Easter - 2018

Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy New Year! - Rest, Reflect, Renewal

Christmas is over. (Deep breath.) Another season of rejoicing in the birth of the Savior has come and gone. We are packing away our decorations, unstringing lights and taking Christmas music off our playlists, while the kids are in the other room playing with new toys. We are all ready for a bit of rest from the celebrations, cooking, traveling and the joyful busyness of the holiday. The New Year is upon us - an amazing opportunity to rest, reflect and pray for renewal for the year ahead.

Rest - “Come to me, all those who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28 (NIV)  As strange as it sounds in a culture that pushes activity, the Lord calls us to rest. After celebrating Jesus’ birth in such glorious (but likely tiring) fashion, what blessing it is to simply sit, take a breath and rest. Rest in who He is, what He is doing and what He has done for us this year. How? He may call us to rest in Him in so many ways, by switching off devices, perhaps opening our Bible or journal in the peace of the morning or just simply sitting in quiet prayer are all great ways to start.

Reflect - “I will meditate on your wonderful works.” (Psalms 145:5b)   A new year is an opportune time to reflect on how the Lord has worked in and around us. Take note of what He has done with a sense of gratitude. Pray with an honest and open heart about any ongoing difficulties, and talk with God as you remember moments that have changed you or have shown you more of Jesus. And for those who blessed you this year, take an opportunity to send a thank you card or a note or gift of encouragement to thank them.

Renew - Isaiah 40:31 says, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”  The new year is dawning, and maybe it’s time for a new, or renewed, you. As we pray for and seek renewal, we are called to place our hope in the Lord. Reminding ourselves of where our hope lies, praying without ceasing, fixing our thoughts on things above and not on earthly troubles - these are among the many ways we can seek the kind of renewal that only comes from Christ.
Let's trek into 2016 with a fervor and hope for what the new year holds! Let's seek and pray for rest, reflection and renewal as we - through grace and faith - strive to walk according to His will.

You know I love ya, Don

More on this devotion:

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas ... Experience His Presence

Christmas Peace is opening your heart, your mind, and your strength to Experiencing His Presence in your life. This is not easy in a busy world … it is stopping, listening, and waiting. It is taking a deep breath and breathing in His Spirit. It is to look to God (for God is With Us!) and say … “I love you.”

On Christmas Day some years ago, a little boy was seen going in and out of his church several times. The boy would walk up to the nativity scene and stare and then walk back out. After several times, the boy was asked, “What gift did you ask of the Baby Jesus?” he replied, “I didn’t ask for anything. I was just in there loving Him for a little while.”      

The baby is born to you and to me. Merry Christmas. Don't forget to love on Jesus today and receive His PEACE!

You know I love ya, Don 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Discovering Christmas Peace in serving others!

“ ’I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.” is Luke 1:38.
Serving in Love Graphic
The astronomer measures time by light-years, the geologist by vast cycles, the historian by epics and centuries, the industrialist by the fiscal year, the laborer by the weekly paychecks, the child by the birthday party.

But the common measure of time begins with the awkward motions of rising in the morning and putting one foot in front of the other. Mary’s obedience teaches us the integrity of life is measured in our response to God and his love. As God’s word is fulfilled in our lives, he measures time in terms of responsible living, even when the circumstances challenge us.  Christmas peace is serving others in love … Christmas peace is that our actions speak louder than our words. Are you the Lord’s servant?

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Shalom ... more than just peace.

GOD WITH US!!! Christmas Peace is not to be forgotten or paid off by the celebrations of lights, ribbons, and gifts. The text today reminds us to not forget the main PURPOSE of  Christmas.
The Angel said, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Christmas Peace is Jesus’ salvation. Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony. PEACE is the absence of agitation or discord. Many search for fulfillment, happiness and contentment in material possessions, money, sex, entertainment, etc. But those things do nothing to fill "that hole in our soul" that only GOD can fill!
This is why in Luke is clear to declare the angels' declaration;  (2:14) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” God rests his favor on those whom receive the Baby Jesus. 
My prayer is that you have His Shalom this Christmas. You know I love ya, Don

Monday, November 16, 2015

Busy Interstate ... busy life!

Proverbs 14:12 teaches, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

I am reminded of the funny story about a man that was driving along on the interstate when his cell phone rings and he recognizes it is wife. He answers the phone to hear her frantically saying in the phone, “Honey, be careful, I just saw on the news that a car is travelling the wrong direction on the interstate!”

The man responds, “Are you kidding? There isn’t just one car going the wrong way, there are hundreds of cars going the wrong way!”

John recorded in John 14:6, “Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus has given us a clear path to God by following Jesus and allowing him to bring transformation to our lives. My Friends, get on the path with Jesus and live life to the fullest.

You know I love ya, Don

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, & Mockingjay

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

The Hunger Games trilogy and movie franchise has made millions over the last 5-6 years. The franchise spins an apocalyptic tale on poverty, totalitarian government, and oppression. People can relate to these issues because everyone is under the curse of sin and oppressed by the results and consequences of sin. Life is a true game of hungering for abundance in life and in healing from the brokenness of rejecting God.

Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection, establishes a path out of darkness. It is our faith and trust of Jesus which brings true victory. Every follower of Jesus is a true victor. Jesus blesses those who accept the challenge to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Do not be deceived by the enemy and try to fulfill your hunger with worldly desires. The only way to fill the hunger and thirst is to seek the face of Jesus in the abundance of life he offers.

You know I love ya and may the love of Jesus be ever in your favor. Don

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Scriptures that describe heaven.

Matthew 18:10 See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

Revelation 5:9-13 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 22:1-5  Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Don't let the fog roll in ...

It was June 18, 1815, the Battle of Waterloo. The French under the command of Napoleon were fighting the Allies (British, Dutch, and Germans) under the command of Wellington. The people of England depended on a system of semaphore signals to find out how the battle was going. One of these signal stations was on the tower of Winchester Cathedral. Late in the day it flashed the signal: "W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N---D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D- -." Just at that moment one of those sudden English fog clouds made it impossible to read the message. The news of defeat quickly spread throughout the city. The whole countryside was sad and gloomy when they heard the news that their country had lost the war.

Because of the fog, people went around without hope and ignorance. The message behind the fog stated; “"W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N---D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D--- N-A-P-O-L-E-O-N-!."

I want to talk to you today about my number one enemy! I truly hate Satan and look forward to the great day of destruction for him and his minions. He has caused such heartache in my life and lives of others, that I despise him.
Satan moves like the fog. He uses our sin as cover for truth. When we respond to the clouded fog and deception without thinking things through, he succeeds in dividing our house. 

Jesus does not tolerate Satan, his minions, or the deception … so I ask you today, “why do we?”

You know I love ya, Don

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Know Your Enemy - Satan!

Every good soldier knows the enemy! Satan is a real, he is liar, and he will tie you up in your possessions. 

Some things the bible reveals about the enemy:

The truth of our enemy …
·      Satan was created as a holy angel. Isaiah 14:12.
·      Satan’s pre-fall name was Lucifer. Ezekiel 28:12-14
·      He became arrogant in his beauty and status and decided he wanted to sit on a throne above that of God (Isaiah 14:13-14; Ezekiel 28:15; 1 Timothy 3:6).
·      Satan’s pride led to his fall. Notice the many “I will” statements in Isaiah 14:12-15.
·      Satan became the ruler & prince of the power of the air (John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2).
·      He is an accuser (Revelation 12:10).
·      He is a tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5).
·      He is a deceiver (Genesis 3; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 20:3). His very name means “adversary” or “one who opposes.” Another of his titles, the devil, means “slanderer.”
·      Even though he was cast out of heaven, he still seeks to elevate his throne above God. He counterfeits all that God does. He encourages opposition to God's kingdom. Satan is the ultimate source behind every false cult and world religion. Satan will do anything and everything in his power to oppose God and those who follow God.

However, Satan’s destiny is sealed—an eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).

Praying for you and your strength against the enemy. You know I love ya, Don

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Learning to see with big boy eyes!

Mark 6:5-6 – “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.”

We shouldn't be too hard on Jesus' home town. They are a great deal like us.  Joseph was dead and Jesus, being the eldest male child, was expected to take on the role of the head of the household and breadwinner for the family. These people, relatives some, maybe felt that Jesus had shirked his family duties by leaving the family to fend for themselves. He had stepped away from his “role”, what he was expected to do according to the customs of society. And his “extended family” wasn’t too happy to see him striding back into town as a “Rabbi”. That’s not his “role”.

How you perceive it… defines it. How do you perceive Jesus?

Can you imagine it? God in the flesh. Standing right there in front of them. And they’re going, “Ahh! It’s just that carpenter. Mary’s kid. He’s no prophet!” Rejected! “And he was amazed at their unbelief.” Jesus knew who he was. Why couldn’t they see it? We need to remember the image of Jesus that people had in their minds. He had left Nazareth alone, the carpenter, and returned with 12 guys, a prophet. 

I live in Howard, PA. A small community in the middle of the mountains, surrounded by a beautiful lake. Now Nazareth is a town probably not a whole lot bigger than Howard. Probably, like Howard, many of the people were related. And possibly upset because Jesus left his family when they needed him.

We’re the same today as those people were back then. We watch the children of our church and town grow up and we’re amazed at what they become and we are skeptical when they change. We sometimes refuse to believe how they turn out. And, in doing so, refuse to allow them to minister to us.

Again, How do you receive Jesus? All too often we receive Jesus as the impression and perception someone else forced on us. I want to receive Jesus as an adult the thrives in the abundance of His grace, mercy, and healing. You see, when we realize that our impression, our perception, and our reception of Jesus defines our relationship with Jesus, we learned that the only way to receive Jesus is through faith in His ability to be the Son of God in our lives.

You know I love ya, Don 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Great illustration on perspective!

Impression (Your filter) leads to Perception (How you define it) which lead to reception (how you act on it)... What is your action these days?

To Scale: The Solar System from Wylie Overstreet on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

You possess more than you can even imagine!

Jesus continues to tell the messengers to tell John, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”

The best weapon against the dark times is knowing that it will not last.

During World War II, the Germans forced many twelve-and thirteen-year-old boys into the Junior Gestapo. These boys were treated very harshly and given inhumane jobs to perform. When the war ended, most had lost track of their families and wandered without food or shelter.

As part of an aid program to post-war Germany, many of these youths were placed in tent cities. Where doctors and psychologists worked with the boys in an attempt to restore their mental and physical health. They found that many of the boys would awaken in the middle of the night, screaming in terror. One doctor had an idea for handling that fear. After feeding the boys a large meal, he put them to bed with a piece of bread in their hands, which they were told to save until morning. The boys then slept soundly because, after so many years of hunger, they finally had the assurance of food for the next day.

Do you have Jesus as your Savior? If you do…

You hold the Bread of Life in your hands and therefore have the assurance that you will not go out of this life in terror and fear.

You have the power to look at the dark times and know there is hope and there is a future greater than we can comprehend.

You have the ability to shine light in the darkness and illuminate the stage of your life.

You have the presence of God. Don't miss it. You know I love ya, Don

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Jesus brings us hope to our Dark Time!

In Luke 7, John the Baptist is tired and weary while stuck in jail so he seeks Jesus' presence. In verse 22 Jesus says, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard.”

Jesus is our hope. When all seems lost, when the situation could not be worse–Jesus is our hope. The presence of God brings light to the dark times. Consider the perspective of the caterpillar. He has lived a lowly life–just crawling along, trying to make it from one point to the next. Suddenly he feels anxious. If something does not change soon, he will burst! So, he begins to work frantically, not really understanding what he is doing.

Before he knows what has happened, he finds himself closed in–imprisoned. He struggles frantically, wanting nothing but to be free. He pushes against the walls, begging God to let him out. Then, when all seems lost, he breaks free and finds he has wings, and can now fly. Note that should the caterpillar be freed from his cocoon too soon–before he has worked out the fluids of metamorphosis–then he will forever be a bloated butterfly, unable to fly.

Sometimes the dark times that seem to plague us are those that God is using to form us into men and women of greatness, well equipped to serve and honor the kingdom of God. This is not a call to complacency, however. While we are always content in Jesus, we are called to struggle against our flesh, and against the evil that surrounds us and would devour us. We continue in the battle, knowing our hope lies in Jesus!

Jesus brings light to our dark times by giving us hope! Dark times come to all of us. His presence carries us through it. You know I love ya, Don

Sunday, August 30, 2015

What do you turn into when the heat is on?

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her – her husband had cheated on her and she was devastated. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out into a mug. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her grandmother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The grandmother then asked the granddaughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the grandmother asked the granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened, became weak and compromised. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened and tough. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had not changed, but changed the water.

When we are in God’s presence… God changes the circumstances. “Which are you?”  “When troubles and hard times knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Ask yourself: Which am I?  

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.

For the follower of Jesus, His presence is in our lives. We are like the bean, when things are at there worst, Jesus gets better and changes the situation. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, we go to His presence and He is with us, He is along for the ride, and He brings purpose to the struggle.

You know I love ya, Don

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A principle for survival - integrity!!!

            “A storeowner interviewed a young man for a job. He asked, "If I hire you to work in my store, will you be honest and truthful?" The young man answered, "I will be honest and truthful whether you hire me or not."

Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

Daniel...was a man of integrity. Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. Daniel was not just known as a man of integrity, he lived his life on unshakable ground because he was a man of integrity. He was honest and demonstrated strong moral principles...he lived those principles and he made them his habit… he walked with integrity.

Is integrity a habit in your daily life?
 You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Building a restance to temptation and sin!

Sabbath (renewal and rest builds resistance) is a day in which all other days have no claim. It is both time on a calendar and an attitude of the heart. Sabbath is for rest, but it is also an opportunity to point our restlessness heavenward (Mark Buchanan). It is a time when God makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us beside still waters. It is a time to build of strength so that you can flee from temptation when it comes. It is a time when God works the most in your life.

James 4:7 states: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Our attitude toward the Sabbath reflects our attitude toward God. How we regard the Lord’s Day also raises a signal to our community that above our work, hobbies, interests and pursuits, there is God, Who has supremacy, first claim on our lives. How we treat this day shows whether we take God and His purpose seriously.

“People who keep Sabbath live all seven days differently” (Brueggemann). The Sabbath is a transformative tradition, an antidote to anxiety. We are restless till we find our rest in God.

You know I love ya, Don

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Steps to avoiding temptation : Renewal and Rest

The Sabbath Renewal is both a commandment and a gift. It is a day of freedom and release from labor. It is described by Jews as a visiting queen to be greeted with festivity and on going Shabbat, “joy of Sabbath.” At the arrival of the Sabbath, the home is transformed into sacred space, and the meal becomes “a glimpse of human life as it should be, in the design of God” (Harvey Cox).

Rabbi Abraham Heschel describes the Sabbath observance as a cathedral, constructed not of brick and mortar, but of time. The Sabbath helps us escape the tyranny of time. Heschel says that “Judaism tries to foster the vision of life as a pilgrimage to the seventh day; the longing for the renewal all the days of the week,” and a taste of the world to come… “Six days we wrestle with the world; on the Lord’s Day we care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul.”

A believer and follower of Jesus defy disobedience by observing a day of renewal.

St. Augustine stated; “Our hearts are restless, until we find rest in Jesus.” The Sabbath Rest sanctifies time through rest and inaction, a “sacred stasis.” We don’t “keep” the Sabbath; the Sabbath keeps us. Work is a gift from God, but work is not our God. The Sabbath is a day to recover from the stresses of the week. However, weekend leisure without the worship of God is not the plan! We worship because we need it, God deserves it, and Scripture commands it.

By observing Sabbath, we are no longer slaves to the “tyranny of the urgent.” We set aside our anxieties and busyness, our pursuit of more, and we recognize that our refuge is God alone. We are not alone, or on our own.

There’s a danger: We can externally observe a day of rest while remaining restless. I know of people who sit in church taking notes, not on the sermon, but for tasks they need to accomplish. They’re unable to disengage from the work-week, and they’re watching the clock; they can’t wait till Monday to fret over their work. Such an inauthentic Sabbath provides no rest. All the while 
God says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Even thinking about work should be avoided. We need to rest from the very thought of labor, and relax without guilt.

A believer and follower of Jesus defies disobedience by observing a day of renewal and by resting. You Know I love ya, Don