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The Writing Life

 

Ps45-1--coffee and Bible

 My heart overflows with a good theme; 
I address my verses to the King; 

my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

—Psalm 45:1

 Over the past few of weeks I have been doing background work on a new teaching devotional series. This week I need to focus on writing the first piece of the series, so I’ve prepared and scheduled a few posts to keep you busy while I’m otherwise engaged.

There will be lots of coffee and Bible time this week, both of which always serve me well! And yes, I am being purposely vague about the topic of this upcoming series because I want to surprise you. I hope you like surprises as much as I do! 

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Beneath His Wings

Thankful_Thursdays

On this Thankful Thursday, I once again have the delightful privilege of showing you more of Pat Knight’s writing. Thank you, Pat, for sharing your heart with us!

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Beneath His Wings

By Patricia Knight

Ps57-1

The common loon commands a constant and interesting presence on our lake waters in Maine for three seasons during the year. The loon is a large, pre-historic bird whose back sports a stunning polka dotted and striped white pattern superimposed on black feathers.  In the summertime as soon as the chick’s eggs hatch, they leave the comfort of the land nest for a life-long existence on water. The brown, fluffy young are initially the size of a ping-pong ball and equally as buoyant. In the early stages of life the loon chick spends quality time riding on its mother’s back. As the baby loon nestles into the feathers, the mother enfolds it beneath her wings, providing rest from constant swimming, warmth from her body heat, and protection from prey.

The concept of a mother bird providing comfort beneath her wings is used as a metaphor to describe our heavenly Father’s power and protection.  “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed” (Psalm 57:1) .What a beautiful, comforting picture of God’s great strength, where we hide for protection, unencumbered by the cares of this world.  God provides us with strength during a trial, not immunity that spares it from happening, so that His glory and provisions are exalted.

Phil-4-19

There is no time limit for God’s protection, but simply stated, “Until the disaster has passed.”  Some tragedies consume a relatively short span of time while others require that we depend upon God’s strength and power as He fights our foes for years. God is gracious; His love and comfort are limitless. He will never leave His children to their own resources.  If an animal instinctively cares for her young, surely our Creator will keep His promise to provide His children’s needs. “And, God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

There are many instances when we crave a comforting hug or a reassuring promise.  We may be emotionally needy as we navigate adversity, perhaps when dealing with attack or loss issues. Equipped with our own energies, we are unable to kindle hope.  It may be our reaction to either withdraw from human contact or to act out our emotions with unusual aggression. God is willing to meet our needs with His marvelous grace and love, allowing us to relax in His exceptional, shielding care.

“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 63:7). It is difficult to sing when consumed with fear. Only when our needs are met and threats diminished are we able to relax and express our joy in song. Because God assumes our anxieties, we can sing with confidence that He will supply our inner peace, as He hides us from all danger.

After curing a slave girl possessed of an evil spirit, the Apostle Paul and Silas felt the full fury of her owners who could no longer profit from her fortune-telling abilities.  A crowd was incited, marketplace justice was served, and the men were stripped and beaten, then thrown in jail. The jailor fastened the men’s feet in stocks for extra security. Bloodied and in pain, sitting in a dark, damp dungeon, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God at midnight, naturally attracting the attention of the other prisoners.  “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose” (Acts 16:25-26).

Acts16-25-26

Traditionally, if a prisoner escaped, the life of the jailor or a guard was demanded in his place. For the jailer to take his own life would shorten his personal humiliation for the act occurring on his watch. Paul stopped the jailor just before he fell on his sword, assuring him that all the prisoners were still accounted for.

As a result, the jailor remembered hearing that Paul and Silas were preachers. With the earthquake and his own impending death so close, he wanted to know about the way of salvation. Paul and Silas were given the opportunity to explain the good news of the Gospel to the jailor and his family. Immediately, they were all baptized. In turn, the jailor washed the men’s wounds and fed them a meal in his house.

In order to sing under such strained and pained circumstances, Paul and Silas had to be confident that God was in control of their lives. They had vision and trust beyond their current situation. This wasn’t Paul’s first encounter with harrowing injustice.  He had been thrown in jail before and then miraculously released. At another time he was beaten and left for dead.  It was Paul who admitted, “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”(Philippians 4:11). He had personally experienced the comfort of God’s protective wings.

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How do we react in stressful situations? Do we immediately call on God, who promises to shield us beneath the protection of His massive wings? The birds of the world and their offspring instinctively provide the object lesson for our protective relationship with our Lord. Call on Him in your time of need and you will find His wings open wide, waiting for you to claim a sheltering refuge there for as long as necessary.

What reassurance, to be hugged by God!

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Surrounded With Joy

Joy

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The Great I AM

I-AM-Ex3-14

God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,
    the name you shall call me
    from generation to generation. 

—Exodus 3:12-15

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I love to write about God as the great I AM. Today I read this article and know you will enjoy it as much as I did. 

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What did Jesus mean when He said ‘I AM’?

Jesus, in response to the Pharisees’ question “Who do you think you are?” said “‘Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.’‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’

Read morehttp://www.gotquestions.org/I-AM.html

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AnnaSmile

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Happy Happy Joy Joy

Happy Sunday!

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Have you ever noticed how many Scripture passages there are about being happy and full of joy? On this Happy Sunday I’d like to share some of those with you, to remind all of us of the immense happiness and joy we have in Jesus Christ.

Happy

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  • Psalm 63:7You have helped me, and I sing happy songs in the shadow of your wings.
  • Psalm 81:1Be happy and shout to God who makes us strong! Shout praises to the God of Jacob.
  • Psalm 89:16We are happy all day because of you, and your saving power brings honor to us.
  • Psalm 98:3-5God has been faithful in his love for Israel, and his saving power is seen everywhere on earth. Tell everyone on this earth to sing happy songs in praise of the LORD. Make music for him on harps. Play beautiful melodies!

Joy

Ps5-11

  • Psalm 5:11But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.
  • Psalm 16:11You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
  • Psalm 32:11Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.
  • Psalm 47:1Clap your hands, all peoples; shout to God with the voice of joy.

This is the praise song that I often sing to the Lord each night just before I go to sleep. It is based on Psalm 5:11:

I-Love-You-Lord…..

How about you, Beloved? What songs of praise for our Savior and Lord Jesus fill your heart to overflowing?

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AnnaSmile

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Seek His Face Always

LookToTheLord-Ps105-4

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.

Remember the wonders he has done,
    his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
    his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
He is the Lord our God;
    his judgments are in all the earth.
—Psalm 105:1-7

AnnaSmile

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Choose to Enjoy

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How about you, Beloved?

AnnaSmile

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

The other day I got to thinking about Valentine’s Day and how it’s supposed to be all about love. 1 John 4:19 immediately came to mind, and I knew this was to be my message about  love … God’s immense love … for us.

1John4-19

The Dimensions of God’s Love

We love because he first loved us. —1 John 4:19

We have all been told how much God loves us. That fact is unquestionable, especially as we look around and see the evidence of His love in all of His creation. God’s love for us can be described as multi-dimensional, so let’s look at the different ways God loves us—the Breadth, Depth, Height and Length of His love—by examining the universe He created.

Breadth

When a man and a woman get married, they usually exchange wedding bands. If you look closely at a wedding band, you cannot see where it begins or where it ends. This circle of metal is therefore used as a symbol of unending love between husband and wife. In the same way, a circle represents eternity.

That is how I think of God’s all-encompassing love for us. I visualize the circle that His arms form to surround the earth. This thought both amazes and comforts me. I am amazed because it shows how big God is. I can’t imagine any human who can “hug” the whole world. And I am also comforted because I enjoy being hugged. But the true illustration of the breadth of God’s love is found in Scripture:

ByGrace…because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by faith [we] have been saved. —Ephesians 2:4-5

He loved us “even when we were dead in transgressions.” What a truly astonishing thing!

Eternity is a difficult concept for us to understand, but God has it all under control. He loves us so much that He can’t stand the thought of being apart from us, so He has provided us with a way to spend eternity with Him:

John3-16--NumbersOfHope

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. —John 3:16

The breadth of God’s love for us is that huge. He made sure that we have a way to be with Him forever—in other words, for eternity. Trying to figure out what eternity could be like is the same as trying to count all the stars in the sky. It is impossible!

I like to imagine what it will be like to spend the rest of eternity with God, but I’m sure my limited picture of heaven falls far short of the truth. All I know for sure is that:

John1-12

“…to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. —John 1:12

Depth

The Grand Canyon ranges in height from 9,000 feet at the North Rim all the way down to 2,400 feet at the Colorado River. Those of us here in the Southwest know that there are no easy ways to get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. In fact, portions of the Colorado River are barely visible from above because of the depth of the canyon. Now that’s what I call deep, but it is still measurable.

We read in Romans that:

Romans5-8

…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we now have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! —Romans 5:8-10

The love God has for us is so deep that it is immeasurable. It is impossible for me to imagine something that cannot be measured. Everything that surrounds us can somehow be measured, whether by weight or volume. But not God’s love. It is bottomless and keeps going on and on to infinity. Even though we don’t deserve any of it, He loves us that much anyway.

We hear a lot these days about “unconditional love.” The truth is that the only true, unconditional love we will ever receive is from God, Who loves us with a pure love found nowhere else. How better to explain God’s love for us in spite of all our sins and shortcomings? The fact that God loves me in spite of myself is the ultimate proof of the depth of His love.

Height

Have you read about those who have succeeded in climbing Mount Everest? This 29,035-foot mountain range is the highest in the world and the most difficult to climb. There are many people who attempt this climb more than once in the hopes of finally being able to complete the challenge of making it to the summit.

I cannot imagine being at a point 29,035 feet above sea level. That is so high that one’s breathing becomes quite labored and therefore requires extra oxygen. But that is still not as high as the heavens. In Ephesians, Paul gives us a taste of what it will be like when we’re in heaven:

Eph2-6

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. —Ephesians 2:6

There is no way we could ever understand the height of such “heavenly realms.”

I love knowing that those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord will be up in heaven with God forever, seated with Him and serving Him in all His honor and glory. Even though we’ll be higher than we’ve ever been, we will not suffer the usual effects of high altitude such as headaches, nosebleeds or labored breathing. God has made sure of that. I believe that heaven will be the most comfortable place ever!

Col3-1-4

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. —Colossians 3:1-3

Length

It is estimated that right now the universe is at least 46 billion light years in radius. My puny human mind cannot comprehend such a measurement. Look up at the billions of stars in the night sky and then try to understand the lengths to which God will go for us. He could have designed just an adequate place for us to live, but did He? No. He chose to give us a wonderful universe filled with beautiful planets and stars. It stretches on and on, just like His immense love for us.

The daytime sky and the night sky are the same, yet very different. During the day we cannot see the stars because of the light of the sun. At night, the stars and moon illuminate the dark sky. When we are in heaven, things will be greatly changed.

NASB_Revelation_22-5

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. —Revelation 22:5

No more night? Really? What will that be like? And imagine not needing a lamp to read a book.

Being part of such an exciting eternity with God requires only this:

  • recognize that we are sinners and be truly sorry for our sins
  • believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and our Savior
  • acknowledge that He died on the cross at Calvary and that His death paid the penalty for our sins
  • and trust that He rose from the dead on our behalf so that we might live forever with Him—and all because of the length of God’s love for us.

1Tim1-15-17

Paul related this aspect to Timothy:

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. —1 Timothy 1:16

His “unlimited patience.” How I love those words! They remind me that even though I so often lose patience with the things and people in my life—and myself—God never loses patience with me. His patience is eternal!

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. —1 Timothy 1:17

Beloved, on yet another Valentine’s Day I am so glad we have a God Who shows His immense love for us in so many ways, in spite of our sinful selves! How amazing is that?

AnnaSmile
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How to Be Happy [Repost from 4-15-2012]

A blast from the past on this . . .

HAPPY SUNDAY!

On this Happy Sunday, I’d like to share what I’ve found about this thing called happiness.

The dictionary defines happy as:

  • delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing
  • characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy
  • favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky
  • in high spirits
  • satisfied

Here are some synonyms that also describe being happy:

  • blessed
  • cheerful
  • content
  • delighted
  • glad
  • joyful
  • peaceful
  • upbeat

On the other hand, here are a few words that describe what happy is not:

  • depressed
  • discouraged
  • dissatisfied
  • miserable
  • sad
  • sorrowful

What struck me most reading through all of this were the words satisfied and peaceful—two wonderful words describing how one can most times lead to the other. If we’re satisfied with what we have and about our life in general, we feel peaceful about it —that “peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

I have found that being truly happy does not depend on our circumstances. Consider this: no one’s life is perfect. We all struggle with something in our lives, oftentimes several somethings all at the same time. All of these somethings come with bad and good. Let me explain with a very personal example.

I struggle every single day with several chronic illnesses, but the worst of my health issues these days are debilitating migraines. I start each day with a migraine and a lot of the time it subsides for two to three hours (sometimes more on a really good day) before it returns around dinner time to reclaim me as its unwilling victim.

These migraines impact every single aspect of my life. I have had to cancel or postpone countless appointments, trips and gatherings with friends and family. I very often have to turn down my sweet hubby’s invitations to go out with him for a meal or a motorcycle ride.

Those are my bad somethings.

I used to have the “poor me” attitude until God worked in me to remind me that nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37) with Him in my life. It has only been through my utter dependence on Him and my faith in Him as my constant Comforter that I have finally realized the good that has come from this season in my life. I now have a more complete reliance on Him for everything. There is also the realization that my pain-filled existence on this earth is nothing compared to the joy that awaits me in heaven. Adding to these is the awareness that God is teaching me new things about myself through these experiences every single day.

Those are the good parts of my bad somethings.

Wow. Can you see how much more there is to the good parts? The good parts are the positive results of those negative somethings. I can honestly say that in all this I have found that peace of God that transcends all understanding!

Here are a few great quotes I found about being happy:

  • “There are two ways of being happy: We must either diminish our wants or augment our means – either may do – the result is the same and it is for each man to decide for himself and to do that which happens to be easier. —Benjamin Franklin
  • “He who is of calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden.” —Plato
  • “The talent for being happy is appreciating and liking what you have, instead of what you don’t have.” —Woody Allen

Finally, here’s some of what the Bible has to say about being happy:

  • “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” —Proverbs 15:13
  • “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. “—Ecclesiastes 3:11-13
  • “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.”  —Ecclesiastes 7:14
  • Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”  —James 5:13

Singing songs of praise and thanksgiving…

AnnaSmile

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God is Contagious

Sunday

My good friend, Pat Knight, sent me this the other day and I knew right away I had to share it with you!

contagious

God is Contagious

 “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:30).

Many occurrences in life have the capacity for contagion or communicability.  While contagion may designate a negative experience as with the spread of a disease, positive applications are contagious enthusiasm or humor.  An influence that spreads quickly among the populace, as a new philosophy, could also be classified as contagious. The rapid growth of the Nazi movement is a poignant example.

During Jesus’ three years of ministering on earth, He attracted an exceptionally diverse following of people who were captivated by His authority over the elements of nature and the ruling religions of the day.  His followers were equally as attracted to His teachings of grace and forgiveness.  They were fascinated by Jesus’ universal love and mercy.  Jesus accepted everyone–the young, the aged, the infirmed, and the healthy.  He even displayed love for His enemies.  

ContagiousLoveJesus’ love was contagious, attracting crowds wherever He traveled.  In His presence, people felt complete. The crippled, the blind, and the demon-possessed formed unending human lines as they sought His healing powers.  Jesus zealously communicated His passion to a world of needy people.  The Lord Jesus created a contagious faith!

The Christian faith has grown rapidly during the past two thousand years since Jesus walked this earth.  When Christians gather to worship, they create a contagious atmosphere with singing and praying in one accord.  During times of religious persecution, Christianity has gained strength and grown in significantly larger numbers.

From God’s nature of pure love and holiness, we are naturally drawn to worship Him.  We are His creation, His workmanship; created in His own image. Therefore, we become family; brothers and sisters in Christ.  When we gather, exuberance is expressed from worshipping among the family of God.

Lev19-2-holy-god

One who believes in God and claims Him as Lord of His life, invites Jesus to live in his heart.  God hears and answers prayer, as well as providing guidance and protection in all areas of our lives.  As a result we yearn to worship and serve Him, creating a spiritual vitality.  God consistently proves His faithfulness to each of us.  We respond to His love and trustworthiness with our most ardent worship. 

Do you project a passionate faith in God, communicating His love and grace to others?  Do you convey a profound, palpable trust in your Lord?  If so, then perhaps you would be interested in developing a contagious faith, proliferating God’s love wherever you go.  You have the capacity to create a dynamic spiritual epidemic of worldwide proportions!

Pat, thank you so much for allowing me to share your writing with my readers!

AnnaSmile

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