“Jus-TIN,” the woman screamed, as Sherry and I were leaving Target during a last minute Christmas shopping trip.Justin, the oldest of three stair-step children had run ahead of Mother, with his little brother tagging right after him.He had spotted a dozen sparrows feasting on spilled popcorn in the crosswalk and was determined to get to know them better.
Meanwhile, his mom was tugging on the hand of little sister trying to catch up to the two boys. Sherry, who was closer than his Mom, warned the little guy to watch out for the cars.When Justin finally decided to stop he turned to his mother and in that five year old admonishing tone said, “But, Mommy, you don’t have to be afraid of the birdies!” I laughed and told his mom, “What you need is one more.”She didn’t smile.
Justin was oblivious to any danger because he was so caught up in playing with the birdies that he gave no thought to the cars.His experience makes me think about an incident in the Garden of Eden.Eve was focused on the beauty of the delicious fruit and she wasn’t thinking about the consequences which would come from eating it.Satan’s encouragement sure didn’t help the situation, either.
Most of us can think of times when we have fallen prey to the temptation of the devil; we took our eye off the things that really matter in life.An opportunity looked too good to be true but we jumped at it without thinking about the end results…sure enough it WAS too good to be true.And Satan’s encouragement didn’t help us, rather he distracted us just enough to make the wrong choice.
This is the beginning of a brand new year.There will be lots of opportunities, many chances to make wrong decisions because we aren’t focused on the God-picture.One of the Enemy’s favorite tools is to make evil look so enticing that all we can see is the beauty, the pleasure which we will receive from our actions.Let’s be aware that in 2011 we need to “watch out for the birdies” because they are sometimes placed in our pathway to blind us to certain oncoming dangers.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, thank you for little moments like Justin’s which teach us to see things as they really are.In 2011, give us Your vision and wisdom to live with our eyes open…to make good choices which are not influenced by the Enemy, but are born from our relationship with You.Amen and amen.
While political satirists are looking back on 2010 for fodder for more jokes, I am reflecting on God’s love in our lives.
A recent newspaper story spoke about the spirit of generosity that usually shows up in expected ways during the holidays—the Marines’ Toys for Tots drive, coins tossed in a Salvation Army kettle, or the Christmas feast at the convention center--it also captured the heart of Christmas in a most unexpected way.
A bride-to-be, Chrysalis Autry, was shopping for a bridal gown in San Antonio a couple of days after Thanksgiving and met the shop’s owner, Amy Wells.What made this meeting particularly special was the fact that Chrysalis’ father (diagnosed with melanoma in September) had been rushed to the hospital on Thanksgiving night after all of the food and festivities.Despite his hospitalization, he insisted that his daughter keep her appointment to try on wedding gowns with her mother, future mother-in-law and other relatives who were visiting that weekend.
After trying on ten dresses, Chrysalis settled on a silk and satin couture dress.Everyone fell in love with it and while she wanted to purchase it then, she let Ms. Wells know that her father was terribly ill and the family needed to hold onto their money.
“It was then that Wells, a woman of profound faith in God and trust in people, insisted that Chrysalis ‘take this gown and veil to the hospital and wear it for your daddy now.Please do it.’”
After all the tears were shed, “no credit card was taken, no deposit exchanged.The owner didn’t know the young woman’s last name and didn’t ask for a phone number.”
Wells said she had no doubt in her mind to do this.God was talking to her.Do you have that kind of faith?
Chrysalis arranged to have her brother videotape her at the hospital in her gown and veil so Dad, heavily sedated, could see his “princess” in her wedding gown.He was able to nod his approval and went to sleep after a few short minutes.Three days later, he died.
A friend returned the dress and veil to the bridal salon the day Chrysalis’ father passed away.Since the funeral, she has returned to the University of Texas Health Science Center to complete her dental degree.The wedding is slated for Oct. 28 and she will be wearing that wedding dress.
Chrysalis will never forget that simple act of kindness.“That woman had never met me before.She trusted me and showed me that there are still some really good people out there, special people in this world.It’s every little girl’s dream to have her dad see her in a wedding dress.She let my dad and I have that amazing moment.”
Prayer:Father God, we have witnessed so many miracles…simple acts of kindness from You through others.Have we displayed them ourselves?Do we have the kind of faith Ms. Wells displayed in this story?Do we believe in ourselves, others or You?You demonstrate love and compassion truly when we have a connection with You.More often than not, You demonstrate those attributes even when we are not deserving.
Thank You Lord for overlooking our smallness and the pettiness we exhibit.May we learn to give more of ourselves in this New Year than we did previously.We thank You for the ultimate gift of Your precious son, our Savior.
Thank You for the reminder that a ‘gift from the heart’ needn’t be dispensed just during the holidays.We have the capacity and opportunity each and every day You grant us life.
In His Love,
≈ Devotional forWednesday, January 5, 2011
A Second Chance
By guest writer:Peggy Palmer
Recently I read a story from CBN about a man who came back to life after being declared dead. Michael Branch can testify to the fact that he was clearly given another chance to know his Savior in the most miraculous of ways.
Now we all know that God is a God of second chances, but let’s just do a quick examination of our own lives.Let’s ask ourselves, “What does a ‘Second Chance’ really mean to us individually”?In Galatians 4, Paul calls out to the church and asks; “BUT NOW, after you have known God, or rather, you are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements to which you desire again to be in bondage? I am afraid for you lest I labored in vain.”
Has God held back the whirlwind in your life?I know He has in mine.
Has He stopped you from reaping what you have sown? Absolutely, because I could never survive if I had to pay the price He already paid on my behalf.
So then, how should we look at and embrace second chances? Take it lightly because God is love or really examine where we are spiritually?I think it would help us all if we honestly asked ourselves, are we like King David, a sinner, but repentfull and looking after God’s own heart?In fact, are we taking Christ’s gift of salvation and a second chance for granted?Do we need to ask ourselves, if we may be one of the “Many” spoken of in Matthew 7:27:“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Personally, like Paul suggests, we need to fully comprehend what it means to be a partaker of God’s grace and be careful not to mock His mercy. Remember… we don’t earn forgiveness, it is a gift that cost Christ Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God, His very throne and took His purity and laid the sins of the world on His Holy Nature.Just for a moment, imagine the Son of God, giving us all a “Second Chance” by willingly leaving His holy throne, His Father’s Glory and companionship and taking on not just little inconvenient sins, but the one’s you and I call “The Biggies.”. the one’s, you know:Molestation, Murder, Torture and all that goes into man’s inhumanity to man.But He also bore the sins we tend to brush off, the one’s conceived in our hearts: Lying, Hate, Adultery and Pride.
You see, Paul spoke of second chances in many different ways. He spoke of our sins being as far as the east is from the west. He spoke of the Lord’s promise of writing our name, never to be erased, from the Lamb’s Book of Life. But Paul also instructed us to judge our own motivation and warned us that we were not to test our salvation and God’s grace in order to prove we are forgiven.He warned us to be careful not to be taking His grace and mercy for granted.
Frankly, we are a precocious people who take things for granted all the time and with little respect. However, Jesus through Paul and His disciples warns us that if we are not careful to abide in Him fully and know what repentance really looks like, we may grieve the heart of Christ.In Mark 35, Jesus spoke to us of what happens, when each sinful thought and action is brought to fruition. He said that continuing in sin would “Harden our hearts” and this grieved Him. Additionally he warned the Israelites in Gen 6:3; that God’s grace will not always strive with us.So although God is a God of second chances, should we not be grateful and careful to have relationship with Him and not always depend on second chances?Do we not owe it to Him, to give back to Him what He gave to us, that being our love and our hearts?
Remember: ultimately He knows our hearts and our very thoughts. He is the true Judge, so allow yourself to be examined by Him. But also stop wallowing in self-abasement for that grieves His heart also. Allow yourself to become forgiven, to be repentant, and to go under the spiritual knife of being born again into His SECOND CHANCE.We are all but DUST and we are all flesh, but “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me;” and that, my fellow redeemed of Christ, is where the second chance comes into play.
Are you half in the boat, and half on the dock?
Then I suggest you look closely; does your walk match your talk?
Are you fooled into thinking, "Good Works" make you saved?
If you do, reconsider, before you go to your grave.
For there, you will find, that the seat that you are in
Is reserved for those people who never turned from their sin.
How sad it will be and too late to undo,
Do you think this could happen, could it happen to you?
So listen to me and listen really well,
For here is the difference between Heaven and Hell.
Whose words do you trust, when you start out your day?
Are you consumed by activities, your work and your play?
Do think about praying, getting down on your knees?
Is it God and His Son that you’re seeking to please?
For here is the key and I give it to you,
Place them first in your heart, a part of all that you do.
Because God is the Father, and Christ is His Son,
And The Spirit will convict you, “They are all One.”
Now just stop pretending, and playing a part,
And let this conviction ring out in your heart.
That this is the time; and today is the day,
For you to make changes and stop running away.
So take your place at the feet of Christ Jesus, God’s Son.
It’s through Him, you’re saved and your soul has been won.
Now, go forth and ponder, let your lesson be learned
For His Grace and His Mercy can never be earned.
It’s a gift that was given, so now what will you do?
Go prove by your walk, what God’s love’s done for you.
Authored by Peggy Palmer
Amen and Amen!
≈ Devotional for Thursday, January 6, 2011
“Love is the Answer”
Have you ever known someone who was proud of the company they worked for, looked forward to going to work each day and truly loved their job… but got laid off?
We know a beautiful, intelligent and godly young woman who adores her husband and their two wonderful children… her husband just filed for a divorce.
Children are a blessing from God.Love them, care for them and raise them to be honest, respectful, Christian young men and women… and they may still chose to walk on the dark side.
What happened in the scenarios above?How could things that start out so wonderful and filled with nothing but love and good intentions go so horribly wrong?Perhaps England Dan and John Ford Coley were on the right track in 1979 when they released a song written by Todd Rundgren, “Love is the Answer.”
Part of the lyrics of that song stated:
Light of the world, shine on me Love is the answer Shine on us all Set us free Love is the answer
“Light of the world, shine on me.”Do you think the song could have been referring to Jesus’ words in John 8:12 when He said, “I am the light of the world.Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”?
But, there was love in all the examples above and the job was still lost, the marriage still failed and the child still turned against righteousness.What went wrong?
Consider the most quoted verse in the Bible - John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
God loved us so much that He took the form of a man, left Heaven and came to earth to suffer and die on the cross for our sins.When He said “It is finished!” (John 19:30), His part was done - the Light of the World had shone on us and given us the answer to set us free - all we have to do is love Him in return.
Consider John 3:16 - slightly modified:
“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever loves Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
You may love your job; but, you may still get laid off if the job doesn’t love you enough to sacrifice for you.
You may love your spouse; but, marriage may still fail if your spouse’s love for you isn’t strong enough to resist temptation.
And, you may love your children enough to die for them; but, they may still chose to walk away from salvation if their love for you and for the Word is weak.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).You could change John’s words to “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s family, friends, country or job.”Fill in the blank any way you wish; the message is the same.
God loves us so much that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever loves Him shall not perish but have eternal life; and, He asks us to love each other.Love is the answer; but, we must love God first and then we must love our neighbors (family, friends, country, job, etc.) as ourselves.That’s the only way to be set free.
Be made new in the attitude of your minds and have the same attitude, purpose and humble mind that was in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 2:4-7)
Salado is a sleepy little town in central Texas where my family spent many weekends together.At age 10, my oldest son discovered a shop near our hotel where he was befriended by a wonderful lady.Anytime we wondered where he was, we could find him there.
We stopped as we were leaving to thank Daniel’s new friend for taking time for him.It was filled with expensive hand-made pottery, each piece carefully signed by the artist.Dan accidentally bumped into a small candy dish and broke it.His little world shattered and he broke into tearful sobbing, both from embarrassment and because he feared he had disappointed his friend.
The kind lady read the situation and assured my son that she was not upset with him.We left Salado that day owning a broken piece of pottery, but money could not have afforded the lesson my son learned from his friend.
That was 26 years ago.The carefully repaired dish sits prominently on a lamp table in the family room as a reminder that friendship need not be broken by accidents; that happy endings can come of bad situations; it is a symbol of hope, that most bad things that happen in life can be mended.And it reminds us that bad things can happen to good people.
GospeLines Prayer:“Father, as hard as I try, there are still times when I break things….friendships, human spirits, self-esteem.Let me a mender be to those in my life who have experienced brokenness, and never let me be guilty of causing heartache due to my own spiritual clumsiness.”Amen and amen.