Hope you had a good weekend. Al and I enjoyed a wonderful time at the party on Saturday and had a feast that included prime rib, games and prizes and time to fellowship. Yesterday there were lots of happy people in MN as the Vikings won! Al preached and thank you for prayers. Today my exercise classes started again and it felt good to work out.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How often do we forget the kindness of the Lord to us? We may start out praising Him and before long we begin to complain and forget all the wonderful blessings we have been given. The children of Israel were good at that as they saw miraculous works of God, and then it says in Psalm 106 they did not remember the abundance of his steadfast love… they forgot His works…they forgot God their Savior… and they despised God’s plan for them. As a result, a plague broke out among them and their enemies oppressed them. But when things were at their worse, they cried out to the Lord and He heard them and delivered them. What about us? How often are we like the Israelites and forget how God has been there for us and carried us through difficult circumstances, healed us of sicknesses, forgiven us of all the wrongs we have done? I think it is helpful to keep a spiritual journal where we can record God’s blessings that we are made aware of daily and also write down prayer needs. Then as we see the answers, we are reminded to give Him praise and not forget His powerful works in our behalf. I keep a diary as well as a prayer journal, and since it is a 5 year one, I often read what happened on that day the year before. I marvel of the things I have forgotten that God did. King David prayed in Psalm 103:1-2 (Amplified), “Bless (Affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is (deepest) within me, bless His holy name! Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not (one of) all His benefits.” Sometimes our pride enters in and we give ourselves credit for blessings and think we have earned them. But like David we can ask God to help us remember that it is His blessings and benefits we are receiving, especially when things seem to be going well. God warned the people of Israel when they were about to enter the Promise land not to forget the Lord or let their hearts become proud, but to observe His commands, and remember that it was He who brought them out of slavery. As we begin 2021, let us make it a practice to remember what the Lord has done for us and give Him thanks and praise for all His benefits.
Challenge for today: Begin a praise and gratitude list, as well as, a prayer request list.
Hope you are enjoying this holiday weekend. This afternoon we are going to the home of a couple from our church for a dinner party along with 10 others. Fun! This morning I did some food prep and cleaned the apartment and especially my desk top of papers. Tomorrow Al will be preaching at our church as our pastor’s family is on vacation. I’m sure he would appreciate prayers.
Devotions from Judy’s hear
When I was at my former Bible Study group, a Christmas gift was left at my place on the table and I do not even know who it is from. But it was a book by Erwin Lutzer, “A Practical Guide for Praying Parents.” When I first read the title, I thought our kids are grown but maybe it has wisdom in praying for our grandchildren too, as they have so many challenges that we didn’t have to face. As I read it, I was reminded of the importance of prayer and the tremendous power in prayer. Our children belong to God and Erwin said the best way we can honor and prove our love to them is to pray regularly for them. I know my parents prayed daily for me and my siblings even as Al and I pray every day for each of our children and spouses and our grandchildren. At Moody Church they had Prayer meetings for Parents of Prodigals for 4 weeks and attendance grew as many came and wept in prayer for their prodigals. It’s not necessarily the parent’s fault when their children go astray but a couple questions they asked themselves were, “What is God teaching us through our children?” How might we have contributed to their rebellious choices? Maybe we were too strict or self-righteous or never wrong and need to ask the Lord to change us. Some children are born into homes where they were thought of as a burden and not a blessing; maybe mom was raped, or dad wasn’t in the picture at all. But all children need to know they are loved and to receive hugs and words that they are valued. Sometimes we are more concerned about our children’s behavior than the condition of their hearts. We allow their hearts to be stolen by cell phones, violent games, pornography, T.V. etc; but we need to spend more time praying for the Lord to capture their hearts. There are times God makes them miserable in their sin and we are not to enable them or to rescue them but pray they come to the Lord. God wants to create in them a clean heart. Most often, they have to come to the pigsty before they can come home to the Father who is waiting. Let us never give up on our children, for God’s power is greater than the enemy. The disciples tried to shoo the children away from Jesus but Jesus let his disciples know that He welcomed them. In Mark 10:16 (The Message) it says, “Then, gathering the children up in His arms, He laid His hands of blessing on them.” Just as Jesus blessed them, we as parents can also do that. Al had his father place his hand on his head to say a blessing on him and we can pray a blessing over our children. They need to know unconditional love, affirmation and encouragement for that which is good. Pray! Pray! Pray and never give up!
Challenge for today: Pray for children in your life and bring encouragement to them when there is opportunity.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy
Hope your first day of the New Year is bursting with joy! I have a new journal and it begins each day with a space for praise and gratitude and then follows with prayer requests. I have so many things to be grateful for and writing praise and blessings down seems to almost multiply them. Today is football day and special treats that we have only once a year. I went downstairs for coffee this morning and am going through the Christmas cards and pictures etc. Hope you have a joyous first day of the year!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Happy New Year! I love ringing in a New Year as it reminds me of a clean slate, and a fresh start. As we look back on the past year, we probably never imagined it would be so challenging, but God was with us. What about 2021? What will it hold for us, only God knows and we don’t need to fear because He is Emmanuel, God with us. We can trust Him with everything for He is dependable and never changes. He is our Loving Father and understands our humanity, and even when we fail, He gently nudges us back. I wonder what things will be birthed through each of us in a new way this coming year. Will we wait for His timing or will we spin our wheels and rush ahead of Him? Maggie Cooper writes about how often her young daughter gets impatient as she reads to her if there are many words on a page. Sometimes her daughter just grabs the book in her hands and turns the pages before the time, but she misses the details and the story doesn’t make sense. I wonder if we do that with the Lord when He has us in a waiting mode and we get impatient and rush ahead of Him before it is time to turn the page. Of course, we won’t have peace and we get frustrated and may even miss the meaning of what He wants to do in us and through us. It says in Proverbs 19:21 (ESV), “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” We can have lots of plans mapped out for our future but it is God’s purposes that will prevail, mot ours. Let us first seek His direction for each day as we face a new year, and wait for His appointed time. I think we will find our hearts at peace and we can confidently rest in the Lord.
Challenge for today: Seek His will and purpose for your life each and and let go of your own plans.
May the Lord bless you in this new year. Love, Judy
We are about to begin a New Year and 2020 was quite a year, full of the unexpected. None of us could have predicted the pandemic and all that has happened in our country. As we go into the New Year, we need God’s wisdom and strength, remembering that he is in control and we are not. Today I am sharing Alisha Headley’s prayer and may we make it our prayer on this last day of 2020.
We thank you for being faithful, for giving us the courage to push through another day in 2020. Despite this year, you promise that you will never “leave us nor forsake us” (Deuteronomy 31:8). You are a faithful God. You tell us that “those who put our trust and faith in you cannot be shaken” (Psalm 125:1). Thank you that even when our world was shaken in 2020, we serve an unshakeable God. We ask that in times of doubt and questioning, you would remind us to “lean not on our own understanding, but trust in you, and you will direct our paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) We ask that you would remind us to rely on your wisdom, which is far greater than our own. As James 1:5 says, “if any of you lacks wisdom, ask you and you will graciously give it to us.” We ask that in all our decisions you would give us wisdom to end 2020 the way you desire us to.We ask that you give us wisdom in the coming year in all that we do. We trust that you are in control and that even if we don’t see the end of this world pandemic in the near future, that you are working and that you know exactly what’s to come. Thank you that you have gone before us, that you are with us, and you go behind us. Thank you for being the only source of security in this insecure world we experienced in 2020.In Jesus mighty name, we love you and ask these things, Amen.”
Challenge for today: Memorize a scripture to carry with you into the New Year.
Blessings in the New Year and prayers and love, Judy
Hope you are enjoying the day and the fresh snow. I think we got about 4″. Al was still able to get out to early morning men’s group and while he was gone I put away our Christmas decorations. This afternoon Ann and grandson Paul are stopping by as they are shopping in Brainerd today.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We are all on a spiritual journey that is unique and not like anyone else. We go through many stages on our journeys and one would think that everything would get easier but that is not the case. Often it seems to get harder and Teresa of Avila once said after being tossed from her carriage into a mud puddle, “God, if this is how you treat your friends, no wonder they are so few!” Our progress isn’t linear but there are times we may feel like we are going backwards or stuck somewhere on the sidelines. God doesn’t force us to move on for we all have free will, but He patiently waits to shower us with His grace. My cousin has a labyrinth and when I walk it, it often seems like I am going back in the same direction I have just come from. But actually, if I keep going on the winding path, I finding I am getting closer to the center. I love to sit on the rock in the center and look out at the path I have come from with all its twists and turns. Sometimes I look out at my cousin’s lovely flower garden in the summer, another turn takes in the view of the woods or raspberry bushes. Our journeys get more difficult as we have to continually say good by to our false self, our ego, and as Jesus said in Matt. 16:24, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.“ When our false self wins out, we feel like we are back to square one and must humbly accept God’s grace to get up and get going again. Sometimes we experience an awakening where we know we are not in control and we are led back to see our need for the Lord and experience His grace. This may happen on a retreat or maybe after we have had a loss or are going through a midlife crisis. We suddenly realize life is not just about us but about Him and we return to trust and to begin to live in the present moment with Him. He is our friend, our companion, and our true self comes forth. We find acts of kindness seem to flow out of us, not as obligations but natural responses. Our life changes and becomes rich for it is all about Him and not about us. Let us walk the journey with open hands and hearts!
Challenge for today: Commit to keep going on your journey and awake to what God has for you.
Hope your day is going well. I did a Bible Study this morning and went to Aldi’s and brought choc covered raspberries downstairs for coffee. We love our afternoon walks in nature and get “aired out” too.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Soon we will begin another new fresh year, and it’s good to put down any burdens of the past year that have weighed us down. We don’t have to carry with us a heavy bag of regrets, hurts, and worries, but can just put it down and leave it at Jesus feet. I’m sure we all have things that we wish we could do over in 2020 or hurtful happenings that caused us pain; but no matter what is in the bag, we are not meant to carry it around another year or another day. The apostle Paul could have lived with terrible guilt feelings when he came to the Lord, for he persecuted Christians and wanted to destroy them. But, the Lord spoke to him, shone a bright light, forgave him, and gave him a big assignment to bring His name to nations and to kings and to His people. He experienced forgiveness and laid down the heavy load of guilt or he certainly would have been slowed down! As I was reading this morning about Paul in Acts 9, I noticed Luke wrote in verse 9 (God’s Word), “The number of people increased as people lived in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.” And The Message went on to say, “The people prospered wonderfully.” What a great way to live! Yes, Jesus is our personal friend but He is also King of Kings and Lord of Lords and we should have a deep reverence for Him. He is the One who gives us our assignment for 2021 and His plans for us trump our own plans! We may be surprised at all that He has for us in the coming year. The people lived also in the comfort of the Holy Spirit with them. Likewise we also have the gift of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us on our journey. We can call on Him any time to get our direction and He desires to help us in whatever situations we are in. We don’t have to carry around a bag of worries wondering how things are going to work out in 2021 for we are not the One in charge. Let us live carefree in the assurance that He is with us, will direct us and will prosper us wonderfully.
Challenge for the day: Make a list of worries you may have, put the list in a bag and put it in the garbage!
Hope you had a good weekend and feel blessed by your Christmas celebrations. This morning I made S.F. cookies and then made what I hope is, my last call to the Geeks. Right now some of my info is in the icloud being “thawed out” and then things should work well, I hope. This afternoon I plan to go to Kohl’s to spend my Kohl’s free dollars and that is always fun.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How obedient are we as Christ followers? Do we listen and obey the Lord or do we do partial obedience at best? When we have a problem and we don’t see God answering as quickly as we would like, do we get in there and help and take over or do we wait and let Him take control. I had a dream that I was at the bottom of a very big hill (almost mountain sized) and I called to a child that was nearly at the top to tell her to come down. At first, she began to obey and would walk down a bit but then stop and go on with what she was doing? I would call again and she would go a bit farther and this went on and on. It was rather frustrating and I woke up before I knew if she ever reached the bottom. I wonder how much we are like this child in telling the Lord we will obey and do whatever He wants us to for a time, and then going back to doing our own thing. God is so worthy of our trust and can handle everything that concerns our lives. Just like little ones who don’t always know why their parents require them to stop their fun and come in the house or down the mountainous hill, they fail to see the coming storm and God’s way of protecting them. So it is with us. We need to trust and obey even when we don’t understand. I reflected on Prov. 3:5-6 (The Message) where it says, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the One who will keep you on track.” It seems like obedience is a matter of trusting God and letting Him be in charge, not us. It’s having faith that He will come through in our situations and doing it His way. Partial obedience is not really obedience and we need to guard against going only part way. Let us trust the Lord and fully obey!
Challenge for today: The next time you are tempted to jump in and take control, ask for God’s help.
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and it probably wasn’t celebrated in the same way as last Christmas…but hopefully very meaningful. Today I cleaned the apt and got 2 spaghetti squash pies made and now we are going to be off to Costco.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
The Lord continually blesses us but I wonder how many blessings go unnoticed as we go about our lives often on autopilot. The Lord has to remind me to be present, and as I do this more and more, I find life to be richer. I remember at our Bible study Christmas gathering, I took a moment to stop and just praise Him for His presence. And on Christmas eve day at our daughter’s home, I paused to savor the time while we opened gifts and visited etc. Later on the way home, I found my heart was full up to the brim! Maybe we are sometimes on empty because we aren’t living in the present moment and simply trudging along without noticing God’s hand of blessing. Jesus often does things in unassuming ways and we have to be awake and alert to catch that it is Him. I think of the wedding at Cana when He told the servants to fill the water jugs when the wine ran out. The guests at the wedding knew the wine was exceptional but did they know why? Jesus doesn’t always choose people of status and power but often comes to the least and those who feel left out. We don’t need to feel excluded for God came to the shepherds who had no status in that culture and revealed the most wonderful news of Jesus coming. He also chose to spend time training unlearned fisherman to catch souls for the kingdom. I personally remember one Sunday when I was kneeling at the altar rail for communion, before COVID time. When Pastor gave me the communion wine, I felt something like electricity go through me. I’m sure Pastor didn’t know that it happened, and I was taken by surprise and wished to just stay there. Then this week I was awakened in the night as I heard the singing of Silent Night. I wondered at first if I was dreaming but I got up and went to the window to see if there were carolers outside. Of course weren’t at 2 am.! I asked Al in the morning if he had heard the music but it was only for my ears. I was later reminded to think of the words of the song and take the message to heart for when we spend time with the Lord in silence and quiet, all becomes calm within. We have Emmanuel, God with us, and we need to be present for He makes Himself known to us in so many different ways. John said in I John 5:20 (The Message), “And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God-what a gift!- and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.”
Challenge for today: Before you go to sleep, think over your day and where you saw the Lord at work.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy
A blessed Christmas day to each of you and may you keep Christmas well. We had a wonderful time of celebration yesterday with Ann’s family at the lake and saw how much they have done on the house. We had a delicious dinner of leg of lamb plus so many side dishes. We opened gifts and visited and got home in time for Christmas Eve candle light service. Today Al and I are going to have a steak dinner, time to reflect, a brisk walk, and watch the Vikings win, we hope.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
As Christmas Day is here my heart is full of gratitude that Jesus would leave His heavenly dwelling to come as a helpless baby born in a cold dirty stable It is hard to imagine and wrap our minds around that and yet He did. Perhaps this year we have had more time to contemplate the greatness of this gift for we have not been rushing to get to Christmas parties and programs since most of them have been canceled. Christmas baking is at an all time low as there are so few celebrations. But just maybe Christmas will mean more than ever and we can grasp more of its real significance. Life seems to be more simple now and we can take time to savor Christmas cards and calls and listen to the carols. I didn’t have to make dozens of sweet rolls for the relative gathering or little gifts for each family but remember the best Gift ever given. When Jesus was born the world then was not a peaceful place just as our world today. But we are not without hope for that Baby grew up and defeated the powers of sin and death and is now preparing a place for all who believe in Him. Like the shepherds who worshiped Him and gave praise, we rejoice and humbly bow before Him and say as the angel choir in Luke 2:11 (The Message), “Glory to God in the Heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please Him.” He is so worthy of our praise and one day everyone will bow before Him, as it says in Phil 2:9-10 (God’s Word), “This is why God has given Him an exceptional honor—the name above all other names—So that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will kneel and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” He is at this time preparing a place for all of us who believe and no matter what goes on around us, we are people of hope for He is coming again. On this Christmas day may we prepare room for Him in our hearts, spend silent time in His presence, acknowledge the wondrous gifts He has given, and go tell others that Jesus Christ is born!
A joyful Christmas eve day to you! Devotions from Judy’s heart
Perhaps the most beloved Christmas carol of all times is Silent Night by Fanz Xaver Gruber and Father Joseph Mohr. Most church services seem to have this carol sung on Christmas eve at the close of the candle light service and we hear it sung in many Christmas programs and movies etc. Father Mohr actually wrote the poem in 1816 when he was an assistant priest in Mariapfarr. It was first sung at mass in his small village church in Oberndorf, Austria in 1818. There had been damage to the organ from flooding and so they needed a simple song that could be accompanied by guitar. Father brought the words to Gruber on Christmas eve and asked him to compose a melody with guitar accompaniment for the mass that evening. Karl Mauracher, an organ builder who had tried to fix the organ, loved the song and took it home with him. Thereafter, two families of traveling folk singers, The Strassers and the Rainers, sang it in their shows and the message of the song reached around the world. I read on Crosswalk. com that it was also sung in 1914 during WWI in a very unusual circumstance. There seemed to be a break between battles as the English, French and German soldiers were waiting for the next round of gunfire. But they were surprised as there was an unexpected cease fire, and in some places, they crossed the enemy lines and played games, smoked cigarettes and even exchanged gifts with one another. But even as they celebrated together, they also knew in a short time they would be fighting one another again. But for now, they sang the carols and the words seem to especially resonate with the soldiers as they sang, “Silent night! Holy night. All is calm; all is bright. Round yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.” The soldiers must have hoped and prayed even in the midst of the bloody war, that there would be another silent night, a time of peace. Our world seems to be in such chaos right now and we must also make it our prayer for His peace to reign. The answer came 2000 years ago when the shepherd’s quiet night was interrupted by an angel message of our Savior being born and angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom He favors!” Luke 2:14 (NRSV)
Challenge for today: Spend some time in quiet worship of the Prince of Peace
Blessings on your Christmas and prayers and love, Judy