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“14 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’
15 My times are in Your hand’….” Psalm 31:14-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
“The results of your mammogram were inconclusive.” Traci nearly always receives this letter, and nothing is found. I returned for another mash and smash session that afternoon. On the black and gray screen, shining bright and white was an M&M sized dot.
A biopsy and three days later my family doctor and friend called to confirm what God had placed on my heart. That bright, white dot was breast cancer. April 2010 was the beginning of another, life-long adventure with my Savior.
No matter where this journey carried me or where it ended my Savior promised me that my times are in His hand. I likened it to being in labor with my first child. I experienced nervousness that I might behave so as not to honor Jesus. I also thrilled that ultimately at the end of this time I would receive one of God’s greatest blessings!
Held in His hand on this new path through mountain tops and valleys, the blessings poured into my life. Deepened relationships. New friends and acquaintances. New experiences.
Thank you, Lord, for the mashes and smashes of life. Thank you that blessings also enter our lives when troubles and hardships come. Thank you we can rest in you because our times are in Your hands. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Do your circumstances define you or are you a reflection of who Christ is and of your relationship with Him?
Have you heard the phrase, “Just make the best of it?”
Have you heard the dry reply, “Yeah, right!”
Rog and Charlie worked in a bakery at which they arrived early to set up, whip up icing, and start the baking before the store opened. Rog, having a mischievous spirit, enjoyed practical jokes especially targeting Charlie and the owner.
One morning Rog decided not to add the sugar to the icing made with shortening. He beat it and fluffed it until it looked like it was ready to put on the cakes and cupcakes. Gentle Charlie warned Rog to rethink his decision. Rog pictured what was about to unfold and his glee grew. The owner came in an hour after the fellows and one of the habits she had was to take her pinky, swipe it through the edge of the icing and stick her finger in her mouth to taste it. That morning Rog received the anticipated reaction. Gagging, spitting and sputtering she spewed not so kind words at the prankster. Rog as a gifted comic soon had her laughing as well.
Not only did Rog and gentle, quiet, Charlie open the bakery they also closed it. That required prepping for the next day, cleaning equipment, sanitizing and mopping. The guys rotated the different responsibilities, but the most miserable task for Rog was mopping. He hated to mop. That one job could just about ruin an otherwise great day.
One night Rog was cleaning equipment. Alternating between humming and whistling Charlie mopped. Now Rog is a type A personality. Gregarious. Practical joker. Hurry-up-and-get-it-done guy. Charlie is a easy-going, quiet and methodical fellow. After ten minutes of Charlie’s cheerful labors Rog grumbles, “You are driving me crazy! Every night when you mop you hum and whistle. What’s with the whistling?” Surprised, Charlie stopped, leaned on the mop, and tilting his head stared at Rog for a moment.
Smiling, he turned back to his task and replied, “I’m not just mopping. Jesus and I are mopping. We are worshiping and praising the Father in song together. Ouch! Rog felt a piercing in his heart.
Charlie knew how to make the best of any moment. He focused on the Presence of Christ with him. Engraved on his heart were five words from Matthew 28:20 “…I am with you always….” and two words from 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoice always.”
Rog recalled Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men….”
After locking up the bakery, Rog threw his arm around Charlie’s shoulder, and as they began their walk home he whistled,
“”Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest name I know.
Fills my every longing
Keeps me singing as I go.**”
*Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
**He Keeps me singing by Luther Bridgers, 1910. Copyright: Public Domain
The psalmist states he has “set the Lord” before him. This demonstrates an active relationship with God. He makes a conscious choice to focus his entire self on God alone. He confidently knows he can lean on, depend on and trust in the Lord. With God by his side, no thing nor no one can shake him. To God be all glory, honor, power, and glory alone. He is the Victor.
Savannah and Mimi pulled out the flour, butter, chocolate chips, and eggs for baking cookies. Donning matching aprons they chattered about the yummy confections they soon would enjoy. Bowls, measuring cups, spoons, and baking sheets clattered onto the counter.
Mimi flicked a pinch of flour into Savannah’s hair. “Mimi!” She grabbed her own and tossed it onto Mimi’s face.
Following Mimi’s recipe, Savannah carefully spooned flour into the measuring cups and with the handle of the spoon scraped away the extra flour.
“Mimi, why do we make the flour level with the top of the cup? Why can’t we use more butter and especially more sugar?”
“This helps the cookies turn out the same every time we baked them. The flour, butter, and sugar are like the the ingredients God used when He made us. He says He made us and knew us before we were born. He declares His works are wonderful. He called us by our names.”
Savannah mumbled how some people sure needed more sugar. Mimi chuckled, “Whatever is in our hearts is what is spoken from our lips. Jesus is love. If Jesus fills our hearts, more love and joy flow from our lips.”
“But, Mimi, a lot of people are just mean. It’s hard to talk back to them in a nice way.”
Savannah measured teaspoons of baking soda and baking powder. “Stick your finger into the baking soda and taste it, Savannah.”
Sputtering and running for water she yelped, “Mimi! That’s awful! Don’t put that in the cookies.”
“Ah, but if we leave it out, our cookies will be as flat as paper.” Mimi described the baking powder and baking soda as necessary in very small amounts to help the cookies rise into fluffy, soft treats. She also warned how too much, only one spoonful more, would cause the cookies to taste bitter.
“Wow! That doesn’t make sense, Mimi.”
With sad eyes she turned and faced Savannah. “Sometimes people have too much bitterness in their hearts. Often this causes them to hurt others with their words or actions.”
Savannah added the chocolate chips and stirred them into the batter. “Mimi, what makes a person have bitterness in their hearts?”
“Pain happens in all our lives. I had cancer and my medicines made me lose all my hair. Sally’s daddy left her and her mother, and she never sees him anymore. Sweetie, you know how hurt you felt when Katie told lies about you to the other children in your class? Those are bitter-like life stories. Some people let the anger, hurt, and bitterness stay in their hearts. It grows until it is like poison in their hearts, then they want to make others hurt the way they do.”
“Mimi, you had bad things happen in your life like your cancer, but you try to make other people feel loved and happy. Is it because you have the love of Jesus in your heart?”
Before Savannah could speak again, cookie dough plopped onto Savannah’s nose. “Oh! No you don’t!” And Mimi wore dough her nose as well.
As they scooped the dough onto the pans, Mimi gazed at Savannah “Even with Him in my heart, if I feel hurt or angry, I try to choose to speak and act in kindness.”
They slid the pans into the oven and Savannah wondered why the cookies needed the heat for all those minutes instead of just a couple. “Just the right amount of heat makes the cookies firm enough to hold but still soft enough to eat. Too much heat burns the cookies or makes them hard and bitter. Not enough heat and the cookies are too soft to hold and they still taste like uncooked dough.
“We have heat in our lives too. Remember how you felt when you lost your puppy? Mack cannot walk, because he broke his back. He says he is not handicapped and instead does what he wants to do while sitting. How about twenty-three-year-old Anna who died when her car crashed? Her mom and dad tell others their story, because they rejoice knowing they will be with her again one day. These are the heat in our lives. We can choose to let Jesus use the heat in our lives to help us become more like Him. We can choose to stay in pain from the heat, and then we become hard-hearted and bitter.”
Beep! Beep! The timer shouted, “Time is up!” Mimi slid the pan out of the oven and onto the cooling rack. Savannah swayed back and forth, bouncing up and down with impatience until she could sink her teeth into the sweet treat. She knew from experience biting into one too soon blistered her tongue. Sometimes waiting brings great rewards.
Sliding the spatula under the cookie, she lifted the still warm cookie into her hand. Sinking her teeth into it she grinned at Mimi. As she Swallow she held four fingers in front of her face, and Mimi held out the dish to her. “Want some milk to go with those?”
Chocolate chip cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips, or M&M’s
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
Place rack in center of oven.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl mix together butter and sugars until creamy.
Slowly beat in vanilla extract (but fresh vanilla beans make the best) and eggs.
In a separate bowl stir together dry ingredients.
Stir in chocolate chips or M&M”s.
Slowly mix in dry ingredients.
If possible use an ice cream scoop and place scoops about two inches apart on the pan.
Bake 12-15 minutes depending on desired softness or crunchiness.
Transfer fron pan to cooling rack after two minutes.
How Does It Feel to Fall into the Depths of Depression?
The darkness slithers up behind you, and like a beast opens wide its mouth to devour you… heart, soul, mind, and body.
“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.” John 10:10a
He crushes the joy.
He snatches away hope.
He snuffs out all light.
And then I plummet into darkness.
Tired of deceit.
Tired of denial.
Tired of defeat.
Weary of pretenders.
Weary of hypocrites.
Weary of liars.
Finished with drama.
Finished with pretentiousness.
Finished with impurity.
Quit with barnacles.
Quit with slugs.
Quit with leeches.
Empty of hope.
Empty of peace.
Empty of joy.
I flail in darkness.
I crouch in fear.
I weep in despair.
But God clasps me in His arms.
He lifts me out of the darkness and the miry clay.
He smooths away the tears from eyes.
He calms my anxious heart.
He puts a new song in my mouth.
A song of praise to Abba, Father God.
“Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,
For the help of His Presence.” Psalm 42:5
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”
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God alone is our source for truth and life. The devil prowls around looking for someone to devour. He is cunning, he and his demons. The powers of darkness and and the powers of God battle for control of our thoughts, because thoughts become actions. Jesus is the only truth. Jesus is the only life. Jesus is the only way to God. We are in a spiritual battle.
12 For our struggle is not against [e]flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 (NASB)
“Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’ “John 14:6 (NASB)
Jesus said to him, “I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (AMP)
And again He declares,
“I will be against anyone who goes to mediums and wizards for advice. Whoever does this is being unfaithful to me. So I will separate them from their people.” Leviticus 20:6 (ERV)
“If a man boweth to astrologers, and to false diviners, and doeth fornication with them, I shall set my face against him, and I shall slay him from the midst of his people (and I shall cut him off from the midst of his people).” (WYC)
Do not be deceived. Understand that mediums, astrologers, spiritists, wizards, and diviners work by the powers given to them from forces of evil. They are the tools through which Satan works to deceive us. God abhors putting anyone or anything between us and Jesus.
Understand, God ABHORS, HATES, DESPISES anything associated with these behaviors. He says we are whores and prostitutes if we participate in any related activities .
“… he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger.”
2 Chronicles 33:6 (AMP)
“He practiced magic and witchcraft and ·told the future by explaining signs and dreams [divination; augery]. He ·got advice from [dealt with] mediums and ·fortune-tellers [spiritualists; spiritists; Deut. 18:9–13]. He did ·many things the Lord said were wrong [L much evil in the Lord’s sight/eyes], which made the Lord angry.” (EXB)
“What good is it to mouth the words, “Lord! Lord!” if you don’t live by My teachings?” Luke 6:36 (VOICE)
“My little flock, don’t be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father’s great joy is to give you His kingdom.” Luke 12:32 (VOICE)
I urge you to be on the alert for those books, movies, and activities that may deceive you into becoming comfortable with behaviors unacceptable to Jesus. Examine your choices. Bring them before His standard. Choose that which leads you into a closer, more glorifying life to Him. Be transformed from appearing like the rest of the world. Stand out. Stand above the ordinary, for we serve an extraordinary God.
AMP Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved. For Permission To Quote information visit http://www.lockman.org/
ERV) Copyright © 2006 by Bible League Internationa
EXB The Expanded Bible, Copyright © 2011 Thomas Nelson Inc. All rights reserved.
NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
VOICE) The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserve
WYC) 2001 by Terence P. Noble
I feel such anguish. Brushing streams of tears aside as this is an issue personal and tender within my heart. Oh! How can we reach those who have no hope? Hope in God, even in the darkest of circumstances, overcomes the evil of the spiritual warfare.
Ephesians 6:10-13 (NASB)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Lord, Father God, ABBA, hear our pleas for your love to go forth and bring hope and life to those hurting such that they attempt or commit suicide. Surround the loved ones of those who have died by their own hands with your love, your grace, and your mercy. Help us to be your voice and arms of hope, encouragement and love. Lord, thank you that you came that we might have life and have it abundantly. Thank you for overcoming death and that you live. We know you are not surprised by this, because you know the number of our days. Thank you for creating us, because you wanted to pour out your perfect love on us, and for us to love you. Teach us, lead us and embolden us to share your love and hope with others.
Kate Spade is an internationally recognized designer and celebrity. But what of the you and me’s? As of this writing, from January 1, 2018-June 7, 2018, there have been 18,388 deaths by suicide in the US. *
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Sometimes my heart hears Jesus’s sweet voice gently directing me to be His voice, His hands, His embrace. My heart sounds like Moses or Jonah spilling forth all the reasons He should choose someone more capable.
And then my heart hears, “You. I, your Lord, am giving you the desire of your heart.”
“Delight yourself in the Lord;
And he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him and He will do it.”
Psalm 37:4-5 NASB
Well, my heart’s desire is to be His servant and to be a reflection of His love. He lives within me.
Heart’s desire: check.
Ability to do it: check.
He wants me to be His willing vessel.
Thankful, I hear Isaah’s voice from within my heart and I answer, “Here am I. Send me.”
He blesses the needy through these human hands and voice. But, my heart overflows with His abundant joy and blessings to me.
Revelation 5:11-14New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Angels Exalt the Lamb
11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”
13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying,
“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation