Clarity and Vision

Light and color.  That was the immediate difference I saw in my vision after I had cataract surgery on last year.  I learned that colors appear brighter after your surgery because you are looking through a new, clear lens.  A cataract is usually yellow- or brown-tinted, causing your vision to become cloudy and muting the look of colors.  I had become so used to the view I saw through my cataracts that the difference in clarity through the new lens was almost overwhelming.  In a good way. Thinking about that reminds me of the lyrics to the old song Satisfied with Jesus:

I looked at my hands and my hands looked new.  I looked at my feet and they did too. And, ever since that wonderful day my soul’s been satisfied.

To me, that song speaks of the new look of things once you start looking at things through a Jesus perspective, a different lens, so to speak.

In 2 Kings 6:17 when Elisha’s servants became afraid of the enemy’s army.  Elisha prayed that God would “open their eyes”.  He was petitioning God to give the men spiritual insight to see the protection all around them. God allowed them to look (spiritually) into the heavenly realm and rest in the assurance it provided.  They were able to see it clearly when they looked through the lenses that faith in God provides.

Remember, it’s the prescription in the lenses of glasses that improves or corrects your vision.   But once you take off the glasses, your vision is still the same, so you will always have to wear the glasses to see better.  The beautiful thing about the cataract surgery is that the results are usually permanent.  In fact, many people will not need glasses to correct their vision following the procedure.  Some people, including myself, will still need them for reading.  But the overall vision improves almost immediately and remains corrected. 

I wanted to share this with you today and to ask a few questions.  What do you need to view differently these days? Have you taken off your spiritual glasses or do you just need to ask God to “open your eyes”? 

Today is a good day to start seeing things from a different perspective. God’s perspective instead of your own.  You might be surprised to discover how much clearer your vision will become.   

Meditate on that and…

Be Blessed,

Shelia

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What God is Really Doing

The first song I listened to on the first day of the year was Tamela Mann’s, He did it for me.  It was just what I needed to hear.  It’s easy to look back over a year filled with pandemic highs and lows, relationship hurts and disappointments, as well as personal and family health challenges and focus on what God didn’t do. He didn’t heal that relative on this side of heaven.  He didn’t let the detectives find out what really happened in the case. He didn’t let this cancer diagnosis rest on someone else, he didn’t come through in ways I would have chosen.  Sometimes doing what’s best for us, we thing God is doing anything at all. But, if we look close enough, we realize that each and every “didn’t” has a “did”. He did allow me to make it through another year giving me more time here on earth to complete his will. He did sustain the family members who were there with our loved one until the end. He did use something totally unexpected to reach us with news of a lost loved one when nothing else had worked. He did let me live with cancer instead of dying from it. He helped me remember that his ways are higher than my ways and he knows what’s best for me.  He literally gave me new vision through cataract surgery. That gave me a new outlook and perspective on life which I will share in another post.

The first of the year is a natural time for reflection.  And that’s okay.  Just don’t let what you were not able to get done last year keep you from setting and reaching new goals for this year.  Today, I just wanted to take a few minutes and remind you that if you are alive and well or even if you are alive and things aren’t going so well, you are still alive.  Focus on what God did do for you in 2021 and embrace the possibilities that await you when he does what he will do in 2022.

Have a wonderful, prosperous New Year. 

Be Blessed,

Shelia

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Moving in the Right Direction

Challenging Thought for Today:    Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21

“Directionally-challenged” is a kind phrase for someone who does not have a good sense of direction or gets lost easily and often.  My husband has always had a good sense of direction and I’m pretty sure my picture is right next to the phrase “directionally challenged” in the dictionary.  I don’t even have to be in an unfamiliar place to get lost and often go in the same wrong direction each time. As the saying goes, “the struggle is real.”

One Sunday afternoon, my husband was driving through an area that I was unfamiliar with and it seemed as if he was not going to find the restaurant he was looking for.  So, I naturally wondered if he was lost.  His response was “just because you don’t know where you are doesn’t mean that I don’t.” The profoundness of that statement made me ponder our response to God as we travel this road often referred to as our spiritual journey.  I thought about our attempt to justify ourselves when we get lost along the way. When we don’t trust the leading of the Holy Spirit, we can allow fear and uneasiness to interfere with our journey.   

And, if we are not careful, we can unintentionally judge people and their challenges. I know I have certainly been guilty of looking at someone who seems to make the same mistake repeatedly and wonder why it’s so hard for them to see they are on the wrong path.  Yet in my own spiritual walk, I have also been guilty of wandering aimlessly along a path of my own choosing instead of turning to God and asking him which way to go.

If we focus on how many turns we’ve already taken, how many other “restaurants” we pass on the way to where we are going, we can miss valuable lessons that can be learned from the trip.   Especially when God takes us into areas we are unfamiliar with, challenging us to move out of our comfort zone.  When we look around and see people we don’t normally associate with, rocky paths we feel ill-equipped to travel, or roads that have previously been closed to us, it’s easy to feel lost.  But, we aren’t.

Memorize our thought for today and accept that God knows where he’s taking you.  Remember, that just because you don’t always know exactly where you are in the journey doesn’t mean that he doesn’t.  Heaven’s GPS location is already locked in and we can start from anywhere.

Just as the GPS in your car or on your phone will keep re-directing if you make a wrong turn, God’s GPS will continually let you know “this is the way, walk in it”.

Be Blessed.

Shelia

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Friday Fun Challenge

(When your feet stick to the floor)

a.      Everyday
b.      Once a week
c.      When your feet stick to the floor

Those were the three choices to answer the question.  The question was “how often do you mop the kitchen floor?”  It was a survey designed to reveal your housekeeping style.  I won’t tell you what my answer was or why I was interested in this survey. But I think this is a perfect Friday Fun Challenge.  A wonderful opportunity to consider how well you are doing maintaining your spiritual house.

Social media is full of thoughtful memes and inspirational messages that prompt us to be better people, live fuller lives and treat everybody right.  So much so, that I think sometimes we forget that the blueprint for a successful, well-lived life was available to us long before Mark Zuckerberg was born, or the first tweet was ever twittered. 

Within the 66 books of the Bible, you will find answers to all of life’s questions without having to consult Alexa or Google.  But don’t take my word for it.  Read Romans 11:33. You want to know how to treat your fellow man?  Read Luke 6:31. Like a little drama?  Check out the book of Ruth.   You get the picture.  A daily diet that includes the word will keep that spiritual house of yours in order (Joshua 24:15).  

If we only read the bible when our spiritual feet stick to the floor (when things are not going well, and we can no longer ignore the problem) then we end up with a very messy Christian “house”.  In order to keep a well-maintained temple, we must keep our heart set apart, making sure we are always prepared as 1 Peter 3:15 admonishes us to be.  This means getting and keeping our house (our spiritual temple) in order.  We have all heard people say, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”  This statement is not in the bible as some believe, although the command in I Corinthians 14:40 to let everything be done decent and in order, may be close.

But, let’s get back to your Friday Fun Challenge:  Take a closer look at the next Facebook meme you come across that really speaks to you.  Before you share it, consider how often you are reading the word of God for yourself.  Read 2 Timothy 2:15 and intentionally locate a scripture that shows how well that meme does or does not line up with the word of God.  I know I could let you know what 2 Timothy 2:15 says, but I want you to read it for yourself.  Along with all the other scriptures mentioned in this post. Time for a little weekend housekeeping.

Be Blessed,

Shelia

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You House, God’s Home

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well. Ps. 139:14.

On an episode of the HGTV show, Hometown, Ben Napier remarked that you never know how well something is made util you try to tear it apart. Those words resonated with me the same way David’s words from the opening Bible verse do.

Fearfully and wonderfully made can be hard to remember when obstacles such as unkind words, financial burdens, rejection, loneliness, or unexpected medical diagnoses can feel like they are tearing you apart brick by brick. But, that doesn’t change the fact that God has created each of us as his own unique masterpiece, built to withstand (with his help) anything the world throws at us. 

Let these few words encourage your heart today.  You don’t have to crumble under the weight of the world on your shoulders because you were never meant to carry that burden anyway.  That’s God’s job.  He has a different plan and purpose for your life.  Turn everything over to the master carpenter and let him show you just how well built you really are.

Be blessed,

Shelia

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Finding Strength in Weakness

Hello Everyone,

Please enjoy this post by my friend and co-laborer in Christ, Minister Belinda Blevins

Verse for Thought:
Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Oh Sovereign Lord, remember me. Oh God, please strengthen me just once more,” Judges 16:28a (NIV).

I wonder what would have happened if Samson had turned to the Lord before he found himself entangled with Delilah. I think the outcome would have been different. We are often confronted with sin daily. How do we resist temptation? Sometimes I turn to family, friends, co-workers, or spouse. Other times, I follow what I think is best for me, forgetting that my only defense is to turn to a Holy God. When I turn to him, the Holy Spirit teaches me and guides me so I will not lose hope. Personal situations distract us, causing our mind to be our own personal battlefield. We must put on the Helmet of Salvation daily for protection (Ephesians 6:17). When we go to God first, it is less painful. I know this week he was with me and I thank him.

If only Samson had called on the Lord before his flesh took over. Just remember our flesh is weak and carnal, wanting its own desires. Do you remember how your life was before you were saved? I know I felt like I was “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Remember King Solomon tried everything under the sun. He built beautiful building, bought slaves, and spent money on the finest wines and other fleshly desires. None of those things satisfied him. In the end, he realized he only needed to reach out to Jesus. Remember others are watching you. It is so important that even in weakness, we share what God is doing and has done for us on our journey. There is no compromise with God, only obedience to our ABBA. The Best is yet to come! Praise God!!

Let’s Pray:
Father God, thank you for being strength in our weakness. Thank you for allowing us to come to you for strength, help us to continue to trust you as we call on you. I pray that we find peace as we wait.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Take the Next Step:
Find someone to pray with today. If they are weak, encourage them that there is hope and strength. Share what God has done and is still doing for you.

God Bless,

Minister Belinda Blevins

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Man Up!

As I reflect on the current collective climate of struggle people all over the world are facing today, I thought I might share a repost from a few years ago. I trust you will be encouraged by it.

Challenging Thought for Today:  Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.  Job 38:3 (NIV)

King James Version
Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

No matter which version you read, the results are the same.  In the book of Job, after almost 40 chapters of silence during Job’s suffering, God speaks. And, the first thing he says is “brace yourself like a man.”  I have read that story more than once, but this verse hit me hard last week.

When I was young I used to hear older people say all the time that you can read the same bible verses over and over and get something new every time.  I don’t know what I got from today’s challenge verse or the entire book of Job for that matter, all of the other times I read it, but I know that last week, I stopped and said, “Wait, did God just tell Job to Man Up?”   Of course, I realize that translation is from the SG (Shelia Gaines) version.  But, that’s basically what he was saying.

He didn’t say.  “Job, don’t worry about it.  One day your name will be synonymous with patience.  Books will be written about you and sermons will be preached about your contribution to the topics of suffering and sovereignty.   Besides, none of this was your fault anyway.  I allowed it to happen.  I knew you could handle it and that you would eventually see my glory.”

Nope.  God did not mention any of that, although all of it was true.  He simply reminded Job that as the sovereign God, he is still in control.  His grace is still sufficient.  Earlier on in his suffering, Job questioned the justice of God in taking him through such a trial. In the end, he repented of that error in judgement and humbly re-submitted himself to the will of God.  Occasionally as I face my most intense challenges in life, I will compare them to the suffering of Job and that of Christ.  Yep, you guessed it.  They pale in comparison.

However, I don’t mean to imply that our struggles aren’t serious or that our pain isn’t real, just that we are not alone in the struggle.  Notice I didn’t say “every time” I face a challenge, I compare it to the suffering of Job, just occasionally.  Besides, if I got it right every time, there would be no room for growth, right?

Seriously speaking, however, we have probably all been guilty of making permanent mountains out of the temporary molehills in our lives.  As my pastor often alludes to, there is a big difference between having a bad day and having a season of struggle.

The story of Job’s struggle is much too long and complex for one blog post, but suffice it to say that he didn’t just have a bad day.  Without warning, he lost everything, his wealth, his children, his health, and his good standing within the community. Everything.  He had a bad season.  But, God!

Job held to integrity and he didn’t lose his faith.

Did you ever wonder why we weren’t told how long Job had to suffer?  Maybe because the fortitude of Job during the suffering is more important than the length of time he had to endure it.

Are you in a season of struggle?  Perhaps you just came out of one.  Maybe you see one looming ahead of you.  Why not broaden your perspective and read the book of Job again or for the first time?  And when you feel like giving up, reflect on Job’s struggle and maybe, just maybe, instead of giving up, you’ll have the strength to Man up!

Be Blessed,

Shelia

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How’s Life

How’s life treating you? That’s a question I will often ask people.  Most people will respond with a generic fine or okay.  Not even giving thought to any deeper meaning behind it.  And for the most part, there are times when it is just all part of our common courtesy in greeting and responding to each other.  However, a song by Tamela Mann reminds me that we really need to take a look at how and where we are living.  In This Place, Tamala sings “There is a place in God where we can all be free.  A place where God can get the best out of me.  A secret place in God where he covers me.”  The song goes on to say, “I’m so glad I’m living my life in this place.”

It’s not a new song, but it resonated in my spirit years ago the first time I heard it and it still does to this day.  I occasionally listen to it on repeat to remind myself how important it is to stay in a good place both emotionally and spiritually.  To truly live in the presence of God.  When I first heard the song, I remember thinking that Tamala Mann had arrived a t a pretty good place in her life and she should feel good about where she was.  But I quickly realized it’s not about that at all. 

Your status in life or your physical address has nothing to do with it.  In our faith walk, the house we live in may or may not be to our liking, but if we settle our spirit in the presence of God, we can find a home.  You might be reminded of a song by Beatrice Gardner called Safe in His Arms.  She reminded us that the safest place in the whole wide world is in the arms of Jesus.  Right in the middle of the will of God. Tamala Mann takes a line from that testimony and reiterates,  “In the arms of Jesus is a great place to be, ya’ll.

I think the most important line in Tamala Mann’s song is “until I found Jesus, I never thought I’d be in this place.   Friends, you can find him no matter what your physical address is.  Whether you live in a mansion in the most desirable side of town or whether you share your street with less than desirable neighbors in a high crime area.  There is no where you can go that God can’t find you.  In Psalm 139 David asked and answered the question of where can we go to flee from the presence of God.  There is nowhere and Hebrews 13:5 reminds us that God will never leave us or forsake us. 

So, take a moment and ponder these questions.  How are you living?  Is your desire to live in his presence, in his will, greater than your desire to live in the best home in the best neighborhood?  Is your desire to live peaceable with all men greater than your desire to be right or get your point across?  Are you thanking and praising God for allowing you to live in a good place?

Tamala Mann ends her song on these notes,  “My joy is right here.  My peace is right here. I am amazed that I’m living my life in this place.”   Can you say the same thing? Are you in a good place?  Do you need to move?

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The Rest of Your Life

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. That’s what the Lord woke me up with yesterday.  It was just what I needed to hear. A recent medical diagnosis has made the last few months very hard for me, physically. That naturally affected me emotionally and spiritually.  But, I woke up yesterday feeling better than I have felt in a long time.  The medical prognosis is still the same. That hasn’t changed. Although, it is good. Well, as good as it can be given the diagnosis.  And, I know there may still be challenging days ahead both emotionally and spiritually.  However, my attitude and my perspective has changed.   

I spent a great deal of time during the last few months wondering if people would treat me differently once they found out I have cancer. A serious illness can cause some serious reflection.  The truth of the matter is difficult situations do not have to change relationship. However, they can reveal the true nature of them. 

For a long time it was hard for me to be comfortable sharing this news with anyone who didn’t have to know.  Now, I’m less concerned with making everyone else comfortable than I am with holding myself accountable. Not just to others, but to God.  

What is your challenge today? Mine is to allow God to walk me through this season of cancer at his pace, not mine. Yours might be walking through unemployment, divorce, the loss of a loved one to Covid-19 or simply a bad day. Just remember, whatever you are facing, you are not facing it alone.  Find solace in the words of Joshua 1:5.  The Lord will never leave you or forsake you. 

I recently wrote an essay called The Things we Tell People. Which although it was about my cancer diagnosis, was more about how we share our lives with others. How honest or dishonest, transparent or secretive we are about what we are dealing with.  The scripture 3 John 1:3 reminds us that above all else, God’s desire for us is to prosper and be in good health even as our soul prospers.  We can be in good health with a medical condition. We can prosper and not be wealthy.

Meditate on that today. God hasn’t changed. He hasn’t left you. His will can still be done in your life for the rest of your life.  Whether that’s a few months or 20 years, it starts today.  And, that same amount of time will pass whether you use it to live life abundantly or let life pass you by. Do you know what God has in store for the rest of your life? Why not ask him today?

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All in Due Time

Challenging Thought for Today:
To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Many years ago, the daughter of one of my good friends came into my office as I was eating. She reminded me that it was “way past lunchtime”. I told her that I had been very busy that day and did not stop for lunch at noon. By the time I got around to eating, I did not realize how late it actually was. She responded by telling me about a poster she had seen with a message at the top that read, “I was put here on earth to accomplish a certain amount of things before I leave”. The bottom of the poster read, “At the rate I’m going, I don’t think I will ever die.” She was only in the third or fourth grade and I was a little surprised that she could make such an excellent analogy, but I just laughed at her and went on with my meal. However, what she said always stayed with me and I think of it often. It’s actually a very funny way of reminding us that our time is not our own. Whether we like to think about it or not, today’s verse for thought reminds us that we were indeed put here on earth to accomplish a certain amount of things before we leave. The bad news is whether we accomplish those things are not, our allotted time here does not change. So many people leave this earth never fulfilled in life because they squander it away waiting for a better time to do what they would like to do. Sadly, this is even true for those of us who feel led of God to accomplish things in and through ministry. Instead of asking God to help us manage our time in a way that is both pleasing to him and helpful to us, we live our lives under the false impression that our time is our own.  Unfortunately, this puts us in a position to allow fear, hurt, disappointment and other challenges of life to rob us of many great accomplishments that we plan to tackle when we have more “time”.

Do you ever wonder how many missed opportunities you have had to touch the lives of others or even enhance your own life for the better? Think about that as you go through your day today and take inventory of your daily accomplishments. Are you satisfied with them? Is God?
Be Blessed,

 

Shelia

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