The Lord Bless You

Beloved, on this Thankful Thursday, I hope this Scripture passage encourages and comforts you as much as it does me.

Numbers6-24-26--TheLordBless-KeepYou

I love what J. Vernon McGee had to say about it. Here is an excerpt from his Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee commentaries:

Here we find the Trinity in the Old Testament. God the Father is the source of all blessing. The Lord Jesus is the One who makes His face to shine upon us. The Holy Spirit lifts up His countenance upon us and gives us peace. This is the only way we can come to God and experience the peace of God. He is the One who makes these things real to our hearts.

The triune God gives them this blessing. The census has been taken, and they all know their pedigree. The standards have been raised; so they all know where they belong. They are to follow their standard, and they are to camp in their assigned place in the camp with their own tribe and their own family. The camp has been cleansed. Now the Lord blesses them. It is the only way God  can bless.

What a wonderful blessing there is here. God the Father keeps us; the Son makes His face to shine upon us—He is the light of the world; God the Holy Spirit gives us peace. What a glorious chapter this is! (1)

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The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

“‘The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.'”

“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
—Numbers 6:22-27

AnnaSmile…..

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(1) McGee, J. Vernon. Through the Bible with J. Vernon McGee. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1981.

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The Cry of My Heart

TidbitTuesday

A few years ago I heard Brandon Heath sing “Give Me Your Eyes” for the first time. The impact this song had on me then has not diminished. In fact, if I could cite a song as my life’s mission statement, this would be it.

The lyrics reflect the cry of my heart, that God would use me to help others see Him as He truly is: overflowing with mercy, grace, hope, faithfulness and love (just to name a few of His wonderful attributes). 

In case you cannot view this video for some reason, please go here to read the lyrics at BrandonHeath.net .

AnnaSmile

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Seek His Face Always

LookToTheLord-Ps105-4

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.

Remember the wonders he has done,
    his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
    his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
He is the Lord our God;
    his judgments are in all the earth.
—Psalm 105:1-7

AnnaSmile

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Thankful for God’s Blessings

Thankful_Thursdays

Every so often I like to share some of my devotionals with you that were published in an anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. My assignment was to write 30 devotionals for this book, and I had only 3 weeks to get them done. That tight deadline was stressful enough, but having migraines 24/7 only added more stress. When I wasn’t writing, I was sleeping!

Thankfully, God’s continuous grace and mercy got me through this difficult assignment. Looking back now, I can say that He carried me through all my painful circumstances to write what He had in mind for me. I hope you are as blessed when you read this as I was while I was writing it. To God be the glory for walking with me through it!

Please enjoy this devotional. It was the first in the section titled Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving.

When I want to thank God for His blessings . . .

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. —Psalm 103:1-2

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. —John 1:16

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.. —Ephesians 1:3

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. —James 1:17

. . . I will pray.

Holy Lord,

Lately I’ve been reflecting on how much You have blessed me, and it brings tears to my eyes as I realize You supply all these things because You love me so much.

I look around my home and see how You have amply provided for all my needs. Comfortable furniture fills my rooms. There is food in the pantry and refrigerator to nourish my body. The clothes in my closet keep me warm in winter and allow me to be cool in summer.

I am surrounded by family and friends who love and care about me. Did You place them in my life to help me through the rough patches? It seems that way to me.

I know there are times I don’t appreciate You as much as I should. Instead, I grumble and complain about the most insignificant things. That’s when You remind me that You are always with me—and that is the biggest and best blessing of all. When I’m happy and joyful, You cheer me up even more. And when I’m feeling low, it helps me to remember that the most precious part of my life is knowing You.

Thank You for being the Giver of bountiful blessings.

Amen.

Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some. —Charles Dickens

[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

AnytimePrayersForEverydayPeople

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AnnaSmile…..

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The Peace of God

Phil4-6

The Peace of God

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. —Philippians 4:6

“Are we there yet?”

I’m sure many of us have heard these words from our children more times than we care to remember. It’s always exciting to travel to new places and see new sights. But once there, the newness quickly subsides and the children—and probably us if we’re being truthful—long to be back home with their friends. They want to return to the familiar surroundings of their own neighborhood.

That’s just the way we are. While we might want to do something different and out of the norm, we still long to be back in our own homes and familiar surroundings.

Chronic illness in particular takes us out of our comfort zone and places us in an unknown situation. Where before we could rely on our bodies to perform in a certain predictable way, now we don’t know from one day to the next (sometimes hour by hour) what to expect. Will I be able to shake the fibrofog that stalks me most days? And how about simple tasks like the laundry and dusting? Will I need help with those jobs?

God tells us to “be anxious for nothing.” I don’t know about you, but at times that’s difficult for me. I long to be certain that I’ll feel well enough to accompany Rick when we make a date to join friends for dinner. And what about this blog? Will I have enough energy to keep up with it?

But God also tells us to be thankful “in everything.”  To me that means no matter what is happening with me on any given day, I must trust that God knows what needs to be done and will enable me to do the important things.

Phil-4-7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:7

Beloved, doesn’t it comfort your hearts to read that? What this means to me is that as long as I cling to God and His promises—no matter how I feel—He will grant me that special peace that can only come from completely trusting in Him.

The peace of God. I don’t know about you, but I sure am glad I have His peace to keep me calm in my circumstances. What a wonderful promise!

AnnaSmile

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Choose to Enjoy

happy_sunday-thedillychic-com

EnjoyTheJourney

How about you, Beloved?

AnnaSmile

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11 Ways to Love

11WaysToLove

1) He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. —Proverbs 18:13

2) This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. –James 1:19-20

3) The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.Proverbs 21:25-26

4) For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
—Colossians 1:9-12

5) Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife. —Proverbs 17:1

6) Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. —Ephesians 4:14-16

7) Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.  But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. —Philippians 2:14-18

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. —1 Corinthians 13:4-8

9)  Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. —Colossians 3:12-14

10) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. —Proverbs 13:12

11) Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. —Hebrews 13:4

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AnnaSmile

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

The other day I got to thinking about Valentine’s Day and how it’s supposed to be all about love. 1 John 4:19 immediately came to mind, and I knew this was to be my message about  love … God’s immense love … for us.

1John4-19

The Dimensions of God’s Love

We love because he first loved us. —1 John 4:19

We have all been told how much God loves us. That fact is unquestionable, especially as we look around and see the evidence of His love in all of His creation. God’s love for us can be described as multi-dimensional, so let’s look at the different ways God loves us—the Breadth, Depth, Height and Length of His love—by examining the universe He created.

Breadth

When a man and a woman get married, they usually exchange wedding bands. If you look closely at a wedding band, you cannot see where it begins or where it ends. This circle of metal is therefore used as a symbol of unending love between husband and wife. In the same way, a circle represents eternity.

That is how I think of God’s all-encompassing love for us. I visualize the circle that His arms form to surround the earth. This thought both amazes and comforts me. I am amazed because it shows how big God is. I can’t imagine any human who can “hug” the whole world. And I am also comforted because I enjoy being hugged. But the true illustration of the breadth of God’s love is found in Scripture:

ByGrace…because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by faith [we] have been saved. —Ephesians 2:4-5

He loved us “even when we were dead in transgressions.” What a truly astonishing thing!

Eternity is a difficult concept for us to understand, but God has it all under control. He loves us so much that He can’t stand the thought of being apart from us, so He has provided us with a way to spend eternity with Him:

John3-16--NumbersOfHope

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. —John 3:16

The breadth of God’s love for us is that huge. He made sure that we have a way to be with Him forever—in other words, for eternity. Trying to figure out what eternity could be like is the same as trying to count all the stars in the sky. It is impossible!

I like to imagine what it will be like to spend the rest of eternity with God, but I’m sure my limited picture of heaven falls far short of the truth. All I know for sure is that:

John1-12

“…to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. —John 1:12

Depth

The Grand Canyon ranges in height from 9,000 feet at the North Rim all the way down to 2,400 feet at the Colorado River. Those of us here in the Southwest know that there are no easy ways to get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. In fact, portions of the Colorado River are barely visible from above because of the depth of the canyon. Now that’s what I call deep, but it is still measurable.

We read in Romans that:

Romans5-8

…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we now have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! —Romans 5:8-10

The love God has for us is so deep that it is immeasurable. It is impossible for me to imagine something that cannot be measured. Everything that surrounds us can somehow be measured, whether by weight or volume. But not God’s love. It is bottomless and keeps going on and on to infinity. Even though we don’t deserve any of it, He loves us that much anyway.

We hear a lot these days about “unconditional love.” The truth is that the only true, unconditional love we will ever receive is from God, Who loves us with a pure love found nowhere else. How better to explain God’s love for us in spite of all our sins and shortcomings? The fact that God loves me in spite of myself is the ultimate proof of the depth of His love.

Height

Have you read about those who have succeeded in climbing Mount Everest? This 29,035-foot mountain range is the highest in the world and the most difficult to climb. There are many people who attempt this climb more than once in the hopes of finally being able to complete the challenge of making it to the summit.

I cannot imagine being at a point 29,035 feet above sea level. That is so high that one’s breathing becomes quite labored and therefore requires extra oxygen. But that is still not as high as the heavens. In Ephesians, Paul gives us a taste of what it will be like when we’re in heaven:

Eph2-6

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. —Ephesians 2:6

There is no way we could ever understand the height of such “heavenly realms.”

I love knowing that those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord will be up in heaven with God forever, seated with Him and serving Him in all His honor and glory. Even though we’ll be higher than we’ve ever been, we will not suffer the usual effects of high altitude such as headaches, nosebleeds or labored breathing. God has made sure of that. I believe that heaven will be the most comfortable place ever!

Col3-1-4

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. —Colossians 3:1-3

Length

It is estimated that right now the universe is at least 46 billion light years in radius. My puny human mind cannot comprehend such a measurement. Look up at the billions of stars in the night sky and then try to understand the lengths to which God will go for us. He could have designed just an adequate place for us to live, but did He? No. He chose to give us a wonderful universe filled with beautiful planets and stars. It stretches on and on, just like His immense love for us.

The daytime sky and the night sky are the same, yet very different. During the day we cannot see the stars because of the light of the sun. At night, the stars and moon illuminate the dark sky. When we are in heaven, things will be greatly changed.

NASB_Revelation_22-5

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. —Revelation 22:5

No more night? Really? What will that be like? And imagine not needing a lamp to read a book.

Being part of such an exciting eternity with God requires only this:

  • recognize that we are sinners and be truly sorry for our sins
  • believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and our Savior
  • acknowledge that He died on the cross at Calvary and that His death paid the penalty for our sins
  • and trust that He rose from the dead on our behalf so that we might live forever with Him—and all because of the length of God’s love for us.

1Tim1-15-17

Paul related this aspect to Timothy:

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. —1 Timothy 1:16

His “unlimited patience.” How I love those words! They remind me that even though I so often lose patience with the things and people in my life—and myself—God never loses patience with me. His patience is eternal!

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. —1 Timothy 1:17

Beloved, on yet another Valentine’s Day I am so glad we have a God Who shows His immense love for us in so many ways, in spite of our sinful selves! How amazing is that?

AnnaSmile
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A Cheerful Heart

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All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast. —Proverbs 15:15

I read once that even though we cannot always choose what happens to us, we can choose what our attitude will be toward each situation. How true that is.

Our Sheltie, Bleu (who is no longer with us), was a good example of this. For some unknown reason, he would bark unremittingly whenever we started up our truck or trike, or for that matter anything with a motor. When I ran the blender or food processor, he would get very anxious. In any of these situations, he looked around for comfort and reassurance. Sometimes he pulled one of his stuffed toys around the house until the noise stopped. Other times, he would run frantically from one side of the yard to the other while barking.

Every so often, he would come to me and I was able to reassure him with a calm voice and a loving touch that everything was all right and nothing would happen to him. In fact, this seemed to cheer him up enough that he would go find one of his toys to play with or contentedly chomp on a piece of rawhide for a while, even in the midst of the ongoing noise.

I used to find myself acting the same way at times. On days when I am overwhelmed with pain and fatigue, it used to be very easy for me to fall prey to my feelings and just like Bleu did, I would start to panic. Instead of looking to the Lord for the reassurance and comfort I know from past experience is waiting for me, I would get upset and wonder if I would ever feel normal again.

That’s when I found myself taking my eyes off God and focusing on myself and my circumstances instead. Oh, but God is so good! He has shown me over and over again that if I only hang in there and trust in Him implicitly, it doesn’t take long until His warmth and faithful promises penetrate this self-involved brain. I am once again reminded that I can rely on Him for strength and support instead of wallowing in my own anxious way.

It is then that I am finally able to change to an attitude of cheerful hope, knowing in my heart that my Lord has been lovingly caring for me all the time.

Beloved, are you struggling with how to be cheerful in spite of what you’re going through? Life is not easy. We all know that. But we can absolutely trust in God who loves us beyond comprehension and is always here to comfort and sooth us during our most difficult times.

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

BeCheerful

“I am determined to be cheerful and to be happy in whatever situation I may be, for I have also learnt from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances.” —Martha Washington

AnnaSmile…..

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How to Be Happy [Repost from 4-15-2012]

A blast from the past on this . . .

HAPPY SUNDAY!

On this Happy Sunday, I’d like to share what I’ve found about this thing called happiness.

The dictionary defines happy as:

  • delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing
  • characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy
  • favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky
  • in high spirits
  • satisfied

Here are some synonyms that also describe being happy:

  • blessed
  • cheerful
  • content
  • delighted
  • glad
  • joyful
  • peaceful
  • upbeat

On the other hand, here are a few words that describe what happy is not:

  • depressed
  • discouraged
  • dissatisfied
  • miserable
  • sad
  • sorrowful

What struck me most reading through all of this were the words satisfied and peaceful—two wonderful words describing how one can most times lead to the other. If we’re satisfied with what we have and about our life in general, we feel peaceful about it —that “peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

I have found that being truly happy does not depend on our circumstances. Consider this: no one’s life is perfect. We all struggle with something in our lives, oftentimes several somethings all at the same time. All of these somethings come with bad and good. Let me explain with a very personal example.

I struggle every single day with several chronic illnesses, but the worst of my health issues these days are debilitating migraines. I start each day with a migraine and a lot of the time it subsides for two to three hours (sometimes more on a really good day) before it returns around dinner time to reclaim me as its unwilling victim.

These migraines impact every single aspect of my life. I have had to cancel or postpone countless appointments, trips and gatherings with friends and family. I very often have to turn down my sweet hubby’s invitations to go out with him for a meal or a motorcycle ride.

Those are my bad somethings.

I used to have the “poor me” attitude until God worked in me to remind me that nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37) with Him in my life. It has only been through my utter dependence on Him and my faith in Him as my constant Comforter that I have finally realized the good that has come from this season in my life. I now have a more complete reliance on Him for everything. There is also the realization that my pain-filled existence on this earth is nothing compared to the joy that awaits me in heaven. Adding to these is the awareness that God is teaching me new things about myself through these experiences every single day.

Those are the good parts of my bad somethings.

Wow. Can you see how much more there is to the good parts? The good parts are the positive results of those negative somethings. I can honestly say that in all this I have found that peace of God that transcends all understanding!

Here are a few great quotes I found about being happy:

  • “There are two ways of being happy: We must either diminish our wants or augment our means – either may do – the result is the same and it is for each man to decide for himself and to do that which happens to be easier. —Benjamin Franklin
  • “He who is of calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden.” —Plato
  • “The talent for being happy is appreciating and liking what you have, instead of what you don’t have.” —Woody Allen

Finally, here’s some of what the Bible has to say about being happy:

  • “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” —Proverbs 15:13
  • “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. “—Ecclesiastes 3:11-13
  • “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.”  —Ecclesiastes 7:14
  • Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”  —James 5:13

Singing songs of praise and thanksgiving…

AnnaSmile

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