Monday, May 19, 2014

The Lord is Always With Us

Romans 8:35
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or

persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"

God does not keep us immune from troubles; did not place an invisible shield about us to protect us from being hurt. But he says  "I will be with him in trouble." So many of us would experience more peace if we'd remember what he said. WITH US! How awesome is that? What else would we need in times of trouble, no matter what kind, if we'd only
believe these words as our children believe what we tell them.
Some people mistakenly believed that once they became a Christian nothing bad would  ever happen to them. When something did, they were overwhelmed; their faith wavered, and their trust in God was shaken.

Jesus said in John 16 verse 33 "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

We have read the above words many times, haven't we? Yet I know that many of us have either skimmed over the words..."but be of good cheer." or  read them, but didn't allow ourselves to think about them because to us, they simply don't make sense. Be of good cheer when facing a divorce, loss of a job, my child has run away or is on drugs? Be of good cheer when I'm going blind, have cancer, or I just found out my child is gay?
  YES! That is exactly what Jesus wants us to he wants our attitude to be.
Did you by any chance notice how he strung his words-the order in which he placed them?
  1- These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.

  2-In the world ye shall have tribulation.
  3-but be of good cheer.
  4-I have overcome the world.


"In me ye might have peace."
Knowing us, he knew we'd worry, fret, become anxious, fearful and discouraged
when trials came. He wanted to comfort us, to let us know ahead of time that 
there was no need to become overwhelmed. In simple terms he was saying.
" Remember now. When things get hard for you, when you hit a really rough spot,
you don't have to worry or be afraid. I am with you, will always be with you,
both in good times and the bad. Lean on me when bad times come.
I am the God Of All Comfort. I will be your strength, your courage,

your energy- whatever you need. I am your Peace.

The trick is to keep this in order. If Jesus is our point of focus 

we'll always experience his peace. And because we have his peace,
 when tribulations come, we, instead of falling apart from worry and fear,
 will thank him for loving us so much, and praise him for giving us 
 that peace in the first place.

Did you notice where he placed the words "be of good cheer?"
He placed them right between our tribulations and "I have overcome."
This reminds us that we don't have to worry about how inadequate we are,
how weak, weary, or worn down we may be when those trials come.
We'll lean on Jesus, and through Him we'll overcome too.
We'll come through just fine. Pretty terrific, if you ask me.

Nothing can ever separate us from the love of Christ. Nothing!
Tribulation, however exhausting and discouraging it is cannot
 come between us.

Famine? No matter how weak and weary we become, it cannot come
between us and God.

Anguish?  We've all experienced this, know how rough it can be:
sleep becomes an elusive thing, our appetite fails, we are nauseous;
The anguish burns like fire- is salt upon an open wound.
Yet it  cannot come between us and Christ. Not ever!

When we hold on to the love of God, when we're at the lowest point in

 our life, something miraculous happens, something that strangers,
 neighbors, friends, and sometimes even family members are unable
to comprehend:  which is how we're able to carry on with our life as 
though nothing is wrong.
  I've had people ask" Barb, How do you do that ? How can you be 

so calm when you have so much on your plate, when everything is
 such a mess right now?"
   My reply is always "By God's grace."

  God continues to surprise and amaze me at how quickly He  comes
to my rescue, and how he truly does what he promises to do:
make us strong in His strength, empower us to do 

what must be done, fill us with that promised peace of Christ.
And he never fails to bless me by letting me experience the honor of
his presence, the warmth of His love, and the tightness of his embrace.

It is not just knowing Jesus but believing Him that keeps my life

 more stress free than it has ever been. He is trustworthy.
None of us have to be afraid, worried, or discouraged. 

Oh, these things will settle upon us from time-to-time.
 But they won't linger, unless they get to warm a
I don't give them any! I always let Jesus answer the door.

Have a blessed day.
Love you much,


Saturday, May 17, 2014

God's Amazing Grace

John 8:9-11

 (9) And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
(10) When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her,
"Woman, where are those thine accusers, hath no man condemned thee?
"She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her. "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."

The definition of GRACE?

Unmerited favor, divine goodness, mercy, pardon, leniency, forgiveness.

The Bible tells us that GRACE is all sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9) 1 Cor. 15: 10 tells us 
a truly awesome thing, which many of us fail to remember, which is as follows:

"But by the GRACE of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."

We've read about the adulterous woman many times, but fail to realize we are watching Grace in action. To read a definition of grace is one thing; to attempt to describe what in truth it really is, well, there just are no words. Amazing comes the closest, in my opinion.
How does Grace work?  What does Grace do? Let's observe.

In ver
se 4 of John 8 the scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus, a woman caught in the very act of adultery. It has always amazed me, the nerve these people had, to say to Jesus, as they set her in the midst," Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?"  Their implication was if MOSES said it..well, that was all that mattered. The Lord's opinion didn't' really count, didn't matter at all.
They were, of course, wanting to tempt him, eager to be able to accuse him of something.
   The beginning of grace in action: Verse 6 ".....But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as if he heard them not.
Grace did not react as we would have. Jesus did not shake his finger in their face, did not raise his voice and shame them by naming their own personal sins aloud. Instead, he remained quiet, chose to ignore their words, though they did not yet silence themselves.
We could learn much by his example. How well we control our tongue reveals to the world just how much we have really learned by spending time with Jesus, or how much we truly much more we need to grow.

Verse 7 says ...." So when they continued asking him, he lifted himself, and said unto them. " He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone. at her."
 Being convicted by their own conscience, all of them departed, leaving the woman alone with the Lord.

 Sometimes that is what Jesus has to do with us too, has to allow things to happen that force us to be alone with him. Sometimes that is the only way he can get us to listen to him, sad as that is. We have our spouses, our children, our hobbies, our studies, our work, our friends...everything taking up so much of our time HE gets none of it. And if we are never alone with him there is no way he can educate us, instruct us, guide us,  comfort us, uplift us, strengthen us, or embrace us. It is that one-on- one time alone that can empower us to do as he asks.

  He asks us to do something; sets it upon our heart and mind so strongly we know it is HIM talking. And what do we do? We say things like "But Lord... I can't..."I have no time." I don't know how." What if this, or what if that? " He will put up with this for only so long. Then he'll turn away, and leave us to do whatever we wish. When that tall a wall gets between us and the Lord, it's not a wall of wood, but steel- and the only thing that can bring it town again is a repentant heart, a sincere heart, one like David's who recognizes how far we've wandered away -- how truly horrible our sins, how desperately we need a new heart.

Grace redirects us. Verse 10  Jesus asks the woman where her accusers are, if none have accused her. "No man, Lord." she says. Verse 11, "And Jesus said unto her. "
Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."
Verse 12. Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying. "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Once Jesus touches our life; once he forgives us and sends us on our way we'll fall again, will still make mistakes. But that's okay. He says that "he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness..."
 This means we no longer will have to live as we were before his grace touched us; we'll never have to be stuck in the dark again. We can, in his strength, and with his help, walk on the right paths, following after the light.

Jesus (grace) did not condemn the woman, nor does it condemn us. Instead, he forgives us, is merciful, loving, lenient. Jesus could have humiliated the woman further, could have made her feel more sad, discouraged, worthless. But he didn't. And he treats us with the same kindness and gentleness as he did her. God's grace pardons us, embraces us, heals us, binds up our wounds, and somehow, miraculously changes us into the person we have always wanted to be. God's grace sets us free from the things that have held us in bondage.

God's grace fills us with something we lacked. It so changes our hearts that we are able, through Christ, to no longer walk in darkness but in the light.

We all have things in our past we'd rather forget, things we'd not want anybody else to know about. We forget at times just how amazing a thing God's GRACE is, until Satan reminds us of something we did, and guilt and shame overwhelm us again. We run to the Lord and say "Lord, I am so sorry. Please forgive me."And what does he say?  He says "I don't remember that sin. I don't know what you are talking about. AMEN! Thank you, Lord.

 When we ask for forgiveness- he gives it, and gives it not only, but reminds us that it is now forgotten. Our problem is that we don't take him at his word. I determined awhile back, to get into the habit of reminding myself of that fact. It's helped a lot; has added quality to my life as well as given me the peace that the Lord desires his children to have.

It is the desire of my heart that we all come to rightly reflect Jesus Christ, so that

those who have yet to know him may desire to have that which we have, so that they may share in our JOY. 
Have a blessed day.
Love you much,


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Romans 8:28

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love

 When I was nine, I was bored and becoming a pest to the adults around me, so my uncle gave me an old clock to tinker with. I held it to my ear, while listening to it's soft ticking sound, and then, being curious, I took it apart. I was to young to understand what made it tick, but did discover that it took many different parts to make the clock work.

Like the clock, a man requires more than one part if he is to function properly and be able to cope with the realities- the harshnes of life. He could not possess just one part and be complete; could not, for instance just have patience. If patience was all he had, what would he do if he found himself in a situation that required courage or faith? What if he were to need compassion, or understanding. wisdom, mercy, or strength? We need a lot of parts in order to not just cope with the harshness of life, but to be able to appreciate and value it as well.

The world our wonderful God created is made up of opposites: night-day, sorrow-joy, spring-winter, etc. We could never appreciate the more colorful things, the things that make us happy, unless we've first tasted the bitterness of the trials we've experienced. God does not always send the trials we're confronted with. But he most definitely allows them. How else could He make sure that we have the parts we'd need in order to overcome the difficulties in our lives, as well as be a blessing to those around us who are hurting? Yes, there is a harshness to life; much pain and enormous sorrow, but there is always their opposite.
Whenever I see a rainbow, I see the darker colors as the trials I've been through,
the brighter colors as joy; the JOY  God gave me for trusting Him during the  darkest moments of my life: the death of my parents, a betrayal, a failed marriage, having a child in an abusive relationship for years, the loss of a very dear friend, a job, two precious children in trouble, the loss of my Johnny. My greatest JOY fills me up, and that JOY comes from HE who believed in me, loved me, forgave me, when nobody else could- or would.

"All Things Work Together For Good To Them That Love God."

What a powerful blessing, what reassuring words to a troubled person, somebody not understanding what it takes for us to function properly, not understanding what we need, in order to cope with the hard side of life.

It says all things (WORK), which means everything has been checked out; nothing will break down and leave us stranded. It means all things are working now, at this very minute...and for our good, because we love God. It means we have no reason to doubt, or be troubled about the trials in our lives. Each part is necessary in order for us to be successful; to grow, and become the kind of people God desires us to be.

AND WE KNOW ( we are positive)
THAT ALL THINGS (every single thing)

Let's not worry and fret any more, but give our burdens to the Lord. We have but to say, "Father, this is just to heavy for me," and he takes care of it.

I hope every
one of you has a blessed day, and that no matter how steep the hill, you'll keep climbing. The view at at top is more than worth it. I speak from experience. Like

many of you I have a lot on my plate these days, so many unfamiliar things I have to become familiar with- and to accept.
. I don't sink, though my heart is heavy, because I truly believe what I have told you. Everything, in the end, works out; not always as we wish it would, but the way God knows is best. He doesn't give us what we want...but what we need.

Thank you again, for all the loving support, prayers and good wishes.

Love you much.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Jesus, Mary and Martha

John 11

I was amazed this morning, to realize that I'd read this chapter many times, yet somehow managed to miss so very much; things that would not only improve the quality of my physical life, but would add real substance to my sometimes lukewarm life.  Perhaps these are things you may have missed too. I pray that if, like me, you missed these points, that reading them now will cause you to rethink how you live your days.

Lazarus was very sick. Mary (the one who who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair), and her sister Martha, both being extremely concerned about their brother, sent word to Jesus, saying "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick). verse 3.

Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. But when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he did not depart to Bethany from Jerusalem, which was only about two miles away, but remained where he was for two days. When he did go to Bethany, he found that Lazarus had lain in the grave four days already.

 Martha, upon hearing he was coming, went to meet him; was agitated, grieving deeply, not slow to empty out the pain within her heart. The first words out of her mouth when she saw Jesus were not "How are you?" were not "I'm so glad you're here. " No...the words that came out of her mouth were heavy with pain- and I'm quite certain, laced with a bit of resentment and frustration. She said " Lord, If thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, (showing her faith in spite of her grief), whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee."
Mary, grieving as deeply as Martha, did not go to meet Jesus, but sat still (my Bible reads). in her home. Still, to me, in this sense, means numb with grief. When reading this  for the very first time, I remember wondering why Mary, loving Jesus so much, hadn't run to meet him.  But...back to Martha now:

"Thy brother shall rise again." Jesus says to Martha.

"I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."Martha replies.
Jesus said unto her "I AM the resurrection...."

I used capital letters for the word Am because that is how it appeared when I read them this morning.
Those four words are something I missed, though I read them many, many times. Having them sink in THIS time was almost like being newly baptized. We think of the resurrection and think of receiving eternal life. But what we overlook sometimes, what we fail to get from His words is the awesome reality of His Words, the Truth in them, that in HIM we have LIFE. Without Him we cease to be. Before He became Lord of my heart and life I did not live...but existed. After baptism, I came out of the water filled with JOY i'd never experienced in my previous life.. Amazing! I live- move- and breathe, because I am HIS.

Now back to Mary:

Mary, now having left the house, was followed by the Jews who had been comforting her, believing she was going to the grave. When Mary saw Jesus, she fell down at his feet, saying "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died."

  When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews weeping, which came with her, he groaned in his spirit, and was troubled (verse 33).

verse 35 says "Jesus wept."
  Powerful words "Jesus wept." Everybody reading them has their own opinion as to why he wept. Some say because he loved Lazarus so much. Some say because of death, though death to Jesus is nothing. He is LIFE, which is one reason I no longer fear death. I personally believe that he wept for the living; for those who were hurting, agonizing over what their life has become- desperately wanting to change- to possess something better. I think He wept then, just as He weeps now, over you and me, and all those in our world who hurt so much, who struggle to understand what is beyond their comprehension. I think he wept because his love for mankind runs so deep.He brought Lazarus forth from the grave, gave him life again. And one day he will do

the same for you and me...and that day is not to far off.

I skipped around a bit on this post, am writing it as it flows in my mind. It is how I remember things that are important to me.

Two things I learned in this chapter that will improve the quality of my life are:

1- That not all of us are like Mary (quiet, shy, loves the truth, needs to spend a lot of time at the Lord's feet).  Not all of us are like Martha ( positive, hospitable, assertive).

    Remember when Jesus was visiting at their house? Remember how Mary sat at his feet, while Martha rushed here and there, doing all she could to take care of everybody?
Feeling frustrated because she too wanted time with Jesus, Martha asked him to tell Mary to help her.
    Jesus did not rebuke Martha for wanting help. But instead explained that Mary needed this time with him. She had been abused, harmed in ways only Jesus could understand. What he was giving her, nobody else ever could.
    Some of us are Mary's. We have been abused, tossed aside by our fathers, uncles, mothers, sisters, friends, etc. We have spent our lives feeling dirty, ashamed, totally lost and out of place. We need to sit long at the LORD'S feet, need that extra time and mentoring.
2- Some of us are like Martha. We're hospitable, outgoing, eager to be of service. But sometimes, like the Martha in the Bible, we forget how blessed we are, fail to remember, as Martha did how strongly rooted in the truth she already was, and what a solid relationship with Jesus she had.

 We don't need to be Martha..nor just a Mary. What we need is to try to become a bit of both: To be quiet sometimes, become better listeners, like Mary. We need to spend more time at the Lord's feet, listening- rather than talking. We need to, after we've spent time at the Lord's feet, become more like Martha then. We can't take in all the Lord teaches us and keep it to ourselves; can't accept the blessings without sharing them- giving some away. We need to spend out all that the Lord puts in. It is only by loving as the Lord loves- by blessing as we are blessed, that lives are changed.

May the Lord richly bless you today. May you always know the honor of His presence,

the warmth of His love- the tightness of His embrace.

Love you much,