“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

It is well with my soul. Have you ever listened, really listened, to the words of that hymn? If you can, read the story behind the words Horatio Spafford penned in 1873. In tragedy, he found that “Peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). These are the original lyrics, as noted on Wikipedia:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to knowa
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul! b

[a “know” (at the end of the third line) was changed to “say”.
b “A song in the night, oh my soul” (last line)
was changed to “Even so, it is well with my soul”.]

How many of us can say the same as Spafford? Can we lean on our LORD the way Spafford leaned on Him, and go on from tragedy – in peace! – and do the work GOD calls us to? I find it to be a hard task to let go of hurt and resentment, and yes, jealousy, because I compare my life and my hardships to others….. Oh, but that is just looking at the outsides of their lives! Do we really know what those we are looking at with their ‘better’ lives have gone through? Do we know their hardships and their tragedies? No! Even knowing someone well and having a closeup view of their lives doesn’t allow us to understand and to know what they have gone through. As humans, I think we tend to look at others through somewhat rosy glasses, and judge them for having what we think we want/deserve. Perhaps that’s why JESUS said in Matthew 7 not to judge others. For myself, on my own, I find it impossible to have peace and contentment. It is only when I can release the hurt and negativity to my LORD, and lean entirely on Him that I find peace, and then it is truly well with my soul.

Like everything else in life, attaining true Peace – through JESUS CHRIST – is a choice. Like Mary, listen to the words of the angel Gabriel:

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

And let my answer be as Mary’s: “I am the LORD’s slave. May it be done to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:37‭-‬38 HCSB

Amen.

From the Library of Congress.

Bitter, Wrath, Anger, Chaos, Slander

Sounds a bit like today’s society to me! Seems like every time I turn around, someone is spewing these at someone or something. How did the 1975 song by the group War go?

Why can’t we be friends, why can’t we be friends

The color of your skin don’t matter to me
As long as we can live in harmony
I kinda like to be the president
And I could show you how your money’s spent
Why can’t we be friends
Sometimes I don’t speak right
But did I know what I was talking about
I know you’re working for the CIA
They wouldn’t have you in the mafia
Why can’t we be friends

I thought they raised a really good question then, and it’s still a good question. Why can’t we be friends, and look past our differences to find our similarities? Skin color is probably the most divisive thing on the planet, whichmakes no sense whatsoever to me. We all bleed the same red blood, and although there are physical characteristics associated with certain societies and ethnic groups, they’ve come about to help us adapt to different climates and surroundings….. NOT because we are different races! Remember learning about the human race? How about that? And country pride….. for years we were simply American. Now, leaders are dividing us by insisting we call ourselves by country-origin, even if it was distant ancestors who came from that country. I could insist people refer to me as an Anglo-Saxon-American, or an Irish-American, or a German-American, or a Heinz 57-American. Why do we have to be hyphenated Americans? How many African-Americans or Chinese-Americans, Mexican-Americans or Vietnamese-Americans do you know who weren’t born in the U.S.? Doesn’t that make them just plain American? If I move to Bolivia, do I become an American-Bolivian? I don’t think so!!

As a nation, can’t you just imagine how much nicer, how much more peaceful it would be if we actually practiced the following verse in our lives?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31 ESV

Maybe you could try not reacting with any malice once today. See if it makes a difference ….. in your attitude. “Don’t worry; be happy!” How many times have you seen that on a bumper sticker, or said those words to someone? Mindless, really…. And it’s straight out of scripture!

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” – Matthew 6:26 ESV

The less we worry, the more peace we have. Since True Peace is from CHRIST, the more we worship and praise Him, the more peace we have! Getting rid of the bitterness and wrath and anger and slander and malice….. the more peace we have!

Sounds kinda like a no-brainer, right?

Artwork by my friend John Lawton, of Edmond, OK.

Morning Has Broken

“In the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1 NIV

Gorgeous June morning! Cool breeze from the South, blackberry bushes bursting with fruit; crepe myrtles and lilies, hostas and cannas blooming in all their glory; robins and finches and mocking birds filling the air with their songs…. I can only imagine that heaven must be even more incredible, more beautiful than the most enjoyable morning here on this flawed earth. In 1971, on his album Teaser and the Firecat, Cat Stevens sang “Morning Has Broken,” a poem and hymn first published in 1931. (Written by a Scottish author Eleanor Farjeon). It goes in part:

Mine is the sunlight
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise ev’ry morning
God’s recreation of the new day

Our Creator, LORD of the Universe, Ruler of all things, Master Builder – Healer, Lover of mankind, Commander of the angel armies;and ultimately, Judge of every living thing…. The Supreme GOD of all gods, loved us – LOVES us – enough to give us beauty and life, even after we reject and neglect and deny Him. Yes, it takes faith in order to believe that there is a supreme being that created the universe, and in fact, spoke it into being. It also take faith to believe in the Big Bang, because the matter needed to set it off had to come from somewhere. (I’ll let you in on a secret. It came from GOD’S Mouth!)

Whatever you are doing with your life, take a few moments to step away from the demands and the busyness and breath in the beauty of our world; marvel at the Glory of our LORD and His recreation of each new day. GOD knew that Adam and Eve were going to defy Him, and He gave them (and us!) a beautiful, bountiful world to live in anyway. That’s how much He Loves us!

Photo: Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico – our Happy Place!

Am I Living ‘Right’?

“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please GOD, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the LORD JESUS to do this more and more.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:1 NIV

Man, this devotion from Right From The Heart 1-Minute Devotions (day 213) really struck home. I’ve spent a lifetime searching for and choosing the wrong mate. Guess I’ve made a career of it, and quite a successful career, too. Over and over, making the same bad choices, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Oh, wait! That’s the definition of insanity! The devotion is titled “Finding The Right Mate.” Here it is:

Everybody wants to make the right choice in choosing a mate. What a nightmare if we don’t. [Side note: I can testify to the nightmare!] What a blessing if we do. If you are in a serious relationship, ask yourself these questions:
* Is this person my best friend? If not, you’re not ready.
* Do we share common faith and values? If not, you’ll have conflict and drift apart.
* Do family and friends affirm the relationship? Choosing a mate means choosing a family.
* Am I willing to make a lifetime commitment? Marriage is not for trying out. That’s a sure road to divorce.
* Do I want this person to be the parent of my children?
* Do I wake up to every day wanting to be with them versus convincing myself why I like them?
If you can say yes to each of these, you may have found the right one. If not, you may want to slow down or even call it off. But most of all, seek God’s will through prayer and be willing to follow His lead in one of life’s biggest decisions.

Out of all my relationships, and they have been many (believe me when I tell you that I am not proud of that fact!), there was one who fit all of those points. We had a good life together until an addiction to pain pills took over his brain and I was forced to leave for my physical safety. He was flawed, and so was I, but we had always worked things out and trusted and relied on each other. The enemy finds our weakest point and exploits it in every way possible, and in this the enemy succeeded in pulling us apart, but I am confident that I will see him again when I leave this physical body.

When we live according to GOD’S Law rather than submitting to our own desires, we will receive the Peace He offers us. That doesn’t mean we will always get what we want. My desire, and my husband’s desire before the drugs took him from me, was to spend our lives together doing a ministry we loved in the form of our Bed & Breakfast. There was a joy in our working together, and I was really angry for a long time at both him and GOD for allowing our dreams to be destroyed by something as stupis as drugs. Even so, I want that connection, that kind of love, again. I have made my peace with my LORD, and I have forgiven my husband for deserting me. As I live my life day to day, I strive to keep my focus on GOD’S desires rather than my own. Some days, it is really hard to trust that He really does have a plan for me, when all I can seem to do is worry about how I will survive this financial nightmare I am in. What I need to focus on is how I can serve my JESUS. Hear what He says:

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.” – Matthew 25:45 NIV
“For the SON of MAN is going to come in his FATHER’s Glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what they have done.” – Matthew 16:27 NIV

What we do won’t save us, only accepting JESUS as our LORD and SAVIOUR will do that, but what we do does have a direct correlation to our heavenly rewards. I would be content to live in the poorest of hovels in heaven, as long as I am in the Light of His Eternal Glory. ( Although I’d really much prefer not to live in a hovel here on earth…. ) Get the focus off “me” and put the focus on HIM by spending time every day in His Word and in prayer, seeking His Will.

Thank You GOD, I’m Not EVER Alone!

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” – Isaiah 43:2 NIV

I’m so glad we don’t have to do this stinkin’ life journey alone! That statement hasn’t always been true for me. I ran long and hard, trying to get away from GOD. I couldn’t get away from Him, not matter how hard I tried. Once you accept JESUS into your heart, you’ll never be alone again. (“Reckless Love”, sung by Cory Asbury really gets into how much our Creator GOD Loves us!) While I was running and rebelling against everything that is true and right, my GOD never deserted me or turned His back on me. Once His, always and forever His, Hallelujah!

I ran into flood waters and fires and all manner of dangerous situations, and through it all, through all the years I turned my back on Him – He never waivered. He pulled me out of life and death situations; He didn’t let go of me. Stop and think about this: When emergency personnel reach out to rescue a person caught in flood waters, they get wet; they risk everything to save someone who is in trouble. Firefighters run into the flames, and risk being burned or injured themselves for someone they don’t know. Military and law enforcement, firefighters, any emergency personnel – these people are all heroes in my book! If mere men put themselves in danger to rescue me, how much more will my Saviour? He Loves us that much, to save us through His sacrifice. (“I Am Not Alone” sung by Kari Jobe ….

We are promised Hope and Peace and most of all, Love, through our faith in JESUS CHRIST. Paul says it so eloquently in one of his letters to his fellow followers of Christ, many of them brand-new Christians, in Rome:

“Therefore, since we have been Justified through Faith, we have Peace with GOD through our LORD JESUS CHRIST, through Whom we have gained access by Faith into this Grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the Hope of the Glory of GOD. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, HOPE. And Hope does not put us to shame, because GOD’s Love has been poured out into our hearts through the HOLY SPIRIT, Who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:1‭-‬5 NIV

May the Peace of our LORD JESUS CHRIST reside in your heart. Listen to “Because He Lives” sung by Matt Maher – “I’m alive, I’m alive because He Lives …. ” absolutely beautiful!

So, does this picture look like trouble, or what???

Should I Stay?

The line “Should I stay or should I go” from a song popped into my head this morning. I had to look it up so that I could see the rest of the words, and part of verse 1 goes like this:
If you say that you are mine
I’ll be here ’til the end of time
So you gotta let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

I know this song wasn’t written about GOD, but why shouldn’t it be? God promised through Moses in Deuteronomy 31:6,8 and again in Hebrews 13:5b, that He would never leave or forsake His people. We are His people! GOD leaves it up to each of us individually to choose Him or to reject Him; to tell Him if we want Him in our lives or not. We are free to choose GOD or the enemy, and whichever one we choose will be the one we spend eternity with, ” ’til the end of time.” I pray you will keep this verse in mind when you decide:

No one is Holy like the LORD! There is no one besides You; there is no ROCK like our GOD.” – 1 Samuel 2:2 NLT

I choose CHRIST. Why should I take a chance on spending eternity in anguish, when I have already spent a lifetime suffering the attacks of the evil one?

“For to me, living means living for CHRIST, and dying is even better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with CHRIST, which would be far better for me.” – Philippians 1:21‭,23 NLT

Listen to “Point to You” by We Are Messengers.

One day

Have you heard Jeremy Camp sing “There Will Be A Day”? It begins like this:

I try to hold on to this world with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that tries to grab
The many trials that seem to never end…..”

There are days when my head and body ache, and my eyes are gritty like they are full of sand. I’m tired. My mind wants to shut down and sleep, but instead of rest, the instant my head hits the pillow my brain is caught up in a maelstrom and swirls around in an avalanche of random thoughts. I want to get up and go and do things, but the wind sucks away all of my strength. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. My desire is to fight, but life weighs so heavily on me.

“Fight the good fight for the True Faith. Hold tightly to the Eternal Life to which GOD has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.” – 1 Timothy 6:12 NLT

Am I alone in feeling this way?

All I have to do is open a social media site, or turn on the TV or radio, or pick up a paper to see the misery and anguish that permeates society. We are surrounded by complaining, grasping, whiny people, who often drown out the muffled cries of the ones dealing with real suffering and tragedy. No, I don’t count myself as someone who has real cause to cry. Most of my issues, physical and emotional, can be attributed to decisions I’ve made without waiting for GOD’s answer.

The song goes on to say But I hold on to this HOPE and the Promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering…”

I pray that when things, when life, looks and feels hopeless, you will raise your eyes and look to JESUS. He walks beside us, and He will carry us when we need it. He will take our burdens if we’ll just let go of them – picture this: your hand is gripping the handle of your baggage, then loosen your fingers and move your hand away from it…. Flex your fingers. It feels so good, not having to lug that heavy load!

I long for the day when JESUS returns and the enemy is conquered, because then we will have a new heaven and a new earth; a place where GOD Himself willwipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelations 21:4 ESV

Conclusion? Life sucks sometimes. I can blame others, I can claim victim status and vie for sympathy, or I can lay myself and my burdens at the foot of the cross of JESUS, and carry on with His help. What will it be for you? What a friend we have in JESUS! Amen!