For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. —Romans 15:4

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Trust in the Lord

Psalm 37:1-4
Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

They lived in a perfect world. A lush garden filled with beautiful animals, soaring birds, diving fish, and trees. The two strolled through the greenery and the flowers. They watched the butterflies and the bees. They shared the joy of their lovely surroundings. Until the day they defied God. They disobeyed. Then everything changed.

Living in the world is hard. Ever since Adam and Eve's choice to eat the fruit from the tree of life, sin has flooded the world. With the sin comes discouragement, hurt, and frustration. But the good news, yes the very best, most wonderful news, is— I can totally, without a doubt trust the Lord to bring goodness to my life. He has my best interest in mind. As I delight in him, he gives me the delights of my heart. The joy, peace, and love that only he can give. Praise God that the evil passes away and the love of my Father remains.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Are You Prepared?

Ephesians 6:10-18
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 

She tried on the catcher's helmet, too.
As her brother, cousin, and their six-year-old teammates took the field, Ella Cate, who is not quite two yet, toddled over to her brother's batting helmet. She picked it up then popped it on her head. Next she walked over and picked up her pretty, pink, made-for-a-little-girl, baseball glove and tucked her tiny hand in. Then she grabbed her cushy pink baseball and threw it to her mom. When she noticed me watching her she gave me one of her big cheesy grins. What a cutie. And smart too. She wanted to protect her head from the ball or most likely just thought it would be fun to put on the helmet. But in any case, she'd donned her protective gear.

Paul shares specific instructions with the Ephesians' church about how to prepare-not for a game-but for battle. Not just any war, but the one that plays out in the spiritual world every day; with Satan shouting the battle cry. Praise God he's given you and me the armor we need for protection. Where Ella Cate put on a batting helmet, I wear a helmet of salvation. Instead of a glove and ball, I carry a shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. Jesus wants me to be prepared to face temptation and sin. He expects me to be ready, well versed in his word, and covered in prayer. Stand firm with me as I pray.

"God, shore up your followers. The people who believe in your son, Jesus. We want nothing more than to serve you. Thank you for your mercy and grace." Amen

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Afraid but Filled with Joy

Matthew 28:8
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary had just gone to Jesus' tomb. Instead of finding his body, they ran into an angel whose "appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow." I can imagine they were pretty upset. The angel had already caused an earthquake, rolled a humongous stone out of the way, and petrified the guards. And now their Lord was gone. But even in fear, the ladies were filled with joy. They had good news. Jesus was alive. He defeated death and lived again.

When I watch the news and see the changes, the violence, the horrible things people do, I'm appalled; and downright afraid. I wonder what life will be like for my grandchildren. At times the fear overwhelms me. But in the midst of the sadness and sorrow over the sin in the world, I still have joy. Because like the ladies who ran to the tomb, I know Jesus is alive. My joy was bolstered again this week as I watched my granddaughter Dilly accept Jesus as her Savior. My daughter, Dilly's mom, baptized her. What a joyous time that fills me with hope for the next generation. I pray she always finds joy in Jesus.

That joy, that floods my heart, is what I hang on to when I'm overwhelmed and afraid. Join me as I rejoice and praise God for Jesus!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Humble and Selfless

Philippians 2:1-4
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Proverbs 31 is often the go to chapter of the Bible for Mother's Day. Granted there are many wonderful words there in reference to a wife and mother. But as I was reading through some Bible verses for this week's devotion, I read Philippians 2. I know Paul was speaking to the church in Philippi, but I can't imagine better words to describe a mom. Throughout the scripture, I've read of many mom's who put their children's needs above their own, practiced tenderness and compassion, loved God, and bowed before him with a humble spirit.

Hannah turned her son over to God's service after she'd spent years praying to have a baby. Moses' mom hid him to keep him safe. Ham, Shem, and Japheth's mother climbed into an ark full of stinky animals to ride out the storm with her boys. I've always appreciated that Timothy's grandmother and mother raised him to love the Lord. Of course I can't leave out Mary, Jesus' mother. She watched her son die for the rest of us. She knew God needed him to do that.

Whether we're moms, daughters, aunts, Grammies, or friends God shows us many great examples of what a Christian woman looks like. I mention women because of Mother's Day, but the scripture applies to guys too. We all need to be selfless and encourage each other.

And by the way, when your mom said she didn't really want that last piece of dessert she gave you, she probably really did. She was just being nice.

Happy Mother's Day!