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Benefits

“[A Psalm of David.] Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:”Psalm 103:1-2NKJV

Everyone is talking about the economy today.  We see our country and our world spinning out of control in spending, debt rising, values on homes dropping. . . . it goes on and on. 
 As our young people graduate High School and University, they are wondering where they will find a job and what benefit packages they will have.  It seems the cushy perks of the past generation may be gone; the 401K's, the generous salaries, the health insurance and retirements being cut to the bone or disappearing altogether.
 I found this as the 'verse of the day' on Biblegateway, and it was so appropriate.In this day many find the words of Jesus difficult to follow. I see some who think  his teaching is about making life here on earth easy and trouble-free, they look for the benefits of following Him like they do their job …

Morning Song

My soul still remembers



And sinks within me.


 This I recall to my mind,


Therefore I have hope.


 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,


Because His compassions fail not.


 They are new every morning;


Great is Your faithfulness.


 “ The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,


“ Therefore I hope in Him!”   Lamentations 3:20-24

This passage is such a comfort to me this morning!  I have been feeling overwhelmed by the events unfolding in my life.  Many things have simply thrown me on my knees, imploring God for relief and comfort.  What a joy to rediscover this beautiful passage.  I am reminded that my faith in God is not hopeless.  He will have compassion on me.  In His mercy He will not let me be overtaken by the circumstances not within my control.  There is hope that in His merciful compassion I will find the sweet relief.

It occurs to me that others have faced as much and far worse.  Paul and Silas were able to sing through the night while in chains.  Surely I can remember and sing a …

Fruit of Good Works

Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sentfrom you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.  ~  Philippians 4:17-18



Paul was thankful for the Philippian's help, time and again.  But it wasn't simply the monetary help they gave him that he wanted.  He was thankful for their growth and maturity in their faith.  He knew that *they* were benefiting from sharing with him.  It is in serving others that we find our true path as we travel towards home.  God isn't interested in making us rich, or famous, or successful in business.  He wants us to learn to put others first, for the sake of the gospel.  In sharing, once and again, the Philippian Christians were learning obedience and trust.  They were learning to look upward and seek benefits for their eternal home.
Sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom yields spiritual fruit that c…

Every Day Is Thanksgiving!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7


With God, every day is Thanksgiving Day!  At the heart of every faithful Christian life lies a thankful heart.  Without it, we cannot hope to stay faithful!  When we fail to be grateful for our daily blessings, we become despondent, cynical and weary.  We tire of the daily grind of life.  But when we practice the simple act of thankfulness, we allow God the avenue to comfort and soothe us. He keeps us from the onset of despair and hopelessness that might otherwise overcome us.  Let us always remember as we travel towards home:


Blessed be the Lord,
Who daily loads us with benefits,
         The God of our salvation!

                  Psalm 68:19

"Sometimes the load is heavy and sometimes the road is long; and sometimes Lord this heart of mine is not so very strong.  But Thy will be done, Lord.   Thy will be done."

These words by Joyce Eiler come back to me often when I'm in the midst of a struggle.  Singing the words to this song (the ones I remember) help me to remember that it isn't the struggle that matters, but whether I keep my eyes on the prize.  It is so easy to sink into despair, or anger, or even begin to blame others for my troubles.  But in the end it's just me and God, working through and walking together.  Well, mostly God.  In fact, I am so weak and weary, that I must admit, it's all God! :o) Just to illustrate, can you imagine anyone looking at a Monet painting and saying, "Well, that paint sure made the artist look good!" The creator of the artwork gets the glory, not the canvas or the paint.  Okay, I'm laughing now, but when I started I was crying.

You see, life just i…
My dear husband has been preaching on Life In the Valley. I guess he did not realize how much we would need those sermons ourselves! God is incredible and His design of the scriptures to meet our every need is beyond description. How often I have cried on Saturday night, only to sit Sunday morning in awe at how He speaks to me from His word, just what I needed; words of comfort and admonition.
I Corinthians 6: 18-20 "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."
Flee is to run away from. But how often do we flirt with temptation and sin? We put ourselves in the way of temptation and then pray, "God don't let me give in!" I rememb…

Remember

So many are posting today, I will keep this short. But today is a day we will never forget. It does not matter where you were that day, or what you were doing. Everything stopped when those planes hit the twin towers. Hearts stopped beating, minds froze in horror and disbelief, hands hung helplessly at sides, and then so many fantastic things happened. People said, Not me! I will do something. They rescued, they comforted, they fought back; fears and tears and smoke and hate cannot stop us from doing what God wants from us.
As Christians, we know that there is Evil at work in this world. We long for a better place, but until it is our turn to journey to heaven, our journey here is littered with pain and suffering. We do not despair or hang our hands in uselessness. We have work to do and despite the opposition of the Enemy, we work on, not despairing.
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. we are hard-p…

More On Love and Legalism (and maybe a little on the Imitation of Christ as well.)

While I do not want to give the idea that we are 'throwing out' the checklist, actually It never was there. It is a misconception of what God demands of us. Yes, call it 'demand', or 'require' but the choice of what to do for our salvation is not up to us. He never asked our opinion, or what made us 'happy' or 'comfortable' as some of the words I hear thrown about.

He is the great Creator. He made us. He *knows* us inside out. He knows the very thought and intents of our hearts (please read Hebrews 4:11-13 in context of course.) Who better to set the standard? Yes, it guides us. The struggle is not really in understanding this, so much as letting go of preconceived ideas that are 'extra-Biblical'. True understanding comes from God alone, and that through our study of His word, the only source of truth. In the beginning of Hebrews, the writer, inspired by God, tells us that at one time, He spoke to the fathers through the prophet…

On the Imitation of Christ

Several years back, I noticed on the Plaza in Kansas City a Thomas Kinkade gallery. I was excited to think that one day I might walk into that gallery and view an authentic work by this artist. Imagine my disappointment to find there were only digital reproductions. The curator assured me I would not be able to tell the difference. They started with good canvases and paints and were able to duplicate the very brush-strokes of the artist in such a way that these imitations looked exactly like the original art work.
In the Christian's walk, our life must so duplicate the Master's that it is an exact replica of His original work. Just as in the world of art, we must start with quality materials, so every brush stroke must look like His. This is done by complete obedience to His will and commands. We must not think we will even be close to the original by putting in our own ideas in the same way that if the workers who reproduce Kinkade's work were to inject their own a…

True Love or Legalism?

Sometimes in my Christian walk, I am accused of being legalistic or dogmatic, meaning the accuser thinks I am just checking off a 'to-do' list of how to get to heaven. I remind myself (and them, if they listen long enough) that as we keep God's commandments (the perfect law of liberty, as it states in James 1:25) we do so according to God's stipulations, not our own. It is not a card-punch system, as if to say, Well that is out of the way for today! But it is a life-style. God is able to change the heart when we come to Him in truth, and we do His will out of love for Him and to share that precious story with the lost. Many times I've been accused of being unloving in that, or legalistic, as if we are able to define these words by our own standards. Although it hurts, especially when coming from someone I care deeply about, I remind myself that God sets the standards. If someone perceives my quoting scripture or sharing what God requires for salvation, is …
Today we visited at two nursing homes in town. It is always a pleasure, because, no matter how we sound, someone claps, or at least thanks us for coming. They are not applauding our beautiful singing. They just love having us come, sing songs they remember and maybe share an encouraging word, a pat on the back or hold their hand for a moment. The cookies are an added treat, but I think even without them they would love our visits. This time, we had our 2 eldest grandson's with us and that was the best. These older people who may not see many but their elder companions at the home, see these little faces and want to talk to them, to hold their hands. The boys were good to shake hands, say thank you for all the compliments and the four year old even helped to pass out treats. Most of those greetings brought smiles. But I saw a few sad faces, looks of rememberance of their days when their own children and grandchildren were small, and the knowledge that they now might not come…
Recently, a friend told me of watching her son parachute to the earth from 10,000 feet. She proudly described his perfect landing. Even after 34 jumps, it was only the second time he had been able to land on his feet. I do not know a lot about skydiving, but I do know I've never had an urge to jump from a plane. As I listened to her, a thought came to me that perhaps seems like a 'no brainer.' But if he wanted his parachute to open, he must pull on the chord. Then as I read on the subject, I found out there is a safety feature on modern parachutes so that if the diver does not open his chute by a certain altitude it opens automatically. That's not very technical I know, and if I were more adventurous I'd actually try this to see how it works. Think I'll just take the experts word on this.
Some people believe our spiritual life is like this parachute. All they must do is say 'I believe' and their spiritual 'parachute' opens. You know, if I…

Reasons as Christian Women to Be Cheerful and Joyful

Thank you to June Smith for giving me permission to share this post with you. Christ Is With Us
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. Matthew 14:27This text is about a time when Jesus' disciples were out on in the middle of the sea and the waves were tossing them about and the wind was blowing. Sometimes our lives are like that, we are being tossed about by some trial or difficult time and the winds seem to be blowing about us. For the disciples, Jesus was near in their time of distress and when he got into the boat with them the sea calmed. In our times of distress are we looking to Jesus and asking him to get on board in our lives then the storms of life come? "For if God be with us who can be against us?"Romans 8:31 What a cheerful thought that is to know that God is on our side. That is a thought that should fill us with joy. David, a small boy with a sling, had God on His side and for that reason he had confid…

What Will Tomorrow Bring?

So often, as we travel this road of life, we think of the future. This was brought home the other morning as news of a new blood test that will predict our longevity by measuring the tips of our chromosomes. I do not understand how it works, but claims are this little part of our chromosome, the telomere, gives the genetic information on how long we might live. How this will be used to enrich our lives remains to be seen.
Man has used other means over the years to predict life-span. When we took out life insurance years ago, the company used our lifestyle, medical history and family history to do the same thing. I remember reading the chart our insurance man printed with interest. Who wouldn't want to know when they will die? Isn't that a consuming question for many?
But if we look at God's word, we see that we have no idea what will happen tomorrow. We do not know the future or how long our life will be. James 4:14 says, "Yet you do not know what your life wil…

Final Destination

We received a sad phone call last night. Our dear friend Winston went home to be with his God. It is sad for his family, who loved and cherished him, and his friends. But what a victory! He was faithful in his Christian walk and he knew where he was going. We have great comfort in that knowledge. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." Psalm 116:14
I can only imagine his homecoming. When our eldest son returned from Iraq his first time, we were there to meet his bus as they came home. What joy to see his feet touch American soil! What comfort too be able to hug and hold him, touch his face, hold his hand. If a human parent feels this way, how much more our God, as He sees His faithful child step across the threshold of heaven.
So, although we grieve our loss for a time, we are comforted with these words from I Thessalonians 4:13 and 14.
"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you s…

God Walks Among Us

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.Iamthe LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, thatyoushould not be their slaves;
I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright.”Lev. 26:12-13This passage brought to mind a book I read years ago in which the writer urged us to live in constant communion with God.This writer helped me see my relationship with God in a new light.It is not to be relegated to set times, but practiced in a daily walk; one that needs my absolute attention moment by moment.It is a joyful, thankful journey alongside Him. It was a turning point in my already strong commitment to live a life dedicated to my God and Savior.If we have obeyed His word, God frees us, not from the land of Egypt, but from slavery to sin.Live in joyful gratitude for the wonderful gift and the promise of eternal life.He walks alongside us each step of the way to our eternal home.

All Ears. . . No Action or Becoming a Whole Person

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 1:25
In reading and meditating on James 1 this morning, it occurred to me how we must look to God. So often we go around, with missing or underdeveloped body parts. You know, like ears without hands and feet in the proper place, or way too small or much too big? You may be asking what I'm talking about? Well, stay with me here while I take the analogy one step further. Have you ever been to a carnival and stepped into the Fun House? The mirrors are all warped every which way and your image is out of proportion? Tall and lean becomes short and spread? Or your normally comfortably round tummy is carved into a tiny waist so small a grape would have trouble making it through?
Maybe that is how we look to God as we are traveling this road to our forever home. Like carnival caricatures of the real person we are…

The Violinist

So many times we complain about tension and stress in our lives. If we could just have some peace, we could accomplish something. But consider the violin. It is tension and stress which make such beautiful music from this instrument. Without the proper tension, the strings are not able to 'sing' as they do under the skilled hands of the musician.
The same is true in our lives. If we realize that God is the concertmaster and if He is in control, the tension and stress is part of the plan. He knows what we are capable of under His control. He holds us safely in His hands, tightening the strings to the proper tension so that when He sets the bow to string, we 'sing' under his skilled playing.
God knows we need rest as well, and we can trust Him to provide this at the right time. A beautiful musical composition is not only made of melody, but of the rests in between the notes. Those help make the melody what it is. And it is only when the Master tightens up the strings…

For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.
(2nd verse of F.S. Pierpoint's lyrics)


When we sing this lovely song, we are reminded of the soft grass of summer, swirling gently to the rhythm of the warm breezes. We appreciate our Father's beautiful gift. But what would our appreciation be, if this scene had not been preceded by the bitter, cold of February; the shrieking hurricane and blinding snow which covers the landscape in impassable drifts?
Our Christian life is much the same. We love the gentle moments of love and happy cooperation when minds and hands work as one. But would we long for heaven if that is how it always is? Would our hunger for the reward of rest and peace be so sure if we never found our efforts met with resistance and even hatred? Often the bitter winds of persecution attack our quiet life and drift the way fo…

Love as Debt

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”Romans 13:8 NASBNone of us wants to be in debt, yet it is part of life.We have home loans, cars, monthly bills and even student debt. We know we must show responsibility and pay our debts.This scripture speaks of a spiritual debt.God is warning us to ‘watch our spending’ as it were.We are to ‘spend’ our lives wisely. When we put on Christ in baptism, we gave up our own will for His will, which is shown in the example of those who have gone before us.Philippians 3:17 advises, “Brethren,join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to thepattern you have in us.”What is this pattern?1 John 4:19 “We love, because He first loved us.”This is the example:He gave his very life that we might have life, eternal.I will leave you with these questions to consider.Can we follow this love?Are we able to give ourselves sacrificially to one another?Is love possible without promi…

Travel Opportunity

Have you ever been offered a free trip? Phrases like, "No cost to you," and, "All expenses paid," lure us in for a closer look. Many times we get caught up in the hype. We jump on board without a second thought! Most of the time it is not what it seems. A first-rate trip turns into a nightmare.
We should remember, however, that a guilt trip is one we are not obligated to take, even when we love the one who is offering it. It's not a matter of accepting or rejecting out of hand. I'm also not suggesting denial as a blanket defense. Many times these offers are made for reasons known only to the other person's heart. Only God can see them. My recommendation is that we not blindly accept the guilt without serious self-examination beforehand. Now I realize that sometimes we can put our blinders on and go about our lives with some serious guilt on our souls without ever accepting it. I'm not talking about that. There is a cure and we all must ac…