Today is Memorial Day and so many people are having a great time with family and friends. Some people are having cook outs and enjoying their time off of work. However, there are many who are mourning the loss of their fellow soldiers who died in active duty protecting our borders. At a sweet early chapel service yesterday a veteran and neighbor spoke about how his best friend died in an airplane. He said that his friend asked him if he wanted to fly that day with him and for whatever reason he said no. His friend never made it home. I was looking at some of the memorial day videos last night and ran across some of the unknown soldiers tributes. I can’t imagine what the families of the ones who never made it home must have felt and are possibly still reflecting on. We don’t know when our time on earth is done we are just supposed to be prepared for Heaven our final resting place which is to be our home. In God’s Word it is written in Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.” One of the greatest evangelist ever known, Billy Graham, talked about his final resting place. His last words were as follows: “I’ll be in heaven for one reason: Many years ago I put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to make our forgiveness possible and rose again from the dead to give us eternal life. Do you know you will go to heaven when you die? You can by committing your life to Jesus Christ today.” I was reminded of the quote going around facebook often and I don’t know who said it or I would give them credit but it reads: “There are two people who laid down their life for you and that is the soldier and Jesus Christ.” One we may or may not know and the other we can know through His Word and how He can change your life for His Glory. Do you know where your final resting place will be? Heaven or Hell? On this day as we remember those who died and laid down their life to give us freedom and peace may we also must never forget what was done at Calvary. My neighbor will hopefully see his best friend again in Heaven if he was a believer. There is a final resting place for us that offers peace to all if we come to know Christ. It is at the feet of Jesus. Do you know Him?
Have you ever been so drained that you just have nothing it seems left in you to go another mile? I looked down at my gas gage the other day and it was literally in the yellow. I had been going so much that I didn’t even realize how low it was. Then it dawned on me about my spiritual tank. Yes it is running on empty and I have to fill it up. Since Covid hit this year has been a complete uncertainty for most, including myself. If I neglect my soul then I’m up for attack from the enemy. I’ll be the first to admit I need to be more in the Word of God than I am. Forgive me Lord! If the devil gets wind that you are emotionally drained then believe me that is when he is going to attack the most. John 15:4-5 says: “Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” In the greek the word abide means to stay and remain. If we are to remain in close fellowship or relationship with the Lord we have to spend time with Him. More than just a few minutes He wants more of our twenty-four hours that we have. The world and satan is ready to steal kill and destroy our joy by taking away our time that God deserves. In the book of Mark Jesus is telling the disciples to come away with Him and rest. It is written in Mark 6:31 ” And He said unto them, come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest a while for there were many coming and going and they had no leisure so as much to eat.” Charles Spurgeon once wrote: “If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ.” For me running on empty comes quick so I have to be ready in season and out of season and fill up my spiritual tank often. To do that I need rest and that means abiding in Him.
I can’t tell you for how many years and how often, but the Lord wakes me up from time to time to pray in the middle of the night and it is usually around the three o’clock hour. I wake up and lay there and think I am too tired at times, or my mind wanders easily to something else. However, the Lord will not let me rest or go back to sleep until I pray. Sometimes I will grab my pillow, hit the floor and just bow and spend a sweet moment with our Savior. I used to not know how to pray and felt intimidated when others would. If I was at church or a small group I would sweat at the idea of even being called on to pray. Around 2010 I joined a ladies non profit as a grace girl to help her with her mission of loving and serving others. This woman was remarkable and on fire for the Lord. She was mentoring me. I talked to her about praying and for the next several months we met on Saturday mornings in her basement on her floor at six am praying. One of the most profound things she did and shared with me was getting the image of God in my head before I pray and why am I praying. She said, “Read and picture Isaiah chapter six and it will come.” Then she said, “Start acknowledging God for who He is, thanking him, praising him, then let him know what is on your heart and then end it with where you started out praising Him again.” The more I did that the easier prayer got. I then started praying for God to place people in my pathway to pray for and use me as a vessel for Him. Since 2010 God amazes me with people who need prayer and I try to never miss an opportunity to pray whom He places in my world at that moment. All throughout the bible it is mentioned of prayer from Jacob, to Jonah, to Jesus praying before being crucified and several others in-between. Why? Because it is powerful. Jesus is now our intercessor just waiting to hear from us to turn over our prayers to God. Sometimes He may say Yes, sometimes No, and sometimes wait He has something better planned. In God’s Word there are several verses mentioned about prayer. In Jeremiah 29:12 it is written: “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you.” If you believe in God’s Word then why aren’t we praying more? In Philippians 4:6 it is written: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Billy Graham once quoted: “The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes and say O God forgive me or help me.” We all do don’t we? We are to encourage and lift one another up along this journey and I can’t think of a better way to do it than by prayer. It’s a sweet hour.
Yesterday I was working on some crafts out on my deck. I kept hearing this buzzing noise, but didn’t see any bees around. I glanced up and to my surprise it was a hummingbird at the feeder. When I looked up, I spooked it and it flew away. This went on for a while. I tried to get a picture of him, but every time I moved he would fly away. I thought to myself I am just going to be as still as possible, not move, be ready with my phone and simply wait for him. A few minutes went by and he came back. You guessed it I was finally able to catch the perfect shot! This made me wonder how many times are we so busy that we miss out on what God has in store for us. I am so guilty of jumping ahead of God over and over to the point that it almost destroyed me. Time and time again I have jumped ahead of the best God intended for me with poor choices in my life and it has cost me. I had to learn the hard way that in doing so I missed out on the best He had for me. Being still and knowing that He is God takes a lot of practice! Job in the bible could do nothing but wait. Satan was like a hound on his heels at every turn taking away all he worked so hard for to the point of his wife even told him to curse God and die. However, Job still waited on God and was faithful no matter what. In the end God restored everything to him that he had lost. He was still enough to trust that God was not going to leave him. Psalm 33:20 says: “Our soul waits for the Lord. He is our help and our shield.” The words of Isaiah 40:31 says: “Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary and they shall walk and not faint.” Billy Graham once quoted: ” Patience in our lives springs from God’s power based upon our willingness to learn it.” Lord God please forgive me for jumping ahead of You! Slow me down enough that I can be still enough and rest in the absolute best you have in store for me.
Today is June 9th and if my Daddy was still alive we would be celebrating his 83rd birthday. I know he is in Heaven without a doubt and celebrating with Jesus every day now. Life is a day to celebrate. He has a new body with no more pain or sickness and I definitely wouldn’t want him to come back to this world we live in and relive his last hours. I saw a picture once of a banquet table that was set so eloquently for a dinner party. At the end of the table was a picture of God’s Hands as if to say, “Come let’s celebrate.” I’ve never gotten that picure out of my head. So what does the bible say about Heaven and celebrating? Psalms 16:11 says this: “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” In Revelation 19:6-9 it is written: “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, These are true words of God.” The church is waiting for the day the groom comes back for His bride so to speak. We as believers have communion in our churches today to remind us of Christ’ blood that was shed for us at calvary. It is just a taste or a morsel if you will of what is to come that we will do in heaven as we celebrate. So many have wondered if we will recognize our loved ones in heaven. In 1 Corinthians 13:12 it is written: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.” In Billy Grahams last article written before his death he stated the following: “I’m convinced that heaven is far more glorious than anything we can possibly imagine right now, and I look forward not only to it’s wonder and peace, but also to the joy of being reunited with those who have gone there before me, especially my dear wife, Ruth.” The invitation to celebrate with our loved ones is always open. Jesus made the way with arms extended. All you have to do is believe and accept the invitation. The time is drawing near for when He will return for us. Are you ready? John 3:16 says this: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” That’s worth celebrating!
This morning like many here and there over the years before my feet hit the floor a hymn came to mind. It is entitled, “Blessed Assurance”. I came downstairs and got my coffee and started wondering about the history of the song I have heard through the years. What an amazing woman of God I found in the composer of the song! Her name was Frances “Fanny” Crosby from New York. She was blind after an eye infection as an infant yet she was a poet, lyricist and composer of over 9000 hymns and gospel songs. She was a missionary in her own back yard so to speak and helped the homeless, and a teacher. She considered herself to be a rescue missionary in helping those in need. It is said that she had a accomplished so much in her life and around the age of 30 she started to question if she was truly saved. She visited several different denominations and Wesleyn Holiness Camp Meetings until one day in church she felt the unction of the Holy Spirit and began to shout and came to the altar. Shortly after that she visited her friend Phoebe Palmer Knapp and she played a melody on the piano for Frances. She asked her, “What do you think the melody is saying to you?” Frances stated, “Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine.” She wrote down the lyrics to the song and it was published in 1873. Once a preacher asked her if she wished she was not born blind. She stated, ” Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petiton it would have been that I should be born blind? He asked, “Why?” She said, “Because when I get to heaven the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!” After years of serving God when she passed they wrote on her tombstone at her request the following: “I did what I could.” What a wonderful example of someone dedicated to Jesus in being a light to others. She was unsure of her salvation and sought after it until she found it. Then she used her gifts to reach many through the years with her poems and hymns to allow the Holy Spirit of God to draw them to salvation. First thought when reading the lyrics was wondering how many have sang this song in church so many times yet go home unsure of their salvation if they were to die that day. The lyrics go something like this: “Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory divine, heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His Blood. Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blessed. Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His goodness, lost in His love… This is my story, this is my song, praising my savior all the day long, this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long, Oh what a Savior, wonderful Jesus”….How beautiful she wrote this after she was recently saved and without a doubt she knew Jesus was her Savior. What about you? Do you know without a doubt Jesus is your Savior? Are you sure?
I was talking to a very good friend of mine yesterday morning who happens to have a doctorate in Nursing. We have been friends now for over 30 years. She teaches nursing in South Ga and is very dear to me. This year the Covid 19 virus has run rampid and the numbers of people dying have escalated and not gotten any better. She lives in a hot spot where the virus to this date in April of 2020 has hit 967 cases according to Johns Hopkins University researchers. It’s a number dwarfed in size in comparison to New York and New Orleans but on a per capita basis the outbreak makes Albany, GA the 4th worst hit in the country with 659 cases for every 100,000 people. It all started in Albany with two funerals and people not washing their hands. My mom lives near Albany and I would love to just pile up in the car and go see her. Cindy advised differently and said for me to stay where I am. It’s just too risky. Cindy said, “Dawn how could something so deadly be easily destroyed with soap and water but wreak havoc inside the body. It’s almost like it was made.” Well, you know me and immediately I thought something biblical so today this conversation made me thing about how we in the flesh look so prettied up on the outside yet on the inside we are dying. No matter how much make up we put on, or smile and fake it on the outside, if we are tormented by the enemy on the inside he can destroy our very lively hood to the core. We have to be on guard and be sober and vigilent because the enemy comes around like a roaring lion the Word tells us seeking whom he may devour. We have to stay in the Word, in prayer, and in close relationship with God to hear His still small voice lead and guide us in this lost and dying world. In the book of Matthew 23:26 it is written: “Thou blind pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. ” Ezekiel 7:15 says: “The sword is outside and the plague and the famine are within. He who is in the field will die by the sword; famine and the plague will also consume those in the city.” Just like this virus can easily be contained if we stay contained, and wash our hands we can also fight the enemy with “It is Written.” How do I know this? Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by satan himself and every single time he tried to tempt Him, Jesus fought back with the Word and said, “It is Written.” We have to be aware of our surroundings and we have to know how to fight. With this virus we can only be cautious until there is a cure and be smart about whom and where we go to get our essentials. With every day life we have to not only clean up with soap and water on the outside, we have to work on the inside. Beauty comes from within and is where the Holy Spirit resides if you are a believer. Soap can clean up the outside and the living water can clean up the inside.
Lately I have been fishing a lot. We live near a lake in the North Georgia Mountains within walking distance and it’s pretty much a given if we are not home we are out on the water somewhere. The boat I’ve been fishing in lately has a fish finder to see how deep the fish around us are and if there are any near by. It’s a wonderful tool to have so you don’t sit in one spot all day long without a bite. I got to looking at it and it made me think what if we fished for people who were lost and had a fish finder to locate them? We walk by people every day without knowing if they have a relationship with Jesus or not and are saved. Do we really need something to locate them with? I would have to say no. In my life I have found since I surrendered my heart to the Lord that if I pray for the day and ask God to put people in my pathway to witness to He will. In the book of Matthew chapter 4 verse 18-19 it is written: And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers. And He saith unto them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” That’s all we have to do really is have a close relationship with Jesus. Follow Him by His Word and Deed and He will place people in your life to point to Him. In the book of Luke chapter 5 when Jesus entered Simon’s boat he sat down and taught the people out of the ship. When He was done he told Simon to launch out into the deep waters and let down his net. After Simon did exactly what Jesus said to do he brought in a multitude of fish. He couldn’t do it in his own strength. He had fished all night and caught nothing. However, once Jesus entered his boat and he was in His presence that was when the shift changed for the good. Billy Graham once quoted the following: “Jesus Himself was the first missionary. He pledged His followers to be missionaries too.” If we are going to be fishers of the lost in this world with people who are dying every day then we need to follow Him and allow Him to work through us. In prayer today why don’t you ask God to show you who you can be a light to today for Him. All you have to do is ask Him to order your steps, much like casting down the net and when you do you will be surprised at who needs encouragement and hope in Jesus just as you once did.
I have always loved the Dogwood tree. My Daddy told me when I was little that it symbolized the cross and blooms around Easter every year. As I was walking to the lake yesterday with my youngest son I captured a picture of the leaves of one of the blooms on a tree close by. I looked at it closely and saw the cross and the indentions of the leaves on each petal as if that was signifying where the nails were and the blood that was shed by Jesus when He was on the cross. I’ve seen pretty poems about the dogwood tree around Easter Sunday, but I’ve never seen the word mentioned to my knowledge in the Bible. I searched yesterday and saw that there was mention of the olive tree, the fig tree, juniper tree, cedars, and even an oak. I couldn’t find dogwood mentioned. I looked it up and it doesn’t even orginate in Israel. Why would it bloom around Easter every year? God’s hand is in everything isn’t it? I got out my bible this morning and in the book of Luke it mentions a green tree that Jesus was speaking of right before his crucifixion. He stated in Luke 23:30-31 the following: “Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” Jesus was speaking of a proverb that if His own sufferings in referencing himself as a green tree were so great that it would be more instense for the Jews as a dry tree in their suffering and the judgement to come. Jesus was a living tree. He is the life eternal, the life everlasting, and our hope we have that never dies. Without Jesus we are all just a dried withered up tree that is dead and of no use with no purpose for being here. In the book of Isaiah 2:19 it is written: “And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth.” End times are near and I fear for those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus. Winter is a season when there are no blooms, and is a season of dormant and death if you will. Then the season of Spring comes and the trees and flowers bud with beautiful colors. The dogwood represents the green tree to me. In 1953 Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea had a short video clip about the blooms on the dogwood. He said the petals were bruised on the ends and was a great reminder of Isaiah 53:5 where it states the following: “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.” My Daddy used to say that you can break a branch off of a tree and if it’s green it’s alive and if it is brittle and dry it is dead. Looking at the dogwood even though it bears no solid fruit it actually is a reminder that it does. It has a season of death, however, at Easter time it blooms and is alive. Jesus died on the cross and paid our sin debt in full at calvary. He was dead and buried in a borrowed tomb, then on the third day rose from the grave and conquered death to make a way for us to be reconciled with Him in heaven. The green tree. What a beautiful reminder. Thank you Lord.
Over the weekend it was announced that someone I knew had a family member pass away unexpectedly. So many of us either have had that happen in our own family or know someone who has but when it hits close to home it hurts our heart and we grieve for the ones who are grieving. I have a cousin who was killed on her way to our grandmother’s house for lunch by a truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel and ran a red light. She was only in her twenties. I have another cousin who was killed along with his parents in the wee early hours of the morning by a guy who is still in prison to this day. My oldest son was talking to a friend of his on his cell phone in the 8th or 9th grade one night and the next morning her mom found her not breathing when she went to wake her up for school. No one knows when our time is up. God is the only one that knows the calendar and the number of hairs on our head. We are in a fallen world all the way back to Adam and Eve and because of their disobedience we will have sickness, death, and disease but there is hope. The hope of not going to hell and being reconciled with Jesus in Heaven so that we can be with Jesus and our loved ones who have gone on before us. I saw an image on facebook one time that said, “H.O.P.E. Hold on pain ends.” That is exactly what we have to hold on to is the hope we have in Heaven. Paul wrote to the church at Philipi and it is written in Philippians 1:21 : “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” John 14:1-4 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come back and take you to be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Revelation 21:4 says this: ” And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes’ and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, anymore; the first things are passed away.” Billy Graham in an interview after his wife passed away stated the following: ” Even if others forget about your heartaches, God never does! He knows the hurts you feel, and he knows as well the empty place you have in your heart. Futhermore, He has promised to be with you, and even when sadness or loneliness overwhelm you, He loves you and wants to comfort you.” We may have unexpected loss but one thing we have we can cling to is hope.