WHAT STINKS?

When you go into a department store you are offered samples of the latest designer fragrance. It seems there is an aroma for every occasion or desire….enticing you by the name, or what fruit, floral, herb or tree it consists of. Some people with allergies can’t stand the faintest scent.

Too much fragrance makes you want to get some fresh air!!!

Jesus, our example, is called the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley, and both of those flowers have a delicate sweet fragrance.

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If you read II Corinthians 2:14-16 you will see we are admonished to spread the fragrance of Christ everywhere we go.  How do we do that?  Jesus is not a liquid substance we can splash on the outside of our bodies to make us smell sweet with love like He is!

The aroma that was pleasing to God, as written in the Old Testament, was because the children of Israel were sacrificing burnt offerings to Him.  The smoke going up to His nostrils pleased Him because the one sacrificing was repentant of his sins, and asking for forgiveness.  But, he had to keep sacrificing animals, etc. over and over again.

When Christ gave His life once and for all on the cross…..that sacrifice was final. All we have to do now is accept Jesus as our Savior once, and live a life pleasing as a sweet aroma to God.

Sometimes we can be overpowering with our “Christ Fragrance” and cause those we are around to stay away. Our critical attitudes, our hypocritical life styles, our death words cause those we are supposed to be an example to of the redemptive love of Christ, wonder why we stink!!! And that stench pushes people away from wanting to know Christ.

On the other hand, as you will see in the verse below, those who refuse to be drawn to the sweet pleasant fragrance of Christ’s love in us choose to be repelled by that aroma.

The aroma is always the same: it is sweet to some, and a stench to others.

II Corinthians 2:14-16 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.”

Dear Lord, let your sweet aroma fill my life, from the inside of me to all those around me. Amen

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HOMESICKNESS

What a special time I am having with my cousins here in Oregon!  In fact, I have been a little “homesick” for this “land” and my family here. I was reared in the Portland area from age 7-19, and my fondest childhood memories are of this “place”; its beautiful trees, streams, rivers, waterfalls, mountains and beaches.  (My aaahhhhh places!)

Karen at Cannon Beach ~ Haystack Rock

Karen at Cannon Beach ~ Haystack Rock

But, as I get older I am longing for my home with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit; my permanent “place” for eternity!!!  How can I be “homesick” for a place I’ve never been?  Because God tells me in His Word what that place is like, and I am excited at the thought of that forever time worshiping my Savior and being with my loved ones who have gone on before!

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3

That’s a promise, and I believe God’s promises because He does not change.  In the meantime we recognize this world is not our home……..we’re just passing through!

Jesus’s disciple, Peter, says in the second chapter of his letter, 11th verse…”Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.”

And the Apostle Paul tells us in “The Faith Chapter” Hebrews 11:13-16…..”All these people (Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham) were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, and they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

Oh….I am longing for that “place”……that Heavenly City!!!

EVEN SO LORD JESUS….COME!

Are you ready to meet Him face to face today?

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MEDITATION

What does it mean to meditate?

As usual, Satan has taken an instruction from God to meditate on His Word and twisted it into a lie.  Meditation is a word we see in every magazine, but the use of it is misinterpreted.  It’s not sitting in a certain yoga position and chanting a “mantra.”

Actually, the word meditate translated in our Bible means to read the scriptures, center your thoughts on a verse or passage, read it again, memorize it, read it again, think on that scripture and how it will change your life for good, then take it in, apply it to your life and do it.  Let it bring life to your body, mind, and spirit.

Those of you who have been around cows will see that mind picture clearly!  There are many animals in God’s creation that “chew the cud,” but most familiar to us is the cow.  She takes in nourishment, but because she has four stomachs as she chews and swallows that bit of grass it is not assimilated into the health of her body yet, until she chews, swallows, burps up, chews it again, etc.  That chewing process takes time to get that nourishment to where it will do her body the most good.  And, you have no doubt seen a cow lying down in a field at complete rest, chewing, chewing and chewing, not concerned about anything going on around her……she is meditating!

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What a picture of complete rest and peace!

Oh that we would take the time to meditate on God’s Word, not just read a passage, but to slow down and think on these things, and ask the Holy Spirit to teach us, and then apply it to our lives. Search the scriptures; they are the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Ephesians 3:8)  You will find new treasures in His Word every time you read it.  That’s why this book, the Bible, is the Living Word……it never changes and it never gets old!

Christians around the world are being persecuted and killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and they long for the written Word in their own language.  They will give their lives for the right to keep their tattered and torn Bible!!!

Meditate on God’s Word…..make time for it.  Just take one verse, memorize it, speak it, take it into your heart and mind until it becomes life and nourishment to you for your daily living.

Psalm 119:15-16  “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways.  I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your Word.” (KJV)

Psalm 1:2  “His delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.”

Psalm 19:14  “May the Words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (NIV)

SO….CHEW, CHEW, CHEW ON GOD’S WORD!!!

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THE BIG PICTURE

Sometimes when we get photos sent to us on Facebook, Instagram, cell phones, etc. the images are not clear——-it’s like, you had to be there to really see and experience in person what was really going on, whether it be good or bad. If there is more to the photo that is cut off or not complete, or what’s going on in the background is blurry, then the viewer is deceived as to where the photo was taken for whatever reason.

But God sees THE BIG PICTURE of our lives, not a blurry distorted image of today, but a complete picture from our conception to death and beyond. In fact the scripture tells us God has always known us!!!  He knows what is going on in your life right now for your good, but also what could be for your demise down the road.

We must trust God with the discipline that comes upon us from Him. God knows us better than we know ourselves. When we are going through a difficult time and we are asking God for direction or deliverance we remember God has promised to do what is best for us. Because He knows us, our personalities, our weaknesses, our strengths, He promised that He would not allow more trials on us than we can bear. (I Corinthians 10:13)

God knows when His answer to your prayers, whether yes or no, will have the greatest impact on your life and those around you. That’s where faith comes in. I have to know that “He is perfecting that which concerns me.” (kjv Psalm 138:8)

If God doesn’t do what I want, when I want it, I think He doesn’t love me, or that He is so busy with the major problems of people all over the world He can’t possibly care about my frustrations and needs.

REPEAT……THAT’S WHERE FAITH COMES IN !!!

God allows trials in our lives so that what surfaces are those things that He is pruning in us…..things called to our attention we need to deal with. (I Peter 1:3-9)

Don’t let the limits of your understanding limit your faith. Nowhere in scripture does it say we understand God’s ways. He is Sovereign. But, His ultimate goal is to conform us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus the Christ, and your disobedience of that equals consequences. You won’t be sinless, there was only One who was without sin but in all ways was tempted like us.

As the scripture in James 1:13-15 states, “each one is tempted by his own desires and enticed, then when desire has conceived it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full grown, brings forth death.”

So….how do we get that strong faith that God really sees the BIG PICTURE of our lives and everything will turn out for our good? By studying and knowing His Word. Faith is practical. Desire is not sin, but the seeking of it is. Faith is believing the Word of God and acting upon it……..and that will bring victory!  We all have inclinations to sinful thoughts and  behaviors. “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9-10

Expose your mind to the truth of God’s Word. God has never changed…..His Word has never changed, nor will it ever!!!  “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”(Romans 10:17) And be careful not to listen to wrong voices, false doctrines and modern philosophies.

Stand on this Word in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Yay……I trust God with what He sees in the BIG PICTURE of my entire life, knowing that He only allows what is best for me!!!   PERIOD!

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Run the Race…..

The Olympic Games have always fascinated me to the point that I work my daily schedule around watching the athletes compete on TV!

It is amazing to me, a non-athletic person, to see to what extent the human body can be pushed to excel. The twists and turns, the landings, the strength, the determination of the athletes is honorable.

Sometimes the one expected to do well, or break an Olympic record, doesn’t get a medal at all.

There are heartbreaking stories, and happy ending stories.

You know, it’s just the same for the spiritual race we are in. Sometimes we reach the pinnacle of faith and miracles happen. Other times we fall down and become so bruised it takes times to heal.

We are just human after all!

God knows our weakness and strength, and gives us encouragement from His Word to not give up.

Maybe, if we’re too damaged by life’s falls, we need a friend to pick us up and help us along while we’re limping.

Be encouraged today if you’re in the limping stage of this life’s race to not give up. Sometimes healing takes time, and you need the time to heal from the inside out. Band-aids only cover up the real, deep need.

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Remember to ask for help as you are getting stronger. Next time you will be the stronger one to pick up another runner!!!

Together we will make it to the goal. We will finish the race and receive the prize!

What a day that will be!!!

I Corinthians 9:24-25 NIV
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
(also read Hebrews 12)

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UGLY JUNK

For eight months I was blessed to live in an apartment on one of the northernmost beaches of Massachusetts. I watched the Atlantic Ocean change every day. The heartbeat of the sea was sometimes calm with small waves lapping against the sand like a lake. Sometimes those waves were angry and frantic, especially during the epic storm named “Sandy.” Even the color of the sea changed from day to day depending on the sky of blue, grey, or spotted with white puffy clouds.

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Although I was safe in my shelter watching those violent storms, I certainly recognized the power of the waves as they pounded the shore, and I was constantly thankful for God’s laws in commanding the waves to keep a boundary, lest they overtake the earth! (Job 38:8-11)

While walking along the beach after the most violent of storms, I was disgusted at the “garbage” that was regurgitated from the turbulent sea. It is one thing to know that we, as humans, have violated our oceans with waste, but also to realize some of the items “thrown up” were from shipwrecks where lives were lost.

On that day of seeing and smelling “garbage” I also found beautiful pieces of sea glass, tossed to smooth perfection.

What a contrast, I thought, and so like our lives.

In our life experiences we suppress years of “ugly junk” deep in our innermost being. When the ”junk” is stirred up it comes out in anger, sadness and depression. Like those one time broken pieces of glass, jagged and ugly, we are confronted with the sharp edges of our lives. We can either push the sharp edges back down until the pain becomes unbearable, or we can allow Almighty God to gently toss and tumble the hurts until those experiences are formed into something beautiful. It may take many years, but the process is a release of control…yes, an absolute giving up of those hurts to the Master to knock off the sharp, rough edges and form a one-of-a-kind, beautiful person, who is an example of trust and faith in God.

The sea glass was once a bottle, dish, or maybe a sugar bowl that was useful, but now it is a broken shard that has been refined into a beautiful, colorful, smooth piece that can be made into elegant jewelry or some other art form that pleases the eye!

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Dear Lord, help us to allow your clean up of the “ugly junk” in our lives and give it over to you to make something lastingly beautiful and useful out of our brokenness. We want to be beautiful on the inside as well as outside so that others will see Your beauty shining through us. Thank you, Lord, that you care enough to take us through the storms of life. Amen.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

A Repost from October 2013 – because it is a good reminder from time to time!

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In Times Like These

Many of you are too young to remember a radio personality by the name of Paul Harvey who’s famous line was, “Now you know the rest of the story.” He was known for his thoughtful quotes. He said, “In times like these it is good to remember that there have always been times like these.”

As we hear and read the news today we learn of so much strife, hating and killing, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, drought, famine, et cetera. It all can make you feel vulnerable to a personal tragedy at any time. The Bible also says that men’s hearts will fail them because of fear.

But wait, you say……these things have been going on in our world since creation.  It is only that we are more aware of  these happenings around the world because of our high technical media.  True….but we must not get apathetic in our understanding of the end times as prophesied in the Old and New Testaments.

I know….this is a really heavy subject, but I must write what the Lord has put on my heart to share with you today.

Jesus instructed his disciples with these words in Matthew 24 and Mark 13.

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but then the end will come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

Wow…I need to pay attention, and stay in God’s Word.

I need to keep the main thing, the main thing.

I need to be strong in my belief that Jesus is the Christ the Savior of my soul…..the soon coming King.

I need to share His love with everyone I meet and claim their soul for salvation.

Yes…life goes on and we continue with what is set before us in our daily work and ministry.   Jesus also said “Occupy until I come.” That is what I will do with God’s help…how about you?

I am reminded of a song from the 60’s….

“In times like these, you need a Savior.
In times like these, you need an anchor.
Be very sure, be very sure….
your anchor holds, and grips the Solid Rock. 

This Rock is Jesus, yes He’s The One.
The Rock is Jesus, the Only One.
Be very sure, be very sure…
your anchor holds, and grips the Solid Rock.”

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“It will change your life!”

I am hearing that claim a lot lately…. the new by-word being thrown around.

At our local grocery store the young man at the check out said…”try these caramel and sea salt donuts that are on sale this week…so good it will change your life!”    OK….gave into temptation.  I ate 6 of the small donuts on the way home and was sick within the hour.  Duh…that’s not the kind of change I want in my life.  (Don’t be too hard on me..you all have probably done something similar!)

The spokesman on an ad on TV speaking about a new device to replace an impending knee surgery said, “It will change your life.”  Ads about back surgeries, No No, Yes Yes hair removal devices, wonder creams on every page of a magazine, pills to make you feel better and live longer….all speak of changing your life.

Yes, these things may change some situations in your life for the better, but what is it?  Are we all so frantic to change our lives in some way that we are searching for external fixes?

GOOD NEWS FLASH….JEUS IS THE ANSWER!

Jesus said in John 10:10 “I have come that you may have life to the fullest extent.”

Since time began, God, His Son Jesus, and The Holy Spirit have been changing lives from the inside out….changing lives from eternal damnation to eternal life, from despair to hope.

True…we are constantly trying to better ourselves as we journey through this earthly life, but remember where your lasting treasures lie.

Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven , where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

With the pressing media promising quick fixes for a changed life…remember to listen to the life changer Himself for your daily needs.

LIFE IS HARD…BUT GOD IS GOOD AND HE CARES ABOUT EACH ONE OF US!

Thy Word

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Carry THE LIGHT

God was in the process of creating our earth, and seeing that darkness was prevalent over the earth said, “LET THERE BE LIGHT, AND THERE WAS LIGHT. GOD SAW THAT THE LIGHT WAS GOOD.” Genesis 1:3

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All living things need light. A blind man still needs light from the sun on his body to give him vitamin D and warmth.

The dictionary gives the number one definition of light as a noun: The form of radiant energy that stimulates the organs of sight, traveling about 186,300
miles a second.

I can see God in that definition, can you?

The light I’m writing about today is Jesus Christ, because He was there with God as the sun light was being created. (John 1:1-5)”…and through Him all things were made….in Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

The darkness still does not understand the light of Jesus, and continually stumbles in the darkness. In fact, II Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. So, people are sometimes confused as to what is the True Light and what is the pretend light! (In fact there is a cult by the name True Light Church….so learn to test the spirits.)

When you accept Jesus Christ as the True Light, the Holy Spirit will help you discern what is true and what is false. Get to know the True Light by reading His Word and ask Him to help you know the difference. Satan is deceitful and manipulative. You must stay aware of his tricks and keep your eyes on the brightest light of all. Then allow His Light to shine through you as you go about your daily living.

The teen choir at the church I attend sang a song by Twila Paris last Sunday night that affected my thoughts in writing today……
“Carry the light, carry the light. Go and tell the people they are precious in His sight. Carry the light, carry the light. Go and preach the Gospel ’till there is no more night. In the name of Jesus Christ…carry the light!”

Matthew 5:14-16 (Jesus’ words) “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Dear Lord, because Your Light is in me, help me to be a reflection of Your Light wherever I go, whatever I do. Amen

Further reading: Luke 11:33-36 and Ephesians 5:8-21

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GUARD YOUR HEART

“ABOVE ALL ELSE, GUARD YOUR HEART, FOR IT IS THE WELLSPRING OF LIFE.”
Proverbs 4:23

How do I do that? What does this mean, Lord?

We are paying attention to our hearts this month of February, because of the awareness of heart disease in men and women. We wear red to make a statement that we are supporting the research being done. And…we have Valentine’s Day which stirs up the emotions in our “love” heart. Our hearts are fragile, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually.

But how do we keep our hearts soft and guarded spiritually, which is the most important of all?

The scriptures tell us that God knows the thoughts and motives of our heart. There’s no way to hide that from God.

In II Chronicles 36:3 we read that Zedekiah, who was only 21 years old when he became king and ruled Jerusalem, became stiffnecked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the LORD. Also the Apostle Paul was speaking to the Romans (8:5) about their stubbornness and unrepentant hearts.

Proverbs 16:2 “All of man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.”

Oh wow…..I don’t want to have an unrepentant heart, do you? I know my sins that are ever before me, but I also know that God has promised to forgive my sins through the shed blood of Christ when I have a repentant heart.

THIS IS HOW YOU GUARD YOUR HEART!
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I have Psalm 139:23 written on a card and taped to my bathroom mirror, so as I am “prettying” my hair and face, (which takes a little longer these days!) I am reminded that what’s really important is what is on the inside. So I ask God to search my heart and see if there is any offensive way in me, and to lead me in the way everlasting. Most of the time I need to make an attitude adjustment!

When you stay in fellowship with God you have peace that there will be “no fear of bad news and your heart will be steadfast because you trust in the LORD”.
(Psalm 112:7)

Philippians 4:7 says, “the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will
guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

So….obviously our minds are connected to the attitude of our hearts.

HOW DO WE GUARD OUR MINDS?

Well, my years of life experience says….be careful who you hang-out with, what you see and what you hear. Notice how your thought processes change little by little, and make an effort to rein in those thoughts and motives that in time will begin to harden your spiritual heart.

Jesus said, “where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”
(Matthew 6:2)

Stay in the Word of God that pierces the heart with truth. Truth hurts sometimes….but that’s OK because the final outcome is a beautiful, repentant, soft hearted you.

NOW, THAT’S A HAPPY HEART!!!

So….here’s to our hearts. May they keep receptive to the plan of God for our lives…GUARDED by our desire to be all that He has called us to be.

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