Archive for May, 2009

Lay aside every weight

Posted: May 31, 2009 in Candle Lights

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    Low carb!  No carb!  No protein!  All protein!  Calories count!  No, they don’t!  Drink this!  Don’t drink that!  New workout tapes appear on the market everyday.  Each fitness guru thinks that their exercise program is the answer to the world’s problems.  Exercise equipment manufacturers hire celebrities to show us that their version of medieval torture is the best.  And, let us not forget the marvels of modern medicine!  If you can’t lose it, they can remove it!  Losing weight is not easy, is it?  I start a new diet every Monday morning.  But, as hard as it is to shape up my earthly shell for the race, I find it more difficult to lose soul weight.

     Hebrews 12:1 tells us that we should “lay aside every weight” and “run with patience the race that is set before us.”  Some weights are easier to lay aside than others.  There is a bag of deceitful weights in my life that seem to require a constant laying aside.  That bag contains bitterness, and each morning and several times during the day, I must take bitterness out of the bag of deceitful weights and cast it at the feet of Jesus.

     It only takes a thought to add to the weight of bitterness.  I have those thoughts, don’t you?  Thoughts such as:  “I have rights, too.”  “That is not fair.”  “Why did it have to be me.”  “They never seem to have any problems.”  “It serves them right.”  “After all I have done for them.”  “They never say thank you.”  “He doesn’t appreciate me.”  “He never apologizes.”  What a heavy weight!

     Bitterness will eat away at our souls and destroy our peace and joy.  Philippians 3:13 tells us to forget “those things which are behind” and to reach “forth unto those things which are before.”  When we are following Jesus, He is before us, and nothing else should matter.

     In Ephesians 4:31&32, we are told that “all bitterness” should be put away.  That means that no bitterness has merit.  There is nothing that can happen in our lives that justifies bitter feelings or emotions.  We are to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving, “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven” us.

 

Father, help me to put away all bitterness, and may I never forget that I am abundantly pardoned.

 

Diane Padgett 6/19/2006

 

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Is God still doing his cool stuff today?  I believe he is.  The scale may not be as impressive as it was in Bible times, but I still think the Lord is behind a lot of the spectacular stories we hear: people being raised from the dead, limbs stretching out to normal, miraculous healings, and money turning up where needed, just in time and right to the penny.  Some ask where God was when two people died during the class 4 tornado that destroyed over two hundred homes and businesses in my town recently.  I say he was busy protecting the ones who survived!  My friend, Pat, was healed from stage 4 cancer that should have killed him.  He doesn’t question where that miracle came from!

One day when Brian was four and Stephanie was two, I was about to back out of our hilly driveway when I remembered I needed to check something in the back of the van.  So I turned off the ignition and got out and walked around to the passenger side sliding door (this was before they had sliding doors on both sides.)  On my way, Stephanie thought she would try driving the van so she hopped into the driver’s seat, stood up and pulled on the transmission lever.  Before I knew it, the van started backing down the driveway and then down the hill!  My fear and adrenaline kicked into high gear as I ran after my little ones in the runaway van.  I successfully opened the passenger door which promptly knocked me down (what was I thinking?)  When I fell my legs went under the van just before the right front tire rolled over my knees.  It hurt so bad I screamed but I was more concerned for my kids as they continued their descent.  Somehow, Brian managed to put the transmission in park.  Strangely enough, I was able to stand.  I was a little sore, but I could walk and I didn’t even have a cut, even though my jeans had a hole ripped right through the knees.

One of our other miracles happened in Fort Payne, AL, in 1983, ten years to the day since the previous tornado hit that town.  That was the only year, and the last year we lived in a mobile home.    I remember looking out our living room window and seeing a lot of dust and debris flying around and people running for their lives.  The only thing I could think to do was grab my wife and huddle under the kitchen counter.  Seconds later our trailer was pelted by “missiles” as they careened into the walls and knocked out the windows.  The scariest part was when the entire home moved and shifted, falling off its blocks.  When we ventured out to survey the devastation in our neighborhood, we discovered that all the homes uphill from us were no longer there.  We then noticed some trees had fallen over our home, which may have held it down.  We prefer to believe it was the hand of our Lord, who said: “You’re not taking this home-my children are still in there!

Ancient cultures knew there had to be a god, some even created their own idols to worship.  Today our gods are super heroes.  They’re  in comic books, TV, and the movies.  It’s fun to dream about having super strength, traveling through time, or bringing presents down every chimney in the world overnight.  But we don’t have to pretend.  The one and only true God can do all those things and more, much more.  How cool is that?!

Note: After my wife, Sharon, read “How cool is that?! (Part 1)”, she reminded me of a couple of miracles that happened to us, so I decided to write Part 2, above.   She also brought to mind the miracle of the amazing bodies our heavenly Father made for us, and then I remembered perhaps the greatest miracle of all- the salvation of our souls!

If you would like to share one of your miracle stories, click “Comments” above

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Definition of a miracle in Dictionary.com: an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.

Last week I took my turn with some friends reading publicly a portion of 2 kings during the Bible Marathon.  It had been a long time since I had read through those amazing accounts of Elijah and Elisha.  It made me want to google the list of miracles and read through them again.

Did you know there are over a hundred miracles recorded in the Bible?  It’s astonishing how over and over again God broke the laws of nature to accomplish his purposes with mankind.

When it comes to amazing stories, there’s something for everyone in the Bible.  Disasters? How about the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the plagues of Egypt?  Action-adventure?  Check out the parting of the Red Sea, Samson killing a thousand men with a jawbone, and Gideon with his three hundred men defeating the Midianites with an army of men as numerous as the sand on the seashore.  You want comedy?  How about when Balaam talked back to his donkey?  Or when Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal when they were trying to get their “god” to send down fire to their altar, “Shout louder! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling, or sleeping.” Then it was Elijah’s turn to call on his God who promptly sent down fire to consume the altar.  Word!

Some of the miracles were more practical than spectacular, but pretty awesome, none the less.  Since there weren’t any restaurants or shoe stores in the desert, the Lord served up heavenly pancakes for his people, turned rocks into drinking fountains, and made their shoes hold up for forty years.  Jesus turned a combo meal into a feast for thousands, not once, but twice.  And who hasn’t wished for more time in the day to get things done?  God made the sun stand still until Joshua and his men defeated their enemies.

Our God sure was creative when he needed to get people to pay attention:  in a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, speaking through a burning bush and a donkey.  Jesus got the presses running wherever he went-healing and raising people from the dead, walking on water and calming the sea.

My personal favorites are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego staying cool in the fiery furnace and when Elisha and his servant were about to get creamed by an army that had encircled the city.  Elisha said, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  Then he prayed to have the Lord open the eyes of his servant to see the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire all around them.  Does that give you chills, or what?

People who have a hard time believing in miracles have a small view of God and his capabilities.  I know it’s hard to imagine that any kind of being, even a god, can do anything he wants, just by thinking or speaking it into existence.  This is because we live in a world ruled by natural laws and limits that cannot be broken.  But the same God who created and set the laws in place can change them or make new ones up as he pleases.

Some people like to downgrade the miracles into explainable natural occurrences: the crossing of the Red Sea was in a shallow place at low tide, the star of Bethlehem was a comet, Jesus wasn’t really dead, etc.  But then how did the pursuing Egyptians drown, how could the sun stand still without the earth stopping it’s rotation, and why did only the Egyptian first born die before the exodus?

Then you have people who like to say that God only uses natural means to do his wonders, like creating the world using evolution.  They claim it couldn’t have happened in six literal days, it had to take millions of years.  I challenge them to ask God about that.  If he wanted to, he could have done it in six seconds, or less!  I believe he chose six days with a rest on the seventh to role model an example for our work week.  Besides, the same words used for “there was evening and there was morning, one day” are used at other places in Genesis for normal days.

There are some obstacles you have to dodge and hills to climb in your journey of faith.  You may have to be convinced the Bible is true, and not full of myths, as some have claimed.  There is a lot of archeological evidence and other reasons to believe in the integrity of the Bible, which I don’t have time to get into here. 

We don’t need to be ashamed if we believe what appears to be foolish to the world.  Remember, for thousands of years people thought it was foolish to believe the world was round!  Dare to believe in a BIG God.  Once we arrive at the place where we believe that God can do anything and that he can enable us to do anything, a whole new life of possibilities come alive for us.   We will see that our world and reality is more wondrous and exciting than what fairy tales, fables or science fiction can come up with.  And it’s for real.  How cool is that?!

 

If you would like to share one of your miracle stories, click  on “Comments” above

It Looks Like Rain

Posted: May 10, 2009 in Candle Lights

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The people at the Department of Tourism tell us that we have more sunny days than rainy days in the state of Florida.  Of course, after the 2004 hurricane season devastated the majority of the state, they may have to re-think their ad campaign.

Seems to me that life is like the weather here in Florida.  If we stop and think about it, our lives generally have more sunny days than rainy days, but it is rainy days that seem to stay in the forefront of our minds.  It occurred to me that like the Department of Tourism, I might need to rethink my ad campaign.

The rain that falls when the sun is shining has always fascinated me. The rain sparkles as it picks up the sunlight.  As child of God, the Son is always shining in my life – even when it is raining.

Genesis 7 tells us about the boarding of the ark and the rain.  Verse 11 states that the “windows of Heaven were opened.” Malachi 3:10 states”…open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Ezekiel 34:26 speaks of “showers of blessing”.  The word picture these three verses place in my mind is one of a four-paned window being raised, and as it is opened, the rain starts pouring out of it.  BUT, at the same time the rain is released through the open window, the sunlight is released, and they fall to earth together.

Isaiah 43:19 tells us that God makes a way through the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  The sunshine with the rain!  For Noah, the sunshine was the ark.  For Jonah, the sunshine was the great fish.  In Acts 27 a ship (Paul was on this ship) was wrecked, but they all survived.  Some of them swam to shore, and some of them got to shore by holding on to boards and pieces of boards from the wrecked ship.  The sunshine!

Keep looking up, remember you are loved, and when the rain starts, keep your eyes on the Son!

 

Diane Padgett 2005

 

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money_fist1I once heard a pastor say you can tell a lot about a person by looking at his checkbook.  When you look at how much people have cut back on giving to their church and charities, you’d think that half the people in this nation had lost their jobs instead of only 10%.  I can understand why a company has to lay off employees when demand for their product has dropped.  But has the demand for spiritual nourishment tapered off as well?  I don’t think so.  People are still going to church.  They’re just putting less in the offering plate. 

How would we like it if our employers told us to start working overtime but were going to pay us less than full-time?  Well, that’s what we’re saying to our churches and charities who have more work these days helping and counseling victims of the poor economy.

I’m not talking to those who have lost their jobs, although I know people who have, and are living off their 401k (or what’s left of it), and somehow still manage to help others financially.  I admire their selfless compassion for others.

I believe the decrease with America’s generosity is evidence that we have been giving out of our abundance rather than obedience so when things get tight our tithe is the first thing to go.  When times were good, the amount given was often based on how much money was left over at the end of the month.  Even when people are giving a consistent 10%, some are basing that on the net after taxes and insurance deductions, which is not 10% of their total income.

If there really is not enough money coming in to cover expenses and tithes, then maybe it’s time to let some things go or downsize.

I’m not trying to offend any of you or appear self-righteous but I know from experience that the Lord will provide everything you need (not everything you want) if you give back to him, even when unexpected setbacks happen and the income is meager.

My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:19)

God has blessed some of us more so we can give more and be a blessing to others.   Some of the richest people in the world give away a lot of their money, not just for tax breaks or to look good, but for the joy it returns back to them.  It really is more blessed to give than to receive!

Yes, we do need to spend less and save more but I think it’s time we trust the Lord for our finances and prove it by paying our tithes first before bills, vacations, eating out, or whatever.  Let’s give him our first fruits, not just our crumbs!

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.   (Malachi 3:10)

 

We need to cut our spending-not our giving