Comfort in Affliction Archives 2007
Home2. Be Gentle3. Replace Anxiety With Prayer4. Control Thoughts5. Care for Others6. Be Content7. Know God Supplies All of Our NeedsArchives

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  • Does God Answer Every Prayer? by Clem Thurman
  • Note from Joanne Beckley
  • About Prayer for You (poem)
  • Rest for the Weary by Melody Biddle
  • The Language of Victory/Language of Defeat
  • Was Jesus Literally Forsaken? by T. Doy Moyer
  • "Don't Worry Too Much" by Pat Gates
  • "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tear." (hymn) by Don Alexander
  • Taking Time to Pray by Sewell Hall
  • God is Faithful...Even in Philippi by Kent Heaton
  • Knowing God by Melody Biddle
  • About Bette Baxter by Debra Griffin
  • "Margaret" by Kathy M.
  • Quotes from Anne Sullivan & Helen Keller
  • I Know You Are Lonely Pat Gates
  • The Buzzard, the Bat and the Bumblebee
  • Suggestions for Staying Rational When Confronting a Difficult Person
  • Fill My Cup Lord (poem) by Alma Norman
  • A Prayer in Time of Weakness by Pat Gates
  • Life's Burden (poem)
  • Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.
  • Joy by Melody Biddle
  • God is Watching You! (poem) by Ruth Miller
  • The Bend in the Road (poem) by Helen Steiner Rice
  • Science & the Power of Prayer by Wayne Jackson
  • Writing and Feeling My Best (poem) by Alma Norman
  • My Sister, My Friend by Cindy Granke
  • "Kindness Is..." (poem) by Kathleen A. McKeon
  • The Lamp of Love (poem) by Kathleen A. McKeon
  • My Soul Thirsts by Alma Norman

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Does God Answer Every Prayer?
by Clem Thurman
via Gospel Minutes; Vol. 56, No. 3; Jan. 19, 2007


Question
: "I believe that when we pray for something, in faith, God will give it to us. If we are sick, we can pray and God will heal us. He is able to do all things. So, the question is: 'Does God Answer Every Prayer?'"

Answer: I fully agree that God will hear and answer our prayers: "We know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and do His Will, him He heareth" (John 9:31). When His children pray, God answers: "For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears unto their supplication" (I Peter 3:12). The apostle John writes, "And whatsoever we ask we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight" (I John 3:22). For one who believes God, there can be no question that He hears and answers our prayers.

But to believe that God answers prayer does not mean believing that God will give us whatever we ask of Him! Do parents always give the child what he or she wants? God answers our prayers in a variety of ways --"Yes," "No," "Later," or "Here is something else." There are numerous examples of all of these in the Scriptures. You see, God gives us what we NEED. And that is quite often different from what we think we need. Too many think of prayer as some kind of divine "faucet" that we can use to obtain blessings from God. It is not. Inherent in every prayer must be the attitude shown in the prayer of Jesus, "Not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42). As James wrote, "For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall both live, and do this or that" (James 4:15). Will prayer always heal the sick? The apostle Paul wrote of the illness of Epaphroditus, his fellow-worker, "For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him" (Philippians 2:27). On the other hand, the same apostle wrote, "Trophimus I left at Miletus sick" (II Timothy 4:20).

Surely Paul had prayed for both men, but one was healed and one was left sick. Maybe the best example is Paul, himself. He refers to a physical affliction he had as a "thorn in the flesh." We are not told what the affliction was, but he reveals his attitude toward it: "Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My power is made perfect in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:8-9). Paul sure didn't get what he prayed for!

God often answers our prayers as He did with Paul. We don't always get what we ask for. If simply praying for the sick meant automatic healing, there would be no need for doctors or hospitals, and the loved ones of Christians would never die! But the Lord plainly said, "They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick" (Matthew 9:12). And again, "It is appointed unto man once to die..." (Hebrews 9:27).

When we minister to those who are physically ill, and pray for them, we are doing just what James 5:13-16 teaches us. And while the prayer of faith will "save" the sick, it won't necessarily make him or her physically healthy. Saints still get sick and die, just as did the apostles and their families. So, let us do what we can to restore and maintain health, pray to God for His blessing of healing, and trust in Him to do what is best for His people. And best of all, let us learn to accept whatever answer He gives us.

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A note I received from Joanne Beckley after her back surgery this past month.

"Today, I'm finding 1 Peter 5:7 is an interesting verse. Casting (throwing! getting rid of quickly!) all your care (distractions, anxiety) upon Him, for He cares (concern) for you. I picture this casting is without reservation, not sparing the heavy load, giving ALL to Him, not taking time to pick and choose, confident He will hold me up, at the same time training me to let go of unnecessary distractions and eliminate anxiety. I can do this if I have total understanding that He can and wants to remove them from my heart. Lying here, with lots of tomorrows facing me, is somewhat daunting. But that verse tells it all. So today, I'm looking for the little blessings. I have a bush outside my window that is called the "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow" bush. Three shades of lavender to white and then gone. The perfume from this bush is outstanding and it is blooming right now. Appropriate reminder, isn't it." -- Joanne
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About Prayer For You


The Lord always hears our prayers,
But He does not always say, "Yes!"
Sometimes He says, "Wait"
Sometimes He says, "No"
For He has something better for us.

God's delays are not denials,
He has heard your prayer;
He knows all about your trials,
Knows your every care.

God's delays are not denials,
Help is on the way,
He is watching o'er life's dials,
Bringing forth that day.

God's delays are not denials,
You will find Him true,
Working through the darkest trials,
What is best for you.


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Rest for the Weary
Melody Biddle


 

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28)

The Pharisees considered themselves to have the authority of Moses to dictate God’s commandments and add to and took away from them as they saw fit.   Jesus instructed the Jews to obey the Law rather than to obey the Pharisees. 

In our text today, Jesus states that those who come to Him will be given rest.  Even in our modern technologically advanced world, we experience fatigue mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  This world, marred by sin and the consequences thereof, is just as difficult and wearisome to us as it was to the Christians of long ago.  Today we have many amenities they could only dream of--automobiles, heating and air conditioning, refrigerators, machines to wash  and dry our clothes and dishes, telephones--so many things that are meant to make our lives more comfortable and efficient.  Despite all these conveniences, we still get tired and one can only conclude that the people of Jesus’ time did too. 

When Jesus spoke of rest, this most certainly caught the ear of His listeners.  Everyone was familiar with manual labor and the burdens of life.  On the surface, it probably sounded to those listening that Jesus was saying they would never have to work again. However, Jesus was referring to the burden of keeping the Law of Moses and, quite possibly, the burdensome way that the Pharisees interpreted and taught the Law of Moses.  Beginning in Exodus chapter twenty we read the first laws given to the Israelites, commonly known today as the Ten Commandments. The book of Leviticus provides us with a record of more commandments given to the Israelites and to the tribe of Levi, the priests.  Jesus had come to fulfill the Law and ease the burden of God’s people (Matthew 5:17). 

In Matthew 11:29-30 we read these words of Jesus,“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  A “yoke” was a device that had a crossbar with two U-shaped pieces that encircled the necks of a pair of oxen or other draft animals working together.  The sole purpose of the yoke was to keep the oxen together, so that they could not go their separate ways and interfere with the plowing process, either by being too fast, too slow or going the wrong direction.  The yoke guided the oxen to work together, as a team. 

Another type of yoke most likely used in Jesus' time was a frame of wood fitted to a person's shoulders for carrying pails, etc., suspended on each side; as, a milkmaid's yoke. Again, this device brings to mind the idea of balancing the burden, to ensure the work is equally distributed. 

Jesus uses this illustration to distinguish between the burdensome nature of the Law of Moses and simplicity of the Gospel.  The Law of Moses was filled with rules and regulations,  do’s and don’ts and endless animal sacrifices which never took away their sins, but merely pushed them forward, awaiting the arrival of the Messiah.  Jesus was proclaiming that He was the Messiah, and those who followed Him would no longer have to practice the Law of Moses.  Jesus' method of bringing the believers together was easy, and the burden or message they were to carry, would be easier. 

We read in Matthew chapter twelve that Jesus and His disciples walked through a field of grain, picked some and began to eat it.  The practice of eating the grain was not what caused the controversy, but rather the fact that Jesus and His disciples rubbed the kernels of grain in their hands to remove the outer covering (the chaff).  The Pharisees accused them of violating the Law of Moses, a reference to Exodus 31:24 where the Lord stated that they were to do no plowing or harvesting on the Sabbath day.  

In Matthew 12:8 Jesus reminded the Pharisees of the account in I Samuel 21:5-6 where we read that David and his men had not eaten in three days.  David entered the temple and stated this fact to the priest, who gave them the shewbread that had been placed before the Lord.  Jesus also makes reference to the priests “profaning the Sabbath”,  a reference to the fact that a male child was circumcised in the temple by the priest on the eighth day, even if the child was eight days old on the Sabbath.    Jesus was teaching the Pharisees that while the Law was of value, there were times when necessity outweighed the ceremonial aspects of the Law.   

After this discussion Jesus went to the synagogue where He met a man with a withered hand.  The Pharisees seized what they saw as an opportunity to once again find fault with Jesus, and asked Jesus if  was lawful to heal on the Sabbath.  Clearly, the Pharisees took exception to this, undoubtedly viewing this healing as work which violated the Law of Moses.  Jesus used the illustration of a sheep that had fallen into a pit, and asked them who would not reach in and rescue the animal.  Just as the sheep was in need of rescue, this man, too, was in need and Jesus had the power to help him.  He told them that the man was more valuable than a sheep, and stated  “Wherefore it is lawful to do good on the sabbath day.”  Jesus healed the man’s hand, once again attempting to demonstrate the burden that the Pharisees had placed upon the Jewish people, a burden that He refused to bear. 

The Pharisees considered the actions and teachings of Jesus and those who followed Him to be in direct violation of the Law of Moses.  Ironically, the Pharisees themselves had reduced the Law of Moses to mere actions of the body rather than of the spirit, and had invoked their own interpretations and stipulations.   The teachings of Jesus appeared to them to be opposed to the Law of Moses, but were in effect the spirit in which the Law was to have been practiced.  The teachings of Jesus  were principles upon which people were to build their faith and live their lives.  Jesus wanted the people to understand that God is not pleased with just the mere act of sacrifice, but rather He desires a person that truly believes and desires to obey God. I am reminded of the passage in I Samuel 15:22 in which Samuel said, “Hath Jehovah as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” 

The Pharisees handled the Law of Moses as a sterile set of rules and regulations that were to be followed without exception.  Jesus revealed that the Law was given with the purpose of bringing about obedience, not merely robotic like people performing robotic acts without thought or feeling.  Pharisees had checklists, but God has mercy and compassion.  We read  in John 1:17 “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” 

Friend, are you weary?  Have you exhausted yourself by merely trying to do everything that God says, out of fear? Tradition?  Peer pressure?  If so, you need to know that God is not concerned with our appearance or our actions,  but rather the reason for our actions (I Samuel 16:7).  God desires us to worship Him, but in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), not just in appearance (James 1:26).   

Jesus came to this earth and walked among men to leave an example for us.  We read that Jesus kept the Law perfectly (John 8:29,55) and He did this by obeying God not just with His actions, but with His heart.  Jesus allowed Himself to be yoked, or guided, by God’s teachings.  He was obedient to God to the point of death.  What a precious, perfect example He is to us today! 

Friends, we all know that this life is filled with trials and tribulations.  We have heartaches and frustrations.  Our bodies wear out much sooner than we would like, and everyday we grow weaker.  When sin entered the the world it was forever changed.  Man’s life of ease was exchanged for one of endless hard work, sickness and decay. Mankind bears the burden of sin and its consequences in the form of physical, mental and financial wear and tear.  We endure so much and at times we begin to doubt or question whether we are truly able to endure (I Cor. 10:13). 

If you are a Christian and the cares of life are wearing you down, know that Jesus hears you.  Hebrews 4:15 tells us “For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”.  How is that possible?  Think of the types of sin we face today...jealousy, unrighteous anger, lust, gluttony, deceit.   We like to think our temptations are greater than those experienced by those who came before us, but the truth is, sin is merely the result of our succumbing to temptation, a desire to do something other than what God has instructed us to do, something other than what Jesus did. 

If you are not a Christian, you too may be experiencing difficulties in your life.  Some would tell you that if you do what God says, you will live a life free of care and trouble.  One only has to look at the life of Jesus to see that obeying God oftentimes brings more earthly trouble than peace.  But if you believe Jesus is the Son of God, confess that belief, repent of your sins, and are baptized for the remission of your sins, you will be following in the steps of Jesus.  His life had trials and tribulations just as ours do, but when His life ended here on earth, Jesus entered eternal rest.  This same eternal rest is available to us today, due to His willingness to obey God and die a cruel death for our sins. 

Won’t you obey Him, and ensure that eternal rest? 


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The Language of
Victory

  • "I can do all things through Christ." Phil. 4:13
  • "Our God shall fight for us." Neh. 4:20
  • "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psa. 46:1
  • "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Prov. 3:6
  • "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous." 1 Pet. 3:12
  • "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." 1 Cor. 10:13
  • "Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 15:57

Let our thoughts be positive, our speech powerful, and our actions prevailing. We are laborers together in the greatest cause in the universe. Let's act like it!


The Language of
Defeat

  • Israelites: "It had been better for us to serve the Egyptians than we should die in this wilderness," Exo. 14:12. They believed that, "We are not going to succeed; so it would have been better to continue in slavery."
  • Felix: "When I have a convenient season," Acts 24:25. The language of procrastination is the language of defeat.
  • Israelites: "We did tell thee," Exo. 14:12. "We told you so." Defeated before they really tried or started!
  • Spies: "They are stronger than we...we were in our own sight as grasshoppers...," Num. 13:31-33. Lacked confidence in God and self.
  • One-talent man: "I was afraid," Mt. 25:25. Fear keeps many from using their talents.
  • Moses: "They will not believe me," Exo. 4:1. Lack of confidence in the other person.
  • Moses: "I am not eloquent," Exo. 4:10. He forgot the ability of the One who told him to "go and speak."  

I apologize.
I forgot to put the author down and
I can't remember where I got this article. pg

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The comforts we enjoy here below are not like the anchor in the bottom of the sea that holds fast in a storm, but like the flag upon the top of the mast that turns with every wind.
      -
Christopher Love

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Was Jesus Literally Forsaken?

T. Doy Moyer

Did the Father literally forsake Jesus at the cross? The aramaic phrase spoken by Jesus on the cross, translated "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" is often taken to mean just that (Matt. 27:46). Generally, the idea is that since Jesus was made to be sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21), then it was necessary for Him to suffer a form of spiritual death - separation from the Father. This was the penalty paid by Jesus. Proof of this is seen in the phrase under question, along with 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Granted, a brief look at the phrase, spoken at that particular time, lends itself to the conclusion that Jesus really was forsaken by the Father. It perhaps makes sense to think that the penalty Jesus had to pay on our behalf is a temporary spiritual separation from the Father. So we reason. But this conclusion is really based upon two things: 1) the phrase under question, and 2) our own reasoning and speculation as to how Jesus bore our sins. Other than this, the Bible nowhere says in any explicit sense that Jesus was forsaken. I believe it is just the opposite.

My conviction is that Jesus was not literally forsaken by the Father as He was on the cross. I want to list a few items that ought to be considered in coming to a conclusion about this issue. As I do this, I realize that not every question can be answered. I do not pretend to know or understand everything that happened between Jesus and the Father. All of the workings of deity are not made known to us; and we should be very careful about speculating about these things (e.g., saying that the 3-hour darkness must have signified God's withdrawal of fellowship from Jesus; such is pure speculation). I think we can consider a few points about this, and even give some thought as to how this has any application to us. So, here goes.

1. The consequence of the position is not very attractive. Think about it. Jesus came to do the will of the Father, which involved His suffering and death on the cross (Heb. 10:5-10). Jesus carried out the Father's will with absolute perfection. Not a single instance of sin can be named in His life. And in the context of speaking about His death, Jesus said, "And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him" (Jn. 8:29). Now if the Father did actually forsake Jesus on the cross, then this means that it is possible for God to forsake one who has done everything asked of him. That's not a very pleasant thought; I don't think we can afford to think of God in this way. If God the Father could forsake One who never sinned, what about those of us who have sinned and been forgiven? This does not prove the case, but it is a consequence to be reckoned with.

2. Paying the price for our sins did not necessitate spiritual separation of the Father and the Son. In response to the first point, someone might think, "But Jesus was paying the price for sin; doesn't that change things?" The question is, did Jesus become guilty of those sins, or was he paying a redemptive price for the sins? If He became guilty of the sins, then yes, separation from the Father would have occurred. But if not, and He was simply paying a price of redemption, then spiritual separation was not necessary.

In paying the price for our sins, Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. If the price was temporary separation from the Father, then the sacrifice only did what we all have already experienced. Since all have sinned, all have been spiritually separated from God. If Jesus came to do that, then He only experienced what we have already suffered. It should be obvious that Jesus did not pay for sins in the way I would have had to pay for those sins myself. Thus, the price Jesus paid was not:

a. Temporary separation. We've already suffered that. If this is the sacrifice made by Jesus, then we have already paid the price.

b. Eternal separation. That's obvious enough, since Jesus is in heaven (Col. 3:1). But if He died separated from the Father, how could He have gone to Paradise (Luke 23:43)? At what point did Jesus lose fellowship with the Father; and at what point did He regain it? Nothing in the Bible indicates either of these. To say that Jesus was abandoned by the Father demands speculation as to when He was forsaken, and when He was taken back into fellowship. Lack of passages on these points should prevent us from such speculation.

3. When we look at the various passages that speak of the price paid by Jesus, they point to the blood shed by Jesus as a sin-offering. Jesus is the lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). It is with His precious blood that we are redeemed (1 Pet. 1:18-19). It is through the shedding of that blood that we are forgiven (Eph. 1:7). I believe this is the import of the idea that Jesus was "made sin" (2 Cor. 5:21), and that He became "a curse" for us. He was not literally sin, but He was made a sin-offering. Jesus did not become guilty of the sins anymore than the animals involved in the Old Testament sacrifices became literally guilty. The shedding of the blood became the means of forgiveness and the way by which the wrath of God was appeased. In contrast to the animals, Jesus came to do the will of God. "By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10). None of the passages indicate that the sacrifice of Jesus included a spiritual separation from the Father, or a forsaking of the Son by the Father. There is no question that Jesus suffered spiritually and emotionally. But, it appears that His greatest emotional pain was being experienced in the garden before He actually went to the cross (Luke 22:44). These passages show that the Father aided Him through His angels. Jesus was in pain, even though not abandoned.

4. Now, what about the phrase itself: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me"? The key to the use of the phrase by Jesus is to be found in its source. This phrase begins the well-known Psalm 22. By quoting the first line of the Psalm, Jesus was appropriating the message of the Psalm to Himself. A look at this psalm shows that the one who uttered this phrase was not literally forsaken by God. Note the following:

a. The psalm can be broken down into two major parts: 1. Forsaken by God (vv. 1-21), and 2. Delivered by God (vv. 22-31). The psalm begins with the desperate phrase quoted by Jesus, but as it proceeds it expresses a victorious assurance of deliverance.

b. In the psalm, the quoted phrase does not intend to express the idea that God has literally and actually forsaken anyone. The forsaking is in appearance, not in reality. The psalm fits quite well with all of the events that were happening when Jesus was on the cross. We should not see the words of Jesus on the cross in a vacuum, for other parts of the psalm fit with the events of the cross; other prophecies are fulfilled (e.g., vv. 7-8, 16-18). Verses 7-8 express exactly what happened with those who mocked and sneered at Jesus. They did not think that God would deliver Jesus because He appeared so despised and smitten by God. It was the people who esteemed Jesus to be smitten and afflicted by God (Isa. 53:4).

c. The psalm shows that, in reality, the one uttering the cry has been heard. Verse 22 marks a change from defeat to victory. And notice verse 24: "For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard."

d. Thus the phrase uttered by Jesus, taken from this psalm, was not intended to convey the idea that the Father actually forsook Him. It did convey the idea that He appeared forsaken, but if the hearers knew the psalm from which Jesus quoted, they would also need to think of the victory expressed in the latter part it. And I find it interesting that just before Jesus "gave up His spirit," He said, "It is finished." This statement coincides with the last verse of Psalm 22, referring to the fact that God has "performed it," i.e., that God has carried out justice and finished the work of providing for salvation for all of mankind (vv. 25-31). In dying on the cross, Jesus carried out this work. He finished the work that God had promised and foretold so long before.

5. When Jesus uttered the cry, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" He was not asking for an answer. If we take it to literally mean that God forsook Jesus, then we would also have to take it to mean that Jesus didn't know why. He was referring to Psalm 22 as the fulfillment of the prophecy. The use of that phrase in the psalm itself does not lend anything to the concept that Jesus literally was forsaken. Rather, it points to the victorious nature of God's deliverance in the midst of a time that appeared so dismal and forlorn. Jesus was not forsaken. He was simply awaiting the deliverance that He knew the Father would provide. Now if one uses Jesus' words on the cross to say that the Father literally forsook Jesus, it would need to be proved that Jesus intended those words to convey something different than the way it is used in the Psalm.

Is There An Application For Us?

This is not just an academic exercise. The psalm, and its use by Jesus, has a tremendous meaning for us as God's people. What are some lessons we can learn and apply?

1. When times are so difficult that it seems no one cares, we have assurance that God is there for us. We are not promised that everything on this earth will be free of difficulties, but we are promised that God will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5-6). This psalm can be of great comfort to us when things do not appear to be going too well. We can expect God's deliverance.

2. God hears and answers our cries. Sometimes we cry to God out of despair and wonder if He is really listening. The answer of this psalm is a resounding "yes." God hears and will deliver, even if we feel alone.

3. It is okay to express our desperate feelings to God. He wants us to cast our cares upon Him (1 Pet. 5:6-7).

4. Because of what God accomplished through Jesus, we are blessed beyond all of our imaginations. So now we can praise God, be satisfied, worship Him, and tell the coming generations what marvelous works He has performed. Because of what God has done, we have a great victory in Christ (Rom. 8:31ff).

I realize that not everyone will agree with my brief analysis of the phrase and the psalm. But I think that it is very inadequate to just look at the phrase as Jesus was on the cross and not give some consideration to the psalm from which it comes. The psalm seems so entirely messianic that we cannot overlook it in our interpretation of the phrase.

I hope that these thoughts will encourage further study.

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"Don't Worry Too Much"
Pat Gates

By the time this article is published I'll know where I stand as far as my recent diagnosis with melanoma. It is October 7th and my surgery is scheduled for next week so all I know now is that the surgeon has labeled it stage 2 and a 14% chance it has spread into the lymph nodes. Now, with some of you diagnosed with cancer, I'm sure your percentage was probably much higher than that, but even if there is a 1% chance, there still is a temptation to focus on that rather than the 99% chance the cancer has not spread.

After seeing the surgeon two days ago, it takes constant self-control to not think about that 14%, but logically I know it's not worth agonizing over something that, most likely, will be OK. So I'm trying to follow my doctor's advice when he said, "Don't worry, well you can worry a little, but don't worry too much." It's an honest, good response. No worry is impossible...at least no thinking about it is impossible...but it is healthy physically and spiritually not to "worry too much."

A certain amount of concern is normal when we hear disturbing news about our health or the health of our loved one. We wouldn't be human if we didn't emotionally feel bad news, and it is this concern that prompts us to take the needed steps to try and remedy the problem. However, we need to put bars on this concern, this worry, to where it is not allowed to go beyond what is spiritually healthy.

We need to humbly ask God for help, not only with the problem, but with our mind control, and trust that God will indeed help us. God does not want us to pray out of fear and then get up from our knees with the same degree of worry. Isn't that saying we don't really have faith that God is willing and able to help or that we actually have His attention? Do we need to take a chance that we won't be heard if fear, without faith, prompted the prayer to begin with?

Perhaps our faith in God is where it should be and we have confidence in His care and attention, but we may need to use self-control when we begin to try and figure out why this has happened to us and how God is going to answer our prayer. For example, at first we may feel confident all will be well, then we think of a righteous person who died and that prompts us to wonder if it really will be well with us.  We go back and forth, and before we know it we're trying to read God's mind and what the outcome will probably be. This is not only a waste of time, but it will cause worry to build up and if we aren't careful we will become God's judge and this should never be. We need to kick our mind back into logical thinking and let faith lead us.

Not worrying too much means we need to bring our thoughts into subjection. They are our thoughts, within our control. Satan will try and weaken us in whatever way he can and he deceives us into thinking we have a right to worry and fret. We don't.

We do, however, have rights as children of God, that Satan does not want us to understand:

a We have a right to take our cares to our heavenly Father.
a We have a right to take comfort in the promises and hope our Father has given us in His Word.
a We have a right to continually have faith, no matter what happens in our future, because we have a Father we can trust.
a We have a right to be comforted, even if this physical life looks bleak.
a We have a right to live in hope.

Keeping our thoughts in subjection to faith isn't always an easy task, but avoiding the pitfalls of worrying too much and staying focused on our rights as children of God will be just the thing to keep the normal concern in its place, safely tucked away in the back of our mind. 

(It is now the beginning of November and I can thankfully and joyfully say the cancer did not spread.)

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"I have heard your prayer,
 I have seen your tears."
  Based on Isaiah 39:85

On the brightest day
In the glowing sun,
When my prayers come easy;
The battle’s won.
I’ll remember, Lord,
Your words strong and clear:
“I have heard your prayer,
I have seen your tears.”

In the hour of pain,
In the dark of night,
When my heart is aching
And grief I fight,
I will hear your voice
As you draw me near,
“I have heard your prayer,
I have seen your tears.”

When the days are long
And I'm all alone,
When my strength is fading
My health is gone.
You will sit with me
And calm my fears:
"I have heard your prayer,
I have seen your tears."

CHORUS:

For I know, dear Lord,
That Your love is great,
That the hope of heaven
Is worth the wait.
I will ponder well,
Through the coming years:
"I have heard your prayer,
I have seen your tears."

Lyrics and Music by Don Alexander, Copyright 2005
used with permission

Note from Don Alexander: All my life I have sung these words, "We share our mutual woes; our mutual burdens bear. And often for each other flows a sympathizing tear." My wife and I are both cancer survivors (she just reached her “5-yrs” marker for breast cancer and I am at 2+ years for oral, tongue cancer—hard for a preacher of 40 years and a singer). I have learned what those words mean and find myself singing them with a new fervor.

www.ourhopeonline.com  May 2007

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Taking Time To Pray
by Sewell Hall

When a crisis arose in the Jerusalem church in connection with the distribution of food to the widows, the apostles made the following proposal: "Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word," Acts 6:3-4.

Many preachers and elders complain of too little time for recreation, too little time for correspondence, too little time for visitation and even for study--but for prayer? This may explain some of our modern ineffectiveness.

What is true of elders and preachers is true of most other Christians. We don't value prayer sufficiently to make time for it, and if we do make time we don't know what to do with it. How can one spend all night in prayer? We know that Jesus did (Luke 6:12). Even the early church did (Acts 12:5). But we quickly run out of things to ask for and begin repeating ourselves.

Much of our problem lies in the fact that we think of prayer as reading off a shopping list for God to fill for us.We think through our problems, determine what will be required to solve them, and then come to God with a request for the things we have decided we need. We need to back up and bring God into the search for solutions.

Prayer is more than supplication--even more than thanksgiving. It is the broad general act of taking to God. This is clear from Philippians 4:6, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God."

Talking out your problems with any other person can be helpful in finding a solution. Verbalizing our thoughts, explaining our situation, enumerating alternatives and analyzing them to point out the weakness and strength of each--all of this helps us to see the wisest course to follow. Our companion may say very little and may offer no advice, yet we thank him for the great help he has been.

My mother taught me a valuable lesson in the art of praying. "Son, whenever possible, talk aloud to God. It is better than silent prayer." I quickly learned that she was right. For one thing, I did not fall asleep so easily while praying. I must admit that at first I did feel a little silly "talking to myself." but that very feeling judged me; if I felt I was talking to myself it meant that I was not really aware of God's presence. Once I become conscious of a listening ear, God became more of a companion and prayer became more meaningful.

If talking to an earthly friend can be helpful, how much more talking to our heavenly Father! Some

alternatives which I might propose to a human companion (especially a worldly one) I could not bring myself even to mention to God. And motives I might hide from a friend I know are "naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account," Hebrews 4:13. A decision reached after literally talking it over with God will be a more spiritual decision, for it will be modified by all that the Spirit has revealed to me concerning God. It will be the kind of decision, too, which I can confidently ask God to help me implement.

Quick petitions have their place. They can be made amid the din of traffic or the chaos of the marketplace. Nehemiah uttered a prayer between a question asked by the king and his own answer to that question (Nehemiah 2:4-5). We can, and should, pause to give thanks before meals (1 Timothy 4:4). But there are prayers which require more concentration than is possible with the distraction of blaring horns, tempting food, or restless children.

The kind of praying that Jesus often did required Him to arise early in the morning, while it was still dark, to go out into a lonely place (Mark 1:35). The kind of communication with God that we are suggesting would be seriously interrupted by eating and is therefore logically accompanied by fasting (Nehemiah 1:4). It is the kind of exercise which might well prompt a devout husband and wife to suspend their normal relations "for a time that you might devote yourselves to prayer" (1 Corinthians 7:5). This kind of prayer takes time and it is this kind that is most neglected in our day.

What problems are troubling you just now? What decisions are you facing? Try prayer. Sometime today, find a quiet place--perhaps a park, a field, or if nothing else is possible, "go into your room, and when you have shut your door" spend at least thirty minutes talking aloud to God about the burden you are carrying . I predict that the blessing you will receive will make you want to spend more time that way tomorrow.

From every stormy wind that blows,
From every swelling tide of woes,
There is a calm, a sure retreat;
'Tis found beneath the mercy-seat.

-Hugh Stowell

 


"A decision reached after literally talking it over with God will be a more spiritual decision, for it will be modified by all that the Spirit has revealed to me concerning God." -Sewell Hall

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God is Faithful...Even in Philippi
Kent E. Heaton Sr.

On the way to prayer one day, Paul and his company were followed by a young girl with a spirit of divination. She cries out, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation," Acts 16:17. This went on day after day until Paul became weary of her presence and he cast out the evil spirit. There would be little doubt of the joy felt by the young girl that her life is no longer bound by the forces of the evil spirit. Nothing is said of her again in scripture but what she was about to see must have troubled her.

In a world given to depravity and despair, certain men had used the girl and her tormented soul for their own profit. Realizing they could no longer make money from her misery, they lashed out at Paul and Silas. They laid hands on these two men and dragged them to the marketplace to the authorities. They told the authorities, "These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive and observe."

The reaction of the crowd was immediate and violent. They took hold of Paul and Silas, tore their clothes from their bodies, bound them up and beat them with many stripes with rods. In a wild frenzy, filled with prejudice and hatred, two men were beaten for helping a young girl.

Gareth L. Reese (New Testament History, "A critical and exegetical commentary on the book of Acts, page 585) writes: "Luke seems to be telling us that the punishment was more severe than usual. A word needs to be said here about the difference between Roman an Jewish 'beatings.' The Jews used a leather ship and were not allowed to inflict more than 40 stripes. The Romans used a rod (similar in size to a present-day broom stick or hoe handle), and there was no limit to the number of blows that could be struck. Such treatment would leave a man lacerated and bleeding."

Luke does not record anything about the reaction of Paul and Silas until later when, in prison, they are "praying and singing hymns to God," (vs25). As the jailer lashed their feet into the stocks and bound their hands with iron, Paul and Silas reflect on the events of the last few days and hours.

Arriving in Philippi, they had found great rejoicing as on the Sabbath day they met a woman who would change their lives. Her name was Lydia and she had been at the riverside, where prayer was customarily made. The disciples of Christ rejoiced in her obedience as well as her household. They were even more filled with gratitude when she constrained them to stay at her house. Now from prison they think about this day, as they were going about spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.

The girl they had met on the day they were going to prayer had become a bother and finally Paul had had enough. He cast the spirit out of her and thought that would end the trouble. In such a little time, he and Silas had been dragged to the marketplace, attacked and beaten and thrown into the inner part of the prison. This was the place they put condemned people and even carried out executions in this part of the prison. They were teated roughly by the guards and the jailer who had been given a charge to keep them securely.

When the dust settled and Paul and Silas caught their breath, they looked about in the darkness and thought, "What a day this has been." Their spirits were not defeated by the vicious acts of the crowd nor did they lay charge to God for their plight. They prayed to God and began to sing psalms of praise to God.

From the inner belly of a chamber of horror came the joyful noise of two men who loved the Lord and praised Him for being their God. They had come to this part of the world because of a vision of a man pleading with them, "Come over to Macedonia and help us," Acts 16:9. They answered the call and found great rejoicing as Lydia and her household obeyed the gospel. But now they sat in prison, their backs searing with pain from the beatings and muscles sore from the handling of the multitude - and prayed and sang praise to God. This all happened because they helped a little girl out of her misery and despair.

Could thy know an earthquake would come and release them from their bonds of prison and then release the bonds of sin upon the man who imprisoned them? Could they know the joy of the tender care extended to them by the jailer and his household as they "washed their stripes?" The journeys to Philippi had begun with so much promise and then turned into such a horrible day. But the Macedonian call was to come and help and even in prison, Paul and Silas found a way to help a man in need.

Our lives are filled with journeys to Philippi. We find joy in meeting people like Lydia and her household. It may be that when we seek to do good to others that we receive the hand of prejudice and hatred. Life may take a terrible turn and we find ourselves in the inner prison of despair and hopelessness. Paul and Silas tells us to remember than when life is the most difficult, sing and pray an be thankful.

God does not tell us what will happen next. He may send earthquake and shake things up even more. Out of the darkest troubles we may find people like the jailer who saw our faith in God - and they too come to salvation.Then we can go on our way rejoicing that God was faithful - even in Philippi.

www.ourhopeonline.com  September 2007

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Knowing God
by Melody Biddle

"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (Ps 46:10 )

We read in the Old Testament of a man named David. He was a mere
shepherd boy who killed a giant Philistine with one rock and a sling. He was chosen to replace King Saul as the King of Israel, a fact which nearly cost him his life due to Saul's jealousy. When God revealed to Saul that He was taking the kingdom from him, God described Saul's successor as "a man after His own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14). Our scripture text today comes from a psalm written by David in which he extols the comfort provided by God to those who believe. The first verse states "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble". We read in the Old Testament of the sin of David and Bathsheba, of David's sin in having Bathsheba's husband purposely killed in battle, of the death of the child Bathsheba conceived with David.

When the child became sick, we read in 2 Samuel 12:16 that
David fasted and prayed, asking God to spare the child's life. On the seventh day, the child died, and David's servants feared what would happen if they told him. He did not eat food, change his clothing or bathe. David was obviously devastated and his only prayer was that God spare the child's life. When David discovered that the child had died, he got up, washed, changed his clothes, and went to worship God. When he returned home,he ate. His servants were confused....he had been so upset when the child was sick and now he was no longer mourning? To them, David's actions seemed backwards.....before there was hope and he was devastated; now the child was dead and he was resuming his life? How could he eat when his child had just died?

In 2 Samuel 12:22-23 we read David's response "And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who knoweth whether Jehovah will not be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me." David realized that he had done all he could do to save his child. David was facing the reality of his sin with Bathsheba and the reality of God's power. God could just as easily have killed David, or Bathsheba. Instead, God had taken their child, and in doing so, He had regained David's undivided attention.

The Hebrew word used for fast is tsuwm {tsoom}, meaning to abstain from food. The practice of fasting, of abstaining from eating food for a period of time, is demonstrated several times in the Bible. We read in 2 Chronicles 20:3 that Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast throughout Judah. In Ezra 8:21 we read that a fast was held to reflect humbling before God, to seek His will. In the story of Esther, we read that she asked Mordecai to fast, or abstain, from eating food or drinking liquids for three days. She and her maidens were also going to fast, and pray that the King would hear her plea.

When Jonah proclaimed God to the people of Nineveh that God would destroy them if they did not repent, they proclaimed a fast and wore sackcloth, the clothing worn during mourning. Fasting was practiced by those in great mourning, either mourning of the sickness or death of a loved one or the mourning of sin in their life. It was a means of expressing to God great sadness and was accompanied by prayer to God requesting healing, comfort, even forgiveness.

In the case of David, certainly he realized that the child was born as a result of the sin of adultery that he and Bathsheba had committed. He knew that he had sinned against God, and the child being taken from him, while painful, did not sway David's faith. When he heard that the child had died, David cleaned himself up and worshipped God. In his sorrow, David recognized God's power, His glory, His omniscience. David was a warrior in his lifetime. As a result of this, he was not allowed by God to build the temple for God. David had shed the blood of both animals and men. His enemies, including Saul, who desired to kill him, had sought him. While caring for his father's flocks as a young boy, David had killed a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:36). He was no stranger to violence, and yet was looked upon by God as a man whose heart was like the heart of God. David was going about his life, enjoying Bathsheba, his child, his kingdom. Suddenly, his child became sick and David's life focus become one thing and one thing only.....saving his child's life.

We, like David, become consumed with life's tasks and with our
desires. It is difficult enough to find time to do all we need to do each day, and finding a moment for God can seem impossible. We never seem to have enough time to do all we want to, but, more accurately, we tend to concern ourselves with things that should not be a priority. We intend to get together with other people, we intend to do good things, we want to help others, but there is no time. Truthfully, there is time, but our lack of priorities results in less important things superseding the more important.

But no matter how
busy we are, no matter how consumed, the death or illness of a loved one will stop us in our tracks. Suddenly the day-to-day tasks become less important to us. Our focus is shifted from ordinary things. We now focus on the person who is sick, on helping them and their family. If there is a death, we call the family, go to see them, take food, and attend a memorial. It is a time when our lives are made to stop moving so quickly, and we focus on the fact that this life is temporary, very, very short, and that nothing, not even food, is more important than comfort.

The last verse of our scripture text reads "Jehovah of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge." David realized this both while praying for his child and in his acceptance of the child's death. David made many mistakes in his life, but when confronted with his sin, he became still and realized that God was in control. At a time when it might have frustrated some to have their fervent prayers answered differently than they hoped, David accepted God's answer and worshipped God. David accepted the fact that his child was dead, and that there was nothing he could do about it. David had prayed for the child to be healed, and God had said "No." David did not question God, did not become angry with God, he did not forsake God. He got up, bathed himself and ate.

Today we have events that occur in our life, sometimes as a result of our own sins, that grieve us. The consequences of sin are never worth the pleasure of the sin, and David's sin with Bathsheba had resulted in the loss of their child. It seems a hard lesson to understand, why God would allow this innocent child to suffer and die. Perhaps David believed it to be because he had sinned and therefore accepted it as a consequence of his actions. For whatever reason, the experience brought David to a halt, and caused him to look at his life and see the sins he had committed. While David prayed for the life of his child, he put his faith in God, and recognized that he was powerless over God. David was a mighty warrior, a power king, but Jehovah, the creator of all living things, bested him. David humbled himself before God both while the child was alive and when the child died. David knew that God was in control, and that humbled David to the point that he could trust God, implicitly, and accept even that which was too painful to understand.

Life is filled with injustice, unfair treatment, and evil. There are times when we pray and our prayers are answered with silence or are answered the opposite of how we ask. At times life can be overwhelming in its sadness and frustrating to deal with. But David, in his life, learned that no matter what, God is there. Whether our sadness is due to our own sin, the sin of others, illness, or death, God can comfort us. He may not remove the circumstances, but He will provide comfort to us. In order to gain the comfort, we must first believe in God's power. While God provides for all people, many struggle greatly in this life because they do not acknowledge God. Jesus suffered many things in His life and yet as He hung on the cross, He prayed for those who sinned against Him (Luke 23:34). Jesus, who calmed the seas and quieted the storms, sought comfort from God through prayer as he prepared to go to the cross. We too can experience the peace and comfort from God, if only we will acknowledge Him.

Are you suffering today? Are you in need of comfort? God loves you and cares for you so much, He gave His Son's life to provide a means for you to be reconciled to Him. Won't you acknowledge God's power today, and allow Him to comfort you?

Be still, and know that He is God.

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Debra Griffin sent the following note about Bette Baxter:

Bette Baxter wrote to you and introduced herself, there she listed some of the things she has endured. Bette has had her daughter die at age 41, her husband had cancer and then passed away, her son-in-law was killed in a helicopter accident, and a daughter with a brain tumor, and a grandson whom has conflict since the death of his father. That was all within a few years. Bette was diagnosed with cancer a month or so ago. Her dear friend, Gerry Roberts, phoned us to let us know that she passed away after multiple surgeries on January 29, 2007.

First of all, let me say that this dear sister in Christ will be missed by so many. She was an encourager, she rose above the adversities in her own life and uplifted others!! I use to tell her she needed to teach a class to motivate those who let life get to them. She would laugh and say, "Me!" and then she would say, "Oh I cry." I said, "I'm sure you do, but so many are so discouraged at loss, and you would be wonderful at helping them go on!"

When my youngest sister-in-law, Melissa, went through cancer and surgery, I told her of Bette and how she had such a wonderful attitude. Then, when I sent out a prayer request for Melissa, Bette sent her a card. When Bette came to visit friends who worshiped with us, I told Melissa that Bette would be here. She was so excited and when she saw her, she walked up to her and said, "I've got to hug you, I've heard so many good things about you!" Bette was so appreciative, and looked at me and asked if I had been talking about her? I said, "Yes, but it was all good."

She was such an encouragement to my youngest sister-in-law. The other day I sent out an update to let everyone know that Bette had passed away. Later in the week, I was talking to one of my older sister-in-laws, Letitia, and she told me that reading about Bette and how she handled her life, made her want to handle her adversities likewise! What a faithful servant of God! Even in her death, she encouraged others to strive to be more like Christ. After all, Bette lived for Christ, not herself.

Her smile was contagious! Her laughter was hearty and full of spirit! Her compassion was sincere! She reached out to all who needed her! As a friend she loved deeply, as a sister in Christ she taught by example. As a mother, her children call her blessed! As a child of God, Faithful and He welcomes her home!

May we all be stronger and encourage those even when we may be discouraged. May we leave our comfort zone and reach out to others. May we strive to encourage and build up those that we meet. I know, if we love deeply and live long enough, we will have many losses. The losses are never easy. I can say, personally, that everyone who has touched my heart has taken part in making me the Christian woman I am today.

Thank you, Bette, for the role you played in so many of our lives.

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.
Happy moments, praise God.
Difficult moments, seek God.
Quiet moments, worship God.
Painful moments, trust God.
Every moment, thank God.

Here is Bette's Introduction she had previously sent it. It is posted on the "Previous Introductions" page:
Bette Baxter: Hi, I am sixty eight years old and have been widowed for one and one half years. My husband, a retired super cop for Phx. Az. died of leukemia. We had four children. Our second oldest daughter at 42 yr. died suddenly of cardiac arrest. She was a middle school teacher. I can relate to the person who said playing the glad game (Pollyanna) works for her. I find it's a big waste of time to lament over losses and live in the past. It's much better to focus on today's blessings and there are more than you know if you will just let yourself go there. Of course, I have my meltdowns but thanks to my family, both church and physical, I have a fantastic support group.

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MARGARET
"God is always first, friends next."

Kathy tells us about Margaret:

I enjoyed seeing the information about
Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne .  I have a dear friend, Margaret, who turns 87 years old next Monday.  Margaret is deaf and blind and has been for more than 60 years.  I love her dearly and used to visit her often when she was living in the same building as me.  

She finally had to go into a nursing home 2 years ago, when she was misdiagnosed with a brain tumor.  Actually, she fell a few times and the CT scan was a false positive for the tumor.  Her only relative, a sister-in-law, emptied her apartment overnight, and threw away all the Braille books of the Bible, which Margaret still cries over.  We found a few books that someone kindly loans to her.  Other than that, it is the only thing Margaret  complains about.  She has taught me a great deal about patience and trust in the Lord - blind faith, if you will.  

When I visit with her, which is not as often as I would like (she is about 45 minutes away-one way; the drive is hard on me!), I talk to her on an antique Braille machine which spells out words ONE letter at a time!  Some conversations can take forever!  But she is always so kind to those who help her and she is so gracious in the face of severe limitations.  God is always first, friends next.  She is very sweet and quite healthy now.  

We will be taking a seafood dinner to her, along with a lemon meringue pie, and having a little party in the dining room; and she specifically asked that I bring Yonder to see her, too (my service dog).  Although her funds are strictly limited, she insisted on donating money to help me get Yonder.  She wanted to gift me with $100, but I told her it needed to be limited to $20.00.  I just couldn't take that much from her!  She is truly a special Christian woman; please keep her in your prayers-that she can live well until God calls her Home.  Blessings!  

And Happy Birthday to Margaret! 
--Kathy M.

Our Hope Online March 2007

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Quote from book taken from the time Anne Sullinvan arrived at Helen's house:

"Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding-line, and had no way of knowing how near the harbour was. "Light! give me light!" was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour."

"I felt approaching footsteps. I stretched out my hand as I supposed to my mother. Some one took it, and I was caught up and held close in the arms of her who had come to reveal all things to me, and, more than all things else, to love me."


Quote from the book when Helen finally understood what Anne was teaching her about words (the pump scene):

"I learned a great many new words that day. I do not remember what they all were; but I do know that mother, father, sister, teacher were among them--words that were to make the world blossom for me, "like Aaron's rod, with flowers." It would have been difficult to find a happier child than I was as I lay in my crib at the close of that eventful day and lived over the joys it had brought me, and for the first time longed for a new day to come."


MORE HELEN KELLER QUOTES:

"We are never really happy until we try to brighten the lives of others."

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart."

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." 1891

"The chief handicap of the blind is not blindness, but the attitude of seeing people towards them." 1941

"I believe humility is a virtue, but I prefer not to use it unless it is absolutely necessary." 1925

"What a strange life I lead—a kind of Cinderella-life—half-glitter in crystal shoes, half mice and cinders!" 1916

"If I, deaf, blind, find life rich and interesting, how much more can you gain by the use of your five senses!" 1933

"The most beautiful world is always entered through imagination." 1928

"Faith is a mockery if it does not teach us that we can build a more complete and beautiful world." 1908

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I Know You Are Lonely
Pat Gates

I know you are lonely. I know you wait for invitations or visits that don't come. I know you watch others who are busy with their families or jobs and you remember when, at one time, you were busy just like them. If only someone would show you they care and that they actually think about you. If only you felt needed or wanted.

There are others like you: There are those who can't get out or are dependent on others to do so and many who can't keep up and are soon forgotten. Does it ease the pain, a little, by knowing there are others who are going through the same thing?

There are three things I can think of to help ease the pain. First, pray. Always pray about it. In our Lord, you are never alone. Our Lord understands loneliness, as all forsook Him when He needed others the most.

The second thing to do is to think about other lonely people - remember loneliness can affect all ages, not just the aged. Try to show them, within your capabilities, that you care about them, .

Thirdly, if you can, invite others to your house or to go out to lunch. Yes, I know, you wish they would invite you and you don't want to feel like you are in the way. Sometimes others need to be shaken up into reality that there ARE those out there who need them and they need to get out of their apathy, ignorance or just their daily unchanging routine. If someone has not experienced true loneliness, they probably don't realize how much you suffer with it.

It's important for you not to keep waiting on others, but to be active yourself, in whatever capacity you can do (if you can send a card, do so). If you find this does not produce any action from others and you still are lonely, without attention, please don't give up. Keep giving others attention. I am well aware that sometimes you can give and give and still no response. Remember, God sees, God knows and He cares. God will reward you and there will be others helped by you, whether they acknowledge it or not. 

Our Hope Online  February 2007

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I found these suggestions on the internet and they make sense. Too often we're ready to defend, instead of listen. Asking questions for clarification is such a good idea.

STAYING RATIONAL WHEN CONFRONTING A DIFFICULT PERSON

If you're required to respond to an irrational attack, ask the antagonist what exactly he is upset about, in order to show that you are interested in communicating rather than in arguing. The burden of responsibility is now back on the antagonist.

After the unreasonable salvo, go ahead and agree with a kernel of truth in the complaint. You'll overcome your own impulse to jump into the fray by looking for that one small fact about which the critic is correct—and then agreeing with that single point.

You can more easily and tactfully defend yourself once the emotional heat has abated. Offer to the difficult person your best guess as to what he or she is feeling, and ask for feedback. "It sounds like you're angry right now, and I'm sorry about that." This demonstrates a willingness to understand the difficult person's frustration without blame or defensiveness.

Resist the urge to fight to win the argument. Listening and asking questions leads others to their own better conclusions.

He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly. Proverbs 14:29

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The Buzzard
The Bat
and the Bumblebee

I came across this story in some old files. I can’t remember where I got it, and have searched the Internet to try to determine who wrote it, without any luck. I can’t take credit for the illustration but I have added some comments and Scriptures to the bottom. I hope it will encourage you to put your hope and trust in God, taking all of your burdens to Him in prayer. Cindy

* * * * * * * *

The Buzzard

Do you know that if you put a Buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a Buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

The Bat

The ordinary Bat that flies around at night, a remarkably nimble creature in the air, can not take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

The Bumblebee

A Bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

In many ways, we are like the Buzzard, the Bat, and the Bumble Bee. We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up.

* * * * * * * *

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD,
which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
(Psalm 121:1-3)

Do you feel overwhelmed with circumstances in your life? Are you stuck in a rut without any idea how to pull out of it? Sometimes you have to get outside your comfort zone. You won’t find your solution staying right where you are. You have to move. Change what you are doing. Change how you are thinking. And that includes trusting God enough to turn to Him with your troubles.

Are you overwhelmed by financial burdens, difficult times in your marriage, your job, concerns for your children, your ill health or that of a loved one? The stress caused by any of these situations can weaken you emotionally and physically. Jesus offers rest for our weary souls when we come to Him.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you,
and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
(Mathew 11:28-30)

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Fill My Cup Lord

When I am tired and weary
And I have lost my zeal,
Fill my cup Lord;
For I long to do thy will.
When I get discouraged,
And my spirit needs to be renewed,
Fill my cup Lord
So my soul may be rescued.
When Satan tempts me
With any of his schemes,
Fill my cup Lord;
So I may see your light
For it so brightly ever beams.
When sickness and sorrow
Comes my way,
Fill my cup Lord
So, I may know you're in control
And they'll not forever stay.
Then, when I've resisted
Any temptations to do wrong,
You've filled my cup Lord!
For, I know you abide in me and I in you;
And You have made me strong!

Alma Norman
Copyright 2003

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A Prayer in Time of Weakness. My heart is so heavy I bowed to my Father. I praised His name and His power and love. I needed comfort and I imagined His loving arms around me. I became as a child dependent on a parent who understands and cares and knows my every need. The tears begin and they weaken me. I can no longer concentrate to pray. I can't think. I can't form words but I know my Lord is still there. He knows I'm having difficulty expressing myself, but it doesn't matter, as He knows my needs and desires. I just sit, head bowed, feeling comforted and safe.

(Written during physical weakness and a heavily burdened heart. -Pat)

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Life's Burdens

Often people say to me "You just won't understand."
"You're way too old." or "Way too young." or "You are Not a Man."

I don't know why some people feel they suffer unique pain.
As if they are the only ones who've lost or ceased to gain.

I don't know why they hide their pain and clutch it ever tighter.
It seems to me that all should know - a burden shared gets lighter.

Why some folks even begin to think the pain that's in their heart,
Is all their own, to keep and hoard, they set themselves apart.

They keep their eyes from meeting mine - lest I should see their hurt.
And even if we stop and speak their words are often curt.

The Bible says: 'Two' can withstand what overcomes just 'one'.
And also that a 'Cord of Three' can scarcely be undone.

Besides, I know the ways of hurt. My heart's been crushed before.
Friends have betrayed. I've lost at Love. Despair's knocked at my door.

And I Remember Thoughts gone wild, And crying late at night.
Not having strength to care at all - Much less the strength to fight.

But someone special came to me - And when my trials were told.
I realized that with their tears - They'd eased my heavy load.

And so, I learned that Pain - like Love - is bearable if shared.
I don't know what I would have done without that friend who cared.

My trials did not vanish fast - In fact the time was long.
But sharing gave me breathing space until I could grow strong

Enough to laugh again and even start to smile-
And though it seemed it could not help - It eased my pain awhile.

So, if you think that you can't share cause I won't understand.
At least just give me half a chance to lend a helping hand.

For I know that you're hurting and I know a place to start.
Perhaps if you could realize - Your pain burns in my heart.

I know I cannot make your trials and troubles go away.
But maybe I can help a bit to get you through today.

And maybe by tomorrow you wont need help anymore.
But if you should - Don't be ashamed - For that's what friends are for.

And after all is said and done - The trials ceased - You're whole.
Perhaps you'll know just what to do to help another soul -

Who's being crushed by hurt and pain - be it woman or a man.
And you won't have to hear them say "You just won't understand."

author unknown

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"Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."

          And the heart of the king of Syria was greatly troubled by this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, "Will you not show me which of us is for the king of Israel?"
          And one of his servants said, "None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom."
          And he said, "Go and see where he is, that I may send and get him." And it was told him, saying, "Surely, he is in Dothan." Therefore he sent horses, and chariots, and a great army there: and they came by night, and surrounded the city.
          And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" 
          So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, and said, "Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see."
          Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, "Strike this people, I pray, with blindness." And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.   
(2Kings 6:11-18)

  • The forces of God were there before the young man "opened his eyes."
  • The young man had to open his spiritual eyes to see God's great army.
  • If we will open our spiritual eyes we will "see" the power that is with us is far greater than our enemy of despair, hopelessness and fear.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.
Psalm 34:7

If God is with us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31

For He Himself has said,
"I will never leave you nor forsake you.
So we may boldly say:
"The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?"
Hebrews 13:5-6

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JOY
by Melody Biddle

“But let all those that take refuge in Thee rejoice, Let them ever shout for joy, because Thou defendest them: Let them also that love Thy name be joyful in Thee.” Psalm 5:11 

Joy.  The Hebrew word for joy is chedvah, meaning gladness.  At one time or another in our lives, we are glad.  As children, we may be glad about gifts we are given, special treats such as ice cream, parties, or vacations.  Joy and gladness is not reserved just for children though; adults too experience joy and gladness, both for the reasons children do, as well as professional and personal milestones, such as promotions, weddings, or the birth of a child. 

In the Bible, the word joy is used to describe the gladness that comes from God and His blessings upon us.  In our scripture text today, the Psalmist states that those who love and trust in God should shout for joy, or gladness, because God is their Defender.

The Hebrew words for Defender are cakak andsakak and define the act of hedging, fencing, or shutting in.  A hedge acts as a boundary or barrier around an area. Following these definitions, we understand that God hedges, or fences, us in so that He can care for us, protecting us from harm. 

Roughly one and a half years ago, several thousand people have lost their lives as a result of an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Asia.  Without a doubt, it was a horrific experience for those in the affected areas; families were torn apart, children left without parents, parents left without children, and some people lost their entire families. Imagine, if you can, what it is like to lose every family member in such a tragedy, or even to lose one loved one so quickly, with no warning.  Certainly the thought of joy and gladness is hard to reconcile with such an event. 

And yet, those who are in the Lord and rest upon Him for their strength, can experience joy. Yes, there is pain and sadness, and rightfully so.  Jesus wept just moments before raising Lazarus from the dead. There is sorrow and sadness in death for those left behind.  But just as there was joy when Lazarus came forth from the grave, there is a joy that we feel when a Christian leaves their earthly body and enters eternal rest.  Despite our sorrow and sadness at their death, a great joy is felt as well, a relief that their suffering in this world has ceased and they will never again feel the pain of this life. Truly, this recognition of eternal rest provides us with the means to carry on, as we await our time to leave this earth. 

The Psalmist also says that those who love God should be joyful, or full of gladness, “in” Him.  When we first obey the Gospel and put on Christ, there is inexplicable joy and gladness.  Our sins have been washed away and we are now reconciled to God through our obedience.  There is joy felt both by the convert and by their fellow believers.  This joy in being a child of God is, in a manner of speaking, a form of worship to God.  Our joy in being His child, in partaking in the blessing of repentance and forgiveness, is lifelong.  A precious gift has been extended and accepted, and there is joy both on earth and in Heaven when one gives their life to Jesus. 

In the Old Testament we can read about the joy brought about by obedience to God.  In Nehemiah 8:10, we read that the joy of Jehovah is strength.  Our gladness in God, our joy in His existence and in what He has done for us, strengthen us for the trials of this life.  In the book of Esther, after Queen Esther petitioned the King and saved the Jews, we read in chapter 8 verse sixteen “The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honor.” They held a feast to celebrate God’s deliverance.   

When we think of the Book of Job, the word joy is not the first word to come to mind.  We often hear the phrase “the patience of Job” to describe one who is incredibly patient.   Someone who is enduring great suffering is referred to as “Job-like”.  And while Job endured financial and personal loss, including the loss of all of his children, he speaks of joy. 

Of course, the Psalmist uses the word joy often in praising God through song.  In Psalm 16:11 and Psalm 21:6 the Psalmist states that there is joy in the presence of God.  Just to be near Him, to experience and acknowledge Him, one is made joyous and glad.  The Psalmist often asked God to help him to feel this joy. In Psalm 51:8 we read the Psalmist’s plea  “Make me to hear joy and gladness, That the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” and again in Psalm 51:12 we read  “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; And uphold me with a willing spirit.”  There are times when we are weary and tired, and it is difficult to feel anything but sadness and solitude.  However, if we will only ask, God will hear our prayer and acknowledge our need to feel His presence. 

Perhaps you know of people who are always happy, always smiling, and always cheerful.  They never seem to have a care in the world, always keep things in perspective, and inspire you to do the same.   There are still others who are always sad, frowning, and negative in every way.  Why is it that some choose to be happy and others seemingly choose to be unhappy? 

Proverbs 21:15 tells us “It is joy to the righteous to do justice; But it is a destruction to the workers of iniquity.”  Those who desire to please God and to live according to His word willingly do so.  Their priority in life, first and foremost, is to do the right thing.  There are others who do not desire to please God, who live only unto themselves.  Ironically, they are among the most miserable people you will ever meet.  While they may have every aspect of material wealth, their way of life and reason for living is void of righteous purpose.  There can be no true joy and gladness in such a life.

In Ecclesiastes 2:26 we read “For to the man that pleaseth him God giveth wisdom, and knowledge, and joy; but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that pleaseth God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.”  The writer clearly makes a distinction between the life of one who seeks to please God, and those who seek to please merely themselves.  Ecclesiastes 9:7 states that we should eat our bread with joy, and truly, we should be glad, as God has provided a means for us to feed ourselves and provides for our needs as only He can. 

In Isaiah 35:10 Isaiah prophesied that “the ransomed of Jehovah shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” In chapter 52:9 he instructed the Israelites “Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for Jehovah hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.”  Our worship, our praise of God for who He is and what He has done, should never cease for He is always worthy of praise. 

The prophet Habbakuk pledged “joy in the God of my salvation.” (Hab. 3:18) Despite adversity and trials, Habbakuk acknowledge God, and rested in God’s promises.  We too, should find joy in God, the God of our salvation.  He is our reason for living and our reason for existing is to praise Him and obey Him.   

In the New Testament, we read that when the shepherds saw the star leading them to the Christ child, “they rejoiced with exceeding great joy” (Mt. 2:10). Their joy, or gladness, resulted from their faith in God, and in His promise of a Messiah.  The Messiah had been brought down to earth, and they acknowledged God’s hand in this event.  In Matthew 28:8 we read that the women at the tomb felt great joy when they realized that Jesus had risen from the dead.  They were joyous to know He was not dead, but alive.     

In Luke 14 we read the parable of the prodigal son, who squandered his inheritance and returned home penniless.  His father rejoiced that his son had returned and gave a feast in his honor.  In Luke 15:7 Jesus stated that in the same manner, there is great joy in heaven over one sinner that repents.  When one obeys the Gospel, there is joy in Heaven, because a soul has been rescued from eternal suffering.  Verse eight relates the parable of a woman who lost a coin and then found it. She rejoiced and let everyone know of her joy.  Again, Jesus relates this to the joy felt in Heaven when one obeys the Gospel.  Just as we praise God and are glad for all He does for us, the very Heavens rejoice because of God.  In Galatians 5:22 we read that joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit, a result of our obedience to God, and His care for us.   

Throughout the Bible we read of those who loved and served God, who endured trials and sorrows and disappointments.  Despite their sufferings, they did not fail to praise God. God protects and guards our souls from eternal destruction, if only we will acknowledge and obey Him. Jesus himself endured shame and death on the cross, all because He knew the joy that lay ahead of Him (Heb 12:2). 

Are you joyous?  Do you feel gladness in God?  Are you thankful for all He has done to provide for you and to bring you to Him eternally?  Let us hear the words of Peter in 1 Peter 4:13 “but insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice with exceeding joy.”  When we suffer as Christians, it is difficult, and yet we can garner joy in our suffering, for God sees it, and He will reward us one day with eternal life, eternal rest, and eternal joy! 

If you are not a Christian, won’t you acknowledge God today?  Rejoice in the Lord, and praise Him for all He has done for you!!

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here's a poem from one of our sisters in Christ

God is Watching You!
by Ruth Miller

   
 

Infinite love and boundless care,

Qualities in humans, if found are rare.

But yet in the great sky above the deep blue,

These there await us . . . for me and for you. 

God is to humans an infinite being,

We know He is there even though we can’t see Him.

We feel his presence in all situations,

And pray that He will graciously favor all nations. 

We pray for his guidance in all that we do,

Day in and day out, whether it be old or be new.

We beg for His presence when sorrows appear,

We are fine to know just that He is near. 

We seek his aid in times of disarray,

We want his comfort especially during these days.

When illness bears down on us in the dark of night,

We want Him right there to help in our strife. 

We ask Him for help with the tiniest of concerns,

We want Him in our life and for this, we yearn.

We also want Him to share in our joy,

Especially if in the birth of a girl or a boy. 

We want Him to send in the sunshine and rain,

We need it for all of our harvests of grain.

We want Him to help us in times of sore trials,

For help with His hand, there is no denial. 

We ask so much of Him, yet give little in return,

He just asks we trust him and to his ways turn.

We have been so blessed in this land of the free,

But it all comes from the blessings of our God, the Great He. 

We should count our blessings and write them side by side,

We would be surprised to see what He so bountifully provides.

We should remember His continual grace,

And try to keep our lives in the right place. 

We should read His great holy book of laws,

And don’t let our life be like a swing or seesaw.

We can look about and know He is there,

You can see his presence abounding everywhere. 

The stars the moon and the bright noonday sun,

How could we ever the great He to shun.

The thunder and the lightening bolts oftentimes flare,

He is letting us know he controls but he cares. 

The beauties of the land, He made them all,

For us to see and view with great awe.

The mountains and the canyons that hide in lambent light,

He made them to be such a beautiful sight. 

 

He gave us the rainbows and the early sunrise,

He is painting his artwork all through the skies.

The oceans, the rivers, the streams and the seas,

He put them there just for everyone to see. 

He has blessed each one of us with so much of life,

We should be so thankful and pray every night.

We should remember to thank Him all through the day,

We should also try to walk in His way. 

And through all of this life,

God is watching us right.   

God is watching us as we go through each day,

He wants us to study His word every way. 

God is watching us as we instruct others,

And He keeps an eye on how we care for our brother. 

God is watching us as we handle our life,

And He is there with us when we have undue strife. 

God is watching as we learn mature love,

And He wants this to be as pure as a His dove. 

God is watching when we play and have fun,

And He wants us to learn how from Satan to run. 

God is watching when we study His word,

And loves that we want to study about the Lord. 

God is watching when we visit our friends,

He wants us to encourage and help others mend. 

God is watching when we are in sorrow,

He gives us the strength to look forward to tomorrow. 

God is watching when we set an example,

He knows there are many religions our people “sample”. 

God is watching when we are asleep,

He allows our bodies to relax from head to the feet. 

God is watching when we are in pain,

He knows about pain, as for us He was slain. 

God is watching when you toil without hope,

He knows for the Word how hard you have groped. 

God is watching when our young go to war,

He knows that with losses comes a heart that’s so sore. 

God is watching when the babe in your arm dies,

And hopes you will know it’s with Him in the sky. 

God is watching you in the winter of your life,

He understands a hard life and your strife. 

God is watching when you pray your last prayer,

He right there with you because He so cares. 

God is watching when your last breath is done,

He is waiting to take you to live with His son. 



Written 8/27/07
Thoughts of the Mind  ©2007

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A man was making fun of one of his friends who was a sincere Christian. He stated: "You Christians think you are better than anyone else." To which the Christian replied, "Not better, but better off."

How true. To awaken every morning that we have a Savior who has promised to be with us always even to the end of the world (Matthew 28:20), and to know every evening when we invite sweet sleep to erase the scars of another day, that our Savior, through His suffering and death and resurrection, has restored us to being true children of God. This is indeed a blessing for which there is no measurement, but a reason for giving the Lord continual thanks.  --W. Went

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Don't allow Satan to confuse you and create doubt in your heart concerning God's love for you. "He [the devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44)

On the other hand: "God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel,  [unchangeableness of His purpose] confirmed [guaranteed] it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast."  (Hebrews 6:17-19)

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The Bend in the Road
Helen Steiner Rice

Sometimes we come to life's crossroads
And we view what we think is the end.
But God has a much wider vision
And he knows that it's only a bend-

The road will go on and get smoother
And after we've stopped for a rest,
The path that lies hidden beyond us
Is often the path that is best.

So rest and relax and grow stronger,
Let go and let God share your load
And have faith in a brighter tomorrow-
You've just come to a bend in the road

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The Power of Prayer

  • "Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matt. 26:41
  • Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. James 5:13
  • Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16
  • Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, and he will sustain thee: He will never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22
  • The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him. Nahum 1:7

I don't know about you, but these are good questions for me! pg

Then Why Don't We Pray?

The highest privilege ever afforded to man is the power of prayer...
          ...then why don't we pray?
The right to talk to the highest potentate in all the universe...
          ...then why don't we pray?
The most powerful force accessible to man is the potential of prayer...
          ...then why don't we pray?
The greatest longing in the heart of God is to talk to His children...
          ...then why don't we pray?
Nothing is impossible to those who pray...
          ...then why don't we pray?
No man ever fainted or faltered who gave himself to prayer...
          ...then why don't we pray?
Every sin is forgiven, every stain is washed clean, all guilt diminished to the man who prays...
          ...then why don't we pray?
Hell moves farther away, Satan flees from the man who prays...
          ...then why don't we pray?
Everyone can pray: The young, the old, the rich, the poor, the strong, the weak, the child, the aged, the prisoner, in any nation, in any language, all can pray...
          ...then why don't we pray?

author unknown

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Science and the Power of Prayer
by Wayne Jackson

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Writing And Feeling My Best

When I feel discouraged
And life puts me to the test
Just give me paper and pen
Writing makes me feel my best!

Getting lost in my writing
I lose all track of time
I wish I had a nickel
For each lyric and rhyme.

Chasing the blues away
Isn't such a bad chore
As I write my thoughts down
Rhymes keep coming, more and more.

I hope that I'll always
Love and desire to write
For it brings me closer to God
Both day and night.

Author:
Alma Norman
copyrighted 2004

1 Pet. 2:2 "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby."

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My Sister, My Friend
By Cindy Granke


     My sister, Shirley was nine years old when I was born, in 1946. She held me and rocked me for hours until I was too big to fit in her lap anymore. She read to me often, and I remember the Bible stories, as well as childhood stories like big-sis_baby-sis_1946.JPGCinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, and other fairy tales. When I learned to walk, she held my hand and walked me all over our large yard, and when I was old enough she taught me how to play hop-scotch in the dirt road beside our house. She was part momma, sister, and teacher to me.

     With that relationship in mind, you will be able to appreciate that on my first day in kindergarten I cried so much, and for so long that the teacher sent for Sis to come take me back with her to her class for that day. By the time I was in first or second grade, I knew for a certainty that I needed to protect her. From what? From the boys on the school bus who teased her. So what if she was smiling! They were picking on my big sister and I would tell them, "You leave my sister alone!" I never understood why Sis kept smiling, the boys laughed at me, and just teased her even more. This is sometimes known as that embarrassing pesky little sister stage.

     We shared a small bedroom, in a wood frame house, in between an orange grove and a swamp, in Ocoee, Florida. We slept in a double bed, and shared a small clothes closet until Sis married and left home. We talked in the dark, and snuggled up to keep warm on cold nights. Yes, Florida does occasionally have cold nights, and our only heat was a small gas heater in the living room. She knew how old I was when I finally stopped sucking my thumb, and wetting the bed. On those embarrassing nights when I didn't wake up in time to go use the chamber pot, Sis didn't scold or fuss at me. She quietly got up, changed the sheets, and me and sometimes herself, as well.

     Needless to say, Shirley has remained a combination momma, sister, friend, and more to me as we both grew up. And the bond of love and friendship has only deepened as the years have passed. We still have fun, laugh together, cry together, enjoy yard sales, long walks, or just sitting together on the screened-in porch, reading a book or watching birds and squirrels. Both of us have shared the loss of children. Sis was the caregiver for both of our parents in their last years, as well as caregiver for her own husband. She and our parents remained in Florida, while my family lived in South Carolina. That made it possible for me to make the drive to Orlando in seven hours when I was needed. But Sis took on most of the responsibility for their physical care, along with the emotional strain involved in caregiving. Daddy had Alzheimer's Disease, which brings it's own emotional tugs on the hearts of those who love it's victims. Mom developed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and needed oxygen all the time. And Shirley's husband was diabetic and on dialysis during his last years. Sis managed to keep all the balls rolling and still had a smile for everyone she met during that time. Sure, she grew weary and would sometimes weep in her sadness and frustrations. She and I kept the telephone wires burning. And I wore ruts into I-95 between Sumter and Orlando.

     If you've ever talked to anyone who knows Shirley Book, you've heard words like quiet, kind, tender-hearted, a faithful Christian, a gentle lady, etc. She does get angry and experiences frustrations like all of us. But if she is upset with you, she will talk to you and tell you. She has suffered from diabetes and it's complications for many years, but she always has encouraging words for everyone she meets.

     Let me just say that I'm proud of my sister and I love her dearly. I am certain that many of you who are reading this have sisters who are very dear to you, also.

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..A soothing touch in the dead of night

I wrote this poem in 1984, and my graduating nursing class chose it as our class poem. It was in all the brochures that were handed out at the graduation, and I was asked to read it then, too. That didn't go so well, as it made me cry and then many of the grads cried, too! Then all the Mom's started...! Suffice it to say that a good cry was had by all! In 1988, only 4 years later, I became 100% disabled, at age 35 and with an 11 year old to provide for. It was very difficult, and I cried a lot along the way from there to here. The kindness of many people helped me many different times. One act of kindness can be all that one person needs to make a whole lot of difference. Please practice daily! And please receive it when it is offered to you! Blessings! Kathy

"Kindness Is..."

A Nurse's Point of View by Kathleen A. McKeon.

When pain and fear take fanciful flight.
..An arm to hold onto when steps start to falter,
A prayer whispered quickly when breathing is altered.
..Speech without words, tears without pain,
Little to lose, the world to gain.
..Listening carefully to tales of woe,
Feeling the pain, letting it go.
..A moment of time, a smile so bright,
Laughing and caring, a touch so light.
..Raindrops and sunshine and morning dew,
A moment of love given to you.

Copyright 1984

Kindness is a language the blind can see,
the deaf can hear and the mute can speak.

OUR HOPE  SEPTEMBER 2006


The Lamp of Love
by Kathleen A. McKeon

The wind blew,
Cold and raw.
It forced the rain
Into my heart.
The ice it formed
Stifled my soul.
The lamp of love is shattered.
The flame dies hard.
Its faint light
Quivers for air.
The darkness threatens
To engulf me.


©Kathy McKeon

I wrote this when I realized I would have to give up nursing; the lamp of love is actually the lamp of knowledge nurses receive at graduation.

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My Soul Thirsts

Ps. 42:2 "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?"


I want very much to encourage everyone to study God's word and experience something very wonderful and powerful in their life. Below is my story how this all began to happen while I wasn't expecting it. For, although I was in my mid fifties and had been a Christian since the age of twelve, my faith reached a higher plain.

After joining a small Christian group online a few years ago, the owner encouraged me to write a short daily devotional taking a verse or two from the book of Psalms or Proverbs. The more I read the scriptures, the more I wanted to read them, allowing God's words to speak to my heart. I'll have to admit that although I've been a Christian for more than forty years, I'd never put this much thought and meditation into studying the bible before.

2 Pet. 3:18 "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."


At first, my devotionals consisted of only a few sentences. Shortly thereafter, writing devotionals became easier and my writings improved. I began to look forward daily to reading the scriptures, hungering and thirsting for God's word. Reading God's word and composing a devotional or a poem became my favorite thing to do daily.

2 Pet. 1:5 "...add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge..."

Rom. 10:17 "So then faith comething by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."


Then later while singing spiritual songs at church, these words became more alive bringing me closer to God. Just as God had promised ... my faith was being increased through his word. After writing much for the last few years, I've saved a large number of devotionals and poems. I hope to someday have a book published. And as many of you already know, I have a group online for others who desire to be encouraged and inspired in their Christian daily walk.

2 Tim. 2:15 "Study to show thyself approved unto the Lord. A workman needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God."


New babes in Christ, those who are new converts are only able to receive the "milk of word." God desires that all Christians not remain as new babes; but rather, mature in their faith through knowledge of his word enabling them to receive the "strong meat" of his word. Heb. 5:12-14

Rom. 1:16 "For I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth..."

The word of God has the power to save all that will believe it and obey it. It teaches and strengthens us in our daily godly walk as a Christians.

Ps. 119:2 "Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart."

It is my sincere prayer that each Christian will desire to grow closer to God each day through studying and meditating on his word. I hope I have encouraged you in some small way. I give God the glory in all that I strive to do in his service.

In Him,
Alma Norman

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