A DEEP VACUUM

Those were the lonely days, the days when friends were scarce and I was unable to leave my home. Isolation built a wall around me. I didn’t think I could take one more blow.

But, it came anyway.

An acquaintance from church called to see how I was doing. I was honest—after all, she asked—and told her the truth: I needed help. My house is a wreck. The toilets haven’t been cleaned in ages. My carpets needed vacuumed. Laundry was piled up.

After a long pause she said, “I was thinking about meals. No one wants to clean somebody else’s toilets, much less their own.”

I fought hard not to become embittered by her remark, which revealed her true character. to this day, it brings tears to my eyes as I recall the sting of her words.

I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s prayer for the friends that abandoned him during his imprisonment,

“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.
May it not be held against them.” 2 Timothy 4:16

Paul was on trial for his very life, yet his friends failed him.

HAVE YOUR FRIENDS FAILED YOU, TOO?

Yet, the very next verse declares Paul’s victory:

“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…” 2 Timothy 4:17-18

Even in our darkest hours, the children of God are not alone. The Lord stands by our sides and gives us strength. When all others have failed, we have certain confidence that the Lord is with us.

Just this morning I read the powerful words of Jeremiah 20:11,

“But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior. . .”

If everyone else has deserted you, remember you are guarded by the Lord, the mighty warrior, who promises never to leave you nor abandon you.

TAKE COURAGE IN THE LORD!

Carrie Cooper @ comfortedbyGod.blogspot.com

Wake Up

My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
James 5:19,20

I fell back asleep the other morning. I couldn’t help it. It was cool out and my bed was cozy. I just didn’t want to wake up. So I shut off my alarm and laid my head down, for just a minute. The next thing I knew, Chase was shaking me and saying, “Wake up Mom. I don’t want to miss the bus.”

I have Carson to get to school after Chase and if I were to miss Chase’s bus and drive him to school, it would start a whole chain of negative reactions and my day would not go so well.

But because Chase woke me out of my sleep, all was well here at the Schneider home this morning. Breakfast was eaten … lunches packed … book bags filled. Time to spare … no stress … no pain.

I was thinking about how sometimes we doze off in our relationship with God. We don’t mean to … but life, as we know it, is comfortable for us and we don’t want to step out of that zone.

It starts out as simply missing a Sunday or two, but then it becomes so cozy relaxing at home on Sunday mornings and there is preaching on the TV, we don’t really need to go to church. And that is true. Going to church doesn’t make us right or wrong with God. It’s what’s in our heart. But God’s Word tells us to not neglect the fellowship of the brethren. We need to hang out with other Believers, for support and encouragement.

Then we start having a couple of drinks on Saturday night, cause we aren’t getting up early for church, so it will be okay. Then we start going out with our friends to the bars, it won’t hurt to go have some fun, we’re just dancing. And we start flirting with someone and the next thing we know, we’re in the midst of an affair or we’re caught up in drugs or alcohol or surfing porn sites on the Internet.

Or maybe nothing quite so dramatic … maybe we just start to withdrawal into ourselves, caught up in that web of depression that never seems to let go of us. Or maybe we keep ourselves so busy with work or our kids or _____, that we just don’t have time for God anymore.

Regardless of the situation, the result becomes the same, God is not in the picture, he’s not a part of our lives.

Then one of our good friends comes along and says, “Hey … wake up. What are you doing?”

And we stop and take a look at our lives. We realize the mistakes we made, and we get down on our knees and ask God to forgive us. Then we move forward … with Him!

Father, thank you for the amazing grace that you offer to us. If we confess our sins, you are faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Thank you Lord for loving us, so very much.

I Love You Jesus.
   In Your Name I Pray,
   Amen

God Bless You!

Love,
Joyce
The Choices You Make Today
Will Affect Your Tomorrow!
http://www.alifedecision.org

God’s Gift

Yesterday at church one of my friends asked Chase what he got for Christmas. His reply was very prompt, “A pogo stick.” No hesitation. No having to decide which gift to share. No, Chase did get other gifts, but the pogo stick is definitely first and foremost in his mind.

This time of year, gifts are prevalent in many people’s minds. “What did you get for Christmas?” is a common question we ask each other.

The other day, I heard a message on God’s gifts to us. Many times we think about the gift of His son, especially at Christmas, because we are celebrating the birth of Jesus.

But the gift that God gave to us first was His love. John 3:16 tells us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

We usually focus on the idea that God gave us His son, so that we would not perish. I know I do. But look at the first part of this verse, For God so loved the world …

That is why He gave His son for us, because of the great love that He has for us. I John 4:10 says: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

It was so hard for me to grasp that GOD loves ME! I might have known it in my head, but I just could not believe it in my heart. I did not deserve His love. I was bad. I did bad things.

But one day, it clicked in me. GOD LOVES ME … regardless of my actions. He loves me because I’m me. For nothing I’ve done or not done. For nothing I might do or not do. He loves me with an everlasting love. With a love so great, that He sent His son down to earth to die for my sins, because I could never be good enough for Him, and He wanted me to live with Him forever; to experience that peace that only comes from knowing Him while I was here on this earth.

WOW … how cool is that? That is the best gift I’ve ever received! I don’t have to think twice about that one!

Thank you Father for loving me. To stop and ponder the idea that the GOD of all creation, loves ME … wow!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I love You Jesus.
In Your Name Pray,
Amen

God Bless You!

Love,
Joyce

The Choices You Make Today …
Will Affect Your Tomorrow!
http://wwww.alifedecision.org

My Throwaway Tree

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

I wrote this story three years ago, but it’s still one of my favorites, and I wanted to share it with you today:

One day last week I realized it was getting close to Christmas and we still did not have a tree. I thought Bobby could run get one after dinner, but he ended up not feeling well, skipped dinner and opted for bed. I decided I could go get a tree and off Chase and I went. We didn’t want to spend much money, so we headed to Publix first, but there were no trees there. We decided to give Home Depot a try. As we pulled in, we saw that the tree lot was dark and empty.

Chase and I looked at each other and we were both disappointed. I suggested we get out and look around to see it there were any trees elsewhere. As we walked around the corner of the lot, there was a fellow in the back digging through a pile of discarded trees, looking for greenery.

He saw our disappointment and explained that all the trees were gone, except this pile of trash trees that were going to be thrown away. He reached down and pulled out a tree and asked us if we wanted it. Chase really wanted a tree and it was getting late and I was tired and I didn’t really feel like looking elsewhere, so I said, “Sure. We’ll take it home, stick it in some water and see what happens, If it still looks ratty tomorrow, we’ll go get another one.”

So home we went with our little throwaway tree. But it really wasn’t that little. It filled the entire back of my truck, making it at least 6 feet tall. When we got home, we woke Bobby up and asked him to help us with our tree. The poor guy wasn’t feeling well at all, but he saw our excitement and so he got up and trimmed off the bottom of the tree and put it into the tree stand. Then we filled the stand with sugar water and said, “Well, let’s see what happens.”

It was pretty ratty tatty … it had been lying in that discarded pile a while, I think. But we were hoping a little TLC might bring it back to life.

And you know what? It did! Yep, we got up the next day and went downstairs and that tree was green again and the branches had started to fall down into place and it really wasn’t bad looking at all. Just one little bare spot near the top.

And Bobby got home and he trimmed up the branches and carried it upstairs and put lights on it and the boys filled the branches with decorations. And we have a nice Christmas tree!

Did you ever feel like that tree? A throwaway person? Discarded by life? Discarded by others? I had reached a point in my life at one time where I didn’t really care if I lived or died. In fact, I had planned on actually killing myself, the life I lived just didn’t hold any attraction for me. Drugs and alcohol and guilt and shame were a vicious cycle, and I was tired of the treadmill and ready to call it quits.

But God had other plans for me. He picked me up out of that pile, watered me with His Word, and trimmed off all my dead limbs. And then let His light shine through all the brokenness.

When I look at our little Christmas tree today, there is no sign of that battered, discarded throwaway tree. I see a tree decorated with love. And when I look at my life, I don’t see a throwaway person, but rather a child of the King, fueled by His love!

Father, I know there are so many hurting people, feeling lost and discarded by the trials of life. Lord Jesus, I ask you to wrap them up in your love and bring peace to them in the midst of their challenges and Lord, let them know that You love them and that You hold the key to life, for them. And Father, thank you for not allowing me to stay in that place of abandonment and pain, but rather to be filled to the overflow, with your love and your peace.

I Love You Jesus.
In Your Name I Pray,
Amen

God Bless You!

Love,
Joyce

The Choices You Make Today…
Will Affect Your Tomorrow.
http://www.alifedecision.org

Hebrews 12:1,2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God
Hebrews 12:1,2

Today I watched a football game with Bobby. I don’t usually watch football, but I had been working all day at church and I was tired when I came home, so I sat down on the couch to rest.  And that’s when I saw this football player with Hebrews 12:1,2 written on his face.  Where most of the guys just put black under their eyes, he had black and white letters under his, referencing a verse from The Bible.  And during the game, the broadcasters actually read the verse, on National TV, in front of millions of fans.  How cool is that?

The player’s name is Tim Tebow.  If you live in Florida, you know he plays for the Florida Gators.  He is an incredible football player.  He was the first player to win the Heisman trophy as a sophomore.  He has been breaking records his entire career.  And that is wonderful.

But the best thing about Tim Tebow is that he loves Jesus and he’s not ashamed to share his faith with the world.  He wears his faith for all to see! 

In a world where sports heroes are really not role models, Tim Tebow is a breath of fresh air.

Tim Tebow … You ROCK!

Father, thank you for this young man who loves you and is not ashamed to share his faith in you.  I pray for you to continue to strengthen him and guide him as he goes on with his career.

I love you Jesus!
   In Your Name I Pray,
  Amen

God’s Blessing Upon You!

Love,
Joyce

The Choices You Make Today …
Will Affect Your Tomorrow!
http://www.alifedecision.org

 

An Attitude of the Heart

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6,7

This is the time of year that we take a moment and think about what we are thankful for. At our dinner on Thursday, some of us will share our individual thoughts of gratitude. We’ll be thankful for our families, and our friends and the kids are always thankful for their pets. But as I was lying in bed this morning pondering this holiday of thanks, I realized that these things are simply blessings, the real source of thankfulness should be to the Provider. That was how the holiday originally started. A day to give thanks to the Lord.

It all started back in the early 1600’s. A group of Pilgrims had left England because of religious persecution. They traveled to Holland and lived with the Dutch for several years. But when their children started speaking Dutch and becoming attached to the Dutch way of life, the English felt their morals were being threatened and decided to head to America.

On September 6, 1620, 110 Pilgrims set sail for the new world on a ship called, The Mayflower. The trip across the ocean took 65 days and many folks became sick and one even died during the voyage. They settled in Plymouth, but by this time, winter had already invaded New England, and their living conditions were sparse, to say the least. The Pilgrims did the best they could that first winter, but out of the original 110 who had set sail in September, less than 50 survived. Life was looking pretty bleak, but they didn’t lose faith.

Then in March, the weather started to clear up and the Pilgrims met a fellow that changed their lives. An Indian by the name of Squanto walked into their camp. He spoke English, he had traveled to England with other sailors and learned their language. He taught the Pilgrims how to survive in this new land. As a result of those lessons, their harvest that fall was plentiful. And they had a huge celebration to give thanks to God for the provision that He had shown them.

Thanksgiving isn’t just a day to stuff ourselves with turkey or to try to get the best shopping deals.

Thanksgiving is an attitude of the heart and one that we should live out all year round.

Father, You are so faithful. Those early Pilgrims simply wanted to live in peace in a place where they could worship you. And the journey that they endured to do that was truly amazing. And yet, in the midst of their challenges, you provided just what they needed. Father, forgive me when I fuss about my little discomforts, help me to have the fortitude to endure whatever comes my way. And Lord Jesus, thank you for all the blessings you have provided for me and that I can live my life in peace, worshipping you.

I Love You Jesus.
In Your name I pray,
Amen

God’s Blessings Upon You!

Love,
Joyce
The Choices You Make Today…
Will Affect Your Tomorrow!
http://www.alifedecision.org

Keeping Your Word

commitmentCommit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:  He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Psalm 37:5,6

On Saturday, I had to have a little life talk with Carson.  Thursday night he had told us that he was going to go to school on Saturday and work a concession stand for one of the games.  It would give him service hours for National Junior Honor Society.  No problem, Bobby said he’d run him over and then go pick him up when he was done.

But we had a full week this past week and had been out on Friday night at a friend’s for dinner, and when Saturday morning rolled around, Carson was tired and decided he didn’t want to get up and go to school to work, he’d rather stay home and hang out with Chase.  And the more Bobby tried to encourage him to go, the more adament Carson became that he didn’t want to.

I asked Carson if he had committed to working this event.  He said, “No”, he’d just told them he might be there. 

I explained to Carson that he could stay home this one time, because he’d not made a commitment, but that it was very important to honor his word, whether he was tired or not.  If he said he was going to do something, he must honor that.

I work with a lot of volunteers at church.  Some are always on time, always doing what they said they would do.  Others … not so much.

Yesterday, our Pastor was talking about our commitments to God.  We make vows with him on Sunday, when we’re caught up in the emotion of the moment … we say, YES LORD, but then by Tuesday or Wednesday, we’ve let life get the best of us and we are back to … “No God, can’t do that right now.”

I want my little Carson to grow into a man of character … in life and with God.

I want to grow into a woman of character … in life and with God.

Father, thank you for teaching me how to be a woman of character.  I want your character, your spirit to fill me up, to flow through me, to flow out of me.  And Jesus, please teach my little Carson the same lesson.

I love you Jesus!
   In Your Name I Pray,
   Amen

God’s Blessings Upon You!

Love,
Joyce

The Choices You Make Today …
Will Affect Your Tomorrow.
http://www.alifedecision.org

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