Worry is a Waste of Time

It was an extremely stressful time, at my husband’s place of employment, a few weeks ago. Employees were becoming unemployed left and right. Two thirds of the employees were losing their jobs. Everyone was wondering if they were included in that fraction. Worry was definitly in the air.

Their mindset determined their behavior as they waited to discover the fate of their employment status. Some were physically ill; throwing up. Some were angry. Some were surprised and others were not so surprised. Some were hopeful while others were nervous. There was undeniably a smorgasbord of feelings and emotions on display that day.

My husband had a different attitude concerning the situation. He cleaned his office thinking if he was losing his job he didn’t want to leave it dirty for the next person. Then he sat down at his desk and proceeded to get plenty of work done. Everyone else was preoccupied so he had more time for completing tasks.

Most other employees were busy roaming around discussing what might happen to them. They couldn’t understand how my husband could sit at his desk and work while being surrounded by chaos and uncertainty. His attitude was, “If I lose my job, I lose my job. That is something that is out of my control. And it doesn’t change the fact that work has to be done today.”

Was worrying about the situation going to help the employees keep their jobs? Was making themselves so sick with worry, that they were physically ill, going to secure their positions? Was walking around talking about possible scenarios going to insure their employment?

No! All of those things were a waste of precious time and energy. None of those actions were going to change the decisions that had already been made before members from corporate had arrived that day. Their employment status had already been decided.

Matthew 6:25,27,32,34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?Your heavenly Father knows that you need these things. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

When we see man as our provider instead of God as our provider, worry can and will easily set in. The world’s perspective is opposite from God’s perspective.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

The only way to change your way of thinking, to coincide with God’s way of thinking, is by reading, listening and studying God’s word (the bible) and by praying; asking God to give you understanding of His word and asking Him to help you see things from His perspective.

Faith is the opposite of fear. Fear results in worry. Faith results in peace and joy.

Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Jesus.

When we know the creator and sustainer of heaven and earth; we don’t have to worry. Things don’t always turn out the way we think they should but they are no surprise to God. God has a plan and a purpose for all that He allows. He uses even the things that we perceive to be negative for our good and His glory. Therefore, worry is useless and pointless.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Instead of making ourselves sick with worry, lets make better use of our precious time, spending it in prayer and trusting our all powerful, all knowing Heavenly Father. The creator and sustainer of all, knows what’s best for us. We just need to trust Him.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

Camp Fear or Camp Faith

Last week I received a photo from my son who is in the military. He had taken a photo of a windshield with multiple cracks in it. The cracked windshield belongs to the C-130 that my son was traveling in from Nashville to MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. The damage took place during the flight. Nothing hit the windshield; it simply broke.

I’m no expert on broken windshields mid-flight but I know enough to understand that it is potentially dangerous. I once read about a co-pilot who was nearly sucked from the cockpit when the plane’s windshield suddenly shattered (cbsnews.com).

I’m a follower of Christ who is also a mom. I have normal mom reactions to things that involve my children. I am human after all. In this situation, the first reaction that wanted to dominate my mind and emotions was fear.

I had a decision to make at that very moment. Was I going to pitch my tent at Camp Fear or at Camp Faith?

I’ve been to the miserable Camp Fear many times. It’s very easy to find. I’m pretty sure everyone has been to it at least once. It’s an extremely popular hangout. There is actually one around every turn. Unfortunately the longer you stay there the harder it is to leave. It’s an immensely comfortable place.

There is never a shortage of fellow likeminded campers who discourage you from leaving so you can stay to keep them company. You can sign up for daily activities which include doubt, anxiety, pessimism and gloom. At Camp Fear the tears flow like whine and there are many pity parties to attend.

The other choice of camps, that were available to me that day, is Camp Faith. I’ve been frequenting this camp more often than Camp Fear lately. It’s not as easy to find as the alternative choice but it can be found if you ask the right people. You’ll know who they are when you see them. They are the ones with the smiles on their faces. There is also a map (the Bible) that gives directions leading straight to Camp Faith.

I much prefer this camp over the other option. Once there you never want to leave. The other attendants of this camp are always so encouraging. They are all very cheerful and friendly. This camp also offers daily activities including: trust, peace, joy, and optimism. There aren’t as many people at this camp as Camp Fear. However, this camp is much more enjoyable. There is plenty of laughter and tranquility to be experienced. And victory celebrations are a frequent occurrence.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 42:5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Mark 11:22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. Mark 4:40 Jesus said to His disciples,”Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

1 John 5:4 For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

How do you react to unsettling situations that could have potentially resulted in disaster? Do you choose to allow fear to overtake you and your thoughts taking you to a place of would’ve could’ve should’ve? Or do you choose to trust God and thank Him for the positive outcome?

Fear is a result of a lack of trust in God. You can’t trust someone you don’t know. To get to know God you have to spend time with Him. You have to talk to Him (pray), read about Him and study Him. When I say read and study about God I mean read and study His word; the Bible. Talk to Him, have conversations with Him, study His behaviors and mannerisms; learn His character.

Once you know God and His character you will trust Him more and fear will disappear. Once you come to know that He is in control of all things you will see fear as pointless. Once you come to know how much God loves you and cares for you your fears will dissipate. Once you experience Camp Faith you will never go back to Camp Fear. Switch camps today! You’ll never regret it!

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

What do you do with your Pain?

What do you do with your pain? What do you do when someone hurts you? How do you react when, out of nowhere, someone becomes Mr. Hyde? What do you say when someone makes you feel insignificant…again? It’s hard isn’t it? Especially when it comes from someone close to you.

Just as when incurring a physical injury, our first instinct is to recoil from what is causing us pain. No one keeps their hand in the fire once they have been burned. Its normal to draw back from pain. But once we recover from the shock, realize what has happened and access the damage, then what?

Should we confront the person who has hurt us? Should we retaliate? Would telling others about it help? Should we ostracize them? What should we do with our pain?

If it is possible to approach the person to discuss the situation as two mature individuals, then of course we should try to resolve the issue. But what if we can’t go to the person that has hurt us and confront them? What if they are unreasonable? What if we do approach them but they only blame us for the situation or deny responsibility and never apologize; causing more pain? What then?

Initially we have a couple of choices to make: we could either lash out in anger, making things worse, or remain calm, letting the incident go, until we have had time to think things through. Ecclesiastes 7:9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

When we don’t know what to do we should always go to God in prayer to ask for help and go to His word for guidance. Just like a good father, God always knows what’s best.

Unfortunately, God seldom gives us a convenient or comfortable way out of this sort of dilemma. He usually asks us to do something that is completely contrary to normal human behavior. Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”

In these painful situations our human nature wants to retaliate, speak negatively about the person to others, shun them and refuse to forgive them. But that’s not how God says we should handle these types of situations.

Instead of retaliating against a person, Jesus instructs us to love them, do good to them and pray for them. Luke 6:32-33, 35 Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? But love your enemies, do good to them.” Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Instead of telling others about a person’s hurtful ways, tarnishing their reputation, God’s word tells us to show love towards them by remaining quiet about what they’ve done. Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. 1Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Instead of shunning a person who mistreats us, God tells us to make peace with them and treat them well. Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Luke 6:31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Instead of refusing to forgive those who inflict pain, God tells us to…you guessed it; forgive them. Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Mark 11:25 “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

These are all very difficult tasks. When I am faced with a challenging assignment, I often remind myself that it may be tough but it’s not impossible. With God all things are possible [Matthew 19:26]! Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. Through the power of God’s Spirit we can accomplish God’s will.

What if we remain quiet about the person’s hurtful deeds or words, pray for them, do good to them, forgive them and make peace with them but we still have a broken heart? What if after all of that we are still hurting? What then?

We continue doing what God has told us to do in His word and trust Him to heal our broken hearts. We do our part and God always does His part. Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

God’s instructions may be difficult but they do not go without reward. The rewards of obedience to God and His word are blessing and spiritual growth. Psalm 128:1 blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to Him. Romans 5:3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

When I find it grueling to follow God’s instructions on what to do when someone hurts me, I remember what Jesus did and said while He was being mistreated in the hours before He was put to death. First He washed Judas’ feet knowing Judas would soon betray Him. During His “so called trial” many false accusations were made against Him but He did not defended Himself. Jesus was beaten, mocked and whipped and never complained. He had committed no sin or wrong and yet did not resist being nailed to a cross. And, after all of that, before dying, He prayed for those who had hurt Him saying, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do [Luke 23:34].”

No matter what anyone has done to you or me, we have never endured the sort of pain, rejection or humiliation that Jesus has endured. He had every right to defend Himself or retaliate the wrong that had been done to Him but instead He chose to forgive. How much more should we?

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Time

As one year comes to an end and another year begins, I find myself reflecting. I think most of us do that this time of year. Some of us ask ourselves, “What did I do right last year and what could I have done different or better?” Isn’t that the question that results in New Year’s resolutions? So, as I ask myself this timely question, one word continues to pop up-TIME.

How did I spend my time last year? “How did I spend my time?” As if it were like money. Did I spend my time wisely or thoughtlessly? Did I make good investments or bad ones? Did I guard my time or allow it to be stolen?

When we spend money on something, we expect to get something in return. Right? We look at it as a form of investment. When we invest money we expect a yield or reward. The more money we spend on a product, the better we think it should be. Most of us are not willingly to spend good money on something that we know is going to be a bad investment or a wasted investment. And we don’t just throw money away as if it were of no value. No! We protect it! We put our money in a bank or a safe where it won’t be stolen. Our money is important to us. We want to take care of it. We guard it! After all, God wants us to be good stewards over all that He gives us. 1 Corinthians 4:2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

Isn’t time more valuable than money? When we spend money, make a bad investment and loose it or if our money is stolen from us, we can potentially earn more. But we can never earn more time. Once it’s gone it’s gone. We can’t get it back! We could quite literally say that time is priceless.

During my reflection of the past year, as I sat contemplating the pricelessness of time, I realized I had treated time improperly. I had not treated it as valuable and irreplaceable. I saw missed time investment opportunities. I saw wasted time. I saw unguarded time. Extensive time spent on social media could have been more time spent in prayer, bible study or exercise. I definitely need better time management skills going into the new year.

How did you spend your time last year? What changes will you make this year? Will you spend more time praying and less time gossiping? Will you invest more time in your health and less time on the couch in front of the television or computer? More time being thankful and less time complaining? More time with family and friends that love and care about you and less time with people that drag you down? More time helping others and less time feeling sorry for yourself? More time noticing the hurting people around you and less time looking down at your phone?

Time spent making precious memories with family and friends is never wasted time. Helping someone in need, mentoring someone or encouraging someone is always a good investment. Time spent on our spiritual growth or praying for others is priceless. Time put into increasing our knowledge, skills or improving our health is always valuable.

Focusing on wasted time, ill spent time or stolen time could get depressing. What’s past is past! Let’s learn from our time management mistakes and consider ways we can better invest our time this new year. Let’s move forward with a new attitude about our precious, valuable time.

We all get 24 hours in a day but its up to us how we spend it. Ecclesiastes 3:2 tells us that there’s a time to live and a time to die. We never know when our time on earth will run out. Let’s spend, invest and guard our invaluable, irreplaceable time wisely!

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Christmas Miracle

The Sunday before Christmas, December 23rd, started the way I expected it would. I woke up before 8am to be ready to leave for church around 10:30. My granddaughter had spent Saturday night with my husband and I so she accompanied me to church that morning.

This is where the day takes an unexpected turn. After the meet and greet segment of the church service I always apply hand sanitizer to my hands. As I was spreading the sanitizer I noticed two of my rings were not on my hand where I had placed them that morning. I felt a little uneasy about it but assumed I must have left them in my automobile when I took them off to slather lotion on my legs. I was wearing a dress. Dry skin on pale legs is very unappealing. Anyway, the assumption that my rings were in my Jeep made it easier to focus on the sermon.

After the service, my granddaughter and I slowly shuffled through the crowd toward the exit. We made our way back to the automobile. No rings! My granddaughter put me at ease by suggesting that I must have left them at home. So I drove off. While driving, I mentally retraced my steps of that morning. Realizing that when I left my house I was wearing my rings, I immediatly called a friend, who I knew would still be at the church. I ask her if anyone had turned two diamond rings in to lost and found. “No,” she responded.

At this point I’m remembering the whole lotion on the legs incident thinking I must have put the rings in my lap to apply the lotion and forgot to put them back on my hands afterwards. I had probably gotten out of my automobile with them in my lap and they fell onto the parking lot. Thankfully I remembered where I had parked. My friend selflessly offered to go out into the parking lot to search for them. I was so grateful! But I never heard back from her. This was not a good sign.

Meanwhile, my granddaughter and I were on our way to get our traditional after church smoothie. She loves our little tradition and so do I. I didn’t want to spoil our time together with concerns about my rings so I tried not to talk about it. Afterwards, on my way to taking her home, I announced that I was going back to the church to look for my rings before going back to my house. She agreed that it was a good idea.

I prayed, off and on, as I drove back to the church parking lot. I prayed when I got there and while I was searching. My prayer was that I would find the rings unharmed or If someone else had found them that they would return them to the church. I searched for a while; going over and over the area where I remembered parking. Getting discouraged, I nearly gave up searching but I kept praying and asking God to help me find the rings. Finally I found one of them! The excitement I felt at that moment is indescribable! I knew that the other one had to be nearby. Once I calmed down a bit, I resumed searching and praying. Then there it was! I had found it! They were both found and in tact. I began to cry and laugh simultaneously. I was so happy! I text everyone that I had told about losing my rings to tell them the good news. They rejoiced with me!

It was a miracle that no one had seen them and taken them. It was a miracle that no one had run over them. It was a miracle that I didn’t give up and kept searching for them. It was a miracle that I had found them. It was my Christmas miracle!

Those rings mean so much to me. One is my engagement ring that I’ve had about 29 years and the other is a ring my husband bought me about 20 years ago. I’m not sure of their monetary value but to me they are priceless.

We are like those rings. We are either lost or were lost; separated from God due to sin. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, Luke 19:10. In Luke 15:4-7, Jesus tells the parable of a shepherd who had 100 sheep but lost one. He left the 99 to find the one that was lost. When the sheep was found the shepherd rejoiced and called his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him. We are the lost sheep. Jesus is the good Shepherd. When He finds us there is tremendous rejoicing in heaven!

Just as my rings are priceless to me; to God we are priceless! In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the parable of the hidden treasure and the valuable pearl. A man found a hidden treasure in a field. So the man went out and sold all he had to purchase the field so he could own the treasure. Also, a merchant went out looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. We are the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value. God gave His best, one and only, to purchase us; Jesus! John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

To you John 3:16 might just be a sign you see people holding up in the stands at ball games but it’s so much more than that. It’s the true meaning of Christmas! It’s the real reason to celebrate. God sent His one and only sinless Son to seek us and save us so we won’t perish but instead have eternal life with Him. It’s the miracle of Christmas! This is truly something to rejoice over!

Sure my once lost rings are very precious to me. My heart would have been broken had I not been able to find them. But those rings can be replaced. A human soul cannot be replaced. Jesus is actively searching for lost souls. Just as I was praying to find my rings, I am praying that Jesus finds you if you are lost. You are priceless because the priceless blood of Jesus was shed for your salvation. I rejoiced when I found my rings, but that’s nothing compared to the rejoicing that will take place in heaven when you are found.

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

Acceptance Without Approval

The tree was decorated! It only needed the finishing piece; the cherry on top of the ice-cream sundae; the icing on the cake. It needed the all important, most important, tree topper. In our case, it needed “the star”. My husband did the honors. It was crooked! He tried several times, with my direction, to straiten it, but to no avail. “Just leave it,” I said, “I kind of like it.” “It reminds me of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.”

There was a time in my life that I would have never submitted to the will of the Christmas tree topper. I would have worked myself to the point of frustration to make sure that I got exactly what I wanted-a perfect Christmas tree.

We get frustrated when things don’t go our way. Don’t we? We get angry when others don’t do what we tell them to do, when we tell them to do it and how we tell them to do it. We want people to be who we want them to be and when they aren’t we become annoyed with them. What is the root cause of all of these negative emotions and reactions? We can’t control one another. We can’t change one another. And we want what we can’t have. James 4:1-2 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

We try to change one another’s political views because we are convinced that our views are correct. We try to change our spouse because they are not like someone else’s spouse. We try to change our children because they are not like us. We try to change one another’s driving by laying on the horn, yelling out the window and making sure they know they are number one. We want to change everyone’s way of doing, thinking and saying!

We go through life frustrated, angry and annoyed because we are trying to make everything and everyone the way we think it or they should be. We are discontented, dissatisfied and disappointed because we are disillusioned. The illusion is that we can control or change people. The reality is that only God can change people. Ezekiel 36:26-27, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

How would our lives be different if we decided to accept everyone the way they are? How would our world be different? What if instead of arguing about our differences we focused on what we have in common? What if instead of yelling at each other we prayed for one another and left any changing that needed to be done to God? What if their was more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control? Would their be less: hate, anguish, tension, intolerance, mercilessness, viciousness, abrasiveness and unconstraint? What a wonderful world it would be! Is this possible?

It is possible in our own lives; in our own little world. We can make a decision today to accept all people for who they are and stop trying to control or change them. We may not approve of everyone’s life style, way of thinking, voting or driving. And that’s ok! We can agree to disagree agreeably. We don’t have to give our stamp of approval on all things but we can accept one another and love one another. Isn’t that what God does with us?

God doesn’t approve of all that we say, think or do but He accepts us and loves us regardless and He expects us to do the same. Romans 14:1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. Romans 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Why did I submit to leaving the Christmas tree topper crooked? Why do I like it that way? Because it reminds me! It reminds me that I am not perfect and neither is anyone else. It reminds me that God accepts me and loves me and that He expects me to do the same. He expects us all to do the same!

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no Peace

Recently, while decorating the Christmas tree and listening to an Elvis Christmas CD, the gospel song Peace in the Valley was up next on the shuffle repeat mode. While listening I began to sing along, to which my husband commented, “There is no peace.”

If that is so, then what did the heavenly host mean when, to the shepherds, they proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” on the night Jesus was born (Luke 2:14)? Did that mean everyone, from that point on, would all live in peace with one another? If so, the Angels got it all wrong that holy night. Look around you or within you! There is clearly not much, if any, peace to be found.

The definitions for peace are 1: a state of tranquility or quiet a: freedom from civil disturbance b: a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom. 2: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions 3: harmony in personal relations 4a: a state or period of mutual concord between governments b: a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity (Merriam-Webster Dictionary App)

Today, just the opposite is true in the world, our homes, our lives, hearts and minds. We are all fighting something or someone. Countries are fighting. Governments are fighting. Political parties are fighting. Races, genders and families are fighting. We are angry, offended and offensive. We are worried, stressed and exhausted. The list goes on and on.

So are we doomed to a life of no peace? Was my observant husband correct? Is there no peace? Is there no hope?

Don’t despair! There is one opportunity for true peace. The heralding angels had it right after all. When God gave us the gift of His Son Jesus, on that faithful holy night, He also gave us the gift of peace (Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.) And just as with any gift, if you don’t accept it you won’t experience the benefits that amazing gift has to offer.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

I love the incident that took place in Matthew 8:23-26. In my opinion it is a perfect example of peace. Jesus and His disciples got into a boat. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and spoke to Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

Why were the disciples afraid? Why were they worried about the fierce storm/circumstances? They obviously didn’t have a full understanding of who Jesus really is. To truly know a person you have to spend time with them. There has to be conversation. There has to be a relationship. Trust has to be built. In order for trust to be built you have to consistently experience a person. The disciples didn’t fully understand that the One through whom all things were created had authority over all creation? Colossians 1:15-16 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

The boat represents our life, our heart and our mind. If Jesus is in our boat we can rest assured that He is in control of troubling circumstances that are sweeping over us. When peace is in our life, heart and mind we can remain calm in the midst of the craziness going on around us. When Jesus is on the scene we don’t have to be afraid, worried or troubled. If Jesus isn’t worried then we shouldn’t be worried. If Jesus is resting during the storm then we should be resting during the storm. Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Are you experiencing disquieting or oppressive thoughts and emotions concerning the turbulent storms all around you or within you? Is Jesus in your boat? No Jesus equals no peace! Will you spend time with Him in prayer and studying His word to get to know Him better so you can trust Him more? Will you accept the gift of peace that is being offered to you today? It’s the same gift that was offered by God that first Christmas so long ago; the gift of His Son Jesus and the peace that only He can bring. If you don’t accept the gift, you will never experience the benefits that amazing gift has to offer. The choice is yours!

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Go Your Own Way

Last week, during a weekly Bible Study, our group of ladies were discussing answers to a question concerning Psalm 2:1-3 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The  discussion question was, What is the complaint against God in Psalm 2:1-3 and how does this compare with people’s complaints against God today?

One of the ladies in our group creatively responded with, “It reminds me of that Fleetwood Mac song ‘Go Your Own Way.'” Which was very appropriate since we were discussing Psalms. We all laughed. The next lady, following along those same lines, said it reminded her of the Frank Sinatra song “My Way.” More laughter! Needless to say I haven’t been able to get “Go Your Own Way” out of my head or off of my tongue since. It’s funny how God can use a song to expand our thoughts on a subject. He’s so clever!

The growing consensus against God thousands of years ago and today seems to be,”Leave us alone! We want to do what we want to do and we don’t want any accountability or consequences. We want to be free of You. You only want to spoil our fun!” If it isn’t said in word it is definitely said in deed.

God gives us free will. We get to reject Him if we want to. That’s one of the aspects of His love for us; freedom. We are free to live apart from God. We are free to do what we want when we want and how we want to do it. We are free to have as much so called fun as we want to have. But there will be consequences and accountability rather we want them or not.

I’m reminded of a parable in the Bible (Luke 15:11-16) of a Father that had two sons. The younger son wanted his share of the Father’s estate. So the Father divided the property between His two sons. The younger son decided to gather all of his money and belongings and moved far away from his Father. He squandered his wealth on wine, women and song. There arose a severe famine where he was living and he became desperate. So he went out and got himself a job working for a pig farmer. The pig farming business must not have been very lucrative because he was so hungry that even the pig’s slop looked appetizing to him.

God is the Father. We are the rebellious son. We want the benefits of God the Father but we don’t want to live with Him or be in relationship with Him. We want to be far away from Him. So we “go our own way” and we do things “our way” living our life of freedom apart from God. We spend our money the way we want to. We use our bodies the way we want to. We spend our time the way we want to. All of which are gifts from God our Father. We think we are enjoying a life of freedom without accountability. But in reality we are living a lie. (Revelation 3:17 “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”) Consequences do come and when they do we need to know where to go for help. There is hope!

The story about the Father and son continues in Luke 15:17-24. The son came to his senses, and decided to go home to his Father, ask for forgiveness and ask for a job. He felt as if he was no longer worthy to be called His son. He thought he had messed up so bad that the best he could hope for was a job working for room and board. While the son was on his way home, but still afar off, his Father saw him. He was filled with compassion for his son; He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. The son asked for forgiveness and told Him he no longer felt worthy to be called His son. To the son’s surprise the Father threw him a party and lavished him with gifts. The Father proclaimed, “My son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” It was a time of repentance, forgiveness and restoration; a time of celebration!

Maybe you have “gone your own way” and are “doing things your way” like the son in Luke 15. Maybe you are wallowing in a mire of sin. Maybe you are squandering God’s goodness on wine, women (or men) and song. Maybe you think you are living the high life of freedom but inside you feel dead, lost and empty; hungry for something that will truly satisfy.

We are free to choose! We can choose life over death. (Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.) We can choose to be found over being lost. (Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.) We can choose a life with the Father, sharing in all that is the Father’s; true love, true joy and true peace. We can choose true freedom; freedom from slavery to sin. (Romans 6:16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?) We can choose true satisfaction. (John 6:35 Then Jesus declared,”I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”)

Just as the son came to his senses, realizing that life apart from His Father wasn’t as great as he thought it would be, will you come to your senses today? Will you go to the Father with a repentant heart? Will you ask God to forgive you for wasting His goodness on a life of self-gratification (Ephesians 2:3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath). The Father is longing for you to come to Him. He’s looking for you. He loves you and has compassion for you. He wants to call you His son or daughter. He wants to give you gifts and give you a life worth celebrating; a life of eternal purpose. Will you go God’s way instead of your own way? Will you do life His way instead of doing life your way? He’s waiting for you! Come to your senses today!

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Trash to Treasure

Tis the season! Time to put the autumn decor away and replace it with the Christmas decor. The day after Thanksgiving, I recruited my sweet husband to take on the tree decorating challenge with me. He agreed before he knew that there would be extra work involved. Thankfully, once he was informed of the special request, he did not back out.

I like to recycle and repurpose. If something is broken I like to fix it or have it fixed. Especially if it was expensive. I exhaust all efforts to restore an item until all hope of restoration is gone. Then and only then does it end up in the trash.

A couple of years ago our pre-lit Christmas tree decided not to light up. I tried changing bulbs and fuses but that didn’t work. So instead of discarding it, I just didn’t plug it in. I went out and bought more lights and put them on the tree hoping no one would notice the lifeless bulbs. Much to my delight, my scheme worked.

Last year, feeling nostalgic, we decided to buy a live tree. That was fun but a lot of money to spend on something that only lasts one month and then ends up at the road. So, this year we went back to being frugal and practical and brought out the old dysfunctional pre-lit tree. But this time, instead of trying to hide the inoperable lights, we decided to remove what was broken and replace it with what worked.

My husband was such a good sport about the extra work. He did not run away from the challenge. We both got out our scissors and got to work. It was a daunting, back straining task. It ended up being more work than we had anticipated. The wires were not only attached to the tree but they were knotted around every branch. The tree was literally entangled in useless wires and bulbs. Half way through the process we were rethinking our noble decision. However, we persevered and saw the task through to the end.

Off with the old and on with the new! With all of the unusable lights removed, we could then add the usable lights and ornaments. The finished product is a bright radiant tree that is serving its purpose. It’s a beautiful spot to place our gifts beneath and its beauty can be enjoyed by all who see it. Plus we can relax knowing that we no longer have to hide the secret of the dead lights and we can feel good about not adding to the landfill. A win-win for all!

The broken lights represent darkness; they don’t light up. In the bible, darkness represents evil and sin. Sometimes we want to secretly hold on to our sin and use godly things, words and deeds to distract from the truth; the truth of our entanglement in hidden sin. We know that the sin is what’s broken in our lives and that it is unproductive, useless and maybe even embarrassing. But we are afraid of the pain and effort it will take to change. So we take the easy way out and hang on to our brokenness while continuing to conceal the truth.

Ephesians 5:11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. Proverbs 5:22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. Psalm 90:8 You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence. Luke 12:2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. Job 12:22 He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light. Psalm 107:14 He brought them out of darkness, and broke away their chains. 2 Samuel 22:29 You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.

Just as in the case of that broken pre-lit tree, a lot of people may be ready to give up on us. They may want to throw us away. They may label us as trash, hopeless, dysfunctional, unproductive and useless. But God!

Thankfully God is in the restoration business (Psalm 80:3 Restore us, O God; make Your face shine on us, that we may be saved)! When He looks at us He sees what we will be, not what we appear to be. We are priceless to Him. He’s not concerned with the work it will take to change us. He has a plan! He wants to remove all the things in our lives that are useless and broken and replace them with things that serve a purpose and are productive. He wants to cut us free from the sin that entangles us. It isn’t easy and it isn’t painless but it is always worth it. The finished product is a life that is bright and radiant with God’s light, love and joy. A life that is beautiful and meaningful. A life that can be enjoyed by all who see it and experience it. A life that is free from darkness and secrets. A life that is usable for God’s glory and for the good of others. A life that goes from trash to treasure. Now that’s a win-win for all!

~Patrice Maguire

If you would like to accept Christ as your savior, pray: Dear God, I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something to be Thankful for

The question that seems to be on everyone’s lips this week is, “What are you most thankful for this year?” I guess its time to start making our, “Things to be thankful for,” list. Yours could quite literally be a written list but, if you are anything like me, it’s more likely to be a mental one. Or perhaps you feel as though you have little to nothing to be thankful for this year. Hopefully by the end of this blog you will either be adding to your list or starting one.

There is a popular song out right now called “Known” by Tauren Wells. It’s a beautiful song. If you get the opportunity to listen to it, pay close attention to the words. There is one particular phrase in the song that really gets me thinking, “I’m fully known and loved by You.”

What does it mean to be fully known? My dictionary app is one of my best writing friends. Some synonyms I found to replace the word fully are: completely, entirely, perfectly, thoroughly, through and through, totally and wholly. How about the word known? The meaning of the word known is to come to a knowledge of.

I would venture to say that there is not a single person in this world that fully knows you or me. They might think they know us but in reality people only know about us what we allow them to know. I mean, they would have to know everything about us: everything we have ever done, every word we have ever spoken, every thought we have ever thought and even every motive or intention of our heart. Now, that is completely knowing someone.

Oh, and what are the chances of finding a person that not only knows us through and through but loves us regardless? I’m talking about the kind of love that doesn’t criticize us. The kind of love that never changes toward us no matter what we have done, are doing or will do. The kind of love that knows us completely and remains kind, gentle, understanding and patient with us. The kind of love that never thinks less of us. That is almost impossible to find in this world. I would venture to say that the closest we could come to finding that kind of love may be the love of a parent for their child.

Isn’t that what we all want? To be completely known and completely loved simultaneously. I do! We all do! There are things that I could tell you about my past or things that I struggle with today, in my heart, that would cause you to think of me differently or speak of me differently. It would be humanly impossible not to. As a matter of fact, you may not even treat me the same way. There is only One who will ever entirely, through and through, know us and still love us entirely, through and through. That’s God; our Heavenly Father!

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 1 John 4:16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. 1 John 4:8 God is love. God can’t not love us. Love is who He is.

He knows us completely because He created us. Genesis 1:27 So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:1 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.

Not only does God fully know us and fully love us but He also fully understands us. Wow! There is actually someone that understands why we do what we do and why we say what we say? He even understands what we meant to say when the words just came out wrong or were misinterpreted. He understands our intentions. Now that’s huge! How often are we misunderstood weekly or even daily? It hurts to be misunderstood. And it usually makes things worse when we try to explain ourselves. I’ve kind of given up on the explaining part. At this point in my life my thinking is, “God understands and that’s all that matters.” In my experience, most people don’t really want to understand. They only want to make their point. And that’s ok because God understands them too. That takes us back to being fully known and loved by God. Now we have come full circle!

Hebrews 2:17, 4:15 For this reason He (Jesus) had to be made like them (us), fully human in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. For we do not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet He did not sin.

There is someone who knows you perfectly, loves you perfectly and understands you perfectly. He is the Creator of heaven, earth and you. Now that’s something to be thankful for!

Nehemiah 9:6 You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship You.

~Patrice Maguire

If you would like to accept Christ as your savior pray the following prayer:                   Dear God, I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.