Thursday, May 26, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...may we never forget the sacrifice!

As we enter the weekend that we all know as Memorial weekend, I thought I would be amiss if I did not dedicate this THANKFUL THURSDAY to all those who have served, labored and sacrificed for our freedoms.

I have always had the most utmost respect for the stars and stripes, but to be honest with you, I have never looked at the American Flag the same since my son served our country with the Air Force. I can barely stand and sing the national anthem without tears coming to my eyes. In fact, it even angers me when I see someone talking during the anthem being sung at ballgames. I wonder to myself, "how dare them forget what has been sacrificed for them!"

On Memorial Day, I salute and remember all those men and women who have fought a good fight for our freedom. May we also, at this time, remember those who have fought the good fight for our spiritual freedoms...the men and women who have been martyred for their faith. I wonder how many of us even think about how some of the first Christian Martyrs were tortured..

On a stake or a cross, martyrs were suspended by one foot, or both feet, they were nailed to a cross with their head downwards, they were hung up by both arms with heavy weights attached to their feet. Christian Women Martyrs were suspended by their hair, some Martyrs were suspended by both feet with stones attached to their feet. The torturous list goes on and on. (Encyclopedia of Christian Martyrs) All because they were willing to sacrifice their lives for their faith in Jesus Christ!

The book FOXES BOOK OF MARTYRS reveals some of the personal stories of these Martyrs. Just like the soldiers who have a heart of sacrifice, these Martyrs revealed what a sacrificial heart for their faith might take...

"So long as there is breath in my body, I will never deny my Lord Christ and His known truth. God's will be done in me." -Dr. Ridley (A Bishop Martyred for his faith in year 1555)

A short time later, Ridley along with Bishop Latimer were fastened to a stake, nailed in place and gunpowder placed around their necks. Fire kindling was placed around them including at their feet. When Latimer saw this, he said...

"Be of good cheer, Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day, by God's grace, light up such a candle in England, as I trust, will never be put out."

Wow. What an amazing attitude to have at such a moment. When the front line calls, a soldier answers. Not just for our freedom but for our faith as well.

"They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. they put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. 'Hail,, king of the Jews!' they said. They spat on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again. After they had mocked Him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him. Then they led Him away to crucify Him." (From the book of Matthew)

I am so thankful for those that have fought the good fight so courageously! May we never forget their sacrifice...the sacrifice of the soldiers, the martyrs and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ!

Have a safe Memorial Day weekend and before you get out the charcoal and hot dogs...join your grateful heart with ours and post your TT post in Mr. Linky below. Next week, find THANKFUL THURSDAY over at GRACE ALONE , Iris will be our hostess for the month of June.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A PIECE OF MY HEART...what is your motive?

Everything matters to God!
Everything that we speak. Everything that we do and everything that we think. It all matters to God! When others may not see our heart, God always does. God never misses a moment of our life. God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. There is nothing that slips His view.

Keeping that in mind, I have to wonder why do we do the things that we do? What is our motive for acting the way we do or saying the things that we say.

Sometimes we speak before we should. Our motive could be anger or frustration.
Sometimes we act ungodly. Our motive could be jealousy or spiritual immaturity.

The enemy likes to put thoughts in our mind that we have a right to lash out. To even the score. And we fall for that lie and before we know it, our actions, our words and our thoughts have definite purpose. Except now our motive turns ungodly.

Whatever we do, whether it is with our words or our deeds, it should ALL be done under the authority of Jesus. Our conversations are vital to fulfilling the Great Commission. Our words should be lifting one another up, encouraging, exhorting one another not tearing down or judging. Our conduct is also of great importance to carry out the Great Commandment.

MATTHEW 22:37-39 "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." (38) This is the first and great commandment. (39) And the second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

As you express love (or discord) with others, you also express it to God.

So what motivates you to do the things that you do? You either find fault with your brother or you put him first..are your motives pure?

Our motives are almost as important as what we do. We must speak and serve as a representative of Jesus Christ. We may be the only Jesus people see. Pour yourself into the lives of those seeking, mentor them, strengthen them and most importantly love them unconditionally. What you say and do will either draw people to Christ or repel them from Christ.

COLOSSIANS 3:17 "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

I can't think of any better way to give thanks to God for His love than to share His love with others with our words and our actions. Now that is a good motive that will propel us to fulfill the Great Commandment!

and this has been a piece of my heart;

Monday, May 23, 2011

Is it possible for the church to be asleep?

If you are reading this today, then it is safe to say that the world did not come to an end this past weekend. All weekend long, the buzz was all about Harold Camping's prediction that the world would come to an end Saturday, May 21st. As I read down thru my facebook newsfeed all day Saturday, people were poking fun at Campings prediction.

As much as I believe his prediction was ludicrous, I find myself just alittle bit concerned about the attention that he is getting over this unfounded prediction. Attention seems to be on the fact that this man not once, but now twice has predicted the end time, both times getting it wrong. Harold Camping authored the book, "1994", where his first prediction came to the public eye about how the world would come to an end. When his prediction did not happen back in 1994 he was asked why it did not come true. "It didn't come true because of a mathematical error." He was reported just a month ago telling the Associated Press, "I'm not embarrassed about it. It was just the fact that it was premature."

What is sad to me, is that people seemingly view the world coming to an end as a joke or a hoax thanks to Campings. But it is not a hoax or a joke at all! The world as we know it WILL come to an end one day. But nobody knows the day or the hour. NO ONE!

MATTHEW 24:36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." (Jesus speaking)

Harold Camping could have had it right, it could have happened on May 21st. Or May 22nd. Or next week or next month. It could be in 10 years. The point really isn't WHAT day it will happen as much as it is that it WILL happen! And we must be ready at all times.

It reminds me of the time that our son was overseas serving our country. I will never forget the feeling I had when he was returning home after spending a year in South Korea. I longed to see his face, and could barely stand the wait for his return. I stood at the door, watching for his arrival. We waited and waited. The phone ringing could not take me away from the door watching for him. The television, the dirty dishes in the sink, NOTHING could take my eyes off of looking for my son to return home.

It is with that kind of yearning, and dedication that we must be watching for the return of our Father.

MARK 13:35- 37 "Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming - in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning, (36) lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. (37) And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"

If we are not watching, we may be found asleep. I wonder..."is it possible for the church to be asleep?" We are in the last days and there is no time to be asleep. We must not take our eyes off of God and we must not be willing to let anyone be left behind!

 Is it possible that we as Christians can be caught up in petty disagreements and unresolved differences that we miss out on being caught up in the air? Is it possible that we lose sight of how Gods love and grace covered us when we don't extend love and grace to others? The harvest is plenty, but workers are few. Not only should we be watching in these final days, but we must be ready and never tire of working!

The return of Jesus is no joke. It is no hoax. It could be today or it could be tomorrow, but not everyone is ready. We must not be found asleep, but be watching and working until He comes!

People get ready...Jesus is coming!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...He stands in the fire!

I have often given thought to what I would do if my house caught on fire. What would I try to save before I rushed out of the burning building. Would I try to grab my pictures? My jewelry? The birth certificates? What is so precious to me that I would not want to lose it in the burning flames?

Of course, all of those things would be important to grab, but if there was limited time to get out of the flames, I would be sure that my children and my husband were out safely. The pictures and other important things to me would easily fade from my thoughts until I knew my loved ones were safe from the fire. I would even go so far as to say that I would remain in the burning house until they were all out safely. I love them that much, that I would risk being burned or even dying to save them.

When I think about standing in the fire, I always think about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The story of the 3 men thrown into the fire pit. As the guards laughed and tormented them, they realized that the 3 men were not alone in the raging fire. They spotted a 4th man in the fire. Of course, you and I know that the 4th man was God.

Isn't it just like God to stand in the fire with us?

Of course, you and I may not literally stand in the flames of fire, but sometimes trials and tribulations feel like a consuming fire. As the heat gets turned up and the flames get higher and higher, we can always look and know that God will be standing in the midst of the fire with us. He would never allow His children to go thru the flames alone.

Moses understood about what it was like to go thru the fire. God saw Moses thru alot of battles, and thru it all, God remained. It was the one constant thing that Moses could depend upon. God's strength. His Character. His power and most importantly His promise!

"Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." - Exodus 14:13-14

Today on THANKFUL THURSDAY, I am thankful for the fire!

That's right! You heard me correctly...

I am thankful for the flames because it is through the fire that I depend upon God the most and knowing that He is standing in the flames with me encourages me and strengthens me and reminds me of His promise...He will never leave me nor forsake me!

What are you thankful for today? Share your grateful heart with us by linking up below! Happy TT!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A PIECE OF MY HEART...wing or weight

Recently, I read about a great concert violinist who was asked what her secret was for her great performances. She answered, "Planned  neglect." She further explained that anything that would keep her from practicing and playing well must be neglected.

Perhaps, some of us could use some planned neglect in our lives. Sometimes we have more clutter and junk that stands in our way of doing things that God wants us to do.

 Have you ever tried to move? It doesn't matter if you lived somewhere one year or ten years, we all accumulate junk along the way. The same is true in our spiritual lives. Periodically, it is good to clean house and get rid of those things that need to be neglected so we can be all that we can be for Him.

HEBREWS 12:1 "Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."

Did you notice a distinction in that above referenced passage? Not only are we to lay aside the sin but also the weights that hinder our progress.

Sin is easily recognized when it is blatant. Sexual sins, stealing, lying, murder. But what about those things that weigh us down that aren't always recognized as sin such as gossiping, backbiting, name calling, slander, prejudice. Such things can certainly hinder us, not only in our relationships with others but most definitely in our relationship with God.

When it comes to "planned neglect", I wonder if we can neglect some things that are keeping us from God? Are the things and the people that you are associated with a "wing" or a "weight"? Do they bring you closer to God or further from Him?

It may be time to strip away some weight in our life!

and this has been a piece of my heart;

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...The trace of His hand!

Do you remember when you were younger, taking a piece of paper and tracing your hand? It always amazed me how much bigger my hand appeared when I traced it on the paper.

I wonder if we could trace God's hand (literally) how big it would appear. Sometimes we lose sight of how BIG God's hand is when we take our eyes off of Him. It is easy to focus on our situation, especially our problems and lose sight of how God is at work in our lives. I was reminded of this recently when a situation seemed hopeless to us. We had a hard time to see God's hand at all, but with faith and trust, we began to see exactly how God's hand was in our situation the entire time.

It is always awesome to look back at what we have come thru and see exactly how the hand of God had been there all along. I know sometimes when we are going thru the fire, it is difficult to see it, but the hand of God is there all along. You can almost go back and trace His hand and when you do, you will be amazed at how BIG His hand truly is!

JEREMIAH 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Today on THANKFUL THURSDAY, I am grateful for the Hand of God that is always leading and guiding me, even when I can't see it! What are you thankful for today? Please share with us your TT post by linking up below!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

LACED WITH GRACE... spiders and snakes!

Today I have shared a devotion with the readers of LACED WITH GRACE entitled "Spiders and Snakes"...

Jim Stafford had a song many years ago called Spiders and Snakes. One line in the song went like this…”I don’t like spiders and snakes and that aint what it takes to love me.” I just never could figure out why anyone would put the word “love” in the same sentence as the words “spiders” and “snakes”. I don’t LIKE either one of them, let alone LOVE them! Most people feel the same way I do.
One evening I was sitting in the family room with my son when we heard a death-like scream come from the bathroom. My young daughter was taking her evening bath when she began screaming at the top of her lungs. You know the kind of scream I am talking about…the kind that sends goosebumps up and down your spine for you know something horrific has happened. I began to run down the hallway with my son at my heels. As I got to the bathroom, I found her ...

CLICK HERE to read the entire post!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...everyone has a Mother!

I am so thrilled to be hosting THANKFUL THURSDAY this month and hope that you will join your grateful heart with ours by sharing your post of thanks!
As we are fast approaching a very special day this Sunday, I thought it would be quite fitting to dedicate this TT to our Mothers as we celebrate Mothers Day! As I was thinking about this special day set aside to honor our mothers, I couldn't help to think about how everyone has a mother. No matter if your mom is still alive or not, or whether your relationship is close or if it is strained, the truth is that each of us would not be here today without a mother!

Mothers give alot.
They give time. Love. Hugs. Kisses. Understanding. A listening ear. Mothers give good advice. They give us discipline. They cook us our favorite foods. They cry with us. They laugh with us and they pray with us. They are proud of us, admire us, stand up for us and believe in us.

We all owe much to our mothers, in fact, we owe our lives to them! Even Jesus had a mother. Mary was the mother of all mothers. How sacrificial was her love to birth her baby in a barn, with straw and animals all around her. There was no birthing room. No ice to chew down on. No epidurals.
LUKE 2:6,7 "While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, (7) and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn for them."

The mother of the King of Jews had no special treatment, but that was ok for her. Seems to me that mothers have since been following Mary's footsteps when it comes to giving up and sacrificing for their children.

I know my own mother sacrificed alot for me and my two brothers. She was a single mom raising 3 kids. Things were not always easy for her, but she did her best. She gave alot to us, but the best thing that she gave was life! Without her, I would not be here today.

I am thankful for my mom and thankful that she chose life!

Happy Mothers Day Mom and Happy Mothers Day to all of you beautiful women who someone calls "Mom"!

Link up your TT post below in Mr. Linky. We are happy to hear your grateful heart today!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A PIECE OF MY HEART...Look, I brought my suitcase!

The threat of the levee breaking has many of us concerned here in the south. Our weather has been wet, wild and crazy these days. Tornadoes, thunderstorms and inches and inches of rain have left us with flooding streets and the fear of our levee breaking. Some people close to the levee have already been evacuated.

Of course, if this would happen, much of our city would be washed away. I'm not sure how much would be salvaged, certainly I wonder if our home would make it thru such devastation. Alot of people for days have been panicky about it. They have their cars loaded with suitcases already for a quick get away. We have not gone to that extreme yet. My husband has been reassuring me that we will be alright. He isn't a worry wart and is not usually bothered by stuff until it is time to be worried.

I think he is starting to get worried.

Tonight, very calmly, he suggested that I get a suitcase packed with a change of clothes and our important papers such as our social security cards and a few important pictures packed ...just in case!


Now, he has me thinking....what would I need to pack? If there is a possibility that our home will be washed away, how is it possible to put 30 years of "important" stuff into a suitcase? What will I pack? What will be left behind?

This reminded me of something that I read about the ancient Egyptians. They had a belief that in the afterlife they would continue their occupation as on earth. So the ancient Egyptians would be buried with everything they needed for their occupation. Also, their tombs contained a change of clothes and a supply of food.

Can you imagine what funerals would be like today if we had that same custom?

Buried with me would be my laptop computer, my cell phone and my debit card, along with a box of fruit loops and plenty of Dr. Pepper. Somehow, I just don't think that when we get to heaven that our first words will be..."Look, I brought my suitcase Lord!"

We may need a suitcase full of treasures to ride out this flood, but I promise you no treasures filled in a suitcase will be needed in heaven. We will have no need for any of it. In heaven, God will supply everything we are need of. We will no longer hunger or thirst for anything:

REVELATION 7:16 "They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat."

Christ has already gone to prepare a place for us:

JOHN 14:2 "In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you."

I'm pretty sure that this place He has prepared is much better than any place we have ever seen or imagined about here on earth. And the best thing is that no luggage is needed!

Make sure your travel papers are in order..."for no one gets to the Father except thru His Son." (John 14:6)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Every cloud has a silver lining!

Boy, around here, clouds have become a natural thing. The south has been hit with some wet and wild weather in the last week. Last week we got hit by tornadoes and a monsoon and now today it is raining, raining and raining! We have gotten so much rain that streets are flooded. School was canceled today because of flooding. Our Walmart is closed due to flooding. Its crazy...I keep looking to the sky to find a glimpse of the sun, but all I see are the dark clouds.

I always heard the saying, "Every cloud has a silver lining", I have been looking for the silver lining this week but I just don't see anything but darkness in the clouds in the sky. But that saying is not talking about clouds literally in the sky, but it is talking about the dark clouds that fester up in our lives. It basically means that we should never feel hopeless because difficult times always lead to better days.

JEREMIAH  29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."

So many times in life, when difficulties come, it feels like a dark cloud has moved over our residence and wherever we go, the dark cloud travels with us. It is difficult to see anything except that dark cloud and the difficult situation that we are in. But the amazing thing about clouds is this, no matter if the cloud is white and fluffy or if the cloud is dark, God is ALWAYS in the cloud. When the cloud moves, God moves with it. Often times, we can't see Him or even feel Him but there is no doubt that He is there.

One thing I have learned this past week is that sometimes we have to go thru some dark clouds before we can see the sunshine again. But one thing is for sure...the sun will come back out again and when it does, it will dry up all the rain.

The same thing is true of the dark clouds in our life. Sometimes before we get to the good stuff, we have to go through some bad stuff. I never want to regret the difficult times in my past for it is what makes me what I am today. I am stronger. Wiser. A better person. More faithful. More confident. This is the silver lining that comes from the dark clouds in my life.

Are you under a dark cloud right now?

Hang on, your silver lining is coming. The dark clouds won't linger for long, before you know it, the SON will be shining again!