The Apple Tree

One morning recently as I sat at breakfast, I noticed our apple tree in full bloom. I always enjoy seeing it bloom but unfortunately, it produces very few if any apples. Why? Because it sits by itself with no other apple trees anywhere around it. Our son gave us the tree for my husband’s birthday about 20 years ago, and we didn’t realize it needed another one to produce apples. At first it did bear some fruit about the size of a plum, so I made applesauce. The next year the apples were more the size of cherries, so we let the birds and squirrels have them.

I realized when I looked at that apple tree and saw its potential and that unreached destiny, how many Christians are like that tree. They believe in Jesus as their Savior, but they aren’t in any church, so they don’t have the nourishment and cross-pollination of mixing with other believers. They don’t get to interact and be taught. They don’t see other people’s issues and how they handle them, so that if they have similar circumstances they’re better able to deal with them.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25 New Living Translation)

I realize some people work on Sundays and others are homebound and can’t get out; but if you can, let me encourage you to attend a fellowship of believers. Not only will you be taught the Word of God, but others will encourage you through difficult times; they’ll care about you as you care about them. I watch my church on the internet if I’m sick and can’t attend, but there’s an atmosphere you don’t get from the internet or the TV. If you don’t know of a Bible-based church to attend, ask a Christian friend, then search until you know you’ve found the one that God shows you. You’ll be glad you did.

The Fog

As my car crawled along the road, I tried to keep up with the truck in front of me so I could continue following his lights. That way I could tell better how the road twisted and turned, praying anyone coming from the opposite direction drove carefully and stayed on their side of the highway. While I’ve driven in fog previously, this was thicker than any I’d ever encountered, so I breathed a sigh of relief when that truck pulled out in front of me, giving me guidance by his tail lights.

At times I’ve gone through periods of spiritual fog, hardly able to see the way ahead. The way continued dark for miles, it seemed. God’s voice looked like it had disappeared, and I couldn’t find which direction to go, so I kept doing those things I knew to do even though I wasn’t satisfied. Finally, the light of Jesus came to my rescue, and even though fog still surrounded me, I followed that bit of light to my destination where I could see clearly.

This fog also comes with our emotions. They appear to have become numb or to have died because of heart-break or harm someone has caused us. We simply can’t see our way out of the confusion and pain. “Why did this happen,” we ask. “What did I do wrong,” we continue the self-blame game. Certainly, we had a part to play, but sometimes that part is to get out of a situation that continually harms us. Then we wonder “Am I strong enough to do this? How will I manage by myself?” We feel surrounded by doubts and insufficiency on every side and don’t yet see those lights of Jesus pulling out in front of us to show us the road ahead. That’s when we bow down in surrender and simply tell Jesus we don’t know how to come out of this darkness and depend on His truth to guide us. We must stake our heart on knowing that God’s Word is true and that He loves us beyond measure, trusting Him to lead us back into the light.

Difficult decisions often bring this same foggy effect mentally. We weigh the pros and cons, but both seem to have unintended and unwanted consequences. We don’t know which way to go and again fog surrounds us. That’s when I’ve determined to set aside two or three hours that I’m going to stay in Father’s presence until I get an answer. I don’t do this feeling stubborn or hard-headed but rather surrender myself and agree to submit to God’s will. It takes uninterrupted time, but I’ve always received an answer to my issue of what decision to make.

I’ve learned that when I rush ahead and make my own decision at such times, I later regret it. But when mental, emotional or spiritual fog surrounds me and I surrender to God while waiting for His light to appear, He always shows me the way to a good destination.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:5-7 New Living Translation).

Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left” (Isaiah 30:21 NLT).

In the Beginning GOD. . .

Watching the sunrise one morning made me think of Genesis 1:1. In the beginning God. Yes, I know the rest of the chapter details all the things God made. BUT what if we stopped and let God be at the beginning of everything?

  • First thing in the morning, we open the day with God.
  • First thing in a new year, we allow God to guide our plans for the days and months ahead.
  • First thing in a wedding, God becomes the first One of us three.
  • First thing with a newborn, we thank God for that precious life and then ask Him to guide the child throughout his life: first steps, first day of school and all the other firsts.
  • First thing when we face the loss of a job.
  • First thing when illness strikes, do we praise God for being with us before asking Him to heal us?
  • First thing when we face the death of a loved one.
  • First thing when we realize we’re facing our own destiny in heaven or in hell.

You get the idea. Many of us start the day with a devotional time with our Father. Are there other places where we need to put God at the beginning? Let’s watch for new beginnings and allow our heavenly Father to go before us.

Prayer for Those with Debilitating Diseases

(This prayer is for three people close to my heart, but I extend it to others in this situation.)

Father, my heart hurts for people close to me who are enduring debilitating diseases that Satan has inflicted upon them. I know many others face the same or different issues, all of which prove difficult to cure. Only you can touch these loved ones and heal them, Father. Whether you use doctors and medicine or whether You divinely heal them, I pray you touch their lives.

In the meanwhile, give them peace in the journey; comfort them in pain; let them know you stand beside them and your Spirit within them each moment of the day and night.

Father, you know each of their life situations, and I lift those up to you, for you alone know what each one needs at this very moment and in the coming days as they walk through these life-changing challenges. Give them courage, strength, energy, hope and peace. Let them know your very real presence upon them.

Father, if I could, I’d instantly remove each of these illnesses from them; but I can’t. I know you can. That is not a difficult thing for you, Daddy-God! However, sometimes you allow us to walk through these challenges, teaching us more about you along the way. I pray each one learns the lessons you have for them during this time, drawing them ever closer to you, Holy God.

I pray your glory comes out of these situations in whatever way you choose. May you be honored and exalted; and may all these close to me – and others also – have a greater testimony of your mercy and grace in the future than they do presently.

Father, I love and exalt you, for you alone are holy, high and worthy of worship.  You sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins and our healing, as the Bible says in 1 Peter 2:24 (NASB) “He Himself [Jesus] bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by His wounds you were healed.” In Jesus’ precious and holy name, I ask for your mercy, Holy God. Amen.

Hang on to God’s Love

My heart leaks. When I’m in the middle of worshipping God, it often overflows into and out of my eyes. Not the way I’d wish to show my heart, but that’s what happens, whether alone or with others. However, seeing my heart overflow in gratitude tells me that I’m learning to truly appreciate God’s tremendous love for me. That love resides so deep within me that it’s as real as knowing my name. Continue reading

Enduring Trials

The church where I belong is in Dickinson, Texas and I drive mainly on a highway that goes through town going to it, but yesterday when I left from helping hand out supplies to Harvey victims, I went a different direction going home. While I’d seen sheet rock and household belongings out on the side of the road in some places previously, I’d not seen something like this from Harvey. These things piled high on both sides of almost the whole three or so miles I traveled down that street. Likewise, all the side streets looked the same way. It reminded me a lot of the way Galveston looked when my husband and I went there about three months after Hurricane Ike hit and overflowed the island from the Gulf and the Bay. The tremendousness of the loss hit me anew, even though I knew that my church alone had helped 331 different families the last week. Continue reading

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Sometimes life is simply hard, isn’t it? Email prayer requests come daily, and some cause me to realize anew just how hard life can be. But take heart! The NIV Bible on my phone sends me a chapter early every morning, and today’s was Isaiah 43. This chapter has been dear to my heart for years and at the end of this message you’ll find a poem I wrote a long time ago. Today, however, I turned on my computer and read that selection from The Message Bible[1]. How directly it speaks to us when life’s hard places hit us and try to overcome us! Continue reading