Sunday, February 10, 2019

Rejoice Always

Rejoice always!
1 Thessalonians 5:15 HCSB

Recently, my husband and I had the pleasure of joining in worship in my hometown church. A lot has changed since my childhood; the church is larger both in the physical size of the building and the congregation. Many of the precious older folks that I loved so well now walk the golden streets of heaven, and like me, many of my childhood friends have moved away. However, there remains enough friends and familiar faces to still make it feel like home.

As my husband and I lifted our voices joyfully singing the old hymns that we love so much, a childhood friend stepped from his seat a couple of rows in front of us and made his way to the end of our row. Placing his arm around my husband, the three of us melted into a trio of harmony as our voices lifted the praises of our Lord, and our hearts swelled with joy.

I felt the words of Nehemiah 8:10, “the joy of the Lord is your strength,” spring to life as verse after verse drew me back to bygone years and pulled me forward towards the day I will meet my Savior face to face. In those moments, rejoicing flowed as natural as cool water from the top of a rain-soaked mountain.

Rejoicing comes easy during those sweet moments. However, rejoicing at the bedside of a dying parent, rejoicing with your hand pressed against a glass as you stare at a child in an orange jumpsuit, rejoicing when a friend turns her back on you—not as easy. Yet the Apostle Paul wrote these words to the church in Thessalonica to embolden them to forge ahead in the midst of persecution. Rejoice always!

Rejoicing bubbles up from the depths of your soul. You cannot manufacture rejoicing. You cannot bring it to the surface on command. You cannot call it forward by an act of your will. It happens! When you trust in the Lord with all your heart! When you know without a doubt that God is able and in control! When you cannot see God’s plan but you trust His hand! Then, although your heart may be broken, your life may seem shattered, or your future may look hopeless, then you can rejoice and gain strength from the Lord.

Be encouraged! Remember, “the joy of the Lord is your strength,” and rejoice always!


© Joyce Powell

Monday, February 4, 2019

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

Thursday, January 3, 2019

When You Pray

But when you pray, go into your room,
close the door and pray to your Father,
who is unseen. Then your Father, who
who sees what is done in secret, will
reward you.        Matthew 6:6 NIV

When you pray! When you pray! When you pray! For some reason, prayer—the most powerful tool in the Christian arsenal, is often our weapon of last resort. Be honest!

When you realize that the month is longer than your money—do you first wring your hands…or pray? When you hear a doctor’s dire prognosis for a loved one—do you first panic in fear…or pray? When you have choices to make that could change the course of your life—do you try to logically decide the answer…or pray?

The suddenly moments in life, those moments that surprise, overtake and overwhelm us are often the moments when we least feel like praying. Yet, those moments, like all the common, mundane and everyday moments of life are important “pray first” opportunities.

Prayer is a matter of the heart. Perhaps that is why Jesus taught the disciples to go into a room and close the door—get alone with God. Prayer is about the privilege of emptying yourself before God and allowing Him to speak, uninterrupted by ringing phones and televisions. Prayer is a time set aside to “Be still and know that I Am God!” (Psalm 46:10)  

I wish I could say that I get it right every time. I do not! I wish I could say that prayer is always my first thought. I cannot! I wish I could say that in every dire circumstance of life, I have rushed directly to the throne room of my Heavenly Father. I have not!

Like you, there are times when I wring my hands, walk the floor and shed my tears before I run to my Father. But, through the years, those times have become fewer and fewer. The longer I have walked with God, the more I have found Him faithful and constant and so close that when I turn to run to Him, He is already there—waiting.

Prayer is about an intimate relationship with our loving Heavenly Father. He should be our first thought when we are in need. Rather than running for the phone to call a friend, we should run to our prayer closet to call on Our Father Who Art In Heaven. We will never get a busy signal. His number will never be disconnected, and we will never be put on hold while he answers another line.

Have you prayed today—just to say, “Good morning, Lord. I love you. I don’t need anything—just wanted to say hello.” I wonder if that might be the prayer He enjoys the most.

Whatever your day holds, don’t forget that God is ready and waiting to hear you when you pray. 

© Joyce Powell      

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas 2018

Merry Christmas 
and thank you
for reading
all year!

May God richly bless all
you do for Him in
2019.


Monday, December 17, 2018

The True Gift of Christmas


For God so loved the world that He gave…
                                           John 3:16  KJV  

The long-awaited day of both children and child-like hearts seems out of reach for eleven months of the year. Then, almost without warning, it has come and gone!
Wrapping paper covers the floor like plush thick carpet. Ribbons and bows capture the toes of those brave enough to walk barefoot through their colorful curled trappings while the evidence of too much or for some— too little, leaves behind either dreams fulfilled or longings for that one desired gift.

But the true gift of Christmas will never disappoint or leave you searching for something more. The true gift of Christmas is God’s bountiful grace, announced to the shepherds, displayed in a manger and eventually delivered to the cross. The true gift of Christmas came down from heaven in the supreme act of love.

The true gift of Christmas is Light in a dark world. Hope for the hopeless! Healing for the afflicted! Joy for the broken hearted! Peace in the midst of turmoil! Abundance rather than lack! Forgiveness exchanged for unforgiveness! Rescue from a storm-tossed life! Encouragement for the down and out and for the up and out!

The true gift of Christmas is grace—God’s abundant, over-flowing, never-ending, always available grace. Don’t miss it! Grace is available today! For you! Now! It is grace for living and grace for dying. It is grace for the sunny days and the dark, cloudy, storm-filled days. The true gift of Christmas—For God so loved the world that He gave more than we needed, before we realized we needed it and long after we thought the need had passed.

The true gift of Christmas—Jesus came to live in the human heart. Open yours! Let Him in! 

© Joyce Powell

Monday, December 10, 2018

Sing, For the Savior Has Come


And suddenly there was with
the angel a multitude of the
Heavenly host praising God,
and saying, Glory to God in
the highest, and on earth
peace, good will toward men.
                 Luke 2:13-14 KJV


Christmas is a time for singing. The Savior has come!
The First Noel the Angel Did Say
Angels We Have Heard on High
Joy to the World! The Lord is Come
O Come, All Ye Faithful
There’s a Song in the Air
Hail, Thou Long-expected Jesus
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Silent Night, Holy Night
Good Christian Men, Rejoice
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Angels, from the Realms of Glory
Away in a Manger
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing 

     Be blessed today by remembering the songs of the Christmas season. They sing of a Savior who is born, Christ the King! Let your heart rejoice as you remember the Redeemer! He came to rescue, ransom and redeem! He is Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords, and King of Kings. Today let us sing it in our homes, on our streets, in our churches and around the world. The Savior has come! His name is JESUS!

© Joyce Powell

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Beginning of Christmas


Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in
this way, “When his mother Mary had been
betrothed to Joseph, before they came
together she was found to be with child
from the Holy Spirit.”
                                Matthew 1:18 ESV 

According to the custom of the day, Mary and Joseph were betrothed. A legally binding contract had been signed and could be broken only by death or divorce. Although considered married, physical intimacy during this portion of a relationship was considered adultery, and the penalty for adultery—death!

The genealogy listed in Matthew 1:1-17 reveals Jesus’ legal claim to the throne of David. Jesus Messiah would be born of a virgin and raised by an earthly father whose heritage included patriarchs, a prostitute (Rahab) and a King (David).

I cannot imagine the emotional roller coaster of this young girl; from the excitement of betrothal to the unbelievable pregnancy without hope that anyone would believe she had committed no sin. The stares, whispers, and judgment of others who did not know the truth would follow her as she walked through the crowds. Yet chosen by God, she faced her future knowing that this child growing inside of her was a gift of love from Yahweh, Jehovah, I AM.


As I read these words, written centuries ago, I am reminded of how often we look at another’s situation and make a mental judgment without full knowledge of the truth of their circumstances. And I wonder how much pain we cause others with our less than friendly hello and our fake fellowship.


It is Christmastime! What better gift could we give our Lord than to love one another with the same kind of love bestowed upon us by our Heavenly Father? I can think of no better way to celebrate Christmas than to spread the love of God throughout our homes, our families, our churches and our communities.


Today would be a good day to lay aside judgment without knowledge and really begin to love the unlovable people in our lives. It is the beginning of Christmas: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 ESV)

©Joyce Powell