Help in Growing Spiritually

Lost and Didn't Even Know It

Jan. 6, 2014

It seems over the last couple of years, I have developed a frustrating habit of losing things. I can lay something down and 2 minutes later forget where I laid it or not be able to remember why I walked from one room into another!   I like to think that it's not because I'm getting a bit older but that it's because I have so many things on my mind regularly, so many things to process, that some things just fall by the way. I always thought that when my children grew up, left home and started their own lives, that mine would slow down. How wrong I was.  It seems that it has only gotten busier. I'm not complaining about that at all. Actually, I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful that I'm not one sitting around being bored with seemingly nothing to do, no one to help, no one to encourage.
Having said that, my cell phone is one of my best buddies and one of my worst nightmares. It keeps me connected in so many ways to those I love and can easily get me to where I'm going as long as I plug in the correct address. The information of the world on any given subject is at my fingertips as long as my fingertips type in the correct word when I ask it to search. So, you ask, how can it be a nightmare?  Well, I am probably one of the world's worst at keeping up with my cell phone, particularly when my mind is running in many different directions.  I'll lay it down somewhere and forget where I've laid it. I'll put it in my purse and not be able to find it in the bottomless pit of my purse. Time and time again, I've had to call my cell phone from my house phone so that I could follow the ring and find it! I've even had to have others do this for me when I've been out somewhere and misplaced it.
Recently, I was at a local store here in Huntsville, and the following announcement was made over the speaker, "If you've lost a cellphone, please come to the front." Well, my immediate thought was - "That poor soul. I know they're frantic. I'm so glad it was found and more thankful that the one who found it turned it in! There ARE honest people in this world!" So, I go on about my business, pushing my cart through the store searching for the ultimate bargain knowing that my cellphone is where I had put it - safely tucked away in the side pocket of my purse. After a couple of minutes, I opened the side pocket just to be sure my cell phone was where I was confident I had placed it. Hmmmm...not there. Well, I must have just laid it in the main, larger section of my purse - the bottomless pit. It's the place where things are difficult to find regularly. ( If you're a woman reading this, you understand.  If you're a man, you'll just have to trust me on this one.) It wouldn't be unusual for it to be there since I toss it in there sometimes. But after searching the bottomless pit and pulling most of the items out of it,  MY CELL PHONE WAS NOT THERE! Okay, I have to admit that I was  getting just a bit anxious at this point. At the same time, I was thinking - there's no way that could be my phone! I was sure that I hadn't used it in the store so I couldn't have laid it down anywhere!
Slowly but surely I turn my cart toward the direction of the front of the store. Reaching the area where the lonely, found cell phone was, the following conversation took place.
Me:  "I don't know if I've lost my cellphone or not, but I can't find it in my purse." 
Person with cell phone:  "What color is it?"
Me: "Pink"
Person with cell phone holds up pink cell phone. 
Me:  "Oh my! Where did you find it?"
Person with cell phone:  "In the parking lot."
Me: "Thank you so much!"
After thanking the kind, honest young woman, I gave her a small token of my appreciation to help pay her expenses at the store we were both shopping in. It was the very least that I could do to express my gratitude to her. It was then that I remembered having it in my lap while driving to the store. Once I had arrived at the store and stepped out of my van, my pink buddy slid out of my lap and onto the pavement of the parking lot.  I didn't even hear it hit the pavement because of the noise of the other cars around on the busy street. My pink buddy was lost and I didn't even know it.
That got me to thinking. How many people are lost and don't even know it -lost spiritually, that is. Well, God tells us a couple of things about that that I want to share briefly with you. He says in Matthew, chapter 7, verse 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter" It's not enough just to say...we must do, every day, the will of our Father to the best of our ability.
God also tells us in Matthew that few will find it. Matthew 7:13-14 says “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. "But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." How many is few, you ask?  I don't know. I do know that when God destroyed the earth with a flood only 8 souls were saved. Yes, I would define 8 as a few! But you know, the actual number isn't the important thing. The important thing to me is that I want to be a part of that "few" regardless of the actual number.
I have a challenge for you - a good challenge. Read the Bible with me this year so you will know for yourself, from your study what God expects of you. Work as I do so that we can make it a part of who we are. I would love for you to join me in that endeavor. If you would like the reading schedule that I'm following shoot me a comment and I'll be happy to send it to you.  I'd love some encouragement, some accountability to help me stay on track. I think we all need that sometimes.

Lord help me to read and study your word with an open heart so that I can know and be confident in what you would have me do. Then, Father, help me to make it a part of my life...everyday in everything that I do.


Make me to know thy way...

Bev smith  
July 31, 2013

We regularly sing a song at church. The lyrics of one of the verses goes...
Because I trust in thee, O cause thou me to hear
Thy loving-kindness free when morning doth appear
Make me to know thy way wherein my path should be
Because my soul each day do I lift up to thee
   I close my eyes I see His majesty
 I close my eyes and feel His love for me.

The song talks about our need to listen to God in order to understand what He would have us do. The third line, "Make me to know thy way wherein my path should be" caused me to think about some things. Can I honestly say that I want to know what God thinks my path should be?  Or am I just looking for a God who makes me feel good... One that sees to it that I never have a bad hair day, that I usually get the best parking space, and that nothing bad ever happens to me or those I love while the rest of the time basically leaves me alone. Is that how I see God?

We live in a time where we can been made to feel unloving if we venture to say that something is not as God would have it be. To many, the umbrella that covers it all is love. Many have the mindset that a loving God doesn't condemn, doesn't judge, doesn't say anything to cause another to feel uncomfortable.

It is true that I don't want to be offensive in what I say. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Those traits in our lives can run people off from us and the very thing we're trying to teach them. But while those can all be admirable goals to strive for, it may have reached the point where we are taking it to the extreme. We no longer consider what God has to say about matters in general unless it fits into the kind of God that we want to have. We want a loving, caring, feel-good God who turns a blind eye to whatever we choose to participate in.  We want to make it okay for folks to live however and be whatever.

Let's think about this for just a minute.  If I have a problem with lying, my believing that lying isn't wrong doesn't make that true. It still is considered a sin by the Creator.  It still is an act that needs to be turned away from. The Creator has the right to set the rules for His creation. That doesn't make me a terrible person for lying, that makes me human. But upon learning that, it should cause me to do my best to turn away from that, if I want to please God. That is a distinguishing characteristic of one who is a child of God. When I know better, I do better.

Yes, God is a loving God. His love for us is hard to comprehend. Just stop for a minute and recall his ultimate act of love.  It is unimaginable! But that same loving God is holy and he tells us to be holy so we can have a relationship with Him. You see a holy God and sin just don't mix. To believe otherwise is only believing a lie.


Wrong is Always Wrong

author unknown
June 27, 2010

Wrong is wrong, even if you don't get caught. The eyes of the Lord are in every place.
Wrong is wrong, even if you do it for a good cause. The end never justifies the means. The honorable purpose does not justify a dishonorable deed or action.
Wrong is wrong, even if it doesn't bother the conscience. The conscience can be trained or educated to accept wrong-doing; even an honest sin or an evil done in sincerity is sinful in the sight of God.
Wrong is wrong, even if it is commonly considered acceptable.
Wrong is always wrong, despite our efforts to excuse our actions.
Remember, there is never a right way to do wrong.

Open My Eyes That I May See

Bev. Smith
June 16, 2010

In our journey with God
, there are times when what God would have us do in specific situations seem a whole lot clearer to us than at other times. Some things are relatively black and white with us. Attitudes like love over hate, good will toward others over envy, honesty over dishonesty. Those are things that I will call no-brainers. There are other times in our lives when we have the earnest desire to do what God would have us do, those things that would glorify our Father, but seeing exactly what that is may be more difficult. Those situations may not be a matter of right and wrong at the present time but may clearly be matters in which we need to make thoughtful, prayerful, wise decisions. For young folks, it may be decisions like who will I date, what field will I decide to study in college, what the best way is to befriend those who are not Christians without allowing them to influence my life negatively. For some of us a little older, it may be decisions like…whether to take the promotion that has been offered or decisions regarding our children. It’s times like those when we may not know which path to take, which fork in the road to choose that our eyes need to be opened so that we can clearly see the path that God would have us take.

I’m reminded of the story of Gideon. When God told Gideon that he had been chosen to lead the Israelites against the Midianites in the book of Judges, Gideon needed some reassurance from God that he actually was the man for the job. He asked for a sign from God. With Gideon speaking in verse 37 of Chapter 6, he said,
“Look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.”
Verse 38 goes on to say, “And it was so.” God had reassured Gideon. How? God not only had made the fleece wet with dew but the fleece was so full of dew that the dew filled a bowl when Gideon wrung it out. We read that and probably think my goodness! That should have clearly been enough for Gideon to realize that he was the one; but Gideon still wasn’t quite sure that he was the man for the job. Verse 39 tells us that Gideon asked God for reassurance again.

“Do not be angry with me, and let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece but on all the ground let there be dew.”
Verse 40 says, “And God did so that night.” What a patient, loving God we serve!

Life is sometimes just hard. We are not always sure which fork in the road to take. When we’re unclear about which path to take, do we ever pray to our Father asking Him to show us the path that is pleasing to Him in such a clear way that we can’t deny it? Have you ever been in a situation where you wondered if you really needed to be there, then something happened to open your eyes and it seemed that God was actually speaking to you telling you to step back and think about it? Did He put something so close in front of your eyes that there was no denying that you needed to make an about face and change the direction you were going? Did you listen?

Maybe part of our daily prayer should include,
“Father, help me to understand the paths that you would have me take today. Help me to allow your hand to guide my life. Please open my eyes that even when I don’t understand, I will see the will You have for me. Please strengthen my trust in You and help me to realize that You not only want what’s best for your children but know what we need to get there.

Let Me In!

Bev Smith
June 20, 2010

When our two girls who are now 20 and almost 17 were much younger, I was in our den relaxing for the evening, reading the newspaper and heard a "commotion" going on upstairs. You see, our two girls lived upstairs and our two boys lived downstairs. The master bedroom was on the main floor of the house. (We planned it that way for a reason!) The commotion was not coming from where I would have expected it - the basement where the boys were but from the upstairs. KT was banging on the bathroom door yelling, "Let me in!" She would have been about 8 or so at the time. On the other side of that bathroom door was the youngest member of the family, 5 year old Mikayla. For some reason, Mikayla was not being very cooperative with her big sister's wishes of letting her in the bathroom. KT continued to bang and yell, "Let me in!" After a while longer of pounding on the door, Mikayla opened the bathroom door, and in a not-so-soft voice, said to KT, "That's for all of the things you've done to me!"

While listening to that little incident occur upstairs, I kind of chuckled to myself. At the same time, I thought the youngest one in the Smith house was making a valid point!  No, the valid point was not retaliation even though Mikayla was punishing her sister "for all the things her sister had done to her". The point was that it really does matter how we treat each other...even to a 5 year old.

What words would others use to describe us? Would the word kind fit into that list somewhere? It should.

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Learning How to Shine from the Young and Old

Bev Smith
June 25, 2010

I've been thinking about young folks and old folks lately. We have several young folks at the Kelly Spring Rd. congregation where I worship in North Alabama - good young folks. Kids that are trying their best, I think, to do right and to encourage each other to do right. I've had the privilege of knowing a lot of these kids for most of their lives. They're the kind of kids that you just enjoy being around. When one of them gets up for the first time to give a talk, or lead a song, lead a prayer, wait on the Lord's table, or teach a Bible class, I'm confident that God, in His heavenly place, is smiling. I know I am.

Over the years, I've sat in the audience as my boys led the congregation in praise to our Creator or as they led a prayer or gave a talk. I've stood from a distance while my girls prepared to teach a Bible class. As a parent, it just doesn't get any better than that.

I've been thinking that sometimes, young folks put us to shame in their zeal and desire "to do" for the Lord. We get tired or discouraged or have other things that we allow to take our time instead of teaching that Bible class or giving that talk. I believe that we can become spiritually sick from the "been there, done it's someone else's turn" syndrome. While it is admirable to sometimes take a step back and give others an opportunity to develop their talents and grow, I don't understand from the scriptures that a Christian can take a vacation from the role that he should be actively engaging in as a child of God. I just don't find it.

Elderly folks as well as young people who are trying their best to serve God make me want to do better. They bring insight and wisdom to situations that only age can bring. When I see an older woman who teaches by her example, one who comes to encourage the saints in spite of physical difficulties, one who is thrilled to be there, I'm encouraged. When I watch elderly gentlemen read the scriptures, lead the congregation in praise to God, or lead a prayer, I'm encouraged. You know the ones I'm talking about. It's the ones whose bodies may seem somewhat frail and whose steps may be slow as they walk. It's the ones whose voices may not be as strong as they once were when they read publicly from God's word. I give thanks to God for those Christians! They are such valuable members of God's family.

Whether we are young, old, or in between, we need to serve the Lord to the best of our ability. We need to continue to use the talents and abilities that we've been given. God doesn't expect more of us than we're able to give but He does expect us to do what we can. If we will just do that, the light that we shine will be so bright that neither the inexperience that comes with youth nor the frailties that come with old age will be able to put it out!

Watch Where You're Going

Bev Smith
June 30, 2010

Tim had changed the oil in our van on this particular day and happened to leave the containers of oil that he had drained out of the van sitting in the middle of the garage floor.  One of our kids had driven to work and upon finishing the shift that they were scheduled to work, drove home.  It was an exciting time for them. This happened to be day 2 on a new job, a new job that meant some income and independence.  It was a good day!

What this young person didn't realize was that oil that had been drained from the van remained in the middle of the garage floor neatly in containers.  The young 'un pulled forward gently making sure they were clear of the garage wall and anything that was stored in the garage...pulling right smack dab over one of the gallons of oil.  The container exploded and oil went everywhere - all over the extra refrigerator that we have stored in our garage, all over the steps, all over the van that was parked in the garage, all over the wall, all over the garage floor!  There was nasty, brownish-black, slick, slimy motor oil everywhere! It was an awful mess!  The clean-up did happen but not nearly as quickly as the catastrophe!

Is there a spiritual application, you ask? As a matter of fact, there are three that I've come up with and probably many more that you can come up with.

We have to watch where we're going.  We must always keep our eyes on the goal. If we don't watch where we are going, our lives can become a spiritual mess.

Don't be a stumbling block to others. We must live our life in such a way that we would never be the reason or the source of someone doing wrong.

We can be careless and make wrong spiritual decisions in a matter of a split second and those who love us and care about us can suffer for a long time as a result of what we did in such a short time.  Cleaning up our messes usually take a whole lot longer than making them. We must NEVER believe that our actions affect only us.

Waiting to Go Home

Bev Smith
July 21, 2010

I don't like funerals, never have. I guess I can honestly say that I don't know anyone who does. It's a place where I don't feel comfortable. It's not that I'm afraid of the dead body; it's just that more times than not, I don't know what to say. "I'm sorry" seems so insignificant. But I go anyway like many of you, to let the family know that I love them, that I'm thinking about them, that they're not traveling this road alone.

When one that's so special to you leaves this life, it's a difficult time. It's a journey as a spouse, a child, a grandchild that carries with it a mixed bag of emotions. It has a sadness that's indescribable, probably a sadness like you've never experienced before. At the same time, there's a gratefulness to the Father of all because there really is comfort in Him for the child of God. As a matter of fact, He is the only real comfort during this time.

The mind's eye can give us a clear picture of what it will be like for those servants of God when they leave this earth. The one who has had such difficulty doing the average, everyday things, the one whose body was sick or diseased, the one whose thoughts were jumbled, will no longer have to struggle with those physical ailments. All of that will be gone. They will be in a place of peace and comfort for the time being, waiting on the return of their Lord.

When speaking of his wife after her death, one elderly gentleman said that he knew she wouldn't come back to this earth even if she could. The place where she was resting was so much better.

Our daughter that we were privileged to gain when our son married last year lost her grandpa recently. Two of my sweet friends, her mom and her aunt, lost their dad. Her grandma lost her husband. He was a good man, a godly man from what I knew. I felt their sadness, relief and gratefulness all at the same time. Even though the emptiness that was left by his death is prominent now, it will begin to fade with each passing day and will be replaced by good memories and funny stories of the one that they loved so. More importantly, they will now think of their dad, their grandpa and husband in a different light - not one whose body is weak or feeble and whose mind is confused but one who is in Abraham's bosom waiting to go home and be with his Lord...just like my mom. A more precious thought doesn't exist.

Amazing Love

Bev Smith
August 4, 2010

We sang a song at church not too long ago. It was a new song to me. I don't recall ever hearing it before. There are some hymns that we sing at church that cause me to look more introspectively than others. They cause me to think about what I say, how I act, whether I'm really putting God at the forefront of my life like I should. Am I truely a servant of God doing my best, not perfect, but doing my best? This was one of those songs. Since this was the first time I had heard the song I was paying extra attention to the words while trying to follow the music at the same time. We had sung about 1/2 of the song when I stopped singing. I could no longer form the words as tears welled up in my eyes. They weren't sad tears though. They were tears of gratefulness to my Father. Those words"...that You, my God would die for me!" really struck a cord with me at that time on that day. It touched me to the core as I sat on the bench and listened to the rest of the song.

I think sometimes we're afraid to show emotion. We're afraid of what others might think. Thoughts of God and the sacrifice of His Son should cause emotions to stir within us - emotions like sorrow for his suffering, and thankfulness for His mercy in allowing us to be called children of God.

Although I've heard the song several times since that initial time, it still touches me every time...every time. If we ever reach the point where words like that don't stir emotion in us, we need to try to figure out why. They should.

I needed that song that day. I needed to be reminded to do better.

If you haven't sung or heard the song before, I've posted it below.  You can listen to it online by going to this site. This is the arrangement that is in our song books at Kelly Spring Rd. I understand the arrangement that we sang is different from how it was originally arranged when it was written. Either way, the words should make you want to do better.

And Can It Be
by Charles Wesley Arranged by Darrell Bledsoe

And can it be that I should gain an int'rest in my Savior's Blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who scorned, His perfect love.

Amazing love, how can it be that You, my God, would die for me.
Amazing love, how can it be, that You, my God, would die for me.

Boldly I come before Your throne, to claim Your mercy immense and free;No greater love will e'er be known, For O, my God, it found out me.

Amazing love, how can it be that You, my God, would die for me.
Amazing love, how can it be, that You, my God, would die for me.

A New Normal...New Beginnings

Bev Smith
September 13, 2010

All of us have things to happen in our lives that are unexpected. Some are just part of life, the consequences of our actions. Even though we may not like the consequences, we understand why they are what they are and work to try to get back to normal as quickly as possible. It so often takes longer than we had planned or anticipated. Other unexpected happenings tend to lend a harder blow, a deeper pain.

It's those times when what we've always done, what is normal to us may take on some drastic changes. I think of some of the many situations that I know of when what was once normal is no longer that. It may be the new normal that comes when relationships change within a family. It may be the new normal that we're forced to accept when we lose a loved one whether through death or for other reasons. It may be that a change in career or career plans is necessary due to unforseen circmstances. Many times, we are forced to step back and rethink some things at a time when that really is the last thing that we had planned on having to do.

"New Beginnings", new normals are not always what we hope for. They're aren't always what we would classify as being a good thing or a happy time in our life. They can be times when as hard as we try, we can find nothing positive about the event that has caused our life to take such a drastic turn.

It's those times when we have to work hard to remember that God is still the same God today that He was yesterday...that He will not leave us. Our lives may have changed, but He has not. Our role in our life may have changed, but His has not and our motivation to do right during those difficult times cannot waver.

If you are facing a new normal, a new beginning, don't sit by without goals, without a purpose and let life happen to you. Take charge of your life and send it in the direction that you want it to go to the best of you ability. You may not have chosen to be where you are, but the fact is, you are there. Now is the time to get busy making it what you want it to be.

The rain falls hard at times. The storms can be brutal but I'm confident we can face life’s difficulties with God's help. Even when the gray skies seem to linger for a long time, so long that we may begin to wonder if they’ll ever clear again, we can look to our Father and know that with patience and perseverance, the clouds will part and the sun will shine again.

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