Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Gift of Friendship

There is a friend who sticks
closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:24b

In 1978 I received a gift from an anonymous person, a “Secret Pal” from the women’s ministry at my church. Those who were part of the “Secret Pal” program would give and receive gifts throughout the year—always anonymously. Once a year the anonymous friend would be revealed and we would draw names for the upcoming year. Fun was had by all as we tried to determine the identity of our secret friend.

During a time of emotional struggle, I received a package from my secret friend. It changed my life! Someone Cares – The Collected Poems of Helen Steiner Rice. As I voraciously read page after page, poem after poem, insight after insight, God began gently pushing me into a deeper study of His Word, and I began to pick up pen and paper and to write. After Forty-two years, I am still doing all of those things.

Do not discount the worth of your true friends. They are valuable, insightful and a lifelong reminder of God’s love for you. They know your secrets, your faults, your failures, your personality flaws…but love you in spite of who you are not because of who you are. Just like Jesus!

To my friend June, the giver of the words of Helen Steiner Rice, I say Thank You! It has and will remain one of my most precious possessions.

Today, I will leave you with a poem written by Mrs. Rice. I hope you enjoy the poem, and call a friend to say, “I love you”.

The Gift of Friendship

FRIENDSHIP is a PRICELESS GIFT
that cannot be bought or sold
But its value is far greater
than a mountain made of gold—
For gold is cold and lifeless,
it can neither see nor hear,
And in the time of trouble
it is powerless to cheer—
It has no ears to listen,
no heart to understand,
It cannot bring you comfort
or reach out a helping hand—
So when you ask God for a GIFT,
be thankful if HE sends
Not diamonds, pearls or riches,
but the love of real true friends.

Helen Steiner Rice

©Joyce Powell

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Freedom

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

John 8:36 NIV

My eyes welled with tears and my heart swelled with pride as up and down the road—in every direction—red, white and blue waved in the morning breeze. The colors of the American flag dotted the landscape as silver-haired ladies hid from the sun beneath bright red umbrellas, children and adults sported red, white and blue t-shirts, and tough guys on Harleys proudly waved Old Glory.


Senior citizens in golf carts decorated in red, white and blue and carrying German Shepherds with patriotic bandanas tied around their necks, delivered bottles of water to thirsty souls waiting for the parade to begin. John Phillip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever followed by Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture rang out from our son-in-laws truck.

Moments before the official start of the parade, a flyover of military planes thrilled my heart. Then, on cue, came the US Air Force Color Guard and a marching band from Lackland Air Force Base. Bystanders rose from their lawn chairs—saluting, cheering and clapping in honor of our military men and women.

Floats from civic groups, businesses, churches and politicians rolled down the road between soldiers dressed in fatigues and carrying POW-MIA flags and riders on horseback dressed in their best boots and cowboy hats and carrying the Stars and Stripes. Police cars, a SWAT truck, and our local utility company vehicles preceded the finale—a big bright red spit-shined fire engine. As the driver waved, the children jumped for joy— squealing and swaying their miniature American flags.

The index finger on my right hand ached from snapping photos. I, like many other moms, dads and grandparents dared not miss the children as they looked for us from their respective floats. To the unobserving the photos look the same year after year. But, upon closer examination, discerning eyes notice toddlers grown into adolescents and adolescents into teenagers. Too soon, they will be grown and facing life’s challenges as adults.

As we began to gather our chairs, coolers and flags, I turned back for a final glance—the floats, flags and flying colors now gone and the asphalt already filled with cars and trucks trying to beat the rush of traffic. Soon all the frills of the parade, held to celebrate the birth of our nation and our freedom, would be tucked away until next July 4th. Although the parades end, our freedom continues to march forward.

So I sit here writing and thinking about this year’s parade, now only two days away. As a Christian I feel doubly blessed to know that men and women with a thirst for liberty were willing to risk everything in order to be free, and I am the beneficiary of that risk. I am grateful! I am also blessed to know the God of our Forefathers, through His Son Jesus Christ, who willingly gave all in order that I could be set free from the bondage of sin. I am grateful!

I pray that I never forget the cost of my liberty and my salvation. Battlefields of blood purchased my liberty—body and soul. “Whom the Son set free is free indeed!” May God continue to bless America.

©Joyce Powell

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Lord, I Do Not Understand

Jesus replied, “You do not realize
now what I am doing, but later
you will understand.”

John 13:7 NIV

Jesus understood that the time had come, and He would soon be leaving this world and going home to the Father. He knew that Judas would betray Him, Peter would deny Him, and the cross lay ahead of Him. Yet knowing the trauma, pain and suffering the next hours and days would hold He took the time to reconfirm and show His disciples the depth of His love for them.

It was the duty of the household servant to wash the dusty feet of guests. Yet Jesus, who knew that His Father had put all things under his power, stooped as a servant to wash the feet of His disciples. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords knelt at the feet of John, Andrew, Matthew and even Judas. One by one with basin and towel in hand he lovingly cleaned the dirt from the day’s travels.

But when He knelt before impetuous Peter, there was a scene as Peter questioned Jesus.

“Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” (John 13:6-8 NIV)

Peter didn’t get it! But don’t be too hard on poor Peter. Aren’t we much like him? Peter was a faithful follower of Christ—the most visibly passionate. He had lots of questions and often thought he had lots of answers. I feel certain that on more than one occasion He caused Jesus to laugh, to frown and to lovingly wrap His arms around His disciple who often spoke without knowledge. Peter did not want to know later, he wanted to know now!

I do not know about you, but I can feel Peter’s pain. When things happen that I do not understand, when life’s circumstances are mysterious and the future seems unclear, when I want to rush headlong into the things God as placed on my heart but He says WAIT, like Peter, I long for an answer and understanding.

When a loved one is too soon snatched from this world, when devastating illness encompasses my waking hours, or when life just doesn’t make sense, I want to scream out to God—Lord, I do not understand!

Then I think about the cross, the suffering, the sin of mankind so heinous that God turned away from His Son’s suffering. I think about the pain as Jesus was unable to draw a breath, and finally the soldier who, because of my sin, pierced the side of my Lord, and I fall on my face and whisper Lord, I do not understand.

God’s grace is overwhelming. His ways are past finding out. His love is never ending, and His mercy is new every morning. I do not deserve it but am happy to receive it. He is holy, and He is God. Yet He sent Jesus as a servant to teach me His ways, to love me and to die for me.

I am happy to receive it; even on the days that I tell Him, Lord, I do not understand.

© Joyce Powell

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Just Tattoo I’m Sorry Across my Forehead

A word aptly spoken is like apples
of gold in settings of silver.
Proverbs 25:11

Have you ever had one of those days? You know the kind I’m talking about—the day you wished you had just stayed in bed because everything you said or did seemed to come out wrong. I recently had one of those days; as recently as yesterday! I finally told my husband that I should just tattoo I’m sorry across my forehead and forget opening my mouth.

Like me, you have probably discovered that satan loves to beat you up as you ponder your situation. You hear whispers in your ear, “That was stupid” or “Why do you bother opening your mouth” or “Are you ever going to learn”. And, by the end of the day you feel exhausted, beaten down and ready to hide from the world.

But God won’t leave you there! If you are His child, He will drag you out of that pit (sometimes kicking and screaming I don’t want to come) and plant your feet back on solid ground. I’m always amazed at the tools He uses like a grappling hook to latch onto my heart and pull me back to Him. This morning, He used an old hymn.

As I checked a friend’s Face Book page, there was a post which included a short video. Although I am well familiar with the song and the story behind the song in the video, it was a fresh reminder of God’s loving grace and mercy in the midst of trials great or small.

Horatio G. Spafford, a husband, father of five, and prosperous businessman in Chicago in the 1860s, had more than a bad day. Yet, his trust in God did not waiver. In 1870 his four year old son died of scarlet fever. In 1871 his business burned to the ground in the great Chicago fire. In 1873 Horatio sent his wife and four daughters on a ship to Europe. Business matters delayed him, and he promised to follow in a few days. On November 22, 1873, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Ville du Havre, struck by another ship, sank. All four daughters died. He received a telegram from his wife saying, “Saved alone…what shall I do…”

Horatio journeyed across the Atlantic to bring his wife home. When the ship was over the wreckage where his daughters were lost, he penned these words:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well; it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, and it is well, with my soul.

I pray for you today that it is well with your soul.

©Joyce Powell

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

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 enthusiasm. 


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

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Armed and Ready

Those who carried materials did their
work with one hand and held a weapon
in the other, and each of the builders
wore his sword at his side as he worked…

Nehemiah 4:17-18

Recently, as my husband and I sat in our den, we heard a loud thump and felt something hit the outside of the house. Just as I raised my head and looked out the window, I saw a shower of white-winged dove feathers floating down along the outside of our deck. I stood just in time to notice a huge hawk doing somersaults over the deck toward the back of the yard. By the time I got to the door, my nine-year-old gray-striped tabby, Rags, was headed down the deck stairs towards the bird bath where the hawk had landed.


Every bird in the neighborhood seemed to be watching and cheering for the hawk, and as Rags closed in, the hawk gathered himself enough to fly to a nearby low-hanging tree branch. Rags sat down to watch the stunned hawk as the neighborhood birds continued to sound the alarm. I stood watch until the hawk reclaimed his senses and continued his flight. 


After a few moments, the onlookers dispersed and Rags returned to his soft bed on the deck. While that was the first time I had witnessed that    particular scenario, I have observed the gathering of the neighborhood birds on various occasions. Whenever a common predator is in the area, the community watch committee gathers in the trees and sounds the alarm. The cardinals and blue jays congregate with the black-capped chickadees and house finches as they call the tufted titmouse families and the Bewick wrens to join the fight. They will aggravate the predator, usually a snake, with their squawking and dive bombing until he finally moves on to a more restful area. Once the danger is over, they disperse and return to their daily routines.

Watching this latest scene reminded me that as we step out to fulfill the calling God places on each of our lives, we should not have to face our common predator alone. 

Just as the Jewish people, with their weapons by their sides, worked together to complete the task of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, and just as our neighborhood birds gather to fight their common predators, we need to be alert, armed and ready to assist our brothers and sisters in Christ during an hour of need.

One of the tools satan has in his arsenal is to divide and conquer. While I focus on the direction God is taking my life, I can easily neglect the needs of my Christian family and friends struggling to survive in their battle with the enemy. 

Although God tendered Nehemiah’s heart toward the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem, Nehemiah could not do it alone. He needed the help of his fellow Jews. They worked together, weapons by their side, to complete the work God set in motion in the heart of one man.

Today might be a good day for you and me to reach out and help a struggling member of our Christian family. It might be a good day to ask God to reveal the name and need of a fellow citizen in the Kingdom of God. It might be a good day to remember that we are a family, a community of Christian believers. I believe it is the perfect day to show someone that they are not alone in their struggle. 

It is a great day to be armed and ready to fight our common predator as we battle the enemy instead of each other.

© Joyce Powell

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Our Hope is the Power in the Blood of Jesus - Chapter Thirty-one

This is the last chapter of "Words of Hope." I pray that someone has been blessed, encouraged, or found renewed hope through these chapters. Thank you for spending time with me in God's Word.

Our Hope is the Power In the Blood of Jesus

For this is my blood of the covenant,which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Matthew 26:28

A person can live only a few days without water. Without food one can survive several weeks—without oxygen only a few minutes. Without blood life ends! Blood supplies the means of travel for every necessary component to keep our bodies functioning properly. Medical research indicates that approximately three hundred billion red cells die and are replaced every day—the new strong clean blood replaces the toxic day after day, year after year throughout our life. There is power in the blood.

Life is in the blood. The Jews understood and today practicing Jews continue to eat only kosher meat from an animal that has had its blood drained in preparation for cooking. Imagine the surprise and perhaps horror of the Jewish followers of Christ when he announced “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53 ESV)

Christ was teaching the truth of the spiritual life by teaching the truth of the physical life. He came to die, to shed His blood for the redemption of mankind—you and me. After His death on the Cross of Calvary, it would no longer be necessary to shed the blood of goats and bulls as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of man. Christ came to be the ultimate sacrifice.

Christ’s blood has the power to cleanse us from our sin! Like me, you have probably heard this phrase: The red blood (of Christ) washes away my black sin and makes me white as snow. How is that possible? There is power in the blood of Christ! Just as the blood in our bodies cleanses toxins such as carbon dioxide from our bodies, the blood of Christ cleanses us from sin’s toxin.

Our physical blood sustains our physical life. The blood of Christ, the purchase price for our eternal life, washes and sustains our life in Christ. Through His blood we are free from the burden of sin, the grasp of satan, the guilt and condemnation that encompassed life before Christ. It is not necessary, nor are we able to “clean up” before coming to Christ. As we accept Christ as Savior, His cleansing blood cleans us and transforms our life of sin washing away the toxins and replacing them with the power of Almighty God to live life in Christ Jesus.

John 3:16 tells us that, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (ESV) In the blood of Christ there is hope, there is salvation, there is LIFE eternal! There is power in the blood of Christ, and it is available to whoever believes. Will you believe?

The Problem of Sin
Romans 3:23— “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

The Wages of Sin
Romans 6:23a—“For the wages of sin is death…”
The Love of God
Romans 5:8—“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The Free Gift of Salvation
Romans 6:23b—“But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Accepting the Free Gift
Romans 10:9 & 13—“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (13) For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

Precious Friend,
God is offering you new life in Jesus Christ. Would you accept His gift of eternal life today?
Through prayer to God with a sincere repentant heart:
1. Admit you are a sinner, ask God for forgiveness, and turn from your sin.
2. Confess that Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross and rose again to save you from your sin.
3. Invite Jesus to be the Savior and Lord of your life. (Accept Jesus Christ’s payment for your sins. Choose to follow Jesus as your Lord.)

If you don’t know what to say, you can pray something similar to this:
Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I am asking for Your forgiveness, and I want to turn away from my sins. I believe that Jesus Christ, Your Son, died on the cross and rose again to save me from my sins, and I now put my faith and trust in Him as my personal Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you have prayed from a sincere heart to receive Christ, you are forgiven and included in the Family—a Child of God. As a follower of Christ, you will want to connect with a Bible-believing church to grow in your faith and serve God with other Christians. Don’t delay—tell someone you know about your decision to follow Jesus Christ, and talk with a Pastor or Christian friend about how to learn more about our Lord and the Christian life.

Congratulations, and welcome to the family!

“Whoever calls upon the name of
The Lord shall be saved.”
--Romans 10:13
If you have recently accepted Christ as Savior or renewed your commitment to follow Christ, I would like to hear from you in order to add your name to my prayer list.
You may contact me at:
roadsignsforliving@gmail.com
Facebook.com/Joyce Powell Author

In His Grace,

©Joyce Powell