Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Hope Replaces Condemnation

Therefore, there is now
 no condemnation
 for those
 who are in
 Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1

Condemnation comes in many forms; criticism, disapproval, rebuke, judgment… Our world today seems filled with those who easily find fault in others; condemning you for your beliefs, words, or actions with no thought as to how their criticism and negative words might change the course of your life.

But, have you considered that you may be your own worst enemy when it comes to condemnation? Most likely you have heard the phrase “jack of all trades—master of none.” Those are the words that satan whispered in my ears for decades. Every time I heard a great pianist perform, an accomplished singer sing, read a fine work of literature, or saw a remarkable photograph displayed, my mind would rush to the “if only I had” focused on one thing: piano, vocal, composition, photography—“then I would not be a…jack of all trades and master of none.” Heaping condemnation upon myself became a bad habit.

Perhaps you too have played the self-condemnation game. But Romans 8:1 says “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” While we usually think of this verse in the context of freedom from sin by the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ, I would like you to think outside the box for a moment. 1 John 3:19-21 tells us that God is greater than your conscience, your thought process, or the rationalization of your behavior.

Psalm 139 beautifully proclaims God’s activity in your life before your lungs inhaled for the first time. Almighty God looked upon you while you grew in your mother’s womb. Verses fifteen and sixteen explain that before your body was formed, all the days God ordained for you were written in His book; before a single one of them came to be.

God loves you, and you are so precious to Him that rather than condemn you, when you were an embryo, in a little tight ball, He planned your days and wrote them down in His book. That does not mean we will never face trials, temptations, or sorrows but that as soon as you surrender your life to the Father through Jesus Christ His Son, you are in safe hands; no longer condemned. Sin cannot condemn you, satan cannot condemn you, and you cannot condemn yourself. 

Never again allow satan to whisper, “You are not good enough,” in your ear. Never again allow him to convince you that you have sinned too often, been too bad, or done too much wrong to be useful in God’s Kingdom. Never again allow satan to make you believe that you are “just ok” in your service for the Father, because 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Do not let it be you! Find hope in the words Jesus spoke to a woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8:11b, “And Jesus said unto her, ‘Neither do I condemn thee go, and sin no more.’” (KJV) Let hope replace condemnation in your life.

© Joyce Powell

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hope to Cross Your Red Sea

Moses answered, the people,
 “Do not be afraid.
Stand firm and you will see the deliverance
 the LORD will bring you today…
 The LORD will fight for you;
 you need only to be still.

Exodus 14:13a, 14

Imagine with me the dilemma faced by the Israelites when, with one final plague over Egypt, God changed the world as they knew it—forever. For four hundred thirty years, to the day, (Exodus 12:40) they lived, worked, and eventually became enslaved in Egypt. Genesis 46:27 tells us that seventy direct descendants of Jacob (Israel) went into Egypt, and after four hundred thirty years, 603,550 men age twenty and older plus women, children, and the Tribe of Levi fled Egypt. In approximately twenty-four days, according to some studies I read, well over one million people camped by the Red Sea.

Exodus 14:10 tells us, “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD.” Husbands fearful for their wives and children. Mothers fearful for their nursing babies. Children fearful of the thunderous roar of chariots and hoof beats. Then fear turned to anger as accusations against Moses and I told you so language could be heard throughout the desert.

When it looked like they were trapped, Moses called upon God and encouraged the people with these words, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14) Hope to cross the Red Sea.

What happened next has been immortalized in print and film over generations. God made a dry-land path across the Red Sea. The Israelites crossed, and when Pharaoh’s army followed, the sea swallowed every last Egyptian. The Israelites never saw the Egyptian army again! God always keeps His Word!

Rather than an imposing body of water before you and an army of chariots behind you, a busy schedule may pursue you from the moment your feet hit the floor in the morning until the last piece of laundry is folded, the last child stops asking for a drink of water, and the last item on your to-do list is moved to tomorrow.

Your Red Sea may be an aging parent, a wayward child, or empty-nest syndrome. Your Red Sea may be waiting for the doctor’s report, the job interview results, or reconciliation with a loved one. Your Red Sea may be an empty checkbook, an empty pantry, and an empty gas tank. Your Red Sea may be a secret you have never shared while the thunder of shame and rejection beats in your ears.

Your Red Sea may be the fault of others or a creation of your own decisions. But here is the good news! God sees you. He can make a way in the desert and streams in your wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19b) God either placed you where you are or allowed circumstances to bring you to this place.

Hebrews 13:6 reminds us that during times of great stress or insecurity we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

Do you feel trapped between a rushing army and a raging sea? Perhaps God is testing your faith. Perhaps He is weaving you into a beautiful masterpiece, and for now you are only allowed to see the jagged threads on the underside of the cloth. Perhaps He is preparing to open the sea and allow you to walk across on dry land. 

 “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you… The LORD will fight for you; you need only be still.” He is Hope to cross your Red Sea.

© Joyce Powell

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Moon Rising

Last night's moon was extraordinary.
 By the time we could see it from our home,
 the orange glow was gone,
 yet there is something wonderful
 about gazing at the night sky
 and capturing the obvious
 Presence of Almighty God
 as His handiwork
 displays His Glory!
 It never

Wherever you are on planet earth, I pray you felt His Presence last night.

November 3, 2017 - Moon Rising over Texas

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Monarch Butterflies

Here in South Texas it is time for the Monarch Butterfly migration.  I found only this one lone monarch today, but I wanted to share it with my friends around the world. I hope you enjoy and are reminded of the graciousness and glorious artistry of our Mighty God.

© Joyce Powell

Thursday, October 12, 2017

When I Am Afraid

When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me?
Psalm 56:3-4

In recent weeks, we have witnessed tragedy after tragedy; earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, and mass murder. Our nightly news brings headlines of all kinds of tragedy from around our world. Anger and fear permeate news story after news story. If you and I do not proactively fight against it, depression and despair can overtake our thoughts and actions.

Having given my life to God through Christ Jesus I know I am anchored safely between Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God…” and Revelation 22:20 where Christ tells us, “Yes, I am coming soon.”  God remains in control of all things.

In John 16:33, Jesus tells us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Many theologians believe that as David penned the words of Psalm 56, he was fleeing from King Saul who wanted to take David’s life. Yet, amid great fear, David trusted God. He understood that no matter what King Saul might do to him, ultimately his life remained safe in the hands of God.

So, it is with you and me. Believer or non-believer. Young or old. Faithful follower of Christ or one who practices casual Christianity. God is sovereign over all life. Do you want peace in the midst of fear? Trust in God through Jesus Christ. Get to know your Creator. As you read His Word, He walks through the pages. Listen!  He still speaks! And in these tumultuous times you and I, like David, can know that when we are afraid, He is trustworthy.

After all, if I am a Child of God, “what can mortal man do to me?”

© Joyce Powell

Friday, September 8, 2017

Beyond My Imagination

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen,
nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love
him”—these things God has revealed to us
through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches
everything, even the depths of God.
                             1 Corinthians 2:9-10 

Several years ago friends, a female trio, asked me to write a song about what we would see in heaven. I agreed—under one condition. I asked each of them to write down and mail to me their expectations of heaven. With the promise that they would not share with the others but with me alone, I began receiving their letters.

I read, I smiled, I wept, and I wrote Glimpses of Home. Although these young women spent a lot of time together and each loved the Lord, as evidenced by the way they lived their lives, their views of heaven and what they were looking forward to seeing were individual and exciting expectations.

Why—because the heart of man cannot imagine the splendor and wonder our Heavenly Father has prepared for us. It is beyond our earthly comprehension. Heaven is beyond our imagination!

As a young Christian, I looked forward to streets of gold, gates of pearl and walls of jasper. Now, I just want to sit at the feet of Jesus, to lay my crown of righteousness before the throne of God, to sing with the redeemed in perfect harmony—I am redeemed by love divine glory glory Christ is mine! I want to worship God!

Ecclesiastes 3:11 confirms that God has planted eternity in the hearts of man. We have a longing to see Him. We know there is more than what our earthly life offers. As His children, we anxiously await our reunion in heaven. Occasionally, as when my mother was dying, God gives us glimpses of home by allowing our loved ones to speak aloud what they are seeing. But it seems that it is always just enough to intensify our longing to see for ourselves.

Some day God will call each of us into eternity, and we will see with our eyes what our hearts and minds have only imagined. I know one thing for sure! Heaven is “bright and clear.” The rest is beyond my imagination.  

©Joyce Powell

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Glory of God

1The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens, God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

Psalm 19:1-6 NIV

On this day of solar eclipse, it is good to remember the Son, Creator of all that is (John 1:1-2) as we look up and see the sun and moon dance across the heavens.

© Joyce Powell