Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Cheerful Look

A cheerful look brings
joy to the heart,
and good news gives
health to the bones.

Proverbs 15:30  NIV

1980 was an eventful—stressful “health” year in my life; a mixture of the greatest joy with the birth of our youngest son and the deepest anxiety and stress as I awaited news on three separate occasions for the outcome of tumor biopsies.

But, after each opportunity to trust God, there came a smile and good news from the doctor. I remember feeling immediate relief, my muscles relaxed, my shoulders straightened, and the seeming loss of a thousand pounds lifting from my heavy heart. The doctor’s cheerful look and good news erased my doubts and fears and restored joy to my physical body as well as my emotional psyche.

Proverbs 15:13 (HCSB) says, “A joyful heart makes a face cheerful, but a sad heart produces a broken spirit…” My heart condition shows on my face. So does yours! How about when circumstances are out of your control, when the diagnosis is grave, or when the trauma is too great for your human mind to comprehend? What then?

The answer to that question is one of the most beautiful things about belonging to a body of Christian believers. When tragedy or trauma strikes, when your heavy heart rips the smile from your heart and face, or when it appears that no good thing can possibly come from your circumstance…what then?

Then our Heavenly Father rallies the troops, gathers the encouragers, and provides those cheerful faces and warm hugs (along with casseroles, cakes, and cookies.) That’s when He supplies sitters to sit with you, listeners to listen to you, and prayers to pray for you. That’s when He rejuvenates your hope through a smiling face, warms your heart through a cheerful word, and reminds you that you are not forgotten, forsaken, or forlorn. That is good news that will help restore health to your bones.

If your present circumstance is filled with heartache, it is the perfect time for God to intervene on your behalf. Watch for Him! If you are in a happy place, it is a great time to spread a cheerful look all over your face and warm the hearts of others. When you think there is nothing you can do for someone, remember, a cheerful look brings joy to the heart!



© Joyce Powell

Friday, March 30, 2018

Resurrection


Before sunrise woke the sleeping skies, they ran toward Jesus’ tomb
Their hands were filled with spices; their hearts were filled with gloom
For the one they loved lay silently within a stone cold grave,
And they worried who was strong enough to roll that stone away 

Imagine their surprise when they arrived and He was gone!
An angel said, “He is not here.” It did not take them long
To turn and run to tell their friends who ran so they could see
An empty tomb, and grave clothes lay where Jesus used to be 

They did not understand, their Lord was gone, they knew not where
They did not understand that all the time, the Lord was there
Walking in the garden, waiting to ascend
Then Mary met the Teacher, Master, Savior, Friend 

He said to her, now go and tell I’m going to my Father
So she hurried to the place where she could tell the others
Behind closed doors they waited now, in fear of what would come
When in their midst, they saw the one whose voice had calmed the storm 

His words were “Peace be unto you.”  He showed his hands and side
He showed them things we do not know and spoke to them of life
For all those who have never seen the Savior yet believe
 Everlasting life will be the gift that they receive 

For you and me and everyone who heeds the call to come
Unto the blessed Savior, for there is only one,
Who could pay the final sacrifice; one spotless, sinless Lamb
The only way, our debt to pay, to reach the Great I Am 

Just when we think it is hopeless, like those who saw the empty tomb
He steps into our midst and speaks sweet peace, dispels our gloom
Our job is to go and tell and spread the word “He’s Risen”
Salvation today and hope for tomorrow is what our Lord has given 

Don’t wait; don’t even hesitate, to bow before Him now
Give Him your heart, your life your all and He will show you how
To face each day with thankful hearts, with peace, and joy, and love
And when this life is ended He’ll transport us far above
The sun, the moon, the starry sky, to heaven’s peaceful shore
Where we’ll worship Him with glorious praise in heaven evermore.

© JP 2013

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Jesus Built a Bridge

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the
mount before the LORD. And, behold, the
LORD passed by, and a great and strong
wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces
the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was
not in the wind: and after the wind an
earthquake; but the LORD was not in the
earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire;
but the LORD was not in the fire: and after
the fire a still small voice.
                       1 Kings 19:11-12 KJV



Barraged daily by television images of hate, evil, and death, our enemy, satan, would like to discourage and intimidate God's Children. But do not be deceived. God is alive and well and in control of this world.
    

Elijah saw the mountains shake from a mighty wind, the earth quake at the bidding of God, and a fire burn. But God did not speak to Elijah through the mighty, the loud, or the ferocious. Instead, He spoke in a still small voice.

Today, in our world of constant noise, God continues to speak to His Children in a still small voice. He whispers peace in the midst of chaos. He whispers courage in the face of fear. He whispers joy in the face of sorrow and strength in the face of weakness.

On this Sunday before Easter, may we remember that it is God's One and Only Son Jesus who became a bridge stretching from heaven to earth. It is there, in Christ, we find refuge and peace as we hear His voice speaking peace to our souls. Take refuge in Christ today. Do not fear. Do not be troubled. And, do not forget that Jesus sits on the right hand of His Father in heaven interceding for God's children. He is the Only Way to heaven where our God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth in eternal control.

Look to the Cross of Christ and remember the bridge.

© Joyce Powell

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Refreshing Hope

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1 NIV

Living in South Texas I am familiar with months of hot dry weather and landscape that is weary from the lack of refreshing rain. In the hot summer months the local meteorologists may predict a slight chance of rain, raising the hope of cattle ranchers, farmers, and citizens who long for the dust to be washed from the trees. However, forecast and reality often collide leaving nothing but dashed hope and continued longing for renewal. In years of true drought, prayers for rain rise up.

Life has taught me that my soul can also experience drought; times when the busyness of “doing” for God interferes with my “being” with God. When that happens, it is not long before my soul feels barren and dry, and I begin to wonder why God seems distant. Have you had that experience? If I am not careful, I will then begin to live in past journeys with God and past victories for God— only remembering when.

Then it happens! A loving, merciful, gracious God reminds me He is near; watching, waiting, calling me back to the throne room; drawing me back to His Word. It is there He reminds me that during the barren dry times of life, my soul thirsts for Him, and His love is better than life. He encourages me to remember He is my help and the reason I sing, and He cleanses my heart with His springs of living water.

Are you in the midst of a spiritual drought? I have good news. There is refreshing hope waiting for you in the presence of the Father. No fancy words required. A humble heart will do.

© Joyce Powell

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Hope for the Battle



Put on the full armor
of God
so that you can take your stand
against the
devil’s schemes.

Ephesians 6:11



Roman soldiers, when marching into battle, carried a shield approximately four and one-half feet long by two and one-half feet wide. Usually made of three sheets of wood glued together and covered with canvas and leather, the shield protected the soldier from his chin to his knees. During times of siege, the soldiers would gather in a “tortoise” formation shaping a rectangle with shields raised around the perimeter.

The soldiers in the center would lift their shields, resting them on the Roman helmets and overlapping in order to prevent arrows from penetrating their tortoise-like shell. In this manner, the entire formation stood strong and protected from the enemy.

When writing to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul explained how, in the Christian life, we battle against spiritual forces. He used the wardrobe of the Roman soldier, something with which the people of Ephesus would have been familiar, to explain how to use the armor of God.

Paul not only listed the shield but told the church to “put on the full armor of God…” then proceeded to list the necessary items:


The belt of truth
The breastplate of righteousness
Feet fitted with the gospel of peace
The shield of faith
The helmet of salvation
The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God

And in verse eighteen he added:

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

Here, Paul outlined what I like to call the Spiritual Tortoise Shell. After putting on all the armor, pray—in the Spirit—on all occasions—with all kinds of prayers and requests. And, do not forget to be alert, watchful, and attentive. Watch out for the snares or attacks of the enemy. And always keep on praying for all the saints.”

While this letter was written to the church at Ephesus, it was also intended for circulation among other churches. In this manner, the Apostle Paul emphasized the need for both individual submission to Christ as well as love, mercy, charity, and kindness toward all the saints—fellow believers and followers of Christ—through constant prayer.


Although written nearly two thousand years ago, these instructions remain valid and necessary. What would happen in our world today if every person who has surrendered to Christ as Lord would follow the instructions to keep on praying, in the Spirit, for all the saints? I hope the next time the enemy sets his sights on me, my fellow Christians will have me covered with a spiritual tortoise shell because of their constant prayers. God’s armor is our hope for the battle.

©Joyce Powell

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Faith to See


Hebrews 11:1 NIV
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope
for and certain of what we do not see.”

Webster’s dictionary defines faith as unquestioning belief that does not require proof. We practice faith every day. When we see a chair that is designed to hold our weight, we sit down. When we go to bed, we do not ask whether or not it is safe—in faith, we just do it.

Some would argue that unlike the chair or the bed, I cannot see God. I would disagree. Webster’s defines see as the ability to get knowledge or an awareness of through the eyes; perceive visually; look at; view or to visualize as though present; picture. By this definition, we see God daily.

As I walk through my home, familiar sights tell me that a loved one is in the house. I may not immediately see him, but the evidence of his presence is everywhere. I submit that the same is true of God. As you look around, you see clear evidence that He exists and that He is present.

When the sun rises, we see His glory shining through the heavens. At sunset, we watch as He dips His brush and paints the evening sky with peach and gold. We see songbirds and hear them lifting praise to their Creator. We stand amazed as lightening dances across the landscape, and we see evidence of God’s great power. When the oceans roar, we perceive the sound of His voice. Every day, we get knowledge or an awareness of God through our eyes. We see Him.

I am positive that God is alive and well. His face shines through the darkness of my despair. His love wraps around me like a warm blanket on a cold winter morning. His joy fills my heart to overflowing. His majesty and power surround me. Light is His garment, and He pulls the curtain of darkness across the evening sky. The lushness of a green valley is carpet for His feet. His moon marks the changing of seasons. He wants you and me to know him.

One day we will see Him face to face. Until then, we see Him through the world around us. In Jeremiah 29:13, God tells us, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

The evidence that God is real, alive and well surrounds us. All it takes is faith to see.

©J Powell

Monday, January 22, 2018

Grandpa's Chewing Tobacco

The Word of the LORD came to Jonah…Go
To the great city of Nineveh and preach
against it…But Jonah ran away from the
LORD and headed for Tarshish.
Jonah 1:1-3

When I was eight years old, my mother and I bounced around in the top last row of a Greyhound double-decker bus from Michigan to Tennessee. Sliding left and right and jolting up and down for several hundred miles left a lasting impression on my stomach.

However, by day two at my grandparent’s house, my stomach returned to normal, and I was stepping on grandpa’s heels as he went about the business of working the farm. I kept noticing him tearing a piece of a dark substance off a block of something he pocketed in his bib overalls. He would put it in his mouth, chew, spit, and wipe his lips with the back of his hand. It looked good, so I kept asking, “Can I have some?” He continued to reply, “No,” until he became weary of my asking.

Finally, he tore off a small piece and handed it to me with careful instructions to not swallow either the juice or the plug of tobacco. I promised! Unfortunately, without thinking, I swallowed. I turned green. I gagged. I vomited. Grandpa smiled. He knew I would never again ask for a “chaw” of his tobacco. Lesson learned!

Jonah also learned a lesson. God called him to preach to the city of Nineveh “because its wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:2) Apparently, Jonah did not like what the LORD had to say and chose to run rather than obey. He went to the port of Joppa, paid his fare and boarded a ship bound for Tarshish; according to maps of the then-known world, that was as far as he could go in the opposite direction.

God sent a storm, the crew threw Jonah overboard, a great fish swallowed Jonah, the seas calmed, and after three days in the belly of that great fish and a powerful prayer, Jonah was vomited onto dry ground. Again, the word of the LORD came to Jonah “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” This time, Jonah obeyed! The city repented, God showed compassion, and destruction was averted.

Sometimes we get what we ask for only to find out it is not good for us. Sometimes we run from God. Sometimes our disobedience impacts others. And like my grandfather's "yes" to my request for tobacco, God sometimes allows us to learn the hard way. But God is the God of second chances. There is hope when you run to Him rather than from Him. What is He asking of you?


© Joyce Powell