Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Safety Insurance

I've been reading Proverbs in my devotions recently and was impressed by how many verses indicate that God truly provides for our safety and promises His presence, His help and His security to us. I just wanted to share a few of these verses with you and hopefully they will bring encouragement:

"He holds victory in store for the upright; he is a SHIELD to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones." (Proverbs 2:7-8)

"Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared." (Proverbs 3:25-26)

"The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble." (Proverbs 19:23)

"My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment....then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble."
(Proverbs. 3:21a and 23a)

"My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words; do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body." (Proverbs 4:20-22)

"He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge." (Proverbs 14:26)

God's Word and our obedience to it promises protection, freedom from trouble, health to our bodies, and security and safety as we go through life. If you aren't in the habit of reading God's Word every day, you are missing out on truth that could be profitable to you and your whole family.

Go in safety today as you trust God to place that hedge of protection around you and your children!

Monday, February 25, 2008

God's Magnificent Creation

Saturday Dick and I took a break from our normal routine and decided to spend the day relaxing on the beach. We took a cooler full of snacks to nibble on, I brought a good book to read, and Dick brought his snorkeling gear and we sat up our perfect spot in the sand with the waves of the ocean lapping against the shore. Aaahhh!!!

In just a little while after settling in, we were mesmerized by the playful antics of the whales far out in the ocean. With binoculars, Dick watched a number of whales flapping their tails, jumping out of the water, the water would spew high into the air as the whales jumped and splashed and played all afternoon. What beauty---it's indescribable. Such magnificent creatures who come to Maui waters during the winter months to spawn their young before heading back up north in the spring.

I read a booklet this morning summarizing a book by naturalist Dean Ohlman that stressed how important it is for us as humans and caretakers of God's creation to take care of it with utmost care. Creation and all of its immense complexities can never be fully explained or understood, but we are to nurture and care for the natural wonders around us to the best of our knowledge and wisdom. We are to fully comprehend that nature is part of getting to know God in a deeper, more meaningful way. God's works through creation, and His Word, His written revelation, are the two means by which God has revealed Himself to us. By studying and experiencing nature, we learn so much about God and His character.

Nature itself praises God and God rejoices in His creation and delights in all of His creatures. When we purposely seek to see God through nature, we are astounded at the creative beauty, order, and complexity of every living thing. How can we even think that everything just evolved? It was through the mighty spoken Word of God that all came into being and was made for His pleasure and for our good pleasure as well.

Henry VanDyke, the writer of the hymn "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" said it beautifully:

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Wherever you are today, notice the scenery around you, then look even closer at the complexity and beauty of what you see.
If you see a tree, you see a trunk, branches, leaves, maybe a nut or fruit produced on it. Pick a leaf off the tree and study its makeup. Notice the bark on the tree and how it is distinguished and different from other trees around it. Take a fruit and smell its odor, open it up and see the seed inside---could that have been by chance that all of it came together as it did? No, it was by God's creative power, design and wisdom that all was created and is now held together in perfect harmony. A peach tree cannot produce an apple; a tulip cannot become a rose; a dog cannot produce a cat---you get the picture.

Psalm 8:3-9 by David explains the difference between people and other created things:

"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen---even the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!"

Take in the beauty and the magnificence of God's creation around you today. Listen for the song of the birds, the chirping of the crickets, the breeze blowing through the trees. Then praise God!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wise Counsel

There is so much heartache in the world today with people dealing with so many personal issues in their lives--everything from depression, addictions, stress, abuse of all kinds, eating disorders, and rebellion against authority, whether it be the law, parents, bosses, or God. My personal viewpoint is that the underlying cause of all these issues is ignorance of the foundational truths of God's Word, and/or rebellion against it. There's a verse in Proverbs 19 that says "A man's own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord."

I looked up the word "rebel" in the dictionary and it was defined as "a person who resists any authority, control, or tradition."
Most of our social problems in the world today, in my opinion, are people who are "rebelling" against something, and the deep underlying reason of their rebellion lies in their ignorance and/or disobedience of the truths for which God set up for His people since the beginning of time. God gave us direction in His word to protect us, but we insist in our own human frailty that we know better than God how to run our lives. That ultimately leads us into trouble.

Proverbs 11:14: "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety." If we don't have any guidelines to follow other than our own selfish desires, we will ultimately fail in whatever we pursue. It shows a lack of wisdom when we think we know it all and don't need anyone else's help. God has set up the body of Christ, His church, for that very purpose. He gifted each of us with different gifts so that we can help others in different and diverse ways. There are pastors gifted to teach us God's truth to us; there are people gifted with compassion, a listening ear, a hospitable spirit to offer us comfort when we need it; there are people gifted as evangelists to go out and tell others the good news about Christ; there are people gifted with generosity that can help meet the needs of others within the body of Christ.

There will always be rebels in our sphere of influence, but they will come to a point in their lives where the folly of their life choices will begin to destroy them and they will call out for help. We need to be there for the rebellious spirits so that we can be a "fragrance of Christ" to them. II Cor. 2:15: "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." God did not place us in the position to be a judge of their wrong decisions or choices. He placed us to be a sweet aroma to those that need to know Christ. Just as the aroma of cinnamon rolls baking in the oven draws our senses to the smell, the aroma of Christ within us as Christians needs to draw the rebels of our world to us so that we can "speak the truth in love" to them.

We need to be very wise in our counsel to these troubled souls. Most of us are not trained as professional counsellors, but we can open our hearts to love them and nurture them with Christ's love and wisdom until they learn themselves how to lean on Christ and gain reliance on Him to meet their needs. We are to help them "bear their burdens", but we are also to teach them how to "cast their cares upon the Lord." Our counsel is to direct them to the "Wonderful Counsellor", our Lord and Savior, who alone can provide them with strength and wisdom and courage to combat their problems in the right way.

If there is someone you know that is hurting, be a wise counsellor---love and nurture them and allow the aroma of Christ in you permeate their senses and open their hearts and minds to take in the fragrance and be soothed by your compassion and love for them. Gently lead them to the One who alone can meet their every need!

"The fear of the Lord leads to life; THEN one rests content, untouched by trouble." (Proverbs 19:23)

May your patient and wise counsel be always available for others!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Encouraging Verses of Scripture

To soothe my impatient and hurting heart, God gave me scriptures today from Psalm 20:

"May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you." (vs. 1)

"May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed." (vs. 4)

"We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your requests" (vs. 5)

"Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand." (vs. 6)

"Answer us when we call!" (vs. 9b)

God is at work to bring about HIS perfect plan, and I just need to be patient and wait upon Him to work my concerns out according to HIS plan, HIS timing, and HIS perfect way.

God is good---all the time!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Spiritual Disappointments

I got up this morning with a dark cloud over my spirit. It has been hard for me to understand why some days are so full of God's grace, mercy, and goodness to me and I can see Him so clearly; and then some days He seems so distant and far away and my heart aches with discouragement and disappointment. What makes the difference?

In analyzing my moods this very morning, I realized the anticipation of expectations from my prayers to God have not come. Not only have answers to my prayers not been answered, the very thing I prayed for suddenly seems so unattainable and I feel sad about it. When I place such high expectations of God working on my behalf and the answers to my prayers seem so far away, or even worse, seem impossible, my spirit falls so low. Does that mean God has failed me? Does it mean my faith has failed me? No, it means my feelings have failed me. The selfishness of wanting my own desires and my being not willing to wait upon God for His timing is the problem. In my human nature, I can't understand why God would delay in answering something that means so very much to me. What brazen boldness on my part! God is not a vending machine to fill my every desire!

When we feel God is too slow in answering our prayers, we are demanding God change His perfections to accommodate our whims. God is never too slow. We need to go slow with God and wait for Him.

I just read this prayer written by Grace Noll Crowell:

Dear Child, God does not say today, "Be strong." He knows your strength is spent, He knows how long the road has been, how weary you have grown; for He who walked the earthly roads alone, each bogging lowland, and each rugged hill, can understand, and so He says, "Be still, and know that I am God." The hour is late, and you must rest awhile, and you must wait until life's empty reservoirs fill up as slow rain fills an empty upturned cup. Hold up your cup, dear child, for God to fill. He only asks today that you be still."

So as I wait patiently for God to work on my behalf and answer the prayers of my heart that means so much to me, I pray I can be still and wait for His will, His timing, His perfect plan to be worked out on behalf of those whom are the subjects of my prayers.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way for God to lift my spirits!

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Miracle of New Birth

I just learned this morning that I became a great-great-aunt. How special is that!!! Alexis Paige Swiger was born yesterday on Valentine's Day weighing 7lb.15oz to my niece's son, and what a beautiful little valentine she is.

After seeing the perfect formation of a tiny newborn baby just out of the womb, how could anyone doubt there is a God? God's word tells us that babies are knitted in the mother's womb by God. God foreknew little Alexis would be born, and He created her with a very special unique God-given gift and a purpose for her birth. To ponder that wonderful truth can take your breath away! Every parent has been given the awesome responsibility for nurturing the gift of their children to become all God wants the child to be. Alex and April, congratulations on the precious birth of your daughter. I pray God will allow you to see what a treasure He has given you and that you will assume your responsibility as her parents to raise this child knowing God and His love for you as a family.

Congratulations and we are so proud to have little Alexis Paige in the family!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

In reading my devotions this morning, the Daily Bread had this wonderful acrostic perfect for today:

For God so loVed the world,
That He gAve
His onLy
ThaT whoever
Believes In Him
Should Not perish,
But have Everlasting life.

If you look closely at the capitalized letters in the middle, they spell Valentine. God sent us the greatest LOVE mankind will ever know when He sent His One and Only Begotten Son to die for us on the cross. We will never receive a more loving Valentine than Jesus!!!

Enjoy the valentine in your life and may God show you beyond measure how much He loves you today!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Love in Action

Every day, if we look with open eyes and hearts, we can see needy people all around us. Some people don't display their needs as openly as others, but if we keep alert and tuned in to our surroundings, we will be able to discern the needs of the people in our sphere of influence. As Christians, we should be alert as to how God wants us to help meet the needs of others. We can either ignore the needs around us, look the other way, and go on our merry way, or we can ask God how He would like for us to be His vessel to meet the need in another person's life.

Deuteronomy 15:7 says: "If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted and tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.......Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to...Therefore, I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land."

However, we must have a pure motive in our giving to others. We must do it:
1. willingly (Matt. 10:8- Freely you have received, freely give.")
2. generously (II Cor. 9:6- "whoever sows generously will also reap generously")
3. in love (I Cor. 13:3- "if I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, and have not love, I gain nothing.")

James tells us that if we see a brother or sister without clothes or daily food, and do nothing, what good is it? Then he says in James 2:18b "Show me faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." In vs. 22, he continues "you see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did."

If we are to be God's servants and follow Christ's example, we will have open eyes to see a need, a compassionate heart to want to meet the need, and by our love, act and do something to help.

There's a Christian praise song that ends "And they'll know we are Christians by our love!" When we openly extend Christ's love to others through a servant's heart, others will be drawn to that love and want what we have. In John 12:26b, Jesus told his disciples that "The Father will honor the one who serves me."

Let's follow the example of the Macedonian churches in II Cor. 8:2--"Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints."

It is a privilege to give out of our love for Christ to the needy in this world. It brings overflowing joy and may even result in everlasting life to those that do not know Christ as Saviour, and are allowed to see Christ through our giving and want to know our Savior and Lord for themselves personally.

"You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." (II Cor. 9:11)

Serve others and give generously out of your love for God in return for all He has done for you!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Prayer Changes Us

I just read an interesting quote by CeCe Winans:

"They say 'prayer changes things', but the truth is, through prayer, God changes us so that we can change things."

We know the power of prayer as Christians. When we receive an answer to prayer, it's time for great rejoicing because we know the God of the universe wanted to bless us by giving us what we asked for. He loves to "give us the desires of our heart", but there is a condition that we "delight ourselves in the Lord." When our hearts delight in Him, He in turn delights in us.

The Lord has ordained that our prayers play a key role in the carrying out of the purposes of His kingdom. Through prayer we seek His will, surrender to His purposes, and mighty things can be accomplished through faith believing that God will work in and through us according to His will. Therefore, we need to pray that we "be filled with the knowledge of His will" (Col. 1:9). If we prayed that prayer alone for ourselves and our family every day, what great and mighty things could God accomplish through us.

Through prayer, God changes us....He changes our will to match His. Through prayers of confession, we are made clean vessels for God's use. Through prayers of thanksgiving, we are made so much more aware of who God is when we focus on His attributes and character and we begin to desire that we be conformed to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Through prayers of intercession, we bring our needs and the needs of our loved ones to the throne of grace for God to intercede and work on our behalf according to His will. Through prayers of surrender, God uses us for His kingdom purposes. We can only change things if God has first changed us.

In this week's Daily Bread, I read this quote: "The purpose of prayer is not to get what we want, but to become what God wants." Our prayer every day should be that God will conform our will to His and that we will delight Him by living out His will in the power He gives us through the Holy Spirit. A surrendered heart is all that God desires! "Obedience is better than sacrifice."

I pray that you might be filled with the knowledge of God's will each and every day!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

We got up this morning to torrential rain---it has rained all week off and on, but beginning last night, we've had constant rain. Sometimes it slashes against the windows until it looks like we're inside a carwash, other times it is a soft downpour, but needless to say, the day is pretty gloomy, dreary and gray.

So what better thing to do on a cold "wintry" gray day but to make chocolate chip cookies to brighten the day? The warmth of the oven makes it seem less chilly, the wonderful aroma of chocolate floating through the air warms the senses, and oh, the gooey hot cookie melting in your mouth as you chew and taste that decadent flavor against your tastebuds certainly adds that
special warmth to anyone's heart.

If you are someplace cold and a good hot chocolate chip cookie sounds good to you, try my recipe:


2 cups plus 4 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light-brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup soft butter or margarine
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 12 oz. package semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Into large bowl, sift flour with soda and salt.
3. Add sugars, eggs, vanilla and butter. With wooden spoon or portable electric mixer at medium speed,
beat until smooth and well combined--about 1 minute.
4. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips with wooden spoon.
5. Drop by teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets.
6. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden. Remove to wire rack, and cool.

I guarantee you that the members of your household will love you when the smell starts wafting through the house to their noses. Serve with a good cold glass of milk or a good hot cup of coffee and let the compliments begin. "Her children arise and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her." (Proverbs 31:28)


Friday, February 01, 2008

A Tribute to Emily

Tomorrow is the birthday of our daughter-in-law, Emily. She captured the heart of our son over 15 years ago, is the love of his life, and the caring mother of our wonderful grandsons, Bryan and Bradley. We are so proud that she has been such a precious addition to our family. We want to wish you a very happy birthday, Emily. May God send you more blessings than you can count on your special day and show you His love for you through others above and beyond your expectations.

"A Special Thank-You For Emily"

Thank you for choosing to come into our family
and for choosing our son as your life-mate.
Thank you for bringing into our family the special qualities
that only you possess:
your charm, intelligence, energy, and love.

Thank you for being a confidante, soul-mate, and friend,
for the times of shared laughter and tears.

Thank you for your continued kindness, acceptance,
and support --
both intellectually and emotionally.

Thank you for the countless little things you do for your family;
you might think they go unnoticed, but we see them.

Thank you for loving our son with the intensity and wisdom
of a wife and the gentleness of an angel.

Most of all, thank you for being you.
We couldn't love you more if you were our own child.
Thank you for being such a caring Mom to our grandsons,
For being the example of Christ's love to them!

We love you, Emily! Have a wonderful birthday!
"Mom" and "Dad" Fewell