Believing the Best

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Believing the best is something that is hard for many of us. It often requires looking past, over or around what we perceive and choosing to think differently. However, it is essential to us as Believers if we are to live abundant overcoming lives. Even when we can’t see it we need to believe it. This is true hope in God, His character and of course His promises.

Take our father in the faith, Abraham who despite what he saw, felt, perceived and imagined became the father of nations and more.

Romans 4:18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” New International Version

Romans 4:18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping–believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” New Living Translation

I like how the NIV says Abraham in hope believed “against all hope” like he was refusing to give into the perception of the impossible. The NLT makes it even clearer that despite the fact there was no reason for hope, Abraham believed.

What a role model for us to follow in this determination of hope and believing the best despite what our senses, feelings and mind tells us. A devotion my wife shared with me recently puts it like this: Expect the Good “Can you get an attitude of faith that expects the best? Not waiting for the next bad thing to happen to you, but, with a child’s joyful trust, awaiting the next good thing in store for you?

That is our call as Christians and our key to finding joy and peace through the power of Hope in God. He is faithful and good so let’s not only hope the best but believe the best each day.

Sights and Signs of Life

With summer in full swing, the days are long and full of fun activities. God’s presence can be felt like the warm sunshine each day. Joyful noises of birds singing, people laughing and an occasional rain shower fill the air. However, if we are not looking for these beautiful sights and signs of life, we can miss the comforting and good gifts God gives us every moment of our lives.

That’s right God is constantly covering us with His tender care and lovingly carrying us through the journey of life until we are at home with Him forever in heaven. Some days seem long and there are even season’s when we don’t see or feel this truth of God’s love. However, not only is God there protecting, guiding and blessing but He and His promises are always faithful and true.

It is in times like these we often need some extra nudges to see God’s blessings and goodness all around us. We need to be reminded that God is so good and that He is pouring out His love on us in so many ways. The song “Count your blessing, name them one by one” is not only for children but everyone regardless of age.  It’s a sure way to brighten up a day and fill it with some “Sonshine” that will put bounce in your step and song in your heart.

In case you need some visual prompting to think and believe God’s best about the day, check out the attached pics below. :)

Pray, Pray, Pray to Brighten Your Day

You know, prayer is one of the most under utilized resources we as Christians have here on earth. It is not only the way we communicate and fellowship with God but it is how we engage Him in bringing more of Heaven to earth each day through our prayers of petition.

Prayer fills us with the peace, love and joy needed to make it through each day and our requests bring about miracles both small and large. God alone is the miracle maker who does more than we could ever hope and imagine on a daily basis and we get to often be a part of things through our prayers.

Prayer is an open line of communication to heaven and a direct pipeline bringing down heaven’s blessings to earth. It is a two way street though offering up praises and heartfelt words and listening to words of encouragement and guidance.  Prayer is the most powerful gift we have as Believers. Yet we often go days between conversations and replies to the nudging of the Holy Spirit.

When we do take time to prayer, we are more hopeful, more confident and even happier as we walk through our day holding the hand of our Savior, Jesus. It’ll not only brighten your day but light up the world around you, too. So if you need a lift today, pray. I know you will be glad you did. :)

 

Wholesome Thinking

I wanted to share a great devotion by ‘Seeds of the Kingdom” I read [text is below] on wholesome thinking.

I know all of us here agree that we need to be wholesome in our thoughts in order to honor God but what I find challenging is keeping my definition of what is wholesome centered in what God says in the Bible given the bombardment of things contrary to what God says is good from schools, businesses, theme parks, tv, the media, culture and society.

There are so many subtle and not so suble graphics, images, words, mascotts, characters, lifestyle choices and just plane yucky stuff sugar coated, dressed up and twisted to sound and look ok all under the umbrella of tolerence, entertainment, compromise, sensitivity, open mindedness and moderation that it is hard to know what’s what these days.

However, as Christians we are called to be separate and set a part and not mixed-up in all the yuck. In fact, we are called to be the salt of the earth protecting people, the culture and society from decaying just as salt protects meat from going rotten. The great news is that Jesus has given us all we need to stand for Him, evangelize the lost and bring our cultures in line with how God wants us to live and I believe is starts with prayer and is lived out through wholesome thinking as outlined by the devotion I came across below.


Scripture: “Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.”
2 Peter 3:1, NIV

“Recently I was praying with a group of friends and skimming through my Bible at the same time looking for inspiration. Suddenly my eyes lighted on our verse for today – a verse I had never noticed before, even though I must have read it many times!

In this verse Peter was telling his readers the somewhat unusual reason why he had written his letters, not to urge them forward to some great act of spiritual commitment, or to correct their sinful actions, or to teach them some important new truths – even though all of these are implicit in different parts of his letters – but to stimulate them to wholesome thinking.

Peter knew what he wanted to do – he was concerned above all that God’s people should understand a principle that would stand them in good stead for the rest of their days. Practical advice on a particular issue is often important and valuable – but if you can teach people a principle to live by you have given them advice that will hold true for hundreds of occasions.

Everything we do in life – whether it be good or bad – always begins with a thought. Then as we think about it, we decide to do it and finally we involve our body in the action that began as a thought. Now, if our thinking is always wholesome, then it’s obvious that the actions that follow will also be wholesome. But if in our minds we dwell on the ungodly, the unwholesome, the crude, the selfish and the greedy, to quote but a few possibilities, then our consequential actions will also be a reflection of what we’ve been thinking. What a contrast between the two sets of actions!

Peter’s advice holds good for us now. No wonder Paul encouraged us to take every thought captive, for if we control our thinking then our ways will truly be guided by the Lord into the ways of righteousness and the ways of blessing.”

Prayer: Help me Lord to always think about godly things and to stop myself thinking about the ungodly so that my actions will be in line with whatever is pure and holy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

5/6 UPDATE:

I saw the following prayer as the conclusion to another online devotion I read on the importance of wholesome activities and thought it was a fitting footnote to this post.

Lord, thank You for people who are around me who seem to flow with goodness.  (name them)  Help me to receive joy from wholesome activities.  Bring people around me who will encourage me to do good and wholesome things each day.  Amen.

Final Rays of Sonshine: Helen McClaren

Well, it’s been a good year of highlighting some of the ministry’s bright and shining hearts with our monthly Rays of Sonshne BLOG posts and today is our final highlighting post that features yet another very special volunteer: Helen McClaren.

Helen began serving with Access-Life at our first Expo in East Tennessee back in 2010. Since that time she has become a key member of the area outreach planning team spearheading the food service and volunteer recruiting at her church each year. She has also become an Area Outpost leader not only attending local ministry activities but seeing that her church hosts the annual Access-Life Spring Fling. To top off all of these accomplishments, Helen join the ministry’s board of directors this year. A real blessing for our leadership team. :)

Despite all her hard work and accomplishing so much for the ministry, Helen is a behind the scenes, low key kind of leader. She leads with actions and can definitely speak up about her passions of serving others, especially those with disabilities in Jesus’ name. But, Helen, does all this with a gracious smile and serving with a “however needed” kind of attitude. What a great reminder for us all about what God can accomplish as we work diligently for Him with the heart of a servant. That is what impresses us most about Helen and why she is December’s Ray of Sonshine.

Sweetest Name I Know

One of my favorite songs is the classic, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus Sweetest Name I Know”. It goes on to say that “It fills my every longing and keeps me singing as I go”. Aren’t these words so true? What an amazing blessing Jesus gives to us: meeting our every need and giving us His joy to put a song in our heart.

Jesus alone can save. Amen. And only Jesus can satisfy and give abundant life. He alone is our source of happiness and hope. He alone is what we need to fill our lives with goodness, love and light. He is alone is what we thirst for in the highs and lows of life. And He alone is our sustainer when we are on top of mountains or in valleys so deep.

I’ve learned that keeping my focus on Jesus who is seated above at the right hand of God as it says in Colossians 3:2 is the only way for me to rise above the waves of life and experience the wonderful truth of this encouraging song. It helps me think the best and believe the best as I stand on the promises He has given. Now that is another great song [“Standing on the Promises”] but we’ll make that another post later. LOL :)

In any case, here is some word art that I pray will encourage and bless you as you seek to enjoy Jesus and all He gives.

Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas

What a glorious celebration is Christmas. Such a blessed season of Emmanuel, when God came to be with us in human form. It is a time to enjoy God’s presence in a fresh way through His forgiveness, grace and mercy, through His protection, provision and power and through His shelter, upholding and tender care. The time is now and everyday of the year to walk in these comforting truths. God is with us always and like a shepherd leading us beside still waters and green pastures.

It is our hope and prayer at Access-Life that you not only know these truths but are experiencing them each day of this Christmas season. Despite the hustle and bustle of this time of year and the noise that may be louder than we all care to hear, God is whispering in an ever soft but unstoppable and penetrating way: “I am here”. So, please take a moment and enjoy that reality this Christmas and all year round for that matter as God is always closer than we think, hope and realize. :)

Merry Christmas and may God bless you richly in this great season of joy!