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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Don't Be Bummed Out When You Are Blessed!

I hope you are reading through Matthew Chapter 5.

Let's read it over and over the next few weeks.  -Try reading before you go to bed.

Ask God to bless your understanding and application.  Today, we are pulling out Matt 5:10-12 to explore more closely.

Have you ever felt discouraged?  Do you try to do the right thing only to get shot down?

I'm keenly aware of  rolled eyes and behind back whispers. Folks often decide to label Christians without even knowing them or listening to what they have to say...Let alone giving them the right to say it.

Tolerance seems to be a one-sided deal today.  Even friends and family may reject you or make fun of you if you stand firm upon God's provision.

Hang in there!  Jesus tells you -- you are BLESSED!  I have often found - the same people who laugh at me now run to me when chaos hits.  They ask me to pray when this world dishes out horrible circumstances to them....So hang in there!

Never forget the persecution Jesus and His followers endured.

There is nothing you are going through now which Jesus did not go through:
____Rejection-Check ___Ridicule-Check ___Abandonment-Check ____Persecution-Check ___Misunderstanding-Check ____Betrayal-Check ___Physical and Emotional Pain-Check ___Death-Check

The followers of Jesus were persecuted in extraordinary ways...even unto death, but, as Paul noted, even death can be a victory for a believer in Jesus.

SOOOOO -- TAKE HEART!  Remember Jesus' words in Matthew:  

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, 
persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. -- Matthew 5:10-12

Don't be bummed out when you are blessed!  

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Matthew 5 - Advice for living

Who is blessed?

Welcome back, folks!  

I am so excited to announce we are going to explore Matthew Chapter 5 during the next few weeks!

Take a moment to read the first ten verses now.

I've been inspired to read Matthew 5 by my dear friends at the East St. Louis Christian Activity Center   (CAC).  This is a beautiful ministry in one of the poorest and oldest housing projects in East St. Louis, IL.  We are going to explore The Sermon on the Mount with some of the 600+ children who pour through our doors each day.

The Sermon will be the basis for our devotionals each evening after school at CAC. I think it's good for all of us to explore it thoroughly.

I wish I'd been sitting listening to Jesus speak these mind-boggling words! He climbed to the side of a mountain.  Curious onlookers followed.  His audience was full of the poor and downtrodden.  Mathew 4:23 speaks about the crowds who gathered around Jesus:

23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. -- Matthew 4:23

First of all, we should understand the culture in which Jesus spoke.  The poor were given no consideration. Women had no identity.  Misery and hardship were lifestyles.  Many in Jesus audience were intimately aware of the agony of struggling through life.

Life was hard. People were trapped in their misery. But one day,  on the side of  a mountain, Jesus told them their lives and struggles had meaning and purpose.

This was a riveting moment in time.  Jesus begins with the Beatitudes, which means supreme blessedness. -- -Just imagine how these words impacted the people who listened!  No one had ever spoken these revolutionary concepts before:

The poor were blessed.  The mourners were blessed. The humble were blessed. 
The merciful were blessed. The persecuted were blessed! 

-WOW! Can you imagine how each ragged, downtrodden listener in the crowd felt?  Never before had their lowly state been heralded as "blessed."

Jesus' words empowered people who were powerless.  His words touched the hearts of the lowly.  His words gave hope to the hopeless.

-- Perhaps your heart sags with the weight of poverty, humility, loss or persecution...

Remember the Beatitudes!  

Jesus gives us meaning, power .... and LIFE!

Let's close the day by reading Jesus' words a few times...then we'll explore MORE on another day!

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are they who mourn, 
for they shall be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, 
for they shall inherit the earth. 

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
for they shall be satisfied. 

Blessed are the merciful, 
for they shall obtain mercy. 

Blessed are the pure of heart, 
for they shall see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, 
for they shall be called children of God. 

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 5:3-10

  1. supreme blessedness.
    blissecstasyexaltation, supreme happiness, divine joy, divine rapture; 
    saintliness, sainthood
    "the everlasting beatitude"

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

So sorry for the delay! God is good!

My friends...I am so sorry for the pause in blogging!  Life has interrupted. My husbands surgeries and ER visits came and went in May, June, and July.  Today I am so happy to report God's gracious gift.  Today I also commit to explore God's Word with you.

I also invite you to check out my "Type A" blog for some back to school thoughts and other special messages about marriage and relationships for your family!  

God is  good.  We all move forward with His divine reassurance.

Thank you, God, for answering my prayers! We received a positive report for my hubby! Only three more treatments to go before we get three months without (hopefully) a hospital visit.

I am tired  - but at peace. Whatever the report, it is so good to know Jesus walks with us. He understands pain, struggling and disappointment. We are never alone in our walk.

“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.” -- John 16:33

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever."  -- Thomas Jefferson, 1790

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Birthday Card

Happy birthday, America.  Sigh.  How ya doin this year ? 
Sometimes I wonder.  Have you had a good year?    
We’ll decorate for your party.  I know my little village will put out your flags.  Red, white and blue are good colors to celebrate.
Red stands for blood spilled to preserve our personal freedom. This makes me think of our soldiers.  I sure do want to thank each and every one of them on your birthday. It makes me sad to think how they are treated sometimes. They deserve the birthday  gifts.
We reap the benefits of the soldiers' sacrifices. I hope we all remember this on your birthday, USA. 
I’m thinking of your first birthday,  July 4, 1776.  The folks who helped at your birth were people of faith.  We cannot and should not rewrite your life story to eliminate the faith that was present at your birth. 
The writers of the Declaration of Independence attributed our rights as a nation to the blessing of a divine creator. Maybe we should read your Declaration as part of your party:   
“We hold the Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, 
that among these are Life, Liberty, 
and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Thanks for reminding me of the God part in our Declaration of Independence, USA.
I’m gonna celebrate your birthday by remembering your history, my birthday nation.    
As a matter of fact, let’s get together and share memories every year.  We don't want to forget the foundation which made us great and the people who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. We don't want to forget HISTORY.  
 Something tells me the people attending your parties  need to honor soldiers who help preserve the freedom we celebrate.  Party goers need to understand that faith served as a foundation for our birth . Celebrators need to understand how you came to be, my precious country... the TRUTH behind the hoopla and fireworks.  

Happy Birthday, America.  I hope birthday partiers treasure your memories and don’t forget what you stand for.   
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance. - Psalm 33:12

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Perfect Art of Passing Time

   I just drove by you.  I waved, but I don’t think you noticed.  After all, you don’t even know me, but I feel like I know you.  

   I see you sitting by your garage on dusky nights when I’ve worked late and I’m trying to get home before dark.  You've pulled your folding lawn chairs under the quilt pattern that displays so nicely on your garage.  You are watching the evening fall.

   With all my might, I wish I could join you.  Somehow, I think you'd pull up a chair and welcome me.  You just seem to be those kind of folks… somebody’s grandparents…somebody’s church friends…somebody’s nice neighbors.  

   I want to watch the evening fall with you.  You remind me of so many special people in my life who mastered the perfect art of passing time.  You have the wisdom to slow down and watch. I’m sure you see so very much.

   My Grandma and Pop pulled their folding chairs to the door of their garage on Shore Road down in Venice, Florida.  I have the yellowed photo of  them sitting there.  I can almost imagine them sitting there, smelling a gulf breeze and watching for  a friendly bird which would actually light upon Pop’s finger.  

  Pop and Grandma waved at cars that passed by.  Honk honk.  There go the neighbors.  So good to see them.

   If it stormed on Siesta Key, my lovely in-laws, Beth and Bert, sat just inside their garage door.  Oh, how thrilled they were to watch the tropical wind whip up!  

  Beth and Bert settled into the sturdy straps of those lightweight chairs and  joyfully watched the parched grass and flowers drink the speedy downpour!  If I was staying with them, they’d call me to the door to watch the beauty of momentary refreshment. -What a wonderful experience. 

   My  mother and father had a special spot at their home by the wooded ravine to practice the perfect art of passing time. They watched the birds,  savoring the shade and the cooler, drifting air.  They could see the cars, but the cars could not see them. They had a secluded, peaceful spot for contented sitting.  Perfect. 

   Thank you to my precious couple beside the quilted shed.  You remind me of the perfect art of passing time.
You also remind me of folks I love who now practice that perfect art in Heaven.  

   I’ll keep waving when I pass by.   I’ll also try to pull up my lawn chair and remember not to let time fly by too quickly.  It's important to savor the moment and practice the perfect art.    

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Saved by the Hug

Aleaha into the church.   Her "Buster-Brown" haircut bounced with each footfall,  bobbing  up and down in shimmering rhythm.

Her eyes sparkled.  When she saw me, they lit up with recognition.  Aleaha doesn't know me well,  but her round toddler face tells me she knows me well enough.  She hugged my knees.  I melted.

Some might say Aleaha is imperfect.  The Down Syndrome label is a heavy load for a three year old to carry.  Aleaha doesn't care about labels, however.

Aleaha is busy and bound for perfect places.    Her smile, her eyes, and  her cherub grin are perfectly suited.

We met in the nursery during worship service.  She and I settled in with the puzzles below the speaker which allowed me to listen to the service.

Pastor was praying.  I thought I'd follow suit by clasping my hands and bowing my head. My heart is pretty tender these days, however. It didn't take long for a tiny tear to splash haphazardly on my cheek.

I felt her little hand first - sweetly brushing my arm.  I opened my eyes to see her gazing up at me with all the perfect understanding of a saint.  She said nothing, but hugged my arm with her tiny grasp.  Her eyes were full of wisdom and she smiled at me with a special tenderness.

I was saved by the hug of this perfect angel. God knew what I needed.

As always, His plan is perfect and so is Aleaha.