Friday, August 31, 2012

Nothing Is Left Void When The Lord Is At Work

Yesterday I picked a post from a few years back and did some rewriting. I do that quite often. It's wonderful to look back through my posts and see where I was and see just where the Lord has brought me. Proof that I am a work in progress, flaws and all.

Not only can I see how my writing is changing, but even more so I can see how the Lord has been working in my life. There were times He carried me through heartache. Walked me through confusion. Steered me away from sin. He has been  my ever present encouragement. It seems that He is always teaching me. Always loving me to tomorrow.

I finished the post and sat back in tears and thought, "Wow Lord, You are so mighty and good". It was titled, "When We Cry Out He Turns To Us". It was one that I had worked on for quite awhile. So, I posted and seen I had still had a few corrections. Made my corrections and went back to post and it was all scrambled up. I couldn't read or make out anything. It was as though someone took what I had done and tossed it in a shredder.

I can tell you, I sat back with tears bursting. I tried to retrieve it. I worked in a frenzy trying to get that post back. After awhile I knew it wasn't coming back. I had to die to that post. Just maybe it wasn't meant for everyone. Just maybe God meant it just for me. Just maybe He wanted to remind me that no matter what the situation all I must do is call out to Him.

"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." Romans 12:12 

I went to bed last night with my mind still a buzz about what happened to that post. Was this the mean actions of another or did something just go berserk with my computer? Whatever the reason, I knew what I had to do. Leave it in the Lord's hands. After all, in my post I had shared that when we cry out to the Lord He turns to us.

That's exactly what He did for me last night. I could feel His presence. I could feel His peace. My post may have vanished, but His Word remained in my heart.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Colossians 3:23-24

Have you ever felt that you worked so hard on something only to see it go through a tornado and end up scattered about by the wind? Shattered in pieces and jolted to where you were left unsettled? Maybe you felt unnoticed, or  unwanted. Could it be that you felt your work wasn't worthy or was lacking? Maybe something was just missing?

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58

Here is what I had to ask myself. "Rob, did you write that post for all to see or did you write it for the Lord?" I had to do a heart check. I must admit there are times I have yearned to please people more than my Lord. I knew I had written it for the Lord. I think that is one reason I was so shaken. I felt I had disappointed Him in some way.

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10 

I didn't disappoint my Lord and Savior. He knew my heart was with Him. He knew I was sharing just what He had done for me night after night, year after year. He never ceases to turn to me when I am in need.

Life is like that at times, isn't it? We work so hard at being the best of the best in all we do. We give all and sometimes it feels like it just isn't enough. There are times when we know how much time we have put into something and it simply goes unnoticed. Friends, it isn't about being the best. It's about being the best we were created to be. When we give our all, it shouldn't be for the accolades of others. It should be for the glory and honor of God. We need not worry if others notice our work. When we are doing what the Lord has called us to do, I promise, it doesn't go unnoticed. When we are busy in the Lord's work and focused on Him there is nothing missing.

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1-2 

Lord, help me to remain focused on You. Keep my feet from stumbling in pride and help me to walk humbly. Set before me Your path and remove all doubt from my mind. May I remember Satan is always trying to destroy me by filling my mind with falsehoods. In all I do, may it be for Your glory and honor and not my own.

Friends, may we keep the faith when all doesn't turn out as we expect. Just maybe the Lord is doing a greater work in us. You know what? He is pretty good at taking what we thought had disappeared and making it reappear with great purpose and blessings that go far beyond anything we could imagine.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Guest Book by Marybeth Whalen

I have been blessed to read every book penned by Marybeth Whalen. She has a style all her own. It's almost as though you could pick up a book, without knowing the author, and after reading it you would know, yep, that's Marybeth Whalen. Her writing style is easy and classy. Her focus is always Christ, but she has this gift for telling a story within a story. Most likely, you will find yourself in one of the characters being portrayed.

In her newest book we have a hurting family. Who can't relate to that on some level? I think we all can. Macy has a young daughter. The father is in and out of the picture. Her brother has hurts of his own and their mother is still grieving the loss of their father.

I found  I could relate to all of the characters in this story. After losing my dad when I was young, my family went through many of the emotions shared by these folks.

I see this story as teaching us that we can't really move forward unless we go back and settle everything of the past, leaving it behind. We are then washed with a peace like never before. It's as though this family is stuck in time. I love how the guest house they rent is called, Time In A Bottle. They want to change, but I don't think they really know how to let go just yet.

I love how this family goes back to the beach house that holds such valuable memories for them. Each of them are on a journey of healing and each are finding out that the road to healing doesn't come over night, but is a journey of a life time. So, Macy is searching for the artist. Someone who blessed her in her childhood days. On her search we see that our lives are being sculpted by the Artist who creates nothing but beauty.

Marybeth has a way of unraveling the story so that in the end we see a greater picture before us. In this story we see God's perfect timing. We see that He is in control and He has a way of revealing to us just what we need when we need it.

This book was a gift from Zondervan for its review.

Marybeth Whalen is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries writing team and a regular contributor to their daily devotions, which reach over 350,000 people each day. Her first novel, The Mailbox, was released in June 2010. Her next novel, She Makes It Look Easy, was released in June 2011. Additionally, she serves as director of She Reads, Proverbs 31 Ministries’ fiction division. Marybeth is the wife of Curt and mom of six children. The family lives outside Charlotte, North Carolina.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

No Other by Shawna K. Williams

No Other is one of those stories that you envision a grandparent sharing of their past. Shawna has a beautiful way with words. They grab you by the heart strings and carry you away to another place and time. Her writing style flows. It's as though she is sharing her story with you over a cup of coffee. It's clear to see the passion she has for telling a story of great love. This is a novel that will carry a  great legacy behind it.

The characters are rich and vibrant. They are real, with flaws, trials and heartache. We see how the Lord brings beauty from ash. There is beauty found within these pages that will stay with me for years to come. I was sad to close the last page. The story continues with, "In All Things", available now for your eReader.

Jakob's story is one of loss, tragedy, trial, and forgiveness. He holds His Christian values dear to his heart, but he is hurting. His family has been through so very much. The war has taken place and things are not the same. A war so very far away has touched his family and left it's mark burning in the heart of Jakob. Most of all, it's one of overcoming. It's one of letting go and letting God.

Meri is that girl that comes from everything Jakob did not have. As the story is being woven we see that material wealth is not what brings joy to life. Meri's family is controlling and has brought much pain to her life. She needs to find an escape route. She just wants to be herself and seek her own dreams instead of fulfilling what others expect from her. She knows of God, but not what is real of Him. Only the facade that her family has created.

Jakob and Meri share a love story like no other that I have read. It's pure and deep. We see these two character grow in such valuable ways. The road before them is not an easy one, but with faith, nothing can stand in their way.

The cover of this novel is breathtaking. The house is a story of it's own. The locket tells of a love that is withstanding. I encourage you to pick up this gem that holds a story of value. It's hard to find wondrous stories like this one Shawna has penned. I truly loved it.

This book was given to me by Shawna K. Williams for its review and is published by Desert Breeze Publications.

Shawna's writing journey started with a dream --- an actual, nighttime dream. The story within her dream captivated her to the point that she became obsessive, and in order to put together all the little details and fill in the gaps, she had to write it down. Now she has two books based upon it. Shawna is an Inspirational Romance writer, who loves creating complex, flawed characters, believing that's the secret to making them real. And as an inspirational author, she is able to write about God's Grace through her characters' humanity. She also loves including a good dose of nostalgia in her work, which is why her stories tend to take place in small towns during the first half of the 20th century. When she's not writing, she's spends her time with her husband and three children, reads, makes jewelry, and enjoys life on her family's ranch.

Abducted by Janice Cantor

What a treat to read a suspense novel written by a veteran police officer. This is the first book I have read by Janice Cantor. I missed the first book in the, Pacific Coast Series, entitled, "Accused". Janice Cantor is a first rate suspense writer. She has penned a novel that flows continuously. One that definitely keeps you guessing.

Cantor has woven a story of  love, relationships, trust, and forgiveness, all while she brings us a plot that thickens and a mystery that unfolds before our eyes. There is a thrilling twist at every corner. I enjoyed the characters. Carly Edwards is a strong and courageous woman. She not only is an awesome detective, but she is new to the Christian faith and is finding that she truly needs Christ daily to walk this life journey.

I love the foundation of this book. Forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption. We see second chances and what happens when we make a choice not to give up on others. This novel is intertwined in faith. It's as though everything in story comes down to the new faith in Christ that Carly has found. Her faith is tested through trials and doubt.

I found this novel interesting. This story revealed a woman of faith, living in a world that is uncertain and at times chaotic. We see her faith grow in a place where faith is deeply needed.

This book was a gift from Tyndale for its review.

Janice Cantore A former Long Beach, California, police officer of twenty-two years, Janice Cantore worked a variety of assignments, including patrol, administration, juvenile investigations, and training. She's always enjoyed writing and published two short articles on faith at work for Cop and Christ and Today's Christian Woman before tackling novels. A few years ago, she retired to a house in the mountains of Southern California, where she lives with three Labrador retrievers, Jake, Maggie, and Abbie. Janice writes suspense novels designed to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired. Accused is the first book in the Pacific Coast Justice series, featuring Carly Edwards. Janice also authored the Brinna's Heart series, which includes The Kevlar Heart and A Heart of Justice.

Visit Janice's website at and connect with her on Facebook.

A Lesson On The Persecuted (Beatitude Series Part 8)

"Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs." Matthew 5:10

Who of us has been persecuted for our faith? We see it in other countries across our world, as people must make a choice, much like the disciples. It's a choice of living out our faith. In many cases it's a choice of life or death.

Many times family will not accept us because of our faith. We can lose friendships because of Christianity. But friends, that doesn't mean we give up. It means we live our lives in prayer. It means we live in such way that through each word and action Christ's love is seen.

Sure, I've been called names. I have been gossiped about because of my walk in faith. But I have never faced real persecution as others have. So, that brings me to my question at heart. Am I then truly living out my faith for all to see? That's a hard question for me. Have there been times where I have hidden my faith? I really don't think so, but then if I rephrase the question to, "Has there been a time where I just didn't move when the Lord asked because of fear or has there been a time when I made the choice to remain quiet when I should have spoke?" I must answer those questions with a yes.

Paul never held back. He shared his faith with all he met. Everyone who crossed his path knew of his faith. I think Christ should be upon our lips in every conversation. Should I stand in front of my local post office, Bible in hand, and shout scripture to all coming in for their mail? If the Lord calls me to, yes, I should without fear and with trust. Until, Christ calls me to do so, I can still share His Word by walking in His love, to every person I meet, friend or foe.

"You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For what is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:11-12

Before I can be persecuted I must be living my faith for the world to see. I cannot hold back. I cannot live a hidden faith. My relationship with Christ is personal, but to live out my faith, is to bring glory and honor to Him. That means moving out of my comfort zone. It means making myself available. It means allowing the Lord to create in me a living vessel to share His message and love.

Persecution can be physical or verbal. Are there people who do not like me because I am a Christian? You bet.  Being a Christian doesn't mean your perfect. Goodness, I am far from that. I am a sinner in need of grace. I am a work in progress. I am daily trying to give my life to Christ and surrender myself to His will and purpose for my life. It's not always easy, but His strength makes it possible.

Sacrifice is a choice. Now, with sacrifice, I must ask myself, "Do I give until it hurts?" Meaning, do I feel it when I give or do I just give easily? The more sacrifice, the more faith. I think that's where we see the persecution happening in other lands. People of faith are willing to give all. Am I always willing? To be honest, I must say, no. I hold back. I limit God. I keep my hands closely wrapped around what is important. It is my daily prayer to be used of God. To let go and let God is not just a nicely wrapped Christian phrase. It's an anthem for the Christian life.

"Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

I am to walk without fear. I am to live each day with intention and purpose. I am to call upon the Lord for strength in my walk. I am to listen to the Holy Spirit's guidance. I am to walk with a determination to make a difference. To give my all in every situation life brings forth.

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, If any one wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it. What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will reward watch according to what he has done. I assure you: There are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Matthew 16:24-28

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Lesson On Peacemakers (Beatitude Series Part 7)

"For the peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God." Matthew 5:9

Resolving conflict has not always been my strong suit. In fact, my husband, calls me, "The Fixer". I have earned that name, with foot in mouth. I think at some point all moms are fixers. We don't want to see our children hurting and we don't enjoy seeing others hurt. I suppose that's part of being a mercy. But for me, I often step in and act before I have prayed and asked for God's guidance. That is my first mistake. Second is thinking I know what's best. I think that's the point where the Lord gives me a little push and says, "Um..Rob, would you like to get out of My way, so I can do My work?"

I too have often had to prove I'm right. I might be in an argument and rather than walk away, I have stood for the battle. Oh goodness, not a pretty picture.

Over the years I have learned humility. I have learned to pray first and act later. That is, if the Lord is calling me to act. He may just be calling me to prayer. Which is power, when praying for His mighty will.

There was a time a few years back when I was ready to fight for what was right. I called a friend and asked for prayer for the situation. I was frazzled and had no idea what to do. It felt as though I was in a battle that wasn't going any where and I was going to have to face my accuser.

My friend prayed for me and she spoke this verse to me. "A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath." Proverbs 15:1

This verse has become an athem for me. It remains tattooed on my heart. This verse did more for me, not just in that moment, by across time, than any other wisdom. After she prayed with me, I walked into the situation with tears and a humble heart. I allowed the Lord to speak for me. It wasn't easy, but in that moment, surrender came for me. I knew I no longer could be, "The Fixer", and I no longer needed to act without prayer. God was in control and I needed to trust Him.

I have been blessed to have peacemakers throughout my life. Ladies filled with a gentle spirit, who have guided me, and helped create in me the woman I am today. For them I am truly grateful.

To seek peace is not weakness. In fact, it is strength. It takes more for one to walk in peace than it does to walk in anger, always running at the mouth. To walk away from a situation takes more strength than it does to stand and make a fool out of yourself.

"You have heard that it was said, love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:43-45a

"But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful." Luke 6:35-36

"All those led by God's Spirit are God's sons." Romans 8:14

"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace be those who cultivate peace." James 3:17-18

"Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God's children. and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn't know Him." 1 John 3:1

Peace is a choice. Peace is a prayer.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control." Galatians 5:22-23a

"Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Walking in peace means being prompt to apologize. It's fixing your eyes on Christ and what cannot be seen, but believing in His greater cause. It's being ready to find resolution and sometimes that is simply by taking a step back and spending time in prayer. It's stepping in when called and praying with others. When we have two friends who are at a stand off, we don't take sides. We bring them together through prayer and allow God to do His work. We limit God when we step in without first seeking His will and purpose for us.

In taking time reading through the Beatitudes and writing about each one separately, God has shown me great wisdom. I feel as though I have been washed with a refreshing new look at scripture. It is my prayer that you too will take some time and study each one. God's blessings are pouring out of His Word.

Fireflies by Ruthie Lewis

Ruthie Lewis sent me a copy of, "Fireflies" for review. I was immediately drawn in by the cover. I mean, who doesn't love fireflies? As a kid and still today they captivate me speechless. I see them now and I'm a child all over again.

No, this book isn't about fireflies, but in way you could say it points to the glory of our Savior who created this little beauties just for our pleasure. Ruthie intertwines her story, the characters and the message so brilliantly that you are immediately drawn in and left speechless.

I felt the more pages I consumed the more I knew the characters, Tammy and Charla, and those who surrounded their lives. Friendship combined with love seem to set these ladies free from the chains that are holding them captive in the bottom of the jar. They are yearning to be set free, but just don't know the means.

Fear has held them for much of their lives, but faith conquers their fear and even as a firefly, they see the way out to finding what life holds for them.

We see how choices not only touch one moment of our life, but sometimes they change our journey forever. The trek to finding joy is not always an easy one. This novel was real in the fact that the author didn't just paint a rosy picture. She told the story that many of us have lived. That painting no one wants to see. The one we keep hidden and out of reach of others.

These ladies stopped making excuses. They stopped covering up the bruises. We travel with them on a journey of life, choice and redemption. Leaving behind the old and battered for the new. We see that cracked pot and as one might see it as broken and of no use, God knows better.

Faith comes alive as a butterfly finds its wings for flight. This is one of those novels that you will not want to put down.

To learn more about Ruthie Lewis take a peek at her website.  

This book was a gift from Ruthie Lewis for it's review. This book is published by Tate Publishing.

Ruthie Lewis is a speaker to women's issues and seeing life through purpose and inner light, and is a trained life coach. She lives in Oklahoma as do her two amazing, grown sons. She is also the mother of a precious daughter who loved and lived life with every ounce of light she had and now dances in heaven with Jesus.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Lesson On The Pure In Heart (Beatitude Series Part 6)

"The pure in heart are blessed, for they will see God." Matthew 5:8

In studying the Beatitudes this week, if it's possible to have a favorite, this one just might be it for me. Oh, to be pure and to see God! This verse is filled with grace. I love how each of these verses spoken directly from Christ connect with one another. They all point us to Christ. Again, we see that with Him, all things are possible.

The pure in heart is someone who is authentically righteous. To point to someone, who wasn't of a pure heart, would be the Pharisees.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self indulgence! Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so the outside of it may also become clean." Matthew 23:25-26

Isn't that the beautiful part? We can be real with Christ. We don't have to pretend and be fake. Although at I think at times we think we must put on a show. Yes, even for Christ. We don't have to hide who we are with Christ or with the world. We should be able to share our bountiful days of glory and allow people to see those days in which we wish we could have a do over. Those hard times that come and we question life itself. I think the more real we are, the more we are able to show what Christ has done for us and what He is now doing in our lives. We can open our heart to Him and share all with our Savior. It's that sweet intimate relationship that brings life to it's full purpose. Through Christ we are transformed. Our hearts are changed. We are a work in progress. The closer we draw near to Him, the more of ourselves is revealed. Who we are is important. He removes the old and brings forth a new beauty, as we seek to be more like Christ.

"The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation." Psalm 24:4-5

"Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness-without it no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

"Dear friends, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure." 1 John 3:2-3

"They will see His face and His name will be on their foreheads." Revelation 22:4

We see in Matthew 5:6 that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be blessed. I'm not to be looking for what this world can give me to make me who I am. It's not this world that will bring happiness to my soul. I am to look to Christ and seek His face. I am to look to Him for my example. I am to walk as He walks. I should do so with not worrying how this world will see me, but how they will see Him. There is nothing in this world that can satisfy the soul. Through Christ we find not only our purpose and plan for life (Jer. 29:11), but we find a treasure. It's like uncovering a mystery. Unveiling a masterpiece. Unwrapping a gift. Just think, we were born to be blessed.

So how do I find a pure heart? I strive to keep my eyes fixed on Christ. I think about what I allow into my life. I protect my eyes and ears. (Phil. 4:8-9) I am to put on the armor and suit up in Christ. (Eph. 6:10-20) I am to remember that I am a child of God. I am not going to live a sinless life, but I can strive daily to sin less. When I change my focus everything looks different. When I see things through God's wisdom I can better understand my life. I can remember and take hold of the fact that He sees past my sin and I am forgiven when I go to Him with a humble heart. He knows what my tomorrow will hold and I can trust in His plan for my life.

We might find that living a pure and holy life may be a struggle in this world. Then again, when we fully surrender to Christ, this world has nothing on us. It is possible. It is attainable through Jesus Christ. He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us and to be with us. We are not alone. He has set the path and gave us our direction. It's up to us to follow.

A Lesson On the Merciful (Beatitude Series Part 5)

"The merciful are blessed, for they will be shown mercy." Matthew 5:7

How wondrous it is to open my Bible and see the words in red. Words spoken by my Savior. This verse is penned in red and is speaking of mercy. Not just receiving mercy, but giving mercy.

What does merciful mean? The good Mr. Webster puts it this way.

Merciful Full of mercy: Compassionate: Providing relief

Mercy  compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment  and a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion;compassionate treatment of those in distress

Compassionate Having or showing compassion; granted because of unusual distressing circumstances affecting an individual —used of some military privileges (as leave)

Compassion Sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it;
Mercy is looking beyond yourself. It's reaching in the depths of your soul and reaching out to gracously touch another with love. It's opening up your heart to another. It's an outward action of love. Mercy is our Savior.

"Because of the Lord's faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!" Lamentations 3:22-23

"For He tells Moses: I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy." Romans 9:15-16

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even through we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!" Ephesians 2:4-5

"For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy to all them that call on you." Psalm 86:5

"The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works." Psalm 145:9

"Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." Luke 6:36

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" Titus 3:5

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," 1 Peter 1:3

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

Mercy points toward our Savior. Mercy brings us together with understanding and grace. It's love in it's purest moment. In loving mercy it takes the hardness out of heart and replaces it with pure love toward others. Shouldn't we be showing mercy to others when our loving Savior continues to show us His mercy new every day? It's a continual action of love. One that we should surrender to and openly give.

It is not up to us to decide who deserves mercy and who doesn't. We can see in scripture that is up to our Savior. Everyone is in need of mercy and is able to receive it.  I can't think of one day that I do not look to my Savior for mercy. He is there, ready to give, ready to lift me up, and ready to wash me in His love. It's not that we just show mercy to those we love. That would be pretty easy. It's showing mercy to all. None of us deserve mercy. When we are in need of mercy we cry out to the Lord, but too often, we hold it close and for what ever reason, we feel it's not a need to give to another. But it is. To share the love of Christ is to share mercy with others. May we remember the cross and the payment for our sins. It's not a payment that we must pay. Our Savior stamped our debt, "Paid in full".

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control." Galatians 5:22-23ab

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Lesson On Hunger And Thirst (Beatitude Series Part 4)

"Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, for they will be filled." Matthew 5:6

Before we can understand this verse we must first understand righteousness. I mean how are we to hunger and thirst for something if we don't understand the meaning?

Righteousness: Righteousness is the state of moral perfection required by God to enter heaven.

So, those who hunger and thirst for this will be filled. Hunger and thirst are powerful words. They are living words. We must be fed and we must have our thirst quenched for life. The key is filling those needs with the right notions. If we are not careful we can begin to fill ourselves with potions that will not lead to holy living. Body, mind and soul.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you." Matthew 6:33

I can devour a cheeseburger and fries and be full for the next few hours. I can devour God's Word and be filled for the day. But it is something I must remain in. Steady and sure. I can get hungry and simply eat junk that isn't going to be good for me at all. We could say we need a healthy hunger.

"I am the bread of life." John 6:48

The same goes for what I drink. I could sip on soda all day long or I could drink something healthy, like water. Nothing quenches our thirst like water. Just sit down to a Mexican dinner with spices. Nothing cools the tongue like water. This crystal clear, pure drink, fills us like no other drink. In the world we could look at this and compare drinking sugar all day and the lasting effects, to drinking water and what is supplies.

"But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again-ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life." John 4:14

We need to make wise choices for not only our physical health, but our spiritual health. The heart functions to keep our body alive. It is our very choices that figure in the outcome of our beating heart. It functions with it's own control. Goodness, if it were up to us to keep our heart beating we wouldn't last long. We trust in our heart to do all it's required to do. We have faith that when we sleep it's going to continue to beat and bring us to the morning sun. The same is said in our relationship with Christ. Our faith is in Him and Him alone. Eternal life cannot be found on our own, but only through a loving Savior, who was willing to give all, so that we might have life.

"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48

"But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:15-16

We are an imperfect people. We are a work in progress. We cannot attain perfection on our own merit. Only through our Perfect Savior will find heavenly perfection. In seeking Him on a pure level and in seeking Him with all our heart, we strive for perfection. We strive to be all He has created us to be. It is through this faith that we find a hunger and thirst for His righteousness.

When we think of righteousness, we need to understand this is not something we can acquire on our own. We need a Savior to bring righteousness. The only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. We cannot get there simply by our good works. It is faith and belief in the One who chose us for His blessing.

"But now, apart from the law, God's righteousness has been revealed-attested by the Law and the Prophets-that is, God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed the sins previously committed. God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus."
Romans 3:21-26

We are to diligently seek our Savior. We are to seek His will for our life. His path for journey has been laid out for us. All we must do is follow with a pure heart and determined will for God's grace and mercy. We are to seek all He has for us and dive into His Word as if it is our very breath giving life. When we come to having a personal relationship with Christ we want to spend time with Him. Through His Word faith comes to life as we live it each day. May we hunger and thirst for all God has for us. In doing so, we will find ourselves complete and secure.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Lesson On The Gentle (Beatitude Series Part 3)

"The gentle are blessed, for they will inherit the earth." Matthew 5:5

When you think of gentle what comes to mind? A hand reaching to help another? A tender moment between a mother and daughter? What about the tender touch of a father messing his son's hair as he shares how proud he is of his son? Oh, the soft breeze that touches your face through an open window? All of these are gentle moments. I think we can all think of gentle moments with a smile upon our face. Gentleness fills the soul with love.

We go to the grocery store for bread, eggs and milk. We are gentle with the bread so it doesn't smash. We are gentle with the eggs so they do not crack. We wouldn't want spilt milk all across the floor with a crashed carton. When we are gentle we take our time. We make sure nothing is bagged on our bread. We make sure our eggs are seperate. We formulate things. We take the time to think things through. We don't just haphazardly move. We take account for each action.

Through gentleness a heart grows past anger. It's able to quiet a crying child. It's the softness of a butterflies wings as it's gently floating through the breeze. It's the morning sun and evening coolness. Gentleness is all around us and it's easy to see if we just take the time to look.

Think of the mother bear or tiger who watches over her young with a fierceness, but gently grabs her young by the nape of the neck to carry them where they should be. Just as a mother will remove her sleeping babe from the car to gently lay them in bed so to not wake them.

Love is gentle. Just take a look at 1 Corinthians 13 to see what is love and what isn't. We have a perfect picture of gentle when we see our Savior on the cross. He didn't show anger. He could have called 10,000 angels to wrap their wings around Him and carry Him gently home, but instead, He stayed. He stayed for you and me. He stayed for love.

This verse shares with us that the gentle will be blessed, but it goes beyond to say they will inherit the land. What land? Heaven. Our home with our Savior. Our home that He is preparing for us today. When we have family coming what do we do? We are hard at work, preparing comfort. We are wanting to warmly welcome our loved ones.

"For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith." Romans 4:13

This was a promise of faith. One that is filled with gentle grace. To be blessed is to be present with the Lord. His Spirit is alive and well as gentleness escapes us and touches another.

Listen to these sweet words of comfort.

(Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior)

Pass me not, O gentle Savior,

Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Savior, Savior,

Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Let me at Thy throne of mercy

Find a sweet relief,
Kneeling there in deep contrition;
Help my unbelief.

Trusting only in Thy merit,

Would I seek Thy face;
Heal my wounded, broken spirit,
Save me by Thy grace.

Thou, the Spring of all my comfort,

More than life to me,
Whom have I on earth beside Thee?
Whom in heav’n but Thee?

There is trust in gentleness. There is a faith that cannot be moved. When we touch another in gentleness we are life givers of the love of Christ.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self control." Galatians 5:23

We can at times find it difficult to be gentle. Some see it as weak. They couldn't be more wrong. There is self control in gentleness. There is a strength that goes beyond what man is capable of. Gentleness is a gift. It is one to treasure and share. We can ease the burden of a friend by being gentle. We can remove the fear from one who is frightened just by being gentle.

When a blind person touches the face of another it is to envision who they are. They are going beyond what sight can do and capturing something far more grand.  They use the gift of touch to find the heart of another. There is beauty in that gentle gift. 

In the world we live in at times it can be tough, but we can shine God's grace across this world just by a being gentle. Our Savior gave us the greatest example of all.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Lesson Of Mourning (Beatitude Series Part 2)

I have been studying the Beatitudes and am finding myself once again in awe at how the Lord uncovers His Word for our heart to take in and our life to breathe out.

"Those who mourn are blessed, for they will be comforted." Matthew 5:4

You gotta love when you see something as if it were for the first time. As I have read this verse before I have always taken it as anyone who is mourning. But there is more. Yes, with the Lord there always seems to be more. Don't you think? It's as though His Word is brand new each time I open His Word.

This verse takes us back to Isaiah 61:1-3. As I read these words, I am again seeing a Savior of love and hope. One who wants His children to feel His patient love.  

"The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of our God's vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead  of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify Him."
Isaiah 61:1-3

God takes suffering and brings restoration. We are set free when we surrender all to Him. He brings beauty from ash. Oh how sweet His grace is to those who love Him. We can find comfort in mourning. It is as though when we mourn our body is giving up what has been holding it captive.

Have you ever felt like a prisoner? Maybe the heaviness of chains has been holding you down. Our sin can do that. Sin holds us captive. It takes away and leaves behind a scar. We can be held in bondage for years by just one sin that we cannot let go of. One sin that cripples us for life. It could be one or many. Sadly, in life we tend to overlook our sin and get cozy with it. It's when we become comfortable in our sin, that Satan us right where he wants us. Soon we find ourselves asking, "How did that happen?" We must be careful of our comfort level and keep measure ourselves against the Word of God, not the standards of this world.

Maybe we have allowed sin to hold us under, but have asked for forgiveness and have moved forward from that sin to face it no more, but now years down the road we are face to face with the consequences. I have been there. I have moved passed my sin only to face it again as the consequences become real. We forget that each choice we make takes hold and touches another. Leaving behind a trail of idle gain.

This verse is speaking to those who are in mourning over their sin. Those who have come to Christ asking forgiveness and seeking a new found peace. Oh, how I have mourned over the consequences of a sin of the past. I have found forgiveness, but now am in need of restoration. God can do that. We were created to be blessed. We were not born to live in sin and find ourselves in chains. We are to be free in Christ Jesus who loves us. When we mourn our sin and consequences we have a humble heart. An attitude of repentance. This doesn't mean we dwell here. It means we see those consequences and we give it all over to the Lord. In Him we find strength. In Him we trust. In Him we believe that He will bring beauty from our ash. It is through Him that we can see past the sin and know He will bring about blessings as we seek His face.

"I assure you: You will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy."
John 16:20

"Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30

Friends, whether you are facing your sin today or seeing the consequences of that past sin, you can be sure that the Lord is with you. He sees your heart and knows your sorrow. Only He can remove the stain of sin and wash us white as snow. He will restore our mind, body and soul. Seek Him today and find His amazing grace. It is a treasure that makes life new. You will see His mercies brand new. Just simply surrender and He will cover you with a quilt of comfort. You will find yourself wrapped in His tender arms of love.

So what do we do with this new freedom? How do we keep temptation from becoming sin? We keep our eyes upon the Lord. We keep our focus steadfast upon Him. Keep reminders of His grace and mercy. Place His promises surrounding your daily life so that it will continue to give you strength as we face each day to come.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise-dwell on these things."
Philippians 4:4-8

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Lesson On Being Poor In Spirit (Beatitude Series Part 1)

"The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs." Matthew 5:3 (HCSB version)

How do you read this verse? I think many of us have misunderstood this verse. First we must go back to the Old Testament and read Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners."

Now lets take a look at Isaiah 66:2, which says, "My hand made all things, and so they all came into being. This is the Lord's declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at my word."

This verse isn't at all speaking about those who are whiny and complain constantly. It isn't speaking of those who hold their head down and say, woe is me. It's not having the attitude that the end is here and all is lost. It is entirely different. It's not speaking of lacking spirit or of a lesser value. It is in fact speaking of those who lifted their head to God and found His Spirit alive and well in them. It's not finding your value as less, but indeed of more, as Christ lives in and through you. We were created to be blessed. In fact in the Old Testament the poor were those who cried out to God. Those who surrendered all and looked to God for their every need. They were a humble people. We might look at the word poor and find the meaning to be broken.

So, what is it to be broken? Is it a bad thing? Not at all. It's humbling. It's finding that you cannot care for yourself, but must reach out for help. Think of these things:

The alabaster box had to be broken before the beauty was poured out.
The ground must be broken before the seed is planted and growth occurs.
The broken rose petal is what gives off a beautiful aroma.
A wild, untamed horse must be broken before he can be of use.

Meekness is not weakness at all.

There is much to this verse. It takes us back to Moses and his blessing. (Deuteronomy 33) Moses was blessing his people. The Israelites. It points not only to present blessings, but future blessings as well. When Jesus spoke the sermon on the mount He too was speaking to His people. I am looking at the scripture, "Is theirs", referring to being blessed. This isn't something that will happen. It doesn't says, "Will be theirs", it says, "Is theirs".

Maybe a few more verses will help us understand.

"He mocks those who mock, but gives grace to the humble." Proverbs 3:34

"But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6

See the opposite of poor in spirit is proud in spirit.

"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30 This is coming from John the Baptist and he is speaking about our Savior.

Before we can be of use to God we must let go of our flesh. We must be poor and broken so that we can purely seek Him. In our humbleness we can find the mightiness of God. It's not giving in, as this world may have us do, but giving up everything to God. God brings beauty from ash. He takes the weak and makes them strong. He uses those who are usable and creates vessels in them for the Lord to shine through.

It is in giving of ourselves that we truly understand the will of God. It isn't going to be found in a proud and boastful heart, but one that is humble and pure.

In Luke 6:20 it says, "Then looking up at His disciples, He said: You who are poor are blessed, because the kingdom of God is yours."

You know in raising our hands it means to surrender. In raising our hands in praise to the Lord we are surrendering all to Him. We are trusting Him. We are believing in His promises. In our brokenness we can find great gain for the Lord and His kingdom. There is beauty in humility. Something that cannot be found in pride.

In seeking the Lord and trusting Him we can live in pure joy. Happiness is based on situation, but joy lives and is born in the heart.

Friends, whatever you are going through today, trust the Lord. Open your hands and surrender all to Him. Humble your heart and seek His face. In your brokenness beauty shall be found and it is that beauty that the Lord shines through to bring others to know Him.

Being poor in spirit is not walking in defeat, but the very opposite. It is trusting the Lord already has the victory. Walk in His Word today and you shall find victory.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Touching The Sky by Tracie Peterson

First I must say that Tracie Peterson is the queen of historical fiction. She does her homework and sets the scene for the story. She makes it real and vivid as if we are being given the gift of going back in time and being there in person.

The Civil War has touched the lives of everyone and has left a scar on every heart in some form or fashion. Two sides. Who is right and who is wrong? There is more than just standing for what is right in this story. It's heart against heart. Hate is alive and real. But God reveals beauty within these pages.  We find love and healing. We see characters that cling to your heart long after the story has ended. Why? Because of the message they give. To be yourself and to know your heart. To live faithful lives and surrender your anger for peace. Most of all we see growth. You either grow or stay stagnate and you sure can't touch the sky that way.

I loved all this book brought to my heart. The story is captivating, but it is hard. It's a time that seems never to pass fully. It's a time that is debated even today. But Tracie has brought the hearts of man to life. She gives us a glimpse of what has happened after the battle lines are drawn and shows us the battle within the heart. Forgiveness needs to happen. Sight needs to go beyond the color of skin and into the heart of man. Tracie has weaved a story within a story here and that is what is so grand.

This is book 2 of the Land Of The Lone Star Series. Book 1 doesn't have to be read first, but wow, you would miss out on another great read. This one was a superb read for me. Loved it!

This book was a gift from Bethany House for it's review.

Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. Visit Tracie's Web site at and her blog at

The Power of The Prophetic Blessing by Pastor John Hagee

Wow! Wow! Wow! Pastor John Hagee is a man on a mission. He is a man of God and He is spreading the Word of God quickly as He works to equip all with the wisdom and knowledge we need to be just who God created us to be. Prayer warriors! Prayer is power. Prayer is needed. Prayer is something we are lacking in as Christians today. We misunderstand the power that prayer holds when spoken in the will of God. Nothing is too big for our God. He is in total control and when in prayer we are meeting with Him one on One. It's personal. It's intimate and it's real.

In The Power of The Prophetic Blessing I learned a great deal. Each page and chapter was filled with great insight into God's Word. In reading this book it made me have a deeper passion for God's Word and I dove in with a great splash. This is one of those books that is timeless and perfect for us to have a deeper understanding of all that can be and all that we miss by merely limiting God.

This book was more than fascinating to me. It was spirit filled and powerful. It's one of those books that is great for study. Small or big. Sunday School or just an intimate time with you and the Lord. I have been over the top blessed by the words penned in this book. I don't think one could read this book and not have a better understanding of God and our relationship with Him.

Thank you, Pastor Hagee.

This was a gift from Worthy Publishing for its review.

John Hagee is the author of four New York Times bestsellers, in addition to Jerusalem Countdown, which sold over 1 million copies. He is the founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a nondenominational evangelical church with more than 20,000 active members, as well as the founder and president of John Hagee Ministries, which telecasts his radio and television teachings throughout America and in 249 nations worldwide. Hagee is also the founder and national chairman of Christians United for Israel, a grassroots national association with over one million members to date.

Nothing To Hide by J. Mark Bertrand

The first book I read by J. Mark Bertrand was Beguiled in which he wrote with Deeanne Gist. I was hooked from the first page. I was then blessed to read Back On Murder. I was instantly captivated by Roland March. I have finished reading, Nothing To Hide and absolutely loved it. This is the third installment of the Roland March Mystery Series.

This is one of those great mystery reads that keeps you on your toes. Reading is at its best when I have no idea what is coming next or how the book is going to end. Bertrand is outstanding at bringing a story together. He weaves the plot with twists and turns that keep you guessing.

If your searching for a superb mystery I suggest you begin with Detective Roland March. As you read this mystery it's as though your right there on the scene and your learning as Roland is seeing everything happen first hand.

What I love is that as the mystery is being unfolded we are learning more and more about Roland. He quickly becomes one of those guys you want to hang out with just to dig into his brain to see whats ticking. This is one won't disappoint. Outstanding!

This book was a gift from Bethany House for its review.

J. Mark Bertrand has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. After one hurricane too many, he left Houston and relocated with his wife Laurie to the plains of South Dakota. For more information, visit

The Haven by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Stoney Ridge is becoming one of my favorite places to visit. It feels like home. What else can you say about, The Haven, but it's a gem. Suzanne Woods Fisher works wonders at the heart as you turn each page. This is book 2 in her newest series, Stoney Ridge Seasons.

Hope is alive in Stoney Ridge and we see God's amazing work as He brings people together. Isn't it beautiful to see His will come alive as He brings others into our path for a distinct purpose?

No one pens Amish Fiction like Suzanne Woods Fisher. The words flow and the story is presented in a real and powerful way. One thing I love is the fact that the characters are believable. I too love the title. The Haven has a meaning filled with hope. Although you could just pick this selection up and enjoy, it would be even better to pick up the first book in the series to get a gist of all the characters and just where they have been. This is surely one you too will enjoy.

This book was a gift from Revell for it's review.

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, The Search, The Keeper, and The Haven, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Christy Award finalist and a Carol Award finalist. She is the host of internet radio show Amish Wisdom and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. For more information, please visit and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Garden Visit

Lets go to the garden this morning. Jesus is there with His disciples. Can you hear their conversations? Can you see the love between these friends? Jesus knows the time is near. For Him this must be a bittersweet moment of His journey.

There is one who is missing, but is about to interrupt the conversations in the garden. Oh that Judas. Jesus loved him so. The thing that gets me is the fact that Jesus knew when He chose Judas that he would in the end turn against him. But, even though he knew, don't you think, He still held out hope?

See, before their time in the garden, they shared dinner. Jesus sat with Judas and Peter too, breaking bread. A treasured moment between friends. A moment that Jesus knew was bittersweet. Even though Jesus knew what was about to happen, He still broke bread with these men He loved. He didn't allow their sin to overshadow the love He held for them. How many times do we a persons sins to keep us from breaking bread with them? Too many times. Where is grace in our life?

I can't tell you how many times I have walked away from someone who has hurt me, afraid the hurt will cut again, but Jesus doesn't do that here. He even sees the hurt coming, but He chooses love over distance. He chooses forgiveness before the act. Jesus carries within Him a hope everlasting.

Praise Jesus, I am a work in progress. He hasn't given up on me and isn't going to any time soon. Sweet hope. I'm not that girl walking in the garden about to turn Him in, but are my sins really any different? My sins still bring shame to the One who stands for me.

Just makes me wonder how many times in my daily walk how far I really do walk away from Him instead of toward Him. How is it that I point out my Savior? Oh how sweet to walk side by side, but there are days I don't. I see His path before me and I choose to walk a different one. One that suits me for the time being. But there is Jesus. I hear Him calling. "Daughter, no. Don't go that way. Please...come with Me".

What do you think was going through the mind of Judas on this day? Do you think he was hearing the voice of God telling him no? We often wonder why others do the things they do. We see the wrong choice and try to discern the why, but all along we are forgetting our own steps are way off from the path that is chosen for us. But then again, there is that loving Savior waiting. Calling. Forgiving.

I'm sure Judas was forgiven before he ever pressed his lips against the cheek of Christ.  But see, that's the kind of God we serve. He is filled with mercy and grace. The same mercy and grace we are to behold. "The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss." Mark 14:44

What I see in this whole picture is something I have been missing all along. Jesus is here with the others. Judas comes with the soldiers. Many. We are not just talking a few police. We are talking a hillside covered with armed men. What did they expect? The thing that gets me is the fact that Judas had to point out who Jesus was. Could they not tell a difference? Did they not know which One was the Savior of the world? Jesus was unknown to most. But the moment that came when Judas kissed Him, something changed. At that moment they all knew. They all bowed to the Savior. This is one of those moments where I want to stand and shout!

But there is more. When Judas kisses Christ, what happens next blows my mind. It's the unexpected. His disciples leave Him. I would have thought they would have stayed to fight for the One who loved them so. The One about to give all. His life for theirs.  So the questions comes to my heart sharp as a knife. Would I have stayed? Would I have ran as fast as I could? "Then all His disciples deserted Him and ran away." Mark 14:50

Jesus has dinner with His friends and then He prays with them. Jesus says, "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me." Mark 14:34 Oh, how many times have I caused Jesus grief? It's easy to look here at these who are close to Him and see the wrongs in their choices. But what about my own?

These men let Him down. They couldn't even stay awake long enough to watch over Jesus while He prayed. Have you been there? Have you heard Jesus calling you to move on His behalf and you just abandon Him? I certainly have. He has asked me to move and I have stood there in my selfishness and fear and simply said, no, not me. My prayer life needs strengthened. Oh, how sweet it is to raise from spending time in prayer with Christ.

I need to travel to the garden more often. I need to spend some time there letting go and raising my hands in praise for all He has done for me. I need to remember all that Jesus went through for me. I need to remember what led to the cross and all it held and what it holds no more! Each story. Each moment holds such tender life lessons for us. Jesus didn't pick perfect men to follow Him. He knew their lives. He knew the men He needed for the journey. He chose men we could relate to. He chose men willing to be His vessels. He didn't need perfection. He needed opportunity coming to life.

Friends, He is calling us. How long has it been for you since you have visited the garden? He is calling us to stand with Him. To be in prayer and to be His hands and feet to a world in need of love. He is calling us to live in hope. Don't forget the garden and all it holds. Take time and go there. Jesus is waiting to spend time with you today and fill you with an everlasting hope.

"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance-an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see."
1 Peter 1:3-5

"But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more."
Psalm 71: 14


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