Thursday, August 27, 2015

Have Faith

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished
and said to those following him, “I tell you
the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel
with such great faith.”
                        Matthew 8:10 NIV

     Matthew Eight recounts the story of a centurion with faith to believe that Jesus could perform a long-distance healing of his paralyzed suffering servant. He believed all Jesus had to do was speak the word and his servant would be healed. As a result of the centurion’s faith, his servant was healed and the centurion commended by Jesus for his great faith.

      “Indeed, there is nothing God will not do for those who will dare to step out in faith onto what appears to be only a mist. As they take their first step, they will find a rock beneath their feet.” F. B. Meyer

     We often hear the quote, “He is the wind beneath my wings.” True! But, I like this statement by F.B. Meyer. It reminds me that Christ is the rock on whom I stand.

There have been times in my life when I did not need wind to soar as I could not even get off the ground. Loneliness, inadequacy, the feeling of being forsaken, emptiness of spirit and prayers that seemed to hit the ceiling and bounce back in my face left me with one thing—faith! No matter what my circumstances, I have always known that although I may not feel the presence of God, He remains steadfast and strong and near. I cling to that faith when all else fails.

     One of the advantages of having decades of life behind me is the list of opportunities I have had to see God work. Faith builders! I have seen Him work miracles in the sanctuary as a young woman healed of cerebral palsy rose from her wheelchair and walked to her mother for the first time in years. I have been present when a pastor, after reminding his congregation that they may never have another opportunity to say yes to Christ, walked to the back of the sanctuary and dropped dead.  The church dropped to its knees and after many long minutes of waiting and praying God restored his life. Faith builder! (His wife told him never to use that illustration again!)

     While traveling on our bus during the years of our singing ministry, I heard Him speak to my heart with one word “Pray.” Although I did not know what it meant, I urged my friend to join me in prayer for our traveling safety only to avoid an accident before we could complete our prayers. Faith builder!

    I recognize the love, mercy, grace and hand of God in my life over the years. You do too. These examples are unique to me. I know you have your own. Remember them. Allow them to build your faith. Acknowledge that no matter the circumstances, when you step out in faith believing, Jesus is the Rock beneath your feet. He is the Cornerstone of our faith. He is the Rock of our salvation. Jesus never fails!

     The next time you feel defeat headed your way, do not slump down with your head bowed in that defeat. Stand straight and tall and remind yourself that you have faith in God through Christ, and that faith is the victory that overcomes the world.

 ©Joyce Powell

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sing the Glory of His Name

“Sing the glory of his name; make his praise
glorious! Praise our God, O peoples, let the
sound of his praise be heard.”

                                 Psalm 66:2, 8  NIV

        Have you ever had a day when you did not feel like praising God— your flesh just plain tired, your spirit distraught, circumstances in your life causing you emotional pain? In spite of your feelings, did you praise God? If you did not, you probably stayed in that pit of self pity and defeat. I too know that place.

     I also know well the place of praise; the place, where with a heavy heart and my head hung low, I sing praises to my Father. It begins with my mouth and then somehow filters down to my heart and before I know it, joy is running through my veins as my outlook changes from defeat to victory and from tragedy to triumph.  I feel sure you know what I mean and that you too have experienced similar events.

    Proclaiming the excellence of Jehovah God, giving glory, honor, and splendor to His name is the one thing I have found that drags me out of the pit. The Psalmist says “let the sound of His praise be heard.”  In the Greek language heard means to listen and obey; understanding and obedience. Could it be that we are more inclined to obedience during times of praise?

     Perhaps the vocalizing of the glory of God is the key to joy and happiness; to victory instead of defeat and to living an extraordinary life. Perhaps as we lift an outward sign of our inward love for our Father, our enemy must flee. I am sure as we raise our banner of praise in obedience to God’s Word, we receive our Father’s blessing.

     Are you in a pit today? Is your heart heavy? Would you like to jump in bed, pull the covers over your head and hide from the world? Instead, listen to the Father as he calls to you—arise my child. Lift up your head. Sing the glory of His Name.

© Joyce Powell

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Name of Jesus

She will give birth to a son,
and you are to give him the
name Jesus, because he will
save his people from their sins.
             Matthew 1:21  NIV

The name Jesus means “The LORD Saves,” but those who have known Him over time recognize that He does much more. Over my fifty-seven years of walking with Jesus, I have encountered Him in a myriad of circumstances.

I remember standing on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, awestruck by the majesty of God and breaking out in song. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; there’s just something about that name.” I recognized the truth of John 1:3 spread out before me in a beautiful display as ever-changing shadows danced across the canyon’s surface; knowing “Through Him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Jesus!

I remember standing by my son’s crib after the doctor said, “He will need surgery to correct his severely bowed legs.” Placing my hands on his tiny legs and whispering the name of Jesus, I asked for mercy and healing. “For he had healed many…” (Mark 3:10) Healing happened. Surgery did not. Jesus!

I remember sitting alone at the foot of my dying father’s bed; turning the pages of my Bible. Hoping for answers. Whispering Jesus. John 14:27 found me, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you…” Jesus!

Over the decades, I have found these things to be true:
            Speak the name of Jesus, and the storms cease as the dark clouds open to allow the Son to shine through.
            Speak the name of Jesus, and my troubled heart calms as the raging battles of life swirl around me like a whirlpool trying to suck me in.
            Speak the name of Jesus, and bitterness, fear, and anger crack, break, and fall away as the warmth of His Presence covers me.
            Speak the name of Jesus, and the peace that passes all understanding calms my troubled soul.

            Today, I invite you to join me in speaking His Name, the Name above all Names, Emmanuel. God with Us. Prince of Peace. The Bread of Life. The Spring of Living Water. Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!

© Joyce Powell

Friday, August 21, 2015

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

     Forty-nine 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

Friday, August 14, 2015

The People of China in my prayers

He Leads me beside
quiet waters. He restores 
my soul.

Psalm 23:2b-3a NIV

Occasionally, a reader from China gets through the ban on social media and reads this blog.

If you are one of those Chinese reading, please know that I,
 along with many other American Christians,
 am praying for the families of the fifty dead and over seven
 hundred injured in the recent explosions in Tianjin. 
We also pray for your nation as a whole.  

I remember as a little girl learning about an American missionary
 named Lottie Moon. She gave her life in ministry
 to the Chinese people. 
Please know that you are still loved here,
 and accept our prayers as
a gift of love.

Never forget that God is but a whisper away.

In His Grace,

Joyce Powell

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Am I Changing the World

You are the salt of the earth…
You are the light of the world…
         Matthew 5:13-14 NIV  

     One time won’t hurt! Don’t rock the boat! Just do it! It will be okay; no one will know! It won’t hurt anyone! Life presents many opportunities to succumb to peer pressure. But each time we go along with the crowd because we do not want to stand out in the crowd we allow the world to change us.

     In chapter five of Matthew, Jesus explains the consequences of refusing to be salt and light to our world. In verse fourteen, He reminds us that by our refusal to flavor our world with Christ-like behavior, we become like salt that has lost its ability to flavor.

     That is a difficult concept for us as we see a box of Morton’s sitting in the cupboard month after month and year after year knowing that whenever we pull it out to sprinkle our food, it remains useable salt. However, at the time Jesus walked on the earth, when salt was exposed to too much moisture the good portion of the salt would evaporate leaving only tiny rocks. It became flavorless and useless for preserving foods. Therefore, like that old-world salt, Christians who refuse to affect the world around them are of little value in making God known in the world.

     Jesus continued in verse fifteen by explaining that we are the light of the world. We should glow for Jesus. But, by refusing to speak out for Christ, by remaining silent in the face of sin, by choosing to ignore the needs of others or by going along with the crowd we activate the dimmer switch on our light and are no longer valuable in drawing others to Jesus.

     Our world is filled with desperate hurting people who are seeking the Savior. Striving to fill life with possessions and relationships, many come to the end of their days still trying to understand what they missed and how they missed it—never knowing the fulfillment of life that is found in Christ alone.

     So each day we face the decision of whether we want to be salt and light to a world in need. Each day we must choose how to answer two questions. Is the world changing me, or am I changing the world?

© Joyce Powell

Friday, August 7, 2015

A Peaceful Heart

A heart at peace gives life to
the body.
          Proverbs 14:30 NIV 

     We live in tumultuous times. If you do not believe me, turn on your television and watch five minutes of the news. The local news broadcasts robbery, rape, murder and a sundry of personal and political misbehavior.
The national news expands our vision of the world to the self-indulgence of political leaders on a global level, bomb threats, terrorist attacks and war around the world.

     We also get a day by day account of the earth groaning for the return of the creator as we see fires, floods, earthquakes and mass dying off of birds and sea creatures. Just five minutes of the broadcast news is enough to ruin your day. Add to that your personal problems and the problems of those you love, and you have the potential for chaotic living.
     But God’s Word provides wisdom for living in this tumultuous time—a peaceful heart. Yes, it is possible to live in the midst of the turmoil and retain a tranquil heart; to live in peace, calmness and restfulness of spirit. Those words may appear as an oxymoron and cause you to ask—How do you live in a world of chaos yet retain a heart of peace? Jesus!

     In John 14 we read the account of Jesus preparing His disciples for His return to heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit who will provide comfort for their broken hearts. John 14:27 explains in the words of Christ, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” NIV

    Peace to live in our troubled times; without fear. Peace to face the daily discouragements that come our way; without despair. Peace to live in our tumultuous world; without a troubled heart. Jesus!

     Fear, worry and anxiety can make your body and your spirit sick. Peace of heart brings restoration and life to a weary soul. If your heart is hurting today and you need peace, speak the name of Jesus. Allow Christ to restore hope and joy and peace to your spirit.

     If you have never given your life to Christ, do it today! There is no peace like the peace of a heart surrendered to life with Jesus for “A heart of peace gives life to the body.”

© Joyce Powell