Monday, November 24, 2014

Faith As You Were Taught

Photo by Sally L. Smith

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6-7

It's so easy to forget the things we learned as children: be kind to each other, say your prayers, learn your Bible verses, go to church, seek out Christian friends.
Why are these so easily forgotten?  The tempter, destroyer and discourager is forever after us to forsake all the things that bring us peace.  We are all too ungrateful and filled with hate.
Put aside the things of the world and live in the Light.  Be thankful for everything and give God the glory for it all...good and bad.  Allow yourself to live in Him.  Allow Him to strengthen you and your faith walk.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Enter With Thanksgiving

"Time Stands Still" photo by Jason Woodland CC BY 2.0

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
Psalm 100:4

 I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” 
Psalm 122:1

It's important to not forsake the assembling of ourselves with other Christians.  We need each other.  We need corporate worship.  We need the fellowship of believers.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Not a Suggestion

Mixed Media Journal "Sing" by Sally L. Smith

Now write down this song 
and teach it to the Israelites 
and have them sing it....
Deuteronomy 31:19

These are God's words to Moses.  He commanded songs to be written and then sung so they can be internalized and remembered.  
It's interesting that Alzheimer's victims remember their songs of old, even in their last days.  My Dad was on his death bed singing with a CD of quartet music.  
We are commanded by the Lord to write, teach and then sing His songs.  

(Above is a notebook I made and sold when I was dabbling in mixed-media art a few years ago.)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Songs and Thanksgiving

"Singing of Love" photo by Sally L. Smith
I will praise God’s name in song
 and glorify him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30

Music is my calling; art is my passion.
I've been doing both since I was a young child.  The only difference is that God actually called me to be a musician.  It was always work.  Art, on the other hand, is work but also pleasure.  Don't get me wrong.  It feels good to praise God in song and I'm blessed to still be able to do so in some form or another.  I get great satisfaction after long hours of practice (that are much longer now since I'm older) when the piece goes well.  I give what I do in church as an offering to the Lord.  I don't like to present less than the best to Him.

(Above is a little snippet I placed in a notebook along with other vignettes and offered it for sale many years ago.  I'll be resurrecting a few examples in these days before Thanksgiving.  There are SO many verses that connect songs to thanksgiving and  I feel blessed to combine my art with my music.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Watch Where You Walk

"Best Foot Forward" photo by Jason Rogers (CC BY 2.0)

  Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
Psalm 1:1-2

Notice that everyone is walking in the same direction except the person in the background who is walking the other way.
It's easy to follow the crowd; there's no confrontation that way.  It takes a brave Child of God to walk away from obvious wickedness, to refuse to become sucked up into sinful thoughts and actions or to not be influenced by those who mock our Lord.
As a matter of fact, maybe we should put on our running shoes and run, not walk, away.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Calm Yourself

"Fall and Winter Collide" photo by Rachel Kramer (CC BY 2.0)

I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,....
Psalm 131:1-2

This photo by Rachel Kramer looks so much like what Bill and I see as we walk down the path behind our house.  There are deer everywhere and it's so peaceful.
I wish I could take this scripture to heart every day but I'm an alarmist.  I allow situations to push me over the edge and panic/Satan attacks.  Once in panic mode, it takes a heap of control to not totally lose it.  Thank you, Mom.  I blame her but I'm really to blame.  I know better now and sometimes I can actually calm myself...with the Lord's help only.  Maybe if I etch this picture in my brain, it will help.
Have a peaceful day.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Just Be Still

"Planet Sunset" photo by Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

He says,
 “Be still, and know that I am God;
 I will be exalted among the nations,
 I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10

The busiest time of the year is upon us.  College kids are winding up the semester and for musicians, hold on to your hat!
The whole world is busy and not just during these months.  Take time to be quiet before God and allow Him to direct your paths and go before you to make them smooth.  
When I'm calm, I can enjoy things more.  
God is my calming factor.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Long Way To Go

"A Long Way To Go" photo by Sally L. Smith

He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go....
 I will go down with you...."
Genesis 46:3-4

Sometimes the end of the road seems a long way to go. 
 It's good that we have the best guide.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Seasons Collide

"Fall and Winter Collide" photo by Rachel Kramer (CC BY 2.0)
How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord of hosts!
Psalm 84:1

Though it is a bit confusing, it is indeed lovely.  This is the sight many of us are facing as winter moves in a little early.  West Tennessee even had some snow yesterday!...a smidgen but still....  The weather today is sunny but unseasonably cold, a mere 37 degrees at 3:30 in the afternoon.  I told Bill that it reminds me of Central Illinois in mid-November.  Hmmmm, I like it. Thank you for your dwelling places on earth, Lord.  May we be ever grateful for all your surprising gifts.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rest For The Soul

"Andrew Haydon Park" photo by Vivid Lime on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." 
 Psalm 62: 5-8

It seems that when winter comes people give up their fight for living.  We've had three deaths this week...members of our church.  There are so many others on my mind and heart who are struggling...trying to hang on to some semblance of life.  At times we just want to give up and we lose hope.  
One of the friends whose son's brain tumors are being retreated posted this scripture on Caringbridge yesterday.  The days/weeks/months/years of the roller coaster ride of keeping their son alive must be grueling yet they keep their hope in God.
Another friend's daughter is fighting her way back from death's door yet the family has trusted that God is in control and the Giver of Peace to their souls.
Hold on to the Rock today if things get rocky around you.
He doesn't let go when everything else turns loose.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

All Tangled Up

"Organizing the Tangle" photo by Sally L. Smith

Sometimes my own words ensnare me and I feel trapped...tangled in obligations that I can't possibly complete.  The Bible is very specific when one finds oneself in this situation.  Proverbs, the Book of Wisdom, relates this prescription for entanglement. 

[If] you are trapped
    by your own words, and you are now in the power

 of someone else.
Here is what you should do:
Go and beg for permission
 to call off the agreement.
Do this before you fall asleep
  or even get sleepy.
Save yourself, 
just as a deer or a bird
tries to escape
from a hunter.
Proverbs 6:2-5 CEV

Go now and start unraveling your tangled mess.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Celebrate By Eating

"Thanksgiving with Family" photo by Sally L. Smith

 Then you and your family must celebrate by eating a thank the Lord your God for giving you such a good harvest. 
Deuteronomy 26:11 CEV

Though a little outdated, this photo shows some of my immediate family and some of my husband's on Thanksgiving Day 2007.  Our family loves to celebrate any occasion by eating.  
I chose the Contemporary English version of the Bible because of the wording since most versions just say "celebrate together."
Eating has been the traditional way to be thankful for harvest but any meal with family should be a celebration.  I can't wait to reunite with this group at Thanksgiving and then celebrate Christmas with all of our children and grandchildren.  
Bring on the harvest and Christmas!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Daily Choice

"Christian Cross 11" photo by Waiting For The Word on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods [of] your ancestors..., or the whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua 24:15 NIV

Yes, we have a choice.
What is it going to be today?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Embracing the Rock

"Embracing the Rock" photo by Sally L. Smith

They are wet with
  the showers of the mountains,
 and embrace the rock
 for want of a shelter.
Job 24:8

As I walk I usually look down, mainly because I'm a klutz and have to know where to step but usually because I find interesting things to bring home.  While walking the other day, this was in my path and drew my attention...a leaf clinging to and embracing a small rock.  My thoughts immediately went to the times I've read about "the rock" in reference to God and how this visual illustrates my dependence upon The Rock of My Salvation.  If I don't cling to Him, I blow away, crumble and become useless.  I'm going to save this for a while as a reminder to always go to God for shelter in any storm.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

God's Mysteries

"God's Mysteries" photo by Sally L. Smith

 ...he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,..
Ephesians 1:9 NIV
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011
 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

There are a lot of mysteries in the world and the persimmon is one of them.  It's a beautiful tree that produces these wonderful, well, persimmon-colored globes.
However, it's been a rare occasion for me to actually find one ripe enough to eat that hasn't already been sampled by a forest creature.  They say that it's OK to eat them after the first frost and we had a huge one last Sunday morning so I merrily made my way down the path to the persimmon tree in hopes of getting that once in X-number years bite of the Delicious Persimmon.  
Don't believe everything you hear or read!
It was mouth-wrenchingly puckery...Still!
So...I brought one home, still on the branch, to view from my kitchen table.  Seems it's the safest way to enjoy 
God's little mystery.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


"Cotton Harvest" photo by Kimberly Vardeman (CC BY 2.0)

Each year bring the best part of your first harvest
 to the place of worship.
Exodus 23:19

We just don't see this in Illinois where we grew up and worked all our lives but since moving to Tennessee, cotton is everywhere.
It's another miracle of the Lord.

And another thing...
There would be no financial problems with churches if the congregations would tithe their incomes.  It is a law of the Lord,

can you imagine what the temple must have looked like back then?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

We Are Letters

"Letters" photo by Liz West (CC BY 2.0)

You are like a letter written by Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:3

We never know who will read our letter.  
What will they read?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Just Ordinary

"Ordinary Made Special" photo by Sally L. Smith

The Law of the Lord is perfect;
 it gives us new life. 
His teachings last forever,
 and they give wisdom to ordinary people.
Psalm 19:7

These pearls would not be considered perfect by any means yet each looks beautiful in its place on this bracelet.
God does the same with us ordinary people.  He has given us each a place on this earth that only we can fit.  Flawed though we are, we can still use the wisdom He gave us and fulfill His laws by living the "new life" He has offered us.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Persecution? Us?

"Preach It Man" photo by Robert Meeks (CC BY 2.0)

But you must resist the devil
 and stay strong in your faith.
 You know that all over the world 
the Lord’s followers are suffering
 just as you are. 
1 Peter 5:9

Someone took my parking place at church.
The traffic is going to make me late.
I have to take out the trash because my husband didn't do it...again.
My grandchildren are bugging me...  
Why are they so loud?
It's raining so I'm not going to church.
Prayer meeting...not for me...
I have to clean house.
Work in the nursery?...Not me!
Volunteer?  Ask someone else.
I have to bring snacks again?!  Why can't he/they/she do it?
(I could go on but you think of some.)

We think we suffer!

Where are we going to find water?
I haven't eaten in three days.
My children are starving.
We are living behind a garbage heap.
My child was killed by government agents.
My husband was put in prison for preaching God's word.
They cut off my son's arm because we held a church service.
 For more info try: The Voice of the Martyrs

Pray for the persecuted Christians around the world...and stop complaining.
(I'm preaching to myself  but if you want, you can take it home.)