Heavenly Father’s Day

This coming Sunday we will be observing Father’s Day. How do you feel about that day? For some of you, it will be a time to get together with your family and celebrate dads. While others of you may try to forget that the day even exists. Are positive or negative images reflected within your mind when you think about your biological father? Will you feel lonely on Sunday because this will be the first Father’s Day that you do not have your dad beside you? Or, maybe you are excited because this year will be your first opportunity to celebrate fatherhood with the birth of a baby. Personal circumstances and experiences affect our outlook towards Father’s Day.

Our relationship with our earthly father not only affects our attitude towards Father’s Day, but it also can influence our relationship with God, our Heavenly Father. If you feel like you cannot trust your biological father, it may be hard for you to trust your Heavenly Father. However, no earthly father’s feelings or actions can compare to the holiness of God. Our Heavenly Father invites us into a relationship with Him that is more rewarding than we can ever imagine. A healthy understanding of God as our Heavenly Father is essential to having this relationship with Him. Allow me to help you get better acquainted with your Heavenly Father by creating for you a portrait of your Heavenly Father’s heart through a few specific scriptures.

And, “I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
II Corinthians 6:18

God is love.
I John 4:8

the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.
And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:15

See what great love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!
I John 3:1

Love is patient, love is kind
I Corinthians 13:4

The LORD is like a father to His children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.
Psalm 103:13 NLT

your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Matthew 6:8

Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:26

We must remember that earthly fathers will disappoint us at some point in time. Only our Heavenly Father is perfect. May we fulfill Ephesians 3:`4-5 that says,I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives it name.” Whether or not you are able to celebrate Father’s Day with your earthly father, I want to encourage you to celebrate Father’s Day with your Heavenly Father because in Psalm 68:5 God promises that He will be, A father of the fatherless.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl

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Anchored to Hope

While HOPE is one of my favorite topics to blog about, I have chosen to emphasize it today in honor of a dear friend of mine, Judy, who went to be with Jesus a year ago in April. June 17 was her birthday on earth, and while she is celebrating that day in heaven now, I want to honor her with the following insights regarding HOPE. She anchored her faith to hope throughout her illness. The anchor with a yellow ribbon pictured above, was given to each of us at her celebration of life service. I still cling to this anchor pin as well as to the spiritual promises of hope.

In the bigger picture, the view from which Judy now experiences it, hope is the eternal full manifestation of eternity with God. Our eternal hope is promised in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” But in the meantime, we walk by faith and not by sight because according to Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

My Reader, what comes to your mind when you hear the word HOPE? Do you perceive hope as a fluffy, flimsy desire floating through your mind or do you picture hope as an anchor uniting with faith in your heart? We often have trouble describing hope because it is invisible. There is an anonymous quote that says, “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” A scriptural definition of hope is found in Romans 8:24-25, “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

Although HOPE is invisible, I want us to envision the anchor as a picturesque image of hope.
Hebrews 6:19 states, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Sarah Young says in Jesus Calling, “A good way to remain anchored to Jesus is to whisper His name as often as needed. We can pray and proclaim “Jesus, You are my HOPE!’”

With this in mind, I have created an acronym for HOPE that elaborates upon four descriptions of the Lord that will help us understand why He is the One in whom we must put our hope and trust.

H.O.P.E.

H = Helper – Zechariah 4:6
John 14:26 NASV says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” In this verse, Holy Spirit comes from the Latin term paraclete that means advocate or helper. II Corinthians 5:7 tells us to walk by faith and not by sight, but as human beings this is hard for us to do. We tend to want to follow what we see and what we know in our heads, so we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit to help us secure HOPE deep in our hearts.
In Zechariah 4:6, the Lord Almighty declares that victory is attained “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.” So, with this assurance, we can assume that Helper is an accurate word for the letter H in our acronym for HOPE. Only as the Holy Spirit helps us, can we grasp the assurance of hope.

O = Omniscient – Isaiah 55:8-9
Omniscience is defined as “the state of having total knowledge, the quality of knowing everything.” Although God is beyond our full understanding, He is omniscient. He is sovereign and knows all about all His creation. We serve a God who thinks about our lives, our world, and Yis creation on a completely different level than even the smartest human being can think. Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit.”
With this in mind, I have chosen Isaiah 55:8-9 as our scripture to describe how the omniscience of God is appropriate for the letter O in our acronym for HOPE. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares 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.”

P = Perfect – Jeremiah 29:11
Psalm 18:30 begins by saying, “As for God, His way is perfectand Deuteronomy 32:4 declares,His works are perfect.” God is the only one who is perfect, being without sin or weakness. As I looked for a definition of perfect I read such phrases as “complete and right in every way; having nothing wrong” – “exactly right for a particular purpose or situation” – “being entirely without fault or defect.” I also think of the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy that describes the Lord as being “perfect in power, love, and purity.” God is the only one who is perfect!
When I want a reason to have hope in God, perfection is a good choice of words to use for the letter P in the acronym for HOPE. Jeremiah 29:11 supports this by stating, “‘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.’

E = Emmanuel – Deuteronomy 31:8
When the angel announces that Mary will conceive a child by the Holy Spirit and have a son, it is declared in Matthew 1:23 that they shall call His name Emmanuel which is translated “God with us.” This is a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. In Genesis 28:15 the Lord says, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” Not only does He promise to be with us but He also promises to watch over us! So, if God is with us, we can rely upon His help because of what we previously said about the Holy Spirit being our Helper. And, we can trust His help because God is omniscient and perfect, also based on previous statements.
T
he choice of Emmanuel as an applicable word for the letter E of our acronym for HOPE is supported by the scripture found in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” It has been said that “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.”

The anchor of HOPE prevented death from having a hold on Judy. I desire the anchor of hope to prevent hopelessness from having a hold on me. To us, our situation may look hopeless, but according to Mark 10:27, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” I like the New Living Translation of Hebrews 11:1 that says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” These are the words upon which I desire to anchor my heart to God’s heart.

I want to conclude by extending to all of you the message of Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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The Fragrance of Humility

 

humility-2perfume-bottle-1And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned
that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an
alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she
began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her
head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.
Luke 7:37-38

humility-2Last week I shared this scripture from Luke 7 focusing upon the brokenness of the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus. This week we will continue to look at the same scripture while thinking about the humility of the once sinful woman. In order for the woman to be able to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair, she had to have her head near His feet. She had to bow down with her face to the ground. To me, this woman’s actions and lowly position reflect humility.

Wikipedia describes humility as an act or posture of lowering oneself in relation to others. Humility involves having a clear perspective and respect for one‘s situation or relationship. Specifically in a spiritual context, this can mean a recognition of self in relation to God. The woman in Luke 7 certainly emulates this description. She experienced brokenness because of her former lifestyle and then she humbly accepted forgiveness for her sins and desired a new relationship with Jesus. James 4:6 states, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  I believe that Jesus found pleasure in both the presence and the actions of this woman at His feet. He experienced the fragrance of humility exuding from her.

perfume-bottle-1With the fragrance of humility in mind, I want to think about the perfume with which the woman anointed Jesus’ feet. The costly perfume poured out from the vile represented the woman’s life savings. She was willing to give her all in gratitude to the Man who had forgiven her sins. At one point in her life she may have been proud, but now she was humble because she had been broken free from her former sinful life. Most likely the fragrance of this scented oil was myrrh. It is interesting to note that the myrrh seed has a hard shell that must be crushed before its pleasing aroma can be emitted. The existence of the perfume used by this woman was evident by its aroma. The reality of the brokenness of this woman was manifested by her humility. The fragrance of the oil would have been noticed not only by Jesus but by everyone in the room. However, I believe that the humbleness of this woman was more pleasing to the Lord than the aroma of the perfume. There is a sacred fragrance to humbleness that is transmitted through a person’s life in a unique way. C. S. Lewis has said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” Lewis’ quote describes the character of this woman and it is a character trait I want to assimilate in my life!

Now let’s relate a couple more scriptures with the story in Luke 7 as we continue our study about humility. Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Another scripture in II Corinthians 2:15 says, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” Is humility an attitude we simply choose to put on when we get dressed in the morning? Is it a scented oil we dab behind our ears like a spritz of perfume? Definitely not! Philippians 2:3 exhorts, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” If we are to emit the fragrance of humility to those around us, we must not only follow the example of the woman in Luke 7 but we must also follow the example of Christ described in Philippians 2:6-8, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Specifically in verse 7, we notice Jesus being in the humble position of a servant. The New American Standard Bible uses the words, “He emptied himself.” This reminds me of the woman emptying, or pouring out, the perfume from her alabaster vial upon the feet of Jesus in Luke 7. It also reminds me that I need to be emptied, or forgiven, of my sins. All these efforts reflect humility in action and they have a pleasing aroma to Christ

My Reader, humility is costly but it is worth the price. James 4:8 exhorts us to “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” This is what transpired for the woman who was forgiven of her sins. Proverbs 27:9 says, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad.” Join me in discovering the joy of the Lord by humbly approaching the throne of grace and experiencing a fragrant fellowship that can only be found at the feet of Jesus. There is a special fragrance found only in humility.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Christ’s Confectionery

 

 

"Bicentennial and Jane Austen Weekend. Photo by Brandon Vick, Genesee Country Village and Museum https://www.gcv.org/"

My husband and I volunteer at Genesee Country Village and Museum during their season of operation. This year it is my privilege to be the interpreter for the confectionery on Thursdays. It has given me the opportunity to learn more about these specialty stores of the 1850s. After the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, sugar became more available to this area and confectionaries began to appear. These stores of the nineteenth century sold more fancy grocery and bakery items than candy but with time we developed a sweet tooth for more varieties of sweet treats. While learning about these early historical stores, I began to imagine how the Bible could be described as an old-fashioned confectionery. The Bible might be compared to the store with each book of the Bible being a big jar containing a unique confection. Each promise in scripture might be a piece of candy. Let me expand my imagination with this line of thinking.

The confectionery is a store and everyone makes a choice either to walk by or to enter  the store. Children always want to go in but adults are often too hurried to take the time. Jesus extends an invitation for everyone to come into His candy store. In Luke 18:16, Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” I sense Jesus is encouraging us as adults to be more like children in a candy store in regards to our relationship with Him. We need to spend time in the Word and enter His presence. We need childlike faith to enjoy the sweetness of scripture. Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” Just like a piece of candy, I want to taste and see each of the Lord’s promises and experience His goodness.

Like a confectionery of the 1850s that had its items on display, Christ reveals all His confections in the Bible. My Reader, please join me as we make a stop at Christ’s confectionery for some scriptural sweets.

lollipopsLollipops of Love
There is nothing like licking an all day sucker! I also love meditating upon love throughout the day. I want to enjoy its taste all day long.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Love never fails.” I Corinthians 13:4&8

peppermint 2Peppermint Sticks of Peace
I want a whole stick of peppermint peace – not just a little piece of peace! Peppermint not only tastes good but smells good like the aroma of Christ.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

 gum dropsGum Drops of Grace
Gumdrops are smaller pieces of candy that vary in color and taste. I need small amounts of grace manifested in my life in various ways throughout the day. These gummies require some chewing for the greatest enjoyment – just like I need to chew or meditate upon the bits of grace Christ imparts to me.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” II Corinthians 12:9

jawbreaker 1Jawbreakers of Joy
There is something enticing about these big round balls. It is always tempting to try to break these hard candies with my teeth before they break my teeth. Like a kid, I search for the biggest piece of joy to break the struggles in my life.
Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

 

chocolate cherriesChocolate Covered Charity
Chocolate covered charity or chocolate covered cherries? As a child, I remember biting into these big pieces of candy and experiencing the different tastes and textures of the chocolate coating, cream filling, and finally the center cherry. The three parts of this candy remind me of faith, hope and charity. While charity and love are synonymous, I think of charity as being a deeper kind of love – maybe like the cherry in the middle of the candy. More decadent. Although chocolate was not common as a candy in the 1800s, I cannot go into a confectionery without wanting some chocolate. I always desire chocolate and I always need charity!
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. I Corinthians 13:13 KJV

My Reader, have I tantalized your taste buds for something sweet? Do you want to visit an old-fashioned confectionery or do you want to reach for your Bible? I encourage you to pop a piece of candy into your mouth along with a verse of scripture into your mind. Suck on it, chew on it, meditate upon it. Savor the sweetness of the candy’s flavor and of Christ’s favor.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Scripture in a Bowl of Potato Salad

potato-salad

holy-spirit-in-ephesians-4It is officially summertime! For me, this means it is time for potato salad since it is one of my favorite summer foods. As is often the case for me, I am looking for a spiritual lesson as I prepare my first potato salad of the season.

I begin by boiling potatoes and eggs. As the potatoes and eggs boil in water, I realize that within a few minutes my potatoes will be soft and my eggs will become hard. As heat is applied to both foods, different things happen to each of them. Now for my spiritual application. I think of the water as being the power of the Holy Spirit that works within our lives. In John 4:14, Jesus says that the water He gives becomes like a spring of living water within a person. The Holy Spirit is who Jesus is referring to when He mentions Living Water. So, if the Holy Spirit is living and working in us, He will bring about changes within us. Sometimes we may need to be softened while other times we may need a little hardening.

In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist baptized people who repented of their sins. When we repent of our sins, we accept Jesus as our Savior, but that is not all there is for believers. Matthew 3:11 goes on to promise the baptism of the Holy Spirit with fire. This promise is fulfilled in Acts 2:3 when the Holy Spirit, described as tongues of fire, came upon the disciples. Back to my potato salad. I baptized my potatoes and eggs in the water and through the heat of the stove, their textures, or natures, were changed. The potatoes were hard when I put them in the water but as they boiled, they became soft. The raw eggs would not have held any shape were it not for the shells when they were placed in the water. However, after boiling in hot water (placed under the fire of the Holy Spirit), they became solidified and were able to keep their shape after being peeled.

As believers, there are times when our hearts will become hard and require softening. Ezekiel 36:26 is our promise for a hardened heart to be made soft when the Lord says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Hard heart out; soft heart in! Another scripture that comes to my ind is I Peter 3:8 that instructs us to be tender-hearted and humble. Just like tender potatoes are needed for potato salad, a tenderness within our souls is favorable for our personality. This is only possible with the help of the Holy Spirit.

There are other situations when it will beneficial for us to be strengthened, or hardened, in our faith. In II Corinthians 12:10 Paul says, “When I am weak (soft), He is strong (hard).” It is the Holy Spirit who provides us with this strength. It is heat that produces boiling water that in turn changes the consistency of the egg. I Peter 1:7 says that we will encounter trials in life to test the strength of our faith. Peter recounts how although we will be tested with fiery trials in the turbulent waters of life, the result will be us having a stronger faith in the Lord. Ephesians 6:10 admonishes us to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” That is a picture of a hard-boiled egg!

Finally it is time for me to add some mayonnaise to complete my potato salad. Oil is one of the primary ingredients in the dressing and once again I have a reminder of the Holy Spirit. II Corinthians 1:21-22 is a scripture referring to the oil of the Holy Spirit and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. My potato salad becomes a specific kind of food when I combine the ingredients with the dressing. As believers, we are all a part of the body of Christ because of the working of the Holy Spirit who unites us into one. The Holy Spirit also works within each of each according to our need at the present time. For some of us, our hearts may require softening while for others of us, our faith may need strengthening or hardening. Whichever the case, we all gain from the anointing of the Holy Spirit in order to best serve the body of Christ.

My potato salad is in the refrigerator getting cold for dinner tonight. My awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit within my life has been increased. Whether the Holy Spirit is interpreted in my life as water, fire or oil, I always benefit from the help of the third person of the Trinity. My Reader, I encourage you not to quench the work of Holy Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19). Do not thwart the working of the Holy Spirit to soften your heart (like boiling hard potatoes to make them soft) or to strengthen your faith (like boiling eggs to make them hard). As Paul says in Ephesians 4:23 NLT, “let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Love from the Lord

love 1 mfFor 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.
John 3:16

heart 8 LINK pd

Love is patient, love is kind.
I Corinthians 13:4

heart-6-mfLove never fails.
I Corinthians 13:8

hearts-3-mgLove the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
Mark 12:30

2927333040_04ba573d89_oYou shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Mark 12:31

heart-2

If you love me, keep my commands.
John 14:15

heart-5-mfGreater love has no one than this:
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:14

new heart mf

Above all, love each other deeply,
because love covers over a multitude of sins.
I Peter 4:8

My Reader, may you know the Love of the Lord on Valentine’s Day this year!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Butterflies – Portraits of Peace

I was sitting on our deck the other morning enjoying some sunshine and Sonshine before I began my tasks of the day. Soon a butterfly fluttered through the air and alighted upon the railing of the deck. It was a beautiful addition to my surroundings. As I peered at this lovely winged creature, I sensed the presence and peace of God. My mind then reflected upon some specific scriptures.

My Reader, join me today as I gaze upon the beauty of butterflies and ponder some peaceful promises.

butterfly-deep-purplethe Lord blesses his people with PEACE.
Psalm 29:11b

butterfly-blue

You (the Lord) will keep in perfect PEACE
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you
Isaiah 26:3 
butterfly-pinkPEACE I (Jesus) leave with you; my PEACE I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27  butterfly-redFor God is not a God of disorder but of PEACE
I Corinthians 14:3

butterfly-lite-purpleAnd the PEACE of God, which transcends all understanding
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 butterfly-yellowNow may the Lord of PEACE himself
give you PEACE at all times and in every way.
The Lord be with all of you.
II Thessalonians 3:16
butterfly-greenPEACE to all of you who are in Christ.
I Peter 5:14

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Note: The capitalization of PEACE in each scripture is author’s choice.