Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Borrowed Time

For everything there is a season, and a
time for every matter under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Like you, I have often heard the phrase “living on borrowed time.” We think of someone who survived a tragedy that should have ended in death yet that person walked away. We think of a friend or relative who had a massive heart attack and should have died yet to the surprise of a myriad of medical personnel, they survived. We think of someone who has battled cancer and survived over and over and over and we say—living on borrowed time.

But in reality, each of us lives on time borrowed from our Heavenly Father. He placed us right where we are for a season, a purpose, a reason, and when our purpose has been fulfilled, He will call us back to Himself and we will stand before Him to give an account of how we used our precious borrowed time.

Some live decades of time; some only hours or days. Yet even the infant who comes and goes quickly on this earth has fulfilled God’s plan for that tiny life. 

Time is a blessing! We cannot afford to take one moment for granted. Satan will try to lull you into thinking that there is plenty of time to accomplish God’s plan for your life—to live like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind and to “think about it tomorrow.” 

But tomorrow may not come. Like thousands who went to work in New York City on September 11th expecting the day to progress normally, this day could be your last—my last.

What is on your “bucket list?” Does it include a list of souls you would like to see brought into the Kingdom of God? Pray for the opportunity to invest in the lives of those people. Do you desire to travel? Don’t forget the clerk in the store, the cab driver, the single mother struggling with luggage and three small children—she might need Jesus! 

I need to improve on my use of time—laying aside the superficial and looking ahead to the “mark of the high calling” that God places on the lives of His children. What will you do while you are living on borrowed time?

©Joyce Powell

Friday, August 21, 2020

Invited and Blessed

Then the angel said to me, “Write:
‘Blessed are those who are invited
to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’”
And he added, “These are the true
words of God.”

Revelation 19:9 NIV

Fifty-four years ago I married the love of my life, but I remember the preparations for our wedding as if it were yesterday. It took weeks to complete dress fittings, invitation printing decisions, cake ordering, flowers, bridal showers, the photographer and of course, the invitation list. Everything cost money and the number of prepared meals was decided by the number of RSVP’s received.

Finally, when the work ended and after we walked the aisle of the church as husband and wife, we traveled to the Masonic Temple for a reception celebration with food, family and friends. Together, as man and wife, my husband and I shared the benefits and blessings of months of preparation, and our loved ones were blessed as they shared in our joy.

In spite of the beauty and bounty of that day, it cannot compare to the celebration feast of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. The invitation has been sent out and preparations are being made. I can only imagine the Bridegroom, Christ, sitting on the edge of His throne in anticipation of the day when His Father will turn to Him, confirm that the last RSVP has been received, and say those long-awaited words—Son, go get your bride!

Revelation 19:9 says those invited are blessed; in a position of favor. All are invited. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31) That is our invitation. All we have to do is RSVP; yes, I accept.

When the Bridegroom is ready, we will know it. Only then will we sit down at the table as we reap the benefits and blessings of heaven because we accepted the salvation invitation from the One who paid the price of preparedness. I will be there. You too have been invited. Will you RSVP and be blessed?

© Joyce Powell

Saturday, August 8, 2020

When You Don't Feel Like Praying- Pray!

Cast all your anxiety on Him
because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

Martin Luther said, “Prayer is a strong wall and fortress of the church; it is a goodly Christian weapon.” I agree. So why, with the availability of something so powerful, do we often wring our hands in anxiety rather than take full advantage of our most powerful weapon? Why panic? Why worry? Why brood, agonize, stew, mope and lose sleep when trouble comes our way?

If prayer is a fortress, a fortified place, a stronghold—large and permanent—why do we avoid talking to God about every need? Why do we avoid open communication with our Heavenly Father? Why do we avoid prayer?

I suppose the answer to those questions is complicated. Illness takes a physical toll and we can become too tired to pray. Stress takes a mental toll and we can become too emotionally distraught to pray. Life consumes our time and we can become too busy to pray. For every why not there is a because!

But God’s Word teaches us to make prayer a high priority. Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer.” 1 Timothy 2:1 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.”

When we pray, we draw close to God as we enter into a relationship with Him. The more we pray the more we become like Him. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Prayer is powerful. As God hears and responds to our prayers, lives are changed. Circumstances are changed. But perhaps most importantly, we are changed. Philippians 4:6-7 explains, “…do not be anxious 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 surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

When we are enduring our most anxious moments, we often forget to do the one thing that will calm our troubled spirits and bring peace to our hand-wringing, teeth-grinding, palm-sweating circumstances.

When there is something I want to carve into my spirit, my emotions, my soul, I plaster it on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, the kitchen window and anywhere else that I spend time. Today is the day to remind myself—When You Don’t Feel Like Praying, Pray! How about you?

©Joyce Powell

Thursday, August 6, 2020

His Grace Is Sufficient

My grace is sufficient for you.
2 Corinthians 12:9

From birth, when I was enrolled in the Cradle Roll department of our church, until now my life has revolved around church and family—my closest relationships formed as a result of meetings through church-related functions. I grew up hearing God’s Word. Other than high school choir, I did little that did not revolve around church activities.

Teaching every age from four-years-old to seniors, I found my niche in women’s ministry. Over the years, I have taught on all the basics of believing God, trusting God, obeying God…and have found Him always more than sufficient to meet every need.

I have survived the loss of both parents, both siblings, and other loved ones by clinging to the Cross of Christ and daily reminding myself of the goodness and mercy of my LORD!

I am confident that you too have been there. If you are a believer in Christ, if He dwells in your heart, if your hope is in God, I am convinced that He has traveled the rough patches of life with you—carrying you when you were no longer able to step one foot in front of the other.

Today, in my circle of friends, heartache, illness, and loss consumes many families. Yet in the midst of personal pain, they reach out and comfort others who also suffer—extending a human hand touching lives with God’s sufficient grace.

Proverbs 24:10 reminds us that “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” While I understand that times of trouble can make us stronger and develop our character, I doubt that any of us pray and ask God to please send trouble. Nevertheless, trouble comes as an uninvited guest.

When that happens, we are forced to face our inner self. Do I really believe God? Do I really trust God? Am I really ready to pray, “Father not my will but thine be done?”

As we face ourselves in the mirror and ask those tough questions, we do well to remember what we already know—God’s grace is sufficient.

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercies,
To multiplied trials his multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit; His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.

Annie Johnson Flint

©Joyce Powell

Friday, July 31, 2020

God is our Refuge

My salvation and my honor depend on
God;he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:7-8 NIV

Life oozes craziness. What should be called evil is applauded by society as good. People who speak God’s truth are labeled bigots and haters. Those who falsely believe God does not exist try to wipe out any public reminder of our Risen Lord. Some days we desire to hide from the outside world; to take refuge from evil.

Often our efforts for God appear thwarted by those working to discredit Christians. Once you make a public profession of faith in Christ, many expect you to be perfect. When you are not, others label you hypocrite, and you might feel the word flashing across your forehead like the scarlet letter around the neck of Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorn’s classic tale of sin, repentance and a struggle for dignity.

Fortunately, we have a refuge. His name is Jehovah. He is I AM—a shelter we can run to, a rock we can stand on and a refuge in the time of small irritations and great difficulty.

My salvation depends on God. My honor depends on God. My steadfast hope depends on God. Just as He cares for the lilies of the field and the beasts of the wild, He cares for you and me.

So the next time the nightly news makes you want to duck and run or your act of godliness is proclaimed bigoted and hateful and you need a shelter from life’s storm, REMEMBER our God—Creator of heaven and earth—our Salvation—our Mighty Rock, and run to Him.

Surely our God, who cares for the wild animals roaming free on our mountain tops and the microscopic plants dotting the hillsides, cares for His children. God is our refuge. Trust Him. Run to Him.

© Joyce Powell

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Under His Wings

He will cover you with His feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge…
Psalm 91:4a NIV

In a world where so many want to make a name for themselves, be honored for accomplishments and recognized for good works, I am always amazed that some of God’s most beautiful and well-loved Words are recorded as written by anonymous. Psalm 91 is one such work. 

Often called the Soldiers’ Psalm, it has been recited across battlefields around the globe providing hope and comfort to thousands. It also provides hope for daily living. Danger comes in many shapes and sizes and at various times throughout life. Psalm 91 covers all circumstances because God continues to protect His children.

I have long been fascinated with verse four and the picture of God hiding me under His wings. Like many of you, I have watched a mother duck pull her ducklings close to her breast and tuck them safely under her wings. While I understood the metaphor of God pulling me close and keeping me safe, only after I comprehended the fuller meaning of the Hebrew word for wings did I begin to draw upon this Psalm for daily living.

The Hebrew word kanap, translated in verse four as wings, also means corner, hem (of a garment). Upon reading that definition, I got it! I am like a small child who runs to mother, grabs mother’s legs and hides my head under the hem of mother’s dress tail thinking no one can see me, because I cannot see them. I feel safe! I am safe, for there is nothing a mother will not do to protect her child.

Like a mother protecting her child, our Heavenly Father protects His children. If I make the Most High my dwelling, then no harm can come to me. No threat can overpower my God. No peril can be greater than my God. No one can outsmart my God. No day becomes so dark that my God cannot provide light for the way; no heartache so great that my God cannot speak peace to my troubled soul. My protection remains in Him alone.

Therefore, when I need wisdom I will ask God. When I am afraid, I will trust God. When my world grows dark and I cannot seem to find my way, I will look to God. When my heart hurts and I think I cannot bear the pain, I will remember that I, like a small child, am tucked under the hem of His garment safe and secure under His wings.

© Joyce Powell

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Promises vs. Promiser

I want to know Christ and the power
of his resurrection and the fellowship of
sharing in his sufferings, becoming like
him in his death… Philippians 3:10

Throughout the Bible, we read the promises of God. Some Bible study experts claim there are over 3000; others over 5000. No matter the number of promises, we like to cling to them in times of trouble and heartache. And, while God’s promises do bring comfort and contentment and peace, I prefer to concentrate on knowing the Promiser.

In Philippians three, the Apostle Paul recounts the joy in believing, and in verse ten we find the heartbeat of Paul’s soul…to know Christ. The Greek word for know in this verse is ginosko. It indicates an intimate knowledge—personally and experientially. In John 10:27 Jesus explains, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Intimacy!

I remember an occasion, after the loss of five loved ones within a seven-month period, that I found myself face down in the carpet—sobbing. “Lord, I want to know You. I need to know You. I have to know You.” I couldn’t remember the promises; I didn’t have the energy to search them out. All I knew was that I needed to know God. I needed to know He loved me. I needed to know He walked in that room, wrapped His arms around me and was never going to let me go. At that moment, I didn’t care about His promises. I cared about Him.

Please do not misunderstand. God’s promises remain precious to me. But more than knowing His promises, I have to know God! I have to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. Knowing God erases all doubt that He is good and my life is precious to Him. Knowing Christ erases all fear that I will ever be alone for His Holy Spirit has set up residence in my heart.

Knowing God means that whatever comes my way has been filtered through His fingers and is in my best interest—even when I do not understand. Knowing God means that I know Jesus never fails! Satan better run! Enemies need to flee!

I am sure that you, like me, have your own stories to tell about knowing God. I would love to hear them. His manifold, bountiful blessings of love and mercy are for everyone. You have never gone so far that God cannot reach down and pull you to Himself. You are not the one person in human history that God is unable to save. You aren’t the one that He will decide to leave in the pit of despair. His mighty hand can reach you, lift you out of the pit and set your feet on the solid rock of Jesus.

Today is the day to know God! Put your life in His hands. I can promise you that there is no place that is safer, sweeter or more satisfying! He loves you. He is the Promiser. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

©Joyce Powell