Heaven

Heaven. How often do you think about it?  When I was young (20’s-40’s) I must admit I didn’t think of it very much, except at funerals.  But other than that, I was busy with family affairs, raising my children, attending and partaking in school, church and community events. I was busy living life.   However, and I think most would agree, as we age and our time here on earth starts to draw near, heaven becomes closer to us than ever before.  I actually find myself thinking about it quite often. I want to make sure I’m ready, and then immediately I’m humbled; to the degree I feel so unworthy to see Jesus face to face.  Without doubt I will fall to my knees, and the tears will begin.  I wonder if I will even be able to lift my head to gaze upon His holy face.  I also wonder what will all take place up there.  I look forward to seeing loved ones who have already passed on.  My grandparents, my dad, my brother, my nephew and four children I have lost to mis-carriage.  Then I think about how I will feel.  Oh halleluiah, no more painful knees!  No more aching back and migraine headaches.  All physical scars gone, and the weight of stress and anxiety all wiped away!  I won’t be old, over weight or tired!  It seems sur-real to me sometimes, but I know it’s true.  Also, there are times I think of heaven, and I ask God, “Please, not yet, Lord.  There are more things I want to do, more newsletters to get out and many more prayers to be said.”  Then, there are other days, especially after listening to all the bad news and seeing the direction our country could be headed, and I say, “Any time Lord.  I’m ready to come home.” 

  Heaven.  Yes, I think about it quite often now. Of course, there is one other alternative, hell.  That is one reason I pray now, more than ever, for others whom I’m not sure about.  We must pray in earnest for those we love, especially now, as the day draws closer.  There are two destiny’s that lie ahead of us all. Every single person on earth goes to one or the other.  As for me, I owe everything to Jesus Christ who made it possible for me to be able to walk through heaven’s doors when that time comes.  My prayer is that every one reading this has made Jesus their choice as well. It will be such a happy day when we all gather around heaven’s banquet table!

  A Christian music band by the name of MercyMe, recently came out with a song about heaven.  I cried the first time I heard it and I want to close with a couple of the lyrics from that song.  May you find hope in Gods promise of a ‘happily ever after’, because one day we will be enjoying the most beautiful moment of our lives, when we first see the beautiful, loving face of Jesus Christ. Oh, what a glorious day that will be! 

Are you disappointed? Are you desperate for help?  You know what it’s like to be tiredandonly a shellof yourself.

You start to believe youdon’t have what it takes, cause it’s all you can do just to move much less finish the race.

But don’t forget what lies ahead, almost home, brother, it won’t be long.  Soon all your burdens will be gone.

With all your strength, sister, run wild, run free. Hold up your head, keep pressing on.

This road will be hard, but we win in the end, simply because of Jesus in us, it’s not if but when.

So take joy in the journey, even when it feels long. Oh, find strength in each step knowing Heaven is cheering you on.  We are almost home. ~MercyMe

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Unanswered Prayers

  The other night, a while back, I was relaxing in my recliner, watching a movie and munching on a chocolate brownie.  My dog, named Cheyenne, was sitting next to me, waiting for me to share with him.  I share everything with Cheyenne.  I always have.  He is almost 15 years old now, but from little on I would share my snacks, my treats, and even part of my meal sometimes.  I can’t look into those loving, brown eyes and say no.  Except at certain times, and when I was eating my big, thick, chocolate brownie, it was one of those times.  I wanted so bad to give him a nibble, which of course would encourage him to beg for more.  However, I knew that chocolate was bad for dogs and could cause sickness or even death.  In fact, we almost lost Cheyenne when he was just a young ‘in. He got into a chocolate cake that I had cooling on my kitchen table.  He had jumped up on a chair and then onto the table and ate a good portion of that cake.  My husband and I had been out to lunch and came back discovering the almost devoured cake.  Cheyenne was laying on the floor and looked up at me with eyes that told me, “I don’t feel very good.”  He gradually got worse and worse and to the point he couldn’t lift his head.  I called the vet and she guided me through a couple of steps, including pouring corn syrup down his throat.  It was a very close call, but with many prayers and the vets help, he survived.  I never want to go through that again.  It was awful and when he was begging me with his eyes to share my brownie, I had to tell him no.  Not once, not twice, but at least three times.  I tried telling him how harmful it was for him but he just looked at me, not understanding why I wouldn’t share.  I knew it was because it was best for him that I didn’t.  I was actually preserving his well-being, if not his life.  I said to him, “Cheyenne, I wish you understood why I have to say no.”  Boom!  Immediately my thoughts turned to God, my heavenly Father.  He has at times told me no as well.  I would ask him more than once, “Why?  Why won’t you answer this prayer?  I just don’t understand.”  It looks like a good thing to me, but I realize now, God had known better.  It was for my own good that He denied me my request.  Somehow, He was preserving my well being in one way or another.                

How many of us have been there?  We ask God to help us out with something, we ask that He give us our desires, not understanding why He would say no.  But just as I knew why I could not share my brownie with my sweet Cheyenne, God also knows when not to grant me those things I may ask for.  Now, when he seems to say no, I try to look at it through my Fathers eyes.  He knows what every tomorrow will bring. He knows my heart and my soul, weaving every detail of my life into a beautiful picture, and some things just cannot be a part of it.  If they were, the beautiful picture would be flawed.

  I am looking forward to Spring and warmer days. I have plans to do this or go there and maybe try something new.  However, I find peace, knowing that God directs my steps, and He will work in my life according to His divine plan. Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. So, if He must tell me ‘no’ to some things in my life, so be it.  I will trust Him and know that He holds me safely in His arms. There are just some things that are not meant to be.  I’m sure I will thank Him later when my eyes are opened to the pain He prevented or the faith and love He has brought into my life.  

God wants us to come to Him with everything.  He desires that we come with the smallest of details to the great big important decisions; He wants us to bring them all to Him.  But when we do, and when we don’t get the answers we desire, don’t become bitter.  Close your eyes and tell him, “Father, I trust you in this and in all things.  Thank you for your guiding light and always doing what is best for me. May your will be done.”

   The next time I’m munching on a snack or treat, I will make sure they are ones I am able to share with Cheyenne.  But when the time comes that I can’t share with him, and must tell him no, I will look into his eyes and say, “Sorry, sweetie, you can’t have this.  I love you too much.”  “Thank you, Father, for saying the same to me.” 

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Asking God

Usually when I lay down at night in bed, it’s a time when my thoughts drift to God and I think about the days affairs or tomorrow’s plans which lead me to have a conversation with God in my head. I seldom pray aloud, but in my head and in my heart I quite often talk to God. I have always been a worrier. I have six children so there are many things my heart carries. They have all left home now so basically all my control is gone. Haha. I hear of issues they are facing in life and situations that seem risky, if not dangerous. They need prayer and my thirteen grandchildren need prayer; well, in reality, we all need prayer. When I lay in bed at night with no other distractions, my mind is filled with things I need to trust God for. I begin silently praying and much of what I pray for is what I’ve been praying for many years. Last night was no different. I started praying for safety, protection and hearts of repentance and salvation that I feel some of my loved ones really need. As I began the usual requests, I started wondering about my prayers and if God would accept them. Would my sin get in the way and cause God to turn from my prayer? I really screwed up today and hope He forgives me. Also, since it seems repetitive at times, would He value my concerns? He’s heard them so often, does He grow weary of the same requests, over and over?  Also, with so much going on in the world, does He see me in my bed, with tears that no one else sees? Do I matter so much to Him that He values my thoughts and does He accept my thoughts as prayers, even if not spoken aloud?  Will He answer me even when I feel alone and unworthy? I fell asleep with these thoughts going through my head and the night passed.

This morning as I was having my coffee I quickly scrolled through Facebook. It’s a habit and maybe not the best one but it’s what I do. I’m always hopeful to see something from my family.  I soon came across something that caught my eye. It was entitled, Asking God. As quickly as I scrolled by it, I immediately scrolled back up to it. It was a daily devotion from Daily Bread Ministries. I began to read it and as I did I knew God was answering my concerns with my prayers. It was exactly what I had been questioning the night before! I mean it was like word for word just what my heart was wondering and I know He was reassuring me that indeed He heard my prayers, and not only heard them, but accepted them, and yes, even my sin would not blot them out. What relief! He did hear. He does accept. And yes, He does and will answer them! AND He cares enough to let me know so I don’t have to wrestle with those thoughts any more! I included the Daily bread devotional below because I’m thinking someone else may need to read it as well. Keep praying friends, God does see you, even in the lonely and dark places. He hears the prayers of your heart and nothing can block them from the throne of Heaven. We all have an enemy (Satan) who would like us to believe otherwise.  Those doubting thoughts come from him.  Yet God, in His grace, met me right where I was and brought me the answer, the truth, which I needed to hear, one more time. If you’re heart is sincere, rest assured, God is listening and working on your behalf.  He hears your heart.  He sees your tears.  He loves you unconditionally, and His grace is greater than any sin in your life. Never stop praying because God will never stop listening. Merry Christmas and may you have a blessed new year!

Psalm 6:4–9
When my husband, Dan, was diagnosed with cancer, I couldn’t find the “right” way to ask God to heal him. In my limited view, other people in the world had such serious problems—war, famine, poverty, natural disasters. Then one day, during our morning prayer time, I heard my husband humbly ask, “Dear Lord, please heal my disease.”
It was such a simple but heartfelt plea that it reminded me to stop complicating every prayer request, because God perfectly hears our righteous cries for help. As David simply asked, “Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love” (Psalm 6:4).
That’s what David declared during a time of spiritual confusion and despair. His exact situation isn’t explained in this psalm. His honest pleas, however, show deep desire for godly help and restoration. “I am worn out from my groaning,” he wrote (v. 6).
Yet, David didn’t let his own limits, including sin, stop him from going to God with his need. Thus, even before God answered, David was able to rejoice, “the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer” (vv. 8–9).
Despite our own confusion and uncertainty, God hears and accepts the honest pleas of His children. He’s ready to hear us, especially when we need Him most.
By: Patricia Raybon

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Mysterious Ways of God

God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform. No, that’s not a bible verse; however the bible is clear that God does work in ways we cannot understand and He does perform wonders, many, many wonders.  Perhaps you have been one who has experienced this in your own life.  While we all know God works wonders, still, the mysteries of God are intriguing.  I know I’ve had areas in my life when I look up to God and exclaim, “Wow, God, I never thought you’d answer in this way!”

  Perhaps you too, have thought about the different ways God has worked in your own life or in the life of someone you know.  We marvel at His method, his timing, His awesomeness. Indeed, we can never begin to know His thoughts or the ways He chooses to bring about answers to our own personal prayers and/or answers to the world’s chaos. Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”   

  Below is a true story of just one way God worked in a mysterious, unthought of, amazing way.  The guy in the story had called up a Christian radio station to give his personal testimony telling of how he found God when he had come to a very desperate place in his life. I cried as I listened to him tell it, and now I’d like to share it with you. Perhaps you have already heard it.  I had forgotten about it until I came across it today and once again that same awe came over me as I was reminded that God always hears our prayers, as well as our silent cries from the heart.  He is always listening. His methods and even His sense of humor are intertwined in a unique way in the following, compelling testimony. I hope you enjoy it and know that the answer you so desperately need, may not come to you exactly as you might expect it. You just might be amazed by the way in which God brings it about!

One Saturday night, a pastor was working late and decided to call his wife before he left for home. It was about 10:00 PM, but his wife didn’t answer the phone. The pastor let it ring many times. He thought it was odd that she didn’t answer but decided to wrap up a few things and try again in a few minutes. When he tried again, she answered right away. He asked her why she hadn’t answered before, and she said that it hadn’t rung at their house. They brushed it off as a fluke and went on their merry ways.

The following Monday, the pastor received a call at the church office, which was the phone that he’d used that Saturday night. The man that he spoke with wanted to know why he’d called on Saturday night. The pastor couldn’t figure out what the man was talking about.

Then the man said, “It rang and rang, but I didn’t answer.”

The pastor remembered the mishap and apologized for disturbing him, explaining that he’d intended to call his wife.

The man said, “That’s okay. Let me tell you my story. You see, I was planning to commit suicide on Saturday night, but before I did, I prayed, ‘God if you’re there, and you don’t want me to do this, give me a sign now.’ At that point, my phone started to ring. I looked at the caller ID, and it said, ‘Almighty God’. I was afraid to answer!”

The church that the pastor attends is called Almighty God Tabernacle.

Isaiah 45:15 Truly, O God of Israel, Savior, you work in strange, mysterious ways.

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It’s Not Always Easy

If I seem a bit worried and fear settles in;
if regret is my constant reminder,
tell me again of all that is good.
Encourage my thoughts to be kinder.

If somehow I’m losing the hope that’s within
and struggle to keep up the faith;
remind me once more ‘One day at a time’
are the only steps I need to take.

Yes, I do believe the Bible, my friend
and I cling to the old rugged cross;
but there are days I feel weak and alone,
there are nights when I turn and I toss.

The valleys get hard, the answers seem few
and the enemy lurks at the door;
so please pray for me and I’ll pray for you
as together we press on with The Lord.

There’s a day that is coming and not far away
when our burdens at last we’ll lay down;
for in place of the trials, the fear and the pain
Christ will give us a glorious crown.

James 1:12
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

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“Why God?”

Why, God?  I don’t understand.  Are you listening to my prayers?  Are you angry because of my failure to love and serve you as you deserve?  Are you concerned with more important matters?  Those are questions that I ask sometimes.  I asked it again today.

My sister has much back pain due to Spinal stenosis, (pinched nerves running through her spinal cord) plus four bulging discs, one slipped vertebrae and accelerated arthritis. She also has knee pain yet from a knee replacement a few years back. She goes to work in pain every day.  She returns home in more pain, sometimes barely able to walk.  She has applied for disability twice and was denied both times.  She has Xrays showing all the damage in her back and her specialist doctor highly recommends she stop working.  Yet due to financial stress, she can’t.  We have both prayed and prayed for disability to come through.  After talking to her today, I prayed again because she was again hurting badly.  So, once again I asked God the questions, “Why won’t you help her?  Why won’t you answer our prayers?”  And I pleaded, “God, please help the pain to become less and make a way for her not to have to work. Please.” 

Just because I go to church, have daily devotions, pray quite regularly and have believed in God since my youth does not mean I accept all things with a smile and never question Him.  I do so with respect, of course, but I question just the same.  I wish I had answers.  I wish I could make those who are hurting feel better, but all my wishing never solves anything for anyone.  All I can do is remind myself God is God.  I am not.  I don’t have His wisdom, His omnipotence and His perfect plan for every individual.  Who am I to think I know best and have a better way?  I’m nothing, just a vapor, here today, gone tomorrow.  James 4:14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

So my friends, I sit here and weep.  I weep for those who are suffering because of mass shootings.  I weep for those who have a life ending disease hanging over them, I weep for aborted babies and children thrown away like trash, I weep for the homeless who sleep on the street, for the families who lose loved ones in war, for those who die way too young and for the elderly alone and forgotten.  I weep because I don’t understand and at the same time, I cling to the hope we have in Jesus Christ, that one day He will come rescue us and He will make all things right and all things good.  We won’t be stuck here forever in our heartache and pain.  Our Savior is coming, and we can look up in confidence, knowing we are loved by God and His promises are true. 

Until then, yes, I will weep some more.  And yes, I will continue to ask questions and not understand.  Yet one thing I fully know; I will hold tightly to Jesus because I know without Him, I have nothing.  NOTHING.  No hope, no promise, no purpose.  No, I can’t make things better for you, but I will continue to pray and seek Jesus.  I trust Him with all things, even when it hurts.  And I thank Him that this life is only temporary, and eternal life with Him is my confidence and my joy.  My dear friends, I can’t promise you a happy ending, but Jesus can and He does.  One day He will indeed rescue us, but until then, remind yourself that He is always worth the journey. 

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Heaven

I was shocked, confused, bewildered 
As I entered Heaven’s door, 
Not by the beauty of it all, 
Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven 
Who made me sputter and gasp– 
The Garden Club Gossips, the thieves
The liars and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade 
Who swiped my lunch money twice. 
Next to him was my old neighbor 
Who never said anything nice.

Bob, who I always thought 
Was rotting away in hell, 
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine, 
Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, ‘What’s the deal? 
I would love to hear Your take. 
How’d all these sinners get up here? 
God must’ve made a mistake.

‘And why is everyone so quiet, 
So somber – give me a clue.’ 
‘Hush, child,’ He said, ‘they’re all in shock. 
No one thought they’d be seeing you.’

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

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