Are You in God’s Hands?

A couple of weeks ago as I was on my way home from church, I noticed a question written on the back of a white car as it was passing me: “Are you in good hands?” Allstate Insurance was also written underneath this question.

As I thought about these words, I began thinking about being in God’s hands. Jeremiah 18:5-6 says, “Then the word of the Lord came to me; ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” We are formed and shaped daily in the potter’s hands; created in His image and likeness.

There is a song by Kathy Troccoli entitled, “My Life Is In Your Hands” and the words of first verse and the chorus are as follows:

Life can be so good
Life can be so hard
Never knowing what each day
Will bring to where you are
Sometimes I forget
And sometimes I can’t see
That whatever comes my way
You’ll be with me

My Life is in Your hands
My heart is in your keeping
I’m never without hope
Not when my future is with You

What a wonderful testament to God’s faithfulness because our future is in the one who holds our hands in His.

Another insurance company’s slogan is a jingle: “Nationwide is on your side.” Along with being in God’s hands, we also have God on our side. He is our comforter, our protector, our healer, and our provider in our time(s) of need. His Word tells us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Just knowing that He is always with us as we go through various circumstances in our lives is comforting to the heart and soul. He is our hope, our joy, our peace, our confidant, our loving Father!

As we go throughout our day, let us remember that we are continually in God’s hands and that He is always on our side as long as we continue to trust in the promises in His Word.

Blessings,
Yvonne

Book Review: “Breathing Room” by LeeAna Tankersley

With so much stress in our lives today on a daily basis, LeeAna Tankersley, author of “Breathing Room”, emphasizes that we should not allow outside forces such as stress to control our lives, and that we need to take responsibility for ourselves.

With an upbeat and positive attitude, Ms. Tankersley shares that being at peace with your inner self and discovering your “soul voice” are very important components in finding your “true self.” Creativity is a big part of who we are; and when we are creative, it gives us a sense of being one with our mind, body, and spirit.

Straight forward, candid, and filled with personal stories of her own struggles from time to time on her journey in life, she encourages us to seek the Creator, the one who gives us grace throughout our life’s experiences.

“Breathing Room” is thought-provoking for anyone who struggles with feelings of low self-esteem and inadequacies. It is truly a breath of fresh air and a worth-while read.

Blessings,
Yvonne

Scriptures to Live by: Praise and Worship

Praise: “To say or write good things about (someone or something); to express approval of (someone or something); and to express thanks to or love and respect for (God).” Merriam-Webster

Worship: “The act of showing respect and love for a god, especially praying with other people who believe in the same god; the act of worshipping God or a god.” Merriam-Webster

Praise and worship go hand-in-hand and these terms have been used down through the ages and are still being used in our churches today. There are many ways to worship, such as:

On our knees or in our prayer closets;
With raised hands as we sing his praises, and/or
Sitting quietly before God listening for His still, small voice.

There is no right or wrong way to worship, but we are called to worship and praise God as shown in His Holy Word.

Exodus 23:25-26: “Worship the Lord your God, and His blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.”

Isaiah 25:1: “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.”

John 4:24: “God is Spirit and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Psalm 68:4: “Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds–his name is the Lord–and rejoice before him.”

Psalm 71:8: “My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.”

Psalm 150:1-6: “Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary, praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet; praise him with the harp and lire; praise him with tambourine and dancing; praise him with the strings and flute; praise him with the clash of cymbals; praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

Psalm 63:1: “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

Psalm 103:1-5: “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion; who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Romans 14:11: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'”

Psalm 42:11: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

Let His praise continually be on our lips as we worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

Blessings,
Yvonne

ID Approved

A few weeks ago while my husband and I were eating at one of the local restaurants, I noticed the waitress ask for ID’s from two individuals at the table across from ours. She wanted to make sure that they were old enough to drink what they had ordered. This simple action made me think about how we as Christians might be identified by others, and would our actions “speak louder than words” in a positive or negative way.

What if we had to wear an ID around our necks to distinguish that we were Christians? Would our ID identify those virtues and attributes that we should possess, such as:

. Showing others the fruit of the Spirit in our daily lives.
. Living to serve others.
. Helping those in need.
. Loving our neighbor as ourselves.

The Song, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love” by Daniel W. Whittle expresses that…

1. We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord…
2. We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand…
3. We will work with each other, we will work side by side, and
4. All praise to the Father, from whom all things come.

They’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.
They’ll know we are Christians by our love.

God holds us responsible for our lives and what we do with them. He doesn’t want us to hide our talents and gifts from others. Will Christ give us His “stamp of approval” (ID approved) when we stand before Him one day, and will we hear Him say: “Well done thou good and faithful servant?” Matthew 25:21 (NIV)

May Christ find us faithful until He returns, may our lives be an example of His love, and may He be glorified and honored through us as we serve Him.

Blessings,
Yvonne

When We Just Have To Go Through It

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” Isaiah 43:2

When I was growing up, my brothers and sisters and I used to go to a summer camp where we would get to spend one whole week hiking, boating, swimming, making creative projects, etc. Did I say swimming? Ugh! Now that I have your attention, let me explain.

One summer while at camp, I met a girl who loved to swim (and joke). I thought she and I were having a great time in the camp pool, but she decided to float out into the deeper water with me holding onto the plastic raft. My heart began pounding because I did not tell her I “could not” swim. When you can’t swim and you are now in water way over your head (at least 9 feet), somehow one can panic and I did just that. She decided to take my hands off the raft and under the water I did go. I splashed and sputtered going deeper in my struggle to remain afloat. All of a sudden, I felt two hands pulling me up and dragging me over to the other side of the pool. It was the lifeguard. When I told her I could not swim and she assessed what had happened, my so-called friend was reprimanded and I was not allowed to go near the deep end of the pool for the rest of the week. She said she was sorry for taking me out into the deeper water. We still remained friends the rest of the week, just not at the pool.

When I look back at this frightening experience, I realized I could have drowned but I didn’t. God was with me, His hand was upon me, and the lifeguard’s quick actions saved me.

So many times we are tested and we have to go “through the waters” and even the fire, but we can be assured through faith that God is with us even during those times. He is the one who created us and redeemed us for His glory. May the words of Isaiah speak to our hearts and lives when we are fearful and feel alone.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” Isaiah 43:5

May the Lord bless you today and always.

Blessings,
Yvonne

Scriptures to Live by: Repentance

“Repent is to turn from sin and resolve to reform one’s life, while repentance is a reciprocal action or effect.”

When I was 15 years of age, I attended a Pentecostal church and our transportation to and from the church each Sunday was a large school bus owned by the church. I enjoyed attending both Sunday School and the morning services. Eventually, I began attending Sunday evening services, which included a teen meeting prior to the worship service. It was there that I learned how important it was for me to turn my life over to God and repent from my sin. It has been over 50 years, and I am still serving a wonderful living Savior.

There are numerous scriptures that explain why it is necessary and why it is important for those who do not know Christ to repent and turn their lives over to God and to begin trusting Him for the strength necessary to serve Him every day.

Matthew 4:17: “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is near.”

Luke 5:31-32: “Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'”

Acts 3:18-19: “But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

Acts 5:31: “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.”

II Corinthians 7:9-10: “…yet now I am happy not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.”

Revelation 3:3: “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard, obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”

In Revelation 3:3, we are reminded that Christ will come back like a thief in the night and for those who have not repented and “turned from their wicked ways,” they will be left behind. May He find us ready.

Blessings,
Yvonne

A Hospitable Spirit: Showing Love and Charity As Christ Shows To Us

Have you ever tried to get a group of friends and/or family members together for a special occasion other than for a funeral and/or other tragic event? Somehow no matter how much planning you do in advance, it just doesn’t work out. One by one you receive a “no” or non-committal response from those who you had invited. Sadly, a decision has to be made and the event has to be cancelled.

A few months ago, we scheduled a family reunion to be held at our home in PA and it was to happen this weekend. We ended up cancelling it because many of my sisters and brothers could not attend. Those who lived closer could have driven in for the day, but most of them would have had to travel a long distance coming from GA, CA, TX, MO, and NC.

However, one of my sisters who I hadn’t seen in 3-4 years and who lives in GA decided to fly up anyway for a week, and we spent some quality time together just catching up. “Sweet Frog” Premium Yogurt got some of our business that week as we enjoyed going out and about and eating our lunches in various eateries. Despite her swollen ankles and physical limitations as well as having to use her cane for support, she never complained and went to bed each night exhausted.

I must admit that when I first arrived to pick her up at the airport and saw her worsened physical condition, I thought we would not be able to do much of anything but she proved me wrong. We had an enjoyable week together during the day, and spent time with my husband in the evenings. Overall, I was glad she came to visit and that I had opened up my home to her with a “hospitable spirit”.

In Hebrews 13:1-2 we are told to “Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Jesus teaches us that we should show love and charity the way He shows to us without grumbling and with a hospitable spirit.

Other scriptures that tell us more about Christian hospitality are as follows:

Romans 12:13: “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

I Peter 4:8-10: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

Matthew 25:40: “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”

Let us remember that whatever we do let us do it with our whole hearts for His Honor and glory, and we will be blessed beyond measure and our cups will overflow with love and compassion for others.

Blessings
Yvonne

A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed: Friendships

Proverbs 17:17: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Merriam Webster’s definition of friendship says that it is: “The state of being friends; the relationship between friends. A friendly feeling or attitude; kindness or help given to someone.”

Throughout my lifetime, I have been privileged with having met a number of wonderful men and women on the job(s) and/or at church through various activities such as choir, ladies Bible studies, home get-togethers, shopping, luncheons, etc. During those times, the Lord has always allowed me to make friends with those who seemed to have the same-like interests and/or uplifting and encouraging positive attitudes. Sadly, over the years of moving from one state to another, I have lost touch with some of them who have made a very profound impression on my life.

But what makes for a good friendship? How do we choose our friends? How do we treat friends? What is the importance of having friends? How do we become a “true” friend?

These are questions that I have asked myself from time to time and have even looked up friendship stories in the Word of God regarding those individuals who were friends during Biblical times and what characteristics drew them to one another.

The first of many friendships is that of Ruth and Naomi:

Ruth 1:16-17 tells us: But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”

In this passage, you truly get the impression that Ruth is very loyal, devoted, and a true friend. Although Naomi was her mother-in-law and even after the death of her husband, Ruth was freed from staying with Naomi. However, Ruth had developed such a strong bond with her mother-in-law that she wanted to remain by her side even until death. Because she remained loyal to Naomi, and wanted to follow her God, she later meets Boaz whom she marries and then is able to care for Naomi for the rest of her days.

The second friendship is that of David and Jonathan:

I Samuel 18:1-3 tells us: “After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.”

Did you ever meet someone that you just “clicked” with? You became instant friends and nothing could separate you from one another. Such was the friendship between David and Jonathan.

But how do we choose our friends? The scripture gives us guidelines in how to choose our friends beginning with Proverbs 13:20 which says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise; but a companion of fools suffers harm.” In Proverbs 22:24-15, it says, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man/woman, do not associate with one easily angered, for you may learns his ways and get yourself ensnared.” I Corinthians 15:33 further tells us that: “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.'” According to these scriptures, we are to choose friends who are wise and are not corrupt.

How are we supposed to treat our friends? Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Luke 6:31 says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” And in Colossians 3:12-14, it says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgives you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” These words are God’s instructions on how we are to treat one another, especially our friends.

How important is it to have friends? The Book of Proverbs gives us several answers to the importance of having friends. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise.” Proverbs 24:5 says, “A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength.” Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We can truly learn from friends who are filled with wisdom.

What is a true friend? A true friend…

Accepts you as you are.
Acknowledges how important you are in their life.
Appreciates you.
Affirms who you are.
Assures you that they understand you.

John 15:12-15 reiterates God’s command to love one another. “My command is this: Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” Here is Christ’s example in that He imparted what He learned from His Father to His disciples; that they are to love one another. We are to do the same with our friends and show compassion to those in need.

In James 4:7-10, we find that God is our greatest friend. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” We need to humble ourselves and seek His wisdom and He will lift us up.

May the Lord bless you and surround you with friends that encourage your walk with the Lord.

Blessings,
Yvonne

An Element of Surprise: Gifts From God

Ephesians 2:8-10: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Recently, my husband and I watched an unusual movie entitled, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, in which Walter is depicted as a man who lacks self-confidence in himself and fantasizes that he is stronger in another life. The photographer who he works for gives Walter an anniversary gift for his past 16 years of faithful, loyal service. It was a wallet with a beautiful inscription in the center; however, the wallet was empty–so he thought.

Walter wondered why he would be given an empty wallet, and then he sets out on a quest to find Sean, the photographer, in order to get the final cover photo he needs for the magazine they worked for. They eventually meet in a most unlikely place. When Walter asks about the photo, Sean asks whether he looked inside the wallet. Walter tells him that it was empty so he threw it away. The photographer smiles, then says, “I gave you a special gift and you did not go deeper in the wallet to find it!”

It turns out that what Walter was searching for all along was inside the wallet. He just didn’t look deep enough. He returns home and is able to locate the wallet and finds the final cover photo, which he gives to his publisher. To Walter’s surprise, the photo depicts himself on the front cover. The photographer credits Walter and other employees for his apparent success because without them he would not have succeeded.

When God gives us a free gift, sometimes we are like Walter–we forget to look further or deeper to understand the gift He has given us. The scriptures are filled with God’s promises–free gifts–for all of us to accept and to use them in serving others.

Good and perfect gift: James 1:17-18: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

Spiritual Gifts: I Corinthians 12:4-6: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”

Eternal Life: Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Serving Others: I Peter 4:10: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

There is a song that depicts going “deeper” in our faith and in the wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Deeper, Deeper” was written in the 1800’s by Charles Price Jones, a pastor of the Mt. Helm Baptist Church in Jackson, MS. The words of this great hymn are still sung in our churches today:

Deeper, deeper in the love of Jesus, Daily let me go.
Higher, higher in the school of wisdom, More of grace to know.
O deeper yet, I pray. And higher every day. And wiser, blessed Lord.
In Thy precious Holy Word.”

May the Lord bless you as you go deeper in His Love.

Blessings on you,
Yvonne

Are You Living Your Life “On Demand?”

As mothers and wives, we have a number of demands and responsibilities that dictate our daily lives. Sometimes they can become overwhelming and there is very little time for yourself, let alone setting aside time for reading your Bible and prayer.

In our home, we subscribe to a local cable company, and one of the features that we selected included watching TV shows On Demand. If we couldn’t watch a show when it was scheduled, we could watch it at a later time. Since there were several programs that I often missed, I compiled a “watch later program” list. However, the list kept getting bigger, and I actually felt overwhelmed by all of the TV shows I tried to keep up with. I decided to pray about it, and the Lord answered me immediately because my black lab chewed up the list. How is that for a quick answer to prayer? I was actually relieved about it, laughed out loud, and thanked the Lord for the answer. I have not compiled a list since that time.

Sometimes this is what happens in our lives. We can become sidetracked by the things of this world and forget to keep our eyes fixed on the things of God. I still enjoy watching TV shows, but the list I previously created no longer exists or controls me.

According to the Word of God, we are to put God first in our lives and not be controlled by the things of this world. All of the scriptures are from the NIV translation.

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

John 3:30 says, “He must become greater; I must become less.”

Romans 8:5 says, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

Only God can speak to our hearts and let us know if there are things that he wants us to change. All we need to do is seek Him and ask.

Blessings on you,
Yvonne

Reading in May: “The Heart of a Woman Who Prays” by Elizabeth George.