Self-Preservation

“…If I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:16 (NIV)

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Self-preservation can be the biggest stumbling block to a fruitful and fulfilled life. This is a learned behavior that develops over time through our life experiences. Perhaps, you were orphaned as a child; was bounced around from foster home to foster home; or simply was the oldest child who felt they had taken second place because of a sibling who required more attention than you. Or maybe you were the youngest sibling who was made to look up to your older brothers and sisters. There are many scenarios that could cause your spirit to fight for a place of recognition.

Esther, a Jew living under the rule of the Persians, was one who had learned the rule of self-preservation. She was an orphan who was living in the house of her uncle. As such, she had to maintain a lifestyle that didn’t bring attention to herself. But, the King of Persia had deposed the Queen for not doing what he asked, and was looking for a new Queen—he noticed Esther’s beauty—so much for being inconspicuous. But, she was well adept to her own self-preservation, so when the King summoned her to be his wife, she met his every wish. She was under his rule.  You might ask “What was a Jewish woman doing as the Queen of Persia“? Well, God had a plan.

If it hadn’t been for Esther’s vision and acceptance of God’s plan, not only she, but the whole Jewish nation may have perished. But, Esther grit her teeth, and stood up straight, and marched in to see the King unannounced [a person was subject to death if they went in to the presence of the King without his knowing you were coming] and successfully saved her people. However, she did this only after 3 days of prayer and fasting asking for God’s wisdom and direction. She also called upon her uncle and the Jews in the region to join her in prayer and fasting. Only in relationship with God and man can great things happen. Because she knew she was going against the King’s edict, Esther’s last statement before going before him was, “If I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)

The fact is we cannot save ourselves—no matter how many good works we do or how many church services we attend. In the end there is no such thing as self-preservation. God made you and He said it was good. Sometimes there is much suffering that occurs before we realize the goodness, but you must not give up!

God has a purpose for you—only through prayer and fasting can it be realized. And whatever you hear God calling you to do, He will not send you to do it alone—He will be with you.

When you read the story of Esther in your Bible, you will see that because of her vison, her people were saved from destruction and she from a life of hiding her identity.

Dear Lord, help me to be who you have created me to be. Lead me in your righteousness. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN

 

Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.  Psalm 1:1-2 (NLT)

Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.  Psalm 119:2-3 (NLT)

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)

God’s Army Approaches

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“Come from the four winds O breathe, and breathe on these slain, that they may live…they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.” Ezekiel 37:9, 10)

Last week we witnessed a phenomenon! Who ever heard of waking up in the middle of a cold night to go outside (in my bathrobe) to look up at the sky? But, that’s exactly what my husband and I did! And we saw it happening right before our eyes—the moon was almost completely covered and it was red like blood. There were millions of stars twinkling as though with joy! You can read about this in God’s word. What does God want us to understand?

Perhaps, this–in an evil world following the will of God is not easy, but in the end it will be the only thing that will save you.

The activity in the heavens which we witnessed, must serve as a warning to all who do not know the Lord, and to those who do, but may be growing weary in well-doing. You may be shaken by human tragedy, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunami, extreme cold, wars, uprising, and separations. You may be sick and tired of a government that seems more bent on having its own way than serving the people they were called to serve. But, in all of this the eventuality is, God will be victorious and those who remain true to Him will be called up to be a part of His Great Army. When God breathes life into you, you will live and be victorious—to God be the glory. The moon may be covered with blood but you will not, because the light of Jesus Christ will be living in you.

Finally in the last days God will destroy every religious, political, and educational institution that humanity has built apart from God. So hang on to your faith for the ride is about to become even bumpier. The wind and waves will become stronger and higher. In order that you will not go down with the ship—hang on to the One who can save you. No matter how bad it gets, how dismal the future from your vantage point looks, your God will come and save you.

There will be another blood moon. And maybe this time we will look up and see, in the darkness of the heavens, a light shining brighter and brighter may be the Lord Jesus Christ coming to save all those who have not abandoned their faith for some brief comfort in the world.

God’s army approaches…will you be ready to be a part of it?

Dear Lord, through it all I believe you will never leave me. Forgive me, I repent of my unfaithfulness. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN

Rev. 6:12    Joel 2:10    Matt. 24:29    Rev. 16:18

Time to Love

“And there is a time for every event under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

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When is the time to love? And what is love? The Preacher writes in Ecclesiastes 3:8 that there is “a time to love and a time to hate…” He goes on to write, “He has planted eternity in the human heart…” (Vs. 11) but, we cannot see into it, so what do we do with the time we have now? Again, the Preacher writes, “people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of our labor, for these are the gifts of God.” (Vs 13)

All these things are true. But, it is the believer’s responsibility to live the time that has been allotted them in a responsible and obedient way. Time and love are eternal truths. They are aspects of a life that takes many turns, it has many ups and downs, but always these two—one pertaining to quantity, the other to quality. One without the other leads to a life of meaninglessness.

Time is endless and it is also illusive. You cannot stop time. You cannot reverse time. We wonder where the time went or wish we could have that time back, neither is possible. The truth is, yesterday is gone, tomorrow may never be, all we have is this moment—it is called the present.

God’s Word is all about time. It tells about the time the universe was created…”In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Every day for six days He created it all and called it good. Then on the seventh day He rested. Those seven days have repeated themselves for over 4000 years and will continue as long as God has planned. God’s timing is not our timing, therefore, even though we may have calculated the end of time, it is something we cannot know. Meanwhile, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves and love God with all our heart, mind, and soul. (Lev. 19:18 & Deut. 6:5)

Love. This word is so misused in today’s world…we love our cars, houses, jobs, pets…yes they are all important to us and fill our lives with comfort, but love is more than “things.”  To love as God commands is all-encompassing, it emanates His love for us, which never ends no matter what horrific deed we have performed—even in the name of love.

Paul writes to the Church at Corinth, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal…” (I Corinthians 13:1) He indicates in his writing that without love we are nothing!

This is what love is not:-

Love is not rude, self-seeking, easily angered, keeps no account of wrongs, takes no pleasure in evil…

 Now he tells us what love is:-

“Love is patient, love is kind….rejoices in the truth…It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

(I Corinthians 13:4-8)

If you look at this passage carefully and compare it to what God told Moses to say to the Israelites in Leviticus 19:18, you will see it is the same. It is also the same as John’s statement of “God is love.” (I John 7:16) And, if as believers we understand this truth, we are to love others and ourselves likewise, forever and always.

Time and love are eternal truths that begin and end with God. One day God “will make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5) He is the beginning and the end—He holds time in one hand and love in the other. To the believer they cannot be separated and are always a part of us. Take the time God has allotted you and live it in love.

 

Dear Lord, make this day a blessing to you, others, and myself. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 17   Ecclesiastes 8:6   Leviticus 19:18

(C) Rev. Betty A Beach-Connell, 2019

A Better Way

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…” I Timothy 6:10

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A young woman seemed to achieve the impossible.

She married very young and birthed a beautiful, baby boy. But, things did not go well and she divorced, becoming a single Mom. Shortly after, her son was diagnosed with cancer. The next 6 years were almost more than she could handle, but she, and her son, survived—even more, they began to thrive.

This young woman pulled herself up and made a decision to go to nursing school, during which time she remarried. She was newly married, caring for her sick son, and going to school—a marvelous feat, indeed.

After getting her degree, she began to apply what she had learned firsthand through caring for her son, and her schooling. She became an excellent nurse—one who really wanted to help her patients. It wasn’t just a job, but she served with compassion. Life was great! She was doing something that really mattered and she was being paid well for it—very well.

She bought things she could never have afforded before; she and her husband even built their own house, but there was something very important missing. Her life became all about her and what she had achieved on her own strength. She had forgotten to give God the credit. The world said, “You earned it, enjoy it!” And as a result, all she had obtained began to fall away and crumble before her eyes—even her health failed.

The seeds that were planted within her, by the Christians around her, had fallen upon thorns. The world choked out every good word she heard and every good deed she had seen. As it did she became resentful and angry. She abused her body with alcohol. She laughed much too much covering up the sadness, hurt, and sorrow she felt in her soul. She did, however, have glimpses of God’s love, but it didn’t last because she allowed the world to once again choke it out.

But, you know, God doesn’t give up trying. He is still calling her (and you) to follow Him. He is calling you to flee from the things of the world and follow after righteousness. He is calling you to bear fruit that emphasizes His love. He is calling you to have faith for the best is yet to come. He is calling you to have patience for where there is no way He will make a way. He is calling you to love as He has loved you.

All the hurts, sorrows, and struggles the world has put you through can be turned into peace, love, and joy when you turn your life over to God. Jesus died on the cross willingly—He gave up His life for you and freed you from all your sin—therefore, it is possible to start over, no matter your age or what you have done.

Now is the day of salvation and a better way. God wants to bless You, but first you must turn your face upon Him.

Dear Lord, help me make that all important move and fall into step with You. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN

I Timothy 6:10, 11   Matthew 13:22

“…those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

(C) Rev. Betty A Beach-Connell, 2019

Mind Over Bowel

“…refresh my bowels in the Lord.” Philemon 20 (KJV)

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I was lying awake pleading with the Lord, “Please, Lord, inform my brain that it needs to tell my bowels to move!” I was feeling much discomfort due to constipation. This happens fairly often and I am overjoyed when relief comes. After all, I reasoned, the movement of my bowels is the way my body excretes all the “stuff” my body cannot use—it is waste material and if not excreted could eventually poison all the good nutrients my body needs to be healthy.

I lay there, in the dark, thinking about this for a while.

Then suddenly, another thought came to mind—I do not think I am any different from many of you in thinking the leaders of our country are a terrible example to the citizens, especially the young. I think their brains need to tell their bowels to move, as well. They need to get rid of all that is poisoning the good that I know is there, but is over-shadowed by a sinful nature that has been allowed to seep in—they need a change of heart—they need Christ!

Eventually, the constipation of the body will subside. The body will work as God has created it to work and all of its parts will work together for the good of all. Likewise, when our leaders decide to pull together, our body of government will be whole and healthy once again. For, divided we fall, united we stand.

However, the body sometimes has to take its medicine to maintain health. So, too, with companies, institutions and governments. That medicine doesn’t always taste so good, but the outcome will be positive and health will reign once again.

I truly believe that where there seems to be no way God will make a way. Let us trust in Him.

Those of us who know the Lord, who believe in our hearts in His love and mercy, must pray for the hand of God to move upon our land, that it will not shut up the bowels of compassion on those in need. (I John 3:17) “Yea. Brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord; refresh my bowels (have inward affection + tender mercy) in the Lord.” (Philemon 20 KJV)

Dear Father, may Your hand of mercy hold this nation close to Your heart. Shelter all under Your wings. In Jesus name I pray. AMEN

Romans 8:6   Galatians 6:9   Philemon 7, 12, 20   I John 3:17

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

(C) Rev. Betty A Beach-Connell. 2019

The First Days

“She gave birth to her first child a son.” Luke 2:7

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This is the first day of the rest of your life. We have changed the calendar and have begun a new year. I wonder what this “New Year” will hold for you and me. How have we prepared for whatever is to come?

Do you remember the feeling of holding your first child? All your hopes and dreams were wrapped up in that little bundle of joy. There were no thoughts of any harm coming to your baby or to you as a family—it was just a moment of joy. The struggle of the birthing process was over and now there was just a sigh of contentment and a look of love.

The same was true of Mary as she held her baby son in her arms. All she wanted to do was love and protect him. But, one day he would grow up and have to face the world on his own. However, meanwhile, she would give him a good home and teach him, by her example, how to live in relationship to God and one another.

O, I know Jesus was divine as well as human, and already knew all things; but, don’t you think this is not only about this Holy family, but also about us? Is it not something we should incorporate into our own lives; should we not bring our children up with love and respect—teaching them by our example how to live in a loving relationship with God and one another?

I know that one day, the baby you held in your arms, and felt their warm body next to yours, will grow into an independent person. But on that day, he/she will remember the good things you taught them. They may seem to forget for a while, but deep down inside the Holy Spirit is stirring and at the right moment goodness will emerge. At this time, every mother and father must pray for God to show them the way. For no matter what happens, God will be there with your child.

This is the first day of your life. Where you go from here is your choice. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) I hope and pray that you will, too.

Dear Lord, in these first three days of the New Year help me to discover who You have called me to be. Who am I, Lord? Show me. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN

Further reading: Luke 2:7,21,2,28,34,36,38,39,40,42-43,45-46,51-52

 

Ask the Animals

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“Just ask the animals, and they will teach you.” Job 12:7

The day is fast approaching. As it gets closer, the world becomes more and more tense. Can you feel it? Can you see the evidence of it? People rushing here and there trying to get all they have on their lists accomplished. Children filled with anticipations and expectations. All in preparation for THE DAY!

Oh, if we could only channel all that energy and excitement toward the coming of the Lord! If only we could quiet our souls and wait patiently for Him. And while we wait, do good in a world that is filled with chaos. All we need to do is watch the animals to see how it is done.

Two dogs meet for the first time. They sniff each other; they check one another out; when they are satisfied, they begin to romp and play with one another. The birds that gather around our pond are respectful of one another. They give each other space to do what the Lord has created them to do. The fish swim and the birds fly. The cows give us milk and stand hours on end just chewing their cud. The horse carries its riders wherever they want to go-some of them pull the plow or the family buggy. The dog gives pleasure and comfort to its owner and his family. Even the wild animals have their places of honor in creations. Watch the animals and you will understand what is required of mankind and the world will no longer have rule over you.

“…what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”(Micah 6:8)

One day we will dwell together in peace and harmony (Isa. 11:6-7). If the animals, that we assume were in the stable the night Jesus was born, could speak our language they would tell us, that this baby was God who came to earth and dwells among us to teach us how to live and how to love. When we finally learn that lesson, He will come again and take us Home. Home is a place of peace and harmony living in the presence of and with the Lord God.

In the genre of the animals, Isaiah says it this way:

“In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child ill lead them all. The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow.” (Isaiah 11:6-7)

O, MAY WE ALL FIND SUCH PEACE!

SIMPLY BELIEVE!

 

Dear Lord, you have made all things and each one has a place in your heart. I pray that I will fulfill the reason for which I was created and bring You honor and glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN

Job 12:7   John 1:29   Luke 2:7   Isaiah 65:25   Isaiah 11:6-7

(C) Rev. Betty A Beach-Connell 2018

The Last Day

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“…encourage one another…” I Thessalonians 4:18

 

Today is the last day of the year two thousand and eighteen. People are preparing for big celebrations. There will be parties; people crowded into Times Square to watch the magnificent glass ball drop; and fireworks displays heralding in a new year. We evaluate the past year and look forward to a new one—a new beginning. We make “new year’s resolutions” that seem to fizzle out after a few days. After this night of revelry—which is only a fuzzy memory for some—we awake to a new day of same ole, same ole.

Preparing for the “last day” may take several days, weeks, or even months of planning. Sometimes we start the planning during the celebration of the present last night. It takes a lot of effort to get to the point where you may not remember anything that has happened. Or at the very least, awaken so tired that you can hardly navigate the first day of the New Year. So much energy spent to have the time of your life that you don’t even remember!

The Bible talks about the “last day,” as well. This day, it tells us, “will happen in a moment, in a blink of an eye” (I Corinthians 15:52). Not unlike the night I have described, there must be preparation. However, this preparation takes much less effort on your part in order that you will be ready to participate in its joy. Yet, many have refused.

There will come a time when all the parties, fireworks, and splendor of the glass ball will pale. Nothing will compare with what is to come. Even though, we do not know the time of it’s coming we should not grow into a state of complacency, for even if we pass from this life before “The Day,” we will all be received into its glory by the God of Glory Jesus, if we have recognized our sin (Romans 3:23); repented (turned away from) and believed (Acts 3:19 & Mark 16:16); and began to serve and follow Christ (Revelation 2:10,11). This is the preparation for the greatest celebration known to mankind.

The butterfly goes through a great struggle before it comes into its beauty. So too, for the Christian. But, the butterfly does not give up. It believes that the struggle will be worth all the pain and heartache that it takes to achieve what God has called it to be—a beautiful, carefree creature that gives everyone who sees it great joy. You are that butterfly—maybe still in your cocoon—but, nevertheless, God has destined you to live in His glory that others may be encouraged, also. You see, God does not desire anyone to perish, but for all to be brought to a place where we can share His glory. This IS the day of new beginnings!

“This is the day of new beginnings, time to remember and move on, time to believe what love is bringing, laying to rest the pain that’s gone.

Christ is alive, and goes before us to show and share what love can do. This is the day of new beginnings, our God is making all things new.”

Words: Brian Wren, 1978; alt. 1987 (Rev. 21:5)

Music: Carlton R. Young, 1984

U M C Hymnal (1989) pg. 383

Read Isaiah 43:19

Heavenly Father, I may not understand how everything will work out, but I trust You. I don’t see a way, but I know You will make a way. I have faith that at this very moment You are touching hearts, opening doors, and lining up the right breaks and right opportunities. Things may look dark and bleak now, but I have faith that my dawn is coming. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN

 

I am looking forward to whatever is in Your plan for me!

A Blessed New Year to all!

I Thessalonians 4:16   Matthew 24:30   I Corinthians 15:52

(C) Rev. Betty A Beach-Connell 2018

 

The Visitation

The Visitation

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“…an angel of the Lord appeared to him; Gabriel appeared to her; and an angel of the Lord appeared to them…” Luke 1:11; 1:28; 2:9

One of my favorite songs is: “Angels Among Us” by Alabama. The words of the chorus is: “Oh, I believe there are Angels among us/Sent down to us from somewhere up above/They come to you and me in our darkest hours/to show us how to live/to teach us how to give/to guide us with the light of love.”

The song begins by telling a story of a little boy walking home from school on a cold winters day. He took a short cut through the woods and lost his way. It was getting late and he was scared. He thought he was all alone, but he was not—God sent an angel to guide him home.

When he got home, he told his mother about the old man who had taken his hand and led him through the dark woods to safety. His mother couldn’t see the old man, but the little boy knew in his heart that he was an answer to his prayer.

Zechariah, Mary, and the Shepherds felt alone and in the dark, also. When you read their stories in the scripture, according to the Gospel of Luke, you will see that they were never alone, God made sure His Messengers were on hand to guide them through the dark, frightening times.

You see, God has a plan! It is a plan to bring hope, peace, and love to His creation. It is a plan that will not fail. It began long before the world was created and it includes you and me. Believing in Jesus, the Son of God, and that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, a virgin, brings a shining light to a world of darkness and chaos. Just as that old man appeared to the little boy lost and afraid in the dark woods, an angel (in some form) will appear to you. I know, because my husband and I have experienced the visitation of an angel!

While traveling through a city, that we were unfamiliar with—we lost our route. We drove down several streets, seemingly going around in circles, driving through dangerous neighborhoods. Finally, we stopped at a gas station to ask for directions. My husband went inside hoping to find someone who could help. I sat in the car with the doors locked, praying. It seemed like forever, but soon my husband appeared—there was a disheveled man right behind him!

Del got in the car and said, “We have help! He is going to lead us out! We are going to follow him!” God sent His angel, in the form of a disheveled man and his wife in a black car, to bring us forth from the dark woods and be safely on our way home. There are angels among us—do not be afraid!

Do not be lost in a cold, dark world. Believe in God. Believe in Jesus Christ. Believe in the Holy Spirit. Believe there are Angels all around you to light your way through the “dark woods” of life to the clearing of peace, joy, and love.

Dear Heavenly Father, you light up my life with song. Help me to see the angels whom you send to light my path. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN

Luke 1:11 & 13   Luke 1:28 & 30   Luke 2:9,10,13

(C) Rev Betty A Beach-Connell 2018

Jesus is Better Than Santa

IMG_5488Santa lives at the North Pole; Jesus is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh; Jesus rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year; Jesus is an ever present help.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited; Jesus stands at your door and knocks.

Santa makes you stand in line to see him; Jesus is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap; Jesus lets you rest in His arms.

Santa asks, “Little boy, little girl, what is your name?” Jesus knew our names before we did.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly; Jesus has a heart full of love.

Santa offers “Ho,ho,ho”; Jesus offers health, help, and hope.

Santa says “You better not cry”; Jesus says, “Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.”

Santa’s little helpers make toys; Jesus makes new lives, mends hearts, repairs broken homes.

Santa may make you chuckle; Jesus gives you joy.

Santa puts gifts under your tree; Jesus became our gift and died on the tree.

There’s really no comparison.

Jesus is the reason for the season.

(C) Rev. Betty A Beach-Connell  2018