Treasure in the Attic Boxes

1 Corinthians 2:9

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Thought for the Day:  Look for God’s Hidden Treasures

That moment, that special moment, when a box is opened and in it are treasures from the past.  Over the last few days, I have been blessed to continue going through boxes of treasures that have been in the corner of the attic for many years.  The box, filled with sports pennants from different national teams that once lined the ceiling area of my brothers’ bedroom, along with jackets of favorite teams caught my emotions off guard with wonderful memories.  The box full of items that sat on my brothers’ room shelves along with the baseball record book of each game that my brother sat and scored as he watched the St. Louis Cardinals and The Atlanta Braves brought memories of my brothers enjoying life.  That was the box that made me lose myself in emotions and when I had to stop for a while.  Later, more treasures came like the handwritten letter written to my brother, Coble, from Brooks Robinson.  I almost threw that one away accidentally without knowing the treasure I held in my hand.

Treasures, those remembered and forgotten, bring special moments in our lives.  God’s treasures, those seen and unseen bring those special moments as well.  As life happens on a day to day basis, we know that God is leading us to His treasures and sometimes we do not recognize how special they are so we put them away in “boxes” and forget about them.  When we finally open the “boxes”, we see how those treasures of God helped us through times in our lives.  God’s treasures, special treasures, are there for us if we will only recognize them.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for loving us and sharing Your special treasures with us every day.  You are amazing!  Please open our eyes to see Your gifts through those treasures where we will not put them in a box to be hidden.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those looking through attic boxes

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Thank You…for a Worksheet??

Psalms 100:4

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name!

Thought for the Day: Parents, teach your children

to be thankful…where they can teach others.

I always seem to have the sweetest students in my classroom and fall in love with them from the very beginning of the school year. There are those students, however, who seem more loving, more caring, and more thankful than the normal sweet student. I had a student last year that started something in my classroom that seemed to trickle from one student to the next. This child, William, was as sweet as he could be and when I passed out worksheets to the class I would hear a soft “Thank you” from him and I would reply “You are so welcome.” A couple of other students followed his words offering their thanks as well. This went on the entire school year and by the end of the year, there seemed to be a competition to who was going to say “Thank you” first. It seemed that every time I did anything for them the Thank yous would start and I would actually have to stop them. As a mother, I am always reminding my children to say “Please” and “Thank you” hoping it will be come a wonderful habit. It is obvious that William’s mother had impressed upon her son to be appreciative for things given and things done for him. It came naturally and was a habit.

God calls us to be thankful and wants us to be happy in all the things given to us or done for us. As I look forward to a new day, I want to look to everything with much gratitude and gladness. As I witnessed in my classroom last year, I want to start the “trickle effect” for those around me where we can all be happy and full of gratitude for all God has led us to today.

Prayer: God, thank you for children and adults who are examples of how You want us to live each day with thanks and gratitude. Thank you for parents who teach their children to be grateful and thank you to the children who teach other children (and adults) about your love. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE TEACHING

God Will Make a Way

Originally written and shared on July 27, 2015

John 14:26

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

Thought for the Day: The Holy Spirit is always with you

“God will make a way, where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me. He will be my guide, hold me closely to His side. With love and strength for each new day, He will make a way. God will make a way.” After reading my morning devotionals I got up from the couch and said, “I’m going outside, I don’t know what I am going to write about, but I’m not normally the one who tells me what to write.” When I sat down in my deck chair with my computer in my lap, I thought for a few minutes but couldn’t come up with anything. Then, as I do occasionally, I closed the computer, picked up my coffee cup, and began walking around the yard. As I did, I started looking at all the things that needed to be done to our house and began feeling overwhelmed. Then I started singing, “God will make a way, where there seems to be no way…” I sang the entire verse as I walked back to the deck feeling a peace that it was going to be okay.

In this time walking around the house, I not only felt the peace that everything was going to be okay, but I also realized the message God wanted me to write today. It is an amazing and beautiful thing when we put ourselves in the full presence of God and realize that He is with us in spirit to give us what we need in the moment. This morning, it was words to write and a peace that things were going to be okay. Tomorrow, who knows? God knows.

Prayer: Thank You, God, for sending the Spirit to lead us through each day. Please help us look for You in all we do, and to observe when we feel Your Spirit move in our lives. Thank you for being present with us in all we do. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE FEELING OVERWHELMED

Feeling God’s Presence

Matthew 6:9-10

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

Thought for the Day: God is always present with us and we need to recognize that we are always in His presence

Recently I wrote about the presence of God and that God is always present with us. As I reflected over those words, I realized that in order to feel God’s presence as strongly as we desire, we also have to recognize that we are in God’s presence. God desires that we acknowledge Him at all times and in all things so that we are in His presence. As I read my devotional this morning about “The Lord’s Prayer”, it reminded me that the first words are, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” When we pray these words in the way Jesus taught, we place ourselves in the presence of God recognizing that His name is the Name above all Names. If we truly pray these words, we center our thoughts on God and place our thoughts and presence with Him. That is what He desires, and as Christians, that is what we should desire. As we go through our day knowing that God is always in our presence, how will we focus our thoughts on Him where we keep our hearts and lives fully in His presence.

Today as I pray, I want to put myself in God’s presence by immediately recognizing that God’s name is hallowed, holy, glorious, and true. His name is above all. I want to be in my Father’s presence as closely as possible. I love my God, my Father, and I want to be in His presence at all times and in all I do.

Prayer: Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, that will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Prayer Focus: PUTTING OURSELVES IN GOD’S PRESENCE

(The One Year Worship the King Devotionals, Chris Tiegreen, 2008)

Seeing Through the Fog

Luke 24:30-35

When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them.  And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.  They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?”  And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”  Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Thought for the Day:  See through the fog

That is it, that is how I have been feeling.  The Upper Room Devotion this morning was a good reminder of life with Christ, and how we sometimes feel cloudy in where we are in our lives.  Waking up very early on the morning I was to leave my summer job at Lake Junaluska, NC, was a special moment for me.  I left a week early where I could drive back for my brother’s college graduation where he was graduating with Honors from The University of Tennessee at Martin. I looked forward to driving through the mountains as I made my way home.  However, fog set in and instead of the beautiful mountains, all I saw was the fog blocking that view.  That fog stayed with me until I was almost out of the mountains – I missed it all.  But I did see my brother graduate and my mother, in her proudest moment, pushing him in his wheelchair across the stage to be presented with his diploma. During that time in life, I saw God’s face shining through as my brother graduated.  Through the coming years, I had times of much fog in my life but I also had times of much clarity.  I graduated, my brother died, I found jobs youth directing, I realized youth directing was not for me, I began teaching, I got married, I lost my husband in a car accident.  All of these events took me into fog, into clarity, into fog, and back and forth.  I remember after my husband’s death, I made my way back to Lake Junaluska.  As I drove into the mountains, there were beautiful blue skies.  In my car, I played my favorite compact disk of John Tesh music.   It was remarkable.  I felt lost inside during that time, but somehow God’s clear voice spoke through those blue skies and the music.  I was at peace.  Even today, twenty years later, that same music brings a peace whenever I hear it.

Today’s scripture was the story of the Walk to Emmaus when two men walked on the road the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion.  A stranger came up to them and they told him the story of what had just happened.  They did not know, because they were in their own fog, that Jesus was the man speaking to them.  They didn’t know until they asked him to stay with them for the night, and when he broke the bread at supper, that He was Jesus.  They were in a fog not seeing what was right in front of them.  Then they saw clearly.  Isn’t that how many of us are today.  Aren’t we in a fog when we are not sure where God is leading, and then when we look back later, we see Him clearly.  The fog has lifted.

http://devotional.upperroom.org/devotionals/2016-08-26

Prayer:  God, thank you for leading us even we do not see you and we do not understand.  Please lift the fog in our lives and help us see clearly.  We love you today and always.  Amen

Prayer Focus:  Those living in a fog

Prayer Time

Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV)

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Thought for the Day:  Praise God first.

There are days when feel good moments come and you just have to take it all in.  Planning for my children’s choir rehearsal is always exciting as I visualize how each song will go and what movements we can do to make songs more fun.  Most of the time, my thoughts in planning are more spectacular than they turn out to be.  This rehearsal was different.  This rehearsal seemed special.  As the time began, it was slow as everyone had not arrived and I was playing guitar and leading the children in some sing-a-long songs.  Then, without an accompanist, I began playing piano and directing which never goes as well as I visualize.  As I planned the lesson part of our rehearsal, I thought some about it in planning but not totally.  The activity shared in the small groups was to have the children draw their hand on a paper, then we were to share the “steps” in praying each represented by different fingers on the hand.  I had heard the “steps” before but working with children made it very special.  They quickly understood that the thumb was the first step that represented giving God the praise, the index finger represented thanking God, the tall finger represented confession, the ring finger represented praying for others, and the pinky finger represented praying for ourselves.  As we discussed the steps, they shared back with us and each other their understanding of each step.  Now, they, and I, have a visual to help them in their daily prayer.

Many times, at least for me recently, prayers tend to come from our needs first and then we end with saying “The Lord’s Prayer” and finish rather quickly.  As I watched the children and thought about the prayer activity and what it taught the children, I began looking at my own prayer time.  Do I give God the praise first, before I pray for myself?  Do I pray for myself after I have prayed thanksgiving, confession, and for others?  No, typically, I pray for my needs first…..out of my mouth pops out a need for my family and for me, then later I get around to thanking God.  So, today I hold up my hand.  First, I praise God for Who He is.  Then, I thank God for what He has given.  Next, I confess my sins which are many.  I then pray for the needs of others.  Finally, I pray for my needs.   What a simple concept to pray in a way God deserves from us every time we pray!

Prayer:  God, Almighty!  You are incredible and amazing.  Thank you for all You give us each day as You show Your love to us.  Please forgive us our sins and help us understand ways we need to change.  Please be with those who are hurting or grieving in some way.  Lord, give us our daily needs.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those wanting to pray more intentionally

The Body of Christ

Romans 12:4-8

For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them; if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Thought for the Day:  We are the body of Christ

Rejoice in the little things!  In the midst of storms, we sometimes find moments of peace that are unexpected.  After we arose on a Tuesday morning to get our children ready for school and on the bus, as had become normal, I sat at my computer checking for job positions then I did more in depth scripture reading.  I opened the Bible to a page and it was about us being a part of the Body of Christ and each of us being important to Christ and His Body.  I spent some time thinking about my life and how each person that I remembered had something to do with where I am right now.  My “life” is made up of parts of each of those people.  My parents gave me the “parts” of being tenacious, brave, caring, and understanding of how to care for those who can’t do for themselves.  My brothers gave me the “parts” of doing my very best and trying as hard as I can no matter what my “physical” of other circumstances may be.  My “Mom”, Rita, gave me the “parts” of being loving, willing, and anxious to help others in their time of need even after a huge loss.  My husband gave me the “parts” of being a loving friend, a partner in life, and the want to minister to those around me.   My children gave me the “parts” of loving unconditionally and of loving in a way that we become a part of the other person.  Every one of my friends has become a “part” of my life in ways that I do not have enough paper to share.

As I thought about this, I understood a little bit more about the scripture from Romans 12.  Before, I visualized literally the parts of the body whenever I would read or hear scripture.  That is how simplistic my mind works.  It takes much thought for me to go deeper.  However, as I thought about all the people in my life and the way they have worked together to make me who I am, I understood.  “For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”  Every one of us, no matter how important we think we are or how unworthy some us feel we are, are all intricate parts of Christ’s body and we use our gifts for Him.  I am thankful for all those who are such intricate parts of who I am.  But, wow, what a privilege it is to know that we are each a part of something bigger, the biggest.  We are all a part of the Body of Christ!

Prayer:  God, thank You for all those who have touched our lives in such big ways to help form us.  Thank You even more for letting us be a part of You.  To know that we are a part of the Body of Christ and that You created us in a way that we belong is incredible.  Help us remember every moment of everyday that we are Yours, and You love us.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those Feeling Alone

The Hot Pepper

James 4:7-8

Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.

Thought for the Day:  Keep our thoughts on God and pray He will protect us from the “little things” that get in the way.

“Jonathan, what are you doing?” I asked.  I heard the freezer door open and looked over to see my youngest son pulling out an ice cream container.  “Honey, we are going to eat supper first, then we can have ice cream.”  He really didn’t respond but I kept watching as he is tenacious when he wants something.  I looked more closely to see that he had pulled the blender to the edge of the counter.  “Jonathan, do you want a shake?  We can make that after supper.”  “Yes, mam”, he responded.  Supper came and went, and I began putting ice cream in the blender to make the shake.  From out of nowhere came Jonathan and he put something in the blender.  As I looked, I realized that he had put in a tiny hot pepper from his favorite plant.  I reacted in a not so pleasant way and then proceeded to get the pepper out with a spoon.  Bless his heart, he wanted to share something “special”.  I continued making the shake and truly forgot about the pepper.  After pouring the shakes into different glasses and placing them on the table, we sat to have our sweet delight.  I began drinking and enjoying my shake then I said, “I can taste the hot-pepper.”  As my oldest son and I looked more closely, we realized that we could see tiny red spots in the shake.  I had not gotten all the pepper out when I spooned it out of the ice cream.  The shake had been compromised.

As I thought about that experience, I thought about how we let little negative thoughts and sins into our lives each day.  When I awake each day and pray, I try to start in a positive way thinking about how God is going to use me.  “Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again I say rejoice.”  I sing scriptures praising God and pray for Him to lead me through my day.  Then, those “tiny peppers” enter into my mind.  Those hot, negative thoughts come in.  Those “tiny” negative thoughts seem to take over the positive and my day turns bitter.  God doesn’t want this for us and He constantly works to show us His love.  The only way to get rid of the negative is to send Satan away from us and to ask God’s protection from those “tiny” thoughts.  Then rejoice and keep rejoicing.  God is there bringing only the wonderful delight of His love.

Prayer:  God, thank you for loving us and protecting us from the “tiny” negative thoughts that Satan sends our way.  Those thoughts can compromise our thoughts and take our eyes away from You.  Help us, Lord, to keep our thoughts on You where Satan cannot come in to take away our joy.  We rejoice today in You.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those dealing with “tiny” things

 

What Brings Peace?

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let all men know your forbearance.  The Lord is at hand.  Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Thought for the Day:  Always Rejoice in the Lord and you will feel His peace.

My husband is the minister of music and worship ministries in a church.  As he talked last week about the theme for Sunday’s Worship service, he said it was a tough area to find music for and for the preacher to prepare a sermon.  The area was “peace”.  At first, I thought, “That can’t be that bad.” But then, I listened more to what he was saying.  As we look at today’s world we see war, violence, unrest, fear of neighbors, bad talk about those that look different, and so much more.  To find a way to talk about peace when we see the news with images of the results of war is almost impossible.  As we look into the lives of those around us, there is also unrest.  We stress over finances, careers, children, grandchildren, and almost every area of our lives.  I do, I wake up almost every morning jolted into my day by thoughts of things I need to do to help with our finances and what I need to do to prepare food for my family.  I am a worrier, I take after my mother, I am a worrier.

Our pastor preached a wonderful sermon where he began by saying he struggled as he prepared because he is also a worrier.   As he preached, I could tell he spoke from the heart and that his study of peace for his sermon helped him feel more at peace.  As he preached he shared several peaceful statements that touched me: “Give our troubles to God and trust that He is big enough”, “We question if He really loves us – Is He a Good, Good Father”, “Trust is a hard thing, especially trusting God in unseen – God is faithful, we can be thankful”, “Give it up to better hands, leave it to God”, and “The peace that passes all understanding”.  As I listened to his sermon I began thinking about all the things in my life that bring me worry, as there are many.  But as I left the service, I began thinking about peace and what I need to bring peace to my life.  Writing each morning brings me peace, at least for a moment each morning.  But somehow, I need to expand on that.  The key to having peace in our hearts comes from what Paul wrote when he was imprisoned, yes, while he was imprisoned.  As we go through our day, we can find peace in celebrating God, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”  Is there any way to keep repeating those words throughout the day without feeling a sense of peace?

Prayer:  God, thank you for pastors and musicians who bring messages each Sunday.  We take for granted that speaking and planning worship is easy.  Thank you for the time they spend preparing to speak to us and for the way they bring You to each one of us.  God, we rejoice today – we “Rejoice in the Lord always and again we say Rejoice”.  Today, God, bring peace to our hearts.  Amen.

God Uses Our Inadequacies

Luke 9:16-17

And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.  And all ate and were satisfied.  And they took up what was left over, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

Thought for the Day:  Christ will give us His adequacy to meet the needs of people if we yield our inadequacy to Him

“In my life, Lord, be glorified, be glorified.  In my life, Lord, be glorified today.”  As I woke very early on Saturday morning and wrote my morning devotion, I found a struggle.  It was a true struggle for the words to write.  I searched for a long time through devotions and scriptures before the words came.  As I went through the morning hours after writing, I found myself in tears several times.  With head down in my hands, I prayed.  With eyes looking up seeing the blue sky, I listened to Christian songs of faith.  With overwhelming heartache, I cried.  My husband appeared worried that I had lost all hope and faith.   At some point, I looked at Facebook and saw that a message had come in from a dear friend.  In the message she said that she had just shared my devotion for the day with a friend who needed to hear the words.  I stopped, stunned that the words I had written when I was at a very low point in those early morning hours might have helped someone in need.  I wrote those words selfishly because I was feeling sorry for myself and feeling very inadequate.  Worry and stress brought the words I wrote.  God worked through my inadequacies to help someone else.

Today, before I even got out of bed, I prayed.  I admit that most of the time, I get my coffee and sit on the couch before I say my first prayer.  Today, I prayed first. I prayed for God’s miracles to happen in my life to help my family and me see answers to some questions.  In the moments after I awoke, I realized that the difficulties of yesterday were because I was feeling sorry for myself and I realized that my thoughts were only on me.  Today, I prayed that I show Jesus Christ to others by my words and my actions.  Yesterday, God used my inadequacies to help someone.  Today, I pray that God uses me to touch someone as I try more intentionally to be who God wants me to be.  “In my life, Lord, be glorified, be glorified.  In my life, Lord, be glorified today.”

Prayer:  Father God, You use our inadequacies to help others.  How humbling to realize that something we do brings glory to Your name!  God You took something done through a fault, and turned it into something else.  Be with us as we find ways to glorify You as we intentionally put our eyes on You.  Amen.