Listening for God’s Plan

Psalms 138:8

The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me; thy steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever, Do not forsake the work of thy hands.

Thought for the Day:  Listen for God’s Plan

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been dreaming and visualizing what a small part of our backyard will look like after we do a little work. I have been researching possibilities and coming up with schemes in my mind on how to create a beautiful, but useful, place for us to enjoy our family time together. Most of the time, when I visualize as I have recently, I put the idea on the “back burner” and later forget about it. I find that responsibilities at work and family calendars take precedence then dreams get dropped. This time, however, I do not want that to happen.

As I look at myself and how many times I have procrastinated on completing ideas in my home, I think about the plans God has for us and how He must get frustrated when we keep His dreams from happening in our lives. As I have dreamed about our backyard, He has dreamed about the life He wants for each of us. He has a plan. Today, I want to spend time praying and listening more closely to where I can see the vision He has for my life. Then, I want to put His plan on the “front burner” and work toward bringing His plan to fruition.

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for loving us and having a dream for how our lives can meet the plans You have for us. Help us today to stop, pray, and listen for Your voice as you bring those plans to us. Help us to hear You in a way we have never heard before. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Those wanting to hear God’s plan for their lives

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A Simple Seed

Mark 4:28

The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.”

Thought for the day:  Where are we in our spiritual faith?

In the quiet of the evening I sit in my new favorite place on our patio. I listen to the birds sing, the creek’s water flow, and the breeze rustle the leaves. Then, I look toward a very simple planter that my youngest son and I planted with different herbs so we can watch the plant life cycle and hopefully have some herbs to cook with sometime in the coming months. Each afternoon as we come in from a day at school I become a little girl at heart and walk immediately to the back patio to look at the planter. I am anxious to see the growth begin and to be able to nurture the plants to full growth. So far I see nothing but dirt but I know that germination is taking place under the surface and that the seed leaves will soon appear.

In life, God has planted His seed in each of us and has nurtured us through His love and teaching. When I think about God and that he planted me, I think about where I am in the spiritual growth process. Am I still that seed waiting to germinate, am I the seed leaf that has not yet become the true plant, am I maturing to full growth in the way He has planned, or am I stagnant in spiritual faith. I believe this is an important question that allows us to look at where we are in our spiritual faith and to pray that God will touch us in such a way as to bring us to the next step in the process. God wants us to grow and He wants us to mature in such a way that can bring others to Him.

So, each day as I await our herbs to show themselves and to start growing, I am going to think about where I am in my growth. Maybe that will remind me to listen more closely to God and where He is leading.

Prayer: God, thank you so much for bringing spiritual growth thoughts to us in simple ways. Be with us and let us hear You as You guide us through our spiritual growth process. Be with us, Lord. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Those growing in their spiritual faith

Benefit from the Change

Luke 6:20-21

Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh.”

Thought of the Day:  We can benefit from the change

Okay, alright, I get it! As I read the Upper Room Devotional this morning, I read the words from the author stating that things that happen in our lives happen for a reason and that we can benefit from even the difficult things that happen in our lives. I shared recently with a new friend about struggles I have had since moving to a new town and she reminded me in a wonderful way that everything in my life changed when we moved here only four short months ago. We found ourselves in a new state, a new town, a new church, new house, new schools, new jobs, and new ways of life. We have had to change our driver’s licenses, car tags, taxes, insurance companies, utility companies, and more things that we haven’t even heard about yet. As my friend and I talked, I realized how much she is trying to help me in my profession to learn more about the education system in our new state and to begin looking at the good that is happening in our new situations. I have already found things that I enjoy in our new state and town, including the beautiful hills in the area surrounding us. I absolutely love our new church with the enthusiasm shown to every person who walks in. My favorite thing to do right now is to sit and worship on Sunday mornings knowing God will speak to me through the music and word. The hardest thing I have encountered is working in a new school setting in a grade I have never taught before with very young children. It has been a challenge as I knew it would be when I began. As I talked to my friend, who was very encouraging, I stated that all the computer programs and assessment activities were similar to what I had used before but that I felt I was comparing “apples to oranges” and that the similarities were not enough to keep me from learning things anew. I am learning new ways of doing things and she has given me resources to learn even more. So, have I benefited from all of my changes? My answer is “Yes, definitely.” Do I have more to do to make things here feel like home? “Yes, definitely.” Is God going to be with me and send me new friends to help me through the new situations? “Yes, definitely.”

Today’s scripture in the Upper Room is the Beatitudes when Jesus speaks to the crowd, “Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, 2and He began to teach them, saying: 3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.7Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God. 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Prayer: God, thank you for the blessings of new friends and new situations. As we go through difficult times and changes, we do not see clearly the benefits. Thank you for showing us that through time, we will benefit from your plan. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Those going through changes

As the Deer

Psalms 42:1-2

As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?

Thought for the Day:  As the deer panteth for the water so my sound longeth after Thee.

“As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after thee. You alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship you.” In the quiet of the afternoon as I awaited my husband coming home for a cookout, I made my way down the backstairs from the patio to the creekside. I set up my chair, listened to the creek, and opened my computer to write. As I thought about the creek and thought about the water, I had a memory about the song, “As the Deer”. Twenty-five years ago, my husband and I were a part of a singing group at our church named One Voice. We sang in our church and then went out to churches in other places to share the music. “As the Deer” was one of the first pieces we sang and I always loved the lyrics. Today, those words mean something very special to me as we now live in a place with a beautiful creek that makes beautiful music. After I wrote about “As the Deer” above, I placed a video on Facebook of our backyard in its serenity and received a message from a friend asking me if she saw a deer in the video. I replied that there was not a deer but that there was peace. This morning follows an evening when my family received the blessing of a cookout on the back deck, and an evening when we received a wonderful blessing – peace and serenity.

Imagine a place where we only feel peace in a moment. Imagine a place where we only feel God’s presence instead of the presence of worry and pain. Imagine a place where the sounds we hear are the sounds of God’s peace and not the sounds of earthly turmoil. We do not have to go far to hear the sounds of God’s peace and know we are loved by God. We just have to go to a quiet place and pray quietly – it is there that all the earthly things fade away and God’s peace comes into our heart.

Prayer: God, thank you for bringing us peace in the midst of earthly struggles and pain. Please give us the thoughts throughout the day that we need to talk to you and to let you in to bring us that peace. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Those searching for peace

Balance

Proverbs 11:1

A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.

Thought for the Day:  Worship helps keep your life in balance

When I look at life these days, I feel I am waiting for many things. I am waiting for some sign from God of the teaching position I will have for next year. I am waiting for the time to come where my voice can have some “vacation” from talking where it can be healed. I am waiting…..just waiting, and wondering what God has in store. It seems most things are unbalanced and it is just God’s timing that will put it back into balance at some point. As I think about my weekly schedule, I think about what brings some type of balance into my life and there is one thing that always gives me a moment when I feel in balance and feel that God is speaking to me for just a few minutes. When I sit in church on Sunday morning and the music starts, I know I am about to have a time of balance. I am going to hear something God is trying to tell me. I listen as the music plays and as the announcements are made. I listen and pray during prayer time. And then the sermon starts…..ahh…..the sermon. At that point, our pastor seems to take me to a new place in thought and gives me the “balance” I need in that moment. It happens every week as I sit in church. It happens every week……I can guarantee that God is going to speak to me every week in that moment. For those few moments, no matter what the sermon topic, I am being “balanced” in the way that I know my body and spirit need.

I look forward each week to my weekends where my body can be refreshed and rested. The most important thing that happens however, is that Sunday Worship comes and my plan is to be there no matter what. Everything else in my life may seem off, but that time of Worship first gives me the balance I need, and also gives me the reminder that God is taking care of me in my time of wonder. He is and always will be there for me.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for worship and for the ministers who teach us through their words. Help us hear the words sung and spoken to put our lives in balance. Help us work to balance our lives each day where we can be in tune with You. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Those working to put balance in their lives.

 

There is Always Light

Isaiah 42:16

And I will lead the blind in a way that they know not, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do and I will not forsake them.

Thought for the Day:  God is always shining His light

In the early morning, I looked out on our backyard noticing that we must be in for a dreary, rainy day because it was dark. The trees in the wooded area behind our house are beautiful and many. As I first looked out, it looked dark and I did not see any light peeking through the limbs. I sat for a very long time before I stood up and really looked out. Above the trees, I saw a hint of light shining brightly as it hit the top limbs. Then, as I walked through the house, I looked out the front windows where it was sunny and beautiful. There are very few trees in the front yard so the sun that hit the top limbs in the backyard touched everything in the front yard.

When we are going through hard times in life, we feel like we are living in a place where there is no happiness and no light. Many times, we feel there is no hope in the darkness of ever seeing any light. Then we pray and talk to God. We listen to Him and hear His guidance for our lives. As we begin hearing Him, we begin seeing the light and know there is hope where before we felt hopeless. My vision of the light hitting the top of our trees and the beautiful sunny front yard reminded me that God is always shining His light. He is always there. Sometimes, we just have to pray and be opened to hearing His voice, then that seemingly dark place will become well lit by the light that is already there. We just have to let God move the obstacles blocking the light from coming through.

Prayer: God, thank you for always being there. Help us learn to see that light even when we are going through hard times. We love you today Lord. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Seeing the Light

The Challenge

Romans 8:18

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Thought for the Day:  Making it through the challenge brings us to a beautiful place

Late in the afternoon, after a day of cleaning and taking care of things around the house, I knew my youngest son needed to get out and play. So, I took him to a nearby park where he could have fun on the playground. A few minutes after we arrived, he came running over and next to him was one of my students from my class at school. It was a grand surprise to see him and then to watch them play together on the playground. His parents and I visited for awhile and I really enjoyed our conversation. As we talked I admired that their family loves to ride bikes so they go to different parks to ride on the weekends. This weekend, they happened to come to the park near us. I listened to the father describe the park and the wonderful bike trails that are in the area. He described one that is a difficult ride as it has a 0.9 mile section that has a 10-15% grade. He said he had heard about it for a long time and decided one day to try it. He said that when he rode that section that it was definitely a challenge and he had to push himself to make it up the hill. Then, when he reached the top and began descending on the other side, he saw the most magnificent scenery. He said it was the most beautiful part of the park that he would not have seen if he had not taken the more difficult trail.

As we go through life and find ourselves taking the same road day after day, what are we missing? As we go through the trials of life, what are we going to see on the other side after we get through the struggle? These are the two questions that came to my thoughts as I listened and took in his story. He took the more difficult challenging road, then worked through the struggle. What he saw on the other side was a magnificent view. He got it, he didn’t miss it. I want to see what is on the other side…because the other side is beautiful.

Prayer: God, thank you for bringing us Your Word through people we meet and talk to each day. We do recognize that we have challenges each day, but knowing there is something more beautiful on the other side makes those challenges easier to bear. Help us make it through the struggles and the challenges to see the beauty on the other side. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Those going through challenges

Special Memories

Psalms 103:3

Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.

Thought for the Day: Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.

In our daily lives, we see things that jog memories from our childhood. This evening as our family dined in a local restaurant a family came in and were seated at a table next to us. One of the children, a boy of maybe 10-11, was in a wheelchair. As I watched and observed I saw there were three children, two boys and one girl. I always think of my brothers and my parents when I see children in wheelchairs, but this was more. I do not know for sure, but something told me that the boy might have muscular dystrophy like my brothers. As I thought about that family sitting at that table, I remembered our family as we sat around our table. Two chairs were always gone from the table where my brothers’ wheelchairs could be rolled in. After we came to the table everything was normal, we had family discussions about school, church, sports (The St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, Tennessee Vols, and Miami Dolphins). We ate the dinners that my mother prepared as we discussed daily events, and we even had some arguments. After dinner, the boys would go to their places in the den to watch TV and to do their homework, just like my own children do today. At that table in the restaurant, I saw a loving family who happened to have a child in a wheelchair, conversing as a family. The parents had done a great job melding the family into a solid unit and as they ate we heard laughter, discussion, and happy conversation coming from their table.

When I look back at my family unit and how my parents planned our lives to be filled with wonder and filled with much love, I see that God placed the perfect parents to take care of us as children. We grew up “normally” as normal as a family with two handicapped children can and I am so proud of my parents and how my brothers and I were raised. God is our parent and God cares for us in ways that only He understands. He works everyday to help us understand each other and to live with each other. Thank goodness we have a God who loves us as a parent with unconditional love and with love that will help us through everything.

Prayer: God, thank you for the wonderful memories of childhood and the remembrance of wonderful family meals and good times. Help those who are handicapped feel Your love through the love of their family and help them know they are special and loved. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Families of handicapped children

 

God Leads Us through Uneasy Situations

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Thought for the Day:  God is Always with Us

My family took an unexpected trip to another part of our area last evening and as we realized where we would be going we made plans to eat dinner at a restaurant we had heard about. After we ran our errand and began driving to the restaurant, we found ourselves in very unfamiliar territory. The more we drove the more we felt out of place and had that uneasy feeling that we had no idea where we were. We finally made it to our destination and had a very enjoyable meal. The server was very friendly and the food brought back memories because it was a restaurant like one we had in our last town. When we left, we felt nourished and ready to head home. As we made our way home, we realized that the unfamiliar territory became more familiar as we drove and we began realizing where we were and the path that led home. The directions made sense and we began feeling at ease. We even drove by an old campmeeting similar to the family campmeeting we attend each summer. We felt comfort.

As we travel down the road of live each day, we sometimes feel that uneasy feeling, especially if we are embarking on something new. The more we become aware of our surroundings, the more at ease we feel. As I look back on our family excursion, I realize that we did not pray as we should have during our time unsure time, but that God led us through anyway. He was right there all the time and He did lead us to where we needed to go. In the end, we look back and see the steps He led us through and He even gave us a special gift in the sight of something special in our lives.

Prayer: God, thank you for always being present in our lives, even when we have neglected to recognize you and to ask for your help. We know you are with us as we travel through life’s journey and we are thankful. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Those feeling lost

GPS

Psalms 25:4-5

Make me know thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation; for thee I will wait all the day long.

Thought for the Day:  Always remember that God is our guide

There is a store where I enjoy shopping for clothes. I decided to drive the distance and used my GPS system on my cell phone to get me there. The directions called for several turns onto small roads every few miles. I enjoyed the store and then set my GPS for home. The drive began as a very enjoyable journey then my cellphone beeped and I realized the battery was very low on power. I panicked at first when I heard the beep and wondered if I could make it back home without the GPS. I drove awhile watching the battery meter on my phone and saw that it was about to die. I knew I could make it home but was unsure of the little country roads I was to take. Then, and I am embarrassed to say, I remembered I had switched cars with my husband and there was a built in navigational GPS in the car. I laughed at myself and then set the system for “Home” and it led me safe and sound to my house.

As I look at my faith and the way I listen to God for direction, sometimes I listen closely and follow His exact directions for where He is leading. Then, something makes me panic, something that pulls me off course for where He is leading. I go away for awhile then realize that God is with me all the time just waiting for me to remember Him and to pray and ask for His help. In that moment, that special moment when I say, “God, help me know the direction You want me to go”, I am pulled back peacefully on course for the rest of my journey.

Prayer: Thank you God for always walking beside us to show us direction for where You want us to go. Help us remember as we go through each day to look to You for direction. You are our Guide. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Those needing guidance