Thursday, October 4, 2018

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

God's Perfect Timing

“In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

A few years ago, as I visited with a friend who appeared to be losing her five-year battle with cancer, we sat and discussed the things of God and how we had seen Him work throughout each of our lives. One of the things we talked about, the intricacies of God’s perfect timing, caused us to remember some of the good results from circumstances in each of our lives when our hearts feared that no good thing could come. We wondered if anything good could possibly come from Janet’s five years of suffering.

During our conversation, she asked me to read the day’s selection from the devotional book, Streams in the Desert. As I opened the book to November 17, the first sentence jumped off the page. “God’s timing is not ours to command.” The lump in my throat blocked these words of Charles H. Spurgeon. Finally, and with tears streaming down my cheeks, I read aloud. Like me, Janet swallowed hard realizing that what was written over a century before was in God’s perfect timing for the two of us on that specific day.

The steps the LORD determined for Janet were not the life-plans she had made. Her plans included health and long life, watching grandchildren grow and enjoying the love of her family for many years. God chose a different plan. A few days after our visit, Janet left her earth-bound body and arrived on the shores of heaven—pain free.

What about you? Has God interrupted your life with His plans—His timing? Are you confused or disheartened? Are you wondering what good can come from your circumstances?

I do not have the answers to all of our questions, but I do know that God’s plans are not to harm His child but to give hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) My plans for living include a long life on this earth. If that does not happen, like my friend Janet, my hope and future is in my heavenly home with my Father. Either way, I am secure in knowing that God has determined my steps.

John 3:16 is the foundation stone of my faith. Hopefully, you too are secure in the knowledge that “For God so loved the world…" includes you. Believe and trust in God’s perfect timing.

© Joyce Powell

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hope for the Captive Heart

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because
he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to
the poor; he hath sent me to heal the
brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the
captives, and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty them that are bruised,
                  Luke 4:18 KJV

The guard lowered a bucket on a rope from his perch in the tower outside the fifteen-foot razor-wire-topped chain-link fence. Each of us dropped our driver’s license into the bucket and watched as the guard pulled it upward. Satisfied with our identities, he returned each license following the same process.

We then stepped through a gate into a wire cage between two rows of razor-wire-topped fencing. As that gate locked behind us, the entrance to the prison yard opened. Once inside the prison, each of us signed the registration sheet with name, purpose, and driver’s license number.

The chaplain escorted us down the hall and into the cage where an officer took our driver’s licenses for photo identification purposes. The huge iron bars clanged closed behind us. Only then did the iron gate that opened onto the hallway leading to the chapel release us to walk our sound equipment  into our place of ministry.

For a brief moment in time, we were captive.

As I turned and looked down the hall behind us, I caught a glimpse of a sign attached to a wall of iron; “You are now entering Death Row.” Over four hundred men lived behind that iron wall. My heart sank as I thought about their fate then jumped for joy with hopeful expectation of what God might do in the hearts of the broken, bruised, captives who would hear His Word presented on that night.

I soon discovered God’s presence saturating the chapel as many men in white raised their hands and unashamedly praised the Lord. Their bodies held captive. Their hearts set free. I thought about men and women outside prison walls who walk freely in society but are often held captive by sin, heartache, sorrow, and pain.

The Greek word translated bruise in this verse is thrauĊ; to be oppressed, downtrodden or broken in pieces. Is that you? Are you oppressed, downtrodden, burdened, abused…? Is your life broken? Are you held captive by sin, grief, illness? Have you built an iron cage around your heart?

Hopefully, you will never know the sadness of prison incarceration. Yet, how much greater the sadness of a heart held captive. I have great news! There is hope for your captive heart. His name is Jesus, and He has come to set you free. He can put the broken pieces of your life together and heal your captive heart. Believe Him. Accept Him. Trust Him.

© Joyce Powell 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Waiting Grace

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew
their strength; they shall mount up with
wings like eagles; they shall run and not
be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

Today is decision day for a friend’s son. For several years he has been sitting in a prison cell, wrongly convicted, and on this day the State is scheduled to reveal its decision about whether or not to set aside his conviction.

Some may believe that years of his life have been wasted. I would disagree. You see while locked away he has ministered to the lost and hurting within his realm of influence—leading others to the Cross of Christ and belief that Jesus Christ died for the salvation of their souls. Men’s lives have been changed for eternity because he has been an obedient servant in the midst of appalling circumstances. In Christ, he has found endless supplies of renewed strength. Waiting grace!

When I think about this young son, brother, husband and father, I am ashamed of my impatience with day to day life, and I am compelled by my own heart to repent.

God’s Word extends the offer of grace to wait upon the LORD. Psalm 27:14 tells us, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” And, Psalm 37:7 reminds us to “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…” Psalm 130:5-6 encourages us—“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord…”

If you are in the midst of life’s detour, if you have had to set aside your plans and goals to care for a spouse, an aging parent or child in need, if just as you were ready to take the world by storm the perfect storm blew into your life and you fear you might drown, wait on the LORD.

Wait in joy—knowing that the God of mercy is in control! Wait in confident conviction that in Christ you too can receive endless supplies of renewed strength. Wait in expectation and don’t give up as you watch for the hand of God—and see the face of God—in your circumstances!

Wait, like the Apostle Paul to whom God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Wait as God extends to you His offer of eagle’s wings—waiting grace!

©JP 2013

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Following Jesus

Just then a woman who had been subject to
bleeding for twelve years came up behind him
and touched the edge of his cloak.
                                       Matthew 9:20

     I have long been fascinated by the Biblical accounts of Jesus and His interaction with ordinary people. I wonder about the back story and those whose lives were changed because of the one life changed by Jesus. Below is my fictional account of something that might have happened as the “woman with the issue of blood” found in Matthew 9:18-26 encountered our Living Lord. Who is watching you as you follow Christ?

Following Jesus

     I leaned against the city wall watching people pass through the marketplace. A pale, fragile woman caught my attention as she followed a man—a stranger to me. Before long, I lost track of her as a crowd formed around this stranger. When he stopped walking, a hush fell over the people. I could hear his voice but could not understand his words. So, I too followed from a distance; hoping to discover his name and mission.

     Although I wanted to hear this man for myself, I continued to focus on the woman who first caught my attention. Now, on the outer edge of the crowd, she appeared desperate to get closer to this man. Frail and falling farther and farther behind as others kept pushing her out of the way, I felt sorry for her. Perhaps if I could get to her I could assist in some way. But moment by moment the crowd grew larger, and it appeared my attempts to reach her were futile.

     I found myself focusing on her and not him. I was afraid for her; afraid she may be trampled by the throng. As she inched her way towards him I inched my way towards her. Finally she pressed in and, almost face to face with him, she stumbled. Just as I drew close enough to reach out and touch her, she reached out and touched him. What happened next can only be called a miracle. I saw it with my own eyes and even then I found it hard to believe.

     The moment her hand touched his garment, well—the only way I can explain it is that she looked like a young woman. Her pallid face turned pink. The anguish in her eyes disappeared, the kind that comes from years of pain and heartache, and I watched in disbelief as she stood straight and tall. This happened in a split second. Then the stranger turned and said, “Who touched me?” The answers reverberated throughout the sea of people. Not me! Not me!

     A man, that I later learned was called Peter and a follower of this person that I could now hear the crowd calling Jesus, said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me. I know that power has gone out from me.”

     The woman fell down at the feet of this man Jesus. She was trembling and with the crowd listening she told her story. “Sir,” she said, “for twelve years my body has been bleeding. I have been to every doctor I could find, but no one, no medicine, the hand of no man could heal me. I have heard the stories of your healing power; causing the lame to walk, the blind to see, and the dead to live again, and I thought sir if only I could get close enough to touch you, perhaps just maybe I could be healed. I’m happy to say, Lord, it worked! I could feel it! When I touched you, I could feel it, your healing power flowing through my body.”

     The crowd grew silent. As I stood watching this incredible turn of events, I wondered what this man Jesus would do next. He looked at her and said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” I felt his glance in my direction. I believed he was speaking to me as well. Calm overcame me. I waited in vain for more. Go in peace. She was healed, after years of trying everything she knew to do and finding nothing that worked—healed when she reached out and touched the garment of this man Jesus.

     Shocked and amazed and intrigued, I took my eyes off this woman and began to focus on Jesus. He spoke with authority and wisdom and as we walked along the streets I found myself more and more drawn to him. Eventually he left the crowd and went to the home of Jarius, the ruler of the synagogue.

     I later heard that he had raised the daughter of Jarius from the dead. I also heard that he fed 5000 men and their families with five loaves of bread and two fish from a little boy’s lunch. Those who were there say that some of his followers collected baskets full of food after everyone finished eating. I heard he healed a boy possessed by a demon, and a crippled woman and I knew it was all true for I too had seen his power.

     I never again saw the woman that I had followed to Jesus on that day. I never learned her name. All I know is that she led me to him, and for that I will be forever grateful. Many more have become followers since that day. Spreading rumors claim that the leaders of the Jews are conspiring against Jesus. I’ve also heard whispers that some of them are themselves secret followers; believers like me.

     Who knows where this will end. All I know is that my encounter with Jesus changed my life forever. I now have peace in my most inner being, and I’ve found the true meaning of love and life. Everywhere I go I tell the story of that first encounter. Some believe. Some do not. Some even laugh. That’s okay. I’ll keep telling, because I know it is true. I know He changes lives. He changed mine. I know he is Jesus, the One and Only—Messiah!

©Joyce Powell

Monday, August 27, 2018

Confess Your Distress

We are in great distress.
Nehemiah 9:37b  NIV

Have you ever been in great distress? Maybe that is where you find yourself right now. Broke. Sick. Afraid. Ashamed. Confused. Alone. Perhaps your problems are self-created. Maybe you are concerned about someone you love. Your child. Your husband. Your wife. Your aging parent. A beloved friend. But, whatever the reason, you are in distress!

That is where the Israelites were in the Book of Nehemiah. Once again, they were reaping the consequences of their disobedience to God. Their city was broken, their community was broken and they were broken. But one man, Nehemiah, became so heartbroken over Jerusalem and the Jews that he determined to make a difference despite every difficulty.

Nehemiah was a man of prayer. He prayed earnestly for God’s help in repairing the walls of Jerusalem and got much more than he asked for. By chapter nine, the Book of the Law had been read to the people and we find them gathered together in sackcloth and ashes of repentance and humility.

They are confessing their sin to one another and remembering the greatness of Jehovah, The Almighty, the Ancient of Days. By the end of this chapter, they acknowledge their condition to God:
        “But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our
        forefathers so they could eat its fruit and the other good things
        it produces. Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the
        kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our
        cattle as they please. We are in great distress.”  (v 36-37)

As I jotted down notes from this chapter, I found an outline of encouragement to help me walk confidently through times of distress. I hope it is an encouragement to you:

1.   Separate yourself from the world
2.   Confess your sin
3.   Read God’s Word
4.   Worship the LORD
5.   Praise the LORD
6.   Remember what the LORD has done for you
7.   Remember God is:
a.   Patient
b.   Merciful
c.   Compassionate
8.   Confess Your Distress

PS: Read chapter ten to see what happens next! 

© Joyce Powell

Monday, August 20, 2018

Powell's Heirloom Jewelry

I wanted to let you know that my husband and I have a new FaceBook page:

Powell's Heirloom Jewelry.  Handcrafted from vintage silver-plated flatware. This is a new venture to help us along in ministry as we travel, speak, and sing. Thank you for allowing me this one post regarding our new page, and thank you for taking a look.