The Empty Chair and Jesus…

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Mat 11:28, 29 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The Empty Chair and Jesus:

A man’s daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her
father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his
head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside his bed. The
minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I
guess you were expecting me,” he said. “No, who are you?” said the father.

The minister told him his name and then remarked, “I see the empty chair;
I figured you knew I was going to show up.” “Oh yeah, the chair,” said the
bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?” Puzzled, the minister
shut the door. “I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said
the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I
used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head.”

“I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day
about four years ago my best friend said to me, ‘Johnny, prayer is just a
simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here is what I suggest:
Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see
Jesus on the chair.’ It’s not spooky because He promised, “I’ll be with you
always.” Then just speak to him in the same way you’re doing with me right
now.’ “So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of
hours every day. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an
empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the
funny farm.” The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the
old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him
and returned to the church. Two nights later the daughter called
to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon. “Did he die in
peace?” he asked.”Yes, when I left the house about two o’clock, he called
me over to his bedside, told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek.

When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there
was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he
leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed.

What do you make of that?”

The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, “I wish we could all go like that”

Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord.”

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Daily Warfare within…

I Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims abstain from
fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”

 Daily Warfare within…!

An old Cherokee is telling his grandson about a fight that is going on
inside him. He said it is between 2 wolves.

One is evil: Anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt,
resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other is good: Joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness,
benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied,

“The one I feed.”

Romans 8:3-5 “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through
the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin,
condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be
fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they
that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after
the Spirit the things of the Spirit
.”

Gal 6:16 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” 

Freedom is Never Free…

Freedom is Never Free – The aftermath of July 4, 1776

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated.

But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty could be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire.

The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying.  Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution.

These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War.

We didn’t just fight the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government!

Some of us take these liberties so much for granted…We shouldn’t.

So, take a couple of minutes and silently thank our Lord for faithful patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid. ..

LET’S ALL REMEMBER THAT FREEDOM IS “NEVER FREE”!!!!

Author unknown.

Beyond national freedom we can all have spiritual freedom from eternal punishment the wages of our sins by receiving the gift that was truly free!!

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have life everlasting.”

Is it well with your Soul…

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Is it Well with your Soul…

Maybe it is just my imagination and I hope so, but it seems to me that much of Christianity does not see the persecutions and trials of this world as having merit. Am I wrong and how does my life stack up is the nagging question? I know that in my heart I do not like persecution and trials so if I can avoid them, I will. Then I see scripture that says if there is no objection to my life style by the world then I may be a Christian in hiding. And worse yet, if no trials then I might not be saved. Ouch, that thought process is not one that I wish to pursue.

First I check out my eternal life and find I am confident that I have asked and am trusting in Jesus sacrifice for my sins to be sufficient for my salvation. Nothing can be added from my end (Gal 2:16-21). Then comes the question of how my life as a believer stacks up to His will for me. If I do not change to meet my Savior’s will for my life just what will I hear at the Judgment Seat of Believers. I know my sins are washed away so they will not be on display there but how about my life’s work or lack of work for my Savior after being “born again”?????

The second verse of “It Is Well with My Soul” puts persecution in perspective.

Tho Satan should buffet, tho trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

And an example from scripture helps us to put trials into perspective.

Paul is one of those examples. As we review his life as recorded in scripture we see that he was given “a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Almost every saint of every age could echo Paul’s concerns and the request for God to remove those thorns.  Trials do come to each child of God.

That is a given. How we look at them is not. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you” (1 Peter 4:12).  God had a purpose in Paul’s life, and He has a purpose for us.  Paul couldn’t clearly see the purpose, and, at times, we can’t either. We can, however, “glory,” as Paul did, or “rejoice,” as Peter advises, or “count it all joy” as James records in response to the knowledge of God’s loving oversight.

 

I love this thought from that passage on removing the thorn in II Corinthians. I memorized it so I could have it ready when the difficulties of my life are better understood by listening to my God. Paul accepted God’s answer to his prayer that he requested three times and the answer was.  God’s grace is sufficient; you need that thorn in your life for a much greater purpose and outcome than the immediate fleshly satisfaction of it being removed.

II Cor 12:8-10 “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Real Angels…

I Cor 13:4-8a “Love suffers long, and is kind; love does not envy; Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…”

Real Angels

I walked into the grocery store not particularly interested in buying groceries. I wasn’t hungry. The pain of losing my husband of 37 years was still too raw. And this grocery store held so many sweet memories.

Rudy often came with me and almost every time he’d pretend to go off and look for something special. I knew what he was up to. I’d always spot him walking down the aisle with the three yellow roses in his hands. Rudy knew I loved yellow roses.

With a heart filled with grief, I only wanted to buy my few items and leave, but even grocery shopping was different since Rudy had passed on. Shopping for one took time, a little more thought than it had for two.

Standing by the meat, I searched for the perfect small steak and remembered how Rudy had loved his steak. Suddenly a woman came beside me. She was blond, slim and lovely in a soft green pantsuit. I watched as she picked up a large pack of T-bones, dropped them in her basket, hesitated, and then put them back. She turned to go and once again reached for the pack of steaks. She saw me watching her and she smiled. “My husband loves T-bones, but honestly, at these prices, I don’t know.”

I swallowed the emotion down my throat and met her pale blue eyes. “My husband passed away eight days ago,” I told her. Glancing at the package in her hands, I fought to control the tremble in my voice. “Buy him the steaks. And cherish every moment you have together.”

She shook her head and I saw the emotion in her eyes as she placed the package in her basket and wheeled away. I turned and pushed my cart across the length of the store to the dairy products. There I stood; trying to decide which size milk I should buy.

A quart, I finally decided and moved on to the ice cream section near the front of the store. If nothing else, I could always fix myself an ice cream cone. I placed the ice cream in my cart and looked down the aisle toward the front.

I saw first the green suit, and then recognized the pretty lady coming towards me. In her arms she carried a package. On her face was the brightest smile I had ever seen. I would swear a soft halo encircled her blond hair as she kept walking toward me, her eyes holding mine. As she came closer, I saw what she held, and tears began misting in my eyes.

“These are for you,” she said and placed three beautiful long stemmed yellow roses in my arms. “When you go through the line, they will know these are paid for.” She leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on my cheek, then smiled again.

I wanted to tell her what she’d done, what the roses meant, but still unable to speak, I watched as she walked away as tears clouded my vision. I looked down at the beautiful roses nestled in the green tissue wrapping and found it almost unreal. How did she know?

Suddenly the answer seemed so clear. I wasn’t alone. “Oh, my Lord, you have not forgotten me. He was still with me and more so in my time of grief.

Mat 28:19,20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Bitterness and Jealousy will Destroy…

Heb 12:15 “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God;

lest any root of bitterness, springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”

************************
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man
was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help
drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only
window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked
for hours on end.  They spoke of their wives and families, their homes,
their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had
been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the
window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his
room-mate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where
his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color
of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.
Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model
boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of
the rainbow.  Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of
the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man
on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the
picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a
parade passing by.  Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he
could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed
it with descriptive words.

Then unexpectedly, a sinister thought entered his mind. Why should the
other man alone experience all the pleasures of seeing everything while
he himself never got to see anything? It didn’t seem fair.  At first
thought the man felt ashamed. But as the days passed and he missed
seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him
sour. He began to brood and he found himself unable to sleep. He should
be by that window – that thought, and only that thought now controlled
his life.

Late one night as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window
began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man
watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped
for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room he never
moved never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse
running in.  In less than five minutes the coughing and choking stopped,
along with that the sound of breathing. Now there was only
silence, deathly silence.

The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their
baths.  When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window,
she was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take it away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be
moved next to the window.  The nurse was happy to make the switch, and
after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully,
he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside.
Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly
turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate
who had described such wonderful things outside this window.  The nurse
responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She
said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

The sins of jealousy and anger are deadly and left unconfessed they fester and destroy a person.

Psalm 137:7b, 8, 9 “…do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret; it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.”

The Blessing in “No”…

Isa 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.”

 THE BLESSING IN “NO”

I asked God to take away my pride.
God said “No”.
It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said “No”.
Her spirit was whole, her body was only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience.
God said “No”.
Patience is a byproduct of tribulations; it isn’t granted, it is learned.

I asked God to give me happiness.
God said “No”.
I give you blessings, happiness and contentment are up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain.
God said “No”.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said “No”.
You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said “No”.
I will give you life so that you may enjoy all things.

I asked God to help me LOVE others, as much as He loves me.
God said… Ahhhh, finally you have the idea!

___________________________________________________________

What if,
GOD couldn’t take the time to bless us today because we couldn’t take the
time to thank HIM yesterday?

What if,
GOD decided to stop leading us tomorrow because we didn’t follow HIM today?

What if,
We never saw another flower bloom because we grumbled when GOD sent the rain?

What if,
GOD didn’t walk with us today because we failed to recognize it as His day?

What if,
GOD took away His message because we failed to listen to the messenger?

What if,
GOD didn’t send His only begotten Son because He wanted us to be
prepared to pay the price for sin?

What if,
The door of the church was closed because we did not open the door of our heart?

What if,
GOD stopped loving and caring for us because we failed to love and care for others?

What if,
GOD would not hear us today because we would not listen to Him yesterday?

What if,
GOD answered our prayers the way we answer His call to service?

What if,
GOD met our needs the way we give Him our lives???

What if, we fail to understand the meaning of this message?
Philip. 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”