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Vision

Proverbs 29:18
Where there is no vision, the people perish.

          It is amazing to realize that we have reached the end of the first quarter of 2012. It’s usually about this time of the year that we briefly review those resolutions we made three short months ago to determine if we’ve even started working on accomplishing said resolutions.  

          The Bible doesn’t tell us to set resolutions, but rather to have a vision, lest we perish. The Message states it even more specifically:

“If people can’t see what God is doing,
they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
they are most blessed.”

So it’s God’s vision that we must have – not our own. But what about our dreams, our vision? When we give our dreams and visions up to God, His vision becomes ours and oftentimes, we find that our vision was not too far off from His vision for us. But we always realize that His vision always far exceeds anything we could ask or think.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

So, how have you done on your resolutions this first quarter? Or have you discovered God’s vision for you? Are you following that vision?
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What Would Jesus Do?

There was a saying a few years back “What would Jesus do?” Obviously, the saying was to make us stop and think about a situation or conversation before we acted or spoke. What would Jesus do in this situation? What would Jesus say to this person?

                I didn’t “buy” into this saying. I’ve always tried to treat all people fairly—to live by the Golden Rule—“do unto others as I would have them to do unto me.” I’ve not always been successful, but I try. I’m positive that Jesus would go much further than that. He would have gone the “extra mile” and then some.

                Over the last eighteen months, I’ve had friends and family who have gone the extra mile or two—who’ve been Jesus to Dave and me.  I won’t name names, but you know who you are. Many have sent cards, emails, called. One friend calls several mornings a week as she drops her kids off at school, picks them up in the afternoon or as she runs errands. Just calling to check on me and Dave. I’m not sure she will ever realize how much I look forward to those calls and how much they mean to me. It is a ministry she has that I’m not even sure she is aware of.

                Numerous friends, family members and people we don’t know have held us up in prayer. What a blessing to know that when I cannot pray, for whatever reason, there are so many others praying for us.

                When Dave was hospitalized earlier this month, one of my dearest friends made herself available all weekend. We talked on the phone several times on Friday, she came to the hospital to visit on Saturday and brought a “goodie bag” full of healthy snacks and magazines that would appeal to Dave and to me. She took me out to lunch – just to get me out of the hospital and on Monday, when Dave was discharged and we went home,  she had dinner at our house just a couple of hours later. 

On Saturday morning, bright and early, our priest came to visit. He would have come Friday night while Dave was still in the ER but I insisted he wait. The weather was horrendous and I knew that there would be other opportunities to visit.  Before he left, he prayed a wonderful prayer of healing.

On Sunday during that hospital weekend, my children came to visit. They had stayed in touch all weekend, offering help in whatever I needed.  Later a beloved family came to visit and brought and served us communion. As they were leaving, my new boss (who just happens to be the new Senior Pastor of Redemption Fellowship where I work) and his beautiful and sweet wife came to visit after the worship service. They’d never met Dave. Yet here they were, to show their support and love.

                I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my family and Dave’s. My family is always “here for us when we need it.” And so is Dave’s family, even though  Dave’s  brother lives in Florida and his sister lives in Pennsylvania. They have sent cards and called—in fact, Dave’s brother calls almost every day.

                I’m sure by now you are wondering what is the point of this blog! Yes, I wanted to publicly thank all who have ministered to us in this last year. I’m sure I’ve missed someone, and if that someone is you, I sincerely apologize.

                But I also wrote this post because all of these people have been Jesus to me and Dave. They asked themselves “What would Jesus do?” and then they went the extra mile. Or two.   May I follow their example and instead of living by the Golden Rule, I ask “What would Jesus do?” and then go the extra mile. Or two.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
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St. Patrick’s Prayer

First published in March, 2012, this is a wonderful reminder of the One through whom we “live, breathe, and have our being.” My prayer for you today is that you will remember Who lives in you and you will arise to be all that He has called you to be. And should you not  know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, I pray that you will find Him today so you, too, can arise to be the man or woman He created you to be. Be blessed today, St. Patrick’s Day, 2015.

Knowing that we are born into Spiritual Warfare and we all need to bathe ourselves and others in prayer, I ask that you join me in praying this ancient prayer on the day we jointly honor St. Patrick throughout the world. Especially remembering the Preborn who cannot pray this prayer for themselves.

Fáed Fíada – The Cry of the Deer – The Lorica of St. Patrick

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the
Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession
of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

I arise today through the strength of Christ with His Baptism,
through the strength of His Crucifixion with His Burial
through the strength of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
through the strength of His descent for the Judgment of Doom.

I arise today through the strength of the love of Cherubim
in obedience of Angels, in the service of the Archangels,
in hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
in prayers of Patriarchs, in predictions of Prophets,
in preachings of Apostles, in faiths of Confessors,
in innocence of Holy Virgins, in deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through the strength of Heaven:
light of Sun, brilliance of Moon, splendour of Fire,
speed of Lightning, swiftness of Wind, depth of Sea,
stability of Earth, firmness of Rock.

I arise today, through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to secure me:
against snares of devils, against temptations of vices,
against inclinations of nature, against everyone who
shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.
I summon today all these powers between me (and these evils):
against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose
my body and my soul,
against incantations of false prophets,
against black laws of heathenry,
against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry,
against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
against every knowledge that endangers man’s body and soul.
Christ to protect me today
against poison, against burning, against drowning,
against wounding, so that there may come abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right,
Christ on my left, Christ in breadth, Christ in length,
Christ in height, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the
Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the
Oneness of the Creator of creation.
Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of Christ. May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

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The High-Ways of God

I am delighted to have Fay Lamb as my guest today. Fay shares an interesting perspective on the “high-ways of God.” Enjoy this devotion and be sure and leave Fay a comment!

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways
My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

        I often take long walks around beautiful Lake Junaluska in North Carolina. Many times, as I stroll alongside the rose garden or hike the secluded trail that rises just a bit above the lake, I spend time with the Lord, and I contemplate his path for me as a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and the duties I have outside the home: volunteer, editor, writer.

       In the midst of the Book of Isaiah, God talks about His “high ways,” and I’ve often wondered what they mean to me as I fellowship down the paths that He has for us. If God named his “high ways” what would they be?
       Isaiah: 55: 1-2: (Satisfaction Boulevard): Worldly satisfaction is often found in the things that we buy or produce, the things we hold close, but God calls us to satisfaction in Him. “Ho, everyone one that thirsteth come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea come buy wine without food and price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” As a wife and a mother, as a grandmother, dissatisfaction with where the Lord has me, is telling God that what He has provided isn’t enough. When I walk along Satisfaction Boulevard with God, I can see that everything He has given me is more than enough, and my husband, my children, and my grandchildren are happy when I am not chasing those things not meant for me.
       Isaiah 55: 3 (Security Circle): While my walk around the lake is a short one, I often have to be careful to watch for individuals who appear to be up to no good. So it is with my life. I must watch for everyone and everything that will pull me away from my journey with God. “Incline your ear, and come unto me, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” When we walk with God, we are safe—He is an everlasting harbor.
       Isaiah 55: 4, 6 (The intersections of Surrender Trail and Salvation Lane): When I walk alone by the lake, I often think of God’s mercies toward me. How He met me where I was so that I could continue on a journey free from the burdening sin I carried. Instead God handed that burden to His son. “Behold I have given Him [Jesus] for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.” The One God has given is Jesus, and because Jesus sacrificed for me, I am able to approach boldly before God’s throne and ask God to walk with me in the cool of the day.
       Isaiah 55:7 (Sanctity Court) In the mountains of North Carolina where the picturesque setting changes from moment to moment, season to season, it is easy to understand that with God, each day is a new beginning. No matter what I have done, God is faithful to forgive me if I but ask. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” God calls us to sanctity, to bring our sins before him. Each confession brings us closer to Him, the walk a more enjoyable one, as we let go of our past and move toward the future in his abundant forgiveness.
       Isaiah 55:10-11: (Sharing Way): On my walks I often carry a camera to take in the beauty that God has created before me. From the still waters, to the smallest petal on the most gorgeous rose, to the ducks and geese playing on the lake and on the paths, I marvel at a God who spoke it all into existence. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” God’s Word is powerful, a gift for the ages—a gift that God says will accomplish its purpose of announcing salvation to mankind—the Creator’s message to His creation.
       Isaiah 55:12-13 (Singing Street): I can honestly say that I’ve never broken out in vocal song as I walk around Lake Junaluska, but I have heard the song of nature in the honking of the geese, the lapping of the waters, the rustle of the leaves, and my heart has been lifted in praise to the Maker of us all. “For we shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you in signing and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

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Devotion: "Moses Answers the Call" Jennifer Slattery

I amd pleased to have Jennifer Slattery as my guest today. Jennifer has written a delightful devotion based on Exodus, chapters 2 & 3. I know you will enjoy it. Please leave Jennifer a comment!                                                                                                                                      

Moses Answers the Call (taken from Exodus 2-3)
Moses rolled his mat and stuffed it in his bag along with the rest of his belongings. The aroma of roasted grain filled the air, drawing him to a fire centered in their camp where Zipporah, his wife sat preparing his morning meal. Her sisters chattered beside her, one grinding grain, another pressing olives, still another weaving strong goat-hair thread into torn and thread-bare tent panels.

                Footsteps sounded behind him and he turned to see Jethro, his father-in-law, approaching. His stiff smile only deepened the sadness in his chestnut eyes. “So you have made up your mind? There is nothing I can say to sway you?”

                Moses sighed and gripped his bag tighter. How he longed to heed Jethro’s words of warning, but God left no room for doubt. “I must do as God commands.”

                “And if the Egyptians kill you?” His gaze drifted toward his daughters gathered a few paces away before returning to Moses.

                Moses straightened and lifted his chin. “They won’t. I told you of the signs God showed me. The flaming bush that never burned up. My staff which turned to a snake. My hand leprous and as white as the clouds drifting above us, made healthy by a mere dipping it into my cloak.”

                “But why now? After they’ve been enslaved for so very long?”

                Moses shook his head. “He did not tell me why, and I cannot worry about that which I do not understand. I must act upon what I know.”

                “And what is that?”

                Moses lifted his gaze toward the distant hills, a gentle breeze stirring through his thick, gray hair. “I know God has heard the cries of his people and has deemed it time to act. I know He will be their mighty deliverer. I know Aaron, my brother whom I thought I would never see again, is on his way to meet me even now.” He inhaled, then exhaled slowly, hoping to quiet the churning in his stomach. “I know it will not be easy—that the Pharaoh’s heart will grow hard again and again and I fear that my people, the people I come to help, will hate me.”

                “Yet still you go.”

                Moses nodded. “Yet still I go, for now that I have experienced God’s presence for myself, now that I have heard His voice, I cannot walk away. His presence is better than life itself.”

            Jethro regarded Moses with a furrowed brow. But then he sighed and threw up his hands. “Then go. Do what you must.”

                Soft footsteps approached and Moses glanced up to see Zipporah, his beautiful wife, approach with a bundle of cloth. Her long, dark hair stirred in the breeze. The laughter had left her normally sparkling eyes, her soft smile gone. “Better than life with me, my lord?” Unshed tears glistened in her eyes.

                Moses held her gaze, the very breath stolen from him. A tear slid down her cheek and he brushed it away. “Do not cry, my beautiful wife. I will return. Once Pharaoh lets the people go, and we begin our journey. I will send for you. I will bring you with me to the Promised Land.”

                Zipporah dipped her head, and Moses knew the emotions that warred inside her, because they raged in him as well. Two days ago, God was nothing more than a story told to him as a child. And now, he risked everything to follow. The very thought turned his stomach, but below the fear simmered something more—hope.

                He cupped Zipporah’s chin and lifted her face until her eyes met his. “At night, when you lie upon your mat, gazing at the stars, think of the Promised Land I spoke of. It is a place of plenty, of peace, filled with fragrant flowers growing upon the meadows. A land flowing with milk and honey.”

                Zipporah smiled. “I knew God had plans for you. All these years as you’ve served my father so faithfully, tending his sheep night after night, I knew you were destined for more, my prince of Egypt.”

                Moses chuckled. “Prince of Egypt indeed. Such a title is no longer important to me, my sweet Zipporah. Now I wish more than anything to be a servant of the living God.”

                “And so you will be. Go with the strength God provides, and may He protect your every step.”

Luke 9:23  Then He (Jesus) said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.(NIV)

When we read the biblical accounts, often we fail to realize these were real people with real struggles. They felt the same emotions you and I face. Although I’ve “fleshed out” the story provided in Exodus, adding details as I see they may have happened, I imagine leaving his wife, father-in-law and the predictable life he knew in Midian to confront the powerful, slave-driving Pharaoh wasn’t easy. Obedience rarely is. But I believe Moses’ obedience was motivated by two things: his love for God and his hope in something better–the Promised Land.

Similarly, as Christians our obedience is motivated by two things: our love for God who, while we were still sinners, died for us; and our hope in something better–Heaven, the eternal Promised Land. For we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen, our glorious Savior and His promise of eternity.

Jennifer Slattery lives in the Midwest with her husband of sixteen years and their fourteen year old daughter. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, Internet Café Devotions, Jewels of Encouragement, and the Christian Pulse and maintains a devotional blog at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com