your side. 

In Matthew 7:11 Jesus reminded us that our Father is the perfect parent.

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him! 

How reassuring to know that we have a Father who considers each of us, uniquely and specifically, His favorite!

 

Corporate Jesus

Corporate Jesus

By Jacqi Ballough

“I don’t like corporate Jesus.” As soon as the words were spoken, I felt the pinch of the Holy Spirit telling me to guard my mouth. I laid there with regret and repentance like a little kid who was just caught being naughty and spanked. 

My husband, son, and I were assembled for bedtime prayers, but instead they were discussing yet another “business idea.” It was late, and I was annoyed, tired, and honestly worn out. Patience and grace had left my spirit, so I let the spirit of selfishness in. I wanted to go to bed and not discuss anything business. Business hours are from 9-5 in my book, and it was well after closing time for me. Therefore, when asked what I thought, I had a bad attitude, along with a cutting remark. 

 

I wholeheartedly love Jesus, corporate and all. Why am I so negative about “corporations?” I guess somewhere along the line I have allowed the world to conform my thinking. Truthfully, the people who run corporations are often the ones who financially support Jesus and many times, carry the preachers and teachers of the gospel to all nations. In fact, the body of Christ is “corporate.” 

The American Heritage Dictionary defines corporate as “united or combined into one body; collective.” Jesus talked many times about being combined into one body of believers through Him, and connected together through Him, the body (His church) is to pray corporately, worship corporately, and care for the widows, orphans, missionaries, and one another corporately.

In order to fulfill these commands, we need “corporations” (bodies of believers/businesses) willing to take the risks and do the work involved.  

Look at Lydia in Acts 16. She was a well-known seller of purple cloth in Philippi and the surrounding areas and is considered the first convert in Macedonia. If it were not for her corporate influence, Paul may not have had a roof over his head nor a place for the new believers to gather, not to mention a source of refuge and encouragement after he and Silas were released from prison.

Aquila and Pricilla are another amazing example. You have a husband and wife team (who through Christ were united as one) running a tent making business and invite Paul to partner with them while in Corinth.

Together they not only corporately built tents but also spread the gospel, established a group of believers, and housed Paul for 18 months (Acts 18:1-3, 11).  

When Aquila and Pricilla moved to Ephesus, they corporately housed a church (1Corinthians 16:19), and then did the same upon their return to Rome (Romans 16:3-5).* 

This is an excellent example of Romans 12:5 which states “in Christ we, though many, form one (corporate) body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Lord, thank you for reminding me to recognize the importance of each member of your corporate body. Thank you for the teachers, preachers, prayer warriors, administrators, care-givers, and business corporations you have established to support and carry your Word to all. Thank you for giving us all different, and equally important, gifts to use for your kingdom. 

https://bible.org/seriespage/side-side%E2%80%94i-story-aquila-and-priscillai

 

Beginning the Journey

Beginning the Journey
By Sallie Wilson

“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.”Psalm 119:18

What’s the first thing my eyes look at in the morning? Do I honor God with my first thoughts each day?  Do my prayers intercede for others?

As believers we should desire to have our eyes and hearts focused on Christ.  When I begin to wake each morning, the first thoughts my mind should have, are to speak with my God.  When I make this my priority, I find I can linger longer in His presence and listen for His Words more easily throughout the day. Finding His conversations continuing throughout my day, guiding me and encouraging me, giving me great comfort and peace.  

I haven’t always been able to understand all that I read. Comprehension has always been my struggle in any book.  But as God opened my understanding, I began to grasp what He was saying in His Word, what He was saying to me.  

Reading just to read doesn’t accomplish anything in my life but filling my head with meaningless words.  So I began to change my daily practices; prayer before my feet hit the floor, being sure to thank God for everything and to commit the coming day to Him.  My first commitment upon rising is to get into His Word to understand the directions for my life this day. 

Starting is the most difficult part of any journey, knowing what to take and the route to take. I hate packing to go on a trip, I always over pack it seems. Too much junk that is unnecessary for the trip we are taking. 

The journey God has us on requires our Bible and our time. We don’t need all the unnecessary tools the world offers, but God’s Word and our willingness. The journey ahead is made easier when you make the Word of God your guide for life.  

Before I committed to beginning my daily activities putting God first, I tried to arrange my schedule around me. I would allow time for the things that I enjoyed and felt I needed to do, and then if there was time and energy left, I would give a brief moment to God. Offering up those prayers we sometimes casually throw out and expect God to be attentive.  

I found out God is attentive and when He wants more of me, He will get my attention. I am a work in progress, a canvas for the Master. As my life is refined by His fire and the imperfections skimmed aside, I begin to see His work in my life. The good that I accomplish is by God’s power. The things that I do in my own strength result in nothing lasting and certainly often are a disaster or failure. 

If you are struggling with the journey ahead, stop and take TIME to put God first and learn from His truths. Immerse yourself in Christ. You can do nothing in your own power. You are being fashioned for the Master’s use by the Master himself. Allow God to have control of your life and commit your life to Christ. 

“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” Psalm 127:1 

 

 

Gotta Have Faith

Gotta Have Faith

By Robin Houde

Charles Spurgeon said this about walking by faith: "Happy is that man who steadfast, upright, cheerful, goes from strength to strength, believing his God! Trusting in his God, he knows no care; resting in his God he knows no impossibility."

When we have Faith in God, knowing that He's going to take care of us, we have zero worries. We can rest easy and sleep peacefully because we know God can do the impossible.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) "Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."

Living by faith, however, is not as easy as it seems. We all have our moments when we do doubt the Lord. Even Abraham, the father of faith, had his moments. 

I have a friend that recently shared an experience with me that taught her and her kids about faith and trusting God when her family was having some financial difficulties. 

A few days before her husband was supposed to be paid, he was notified that his paycheck wasn't going to be issued until the following week. He knew that this had the potential to cost them a lot in overdraft fees, so he called his wife immediately to give her the news. 

She did what any good Christian wife would do- she prayed for a miracle and gave the situation to God. After praying she felt confident that God was going to provide for them. 

Friday morning came and there was still no deposit in their account but she was still believing it would show up. Time was ticking though and she knew the withdrawals were going to be taken out and she feared all of the overdraft fees so, she did what many of us would do - she began constructing a backup plan just in case God didn't come through. 

She continued to check the account while securing enough funds to cover them until the check was deposited. She went to Western Union, picked up the cash, and deposited it in the bank. Feeling relieved as she pulled away from the bank's drive through, she glanced down at her deposit receipt and noticed that the account balance was more than double what it should've been. She couldn't believe her eyes - there must be some mistake she thought. 

She pulled over and quickly logged into her mobile banking app and there was the deposit from her husband's employer - the one they said wouldn't be deposited until the following week and just above it was the evidence of her lack of faith in God - the deposit she just made, the "backup plan". 

I can certainly relate to this story. I think we've all been here. We seem to place God on a timer - "God, I'll have faith until 3pm, but if you don't show up by then, I'll just go ahead and figure out my own way. Thanks, but I got this." 

Romans 8:28 (NIV)  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

It's in those moments when I'm really living by faith and believing God to the fullest and He shows up that amazes me. It's also in those times for me that I'm ashamed of the times when I didn't have faith and trust that He'd come through for me.

God's Kingdom Economy

God’s Kingdom Economy

By Denise Schmeer 

Just last week one of my friends mentioned how she was trying to figure out a new budget as her family had gone from two incomes down to one.  And she wisely said, “I know God has our backs, and besides, God’s Economy doesn’t work like that.”

Ahhh, so true!  God’s Economy does not work like anything we can possibly image.  Let me explain . . .

I’m not really sure where this story starts . . . perhaps it starts with a gentleman who we have been praying for – for about four years.  Or maybe it began18 months ago, when the clock on my stove started making funny sounds.  Or perhaps it was this past July when our son moved into a new apartment and needed a stackable washer/dryer.  But, it could also have started just a month ago, when our friend Shari really, really needed another refrigerator for her business.  No – maybe it began with our friends who bought a piece of property to build on.  I can’t remember when that happened exactly.  

But, apparently God was getting ready to swirl all these things together for good!  God’s Economy was getting ready to show how incredibly amazing, unimaginably wonderful only He can provide for His children.

The four years of prayer for our gentleman friend was for a long overdue financial blessing and in early July, we began to see the fruits of our heartfelt prayers.  He was finally able to purchase a much awaited, much longed-for home of his own.  And although all the appliances, carpeting, etc. were in good working order and relatively new in this home, he wanted to “upgrade.” 

So the question came to us – did we know anyone who might need a stackable washer/dryer.  YES!  Our son . . . that would be perfect.  Well then . . . how about a stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, under the counter microwave or carpets?  WHAT???

This couldn’t be!  How amazing!!  Is God really going to take care of each and every need all at once?  Watching God’s Economy at work left us stunned and in awe.  

But, there it was . . . a stackable washer/dryer for our son, a stove and carpets for us, a refrigerator for Shari and . . . here is the best part.  Those friends who bought the property to build on – the one appliance they had not been able to secure was – yes, you guessed it – a dishwasher.  And I guess God decided to throw in a microwave for good measure.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

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)

Better To Give Than Be Stingy!

Better to Give Than to Be Stingy!

By Mavis Tipton

I enjoy giving and doing special things for people on special occasions and many times ‘just because.’ 

I haven’t always been a giver.  I would watch others give and be amazed at their selfless giving, but I just didn’t get it. 

After Buddy and I came to the Lord, I watched him give to others out of the depth of his soul and it blessed him so much.  I still didn’t grasp the concept of giving.  

The giving he did was above and beyond our tithing. 

Funny thing was I knew and understood giving back to God what belonged to Him, I just didn’t realize it went beyond that in giving to others. 

In my heart I wanted to be like Buddy and give, so I prayed and asked the Lord to help me become a giver, and guess what He answered that prayer.

We were asking the congregation for pledges for some particular need (which I don’t remember what it was), and I found myself saying to Buddy we need to pledge “X” amount of dollars.  He said ok, and of course was fine with it, but I think shocked that I suggested it.  It was what I felt the Lord was saying to do.

We did not have the amount and were trusting the Lord to provide it and He did.  The amount came in, in so many different ways.  I was amazed, but I was hooked and my view of giving changed, and I became a believer that you can’t out give the Lord, Acts 20:35

If you will step out in faith, being obedient to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, you will be blessed over and over. Giving for the right reasons, not begrudgingly or because you feel you have to, but because you want to be obedient to your heavenly Father.  Desire to be an extension of Him, you will be blessed over and over.  Psalms 112:9 “they share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.  They will have influence and honor.”  

Giving can be monetary as well acts of kindness. Giving of your time and energy.  Seeing a need and doing whatever it takes to fulfill it. Going the extra mile. 

Children imitate their parents and those around them. So, who better to learn from than our Heavenly Father?

Our Father loves us so much and is the perfect example of what it is to love. It gives Him great pleasure to see His children blessed as they receive His love.  As we worship and praise Him for His great gift of love and the many, many blessings He pours out on us, He wants to bless us even more.

John 3:16 “For God lovedthe world so much that He gave His one and only Son so that everyone whobelieves in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

 

When We Walk Through the Fire...

It is with great pleasure to introduce you to our newest writer, Sallie Wilson

Sallie and her husband Pastor Bert Wilson, pastor Faith Baptist Church of Vero Beach.

I am delighted to have Sallie joining our group of ladies that write so faithfully for the Women Encouraging Women Weekly Blog. Please make Sallie welcome and be sure to share her blog articles on FB with all your friends and family.

When We Walk Through the Fire…

By Sallie Wilson

God is forever merciful. Deuteronomy 4:31 says, “(For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.”

Everything seemed to be going well. My husband had exclaimed how that in the past months he has felt the best ever in years! And we become lulled into that complacency that gives us the false impression that we have control. During a routine blood test, the day before Easter, out of nowhere, the white blood counts told us differently. How quickly we realize our frailty and Who is truly in control. 

Saturday started out normal, and a little blood test started our world spinning. We were to leave Easter Sunday to go to our grandson’s graduation but as we quickly learned the doctor would not allow us to travel until we saw an oncologist on Monday.  Monday morning, more bloodwork and an 8:30 a.m. appointment, followed by a bone marrow test shortly after noon. LEUKEMIA.  The doctor was so compassionate and encouraging and we were able to go onto graduation and begin treatment the following week.   The amazing thing in all of this, is to think how quickly God provided appointments and answers and orchestrated it all. 

None of us want to hear of serious illness and we dread the word CANCER, but we must realize that no matter what comes our way, our God is with us. In the last months during this journey through my husband’s Leukemia, we have cried out to the Lord seeking His answers. It would be so easy to be angry and think God has forgotten us, but God is forever faithful.  As the days continue to roll by and the pain continues not to subside, I try not to allow my thoughts to be pulled into worldly answers.  

Early in life my husband would tell me, “Hold onto the eternal…..” 
Though Satan still tries to buffet my mind with useless attacks, I hold on and remember that God has a plan for my life and that we are called to glorify God in the life He has given us. God has a purpose and a plan in all of this and though I may not see it at this moment in time, it does not change the fact! 

No matter what you face today, choose to continue firm in your faith and wait on the Lord. Though I so desire answers and escape, I will keep my eyes on the prize and continue to follow Him all the days of my life. May God receive all the glory and honor and praise through all that my life holds. 

Romans 5: 3-4 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:”

 

Loving The Unlovable

Loving the Unlovable

By Robin Houde

God loves us no matter how we behave. No matter what we say. Some people may struggle with accepting God’s unconditional love. In a world that rarely gives anything away for free, with absolutely no strings attached, it’s difficult to accept this wonderful gift from God. A gift that we haven’t earned and one we don’t deserve. The world has taught us that we have to give something to get something. This isn’t true with God’s love. 

John 3:16 (NIV) – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

But what does His word say about how WE love others? Just because God loves us unconditionally doesn’t mean that we have to love others that way, does it? As difficult as it may be to accept God’s love, the truth is yes, we are called to love others the same way – whether they deserve it or not.

1 Peter 4:8 (NIV) – “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

I’m a fairly easy to get along with kind of gal. I’m usually in a good mood and try to be positive. This is why I have such a hard time dealing with negativity. If a conversation is going in the negative direction, I’ll try to sway it back to the positive side but with some it’s just not that easy. 

God knows my limits and he’s always challenging me to improve but some days I feel like I’ve completely failed Him. There have been times when I know I haven’t demonstrated God’s love and even worse, I haven’t felt lovingly towards someone who clearly needed nothing more than to feel loved at that moment. 

It’s entirely possible that the cranky bank teller just received divorce papers or the rude cashier has a sick child at home but can’t take off work because they’re a single parent and simply can’t afford it. Truth is, there’s no way of knowing what others are dealing with. So, we need to be as loving as we possibly can be and give grace even when we don’t feel like it. 

It’s in these moments that God is cheering us on and believing in us to ‘love’ them even more, in spite of their attitude. Can you think of a time when someone showed you love even though you know you didn’t deserve it? It’s tough to love others when they’re unlovable but I’m glad God loves me when I’m not! 

What’s even more difficult for me is when I make a considerate effort to pour out love for someone who is difficult to love and they refuse it. I used to become offended and bitter when this happened but God showed me that it’s in these times when I need to continue loving them anyway. Loving isn’t always easy. God always loves us and never gives up on us – even when we refuse Him! If we are to love like God, we need to forgive, honor and accept others, even those who are difficult.

1 John 4:7 (NIV) “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God”

The ability to love others comes from God and we can only love others this way when our hearts are full of God’s love. Trying to do it any other way just won’t work.

Undercover Christian

Undercover Christian

By Audrey Botts

Have you ever prayed over a meal in a public place and felt uncomfortable because you thought people were staring at you?  Have you ever felt ashamed to speak out on issues that matter to Jesus?  These are questions I would have said yes to many years ago. It is not something I am proud of, but I am glad my eyes were opened to my foolishness.

In Romans 1:16 it says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentiles.”

I remember the Lord speaking to me and wanting me to go and share the gospel to a dying co-worker.  I was hesitant because I feared being rejected, so I gave into my fear and wrote him a letter instead and cowardly asked him if he would accept Jesus into his heart.  

He wrote back to me, “Audrey, I never knew you were a Christian.”  Ouch!   That comment really hurt.   My co-worker innocently made a statement to me 20 years ago, that spoke volumes to me.  

He never knew I was a Christian.  Why?  Because I never spoke of being a follower of Christ to him or anyone I knew.  I didn’t even have the courage to speak to him face to face when he was dying.  

My life did not reflect my love for Jesus.  I lacked courage and I feared what people would say. When my coworker wrote that statement, I was convicted.  How could I share salvation to a someone who never knew I was saved by the shed blood of Jesus Christ?  I felt like Jesus was telling me in Matthew 7:23“I never knew you, depart from me you worker of lawlessness.”  That is one statement I never want to hear when I stand before Jesus.

 I was an undercover Christian, one who was ashamed of Jesus Christ.  I believed in Jesus, but I had a problem letting people know about my faith.  The fear of man was greater than my fear of God.  I pray that I will never disappoint my father in heaven again.

 Jesus reminds us in Luke 9:26 “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

I can tell you that I still have moments of weakness when I share the Gospel, but all I do is remember what Christ did for me on that cross and the peace he has always given me in times of trouble.  How could I disappoint the One who never has disappointed me?  

Dear Lord, I pray for those reading that you would give them courage and increase their faith to share your message to this dying world and I pray Lord that I will never hear anyone tell me “I never knew you were a Christian.”  Amen

 

 

 

 

Miracles In The Air - Miracles Everywhere

Miracles in the Air – Miracles Everywhere

By Denise Schmeer

We pray for miracles and we expect miracles to happen.  So why are we still so in awe when they happen? Perhaps it is the overwhelming, in- your- faceknowledge that God is right there moving heaven and earth and we are His witnesses.

Let me explain . . . Our oldest daughter started having seizures after a reasonably routine surgery last November.  Countless doctor visits, rehab stays, and medications upon medications and nothing seemed to help.  

Fast forward to this July and our sweet girl boarded a plane to Boston to spend some time with friends and hopefully get an appointment at a prestigious hospital with a very specialized neurologist.

Well, just 45 minutes into the flight from Houston and yes . . . you guessed it, she started having seizures.  A flight attendant quickly came to her aid and called for any medical personnel who might be travelling on the flight.  There was one doctor and one nurse.  The pilot began making arrangements to divert the flight to the nearest airport.

It turned out the flight attendant was a Born-Again Christian whose first instinct was to pray over our daughter and make sure she knew Jesus as her Lord and Savior.  Praise God, this daughter definitely does.  

Then the flight attendant convinced the pilot not to divert the flight.  She explained our daughter was travelling alone and friends were waiting in Boston. If the flight were diverted, our daughter would be in a strange city with no family or friends.  So the flight continued onto Boston.

And what about the nurse and the doctor?  Apparently, the only reason the nurse was on that particular flight was a last-minutedecisionto attend a conference in Houston.  She was on her way back home.  And the doctor?  Yes . . . also a last-minute planto take his family on vacation before he started a new residency.

Remember the prestigious hospital our daughter was hoping to get into?  Well, the ambulance that met the plane took her straight there . . . where no less than five (5) neurologists attended to her.  At this writing, our sweet girl has been almost three weeks with no seizures.

I’ve counted six (6) miracles in this flight – the seizure, the flight attendant, the nurse, the doctor, the flight not diverted, the hospital. 

He is the one you praise; He is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.  (Deuteronomy 10:21)

Ahhh, yes . . . miracles AREeverywhere!  

Becausewith God, all things are possible.(Matthew 19:26

Puppy Love

Puppy Tales

By Jacqi Ballough

Shep, short for shepherd or protector, is a sweet fluffy puppy who was adopted into our family a few weeks ago. 

Our son immediately hugged and cuddled the little guy like a proud father all the while an excited tail wagged and licks were given. It was a precious moment for us as parents to watch, while for our son, it was “a dream come true” to have and raise a pup of his own. 

My husband and I knew from past experience that the puppy would take a considerable amount of time and energy. My son on the other hand was experiencing the mountaintop experiences along with the inconveniences for the first time. 

Selflessness has to be on the forefront of your mind when a living creature is relying on you for love, food, water, and bathroom breaks. 

A few days after the puppy’s arrival, we ran out for some errands but arrived home to a fetid smell. A poopy puppy awaited us, and as the “dad” of the dog, my son had the duty of washing the dirty pup and also cleaning an extremely rancid crate. 

The challenges of a puppy can be frustrating and even messy at times, but during those moments, I am reminded that the value is in the lessons learned and the relationship that is formed from the unpleasant events. 

I was encouraged when our son said, “Sometimes I don’t like doing this, but I know in the end it will be worth it when I have good dog.”

In real life, relationships with people (even fellow Christians) can be the same: inconvenient, frustrating and rancid at times, but if we pinch our nose and press through during the unpleasant circumstances, the relationships can grow stronger and the unconditional love of Christ can sweeten the smell. 

Loving through life’s relational conflicts or differing convictions takes pure will-power. It is a choice: continuing to love, or not; to pray or not; to listen to the Holy Spirit or not; to humble yourself, or not. In the end, the right choices will make the body of Christ “good” and worth it.

Paul reminds us of what is good in his letters to the early church: Accepting God’s sacrificial love, our relationship with Him, and through Him being connected with other brothers and sisters in one accord. 

By remembering how the Lord cared for us in our stinky messes to the point of cleaning us up using His son’s own blood, we can by faith be “good”, holy, and blameless in his sight. Because of His amazing grace and goodness, we, in turn, are able to share the same grace with others.

“Fulfill my joy by being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliest of mind let each esteem others as better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interest of others.” Philippians 2:2-4

 

 

 

Experiencing Peace

Experiencing Real Peace 

By Tammye Hamilton

“Mam! Mam!” The TSA agent shouted at me from the other side of the crazy crowded security area at the Orlando airport. “Mam!”, called the deep voice of another agent behind me, each one wanting me to follow them in opposite directions.

As I quickly grabbed my purse from its second trip through the scanner, I exclaimed under my breath to the sympathetic flight attendant waiting behind me. She quietly replied, “I know. Try to stay calm.”  

After having everything searched repeatedly, I gathered up our things, along with my bewildered mother, and headed for the gate. We were both pretty shaken by such a stressful experience.

Life can be so chaotic and overwhelming. Grasping at peace and calm is often frustrating. This year I have been learning how to actively pursue peace. 

I have learned that I can’t wait for calm to experience peace. That’s just not realistic in our world. We have to live here, in the messiness that is life. The unpredictability of relationships and responsibilities keep us all on our toes. We never know what is just around the corner.

In the reality of our uncertain lives, we actually can have peace.

I love the story of Jesus sleeping in the boat while the disciples were fearing for their lives in the face of a deadly storm. They woke Him asking why He didn’t care that they were about to die. Here’s the thing, Jesus was with them in the boat. His presence is what mattered, not their circumstances. 

Elisabeth Elliot, who experienced more than her share of life’s storms, wrote, “Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands.”

Isaiah 26:3 says,“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” 

Jesus told His disciples in John 16:33, “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."

As we remind ourselves that He is with us, we can walk in supernatural peace, no matter how chaotic life feels. He promised us peace. 

 

Love and Pray for your Enemies

Love and Pray for your Enemies

By Audrey Botts

Matthew 5:43-45 reads “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in Heaven.”

I was new to the church, when I was going through a bad divorce. I was a broken person experiencing emotions beyond my control.  

I was struggling with anger, bitterness, and jealousy toward my soon to be ex-spouse and the new love of his life.  

I didn’t have a clue how to handle all these toxic emotions.  As I started my new walk with Christ, I learned that I had to love and pray for the same people who hurt me.  I really struggled with this teaching so I started with a prayer like this: “Dear God, I don’t know why I have to pray for these people, I don’t’ like them, but I will do what you ask.  So please show me how.  Amen.”   

Yes, it was just like that! I didn’t want to pray for them and I surely didn’t love them.  I wanted them to feel the pain and suffering I was experiencing, but the Lord commanded us to love and pray for our enemies, so I did.  

Prayer after prayer, I felt the Lord changing my heart and how I prayed for them.  I started to really care and have compassion for my so-called enemies.  

In time, my own heart was healed through this process and I was released from all anger, bitterness, and jealousy.  Jesus taught me to forgive them and He gave me peace and love in exchange for my obedience.  Thank you, Lord!

 Praying for your enemies is hard and we don’t always get to see the result of all our prayers, but for some reason Jesus has allowed me to see His goodness.   

I recently received an unexpected message from the person who I reluctantly prayed for long ago. She said that Jesus had changed her life through my life and she wanted me to know that.  She asked for my forgiveness for what happened so long ago.  I was taken back by this and very blessed that God let me see His faithfulness and goodness toward me and also toward her.   

We both are now healed and fully restored to the women He intended us to be. We both now serve a mighty God and have found new life through Him.  Hallelujah!

May God give you the strength to love and pray for your enemies.  God bless you.

 

Faith and Forgiveness of a Child

Faith and Forgiveness of a Child

By Jacqi Ballough

“Lord, please take him. End his suffering.” I prayed and cried at the same time. We had watched our exuberant son bring this amazing little chameleon home only a year ago. 

During that time, he gently cared for the needs of the little creature daily even saving his money to pay for its weekly cricket consumption.   

Our family marveled at his growth from beginning as the size of our pinky finger to becoming the length of our hand and quite colorful. We could see God’s astonishing creativity in him.

I stood staring at the cage feeling helpless as this little animal shuttered in pain. “A wise man cares for his animals” (Proverbs 12:10), yet I didn’t know what to do.  

My son then entered the room and witnessed the horrid condition. He began crying and praying, 

“Lord, you can bring dead things to life. Bring him to life.”  

Here I was moments before yielding to common sense and thinking there is no hope, and my faith-filled child walked in and declared for dead things to come to life. I felt as if I was a disciple being rebuked by Jesus and in awe of the heart of our child. 

Unfortunately, our chameleon passed on and then my son hit me with the questions, “Was it my fault? Did he die from my neglect?”  

“No. Not at all. You loved and cared for him diligently while he was here. God decided his time.” 

Searching for reasons of the sudden death myself, I remembered my son had mentioned a few weeks before that he had read pine was poisonous to reptiles and could hurt his beloved pet. 

My husband had just placed pine chips in the cricket tank thinking it would help with the smell and sanitation. He told our son it would be fine, and he would look it up later. He never did. 

Trying to find an answer to the calamity, I Googled it, and sure enough, our son was right. I theorized that the crickets had consumed some of the pine and then been eaten by the chameleon.

Whether or not that was the cause, we will never know, but the point was we dismissed our son to the detriment of life created by God and the trust between son and father. 

After notifying my husband of the death, he quickly asked our son for forgiveness and sought reconciliation. Even in the moments of grief our son was quick to forgive, again witnessing to us (the parents) the admirable faith of a child.

Here was our son now physically burying his pet, shovel in hand and grieving, but still maintaining his faith stating, “What if he comes back to life now under the rock?”

Thankfully, my child-like faith was finally kicking in, so I replied, “Then God has the ability to move the rock or give him the strength to climb out.” 

“I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like children, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. So, anyone who becomes as humble as this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3-4

Child-like faith isn’t something to be pushed aside because now we are ‘adults’, whether physically or spiritually, rather it is the ‘mainstay’ of our walk and growth in the Lord.  It is the key ingredient, so as the scripture says ‘stay as humble as this child’.

 

White Noise

White Noise

By Robin Houde

When I lived in upstate New York, in the warmer months, I liked to sleep with my windows open so the cool night breeze could flow throughout. However, the sounds of passing cars and crickets was not something I could get used to. 

I would have a hard time getting to sleep and sleeping all night peacefully. The nighttime sounds were very distracting for me. Someone suggested the use of a fan, for 'white noise', to help drown out the sounds of the night. And it worked! (fast forward several years - I still need white noise to sleep).

God's word is like ‘white noise’ to me. When I'm in His Word, there can be chaos and distractions all around me but it doesn't have much of an effect on me. I can stay calm during the storms and sleep and live peacefully. I have His assurance that everything will be okay. These times will pass. He has promised us that no matter how hard life is, and no matter how badly we mess it up, He's there. Nothing can separate us from His love!

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV) "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

God's Word drowns out Satan’s deceit. It's like when Jesus was in the desert and was enduring temptations. Every time Satan tempted Him with a worldly pleasure, Jesus used God's truths to debunk the devil and his lies. 

If we are to become more like Jesus each day, what better way than to do what Jesus did in the desert and put the devil in his place. The more time we spend in God's Word, the easier it becomes to recognize the truth and use it against the lies.

Chaos can be a distraction but how we respond to chaos is the key to successfully overcoming it. We have a choice - allow chaos to cause us stress and anxiety, or chose to acknowledge the situation for what it is. Then deal with it, or let it go. Our response can be not to respond. 

Some things are better if we just leave them alone. Meditating on the Word of God, letting it become engrained in our hearts and practicing patience goes a long way. A quick response can sometimes end with unfavorable results. If we give ourselves time to assess chaos and pray about how to handle it, God will give us the words and the actions you need to take.

Romans 12:2 (NIV) "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." 

God's ‘white noise’ is pure and holy and comes from His Word. It keeps our focus on Him and less on the world and its distractions.

Letting Go

Letting Go

By Denise Schmeer

Why is it so hard to just “let go?”  I have two adult children carefully making their way in the world. But, I find that whenever they make a life change – new job, new place to live, deciding to get married – that I’m the one holding onto their previous circumstances.  

For example, . . . my son found a great job in Providence, Rhode Island . . . a really wonderful opportunity for him.  And was I happy?  Yes!! Thrilled, but I found myself feeling melancholy for Oxford, Ohio and all the places we had visited together when he lived there.  

The things we had done – the football game, the hockey game, and the concert – now seemed like fading memories.  Was it really possible I would never eat at the famous Oxford Donut Shoppe again?  And when I told my son about my missing Oxford, he said, “Oh mom, I was so ready to leave!”  Well, great, I thought but I’m feeling a little sad here. 

And same thing with my daughter . . . almost an “instant replay” just four (4) short months later.  She landed a great job in St. Petersburg, Florida . . . a really wonderful opportunity for her.  And was I happy?  Yes!! Thrilled, but I found myself feeling melancholy for Sarasota, Florida and all the places we had visited together when she lived there.  

The things we had done – the ballet, the theatre, the beach – now seemed like fading memories.  Was it really possible I would never stroll the shores of Lido Beach with her again? 

And then it occurred to me – yikes!  They are all grown up!  They are never coming home again and I miss them so much.  I miss fixing their breakfast in the morning and cutting up their slices of melon to look like little boats.  I miss tucking them in at night and giving them just one more hug. How much I love them!!

So, this all gave me pause to wonder how our Heavenly Father must feel as He watches us mature into the callings He has placed on our lives. 

He doesn’t struggle as I do, each time one of my children enters a new phase of their lives.  No, I am certain; Abba Father is joyful at every new season in our lives.  For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

He is so proud of each of us as we are obedient to follow in His footsteps, as we read and study His Word, as we step up and step out in Faith to each new opportunity He presents to us to shine the Light of His kingdom . . . the Good News of the Salvation through Jesus Christ.  

Dear Father God, help me today to “let go” and just keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing! 
(Isaiah 43:18-19)


Bless The Children

Bless the Children

By Mavis Tipton 

A few weeks ago, our church did a week of VBS. Our theme was “The Incredible Race”. We had a great turn out of children from 4-11 years old.

Every day they came revved up for all the exciting things that were planned for them.  Bible stories, games, crafts, snacks, worship.  Their morning was packed full. 

Co-teacher Fawn and myself had the privilege of helping teach the Bible story to 4 & 5 year old’s each day, along with the help of their favorite character “Speedy”.   

We prayed for the children entrusted to our care, that their hearts would be saturated with God’s Word, His truth, His love. That they would know that they are “God’s prized possession.”James 1:8b. That they are loved and are to love one another, and be kind to one another. 

Each day we trusted the Lord to do what only He can do…touch their hearts and souls.  At the close of some days we would wonder did they hear anything we tried to teach them?  You know 4 and 5 years old’s can be pretty busy, going from one thing to another. Wanting this or that, learning to share and be kind.  Learning to take turns, etc. 

The week went by fast, and here it was the last day.  It was “Speedy Time” their favorite time.  We did the Bible story, and then Speedy and I began asking them questions as we reviewed the week.   

We were amazed at how much they remembered, not just one or two children but all of them.  Our hearts were full and running over with joy that they were leaving with ‘treasure in their hearts’. 

Matt: 19:14-15 “But Jesus said,‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.  And He placed His hands on their heads and blessed them before He left.” 

The children of today whether young or older live in a very difficult time…even though we have so much at our fingertips to make life easier, it is anything but easier. Life is too busy and complicated. Don’t cast aside a child who is misbehaving, as you have no idea of what that they are going through, or what they live in. Take the opportunity and teach them what is right and above all the love of God.

It is heartbreaking to see how many children are cast aside and go from pillar to post, due to the circumstances they were born into.  But what a joy it is to see them respond to love and acceptance…isn’t that what we all want? 

I applaud grandparents, aunts and uncles foster parents, and adoptive parents who take these children into their homes and raise them as their own.  Your crown will be magnificent.  

I pray that the parents, grandparents, aunt/uncles, foster parents, and adoptive parents will keep their children in church and bring them up in the ways of the Lord. That they will know and see that they are loved by the ‘family of God.’

That the seeds that are planted will be watered, and nurtured as the children grow physically and spiritually.  That the love of God and His people will heal their tender hearts and set them on the path of victory. We are responsible for the educational and spiritual growth of our children. 

Bless the Children 

Matt. 6:33 “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”

 

 

Child's Play

Child's Play 

by Robin Houde

When my children were younger, they played nicely together most of the time. But there were moments when they just did not get along. They would begin arguing and not remembering to share and then I'd hear their voices getting higher and mean words being tossed back and forth. 

Sometimes I'd wait a couple of minutes to see if they could resolve it themselves. If it didn't appear to be going in that direction, I'd step into the room and have to intervene and diffuse the situation. 

There were always two sides to the story and it was hard sometimes to discern which one was the aggressor and which one was the defender. However, this knowledge wasn't really necessary in most situations, as long as no physical harm was done.   

I didn't spend a lot of time trying to figure out who did what to whom, and instead focused more on coming to a resolution and having them apologize to one another quickly.

There are times when we do need to get to the root of a problem so we can grab hold of it and rip it out. But most often our every day relational issues are not so complex that we really need to dig deep to find a 'why'. 

I think we can over-analyze situations, when all we should be doing is searching for a resolution and forgiving one another. If we are quick to forgive and slow to anger then those bitter roots won't have time to develop so there will be nothing to 'dig' out later.

James 1:19 "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."

When we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts, we are giving bitterness good ground for roots to begin to develop. Once the roots are established, it's harder to get rid of them. 

Hebrews 12:15 "See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile man."

 Looking back again when my daughters were little, after their apologies and hugs, they simply went back to playing and being friends again. They wouldn't bring it up that evening at the dinner table or drudge it up the next day or the next week during playtime. It was as if it never happened. How often do we forget to be like children? If only it came as natural and as easy in adulthood. I've found that it's really difficult sometimes to put the hurt feelings aside and truly forgive others. Nevertheless, this is what we're instructed to do. We need to search our hearts daily, for me sometimes hourly, and remember to just let it go. 

Colossians 3:13 "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."