I Have Hope!

It has been “one of those weeks”…you know the kind with ups and downs. Although I was in hurry/scurry mode this morning trying to pack my car for the weekend’s trip, I couldn’t leave home without a conversation with my Saviour and a few words from Him to my heart from the Word. What a difference in my outlook and attitude.

I am always amazed at just how the Word of God speaks to right where you are at any given moment. This morning as I was reading the book of Titus I was just renewed, encouraged and given words of hope! So I just had to share them with you.

Beginning in Titus Chapter 2 verse 11: For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Then as I read on to chapter 3: 2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

May your spirit be refreshed this day!

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A Praise on My Heart

Standing on the front porch early this Sunday morning, a chill in the air and rain pouring down, yet the songs of several birds filled the air. I imagined they were lifting their voices in praise to their Creator.

Then as I entered the kitchen, my parents were sitting the table, my dad with his coffee and mom with her cup of hot tea, both with their Bibles opened, chatting and reading the Word together. This gal’s heart was filled with a hymm of praise of her Creator.

Oh, God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

Praise ye the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.

I will extol thee, my God, o king: and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless thee: and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.

What do you have to praise the Creator for this morning? Yes, maybe you are going through some rough times but surely you can find just one thing to say “thank you” for this morning? Did you have a roof over your head during the night? Do you have food in your house (it may not be to your liking – but was there food?)

The little birds in our front yard have very little shelter from the rain, the sheltering leaves is gone in this winter season. Barren branches and a few pine trees are not much protection from the winter elements. Their food, if they can find any, is sopping wet. They have no fire to warm their feathers. Yet, the Lord sees them. Yet, still they lift their voices…they raise their song. Oh, what a beautiful sound.

If the Lord sees the sparrow and cares about it, how much more do you think he cares about you? About me? I may not have the most beautiful voice, in fact, on my own, I can barely carry a tune but I won’t let that stop me from lifting my voice and my heart in song and grateful praise to my Creator, my Redeemer! I live today because He has risen from the grave!!

I wonder if my “heartfelt, off-tune” praise brings the same smile to his face as the little birds of the fields bring to mine.

“Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.”

Praise Him! Ohh, let’s just Praise the Lord today!

The Space Between

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2 ~ To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die;

Recently, my dad preached his sister-in-law, my aunt Debbie’s funeral. I would have entitled this anointed thought-provoking sermon “The Space Between”.

Between the moment of our very first breath until our very last at our passing, we have been given a space. A space to live..to make decisions, grow, love, work. But even more importantly, we have been given a space to know our Heavenly Father in a real and living way, to make the eternal decision to enter into a covenant relationship with Almighty God.

Maybe this seems to be a strange funeral sermon, a strange way to pay tribute to this Godly woman. After much consideration, I don’t think so. As we celebrated Debbie’s life, we also knew that she made the most of the space given to her.

Proverbs 30 talks of the virtuous woman:

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time of come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tonque is the law of kindness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitfull, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feather the Lord, she shall be praise. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

These verses aptly describe my Aunt Debbie and the life she lived in the space between. She has been a faithful wife, loving mother, caring grandmother dedicated to the Lord. She lived out what she believed. In fact, I would take the dedication of this family one step further, my uncle Joe is also a man of rare character. Through every sickness, Joe has been right there with her and her for him. He never left her side, always holding her hand, speaking words of comfort to her and sharing her pain..this kind of rare love, this is the testimony of true love. Joe honored his vows to the very end.

Each one of us are given a space of time…some grievously short, others longevity. But the same question if asked of each of us: “What will you do with your allotted time?” Will we go through life blindly searching for fulfillment and satisfaction, seeking success, fame, fortune, and love. Never understanding why it seems so unattainable?

Or will we dedicate our life and answer the call of our heart by returning our life to God, the one who freely gave it to us? In truth, we are not our own but have been purchased with a price, the blood of Jesus. Realizing this cost, how will we live? How will we use the space given to us? How can we touch the lives of those under our influence?

I implore you to take a moment, consider your life. If this were to be your last day, do you need to do anything different? Do you need to seek forgiveness or make amends? Or can you rest assured that you have made your preparations and ready to see Jesus face to face? After the last breath, there is no chance for a do-over. Will the same tribute be given for you that was given to Debbie: She ran the race and ran it well. She has finished her course. She has definitely traded pain, sickness and heartache for an eternal reward. She made her decision…now it is up to you and up to me, to wisely choose!

The old song says “Only one life, so soon it will pass..only what is done for Christ will last for Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.”

May you never forget…”The Space Between!”

Broken

Early one Monday morning, as we arrived at work, one of the guys noticed a rabbit taking shelter beside our office. My first thought “I need a bunny picture!” Grabbing my camera, I went to take some pictures before he hoped away. Not wanting to scare the already frightened, shivering bunny, I edged slowly closer. But then I realized the poor little guy was hurt. I couldn’t tell if it was just its front leg, or if its neck was broken or his back. He was misshapen and when he tried to take a hop, it was quite pitiful! My heart just ached for the pain this helpless little guy was in! Not knowing what to do for him, I snapped a quick picture and went back inside hoping he would stay safely cuddled by the side of the building.

A while later, as I was helping my boss with a letter in his office, I noticed the bunny trying to make its way across the street. Oh, No! We may live in a small country town, but the middle of the road is no place for a broken bunny! Cars swerved, horns blaring, the poor guy didn’t know where to go – one way and then another. My heart was in my mouth as I watched in horror. My boss kept saying – Look away! And I really tried.

Suddenly the screech of air brakes, was this his final moment! No! The huge semi-truck came to a resounding halt and a couple of guys from the service station came out and rescued the bunny from harm’s way. I don’t know what happened to the little guy and I didn’t dare ask.

But as I reflected on his predicament – consumed by pain and fear yet putting himself in even greater harm’s way. How many times do we do the same thing? When our spirit is grieved, our feelings are hurt, our mind in anguish, filled with blinding pain, or consumed with quilt, the fear of failure, or facing the consequences of decisions and actions. Do we, like this broken bunny, try to run away from the undesirable, instead find ourselves actually running from the “safe” shelter directly into harms’ way. When you are facing such dire circumstances, how do you know where “safe” is? I believe it requires faith – choosing to believe what we know is truth regardless of what things look like at that moment. Safe in the love of family, maybe it is not the love your immediate family members – but someone in your family loves you. Safe in the confidence of true friends – not dingleberries. But ultimately safety is found in the forgiveness of Almighty God. Being wrapped in his comforting arms and engulfed in the peace found in his presence.

If today you find yourself not knowing where to turn, unable to think clearly and make rational decisions, full of pain – I pray you will stop before choosing to place yourself in a dangerous situation. Peer pressure abounds and when we are at our weakest we are most vulnerable to this influence. Alcohol, drugs, and a host of other vices are just tools used to find temporary relief – and are only that “temporary”. Harming yourself will not undo the hurt.

There is another way, it won’t be an easy road to recovery but it is a better way. There is someone ready to come to your rescue. Jesus is the healer of broken dreams, the mender of aching hearts, the forgiver of the untold – He not only forgives, He forgets. There is a promise of hope, the promise of new life and new beginnings. I promise if you will but just call out to Jesus – he will answer. He know right where you are..at this very moment!

Listen to the words of Isaiah in Chapter 53 verses 3 – 5:
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
We are all in need of healing today…Jesus please come to our rescue!

Praying for you!

Happy New Year!

Each January people around the world make promises to themselves by calling them resolution and set goals for change. January represents a new beginning, a new chapter, a fresh start. But the question is do they keep them? Maybe. Maybe not. Change, growth, adaptation to the curves life throws our way is a daily adventure.

As I was listening to Klove’s morning show, Lisa and Eric were talking about the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards and it captured my attention. Jonathan Edwards was a preacher, theologian and missionary to the Native Americans in the 1700’s. A man who lived ahead of his time. His biography includes stories of revival, sermons now considered to be “classic literature”. A man never satisfied with religion but searching for more…something real, beautiful, a relationship. His influence did not end with the lives he touched or with his teachings and writings but one biographer noted that “the Edwards family produced scores of clergymen, thirteen presidents of higher learning, sixty-five professors, and many other persons of notable achievements.” How many families can say they left that kind of legacy? How many more would attribute this influence to their relationship with Almighty God.

Yet, here today, his words live on to encourage us, presenting us the opportunity to “Resolve” to walk a different path as we choose our resolutions for 2010. May these resolutions profoundly affect you as they have me.

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), from the Works of Jonathan Edwards

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humble entreat Him, by His grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake. [I will] remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.

Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.

Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

Resolved, Never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

Resolved, Never to do anything out of revenge.

Resolved, Never to speak evil of any one, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

Resolved, Never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession which I cannot hope God will accept.

Resolved, To ask myself, at the end of every day, week, month, and year, wherein I could possibly, in any respect, have done better.

Resolved, Never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

Resolved, After afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them; what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.

Resolved, Always to do that which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak.

Blessings to you, C!

“God Gives Us Memories so We Might Have Roses in December”

When I think of December, my mind automatically thinks of Christmas celebrations, fun-filled snowy days, decking the halls, family gatherings in front of the fireplace, gifts galore, and lots of laughter. The joyous songs of the seasons, adorable children in memorable Christmas pageants, and choirs lifting their voices in Christmas cantatas.

However, is it so in every household this December? I think not! In this season of peace and joy, let us not forget the families who would like to cut this month from the calendar. Families who have been torn apart through divorce, illness, or the passing of a loved one. There is an empty seat around these tables this holiday season, a missing voice, that special touch which creates a heart shaped hole of longing.

My own family and several dear friends have suffered the great loss of close family members this year. Some deaths arrived without warning taking us off-guard and by surprise. Oh yes, we are thankful that they didn’t suffer but how we miss them. Other loved ones passed their final days surrounded by loved ones. Some were taken tragically and at a young age. But grief knows no age. Plans are interrupted and dreams unfulfilled. Even now, there are those, close friends and family members, that we know may not be here for our next holiday season. The shadow of grief looms in background of even this year’s gatherings allowing us to make the most of each moment we have with them.

My prayer for us, and my prayer for you and your loved ones, this holiday season is that we gather and savor our memories, some may yet be too painful or bittersweet, but it is through these precious memories that we gather bouquets of roses even in December. We have a hope for a future reunion but this day we selfishly wish for one more moment with our loved ones. Let us not forget those left behind who are in need of our love, support, kindness and understanding this season.
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And if you are one of those left behind, know there are those around who remember and who are waiting for the one word from you to remember as well. There is healing in remembrance and tears. You are not alone.

If this holiday season you would like to share your memories with others, I am opening a space on my blog for those special memories. Please feel free to come and share with us.
http://www.clarissahodge.blogspot.com or http://www.theheartofclarissascorner.wordpress.com

Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.
I Thessalonians 3:16

The Little Drummer

As I as driving the other night, listening to Christmas carols along the way, one of my all time favorites “The Little Drummer Boy” came on. The much told story of a poor lad coming to honor the babe who is yet a King. The wise men had been there with their lavish gifts; what could a poor boy offer in comparison to gold, frankincense, or myrrh? He could have just walked away, feeling like he had nothing to offer. But, no, he used the talent he possessed and played his very best concert, pa rum pum pum pum, pa rum pum pum pum, for the baby lying there in the straw. A nod from Mary and looking into the face of the sweet tiny babe, His reward: a smile from the King.

Recently, I had the opportunity to see the reenactment of the Battle at Camp Wildcat. History totally came alive. But the scene that captured me was the Little Drummer Girl. Many may say there were no such things as drummer girls in the civil war; but could there have been?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what does this one speak to you? I see the face of a child: innocent, tired from the struggle, yet with eyes who have seen sorrow, loss and dissapointment. I can imagine a desperate father afraid to leave his only child alone in their war torn community. He must answer the call of duty but with no family close by, he makes the difficult decision to take his daughter along. Maybe, if she is disguised as a boy, as a drummer, he can keep her near and, hopefully safe. For the child to step out bravely, leading the way for the regroupment of the troops, she must have been courageous. Sounding the beat, steady and strong, for all to hear, pa rum pum pum pum, pa rum pum pum pum, this is the way. In her day and in her way, she offered her best for the lives at skate. When the battle was over, she was reunited with her father. Just one look into his tired and wartorn face and she received her reward: the proud smile on his face.