Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Beyond My Imagination


But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen,
nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love
him”—these things God has revealed to us
through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches
everything, even the depths of God.
                             1 Corinthians 2:9-10 

     Several years ago friends, a female trio, asked me to write a song about what we would see in heaven. I agreed—under one condition. I asked each of them to write down and mail to me their expectations of heaven. With the promise that they would not share with the others but with me alone, I began receiving their letters.

     I read, I smiled, I wept, and I wrote Glimpses of Home. Although these young women spent a lot of time together and each loved the Lord, as evidenced in the way they lived their lives, their views of heaven and what they were looking forward to seeing were individual exciting expectations.
 
     Why—because the heart of man cannot imagine the splendor and wonder our Heavenly Father has prepared for us. It is beyond our earthly comprehension. Heaven is beyond our imagination!

     As a young Christian, I looked forward to streets of gold, gates of pearl and walls of jasper. Now, I just want to sit at the feet of Jesus, to lay my crown of righteousness before the throne of God, to sing with the redeemed in perfect harmony—I am redeemed by love divine glory glory Christ is mine! I want to worship God!

     Ecclesiastes 3:11 confirms that God has planted eternity in the hearts of man. We have a longing to see Him. We know there is more than what our earthly life offers. As His children, we anxiously await our reunion in heaven. Occasionally, as when my mother was dying, God gives us glimpses of home by allowing our loved ones to speak aloud what they are seeing. But it seems that it is always just enough to intensify our longing to see for ourselves.

     Some day God will call each of us into eternity, and we will see with our eyes what our hearts and minds have only imagined. I know one thing for sure! Heaven is “bright and clear.” The rest is beyond my imagination.  

©Joyce Powell

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Life in the Little Things


So whether you eat or drink or whatever
you do, do it all for the glory of God.
                       I Corinthians 10:31 NIV 

     Speaking of the shallow and the profound, Oswald Chambers wrote: “Determinedly take no one seriously but God, and the first person you find you have to leave severely alone as being the greatest fraud you have ever known, is yourself.”

     Fraud! Cheater! Imposter! These words speak to the motive of my heart. I used to think this verse related only to my actions, but was recently made aware that this verse penetrates to the marrow of my spiritual bones—not only what I do but what I think.
 
     What do I think when my plans for the day are interrupted by someone else’s need? What do I think when I have made plans for money saved then someone presents a need I feel I must meet? What do I think when the mundane of daily life interferes with my plans for doing big things for God?

     The record of the life of Christ on earth is the ultimate example of grace in the midst of the ordinary everyday common events of life. Christ was born into the ordinary, chose the ordinary to be His disciples and ministered most often to the common ordinary people met along His way—yet He is God!

     Therefore, it is in the ordinary—not the great things I desire to do for God— where He reveals the motives of my heart. If I learn to live with Christ-like motives in the little things, then when and if God allows me to step out into the deep with Him, I will be able to look in my mirror without the fear of seeing an imposter.

     The motive of my heart should always be—Lord, it is all about you and not about me. Today I pray that God will shake His children like a dust-filled blanket reminding each of us to check our motives as we go about doing the ordinary to the glory of God.


©Joyce Powell 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD!

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.
                            Revelation 4:8b NIV
 

     Visiting countries outside the United States can be an eye-opening experience. Food, transportation, living accommodations and culture stimulate the senses as new and unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells mix with excitement and the rush to see and do it all. 

     When we were in London we toured both St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Westminster Abbey. While the architecture and history of those two grand cathedrals saturated my brain with more sights and stories than my mind could comprehend, I felt no connection to my Lord in either of those places. Gift shops and cafes combined with crowds of people and uncontrolled children left me waiting for a moment when I might hear the Lord speak to my heart.

       Several days later we spent the night on San Clemente Island in Venice, Italy. The now beautiful and luxurious hotel had originally been built as a monastery. At one end of the hotel stood the monastery chapel built around 1100 A.D. The doors of the chapel stood open for anyone wishing to go inside. One look told me it had not been renovated, but as we stepped across the threshold I felt what I had been looking for in those grand cathedrals of London—the presence of the Lord. I turned to my husband and remarked, “God did something in this place.” 

     The floor tiles were coming up, the wall frescos were all but faded from view, the altar area was in disrepair, but the presence of God could be felt as we whispered our way from room to room. When we found ourselves in the choir area, we sat with our friends and sang praises to our Heavenly Father.
 
     Surely the presence of the Lord was in that place, and I was reminded of how often we are surprised by God in unexpected places and at unexpected times. I remembered that the Ancient of Days is the God of the past, present and future. I remembered that He was holy, is holy and forever will be holy.
 
     I fear we hear too little about God’s holiness in America. I fear we have become enamored with the luxuries of modern living which all too often bring the unholy directly into our living rooms. I shudder as I hear Christians casually using OMG in conversation and on social media, and I remind myself that I must never forget what the angels in heaven continue to proclaim.  

     Holy, holy, holy is the Lord. 
 

© Joyce Powell

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sing


 

Oh LORD, how good it is to sing your praise
To recognize the grandeur of your ways
To know You call the stars above by name
And grow the grassy valleys with Your rain
I put my hope in Your unfailing love
I listen as You whisper from above
And call to me to follow as You lead
Forever grateful, that is why I sing 
 
 
© Joyce Powell

Monday, February 23, 2015

Alone in the Storm


Immediately Jesus made the disciples get
into the boat and go ahead of them to
the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.
After he had dismissed them, he went up on
a mountainside by himself to pray. When
evening came, he was there alone, but the
boat was already a considerable distance
from land, buffeted by the waves because
the wind was against it.
 
             Matthew 14:22-24  NIV
 
     Has Jesus ever failed to meet your expectations? His disciples believed He would be crowned king, sit on a throne and rule the land. I feel positive they also believed that as faithful followers, they would rule with Jesus. They expected a war against Herod. They expected victory over Roman rule. They got neither!
 
     I like the way Max Lucado explains this in his book entitled In the Eye of the Storm. “Instead of weapons, they got oars. Rather than being sent to fight, they were sent to float. The crowds were sent away. Jesus walked away. And they were left on the water with a storm brewing in the sky.”
 
     Jesus sent the disciples to the other side of the lake while He went up the mountainside to pray. He knew the storm was coming, yet he sent his disciples away; alone.
 
     Like the disciples, I too have been in the eye of the storm wondering if Jesus would save me. Hoping that He stood close by; watching. Hoping that I would not drown in my sorrow before He reached His hand and pulled me to safety; wondering. During that time, I realized that my crisis was not the storm raging around me but the fear and anxiety raging in my heart.
 
     Then one day, Jesus came walking on the water of my storm, spoke peace be still and calmed my troubled soul. Perfect timing! Just when I knew that I was not going to make it through the storm, the one who stores up the lightening and gathers the storm clouds, who bottles the winds and calms the waters came and spoke peace to my fearful anxious heart. The crisis remained, but the storm was over!
 
     I, like the disciples, thought I was alone in the storm. But just as the disciples experienced, I found that in Christ I am never alone. Jesus used the crisis of my storm to remind me of His love, grace and mercy.
 
     If you are in the eye of the storm today, do not fear. Jesus is close by— walking on the water. You are not alone in your storm.  

 
 © Joyce Powell


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Now Available

Road Signs for Living:
In an Ever-Changing World with a Never-Changing God
now available on Amazon
 
 
 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Under His Wings


He will cover you with His feathers, and
under his wings you will find refuge…
                          Psalm 91:4a NIV

      In a world where so many want to make a name for themselves, be honored for accomplishments and recognized for good works, I am always amazed that some of God’s most beautiful and well-loved Words are recorded as written by anonymous. Psalm 91 is one such work.

     Often called the Soldiers’ Psalm, it has been recited across battlefields around the globe providing hope and comfort to thousands. It also provides hope for daily living. Danger comes in many shapes and sizes and at various times throughout life. Psalm 91 covers all circumstances because God continues to protect His children.
 
     I have long been fascinated with verse four and the picture of God hiding me under His wings. Like many of you, I have watched a mother duck pull her ducklings close to her breast and tuck them safely under her wings. While I understood the metaphor of God pulling us close and keeping us safe, only after I comprehended the fuller meaning of the Hebrew word for wings did I begin to draw upon this Psalm for daily living.

     The Hebrew word kanap, translated in verse four as wings, also means corner, hem (of a garment). Upon reading that definition, I got it! I am like a small child who runs to mother, grabs mother’s legs and hides my head under the hem of mother’s dress tail thinking no one can see me, because I cannot see  them. I feel safe! I am safe, for there is nothing a mother will not do to protect her child.

     Like a mother protecting her child, our Heavenly Father protects His children. If I make the Most High my dwelling, then no harm can come to me. No threat can overpower my God. No peril can be greater than my God. No one can outsmart my God. No day becomes so dark that my God cannot provide light for the way; no heartache so great that my God cannot speak peace to my troubled soul. My protection remains in Him alone.

     Therefore, when I need wisdom I will ask God. When I am afraid, I will trust God. When my world grows dark and I cannot seem to find my way, I will look to God. When my heart hurts and I think I cannot bear the pain, I will remember that I, like a small child, am tucked under the hem of His garment safe and secure under His wings.
 
Joyce Powell