God is Faithful, Always

“O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O Lord?   Your faithfulness also surrounds You.”     Psalm 89:8

 

            To say I feel a little overwhelmed would be a major understatement. But not necessarily for the reasons you may think, considering the events of the past week.

First, I’m overwhelmed at the Greatness and Goodness of our God. In the words of King David, who am I Lord that you would be so gracious to me? God took what could have been a tragic event and showed us His love and His protection over Larry’s life. When he fell and shattered the T9 vertebra, it shattered on three sides but the fourth side stayed intact, protecting his spine.

Second thing, the peace. Throughout Larry’s hospital stay, during the surgery and recovery, we both had a sense of peace and we know it was from all the prayers being offered on our behalf. Overwhelming peace.

And third thing, the love.  Not only the love of God covering us, the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Phone calls, text messages, hospital visits and gifts, each one reminds us that it is the overwhelming love of Christ through believers that bind us together so we never walk through difficult times alone.

Larry and I still face some uncertainties, decisions that we’ll have to make that will affect our future. When the doctor tells a contractor that he can no longer climb ladders or lift heavy objects, that’s not what he wants to hear. But we know our God is faithful and He has our future in His hands. As our pastor said this morning, it’s not about how big our faith is, but it is about how big our God is.

“I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” Psalm 37:25

 

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Dee

 

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Happy Birthday, USA!

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12

American Flags

Every year in the small town where I grew up, Richland Springs TX, they celebrate America’s Independence on the 1st Saturday of July. While my parents were alive, we would go visit them over the week-end and be there for the celebration, but I’ve rarely gone since they died. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve felt a tug back to my roots and to the place I came from. So this year I decided I would go.
The day started off with a parade and while it may not have been as big as you would see in a larger town, for a community of 455 residents, it was wonderful. A color-guard on horseback started it off followed by more flags and a float with the local veterans. There were pick-ups pulling trailers, all decorated in red, white and blue and lots of sparkle. There were 4-wheelers, dune-buggies, and motorcycles. There were kids in funny hats and dogs in sunglasses. There were antique tractors and brand new semi-s, and of course the VFD fire trucks. And candy- lots of candy thrown to folks watching the parade. The Richland Springs Coyote high school football team (who won the state 6-man championship for the 7th time last fall) and the high school cheerleaders as well as the middle school football team and cheerleaders had floats. The First Baptist Church had their van in the parade inviting kids to their Vacation Bible School in a couple of weeks. Everyone was there celebrating their freedoms and their victories.
Throughout the day, there were competitions for horseshoes, washers, and this year for the first time, a 2-man pig-sacking completion. There were bounce houses and a water slide for the kids.
The day wrapped up with a fireworks show. The Star Spangled Banner was sung over the loud speaker, then BOOM, the spectacular display of bursting colors began. It was a show that could put many larger towns to shame, lasting over an hour, it was amazing.
As I sat there watching the beautiful display, I could only think about the fact that even as many things we see wrong in our hation, there are still a lot of things that are right. And all those things right with our nation, can be seen right there in my small farm community hometown of Richland Springs, Texas, USA.
Yes, we have people trying to destroy our nation, from the outside and even within our own government, but we still have men and women willing to fight defending her.
Yes, there are too many people just wanting a hand-out and for the government to give them everything free, but there are still hard working men and women, taking pride in their labors, working hard to support and provide for their families.
Yes, we have too many young people with no sense of responsibility or goals beyond pursuit of their own pleasure, but we still have many young people with goals and dreams, who believe in competing to win.
Yes, there are too many people, places and institutions who exclude God and godly beliefs, but there are still more who love God and who are willing to share the love of Jesus Christ with the nation. Let us who do know the Lord continue to pray for this nation, pray for our leaders, and for the upcoming elections that we may continue to live quiet and peaceful lives serving the Lord.
Happy Birthday, USA! And may your next 240 years be even greater!

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

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Color-guard

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My Uncle Robert Lewis, 2nd from left, fought in WWII

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Giving Thanks Always – Even When You Don’t Feel It

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (NKJV)

      child-prayer-clipart-royalty-free-praying-clipart-illustration-216150       When my younger sister was about 4 years old at a family dinner with my grandparents, she requested to say the blessing at the table. My Granny, being one to always encourage us to pray, told her to go ahead. Everyone bowed their heads and closed their eyes, except me of course being the older sister I felt the need to keep an eye on her. She began to pray, looking around the table, thanking God for each and every item on the table, including the plates and forks, except one food. She closed her prayer with the words “But I’m not thankful for the green beans. I don’t like them and I’m not thankful for them! Amen.” We can laugh at a child’s honesty in refusing to give God thanks for something she doesn’t like, but how often are we unthankful? Do we too sometimes feel justified in not giving thanks?

            God wants us to have a grateful heart and thankful spirit. “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:1-3) But we don’t always feel thankful. We all have times and situations in our lives that we don’t want or like, so how then can we be thankful?

            When we cannot be thankful for a specific thing or situation, we still can find ways to give thanksgiving and praise to God. Sometimes we have to stop and ask God to bring to our remembrance things to give Him thanks for. Sometimes we have to ask Him for the words to praise Him with. David wrote Psalm 51 after Nathan had confronted him about his sin with Bathsheba. In verse 15 he says, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.” David who wrote so many beautiful psalms praising God, asked for help to praise Him.

            How do we offer God thanksgiving when we are hurting, when we’re going through a spiritual battle, or we’re in a time of trial?

            First, we remember WHO God is. 

 “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven.” (Psalm 148:13) God’s names tell us who He is. He is the great “I AM”. Whatever you need Him to be, He is. 

He is JEHOVAH SHALOM, The Lord is Peace. Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  During some of the worst times and events of my life, God has been my peace.

He is JEHOVAH SHAMMAH, The Lord is There. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth… and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matthew 28:18, 20b) He was there with me in every crisis.

He is JEHOVAH-RAPHA, The Lord That Heals. “…If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26) He was my Healer when I had shingles in 2010.

He is JEHOVAH JIREH, The Lord Will Provide. “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19 He has been and continues to be our Provider through job lay-offs and a bad economies.

He is EL SHADDAI, The Lord God Almighty, The All-Sufficient One. When God spoke to Abram in Genesis 17:1, He said “I am El Shaddai” (Almighty God) and He promised to bless him and make him great. He is the God Who sustains us. Genesis 18:14 says, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?..”

 Whatever else is, wherever else we are, we can give God our thanksgiving for Who He is to us. Psalm 69:30 (NKJV) says, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”

          The second thing we can do is to remember WHAT God has done in the past.  Psalm 107:21-22 says “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!  Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.” (NKJV)

            Psalm 77: 5, 6 in the New English Translation says, “I thought about the days of old, about ancient times. I said, ‘During the night I will remember the song I once sang; I will think very carefully.’ I tried to make sense of what was happening.’” v.11-14 continues “I will remember the works of the Lord. Yes, I will remember the amazing things you did long ago! I will think about all you have done; I will reflect upon your deeds! O God, your deeds are extraordinary! What god can compare to our great God? You are the God who does amazing things; you have revealed your strength among the nations.”

            When we are walking through the valley, when we are under fire, when we have questions, we need to reflect back on the times God answered us and recall His great work in our life.

            Psalm 107:22 in the Amplified Bible says “And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving and rehearse His deeds with shouts of joy and singing!” We need to speak about what God has done for us to others. Hearing ourselves rehearse God’s goodness not only encourages them, but it encourages us too.

             The third thing is to remember the HOPE God has given us.  Romans 5:1-2, 5 says “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory… And (this) hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (NET Bible)

            “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) We have been given hope through the Holy Spirit and that hope does not disappoint.

 “Blessed is the man [or woman!] who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For (s)he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NKJV)

            When we don’t feel we have anything to be thankful for, we’re usually in some kind of spiritual battle, and we can’t afford to be silent. That is when we need to loudly proclaim the goodness of our God. We need to offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God. Psalm 86:12-13 says “I will praise You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, And I will glorify your name forevermore! For great is Your mercy toward me, and You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.”   The Psalmist is recalling Who God is and What God has done in the past.

            The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”.

            When we have a bad report from the doctor, we say “Thank you God for being my Jehovah Rapha. When the bills are due and there’s no money we can say “Thank You God for being my Jehovah Jireh.” When there is turmoil all around us we can say “Thank You God for being my JEHOVAH SHALOM.

              Psalm 50:14-15 says “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” We can go to God with our needs, and we can do it in faith when we know Who He is and we can offer Him thanksgiving, not for the need itself, but for His response to that need.

               When David was on the run from Saul, who was trying to kill him, he fled to Gath but when he realized he was in danger there he pretended to be insane. (1Samuel 21:10-15) That is when he wrote the 34th Psalm. It begins “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Dee

 

 

 

“I Will Give You Rest”

 

“Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28

What does that mean? In our crazy world, with our busy messy lives, how can we rest? Most of us feel like at times we need more hours in the day.

Some of the definitions from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary for rest are: (noun) repose, sleep; a place for resting or lodging; peace of mind or spirit; something used for support or (verb) free of anxieties

Let’s consider some of these definitions.

  1. Repose, Sleep

We all know our physical bodies need rest. Article I read list some of the health risks of too little or poor sleep.

Weight gain/Obesity – people with poor sleep habits typically have a higher BMI (body mass index) than those who get 8 hours.

Diabetes – inadequate sleep influences the way the body processes glucose and can contribute to Type 2 Diabetes.

Heart Disease and Hypertension – insufficient sleep with people suffering from hypertension can cause elevated blood pressure, eventually increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Mood Disorders – Irritability and moodiness can be caused by a single sleepless night, and long term mood disorders such as depression, anxiety and mental distress have been connected to chronic sleep issues.

Performance and Public Safety – Poor job performance and accidents can sometimes be attributed to lack of sleep.

Life Expectancy – Studies show that sleeping five hours or less a night increased mortality risk by roughly 15 percent.

God created our bodies to renew and refresh themselves through sleep. Cells regenerate and brains sort out superfluous information stored over the day. If you have trouble falling to sleep, ask God for restful sleep.

Psalm 4:8 (AMP) says “In peace [and with a tranquil heart] I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety and confident trust.”

Psalm 127:2 says “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.”

Proverbs 3:24 promises “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.”

The Amplified Bible says in Proverbs 19:23 “The fear of the Lord leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.”

Sometimes, we need to take a break from whatever we are doing, especially when we are overwhelmed with activity and business.

In Mark 6: 31, Jesus told the disciples to come rest awhile. “And He said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.’”

The Greek word translated “rest” here is anapauð : (reflex.) to repose (lit. or fig. [be exempt], remain), by implication to refresh:-take ease, refresh, (give, take) rest. (Also the same word translated rest in Matt. 11:28) Jesus knew the disciples needed to take time refresh, take rest.

  1. Peace of mind or spirit; free of anxieties

God created us as a three part being just as He is – He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We live in a physical body, we have a soul (mind, will and emotions) and we are a spirit.

Not only does our physical body need rest, but also our mind and emotions. Sometimes the poor state of our physical body can affect our mental or emotional being, but we also need to rest, or refresh our mental state of being.

We all have a certain amount of stress, it’s called life. But prolonged stress can damage our body, even to the point of serious illness or death. God did not create us to carry excess stress.  And He has given us instructions and the tools how to handle it.

In 1 Peter 5:6, 7 tells us, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”  We do not need to spend time stressing over situations, needs, problems especially those things we have no control over. We do need to acknowledge we are unable control it, and then cast it all over on God. And if that means we have to do it over and over, then we do it over and over, repenting for taking it back.

A lady named Phyllis Ford said “Rest is displayed in our ability to yield to the presence of God, trusting that He is in control of our lives… We relinquish our ability to fix, manage, and control things.” Yield to God’s presence and trust He is in control. And trust Him that if there are things we can do or need to change, He will reveal it to us.

Zephaniah 3:17 says “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

“He will quiet you with His love.” Just like a mother quiets her crying child with words of love and comfort, God will quiet our hearts no matter what is going on in our lives, even in the craziness sometimes if we only trust Him. God is in the midst of the worst circumstances and will quiet us with His love. He is the only one able to truly give us peace of mind.

Jesus said in verse 29 of Matt. 11, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” The interesting thing here, the Greek word translated rest here, is anapausls : (from anapauð,) but it means – intermission; by implication recreation; – rest. Jesus is inviting us to come take a break from things with Him. Come to Him, and we can take an intermission from worry, from stress, from sorrow.  When I was on Grand Jury, some days were so very hard and at times depressing. No matter how hard I tried, I could not “unsee” or “unhear” some of the horrific photographs I saw or the disturbing testimony I heard. If I went home and brooded over things, I usually would have trouble sleeping, thinking about what I’d seen and heard. But If I went home, took a walk and invited Jesus to come along with me, and talked to Him about it, the burden of it always lifted and I was able to put it out of my mind and sleep that night.

In the book of Acts Peter was thrown into prison, probably to be executed just as James his brother had been, what was his response? (Acts 12:5) He was asleep bound between 2 guards! Why? How? Because he’d cast the care of his life over on God.

So when a stressful situation is keeping you up at night, pray “Father, I cast the care of this (whatever it is) over on You because I know You care for me. Now I will lay down and sleep because You have promised to give your beloved sleep.”

Jesus said “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me… Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:1, 27)

  1. Something used for support or a place for resting or lodging

Now just as rest is important for our physical bodies and our souls, rest is essential for our spirits. When we are physically tired, when we are mentally or emotionally stressed and drained, our spiritual life suffers and we are ineffective for the Kingdom of God. But equally, when we’re not refreshed and growing spiritually, our bodies and souls suffer. Each part of our being is dependent on the other – when one part suffers, our entire being suffers.

What is it that is rest for us, that something we can use for support? Where do we go to find a place of resting?

The NKJV of Psalm 94:12-15 says, “Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not cast off His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance. But judgment will return to righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.”

Now listen to it from The Message: “How blessed the man you train, God, the woman you instruct in your Word, providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil, while a jail is being built for the wicked. God will never walk away from his people, never desert his precious people. Rest assured that justice is on its way and every good heart put right.”

“Providing a circle of quiet in the clamor of evil.” When we meditate on God’s Word, when we spend time alone with God, when we pray, God will provide a circle of quiet.

In John 16:33 Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Jesus is the One we can lean on for rest. In this life we will have problems, we will have conflicts, we will have family issues, we will have financial issues, we will have health issues. But Jesus says “In Me you can have peace.

Why is this important?

Today we are in a spiritual war as never before. There are things happening in the world, in our country, all around us, things that in the natural realm we have no control over. Satan is trying to destroy our nation, he wants to destroy our families, he wants to control our children.

But in the spirit realm, we have power because Jesus said, “I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth will have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19 AMP)

The most important thing we can do for the Kingdom of God is pray. Pray Spirit led, Word based prayers. The last phrase of James 5:16 says, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

But if we’re struggling in our own soul, if we’re worn out, how effective can we be?

Matthew 28:18a says “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore..”

We have been given the authority in Jesus’ Name, we have been commissioned by Jesus, to work for the Kingdom of God. But we have to be ready and be prepared before we can be effective in this Kingdom work. We have to be ready for battle when God calls us.

We have to be physically and mentally ready as well as spiritually prepared for do Kingdom warfare.

The Bible says of Jesus: “Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left [the house], and went out to a secluded place, and was praying there.” Mark 1:35 (AMP)

Jesus began His day, spending time with the Father, listening to what the Father said. If you’re not an early riser, ask the Father what time He’d like you to meet with Him and ask Him to help you to set your schedule accordingly. We have to fit our schedule into God’s plans, not expect God to fit His plans into our schedule. Spend time during the day just quietly sitting, listening for His voice. You can pray, or not; read your Bible or not; but just bask in His presence.

Listen to Jesus speaking in Matthew 11:27-30.

“Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. ‘The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen.

‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’”

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Dee

 

Overcome Evil With Good

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

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When Jesus was on the earth, He promised that His church would prevail against the gates of hell. “…and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18b) Through the centuries Satan has perpetrated attack after attack against the kingdom of God, attempting to destroy the body of Christ, His Holy Church. The latest attempt last Wednesday night in Charleston, South Carolina, was another defeat snatched from satanic jaws of victory.

Nine people, all followers of Jesus Christ, including Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were murdered in church. It looked like a sure win for the enemy. Nine believers were dead at the hands of a confused young man who had said he wanted to start a race war. But just as Satan thought he’d won when Jesus died on the cross, it was no win but in fact was a great defeat. Just as Jesus took the first victory from him by rising from the dead, the church body at Emanuel AME has taken this victory from him. The families of the nine murder victims won by forgiving the young man used in this heinous act. Love trumps hate every time.

Satan thought he’d strike a winning blow against the church by inciting division in the body – black against white and white against black. Wrong again! Churches of all denominations, of all races and cultures have united in support of Emanuel AME Church. The devil fails to understand that when one part of the body of Christ is hurt, the rest of the body gathers around to support, to pray and to comfort. Churches across the nation are praying for their brothers and sisters in Charleston SC. My home church, Grace Outreach Center in Plano, was one of many that sent donations to show them our love and support.

I’m reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Romans about how believers are to act toward one another and toward outsiders. I’ve seen this passage in action the last five days by the families of the murder victims, other members of that church and by believers across the nation.

Romans 12:9-21
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

“Come With Me”

“Come to me, all of you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIRV)

I was recently asked by a friend to write a short Bible study lesson on love. That was her only directive – just write a short study on love. Wow, that a huge subject. As I prayed about what to write, God kept bringing me back to the directive He had given me years ago when I first started writing. “Tell my daughters how much I love them.”

You may wonder, doesn’t everyone know God loves everybody? Probably, in their head if they ever been in or near a church. Most people can quote some version or form of John 3:16 “For God so loved the world”, but in their hearts they may wonder if or how He loves them personally, individually. Even Christians who have a real relationship with God can have periods of doubt, they may wonder about God’s love for them.

This week in our ladies Bible study at church, a lady shared that she was coming out of a period of darkness, she’d been through some struggles with her faith. As I listened to her, I thought about how I’d been through my own periods of darkness and struggle. I knew right then that that was the reason God had led me to write about God’s love for us.

In 1981 Del Shannon recorded a song originally written and recorded in 1959 by Phil Phillips called “Sea of Love”.

Come with me my love
To the sea
The sea of love
I want to tell you
How much I love you

When I hear that song or read those words, I think of Jesus and what He said in Matthew 11. “Come to me, all you who are tired…” Yes, there was a time when I was very tired, and not just physically but emotionally and spiritually.

In 2001, about a year after my mother had graduated to heaven, I went through a deep depression. I was angry at God for taking my mother and not preparing me for her leaving. I felt that some of the people in my life had not given me the comfort and support I thought I needed. I was fighting with my sister over care for our dad. Some individuals at church, instead of reaching out to me, judged me because I wasn’t acting right in their opinion. So I dropped out of church for a period and stopped reading my Bible. From there I continued to spiral downward. My husband and I began having problems in our marriage. Sins I’d not struggled with for decades began tempting me. I don’t know what would have happened had God not loved me enough to pull me back. But He did and He did it in through a secular magazine of all things! But since I’d stopped reading my Bible, listening to Christian music, or going to church I hadn’t left Him a lot of options. I opened a Woman’s Day magazine I’d bought that day on a whim and saw these words:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message


As I read those words, it seemed as if Jesus were sitting right there beside me, speaking directly to me. “Are you tired and worn out?” He asked. Yes, I was very tired and worn out from my hurts, doubts and fears. “Are you burned out on religion?” Yes, I was totally burned out and let down by church members. “Come to Me, not the church, not other people. Just come to Me.” Jesus gently and loving wooed me. There was no condemnation in His words, just love. Tenderly and lovingly God reached out to me when I was at the lowest point in my life.

I’ve learned about the “unforced rhythms of grace”, I’ve recovered my life. I’m leaning how “to live freely and lightly”. I run to Jesus every day to hear Him tell me how much He loves me. Good circumstances or bad, I rest in His love.

Jesus calls you to come with Him, come to the sea of His great love and let Him tell you how much He loves you. Wherever you are in your life, He calls “Come to Me. Come learn about my grace. Come with Me and learn how to live. Come receive My love. Come with Me, I want to tell you how much I love you.”

Jesus loves you, my friend!

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
Copyright © 1996, 1998 by Biblica

The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

I AM a Cheerleader!

 

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.’”  Jeremiah 31:3 (NKJV)

            Last Saturday my four year old granddaughter Kaylee was sitting with me and her other grandmother at my grandson’s baseball game. There were two middle school age girls there also watching their brother play. From the way they were dressed they were probably on a competitive cheer team. Kaylee kept staring at them admiring their purple outfits, purple hair bows and especially their purple glitter eye make-up. Yes, I said purple glitter eye make-up. The other grandmother asked Kaylee if she wanted to be a cheerleader when she got older. Kaylee looked at us wide-eyed and said “I AM a cheerleader!”
          Kaylee has admired cheerleaders since she watched a cheerleading competition on TV last summer. So in the fall her mom put her in a gymnastics class that also has a little cheerleading instruction included. Then for Christmas she got some pom-poms and a dress-up cheerleading outfit. She’s learning to do flips and she has her own pom-poms. Kaylee sees herself as a cheerleader.
 How do you see yourself? Do you see yourself as what the world tells you are? Or do you see yourself as God sees you? Do you see yourself as one who is loved and cherished by God?
 Many years ago when I was leading my first ladies Bible study, God’s instruction to me was to tell His daughters how much He loves them. Those instructions have not changed but only grown stronger as I felt called to start writing. “Tell My daughters I love them.”
             If you only believe one thing, believe this: God loves you and cherishes you. There is nothing, no fault, no sin, no wicked spirit that can keep God from loving you. The choice to believe and receive it is yours.
Jesus said “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 (NKJV)
          Let me be your cheerleader and encourage you in the fact that God loves you!  “For God so loved the world”. Put yourself in that verse – For God so loves ___ that He gave His Son Jesus to die for ___. If He loves us that much, why would He allow anything to ever stop that love? There is nothing.
“For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 (AMP)

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Amplified Bible Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation