WHAT MATTERS MOST?

My friends, husband and I went to hear a powerful speaker all the way from Israel yesterday. It was fascinating to me that most of what he said as he was sharing the amazing history of this tiny nation, came straight out of the Old Testament: a lot of words from Ezekial, from the Psalms, from Isaiah. And then he’d pop back into the New: John, Romans, Revelation. And it was all as current as today’s news. Understandably, today’s news is hard to come by as impartial truth~ But when we find the real truth, the reality is startling. I invite you to “Behold Israel. ” The NEWS section may truly be news to you!

In listening to all that was said yesterday and processing the truth that God has let us know what was going to happen – and has happened – and what will happen in the days ahead, we see a Big Picture that we mostly ignore in our daily lives. God has spoken to us so we would listen to Him and TRUST HIM. He IS who He says He is (“I AM WHO I AM”) It is important to consider the message He has left for us. He has given us a roadmap of what lies ahead.

“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’”    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭46:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We have an opportunity to really think what that means for us – God really wants us to TRUST His words! He wants us to search Him out. As we do that, we are brought to a place where we have to evaluate what really matters in this life. We have become terribly divided and even the people who make up the church have fallen prey to that tactics of the dark side – division and separation. Jesus said the greatest commandment is that we love one another, not that we fight over who is right.

So my plan today is to look up. To consider what God most wants of me. How can I be a blessing and extend hope where so many feel hopeless. I paint watercolors, for goodness sake – I’m not a preacher~ But he asks us to be a light to the world. So my effort this morning is to shine light where you are this day; to encourage you to seek Him out! He sent His Son to make things right for us if we would only believe – and receive His gifts of forgiveness, grace, and redemption. . . Which will open to us the gates of Heaven.

Praying You will seek the Savior and find everlasting hope this day. Just ask Him!

Power in Weakness

I felt vulnerable and discouraged a couple of times this past week. I’s not as if anything threatening was happening. But life sideswiped me. Maybe you can relate.

I read something Sunday morning that I’d seen before, but this day it just jumped off the page at me. Think about a personal message to you from God Himself! Wouldn’t that just get your attention and make you perk up your ears?! The Apostle Paul in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians tells us that at one time many years prior, God spoke to him and said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9 NIV Think about the Creator God, our Lord and Savior, telling you that His incredible, unimaginable power works best or is perfected in and through us in our weakness. And here we are trying so hard to fix things, to strive, to earn His love (and maybe the favor of others~) And all the while, He says – No. It’s not in your power but in mine. Oh! What freedom that brings. Let go of your problems, let God help you solve them. I took comfort in those words and share them with you this morning. It made me feel safe to accept what I can’t change, realizing He can, in His time. Maybe His power is most visible as we just let go of what holds us back. Lord, help us to rest in and trust You more. Blue Moon

Praying these paintings make you smile for those moments you might feel “sideswiped” by life.

Cool water views for our hot weather! These watercolor views speak peace to me. Beaches, bays, waterfalls, rivers. For the moment I can dream. Do you have a favorite? What sound is comfort to your mind – waves crashing on the shore, the steady splashing of a waterfall, the bubbling of a creek? Paintbrushes don’t come complete with sound, but they manage to take me away for a little while.

Praying you find His strength where you might feel weakness this day.

Cheryl

Searching for Beautiful

Looking for Beautiful

I painted this from a photo I took while in Bisbee, Arizona about five years ago. What a charming little mining town it is! We were walking down the old streets near the Copper Queen Hotel and I saw the most beautiful garden. It just screamed Paint Me! You can’t tell anything about the location by looking at this painting. My camera captured a tiny sliver of a moment in time. I found the beautiful because I was looking for it and I chose to ignore everything else around it when I painted it.

This is a reminder to me to focus on what is positive and good. The Apostle Paul, brilliant man that he was, said, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.Phil. 4:8

There is a lot of opportunity to be frustrated or anxious by events happening in our world. We have to sift through a lot of noise and despairing views to find beautiful lately. The not so beautiful seems to get way more attention. But we have been called to think about what we think about. Maybe we have the opportunity to bring joy with acts of kindness and compassion. We can also seek to acknowledge kindness in the actions of someone else by speaking a blessing over them.

There is opportunity in every direction to be in opposition. Sometimes we must take a stand. But it is more important to be loving and grace-filled than to be “right.” We can be right and be hateful. But Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 We are to love. It is hard in these days where right is now considered wrong, truth is now hidden, and dark calls itself light. But Truth will win out. And shining the light of Christ’s love is our primary mission statement.

Heavenly Father, help us to watch for Your hand at work in our world. Please help us to reflect Your love in our lives as a beacon of hope to others. And help us to spend more time searching for beauty and truth than despairing about ashes and chaos. “…provide for those who grieve a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:3

Help us to love one another as You first loved us, Lord, and help us to focus on the beautiful.

Bisbee, Arizona
Cheryl

Tired? Worn Out? Burned Out?

This morning our pastor spoke on God’s model for mankind to take a day of rest as He rested on the 7th day. I have to confess something. . . I haven’t been very good at that~ I tend to be a bit of a social butterfly, I must admit. I flit from one event or project to another desperately trying to keep track of what day it is and what it is I am supposed to be doing on whatever day it is.

We are all VERY different. Not everyone lives in hyperdrive. But this morning I considered something I had forgotten. God modeled a day to cease from our striving and to rest. We don’t have to push every day! We can celebrate life, celebrate God’s creation – or take a nap! I loved reading Matthew 11:28-30 in the Message translation.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 MSG

Being burned out on religion is VERY common. It is all-pervasive in our world. Religion is striving and doing and effort. Faith is trust, believing, and resting – resting in what Jesus has done for us – in His “unforced rhythms of grace.” We are unable to do what Christ has done with all our “religious effort.” God came to earth and took on humanity forsaking His deity. And He willingly endured the agonizing penalty of all our sin on our behalf. All He asks is that we trust and walk with Him.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16. 17

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

The translation I am most familiar with of the above verse is “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

You may find rest listening to the pounding of ocean waves, watching the changing colors of a sunset, or watching the movement of shadows as the sun moves across the sky. You may find it in a treasured book. The desert, the mountains or the oceans may be your happy place. But even when we can’t be there, God has asked us to take a break, to rest. I invite you to give yourself permission to practice the discipline of rest. It may not be a Sunday for you. But devote a day to abstaining from the turmoils of busyness and walk humbly with your God, and you will find rest for your soul.

Cheryl

Whatever Path You Are On

Do you ever feel as if your life has you stumbling down a confusing road with an uncertain destination and wonder where on earth you are going?! I think of times I had no clue whether to choose “path A or path B” – and which one was “God’s perfect will” anyway? The life roads we had been on before 2020 suddenly made a sharp left turn OFF the paths we had thought we were safely on. These uncertain days have created a lot of division in our world and brought many to not only a fork in the road, but a huge boulder. Everywhere we go and to everyone we speak we navigate a minefield in fear we might set off an explosion! No matter what is going on in our lives, we move forward uncertain of what lies ahead or around the next corner. And as we’ve certainly learned especially in these recent days, life can throw us unexpected curves.

I have walked a very rocky path with a dear friend for several years. Her life has been painful on many levels and her faith has been a roller coaster with many stomach-dropping loops. Through the unremitting stress exponentially increasing this last year, we have prayed and asked God for what only He can do. And the months have gone on and the battles have continued raging. Then, within 48 hours, her circumstance abruptly changed 180 degrees to the positive and she was no longer on the same path at all. That which had been so incredibly frightening for her suddenly evaporated as her situation changed overnight. Too complicated to explain, the short answer is that God had NOT forgotten her, He HAD heard her many anguished prayers, He was working on it, and He finally had all His proverbial ducks in a row and made the Great Reveal. Her longtime prayers for release were suddenly answered. And her attitude was suddenly one of great relief and joy.

As I look back at all that has gone on for such a long and painful time and remember the many times she cried out, “Where is God?” “Why isn’t He doing anything?!” I know that I too wondered where He was. I have faith and knew He heard. I KNOW He answers prayers! And I know many times the painful answer is Wait. But what a lift to my spirit it was to see how AMAZINGLY God met her need! “Coincidences of timing.” No, I don’t have faith to believe in coincidences. It was God’s miraculous provision: blessing her beyond what would be a minimum answer to her need. I was reminded of one of my favorite Bible passages, Jeremiah 29:11-13.

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.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

JOY! I rejoice with my friend. I look back in HINDSIGHT and celebrate! Yes, He was listening, He was directing her paths, He loved her all the way through hearing every prayer and seeing all her tears.

You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8.

I LOVE Hindsight! Through the rearview mirror I can see clearly what God has done. I will make an effort to REMEMBER His great acts of kindness and how He has blessed by sharing with you and by recording in my journal. I can hopefully encourage others and hopefully you, on whatever twisty road you may be struggling, to TRUST Him! To believe His promises. To remember His great love for You. And to continue putting one foot in front of the other trusting He will direct your paths. He is faithful And I for one shout Hallelujah This morning!