Thursday, June 16, 2016

INVISIBLE? So What!

                                                                                                                                              
I’ve been thinking about how it is hard for me to comprehend being called A FRIEND OF GOD!   I exclaimed recently to a new friend..’CAN you IMAGINE?! We are meant to be known by HIM and to reciprocate that relationship?’ FRIEND!! WOW!  Afterall, Jesus DID say in               JOHN 15:15, ‘ I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I  have made known to you.’ That’s a lot to contemplate, but it is wonderful!!
Now, my thinking has ventured into the area of our title topic today..                                                 IS GOD REALLY INVISIBLE?
I read this morning of a blind girl whose mother was brought home from military training to make a surprise visit to her daughter (all caught on video..pre-planned).            The fact of the girl’s blindness causing her mom to be unseen,                                           DID NOT ALTER THE FACT OF THE MOM’S PRESENCE!
Looking at life around us today, you and I can’t see electricity or the Internet, but that fact makes them no less real.  Also, it has always been true how we cannot visibly see wind, but we certainly know it exists.  Those who may insist that SEEING IS BELIEVING, would be hard-pressed to explain any of these 3 realities. In contrast, for those of us who have chosen to trust                         in THE LORD, though seemingly ‘invisible,’ BELIEVING IS SEEING!                                                                                                                                                                 
But here's the truth: When God is ‘invisible,’ He’s really not not there!! You may not see Him in the room, but that fact makes Him no less present! HOORAY! (I really like to say that!)       
I could convey instance after instance of evidence of HIM in my personal life over the past 48 years but will share from the Word of God instead..

When Syrian armies surrounded Elisha, the prophet assured his servant, "Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them" (2 Kings 6:16). Then he asked God to open the young man's eyes, and "he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (v. 17).

When the king of Babylon threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace, the king would soon "see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire" (Daniel 3:25). And he would exclaim, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him" (v. 28).

When Daniel was thrown into the lions' den, he emerged unhurt because "my God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me" (Daniel 6:22).                                                        When the ship on which Paul was sailing encountered life-threatening storms, he told the crew: "This very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul'" (Acts 27:23–24). The apostle and all with him were spared. 
As you finish reading this, consider receiving what our Lord intends to give. We must ask God for his protection and trust him for his provision, and then he can give his best. Faith doesn't deserve his blessing—it positions us to receive it as His FRIENDS!

JOHN 20:29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

YOU CAN'T SAY THAT!


Years ago, I wrote a devotional about, YOU CAN’T DO THAT!. Soon, I will re-package its content so you can learn what it is that CAN’T BE DONE!.. But, before I do, I’d like to share what’s on my mind this week regarding what CAN be said, but really CAN’T or SHOULDN’T, when and if, one loves and knows THE LORD.
How often have you heard someone say, “After all, I’m ‘only’ human,” as an excuse for carelessness with choices. Well, that one is unfortunately misinformed since Scripture tells us otherwise. First off, I’d like to say, “Yes, we are humans (mammals) as far as our bodies go, but we also have a spirit and a soul. Other mammals also have souls which I define as our MINDS, EMOTIONS, AND WILLS..My pets certainly have minds, emotions, and wills! Don’t yours?                                                                            This is where we humans become separated from all other mammals…                            When the LORD created mankind, HE BREATHED into him His own breath! This is what sets us apart since we then became a spiritual being, meant to experience our Creator’s presence with, and within us!!(no longer simply a body and soul as the other mammals are!) The very best Scripture reference I know for verifying this is in                   I Thessalonians 5:23.  “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We can also recall the often abused or taken for granted phrase though which JESUS HIMSELF said to a religious leader who was seeking to know what JESUS was really teaching.. JESUS alarmed Nicodemus telling him he MUST BE BORN AGAIN.. Of course, that was met with resistance as the seeking one said that would not be possible!!! Well, that’s  when JESUS said he must be born of water, and of the SPIRIT! (John 3:1-8)   In ROMANS 8:9-11 we read more about this..  “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
As you read through this, I hope you all have received the gift of HIS offer of HIS life and presence within you… If not, the final verse of JESUS LOVES ME in our songbooks says this well-worded PRAYER (in  an ‘old-fashioned’ way!)
JESUS TAKE THIS HEART OF MINE.. MAKE IT PURE AND WHOLLY THINE
THOU HAST BLED AND DIED FOR ME.. I WILL HENCEFORTH LIVE FOR THEE!

As I close, consider the gift of HIS BREATH breathed into you! Realize that your spirit can either be dead in trespasses and sin.. thus separating you from HIM and the fullness of life HE intends for/through you, or, you can be SPIRITUALLY ALIVE WITH ALL THE FULLNESS OF HIM WITHIN!! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS CHOICE BECAUSE HE LOVES US SO, SO MUCH THAT HE DIED TO MAKE THIS POSSIBLE!! 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

IT WAS THERE BY FAITH, I RECEIVED...

Today, we will look at the chorus of a ‘grand old hymn’ which we do not sing during the 'HYMNSPIRATIONS' I get to lead frequently since it’s not in the books we use. It’s called                                                  AT THE CROSS. It speaks LIFE to me..
How does THE CROSS indicate anything to do with LIFE? The answer lies in how Christ’s willingness to lay down His life in order to pay the penalty for our sins, thus reconciling us to personal access to His Father, allows us to be BORN AGAIN.. For, when we recognize and admit our need for forgiveness and reconciliation to HIM through the blood of JESUS, resulting in our willing acceptance and welcoming of His grace and mercy, we enter into true life and vitality! We are no longer blinded to sin’s deception as it works to deprive us of the PEACE, HOPE, and JOY the LORD intends for, and through us!!
Now, about that hymn!! It’s chorus simply, yet profoundly says,
‘AT THE CROSS, AT THE CROSS, WHERE I FIRST SAW THE LIGHT AND THE BURDEN OF MY SIN ROLLED AWAY
IT WAS THERE BY FAITH I RECEIVED MY SIGHT AND NOW I AM HAPPY ALL THE DAY.’
I was struck recently by how FAITH caused ‘my eyes to be opened.’ For, you see, I love to share a simple truth I was taught when I was only 14 years old.. (nearly 50 years ago!!! Smile!) The truth is about just what FAITH is, or can be. Some think of it as almost unattainable, nearly ethereal in nature.. Something not too easy to grasp.. Well, I offer this as a great way to perceive the value of FAITH in the desire to MEET and KNOW the LORD personally.             FAITH is action.                                                     F- Forsaking   A- All   I   T-Take  H-Him
Forsaking, and taking are action words and are acts of our will. We can decide whether or not to yield all our worldly concerns and welfare to Him, receiving His matchless and wondrous care as a result, or NOT TO DO SO.
Speaking from over 48 years of having received HIM, His ways and presence in my life, I can definitely testify to the value of having Forsaken all and Taken HIM willingly unto myself in 1968! As I have continued to grow more deeply in love and, in my walk, with JESUS, I have realized how the ‘T’ has come to mean                                          Trusting and Thanking HIM also!                                                                                     NOW, I'd like you to picture a train on the tracks.. It has only 3 cars..  The Engine, the Coal Car, and the Caboose.. Think about what 'pulls/powers' your train along the tracks of your life.. In this world we live in, unfortunately, humans tend to let FEELINGS be the engine, thus becoming DERAILED frequently.. This is because FEELINGS can sort of 'mess with us,' at times.. How many times have you thought, or said, "I wish I didn't FEEL like this or that..," or, "I know I shouldn't FEEL like this, etc."? As you declared or realized this though, you may have felt powerless to do anything about those troublesome feelings.. Well... There is good news for those of us who Love the Lord, in response to His LOVE for, and through us! Let's take a look at how someone described a train which stays ON TRACK in life  to me when I was in college.   The ENGINE needs to be the FACTS of our Christian relationship to the Lord. For instance, 'All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..' Romans 3:23 and 'For it is by GRACE you are saved through FAITH, not as a result of works, that no one should boast.' Ephesians 2:8-9   Knowing FACTS like these can diffuse any attempt the enemy would use feelings of unworthiness for to keep, or dissuade you from entering into, or growing in your intended personal relationship to THE LORD!  Being able to counter Satan's attacks through your feelings with the many FACTS we can learn and appropriate, gives us HOLY SPIRIT POWER to STAY ON TRACK instead of letting those 'feelings' derail us!! Now, that we have our 'ENGINE,' let's see about the COAL CAR. Well, FAITH is great for 'fueling' our train throughout our lives.. Look back in this post to see how when we are FORSAKING all, and TAKING, TRUSTING, AND THANKING HIM, we can flourish!!! Finally, our FEELINGS will come in line with all HE INTENDS FOR/THROUGH US!! NO MORE DERAILMENTS! I can't put a diagram/picture of a train in this post as far as I can figure, so just picture this order of 'cars' on your 'TRACK' in life!
                     FACTS                                  FAITH                          FEELINGS                                                       A good, summary of all I've developed above is simply,                

'Most all humans let FEELINGS be the ‘engine’ that powers their train of life.. Much derailment can, and does happen. But, those of us who welcome the LORD let the FACTS of the Gospel be our engine, fueled by FAITH, followed by FEELINGS which can be tempered by the  presence of the LIVING LORD GOD ALMIGHTY within all who choose HIM!'                                                                                                                       May the LORD bless and keep you as you consider what has been shared here since HE LOVES YOU SO VERY MUCH!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

NEVER-LEAVING, EVER-LIVING LORD

Never-Leaving, Ever-Living LORD
THE apostle Paul, wrote to Timothy in his first letter,chapter1,
verse 17, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible,
the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen!”

THE theme of this message is THE LORD’S eternality! He always was,
and always will be!  In 2008, there was a movie in the theaters by
Ben Stein—EXPELLED!- It got me thinking about how blessed I
am to KNOW the LORD GOD CREATOR of the universe! I urge
each of you to take time to REJOICE in the offer of personal                  access to THE LORD!  If we try to “live” life without allowing ourselves
 to learn of, and accept, the faithfulness, graciousness,
and compassion of THE LORD, we are truly lacking all HE intends for,  and through us.. It’s great to anticipate all HE desires for us to receive as we choose to believe HIM, having perceived our need.                                                                             (In EXPELLED, individuals are harassed due to their admission of recognizing how THE LORD intends for us to commune with HIM.) We are not some sort of ‘happened-to-become-being’ that ‘evolved.’ In fact, Ben Stein actually gets the world’s #1 atheist, Dawkins,  to a point in an interview where Dawkins can’t deny that he can’t explain life from an evolutionary point-of-view!

PROVERBS 2:1-6 offers this in contrast to Dawkins’ dilemma..
1My son, if you accept My words and store up My commands within you,
2turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding
3indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,
4and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
6For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.                              JEREMIAH 9:23-24 urges us to “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares THE LORD.
 One of my favorite Christian singers, Damaris Carbaugh, effectively conveys some of what my heart(soul) is hoping to share today. The chorus is spoken by THE LORD-
“I’m the ONE Who stands behind you, and the One Who goes before;
I am yesterday’s AMAZING GRACE and tomorrow’s ‘Open Door.
From the ‘First Foundation’ to the ‘’Last Forevermore,’ I’m the ‘Never-Leaving, Ever-Living Lord'"         LORD, I praise you for your eternal steadfastness known to me! Please help me to respond to You                                                                   willingly! In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

THREE SIXTEENS

SHEILA’S SHARING SHEET    TO YOU, FROM ME, BECAUSE OF JESUS!     Week of 5-16-16
As I typed the date on this sheet today, I decided to change the message I’d intended to share. I was going to write about, ‘What Is IT?’ (In Proverbs, chapter 2) But, I’ll save this query for next week’s offering to all who read this..
So what about the date I typed today? Well, the presence of the number 16 twice in it, reminded me of how I like to speak of three sixteens in the Bible.. (a play on JOHN 3:16)
MOST all of you are familiar with JOHN 3:16 as it’s “out there” to be known by many. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son...” but, I’d wager that 1 JOHN 3:16  is not ‘on the tip of your tongues,’  nor is JOHN 1:16.                                            1JOHN 3:16 provides a great definition of just what LOVE is.            “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”  MY desire is for every one of us to rejoice as we frequently realize HOW MUCH the LORD loves us, for as we do, our ability to love all those around us is multiplied!
Along THIS LINE OF THOUGHT, JOHN 1:16 delights me by sharing how, “Out of the fullness of His grace, HE pours out blessing upon blessing!” Verses 14, and 17 offer further truth by conveying, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth… For the law was given through Moses; Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ.” I encourage all to WELCOME HIM as HE desires to meet all needs for truth and grace in your life. Personally, I am very grateful for HIS provision of all I’ll ever need!  Not only that, but I love how HIS blessings are lavished upon me (us)as  I (we) respond to His graciousness!
Now, let’s re-visit JOHN 3:16-17 as it famously states, 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.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” DO YOU KNOW PEOPLE WHO say that God is a ‘kill-joy?’ He is sort of a tyrant who lacks compassion, mercy, grace, and all we need? They are very wrong and very deprived..                                                                                                 Are you glad you are not? I sure am!!!          One final fact I take delight in is knowing how it was ‘for the joy set before HIM, He endured the cross..scorning its shame!’ (HEBREWS 12:2).Our LORD JESUS knew the joy of delighting each time a sinner acknowledges their need for forgiveness, and gratefully receives HIS GIFT of  Eternal LIFE, as well as His gift of His life within us here on Earth.. A life Full of PEACE, HOPE, JOY, PURPOSE, MERCY, and SO MUCH MORE!

GOD BLESS US EVERYONE!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A TRUE FRIEND

SOLI DEO GLORIA           A TRUE FRIEND Bible Devotional       CYPRESS GARDENS 5-11-16
PROVERBS 17:17    A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
This topic of FRIENDSHIP is very important to me since it was the reason I came to the LORD personally in 1968. A new ‘friend’ of mine saw my hunger for meaningful friendships which were not simply acquaintances from Girl Scouts, YMCA camping, marching band, or other ‘groups’ of people where I ‘belonged.’ She then informed me of how JESUS living inside of me would/could lead me into relationships which were/are rich in depth and meaning since HE is my BEST FRIEND FIRST! For, you see, He meets every need I will ever have.. He is especially near and dear when experiencing adversity.. ‘When Jesus is all you have, you have ALL YOU NEED.’ Consider these beloved lyrics we sing frequently!
‘What a FRIEND we have in JESUS, all our sins and griefs to bear…  Do thy friends despise, forsake thee.. Take it to the LORD iN prayer..’                              Jesus is all the world to me, My Friend in trials sore; I go to Him for blessings,  and He gives them o’er and o’er.
He sends the sunshine and the rain, He sends the harvest’s golden grain;
Sunshine and rain, harvest of grain, He’s my
Friend.’
A whole year before I welcomed the LORD into my life personally, (as opposed to simply having believed in ‘the facts’ of my need for salvation through HIM,) I needed to write an original poem about FRIENDSHIP as an English class assignment..  This is what my heart spilled onto paper.. 
SOMEONE ‘A friend is someone who can see just what a friend can truly be..               Someone to whom you can speak whenever you feel spiritually weak..                Someone who loves you ‘in your real,’.. who knows how you truly do feel..                            Someone who cares about you in all you do… This is my friend.. Could it be you?’
This poem conveys how the LORD knew I was becoming ‘spiritually’ aware..      I’d been told how mankind is a physical, mental, social, and spiritual ‘being,’ and that we consist of a body, soul, and spirit, but had not yet been told how I needed to beborn again,’ by inviting the LORD into my inner person as an act of my will..
One year later, a mature Girl Scout was the one who told me how she’d met JESUS as her best friend a year earlier.. The results were obvious as she told me of an incident where she called her closest girlfriend (a sister forever in JESUS!) to come pray with her in this time of adversity.. Of course, her friend drove the 20 miles as soon as was possible to join her. I really envied her and that’s how my new friend introduced JESUS to me as the best friend I’d ever have.. and how this would allow true FRIENDSHIPS while earthbound.            In I SAMUEL 20:42, Jonathan says to David,  “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me..’
It never ceases to amaze me how in JOHN 15:15, JESUS said to his disciples, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.                                           Finally, EXODUS 33:11 lets us know how “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” 

Lord, may we confidently proclaim, ‘Jesus is all the world to me, My LIFE, My JOY, My ALL!

BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE.. A SHEILA'S SHARING SHEET

SHEILA’S SHARING SHEET   TO YOU, FROM ME, BECAUSE OF HIM  Wk. of 5-10-16                                               
Recently, I’ve ‘taken a liking to’ answering those who ask me how I am with a heartfelt, “Blessed beyond measure.(!) For, you see, I’ve had the joy of trusting, relinquishing, and yielding my life to the wondrous, compassionate, merciful, gracious, sacrificial, marvelous, and overall phenomenal, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY as HE is faithful and true in His care and purpose for me for over 48 years now! I was 15 when my ‘religious’ training and beliefs held in my head made the ‘12” trip’ into my ‘heart.’(soul) As an act of my conscious will, I chose to Thank the LORD for His sacrifice which made possible my reconciliation to HIM.. No longer did my sinfulness separate me from the joy of walking with, and coming to know HIM personally. Having made this decision, I soon learned 2 keys as to why HE desires us to KNOW HIM.. HE has shown me how it’s His pleasure to do so since we are His treasure!  In 2006, HE delivered this poem to/through me.. May its content confirm to you the wonder of HIM as it’s truly His pleasure grant blessings beyond measure!
TREASURED
While out on a walk one glistening day, I was listening to hear You say,
“Dear one, you’ve been thinking about My chest full of treasure
and, you know that it’s truly filled beyond measure!
But first, come join in My pleasure as I let you see,
just what a treasure you are to Me!
You see, I value you so much that I promise to provide,
true peace, hope and joy as you walk alongside!
Peace is yours, as you learn that there is never a need to fear-
Hope is yours for the keeping, no matter the cause for weeping.
Joy is yours as you focus on knowing that My devotion to you is always                      !                                                                                             overflowing!
Rejoice dear one, as you recall that the treasure in My chest is realized best
as you relax in the essence of being welcome in My presence!”

Most are familiar with the beloved 23rd PSALM in which we state, THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD..  When JESUS described Himself as THE GOOD SHEPHERD, He stated His intention to lead us in ABUNDANT LIFE (JOHN 10:10b)! Finally, for now, JOHN 1:16-17 state, ‘Out of the fullness of His grace, He pours out blessing upon blessing. Grace and Truth came through JESUS! Joy is knowing HIS PLEASURE as we are His TREASURE! Are you allowing yourself to be His? If not, welcome HIM soon…