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April 25, 2021

The last few months have been a blur of activity.  If I do not have my daily time with Jesus I can start to feel overwhelmed.  There are moments where I have to slow down and tell myself to breath.  I then remind myself there is no need to worry or be anxious, for I serve a faithful God who loves me.  David wrote in Psalm 116:7 “Be at peace again, my soul, because the Lord has been good to you.”  These words remind me that God is my only source of peace.  As I begin to recall the many moments of His faithfulness, my heart and mind relax and rest.  Only then can I hear Him saying, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

April 18, 2021

I struggled with severe anxiety when I was in my early twenties.  It reached a point where I was losing my reflex to swallow and dropped down to 89 pounds.  I will never forget the day a Dr told me to limit stress, or I would be dead by the end of the year.  Talk about a wake-up call!  I heeded his advice, moved to Ohio to be with my family, and found my way to God.  I stood upon 2 Timothy 1:7 “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.”  As months went by I discovered when I am strong spiritually I am strong mentally.  From the inside out I was changed and empowered by His Word and His Spirit.  If God could help me, He can help you too.  Sweet peace is ours when we learn fear has no power in the presence of His love. 

April 11, 2021

Each day is a gift from God however each day is different.  Some are easy, some are hard.  When we find ourselves stressed and struggling we have a wonderful opportunity to tap into His grace. 2 Corinthians 12:9 reminds us His “grace is sufficient” for us. What exactly does this mean?  For me it is a reminder that our strength has limits.  My Mom has a full-time job taking care of my Dad.  Dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer is never easy, yet she never complains.  Neither does my brother and his family who lend a helping hand.  When I talk to my Mom she always says she couldn’t make it without Jesus.  To me she is a living example of His grace! She is an inspiration to us to live our life “empowered by God’s free-flowing grace, which is our true strength, found in the anointing of Jesus and our union with Him! (2 Timothy 2:1)

April 4, 2021

Easter is set aside for us to celebrate Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice and God’s power over death.  John 12:23 defines His death and resurrection as the hour for the Son of Man to be glorified.  We are grateful recipients of this new life found in Christ and we desire to daily honor Him.  One of the best ways we can glorify Jesus is by sharing the Gospel with others.  1 Corinthians 15:3-4 instructs us to pass on as of first importance: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day.”   There is no greater news than this! As Watchman Nee said: “Our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.” Today we glorify our Risen King by telling someone how they can receive God’s forgiveness and eternal life.

March 28, 2021

My family and I are in the middle of downsizing.  When I looked at all the stuff we had I became overwhelmed.  My husband reminded me we would work together and tackle one room at a time.  As we started decluttering we were surprised at some things we found.  There were items that were valuable to us, these we packed away to bring with us.  And then there were things that were broken and ended up being discarded.  This process is similar to the working of the Holy Spirit. When He moves into our lives He begins to shine His light in us one area at a time.  In 1 Corinthians 2:10 we learn “to us God revealed these things by His Spirit.”  The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to discover the gifts God has given us and He also reveals to us what we need to let go.  The Holy Spirit is always ready and available. 

March 21, 2021

The Gospel is full of good news that continues to impact the world.  God’s words full of life, hope and peace remain strong and steady.  Romans 1:16 declares the Gospel “is the power of God for salvation.”  Our spirit comes alive when our heart receives Him.   Joy fills us as we understand everything in His word is rightfully ours.  Without hesitation we follow Jesus’ command in Mark 16:15 to give the Gospel as we “go in the world and tell everyone the Good News.”  Then we are to guard the Gospel by learning it and living it.  Never be afraid to share the truth when someone distorts or dilutes the Gospel.  As Paul said in Philippians 1:16 “I am put here for the defense of the Gospel.”  Smith Wigglesworth taught these principle: read the Word of God, believe the Word of God, and act on the Word.  Yes, the Gospel is that good!

March 14, 2021

Recently we had a polar vortex hit our area, resulting in some frigid days.  Since I do not like cold weather I had to motivate myself to get up, get ready, and get going.  A little complaining, a warm cup of coffee, and my daily devotion prepared me for my scheduled activities.  Before I knew it, the day had flown by.  Have you ever had to motivate yourself to read the Bible or even go to church? Welcome to the club.  We all need to encourage ourselves to go and grow in God.  The Apostle Paul provided this reminder in 1 Corinthians 15:58: “So my dear brothers and sisters, stand strong. Do not let anything move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your work in the Lord is never wasted.”  Saying no to self, and yes to God, reaps wonderful rewards. 

March 7, 2021

Are you ready to change your old way of life with all its bad habits?  Then, I have good news for you!  Ephesians 4:23-24 says to “let the Spirit change your way of thinking and make you into a new person.”  The second you received Christ you received His Spirit.  Day by day, little by little, He is transforming you.  A person in need of multiple surgeries doesn’t have them all at once.  Instead a surgeon will do one at a time.  The Holy Spirit graciously works on us the same way.  2 Corinthians 3:18 reminds us “as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him.”  When you’re feeling frustrated at your progress, continue to hold unto Him.  As Billy Graham once said: “Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion - it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.

February 28, 2021

I have discovered something remarkable: when I’m praising God I’m not complaining.  As soon as my heart is focused on God my tongue begins to utter words of thanksgiving.  And when my mind is fixed on Him I am full of His peace.  In 1 Samuel 30:6 David became “greatly distressed” when he discovered the people wanted to kill him.  His response? “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”  No one is exempt from problems or discouragement.  We all face trials and tribulations.  Our response to these situations is totally up to us.  Complaining drains, praising God recharges.  The next time we are tempted to grumble, let us turn our eyes upon Jesus and declare: “I will praise the Lord at all times.  His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

 

February 21, 2021

Photoshop on social media affects us by altering the way we view ourselves.  That person drinking the perfect latte at a hip outdoor café in Paris may actually be sitting in their own living room drinking their own home brewed coffee.  The reality of the situation is this: what we see is not always a true representation.  Aware of this manipulation, we still find ourselves trying to measure up to these false images.  God is the only perfect, flawless being and He desires our affection and attention.  Everything we read about Him is pureness personified.  His Word reveals His character and conduct.  His Spirit guides and inspires us to be just like Him.  Once we realize He is the only One we should model our life after, we stop comparing and conforming to the world’s view.  What a blessing to follow the One who “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8)

February 14, 2021

On Valentine’s day we express our love and affection to our sweetheart.  However, the gifts we give have little value if we fail to spend time with those we love.  Matthew 6:21 reminds us that “where our treasure is, there our heart will be also.”  God loves us so much He gave us His only Son and He continues to love us by spending time with us.  In James 1:18 it is written, “He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all His creatures.”  In other words, we are His treasure and we have His heart.  The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 4:16: “We know how much God loves us because we have felt His love and because we believe Him when He tells us that He loves us dearly.”  Today enjoy the best Valentine gift you will ever receive: His love!

February 7, 2021

Our words are mighty.  Proverbs 18:21 reveals our words hold power of death and life.  Mark 11:23 shows the one who “believes what he says is going to take place, it will be done for him.”  With this truth in mind, let’s start paying attention to our words.  Frustrated when something goes wrong, we mutter, “I can’t catch a break.”  This statement appears harmless until we add, “and this is just the way I want it,” When we make a mistake, we scold ourselves and say, “I can’t do anything right.”  Now add, “and this is just the way I want it.”  Of course, we don’t want a life where everything goes wrong and we can’t do anything right.  So, before our negative words become a self-fulfilling prophecy, let’s replace them with God’s word: “His goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” and this is just the way I want it.

January 31, 2021

Have you ever been behind a distracted driver?  You know, the person too busy looking at their cell phone that they failed to notice the traffic light turned green.  Or how about the driver who is not paying attention to the car moving ahead in the drive through line.  Annoyed, we honk our horn to get their attention.  Unfortunately, we are guilty of being distracted when serving God.  When are eyes are off of Him we run the risk of not noticing when He moves.  1 Corinthians 7:35 encourages us, “to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.”  This may mean turning off the tv, scheduling some quiet time, and yes, putting down our phone.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can keep our eyes upon God and follow Him as He shows us how. 

January 24, 2021

We enter the first month of a new year with great optimism.  With renewed vigor we seek God’s face, ask for His wisdom, and apply His Word to our situation.  Life is great.  Until, that is, our faith is tested.  When the unexpected hits home, we have two choices.  Wait and trust, or rush and worry.  Proverbs 28:25 gives us this eye opener: “To make rash, hasty decisions show that you are not trusting the Lord.  But when you rely totally on God, you will still act carefully and prudently.”  With our mouth we say, “we trust God” but our actions could be screaming “He won’t come through”.  God reminds us in Psalm 46:10 to “be still and know that I am God.”  He would never ask us to do something we could not do.  So, the next time trouble arises, let us stand our ground and wait upon the Lord.

January 17, 2021

Work smarter, not harder is some of the best medical advice I’ve ever received.  I remember getting frustrated in the produce department a few months ago.  Due to pandemic I was wearing a mask in the store.  Several minutes after unsuccessfully opening the plastic bag for my green peppers, I asked God for help.  Suddenly the idea to wet my fingertips with the moisture from the produce sprayer popped into my mind.  I tried, it worked, problem solved.  Everyone enjoys a process that is easy and efficient.  In John 15:26 we learn the Holy Spirit is our helper.  He is by our side, able and available.  Unfortunately, we do not always participate with this partnership.  The times we try to work if out on our own leave us exhausted and exasperated.  The next time we encounter a problem, let us engage our Helper, and enjoy the benefits of His wisdom.

January 10, 2021

A tough life lesson we all learn is this: you cannot trust everybody.  Broken promises promote pessimism.  Media manipulation make us angry or afraid.  What should we believe and who should we trust?  God and His Word!  In Isaiah 8:12 we read: “Don’t believe their every conspiracy rumor. And don’t fear what they fear—don’t be moved or terrified.”  Our initial impulse to information may not always be the right one.  If what we hear or see makes us doubt God, then we need to pause and read His Word.  God is our hedge of protection (Psalm 139:5) and His Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16:13).  Watchman Nee said, “We need wisdom to know what comes from God and what comes from man.”  As we begin to walk through this year, let us declare Psalm 16:8 over our lives: “I am always aware of the Lord's presence; He is near, and nothing can shake me.”

January 3, 2021

A new year and a fresh start sparks hope in our hearts.  Exciting possibilities give us something to look forward to.  It reminds me of how I felt upon accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior.  My new life in Him filled me with “glorious, inexpressible joy” 1 Peter 1:8.  It’s as if I was really living for the first time.  As Billy Graham said, “When we come to Christ, we’re no longer the most important person in the world to us: Christ is.  Instead of living only for ourselves, we have a higher goal: to live for Jesus.”  Paul described the new birth in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  Live for Him and you will have the best year of your life!

December 27, 2020

Flabbergasted is my word of the year.  This pandemic stunned us with shutdowns and surprised us with stimulus checks.  We quickly learned to adjust to social distancing and adapt to face masks.  It was not always easy to remain positive and joyful.  Hebrews 13:15 said: “therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”  Jesus Himself helps us lift our praises to God.  When life is not always fair, or easy, there is a place in Him from which our praises flow freely.  These sacrifices of praises are powerful and precious.  God said in Psalm 50:23 “whoever offers thanks as a sacrifice honors Me.”  Let us wrap up this year, and enter the next, by offering the fruit of our lips to the One who is Worthy of our praise.

December 20, 2020

Great joy floods my heart whenever I think about Jesus.  The Word that became flesh (John 1:14) dwelt among us and saved us from our sins (Matthew 1:21).  He gives everlasting life to all who believe in Him (John 3:16).  He never grows tired or weary (Isaiah 40:28).  He gives us His peace (John 14:27) and has prepared a home for us in heaven (John 14:2).  No wonder the wise men “rejoiced with exceeding great joy” (Matthew 2:10) when they saw the star that led them to Jesus.  Despite the stress and difficulties of our day, spending time with Jesus brings us abundant joy.  Joy that radiates from us.  Joy that laughs in the face of adversity.  Joy that strengthens our faith.  Today, and every day, let us sing with joyful hearts, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come” and He reigns forevermore!

December 13, 2020

I enjoy watching movies.  My top picks are thrillers and suspense.  I never choose a sad movie because I do not like to cry at an ending.  So, when a movie suddenly turns into a tearjerker, I quickly turn it off.  Options abound as I search for another show.  The saddest story is the end of a life that has rejected Christ.  When their last breath is drawn there are no turn arounds, no changing channels, no last second decisions.  Isaiah 55:6 encourages us to “look for the Lord before it is too late.”  Can you hear the passion in the Father’s plea to look for Him?  No wonder the Angels announced, “good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10-11) when our Savior had been delivered to the world.  Why run the risk of running out of time?  Decide today to receive and enjoy the greatest Gift given to mankind…. Jesus!

December 6, 2020

I love altar calls.  Tears fill my eyes when I see people giving their lives to Christ.  Overwhelmed by His love and compassion, we can’t help but surrender our hearts to Him.  Almost instantly, we are filled with a burning desire to serve Him and His people.  Jesus said in John 12:26, “those who serve Me must follow Me.”  See, it’s not enough to love Him, to surrender to Him, to serve Him, we must also follow Him. A.W. Tozer said, “If I am to wholly follow the Lord Jesus Christ, I must forsake everything that is contrary to Him.”  In other words, we must turn away from anything that is the opposite of His Character and His Word. When you follow Him you never lose your way and you never lose your strength.  Our All Sufficient Savior leads us through the wilderness, leads us to still waters, and leads us in triumph.

November 29, 2020

Jesus is our Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His flock.  He faithfully protects and provides.  He tenderly leads and guides.  He knows us by name and is personally involved in our everyday living.  The beauty of this relationship intensifies when we realize His sheep know and recognize His voice and follow Him without hesitation (John 10:4).  A stranger’s voice makes the sheep flee in fear, the Shepherd’s voice makes them follow in peace. We follow Him as our Savior (Matthew 16:24), We follow Him as our Teacher (Matthew 4:19). We follow Him as our Example (1 Peter 2:21).  We follow Him as He leads the way (John 8:12).  We are blessed to hear His voice and we are blessed to follow Him.  As Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.”  Follow Him into fullness of life, both now and forevermore.

November 22, 2020

Thanksgiving is just a few days away.  The turkey is thawing in the fridge, pies are being prepped, and our hearts are prepared to give God thanks.  Imagine this scenario with me: what if we woke up tomorrow with only the things we thanked God for today?  Now that’s a sobering thought.  Would we discover we are not as grateful as we think we are?  Or would our morning remain full of all our blessings?  Thankfulness keeps our heart focused on God, who is the Giver of all good gifts (James 1:17).  Giving thanks guards us from becoming arrogant and self-centered.  Gratitude opens our eyes to all that we do have.  Psalm 95:2 reminds us to “come before His presence with thanksgiving.”  Not just once a year, but every day.  Tonight, as you lay your head down to sleep, give Him thanks, “for He is good, and His love endures forever (1 Chronicles 16:34).”

November 15, 2020

Our life is not always a delightful walk in the park.  Sometimes we face obstacles and opponents.  In Joshua 1;3 we find Joshua leading the Israelites. God had said “every place the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you. (v4.)”  Great joy turned into dismay when they encountered the walls of Jericho.  God provided instructions that concluded with them giving “a great shout” (Joshua 6:5).  On the seventh day, Joshua declared, ““Shout, for the Lord has given you the city!”  The once formidable walls “fell down flat” and the Israelites invaded and conquered the city of their enemy.  Notice they had to shout for the victory before they saw the victory.  They had to shout in faith.  Despite the contrary circumstances, their faith rested in God’s promises.  The next time you face a wall of opposition, “shout to God with the voice of triumph” (Psalm 47:1) and watch the walls fall down!

November 8, 2020

Fake news is on the rise.  Conflicting information abounds.  We quickly learn we cannot believe everything we hear or read.  How do we discern truth from falsity?  Checking resources is a necessity.  Separating facts from opinions is vital.  However, the Word of God remains our ultimate fact checker.  He said in Isaiah 45:19, “I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right.”  John 17:17 confirms His “Word is truth.”  God knew there would be an attack against the truth, so He warned us in Ephesians 5:6 to not “let anyone fool you with words that are not true.”  As we abide in His Words, we will know the truth and the truth will make, and keep, us free from error and deception (John 8:31-32).  As Martin Luther King, Jr once said, “I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world.”

November 1, 2020

God enjoys His children and desires to be an active participant in their lives.  While we enjoy His company, we often forget our communion with Him involves us speaking AND listening.  When God speaks to us He is usually reaffirming, reassuring, or realigning us.  There is a tendency to ignore His voice when we don’t like what He is saying.  There is a grave danger in selective hearing.  Ephesians 4:19 warns us the end result of consistently ignoring Him is losing “all sensitivity” to His voice.  This is why Hebrews 3:15 admonishes us that when we “hear God’s voice today, don’t be stubborn.”  In other words, don’t rebel and harden your hearts. Let our hearts echo the prayer of Samuel, “Speak, for I am listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).  What a blessing that God wants to speak to us corporately and individually! 

 

October 25, 2020

I remain amazed that people need to be reminded to wash their hands.  Everywhere I go I see the CDC guidelines of wearing a mask, practice social distancing, and yes, wash your hands.  I figure if people need a reminder of a basic hygiene practice then we probably need a reminder of basic Bible reading.  Psalm 119:11 and Hebrews 4:12 tells us to store the “living, active Word of God” in our hearts so that we might not “sin against You.”  Matthew 4:4 tells us that we are not sustained on bread alone, our “lives depend upon what He says.”  In Matthew 24:24-26 we learn that His Word protects us from being deceived by those who “try to fool God’s elect.”  And in 2 Timothy 3:16 we discover our reading the Word is “profitable for correcting our faults and teaching us the right way to live.”  Reading the Bible is essential for everyday living. 

October 18 2020

I was looking out my window and noticed a man standing still.  It looked like he was staring at the side of his neighbor’s house.  How odd, I thought.  I then moved a few steps to my right and saw another person.  It was then I realized he was talking to his neighbor.  It’s amazing that a change in position changes our vision.  Without Christ we see our problems one way.  With Christ we have a completely different view.  In Ephesians 2:6 we read “He raised us up and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”  This position gives us His perspective and opens our spiritual eyes.  Knowing we are not alone gives us the ability to praise Him in the storm.  The next time trouble comes, lift up your eyes, and boldly declare my “help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:2) 

October 11, 2020

It was a beautiful day.  The kind where the sun is shining in a brilliant blue sky.  I was walking through the parking lot of a grocery store, enjoying my morning.  Suddenly a car driving by me ran over a gallon of milk, and bam I had milk dripping down both legs.  To say I was mad would be an understatement.  All too often one man’s mistake interrupts the lives of others.  Just ask Adam.  In Romans 5:12 we learn that “when Adam sinned, the entire world was affected. Sin entered human experience, and death was the result.”  I’m pretty sure Adam did not expect this consequence of his actions.  God, in His great mercy, sent His only Son to redeem us from the curse (Galatians 3:13).  Through the Lord’s obedience “many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19) and in Him “all will be made alive again” (1 Corinthians 15:22).  Believe and receive His newness of life.

October 4, 2020

Have you ever been in a difficult and dangerous situation?  Then you are in the same boat as Apostle Paul.  In Acts 27 Paul was a prisoner for his faith sailing to Rome.  Along the way weather turned from fair to foul.  Paul advised the men to stay in port.  They refused and kept sailing, right into a northeaster.  Eventually they “finally gave up all hope of being saved” (Acts 27:20).  Everyone except Paul.  He had been visited by an angel and was told he would survive to stand before Caesar.  He then encouraged the men to “keep up your courage, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.” (Acts 27:25) God is faithful to His Word, and three months later Paul was standing before Caesar.  When you feel hopeless, find a promise in God’s word, and keep up your courage!

September 27, 2020

There once was a man named John Mark.  His mother held prayer meetings in their home.  The Apostle Peter considered him a son.  Paul and Barnabas requested him to be their assistant.  Somewhere along their missionary travels, John Mark abandoned his position and deserted Paul and Barnabas.  A little later Paul and Barnabas began preparations for another missionary journey.  Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark; Paul absolutely refused to take along a quitter.  There was such a sharp dispute Barnabas went one with John Mark and Paul went in another direction with Silas (Acts 15:37-40).  Throughout the years John Mark had time to change his testimony.  He went from being considered a deserter to a devoted helper.  Paul even requested John Marks presence, stating “he is helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).  Refuse to let a past mistake define you.  You still have time to change your testimony!

September 20, 2020

I love weddings.  There is so much love, joy, hope and happiness.  The vows, rings, and kiss are the highlights of the ceremony; however, I look forward to the reading of Matthew 19:6 “what God has joined together, let not man separate.”  The charge to the newlyweds to guard and protect their union is a necessity.  Why?  Because falling in love is easy and staying in love requires work.  The love we protect deepens throughout the years as we guard our marriage.  With delight we treasure our spouses while enjoying a covenant that last “till death do us part.”  I believe Matthew 19:6 can also refer to our covenant with God.  Giving Him our heart is easy, guarding our commitment requires time and energy.  Making sure no person, job, or situation tampers with our union is essential and effective.  By protecting what is everlasting we keep our hearts from departing.

September 13, 2020

Every morning our church members receive a scripture verse I send through an app.  A few months ago, they received a text with the same verse three times.  This was the only time that happened.  The verse was Acts 10:34-35 “I can see that God does not respect one person more than another.  He is pleased with any man in any nation who honors Him and does what is right.”  Every time God repeated something three times in the Bible He was emphasizing a point.  That day He was emphasizing to us His love is not confined to one nation.  He does not prefer or despise someone according to their position in life.  Titus 2:14 confirms that “He gave His life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us His very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.”  Now that is Good News!

September 6, 2020

Love, anger, joy, sorrow are just a few emotions we experience in our lifetime.  In fact, we cannot go an entire day without feeling an emotion.  What we do with those emotions will either help us or hurt us.  We live in a vocal world, where feelings demand an expression.  What I have learned is this: not every emotion should be given a voice.  If given center stage, some emotions dominant and drive us to say and do things we normally wouldn’t.  The Bible tells us to be led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18), not by our emotions.  The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses (Romans 8:26) and shows us how to control the tongue and tame the temper.  The next time emotions are raging, remember that Christ has saved us and set us free and we are no longer debtors to our flesh or our feelings.

August 30,2020

Behind my neighborhood is a sports complex center.  The days are filled with tournaments and players.  The stands are filled with cheering fans.  It’s amazing how far the sounds of excitement can travel.  As I listen to the rooting from my backyard I am reminded of 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “encourage each other and help each other grow stronger in faith.”  When the players hit a home run there is applause and an “Atta boy”.   When someone strikes out there are words of reassurance, “you’ll get it next time.”  Imagine the impact of a positive word whenever we used our faith.  Now imagine the impact of an encouraging word when we feel like we struck out spiritually.  Encouraging someone gives them support and confidence while helping develop their faith.  As Paul said in Romans 15:5-6 “may the God who gives endurance and supplies encouragement grant that you be of the same mind with one another.”  

August 23, 2020

When I read Psalm 91 I feel like it was written for the year 2020.  There is pestilence, terror, and thousands falling at our sides.  The promise that “no evil shall befall us nor shall any plague come near our dwelling place” is for those who “dwell in the secret place of the Most High.”  The word dwell in Hebrew (Yashab) means to sit down, remain, and rest in His finished work.  And the first letter in Yashab has a picture of a hand.  We rest knowing we are safe and secure.  We rest on the promise of protection in perilous times.  We rest with the assurance that no one is able to snatch us out of His hand (John 10:29).  As David wrote in Psalm 16:8-9, “I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.  No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.  My body rests in safety.”

August 16, 2020

I am blessed to have wonderful relationships with my parents, brother, husband, sons, and in-laws.  Yet the sweetest relationship I have is with God.  How can I describe to you the impact He has in my life?  He challenges me, comforts me, and cares for me.  His tender mercies wipe away me tears.  He corrects me like a good Father.  The wonder that He wants to be with me is thrilling and humbling.  My heart echo’s the words of Paul in Philippians 3:8: “Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”   The years have deepened, not diminished, my love for Him.  When I am filled and satisfied with Him, I enjoy my loved ones on a whole other level.  As Paul said in Philippians 3;10: “All I want is to know Christ, to become more thoroughly acquainted with Him, and to understand the remarkable wonders of His person more completely.”

August 9, 2020

David wrote in Psalm 133:1 “how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”  David knew by personal experience the pain of family and national division as well as the joys of unity.  He was not advocating uniformity, but rather unity in diversity.  We maintain our uniqueness while remaining one in Christ.  After all, we are “redeemed by the same Savior, serve the same Master, and look forward to the same heaven.” (Albert Barnes) Since we are imperfect beings this unity will be tested.  Our flesh acts up in unpleasant ways.  However, His love flowing through us will neutralize the situation and restore harmony.  Jesus said in John 17:23 “I am one with them, and You are one with Me, so that they may become completely one. Then this world will know that You sent Me.”  Dwelling together in unity, enjoying the commanded blessing, and evangelizing the world. 

August 2, 2020

Have you ever been surprised by a storm?  Some are sudden, severe, and catch us by surprise.  Others are slow moving, taunting, and looming in the distance.  The storms may be natural and visible or personal and private.  When we find ourselves “hard pressed on every side” we can find ourselves asking, “Why hasn’t this storm passed?”  When the storm “strikes us but doesn’t crush us” the enemy will ask, “why are they still standing?”  In the midst of the squall we hear Jesus say, “I am going through it with you.”  It is in the fiery furnace that we discover we are not alone.  Our Deliverer walks with us.  The storm we wished away has shown us the power of His love.  Now we understand Paul’s declaration in Philippians 4:13: “I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.”

July 26, 2020

The goodness of God captures my attention.  It is a powerful display of His love and compassion.  In fact, the Bible tells us in Romans 2:4 that the goodness of God is what draws men to repentance.  When we reflect upon the birth of Jesus, we reflect upon His goodness.  When we study the life of Jesus, we study His goodness.  When we gaze upon the Cross, we gaze upon His goodness.  When we stand in of awe of the empty tomb, we stand in awe of His goodness.  His goodness follows us (Psalm 23:6), His goodness satisfies us (Psalm 65:4), and His goodness to us is a gift to be enjoyed (Matthew 7:11).  A. W. Tozer said, “With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? Surely we are the most favored of all creatures.” 

July 19,2020

I was too excited to sit outside and enjoy the warm weather, that I forgot to put on sunscreen.  I was only in the sun for 30 minutes.  Later that day, I started to feel the sting of a sunburn.  “No way,” I thought to myself, “I wasn’t outside long enough.”  Well, I was wrong, and I had red shoulders to prove it.  Reminds me of when parents advise their children to not hang around certain friends.  They know all too well the aftereffects of wrong influences.  1 Corinthians 15:33 states, “Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for ‘bad company corrupts good character.’”  The individuals that tell you, “a little won’t hurt” are completely wrong.  If a little sun equals a sunburn, than a little interaction can create a lifetime of regret.  The moral of the story: always put on sunscreen and never underestimate the power of those you allow in your life.  

July 12, 2020

A ferocious storm blew through our city last month that caused a lot of damage.  We were one of the 12,000 people that lost power.  We expected electricity within a few hours only to learn it would not be restored until three to five days later.  While I was sitting in the dark, I had plenty of time to reflect on God’s goodness.  For instance, I am thankful God did not make me wait for restoration.  Romans 10:9 “If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Instant salvation.  I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong.”  Instant forgiveness.  2 Corinthians 5:8 “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”  Instant access.  He is our “right now God!”

July 5, 2020

Fourth of July is set aside to celebrate our freedom.  A freedom worth celebrating is also worth protecting.  Colossians 1:13-14 describes a freedom we can enjoy: “He has rescued us out of the darkness and gloom of Satan’s kingdom and brought us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who bought our freedom with His blood and forgave us all our sins.”  The freedom to feel God’s Presence cost Him His Son.  The freedom to enjoy His Forgiveness was paid with by the blood of Jesus.  This freedom carries responsibility.  In 1 Peter 2:16 we are reminded that we “are free, but still we are God’s servants, and we must not use our freedom as an excuse for doing wrong.”  By protecting our freedom in Christ, we are protecting each other.  Today we boldly declare, “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So, take your stand!” (Galatians 5:1)

June 28, 2020

I was at a red light yesterday and noticed an elderly woman singing along to a song.  Like really getting into it, drumming her hands on the steering wheel while bebopping her head to the beat.  Her joyful expression made me smile.  Maybe she was belting out her favorite song, or maybe she was jamming along with her grandkids.  One thing stood out; she was enjoying life.  Jesus said in John 10:10 “I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  It was never His intention that we spend this abundant life working our fingers to the bone, striving and trying to have a good life.  He gave us everything we needed so we could enjoy this life.  He gave abundantly so we could live life to the fullest.  So, next time you hear your favorite tune, let loose and enjoy.  It will make God smile. 

June 21, 2020

My Dad loves fishing.  The passion for catching the “big one” was passed down by my grandfather, to my Dad, then right down to my brother.  My Dad also loves people.  We use to joke that he never met a stranger.  He always knew how to start a conversation with everyone, no matter where we were.  This wonderful ability reminds me of Jesus.  In Matthew 4:19 Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  We are given many wonderful opportunities to share Jesus, all we need to do is follow Him and He will show us how.  I never did learn to love fishing, but I most certainly learned to love people.  Watching my Dad taught me how to talk to anyone.  Dad’s, following Jesus is your best method of teaching your children.  Never underestimate your position of influence. Happy Father’s Day!

June 14, 2020

When a washing machine is not balanced it will shake and move during the spin cycle.  If not corrected, it eventually moves far enough away from the wall that it becomes unplugged.  If we are unbalanced in life we will reap the same results.  One foot on rock, and one on sand, makes us lop-sided and unsteady.  This is why the Bible instructs us to be grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17), in faith (Colossians 1:23), and in the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:14-17). When we are grounded we stay connected.  When we stay connected we stay stable.  Enough so, that when the storms of life come we will remain standing, firm and grounded on a solid foundation.  God’s foundation is firm (2 Timothy 2:19) with a tested and precious cornerstone (Isaiah 28:16).  This is why we say, “He only is my Rock and my Salvation; I will not be moved.” (Psalm 62:6)

June 7, 2020

Jesus taught the mark of discipleship is picking up our cross, denying our flesh, and following Him (Matthew 16:24).  This “He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30) adage creates an inner conflict. Our spirit says “Yes” while our flesh screams “No.”  Even Jesus wrestled with His flesh while praying in the Garden.   Three times He asked God to remove “this cup from Me” and three times He affirmed “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”  God the Father heard the passionate plea and sent an angel from Heaven to strengthen His Son (Luke 22:43).  In the struggle to lay down His will He found strength from above to submit to God’s plan.  In Colossians 1:9-11 Paul asked God to fill His children with knowledge of His will so they would live a life worthy of the Lord, bearing fruit, while being strengthened with His power.  Wow, by doing His will we are building His kingdom!

May 31, 2020

Faith is a vital part of our Christianity.  By faith we live and walk; we please God and receive His promises; we are justified and forgiven.  Faith gives us confidence and is the foundation upon which we stand.  The disciples understood the importance of faith and thus asked Jesus to increase their faith (Luke 17:5). The Apostle Paul rejoiced that the believer’s faith was growing abundantly (2 Thessalonians 1:3).  The desire to deepen faith remains strong today.  Jesus hears the cry of our heart and sends us opportunities to strengthen our faith.  These opportunities are a custom-made set of circumstances that make it possible for our faith to profit and progress.  Without these opportunities our faith in Jesus would remain shallow.  Since Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) He knows exactly what our faith needs to mature and bear fruit. Rise up and make the most of every opportunity He sends your way.  

May 24, 2020

We are certainly living in a new season with new rules and new regulations.  All the new challenges can be overwhelming.  What was once stable and secure has been shaken and shut down.  The world has gone into crisis mode.  It is good to relax and remind ourselves that we have been chosen to live in these days.  What an honor that God decided to appoint us for this time!  With that in mind, let us determine to stop seeing and saying “crisis” and start seeing and saying “opportunity.” This is a wonderful opportunity for God to show His Glory and for us to share His Good News.  God said in Isaiah 60:1: “Arise, My people! Let your light shine for all the nations to see! For the glory of the Lord is streaming from you.”  God prepared us for this and has surrounded us with many opportunities. This is the time to rise and shine.

May 17, 2020

Difficulties dance into our lives.  They are uninvited interruptions.  They bring friends, discouragement and disappointment.  Our responses are immediate reactions that result in us either drawing near to God or drifting away from Him.  Therefore, Hebrews 2:1-2 encourages us to pay close attention, and keep a firm grip, to what we have heard so we won’t drift away from the truth.  In John 14:6 we learn Jesus is The Truth.  When life doesn’t go the way we planned, when it makes an unexpected detour, fixing our eyes on Him keeps us connected.  Daily exalting Him above every situation and diligently reading His Word keeps us connected.  Staying connected protects us from drifting.  In Isaiah 41:10 God said: “Don’t panic. I’m with you.  I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady.” Fear not, for if our faith in God and His Word moves mountains it will certainly keep us close to Christ!    

May 10, 2020

A Mother’s work never ends.  She manages a household and juggles responsibilities while maintaining her sanity.  One day set aside to honor her is simply not enough.  Proverbs 31:28 is a beautiful example of honor that doesn’t always materialize.  It states, “her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise.”  Unfortunately, there are some moms who never receive respect or words of affirmation.  Some mothers only hear ridicule and criticism.  Some mothers wake up to a broken heart instead of a home filled with love and laughter.  If you received the blessings of your children and spouse today, enjoy it deeply.  If you did not, allow me to rise up and thank you for your endless acts of love.  Your commitment to your family is gaining you great eternal rewards, for you are not only serving them but God as well.  Happy Mother’s Day from one Mom to another!

 

May 3, 2020

Signs of Spring are bursting upon the scene.  Sunny days filled with warmer air invites us to open doors and windows.  Budding trees, blooming flowers, and singing birds fill our senses.  We can hardly wait for the workday to end so we can go out and play.  A few weeks ago, I woke up to birds chirping right outside my bedroom window.  They sounded happy and carefree. It was a perfect illustration of Matthew 6:26, “Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food.”  The birds weren’t stressing away the day, they were enjoying it.  Verse 27 adds, “Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they?”  The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Learn from the sparrows to relax and enjoy, for God, who loves you, is in control.

April 26, 2020

I was making a run to my favorite grocery store.  I grabbed my cart and started checking off my grocery list.  Coffee in hand, I turned down the aisle for dish soap and saw paper products.  What was supposed to be there was not there.  I spotted a worker and asked what happened.  She replied there was a new store layout and products were being moved around to other locations.  Seriously not happy that my routine was disturbed.  I had to learn to accept, and remember, the new layout.  In a world full of constant changes, it is good to know the One that doesn’t change.  Hebrews 13:8 reminds us “Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, He’s always totally Himself.”  In Hebrews 1:12 we learn Jesus stays the same year after year, He never fades, and He never wears out.  Comforting to know the One who is always the same is watching over me. 

April 19, 2020

During the past few weeks the world has experienced an event that impacted everyone.  Reactions ranged from brazen disregard to reluctant compliance to the ever-changing regulations.  Voices of complaint rang loud.  Hording supplies fueled fear.  Through it all, the believer’s steadfast confidence in God grew strong.  Churches livestreamed services.  Emergency food banks expanded to meet needs.  The days spent at home brought families together around the dinner table and the Bible.  Why despair when God is with us?  Psalm 46:1-2 declares, “God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we are not afraid when the earth quakes and the mountains fall into the sea.  We are not afraid when the seas become rough and dark and the mountains tremble.”  While things around us are falling apart we have a security that is eternal because with God we are safe now and forevermore!

April 12, 2020

The past few weeks of the coronavirus pandemic have been full of opportunities to be anxious and fearful.  Day by day, restrictions increase as do positive test results.  Everyone is trying to stay home and healthy.  Easter Sunday is a precious reminder of God’s love and power.  As we celebrate His life, death, and resurrection we are declaring He is able to rise us above any situation.  The same power that exploded in the tomb flows in us and is available us each and every day.  In Romans 8:11 it is written “God’s Spirit of Resurrection lives in you.  This power is how God moves in us and through us.  This power makes us courageous ambassadors for Christ.  Leonard Ravenhill said: “Jesus did not come into the world to make bad men good.  He came into the world to make dead men live.”  Let’s go spread the good news that Jesus is alive and provides everlasting life.

April 5, 2020

God’s timing is always perfect, yet we grumble when we feel like He is moving too slow.  Instead of becoming frustrated, remember 2 Peter 3:9: “He is restraining Himself on account of you, holding back the End because He doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.”  This is His heart for His people.  “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8) He desires to have a personal relationship with each and every one.  It is only through His death our status went from enemies to friends of God.  So be patient and prayerful in the process.  Invite someone to church.  Share your testimony with a co-worker.  Spread the Good News and never stop believing that God is wowing them with His goodness and wooing them with His love. 

March 29,2020

Lent is a forty-day period we are encouraged to fast in order to focus on our Savior’s sacrifice.  God has challenged me to fast thoughts that do not line up with His word.  As soon as a thought of fear enters my mind I am instructed to cast it down and replace it with the truth that He is with me so I will not fear (Psalm 23:4).  When I think that I have failed God, I remind myself that He is helping me grow (Philippians 1:6).  When I get anxious about tomorrow I tell myself that He has a good plan for my future.  Philippians 4:8 provides a list of things to “think about,” things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report.  Let us tear down every thought that raises up against the truth so we can remember He is the reason we are saved, sane, and sealed.

March 22, 2020

We want quick fixes and simple solutions for struggles and problems.  Not surprisingly, we take this attitude into our spiritual expectations. We discovered that one prayer, one “Yes” to God, and our souls were saved.  Shouldn’t our spiritual progression be as easy?  Growing into His image takes the rest of our lifetime.  Charles Spurgeon said: “A look will save the soul, but patient meditation alone can fill the mind with the knowledge of the Savior.”  The Bible mentions meditation twenty-three times.  Meditation is reading His word, pondering it, and applying it.  In Joshua 1:8 we are directed that “this Book of the Law must not depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may act carefully according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way successful, and you will be wise.”  Filled with the knowledge of God makes us fruitful and fully pleasing to Him!

March 15, 2020

Let’s be honest, there are people who get on our nerves.  There are people who refuse our help.  There are people who frustrate us.  There are times we want to wash our hands of them and walk away.  Then we shudder to think where we would be in life if God had given up on us.  Were there times we refused to listen to Him?  Absolutely!  Are there occasions where we refused His help.  Sure thing!  Yet, He has always been, and will always be, right by our side.   In John 6:37 Jesus said, “once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go.”  If God refuses to give up on us, we must refuse to give up on others.  In response to all He has done for us, let us walk out Hebrews 10:24 by “discovering creative ways to encourage others and motivating them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.”

March 8, 2020

God’s creativity is woven throughout creation.  From one coast to another, we see wide ranges of beauty.  From majestic mountains to rainforests to flat plains.  Blizzard conditions affecting one state while another has balmy breezes.  God’s fingerprints are everywhere.  Psalm 19:1 states “The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of His craftsmanship.”  Did you know that you also are a display of His creative workmanship?  Consider that God has never run out of creative ideas.  In fact, throughout the years there has never been an exact replica of you!  You will never wrestle with worthlessness when you remember God took the time to make you marvelously complex.  Inside you dwells creativity and endless possibilities for you are made in His image.  Now you can declare Psalm 139:14 “I will give thanks to You because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made.”

March 1, 2020

The Israelites received promises, protection, and provisions from the Lord during their travels through the wilderness.  Unfortunately, their rebellious attitudes lead them into trouble.  One day God spoke to Moses and said, “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north.” (Deuteronomy 2:3) Wow, God could have washed His hands of them and left them defenseless in the desert.  Instead, He was moved with compassion and provided detailed instructions.  We all have been led astray by our own desires.  Some of us have walked away from what we know to be true and good.  Others feel like they’ve gone too far down the wrong way.  The only point of no return is when you have drawn your last breath.  Listen and you will hear Him say, “My child you have circled this mountain long enough.”  Without delay return to the Lord your God, “for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” (Joel 2:13) 

February 23, 2020

A child runs to his parents for love and is rejected.  A teenager attempts to become part of a group and is denied acceptance.  An adult applies for a job and is told his past disqualifies him from employment.  They begin to live up to the lies that they are rejected, denied, and disqualified.  Unlovable, unaccepted, and unusable is stamped upon their hearts and minds.  And then one marvelous day they hear about Jesus and how He promised that all who come to Him, He will embrace and will never turn away (John 6:37).  They learn they are fully and wonderfully accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).  They discover God can turn their past into a purpose (Romans 8:28).  With a new heart and renewed mind, they learn to live the truth that in Him they are loved, accepted, and qualified. 

February 16, 2020

Washing dishes immediately after a meal makes for an easy cleanup.  Leave the dishes in the sink for a few weeks and cleanup is now a difficulty.  Leave them for a few months and you have a challenge on your hands!  At this point we think it’s easier to throw the dishes away and buy new ones.  However, God is all about restoration and reconciliation.  Whenever God points out someone we need to make amends to, take immediate action.  And when He shows us an area of offense, we should forgive as quickly as possible.  Allowing wrongs, or animosity, to linger causes a burden of bitterness and layers of resentment that tempt us to throw away relationships.  Jesus thought you were worth dying for and encouraged us in Colossians 3:13 to “forgive as quickly and completely as Christ forgave you.”  Quick to repent and quick to forgive is evidence that you are His disciples.

  

February 9, 2020

A newborn brings so much excitement and joy into the world.  Adults take turns holding and loving them.  We encourage their exploration, we help them up when they fall, we correct and protect, and we celebrate every milestone.  We are their biggest supporters and loudest cheerleaders.  A new believer brings joy to the world as well.  However, we don’t always carry over this parental attitude towards those who are young in their faith.  1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 “As you know, we exhorted, comforted, and commanded every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk in a manner worthy of God, who has called you to His kingdom and glory.”  May we reflect the same grace to grow and the same mercy to make mistakes that God extends to us.  Together we help each other walk in a way that honors God!  

February 2, 2020

Birthdays are exciting.  A new year is exhilarating.  A new day is energizing.  They all contain endless, empowering opportunities.  Whether our day was good or bad, we have a new one awaiting us.  God talks about new days.  In Lamentations 3:22-23 we read “the Lord’s faithful love never ends.  Every morning He shows it in new ways!”  As years go by we don’t lose heart because 2 Corinthians 4:16 reminds us “even though our outward man is perishing, our inward man is being renewed day by day.”  The power isn’t in the day, but in the One who gives is.  It was declared in Luke 1:78 that when Jesus came: “A new day will dawn on us from above because our God is loving and merciful.”  Each day holds purpose for us, it is only right that we proclaim: “This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

January 26, 2020

Seeing is believing infers skepticism is a worldwide attitude.  Concrete, physical evidence is necessary to convert the unbeliever.  Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, earned the name “Doubting Thomas” because he refused to believe Jesus resurrected until he saw it for himself.  In John 20:26-29 Jesus appeared to His disciples and instructed Thomas to put his finger in His wound.  Only then was Thomas’s faith settled.  Jesus replied, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  These blessed believers do not need outward evidence to confirm their faith, for they have the Holy Spirit presenting convincing evidence internally.  Smith Wigglesworth wrote “I am not moved by what I see. I am moved only by what I believe. I know this-no man looks at appearances if he believes. No man considers how he feels if he believes. The man who believes God has it.”  Believing is seeing and receiving!

 

January 19, 2020

Our world is full of noises clamoring for our attention, demanding an immediate response.  Our attempts to balance it all leaves us exhausted and overwhelmed.  Noise cancelling headphones provide the ability to silence the noise by reducing unwanted ambient sounds.  This enhances concentration levels and enables us to sleep in noisy environments.  Focusing our mind to meditate on God’s word is a skill that serves a great purpose.  Meditation keeps us focused, enhances our faith, and provides inner peace.   Proverbs 4:21 instructions: “Fill your thoughts with My words until they penetrate deep into your spirit.”  When our mind is fixed on God the noise of the world fades away, leaving us free to explore the richness of God and His Word.  Proverbs 4:22 promises “as you unwrap My words, they will impart true life and radiant health into the very core of your being.”  Stability and success instead of sickness and stress! 

January 12, 2020

I am truly blessed to have a legacy of faith that has been passed down from one generation to the next.  The peace to know that my deceased loved ones are with God.  The joy of watching my children build upon a foundation that is secure and eternal.  The privilege of passing down a love for God and a lifestyle of faith.  God’s family plan is found in Psalm 145:4 “Each generation will praise You and tell the next generation about the great things You do.”  Deuteronomy 11:19 commands us to share God with our children when we sit at home, when we are traveling on the road, and at bedtime and breakfast.  Abraham followed this plan and at least seven times God is referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The legacy has to start somewhere, why not with you!

January 5, 2020

Welcome to a new year.  A myriad of experiences awaits us; some planned and some unexpected surprises.  Through it all we are to “honor the Lord in our heart” and “treat Him as the Holy Master of our lives” (1 Peter 3:15).  We do this when we honor His Name above all others.  When we allow Him to be the root and center of our lives.  When we submit to Him and serve Him with reverence.  When we see God’s hands in everything and leave everything in His hands.  Proper confidence in Him calms our minds and delivers us from all our fears.  So, when making our list of new year’s resolutions let us make knowing and serving Him our number one priority.  Then we can proclaim Psalm 86:12 “I praise You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart and I will honor your name forever!”