Life is a Garden Party

Monday, December 9, 2019

Fear



FEAR

In the dark of the night
under stars shining bright,
quiet except for a bleat
from a sheep that couldn't sleep,
shepherds faithfully kept watch
for sheep tend to get lost
then wild animals prey
on lone sheep gone astray.

Suddenly without warning
one night long before morning
the glory of the Lord shone around,
brighter than the noonday sun shining down,
causing these humble shepherds to be overcome with fear personified -
afraid, frightened, panicked, petrified, terrified for their very lives.
Heart stopping, shaking in their sandals,
consuming fear gripped their innards.

Not only did the glory of the Lord shine around,
an angel of the Lord of heaven and earth came down,
who immediately spoke timeless words of comfort and cheer
to allay any hint of overwhelming worry or fear.
Words that even today calms our fears:
“Do not be afraid” or “Do not fear.”
Words that God's Word repeats over and over for fear
grips our fickle hearts depleting it of joy or cheer.

The angel declared words of hope to the shepherds that night.
Words of good news that brought great joy dispelling their fright.
These words of hope triumphed over any fear;
in fact, turned their fear into holy, reverent/awed fear
for these shepherds quickly hurried to Bethlehem
where they found exactly what the angel had told them.
The promised Messiah, Christ the Lord, God's Son,
the long-awaited Savior, had finally come!

That moment of quaking fear one starry night in the field
had now turned into holy, reverent/awed fear, though not stilled,
for these shepherds told everyone, giving testimony,
repeated down through the ages – the first Christmas story.
A holy, reverent/awed fear where they could not
not stop glorifying and praising God.
Those who heard their report were amazed!
Hope soared again. Prayers of thankfulness raised.

Just think, Christ was born at the time of the census
when the city was full of King David's descendants.
This wonderful, glorious news must have traveled quickly
from house to house, inn to inn, great joy added to the revelry
of seeing long-lost loved ones, friends and family, who had come
not knowing that God's promise to Isaiah would finally come
one miraculous night in an unpretentious stable, lives now guaranteed a new lease -
our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Those returning home continued to spread the good news
until this present-day civilized world also knew
that Jesus had come, He came to save
and through His love for us His life He gave.
This good news still reaches out to hurting human hearts today
as in the name of Jesus, God's peace is only a prayer away.
Yes, our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father,
our Prince of Peace
can turn our quaking fears into a holy, reverent fear that brings great joy
and abiding peace.

When fear comes
go to the One
who is waiting to hear from you.
Abide in Him each day anew.
The promised Immanuel, God with us,
will relieve our fears when we learn to trust.
Turn whatever it is that brings fear into holy, reverent fear
by glorifying and praising God each and every day of the year.

* * * * *

Fear, in the form of worry,
dispels any peace or calmness.
This fear doesn't bring God glory.
In fact, worry is doubting God's goodness.

Worry says: God isn't big enough,
as we worry out loud “I've had enough!”
giving credence to whatever troubles us
which ends up eroding our faith, hope, and trust.

There is a God-honoring fear.
It's holy, reverent fear.
It's being in awe of God Almighty.
Showing Him respect continually.

To esteem the Lord God is to love Him,
by obeying His commandments found within
God's Holy Word, the Bible.
Holy fear will enable.

Unholy fear disables
doubting it's possible.
Holy fear has hope in God
who sustains us when times are hard.

Christmas reminds us
that God is with us
as our personal, loving Immanuel
giving us hope through what seems impossible.

How deplorable, this holy, reverent fear so absent from today's society,
where OMG degrades the one true God's holiness every second continually,
where God and His Word, His good-for-us principles, are absent from the majority,
and noticeably absent from so-called "Christmas" celebrations and festivities.

Tell someone today about how the shepherds quaking fear
was forever changed into holy, reverent godly fear.
Perhaps they too will exchange daily worry
into a testimony for God's glory.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people."
Luke 2:9-10

Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph,
and the baby who was lying in the manger.
When they had seen him,
they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Luke 2:16-18

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God
for all the things they had heard and seen,
which were just as they had been told.
Luke 2:20

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.
Isaiah 9:6

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Abiding


ABIDING

Shepherds abiding
all night residing
on the hill
where moonlight spills,
when suddenly the night sky
is filled with angels who fly.

That dark sky was lit, we are told,
with the glory of the Lord.
The shepherds were afraid,
in fact terrified,
but the angel said, “do not fear”
and spoke these words loud and clear:

“I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

After hearing these joyful words
these surprised and stunned shepherds,
filled with awesome wonder,
hurried to find the manger.
We read they did not tarry.
In fact, they quickly hurried.

They wanted to know if what the angel said was true,
for it seemed to them to be too good to be true.
It was just as the Lord’s glorious heavenly messenger said -
as they did find the newborn baby in a manger bed!
Because it was true they told everyone what they had seen and heard
before they returned to the distant hillside to tend to their herds.

These abiding shepherds were insistent
when they affirmed this awesome event.
Is it because of their persistence the Christmas story is everlasting?
Yes, these abiding shepherds had a part in history that remains enduring
for today the Lord Jesus Christ’s, the Savior’s, birth
is celebrated throughout the whole universe.

The shepherds returned to their abiding
filled with much glorifying and praising
for all the things they had seen and heard
which was just as they had been told.
I'm sure they were never again the same
for after seeing the Christ (Messiah) they were changed.

These abiding shepherds saw and believed
and wanted everyone else to believe.
As they continued to abide in the fields
I'm certain they also remained filled
with all that the Lord Jesus Christ represents -
God's promised Savior, the first Christmas present.

* * * * *

Though the story is old
its truth is never old.
The truth is still the same today
as it was those many yesterdays.
The Savior has come.
Is he welcomed?

Jesus Christ can abide in your heart
if you ask Him to come in, just start
by praying “Dear Heavenly Father,
I realize I was born a sinner
but by your grace my sins can be washed away
so I ask your forgiveness right now, today.

I believe you died on the cross
to take my punishment. It cost
me nothing for you paid everything
so all my wrong doings to you I bring.
From now on for you I want to live.
My life, as it is, to you I give."

Such a simple prayer
the Lord will hear
and then abide in you
and help you each day anew
as you abide in Him.
He's waiting to come in.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God
for all the things they had heard and seen,
which were just as they had been told.
Luke 2:20

See that what you have heard from the beginning
remains (abides) in you.
If it does, you also will remain (abide)
in the Son and in the Father.
And this is what he promised us – even eternal life.
I John 2:24-25



Saturday, December 7, 2019

Angels


ANGELS

I wonder what God named his other angels?
We know of Michael and Gabriel.
They were sent to earth as special messengers.
All angels, though, have a special purpose for
they were created to do God’s work -
for sure, a God-honoring work.

In the Bible, angels often appeared in dreams.
We read an angel spoke to Joseph in his dreams.
Joseph must have been in a listening “yes, Lord” frame of mind
for he obeyed the angelic directive time-after-time.
Joseph's obedience changed the course of history
as the Christmas story is God's Son's birth story.

This angel, a messenger direct from God, and loyal
came to Joseph when he was in mental turmoil
giving godly instructions to righteous Joseph to follow
after Joseph had thought of a human response to follow.
A timely angel with tidings who
would change society anew.

The angel, Gabriel, appeared in person to both Zechariah and Mary
with a message that seemed quite an impossibility.
Both were gripped with fear
when Gabriel appeared.
Zechariah responded with disbelief,
while Mary's response was one of believing faith.

Perhaps one of Gabriel's roles
is to bring peace to God's people
for “do not be afraid” were words
that these surprised believers heard.
Many angels brought a message of peace
for they brought with them a new lease.

One night an angel surrounded by the glory of the Lord
came down from heaven with good news of great joy for the shepherds.
As with Joseph, Mary, and Zechariah who were afraid,
this angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid.”
One role of angels must be to encourage people
for as a human race we are fearful people.

This angel could rightly be called a good news angel,
though the Bible also speaks of avenging angels.
Heavenly hosts are another name for angels.
They visited earth then went back to heaven to dwell.
These angels were praising God
with voices giving glory to God.

This occupation was not new to them
for that is the angels role in heaven.
These angels praise God day and night
perhaps surrounded by a bright light
for God is light and in Him is no darkness.
The fallen angel, satan, lives in darkness.

After Jesus' temptation in the wilderness
ministering angels came to encourage Jesus,
strengthening him, perhaps with food,
for Jesus had been without food
for 40 days and nights
being tempted in Satan's fight.

God sends guardian angels to watch over us.
Though often unaware of, they protect us.
Doing God's bidding they come
just when we most need them.
God sometimes uses ordinary people for this purpose too.
I'm sure you can think of an “angel” who was there for you.

* * * * *

Today there are still live "angels" in our midst.
Some will greet you with a hug and a kiss.
Perhaps they are named Gloria or Marco.
Others might be Angela or Antonio.
They might come with a gift of encouragement
by simply taking the time to visit.

An angel of the Lord
appeared to him in a dream and said,
"Joseph son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife,
because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit."
Matthew 1:20

An angel of the Lord
appeared to Joseph in a dream.
Matthew 2:13

An angel of the Lord
appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.
Matthew 2:19

The angel answered, “I am Gabriel.
I stand in the presence of God,
and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.
Luke 1:19

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph,
a descendant of David.
The virgin's name was Mary.
Luke 1:26-27

An angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them,
Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.”
Luke 2:9-10

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host
appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men.”
Luke 2:13

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven...
Luke 2:15

He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
Psalm 91:11

Angels came and attended him.
Matthew 4:11

Are not all angels ministering spirits
sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.
Hebrews 1:14

Do not forget to entertain strangers,
for by so doing some people have entertained angels
without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2



Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Destiny


DESTINY

Within each one of us is a God-given destiny.
In Luke 1 Mary is about to find out her destiny.
Mary, engaged to be married to Joseph,
was visited by an angel on earth.

It's true. That's how it really was.
The angel acknowledged Mary as:
“You who are highly favored.” (Luke 1:28)
That's how God see us – favored.

Loved, chosen, fortunate -
as in His favorite.
Yes, even before you were born,
God had your destiny formed.

The angel knew Mary was greatly troubled
and immediately consoled her with these words:
“Do not be afraid.
You have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:30)

You know, God knows, too, when we are worried
as scripture reminds us often with these words:
Do not be afraid.
Do not be terrified.

Do not be troubled.
Do not be discouraged.
Do not be fainthearted with sorrow.
Do not worry about tomorrow.

Because God knows the fear in our hearts
His Word will strengthen us when we start
a daily routine of reading it
with just what is needed to lift our spirit.

The angel told Mary she would give birth to a son
whose name would be Jesus who would rule an endless kingdom.
This baby would be the Son of the Most High,
He would be great and would reign by and by. (Luke 1:31-33)

When Mary questioned
the angel answered,
“nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)
Yes, with God there is nothing too hard.

What was Mary's statement?
“I am the Lord's servant.” (Luke 1:38)
She willingly carried out her destiny,
one that affects everyone's eternity.

Mary, chosen to be
mother to this baby
that would change the destiny of the world
with this greatest story ever told.

* * * * *

You, too, have a chosen destiny within you
for God has chosen you for something special, it's true.
Perhaps you have the gift of giving
to someone in the need of receiving.

You've learned that the more you give
the more blessings God in turn gives
so that you can bless others more
from God's wonderfully, abundant store.

Maybe your gift is encouragement
for everyone needs encouragement.
If you find your world is a bit more cheerful,
perhaps your encouragement made it so.

And you'll find cheerfulness
is quite contagious
as others will offer needed encouragement
perhaps in the form of a hug or a note sent.

Whatever your personal spiritual gift is,
it is your destiny to bring it to pass.
Your destiny will affect generations after you.
Perhaps like Mary, living out the gospel message true.

Will you be like Mary and say,
“I am the Lord's servant” everyday.
This is your destiny
for all eternity.

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered.
Luke 1:38

I tell you, do not worry about your life...
Matthew 6:25

Do not be anxious about anything...
Philippians 4:6

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.
If a man's gift is prophesy,
let him use it in proportion to his faith.
If it is serving, let him serve;
if it is teaching, let him teach;
if it is encouraging, let him encourage;
if it is contributing to the needs of others,
let him give generously;
if it is leadership, let him govern diligently;
if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Romans 12:6-8

Encourage one another
and build each other up.
I Thessalonians 5:11

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who loved us and by his grace gave us
eternal encouragement and good hope,
encourage your hearts and strengthen you
in every good deed and word.
II Thessalonians 2:16-17


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Christmas Memories


Will be adding Christmas stories to this blog this month of December.
Starting with one from my childhood.

CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

Gingerbread cookies and bread baking,
venison soup in a big pot stirring.
Mom's busy in the kitchen.
Later these goodies we'd be sharing.

Everyone piles into the car
to deliver Christmas cheer – not far,
to those who lived alone.
People now long gone.

A quart jar of soup, a loaf of bread,
a plate of cookies – someone it fed.
But there was a bigger gift -
for someone's spirits would lift.

To have company unexpectedly
for those alone was somewhat heavenly.
There was a twinkle in their eye.
They were sad to say goodbye.

...Still makes a memory sweet.
Christmas memories can't be beat.

Dad quoted "T'was the Night Before Christmas."
He also said "Bah, Humbug," I must confess.
Two stories that must have had meaning
from childhood days each year gleaning.

Dad usually was up all night plowing snow
for on Christmas Day people had places to go.
No moss grew under his feet -
nor snow, nor ice, nor sleet.

Not one to be materialistic
but one to share wherever he saw fit.
Making memories for others -
for it was never a bother.

Sharing was Dad's year-round motto.
Sometimes it was a sack of potatoes.
Perhaps Christmas comes every day
if one takes time to share today.

...Still makes a memory sweet.
Christmas memories can't be beat.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Day Before Thanksgiving


The Day Before Thanksgiving

The day before Thanksgiving
in this blessed country we're living
our kitchens are a-flutter.
Don't forget the butter.

The day before Thanksgiving
there are pies baking in the oven
with cinnamon and allspice.
Doesn't it all smell nice!

The day before Thanksgiving
the turkey's still defrosting,
butternut squash is ready for roasting
when the pies come out of the oven.

The day before Thanksgiving
there's day-old bread for cubing
to mix with poultry seasoning
causing some to be sneezing.

The day before Thanksgiving
celery and onions are sauteing
to be added to the stuffing
or do you call it dressing?

The day before Thanksgiving
the refrigerator's stuffed with everything.
In fact, each one's favorite foods for eating,
as everyone is preparing for a day of feasting.

The day before Thanksgiving
the pretty company dishes need a quick washing,
perhaps the tablecloths or linens need pressing,
and there doesn't seem to be time for everything.

The day before Thanksgiving
our country is preparing
for a day of feasting
with much thanksgiving.

* * * * *

The day before Thanksgiving
with thankful hearts we're intent on giving
a prayer of gratitude overflowing
for much more than the food we're busy cooking.

We're thankful for our loved ones,
those near and those far from home,
for those added to the family
and those now in eternity.

We're thankful for everyone's health
irregardless of what has been dwelt -
for adversity teaches us to trust,
growing our faith, which is God's good plan for us.

We're thankful for freedom to worship
with others in like fellowship,
to pray for one another,
and encourage each other.

We're thankful for God's Word
which helps keep us moored
in choosing to do what's right,
to stand firm in faith, not sight.

We're thankful for God's Word which keeps us nourished
so that our faith will grow strong and flourish
as God's Word is food for the soul -
sustenance to keep us well and whole.

We're thankful for ...
(be sure to discuss what you're thankful for).




Foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving
by those who believe and who know the truth.
For everything God created is good.
I Timothy 4:3-4

Let us come before him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 95:2

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Psalm 107:1

Didn't have a photo of a pie to share
but did find this bridal shower cake
that seems appropriate.

Life Is a Garden Party
is available via Amazon.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Gathering



Gathering

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing
as friends and family join in one big union
around the table abundantly laden
with the garden's yearly colorful offerings.

But before we partake by dining
we'll offer up heartfelt thanksgiving
by coming together with a connecting
of everyone's hands around the table joining.

There's the large calloused hands of those who labor,
rather fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers,
co-joined with the frail, soft hands of one's great grandmother,
who may join hands with a pudgy-fisted toddler.

There's the hands of the ones who prepared dinner,
perhaps roughened and red from cold weather,
linked with antsy teenagers
who can't wait to eat dinner.

Hands that create
and others that bake
something for dinner tonight
which brings diners delight.

Other times two loving hands connect
though this merging is often too quick.
Fingers wearing rings engraved with "together forever"
and other fingers with scars and stains worn forever.

There are hands dotted with age spots,
lined hands that have seen a lot
of sorrows and joys
as their hands employed.

If only these hands could talk
they'd tell tales that you'd never thought.
Sometimes this familiar joining
is meant to stop fidgeting.

Hands with short fingers still growing,
slender fingers of one blossoming
wearing nail polish expressing
one's individuality often.

Hands that lovingly care,
hands that often share,
hands that burdens bear,
hands daily pressed in prayer.

Hands in all shapes and sizes, eight fingers, two thumbs,
in various shades, belonging to a loved one,
held together for a moment in time -
a familiar tie in which love binds.

Hands joined together with thankful hearts
that one day will no longer park
around this table any longer,
replaced by hands of a stranger.

Yet this stranger one day invited in
becomes family now known as kin.
This gathering around the table becomes
to new family members a heartfelt welcome.

May tonight as you gather together to eat
become a time when hands reach out to greet,
to connect with a loving heart
before dining begins to start.

Holding hands in prayer,
thanking God for His care,
then God's goodness share
through abundant fare.

* * * * *

Have you ever thought about God's hands?
Every day they uphold men and women
and care for His beloved children
for in God's hands there is a saving plan
to sustain and protect all humans
across all countries and distant lands.

He's got the whole world in His hands...
He's got you and me brother in His hands...
He's got you and me sister in His hands...
He's got the little tiny babies His hands...
He's got the whole world in His hands...

Here's some selected verses from Psalms
on which to quietly reflect on
about God's awesome hands.
Hands which fill us with songs
with grateful thanksgiving on our tongues
giving praise to God to whom we belong.

You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

You give me your shield of victory,
and your right hand sustains me;
you stoop down to make me great.
Psalm 18:35

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
he answers him from his holy heaven
with the saving power of his right hand.
Psalm 20:6

My times are in your hands.
Psalm 31:15

If the Lord delights in a man's way,
he makes his steps firm;
though he stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
Psalm 37:23-24

In your majesty ride forth victoriously
in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness;
let your right hand display awesome deeds.
Psalm 45:4

My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:8

You hold me by your right hand.
You guide me with you counsel...
Psalm 73:23-24

Your arm is endued with power;
your hand is strong,
your right hand exalted.
Psalm 89:13

For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The seas is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Psalm 95:3-5

Help me, O Lord my God;
save me in accordance with your love.
Let them know that it is your hand,
that you, O Lord, have done it.
Psalm 109:26-27

The Lord's right hand is lifted high;
the Lord's right hand has done mighty things!
Psalm 118:16

With a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:12

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes,
with your right hand you save me.
Psalm 138:7

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O Lord, endures forever -
do not abandon the works of your hands.
Psalm 138:8

Life Is a Garden Party
is available via Amazon.