July 1

As a child of God and a teacher of His Word, I must submit to the authority of those He has set over me. I must humble myself and realize that I am just a piece of the puzzle that God is putting together. Each piece has a particular shape but is not alike. As the puzzle comes together, the details of the picture become clearer. What's wonderful is that we are all linked together, perfectly placed, and there are no gaps and no missing pieces! Do you know your place? This becomes easier when you stop quenching the Spirit and allow Jesus to take over your body as a vessel for His work. If you don't see the work of the Spirit in your life, you must question your salvation. Faith without works is dead. There is great joy in knowing your place; when your part becomes defined, you see God's hand moving you, and eventually placing you into the puzzle where you are linked arm in arm with those He has called you to serve with.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5

June 30

My daughter and I took a trip to Ybor City to visit a Jamaican man who specializes in healthy clean eating. He was a fascinating man. We listened to him tell us all about our inside health by observing what was going on, on our outside. His favorite ingredient is aloe, and he uses it to make a drink that is supposed to help you get your bowels into working order. It was a heinous drink, and I couldn't stomach it. My daughter, however, has been going to him for a while and drank it down like a trooper! Just as your eating habits can affect your overall health and outward appearance, so can the things that you allow into your mind. Feeding your mind garbage can begin to show up in your attitude, and can weigh heavily on your relationships. Consider taking in some healthy food for your mind, and start feeding on the bread of life. Don't just consume it, meditate upon it, savor it, and take in all that the Word of God has to offer!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

June 29

My husband and I like to spend time on this quaint little island in South Florida. It's remote, not easily accessible, but you get an overall sense of peacefulness just being there. One of the drawbacks is also one of the things that I love about it, no bridge! After a pleasant stay, we packed up our things and were heading home when I realized that I didn't have my phone. We turned on the locator, and there it was, back on the island! Oh, the joy on Richard's face! We can't just turn around and go back to get it, no, we have to get into the boat to get across, being sure to observe all no wake zones! Jesus is the bridge that connects us to the paradise of Heaven, and He is the only way to get there! You cannot get there by any other means. There is always a price to pay for such luxury. That price is our sin and He expects us to turn away from it. He takes our sin, cleans us up, and welcomes us into His kingdom. It's the best deal out there and you don't need a boat!

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

Devotional Thought

Think deeply about what causes you anxiety and frustration. Having my house on the market for nearly a month caused me a bit of anxiety. Showing after showing with no offer is disappointing. The months of preparation, getting it ready to be presented, only accentuated that feeling. Thinking that I had heard from the Lord but, realizing that I may have been listening to my desires, is probably the worst feeling of all. That moment of weakness is when the enemy pounces, causing me to second guess my connection with God. Am I fooling myself into thinking that I hear His voice? The truth is that His voice is loud and clear! I'm not the one in control, He is! Sometimes it takes big lessons for us to learn to wait on Him. Once I released control over this situation, my anxiety left me and my sense of peace and calm was restored. In whatever situation you are in, today is the day for you to release control and let God handle it.  

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

June 27

My husband and I took a boat ride around Gasparilla Island, also known as Boca Grande. We started out in the calm inter-coastal area and then ventured out into the Gulf of Mexico. Once we rounded the northern tip of the island, the water became choppy and rough. It probably wouldn't have been so bad except we had brought our little dogs with us hoping they would also enjoy the ride, but all I kept thinking was that if we hit a rogue wave one of them might get bounced out of the boat. So for the entire length of the island, I had to hold onto them for dear life. We finally reached the southern end, and once we rounded it, the waters became smooth again. The island shielded the inter-coastal waters from the wind as a barrier. Jesus is like our safe harbor, our inter-coastal, and the Gulf is the world. We must get out into the world to survive, but Jesus is our place of calm, peace, and safety. Go, and seek refuge in Him.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalms 91:1-2

June 26

The kingdom of heaven is like a girl who went in search of the sea, and once she found it, sold everything she had and bought it. The sea is full of treasure! It's an unread book full of mysteries, abundant life, sights you have never seen. You are attracted to it because of the crystal blue color, the sand, and the waves. The treasure hidden beneath its surface draw the curious and the thrill seeker. Though it's full of beauty, there are also predators seeking to devour you, but even knowing that it doesn't stop you from loving the sea because the gifts and the treasure outweigh your fear of the enemy. The kingdom of heaven is Jesus.  He is our treasure, our gift! If you haven't sold everything to purchase His treasure, it's time you do. Sell the greed, your sinful passions, your love of darkness, and anything else that's keeping you from going all in for the one who loves you. Your love for the things of this world is the price you pay. He is worth it all!

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44

June 25

If you have a child that loves to dance but instead of letting them take dance lessons, you insist that they take piano. They hate piano lessons! The money you spent sowing that seed will be wasted, and your child will probably not flourish as a musician. However, take that same child and put them in the activity they love, give them lessons, help them with direction, and that child may dance before kings! In your evangelism, the same holds true. Jesus shared His teachings to reach into the hearts of many. He met people where they were and told His stories in a way that made them relevant to their situation. For instance, if He was talking to that child that loved to dance, He might use that information to drive His lesson home. It's important that we do the same thing when we're telling others about Him. Use something they know about to help them understand the message of Jesus so that it gets buried deep in their heart.

"Have you understood all these things?" They said to him, "Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old." Matthew 13:51-52

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June 24

Isaiah painted a beautiful picture of Jesus high and lifted up upon His throne. It's a place where He is ministered to by the angels, and most likely the same angels who ministered to Him as he was tempted in the wilderness. His robe fills the temple. And where is His temple? The World! The earth is his footstool. It's at this point that my imagination brings me comfort; I imagine that the sky that we see is His robe, and the stars are multifaceted diamonds encrusting it and that it is draped perfectly over us for our protection. Though this is just my imagination, there is a bit of truth in this vision, He does encompass the world, and the earth is filled with His glory! One day, we will see Him face to face, but until then, see Him with your heart, and remember how big He is and how fearless we should be, because we are loved and protected by the Most High, our Savior, Jesus. I hope this brings you peace and you are comforted knowing this.

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Isaiah 6:1

June 23

I've often shared my positive experiences of living in Florida on a fresh water lake. One thing that I probably haven't mentioned are some of the drawbacks. One major issue is insects! I'm not talking about a few creepy crawlies; I'm talking about blind mosquitoes! They rise out of the lake like a biblical plague lining every tree, bush, and blade of grass. You don't see them until you walk through the yard. If you don't keep your mouth shut, you'll swallow five or six! They don't hurt you, and they're good for feeding the birds and the fish, but they are obnoxious! However, I have learned how to control them. Every six weeks or so I spray the yard and lo and behold that plague disappears. Prayer works like that spray. If you remain in contact with God, you may be able to keep those nuisances under control. I'm not implying that everything will be perfect because you pray, that's not how life works, but it sure makes it easier to cope with when He is involved.

And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Luke 18:7-8

June 22

Do you ever want things so perfect that it works to your disadvantage? Trying so hard to make things flawless is a worthless endeavor and will only make you miserable, and will zap every bit of joy out of your heart. Getting yourself worked up with worry over unnecessary details only promotes misery. Letting go of perfectionism may be a hard task if you have been living with it for your whole life, but for your well being, you need to start turning loose of some of that control. As an example, if you love things clean and it eats you up to see a dish sitting out, you may have to train yourself to let it sit there for a while. We aren't perfect, and the things around us aren't perfect. The story of Mary and Martha is a good example of this. Mary wanted to sit at Jesus' feet and hear everything He had to say and Martha wanted Mary to help her. Jesus told Martha that Mary chose the good portion. Try not to get yourself so overwhelmed with tasks that you forget what is truly important.

 But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42

June 21

During the spring, I sometimes go overboard planting flower beds. By the summer, my yard is bursting with color! After doing that for many years, a yard that was once easy and manageable can be a lot to handle and may sometimes be a little overwhelming. The reward for putting in the effort outweighs the work involved in maintaining it. To have a lush tropical landscape with flowers blooming year round and trees producing fruit is a feast for the eyes and a treat for my taste buds, and that makes it worth the labor! Our walk with Jesus is the same way. Year after year, we plant new flower beds in our hearts. Yes, sometimes weeds grow in those flower beds, and we have to go in and pull them out, but what we're left with is this beautiful landscape that matures and produces the fruits. There is never a regret when you cultivate your relationship with Jesus; He is the ultimate reward.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

June 20

Surrender. If you really want God's plan to be worked out in your life you must surrender. To have your own preconceived idea of how things should go or to try and guess the direction God wants you to go, is not living a surrendered life; it's putting your own will before the Father's. Staying on the straight and narrow path will get you there quicker. If you constantly get side tracked and follow your own selfish desires, it will take you longer to get to the reward God has waiting for you. Look at Moses and the Israelites. If they had just followed God's plan, He would have led them through the desert into the promised land a lot quicker. However, sin and a preconceived idea of how they thought things should go, set them back forty years! If you want to live within God's will for your life, stop fighting Him at every turn and let Him lead you out of the wilderness and give you what He has promised you.

The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.' Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the LORD your God, Deuteronomy 1:30-32

June 19

What helps console you when you're feeling hurt or broken? Is it love? Understanding? A gentle tone? What if you never get that? How do you go on? You must remember that this is just a moment in your life. Though it may continue for a time and you wonder why God hasn't answered your prayers or if He even hears you, you can be sure that He does. I find comfort in knowing that one of the great kings, who was constantly being tormented physically and emotionally, chose to write it down. I'm not comforted, because he was tormented, but because I'm not alone. David was very forthcoming with his feelings and expressed them well through the psalms. So, when I'm feeling emotional and lonely and have no one to confide in, I reach for the Bible and open up Psalms. The words are like a salve that coats my heart and brings me healing.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalms 43:5

June 18

It's great to have a view as I write, but for some reason, I began to notice a home on the lake that has junk cars sitting in their back yard. I'm pretty sure they've been there for a while, but I've always focused on the beauty and maybe that little hummingbird that keeps flitting by. Now that I've seen the negative, it's hard to ignore it. If the owner decided to move those cars today, I would probably forget about it and not even notice that they were gone. What junk do you have sitting around, that's causing people to notice you in a negative way? There are a lot of things that can cause us to have a sour attitude, but when you are a follower of Christ, you need to identify the source and handle it promptly. We should always be a reflection of Jesus, so when something gets you stirred up, take that to the throne immediately and lay that burden down. Let the beauty of Jesus and His light shine through you.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Devotional Thought

It is something else to witness the deeds of a servant's heart than it is to hear the worthless chatter of intention. Jesus did not come into this world to be served, though He could have rightly demanded it. No, He came to serve! I've had the pleasure of hearing the account of a real servant in action. I'm referring to an old fashion foot washing. Not your average foot washing, but the deeds of a man who loves his church so much that he's willing to groom the ground that they walk on! When a leader of a church is so appreciative of those working with him that he mows their yard, you can be sure you have been placed in the right family. Actions speak louder than words, and when you teach servitude and are willing to act, that speaks volumes about your character and about the spirit that resides within. This leader kept it a secret, but I figured it out! Are you serving others as Jesus did? Don't just talk the talk, walk the walk.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45

June 16

Is there a special place that you go where once you are there you never want to leave? My favorite is this country place surrounded by water just across from a salty little sea town. It's a place where I can breathe deeply and exhale all of the worries of my day. I can watch the sunrise in the morning, and when it gets ready to set, I can meander down a short path an see that too. Though it's a dream of mine to live where the salt water meets the sand, the possibility appears to diminish each day. That's okay, it may not be part of God's plan for me now, but I have the hope of living my dream in eternity, and it's a place that will bring me even more peace. Are you satisfied to know that God has your best interest at heart? Things don't always turn out the way you imagine them, but isn't that what makes life exciting? New adventures every day! Don't fret or be dismayed, God's plan is much better than your own.

But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"— 1 Corinthians 2:9

June 15

My feisty little dog Rudy thinks he needs to protect our yard from the ducks. Every time I let him out, he runs around the yard looking for some to chase. When the lake got low from the drought, he began jumping down from the sea wall onto the bank of the lake chasing the ducks as far as three houses down. There are some fierce creatures that live in our lake, just waiting to devour that tasty bite-sized morsel. So I leave Coco, hoping she doesn't find her way to the road, and I run through my neighbor's backyards after him. Do you see where this is going? Yes, Rudy is my lost sheep! Jesus trusts that the flock will remain where He left them while He searches for and brings back the one who is missing. Just as Jesus rejoices when a sinner turns from his sin, I am happy to have Rudy back in our yard! I don't love him less because he does crazy things, so you can be sure that Jesus wholeheartedly loves that repentant sinner.

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:7

June 14

For some reason, there was a dead spider sitting on the floor right in front of where I sit in the morning. It was there for more than a day. Spiders are creepy things that I do not want near me, so why didn't I clean it up as soon as I saw it? I don't know; I guess it's because I hadn't gotten the vacuum cleaner out. Here's my question for you: what old, dead things have you yet to clean up? I'm not just talking about your sinful past, although that needs to be cleaned up too! What I'm referring to is past hurts, those things that trigger an emotional response, maybe deep-seated anger or self-pity. It's time to do some house cleaning! Jesus blood is the best way to clean the temple. I know this seems too easy, but a simple prayer, to ask Him to wash away your pain and tears, is all you need to do. Don't let the fear of letting it go, stop you. But, if you want to keep looking at that dead spider, you go ahead.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

June 13

We decided that it was time to change auto insurance companies. The rates were just getting too high for the one we were using, plus, the customer service was terrible! So I called a very famous one here in Florida and got an incredible rate, until, she pulled my record! That's when my past came back to haunt me. She reminded me of my lead foot and then decided to punish me for that again as if a ticket wasn't enough! That's when you realize how amazing it is to have a Savior to forgive your sins, never to remember them again; if only the insurance companies were like that! Humans don't forget. That's why it's so important that we turn from our sin and begin to change into the image of Christ. But, isn't it like Jesus to want to move from one place to the next at an alarming rate? I wish! Unfortunately, we still have to obey the law of the land. The lesson in this is to turn away from your sin; others are watching!

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. Mark 9:42

June 12

I live in a great neighborhood. It's truly a place where "love thy neighbor" is an easy commandment to obey. Though we are only minutes away from the big city, it feels as though you are still in the country. Our house is up for sale, and it's a custom in real estate that the seller leaves while potential buyers look at the home so they can speak freely. So, we grab our dogs and sit on our neighbor's porch! That has been the highlight of my experience! How amazing would it be if everyone treated their neighbors with such love? Unfortunately, that's not always the case. The enemy has set us against one another, and it's getting out of control. It's failed communication, and he has infiltrated every form of it, and the narrative is against the good. It's time for us to put down our devices, turn off the television, and have a real conversation with the people around us. There is common ground! We just need to find it.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18