Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jesus Loves Me

For God so loved the world, that he
gave his only son, that whoever
believes in him should not perish
but have eternal life.
                         John 3:16 NIV

     One of my favorite songs tells the story of God’s love in such simple form that it has burned in my heart since childhood.

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so

     Some days I need to be reminded that I am loved of God—that Jesus loves me. When life grabs me by the nap of the neck and shakes me like an angry dog, Jesus loves me. When my day begins by basking in the glorious sunlight of God’s love but quickly turns to a raging storm of fear and doubt, Jesus loves me. When health turns to sickness, wealth turns to poverty or friendships end in loneliness, Jesus loves me. When I look in the mirror and see myself as I really am, even then Jesus loves me.

     God loves you and me so much that He sent His Son to earth to pitch His tent, to tabernacle among men, to live as we live in order that we may know His great love. For anyone who might wonder just how far God would go to prove His love, Jesus came all the way from heaven’s throne to Calvary. He traded His royal robe for a simple linen garment. He left the praise of angels for the scorn of man. He left untold riches to live as a carpenter’s son. He laid down His royal diadem in exchange for a crown of thorns. Jesus loves you and me. 

     So the next time satan tempts you to believe that you are alone, unloved and unworthy of being loved, remember there is a Redeemer, Jesus Christ the Lord and He loves you. If you think you are beyond help, that you have gone too far, sinned too much and that you are beyond God’s grace, remember the words of John, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  (John 1:29) That includes you and me.

     If God could use fishermen, a tax collector, a doctor and yes even a murderer to shake the world and spread the good news that Jesus lives and He loves you, then surely He can take your life and mine and use us to change our world as we too tell the story of Jesus and His love. His message is easily understood—Jesus loves you this I know, for the Bible tells me so!

© Joyce Powell

Monday, March 23, 2015

Healing for the Broken

He heals the broken hearted
and binds up their wounds.           
                        Psalm 147:3 NIV
My husband and I just returned from a mission trip. Along with our son, his family, a pastor friend and ten college students, we joined hundreds of others on South Padre Island, Texas for spring break “Beach Reach” ministry.
            Midnight and eight a.m. pancake breakfasts, free rides for anyone needing to travel the five-mile island, and when opportunity arises, a conversation about Jesus Christ and how He changes lives always results in a number of young people, who came to party, giving their hearts and lives to Christ.
Baptism in the Gulf
            Broken lives are seen all over the Island. Young people wrapped up in themselves and having what they call “a good time” leads to behavior that, in some instances, changes lives forever. For the fortunate few who come to realize that Christ is what they are searching for, they go home with a fresh start and help from the Beach Reach team to find a local church where they can connect with other Christians and learn to grow in their relationship with Christ.
            For most, they go home unchanged. And every year there is at least one that does not go home at all.
            One thing that I have learned from these mission trips is that I do not have to leave town and go to another place to find people just like those concentrated groups along the Gulf Coast sand. They are our neighbors, our friends—even our family. Searching. Looking. Striving. Straining. Seeking something to satisfy.
            Christian friends, you and I have the answer. Christ! It is in Christ alone that hope is found. We must be “on mission” for Christ right where we are—every day! We must be proactive about telling others that Jesus is the answer for their broken hearts, their struggles and their anxieties.
            Today, I challenge you and myself to go out and tell someone that “He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.” Never forget: There is a hurting world just waiting for us to share that there is healing for the broken heart.
© Joyce Powell

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Though He Slay Me

Though he slay me, yet will I
trust in him.
                   Job 13:15 NIV

      When satan attacks, he is vicious. He has no mercy. He seeks to ensnare the faithful—to catch us like an animal with a leg caught in a trap. He, like we, knows that some animals will chew their way out of the trap becoming crippled for life. Some will give up and discontinue the fight and die, and some will grow weak but will be rescued.

     I am the first to admit that it is difficult for my finite mind to grasp the life of Job. He, unlike any man on earth was blameless and upright in his walk with God. Yet, God initiated a trial in the life of Job when He asked satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” Why? There are probably many answers to that question, but I find Job’s response more compelling than all of his adversity.

     “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,” was Job’s confident response to his doubting friend.

     In all of Job’s heartache, grief and loss, he was willing to die still trusting God. Wow! I must then ask myself, “Can I do any less than Job?” Whether raising children, working a job, in ministry or all of those things, can we—those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ—do any less than Job?

     I submit to you that fear must flee as we bow before our Heavenly Father and trust Him for our future. I do not want to be the one left crippled in defeat. I do not want to be the one that gives up only to die. I may grow weak and weary in the struggle, but I know that my God will rescue me. Faith in God wins every time.

     Like Job, let us determine that “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”

© Joyce Powell

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Promises vs Promiser

I want to know Christ and the power of
his resurrection and the fellowship of
sharing in his sufferings, becoming like
him in his death…   
              Philippians 3:10 NIV

     Throughout the Bible, we read the promises of God. Some Bible study experts claim there are over 3000; others over 5000. No matter the number of promises, we like to cling to them in times of trouble and heartache. And, while God’s promises do bring comfort and contentment and peace, I prefer to concentrate on knowing the Promiser.

     In Philippians three, the Apostle Paul recounts the joy in believing, and in verse ten we find the heartbeat of Paul’s soul…to know Christ. The Greek word for know in this verse is ginosko. It indicates an intimate knowledge—personally and experientially. In John 10:27 Jesus explains, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Intimacy!
     I remember an occasion, after the loss of five loved ones within a seven-month period, that I found myself face down in the carpet—sobbing. “Lord, I want to know You. I need to know You. I have to know You.” I couldn’t remember the promises; I didn’t have the energy to search them out. All I knew was that I needed to know God. I needed to know He loved me. I needed to know He walked in that room, wrapped His arms around me and was never going to let me go. At that moment, I didn’t care about His promises. I cared about Him.

     Please do not misunderstand. God’s promises remain precious to me. But more than knowing His promises, I have to know God! I have to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. Knowing God erases all doubt that He is good and my life is precious to Him. Knowing Christ erases all fear that I will ever be alone for His Holy Spirit has set up residence in my heart.

     Knowing God means that whatever comes my way has been filtered through His fingers and is in my best interest—even when I do not understand. Knowing God means that I know Jesus never fails! Satan better run! Enemies need to flee!

     I am sure that you, like me, have your own stories to tell about knowing God. I would love to hear them. His manifold, bountiful blessings of love and mercy are for everyone. You have never gone so far that God cannot reach down and pull you to Himself. You are not the one person in human history that God is unable to save. You aren’t the one that He will decide to leave in the pit of despair. His mighty hand can reach you, lift you out of the pit and set your feet on the solid rock of Jesus.  

     Today is the day to know God! Put your life in His hands. I can promise you that there is no place that is safer, sweeter or more satisfying! He loves you. He is the Promiser. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

©Joyce Powell

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Give Yourself A Break

For in six days the LORD made heaven
and earth, the sea, and all that is in them,
and rested on the seventh day.
                              Exodus 20:11

     Rest—essential to a healthy life! Relaxation, inactivity, break, ease, respite, recess, time-out, downtime all are words we use to indicate that we are taking a break from the hopping, popping, bustling schedule of life.

     I am not talking about a vacation—a trade of one form of busyness for another. Be honest! How many times have you returned home totally rested after a vacation? I am talking about taking a day off to do nothing. I can hear you gasping for air. I feel your pulse racing and sense the rise of your blood pressure.  
     Jesus recommended rest to His disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31) After much “doing” and “teaching,” they needed to rest not only their bodies but their spirits.

     For most of us, it seems difficult to find a desolate place to draw away from the world. With cell phones, IPods, computers and GPS we are never hidden from those who want to interrupt our rest to meet their needs. But without rest we often become wide-eyed brain-dead zombies just trying to get through another day before we collapse for the evening.

     Rest often brings renewed energy and excitement needed to complete the tasks ahead. Jesus and His disciples had to get on a boat, leave the shoreline and head to a desolate place to rest. Even then others saw them and made their way ahead of the boat to the intended place of rest. But I have to believe that the time spent with Jesus on the boat was a time of refreshing and rest from their daily work.

     Why not give it a try—that day of rest. Turn off the cell phone, find a desolate place, grab your fishing pole or a good book and kick back away from the stresses of your daily responsibilities. Feel your muscles relax as your breathing slows and before long you may even find yourself enjoying the quiet.

     Follow the plan of the One who created heaven and earth. He took a break. Follow the advice of the Son of God who ministered to a needy world. He took a break. Follow your heart and listen to your body speak and give yourself a break!

©Joyce Powell

Saturday, March 7, 2015

When You Pray

But when you pray, go into your room,
close the door and pray to your Father,
who is unseen. Then your Father, who
who sees what is done in secret, will
reward you.        Matthew 6:6 NIV

      When you pray! When you pray! When you pray! For some reason, prayer—the most powerful tool in the Christian arsenal, is often our weapon of last resort. Be honest!

     When you realize that the month is longer than your money—do you first wring your hands…or pray? When you hear a doctor’s dire prognosis for a loved one—do you first panic in fear…or pray? When you have choices to make that could change the course of your life—do you try to logically decide the answer…or pray?
     The suddenly moments in life, those moments that surprise, overtake and overwhelm us are often the moments when we least feel like praying. Yet, those moments, like all the common, mundane and everyday moments of life are important “pray first” opportunities.

     Prayer is a matter of the heart. Perhaps that is why Jesus taught the disciples to go into a room and close the door—get alone with God. Prayer is about the privilege of emptying yourself before God and allowing Him to speak, uninterrupted by ringing phones and televisions. Prayer is a time set aside to “Be still and know that I Am God!” (Psalm 46:10)  

     I wish I could say that I get it right every time. I do not! I wish I could say that prayer is always my first thought. I cannot! I wish I could say that in every dire circumstance of life, I have rushed directly to the throne room of my Heavenly Father. I have not!

     Like you, there are times when I wring my hands, walk the floor and shed my tears before I run to my Father. But, through the years, those times have become fewer and fewer. The longer I have walked with God, the more I have found Him faithful and constant and so close that when I turn to run to Him, He is already there—waiting.

     Prayer is about an intimate relationship with our loving Heavenly Father. He should be our first thought when we are in need. Rather than running for the phone to call a friend, we should run to our prayer closet to call on Our Father Who Art In Heaven. We will never get a busy signal. His number will never be disconnected, and we will never be put on hold while he answers another line.

     Have you prayed today—just to say, “Good morning, Lord. I love you. I don’t need anything—just wanted to say hello.” I wonder if that might be the prayer He enjoys the most.

     Whatever your day holds, don’t forget that God is ready and waiting to hear you when you pray. 

© Joyce Powell

Friday, March 6, 2015

Dying to Live

And they took Uriah from Egypt and
brought him to King Jehoiakim, who
struck him down with the sword and
dumped his dead body into the burial
place of the common people.
                      Jeremiah 26:23  NIV

     Uriah, son of Shemaiah, prophesied in the name of the LORD—in much the same manner as the prophet Jeremiah. He foretold what would happen to Judah if they did not repent and turn from their rebellious ways. When King Jehoiakim heard about Uriah, he sent his Gestapo team to silence the prophet.

     Uriah heard they were coming and fled to Egypt, but that did not stop the king. He wanted Uriah’s head! The king dispatched an extraction team to Egypt. They snatched Uriah and brought him to Jehoiakim. Then King Jehoiakim himself slaughtered the prophet and “dumped his dead body into the burial place of the common people.”  

     Century after century those who dared to follow God’s divine call upon their lives have been mistreated at best and often martyred for their efforts to call mankind back to the One and Only Living God. The cruelty devised to end the life of another is more than my mind wants to dwell on or can comprehend. However, since the threat continues on our watch in this time in history, we must not close our eyes and pretend that it is not happening.

     Part of the threat comes from radical groups who simply want to extinguish anyone who does not hold their same radical beliefs. Part of the threat comes from power struggles from country to country. Part of the threat comes from the political correctness movement sweeping across many areas of the world. The threat continues to come in new and hideous ways. It is real, and it is here now!

     We have reaction options. We can choose to become invisible Christians. We can choose to not “rock the boat.” We can choose to live our lives and let everyone else live theirs. We can choose to be part of the problem and not part of the solution. Unfortunately, many have made those choices.

     OR, we can choose to follow the call of Christ to take up our cross and follow Him! That means a “public” profession of our faith in God. That means sharing Jesus with our friends, neighbors and family. That means practicing what we preach (OUCH!).

     As Christians we love to quote our favorite lines: 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
His grace is sufficient.
Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world.

     But I have to ask myself, do I really believe those words. Am I willing to put them into action in the face of today’s anti-Christian climate? Am I willing to risk all for Christ?

     My answer has to be yes! After all, what could go wrong? “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain!” Philippians 1:21

© Joyce Powell