Macy, the Sweet Pittie

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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In the course of my life I’ve had many dogs, but there were only a few that were truly special. The first one was Herbie, a yellow collie that walked me to the bus stop every morning and met me at the bus every afternoon when I was in first grade. The second one was Cubby, a white border collie mix that I had when I was in high school. I just knew he was the only soul on earth that really understood my teen-age girl angst. The last one was Macy.
Macy was a shelter dog, we adopted her from the Plano Animal Shelter in 2011. She was a Red Nose Pitt Bull mix and one of a group of dogs that had been there too long because no one would adopt a Pitt Bull mix. But when we explained to the girl at the shelter that we needed a dog that would be good with young children as well as other family dogs, she said “I have just the right dog.” It was love at first sight. She looked at us and her eyes seemed to say “I choose you.”
Macy was the right dog for us. Our grandchildren loved her and she loved them. She liked going on walks but she was also content laying on the floor beside me in front of the fireplace. She kept our house safe from squirrel attack and let me know when it was dinner time. When Lucy, our daughter’s dog, would come over, they would play until they were too tired to keep going. When Deuce, our son’s dog, came to live with us he was just a puppy. But Macy accepted him and even when she started getting sick she would still occasionally play chase or tug of war with him. She brought much joy and unconditional love to our entire famimacy_dee-001_sizedly.
I thank God for Macy and for sending us to the Animal Shelter at just the right time to find her. I thank God for all the love He showed us through Macy.
The Bible doesn’t say much about animals in heaven (except Jesus will return riding a white horse!) so I have no proof I will see Herbie, Cubby or Macy again. But in my heart of hearts, I hope that right after I greet all my family and friends who get to heaven before me, that I will be greeted by a bunch of dogs!

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

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“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

What’s That Smell?

“God, create a pure heart in me. Give me a new spirit that is faithful to you.”  Psalm 51:10 (NIRV)Image

          A few days ago I noticed a slight odor in the refrigerator when I was getting my morning yogurt. I was getting ready to go to work so I noted to myself that I needed to clean out the refrigerator when I got home from work that day. By the time I got home, I was too tired and decided it could wait until the next day which was Saturday. Saturday morning I went to younger grandson’s baseball game, ran some errands on the way home and by the time I got home, I had other things on my mind and forgot about it. Since hubby was out of town, that evening I went out to dinner with a friend from work and didn’t open the fridge again until Sunday morning. Ugh! It was worse, but no time to do anything about it. Went to church that morning and since it was Mother’s Day I met my daughter and her family for a special lunch. By Monday I didn’t even have to open the door to smell the odor coming from the refrigerator. Good thing I’m off work this week, because there was no more putting it off. It had to be cleaned out now!  
             I emptied the contents of the fridge, checking expiration dates on every bottle and container. Finally I found the culprit – a plastic container of leftovers that had gotten pushed to the back and forgotten. As I was wiping down the inside walls and shelves of the fridge, God began speaking to me about how just as those rotten leftovers created a bad odor in the refrigerator and finally the kitchen, that is what unconfessed sin does in our lives.
           We go to church, pay our tithes and keep the Ten Commandments. Everything is good, right? Ok, what about that little white lie we told to get out of doing something we’d promised to do but really didn’t want to do? Cover it up and push to the back the fridge. What about that word muttered at the driver who cut who cut us off in traffic? Wrap it up and put it on the bottom shelf. There they’ll stay and grow mold. Any sin, even ones we consider small are an affront to our God because He is holy and He calls us to be holy. “For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:44a (NKJV)
           John the Apostle writes in I John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”    We all sin, even after we are born again we all say or do things we know are not what we’re supposed to do. And we fail to do things we know God has told us to do.  Even the Apostle Paul struggled with this. “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” Romans 7:19
            So what is the answer? Paul continues on to tell us – Jesus. Jesus has made the way.  “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24,25a
Then John continues his message in First John. “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:1, 2
            We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)  All we have to do is confess and Jesus will cleanse us.
            Just as I not only had to clean the refrigerator interior with baking soda to eradicate the smell, I also had to throw out the leftover food that was causing the odor.  Jesus cleanses us of all unrighteousness the moment we confess, but we have to remove it from our lives. Stop doing whatever that sin was. If it’s a bad habit, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. He abides within you once you are born again and He is called to help us and to guide us. If you have unforgiveness towards someone who offended you, start praying for them. It’s hard to hold a grudge against someone you’re praying for!

Father, thank You for cleansing me of all unrighteousness. I pray that my life will be holy, a sweet aroma to You. In Jesus Name, Amen

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

 

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

 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Through Jesus Christ I Have…

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“For while the Law was given through Moses, grace (unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing) and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

A number of years ago I was challenged to read the New Testament looking for all the prepositional phrases referring to Jesus. I don’t know how many there are, I lost count but I know it’s in the hundreds. But the purpose of the assignment was not to count them, but to grow in my understanding of everything Jesus has done for us. I began reading and every time I came to a phrase referring to Jesus, I would circle the phrase and meditate on what the Scripture was saying to me. The result was I came away with a deeper understanding of who I am in Jesus Christ.

I encourage anyone wanting to grow spiritually to try the same process. Starting reading the New Testament actively looking for “in Jesus Christ”, “in Whom”, “by Jesus Christ”, “through Jesus Christ”, “through Whom”, “from Whom” and so on. As you find one, stop and meditate on what the verse is saying. Ask yourself how that applies to you and your life, what exactly has God done? Sometimes you need to consider the verse before and after it to fully understand the context of the verse.

To help you get started, here is a small list of verses. But these are but a small sample of what is waiting for you in your Bible.

John 1:17 – we have grace and truth through Jesus Christ
Romans 8:1 – we are free from condemnation
1 Corinthians 5:18 – we are reconciled to God through Christ Jesus
Philippians 1:11 – we are filled with the fruits of righteousness by Jesus Christ
Colossians 2:3 – wisdom and knowledge are in Christ Jesus
Romans 5:11 – we have eternal life through Jesus Christ

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

Amplified Bible (AMP)
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

My Father’s Voice

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            “…your Teacher will not hide Himself any more, but your eyes will constantly behold your Teacher. And your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left.’” Isaiah 30:20b-21

             Last Sunday afternoon our North Texas area was slammed again by a late winter storm pelting us with sleet and ice. My daughter, a newly minted ER nurse, called me on her way to work asking me to pray for her safety driving the 40 plus miles to her job at an area hospital. The roads, particularly the bridges and overpasses, were getting slippery. I could hear nervousness in her usually confident voice. As we talked, I remembered an incident that happened to me many years ago, before she was even born.

My husband and I were living in Houston, and one afternoon as I was driving home from work, we had a sudden thunderstorm, making the quickly wet streets slippery in places. I was approaching an intersection and applied the brake to slow down, but as I did, my car began to slide right towards another car. For a moment I started to panic, but then I heard my dad’s voice in my head. Dad had taught me to drive and even after I got my license, he continued to instruct me on how to handle various situations that I might encounter while driving. That day I heard my dad say, “If you ever start to skid, take your foot off the brake and steer into the skid.” Immediately I calmed down, did what he said and regained control of the car.

As much as hearing my dad’s voice that day calmed me, there is another voice I seek to hear that calms me even more. The voice of my Heavenly Father can not only calm me in the storm, but He calms the storms in me.  My earthly dad taught me everything he possibly could, not only about driving, but many other things. However, as much as he tried to prepare me for life, his wisdom and knowledge was limited. My Heavenly Father knows all things, He knows my life and what I need to hear from Him.

Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.” God knows my past, my present and my future. He instructs me the way to go because He knows where I need to be, what I need to avoid. He tells me when I need to let off the brake and when I need to steer into the skid.

My Heavenly Father speaks to me through the Bible, His written word and by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said “But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future].”  (John 16:13)

This is what the prophet Isaiah spoke about in Isaiah 30:21, that we would hear our Teacher saying ‘This is the way, walk in it.’

After Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to live with and in us, all who will receive Him. Not just a little, but to overflowing. He teaches, guides and empowers us. It is through the Holy Spirit we can share the gospel with others. It is through the Holy Spirit I have words to write. It is through the Holy Spirit I know how to pray when my child calls needing prayer. “For in Him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your [own] poets have said, For we are also His offspring.” (Acts 17:28)

How I thank God for my Father’s voice!

 Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Dee

 

All Scripture references from the Amplified Bible.Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

photo credit: freestone via photopin cc

Disappointment 101

“My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay alert.” Mark 14:34

How do you handle disappointments? People don’t always behave the way we expect or need them to behave. Even our closest friends or family members let us down. Things happen that we have no control over cause us pain and disappointment. What are we supposed to do with those feelings? Who can we turn to in those times?

Jesus suffered disappointment in the Garden of Gethsemane. He took Peter, James and John, the inner circle of the twelve men He’d called to follow Him, His closest friends, into the Garden to watch and pray with Him. One of the twelve had already deserted Him and was going to betray Him.

“Then they went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James, and John with him, and became very troubled and distressed. He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay alert.’” Mark 14:32-35

“Remain here and stay alert” Jesus asked them, but when He returned they had fallen asleep, not once, but three times. When He needed them the most, they were sleeping. (See Mark 14:32-42)

David wrote in Psalm 31:7 “I will be happy and rejoice in Your faithfulness because You are aware of how distressed I am.”

God notices our pain, emotional as well as physical. He is aware of our disappointments. But He does more than just notice and be aware. David goes on to say, “But I trust in you, O Lord! I declare, ‘You are my God!’ You determine my destiny!” (31:14, 15a)

Keep trusting God. He knows what happens in your life, and He has a plan for you. Other people do not have final say in your life – God does!

Verse 19 says, “How great is your favor, which you store up for your loyal followers! In plain sight of everyone you bestow it on those who take shelter in you.”

When your friend lets you down, when your spouse disappoints you, when you get passed over at work, pull into Jesus. He knows your hurts and He understands them as no one else can.

“Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” Hebrews 4:14-16

Jesus suffered disappointment without letting it cause Him to sin. He forgave and continued to love those who had let Him down. He held to the plan that after His resurrection, those eleven men would be the leaders and take the gospel to the world. Forgive without being asked, keep loving those who hurt you and hold fast to Jesus.

David closes Psalm 31 saying, “Be strong and confident, all you who wait on the Lord!”
Be strong. Be confident. Wait on the Lord.

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

References: New English Translation (NET)
Mark 14:32-42
Psalm 31
Hebrews 4:14-16

Getting Past Our Past

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 (New King James Version)

“Me teach a Bible study? I can’t do that. I’m not worthy. Lord, You know my past. You know the sins I was involved in. I’m not suitable to lead a Bible study.”
“Daughter, did you repent and ask Me to forgive you? And did you turn away from those sins?”
“Well, yes. I did. And it no longer has a place in my life.”
“Do you believe I’ve forgiven you? Cleansed you?”
“Yes, You promised in Your Word that if I confessed my sin You would forgive me and cleanse me of all unrighteousness.”
“Do you believe you are now righteousness?”
“Uh, I’m not so sure about that. I don’t always feel righteous.”
“Daughter, do you know what I see when I look at you? I see the Blood of my Son Jesus. I see My righteousness which I have given you in place of your unrighteousness. I see you as worthy because I have made you worthy.”
“Yes, Father. I believe You have given me Your righteousness. Thank You Father for forgiving me not only of my past, but also for not believing Your righteousness has been given to me. Thank You Father for forgiving me, healing me, and giving me a new life in You. And I will do any task You ask me to do. Even leading a Bible study when I don’t feel worthy. Because I know in You I am worthy.”

Have you ever had a conversation like that? Knowing that God has called you to do something, yet not feeling like you’re worthy of the call?
Too many times as Christians we allow fear, doubt, or shame over our past keep us from fulfilling a call from God. We allow the enemy to come in and condemn us for things God has already forgiven and cleansed us of. When satan brings these thoughts, that is not the time to turn from God; that would be falling into satan’s trap to lure us back into sin. Rather that is the time when we need most to run to God, to go to the Word and meditate on the fact that we have been made the righteousness of God.

“God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (New International Version)

Some may say, ‘but I was already a Christian when I sinned. I knew better but I did it anyway. How can I be the righteousness of God?’ The same way we’re saved to start with – by faith, believing the Word of God, by believing God can and will do what He said He would do.
1 John 2:1 was written to Christians. “My little children, I write you these things so that you may not violate God’s law and sin. But if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate (One Who will intercede for us) with the Father–[it is] Jesus Christ [the all] righteous [upright, just, Who conforms to the Father’s will in every purpose, thought, and action].” (The Amplified Bible) We have an Advocate – One who pleads our case before the Father and makes sure we’re forgiven.

God instructed me once to major on righteousness because when we become more aware and understand that we are the righteousness of God, sin begins to lose its hold on us. And the more we know of righteousness, the less it has control over us. We have to lose, give up, get rid of and deny its right that old religious idea “we’re just poor ol’ sinners saved by grace and can’t help ourselves but to sin”. As long as we hold on to that attitude, we’ll continue to be subject to sin.

It’s time to move on. Time to get past our past. The Apostle Paul said that he was forgetting his past – the position he’d attained as a devout Jew, his persecution of the Christians, all of it, and was moving on with Jesus toward the goal of being like Him. (See Philippians 3:13, 14)

We can’t change our past, neither the past before or since we received Jesus as Savior. But we can change our present. We can learn to walk in the righteousness Jesus has provided for us. We can grow into it. Like a child grows into a suit of clothes or a pair of shoes that are too big, we can grow into the image of Jesus Christ.

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee