What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Sermon Notes-God Leading Us

We were surprised to arrive at church yesterday and find out that our pastor was not feeling well (and we are praying for him to get well soon!) and one of the laymen of the church was going to preach.  We are still kind of new to this church, so we really didn't know what to expect...but God had a pleasant surprise for us.  I think one of the tests of whether or not a church is living up to its name and truly teaching the Word of God to the people is whether or not a pastor can call in sick and know that the church will still carry on, the Word will be taught and preached, the prayers will still be prayed, and the people will still come away knowing they have been in the house of the Lord.

And that is exactly what happened yesterday! Everything ran like clockwork...(actually, we got finished a little bit early...but that was okay, because we had a pot-luck dinner waiting in the fellowship hall)...We were well-fed yesterday...Food for the soul by the delivery of God's Word, partaking of the Lord's Supper, and then food for the body to send us homeward with a full tummy as well.

So now, let me share what we heard from God's servant yesterday...

The Scripture was from John 15:1-8 
1.  " I AM the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser....
2. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; 
and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
3.  You are already clean because of the word which have spoken to you.
4.  Abide in Me, and I in you. 
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine,
neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5.  I Am the vine,
you are the branches.
He who abides in Me, and I in him, 
bears much fruit;
for without Me you can do nothing.
6.  If anyone does not abide in Me,
he is cast out as a branch and is withered;
and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
7.  If you abide in Me,
and My words abide in you, 
you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
8. By this My Father is glorified,
that you bear much fruit;
so you will be My disciples."

Now for the message:

There are four distinct ways that God leads us ...within His will...
1.  By Decrees:  Not by our design, but by God's way.
In Job 42:1-2 Job answered the Lord and said:
"I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You..."
In life we often come to a fork in the road...and we can go God's way or our way.  If we continue taking our way, we will come to a fork in a road again...God gives us a choice...If we keep making our own choice and going our own way, God will keep giving us more choices until we find the right way and follow God's way...
In Acts 16:20-34, we have the story of Paul and Silas being thrown into prison...and at midnight they were singing and praying...and the prisoners were listening to them...and when the earthquake came and the doors of the prison were opened, the prisoners did not flee as the keeper of the prison expected...and he realized that these men had a faith that he wanted, so he asked them in verse 30,
"Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"  And they responded in verse 31:
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household"...
And that jailer made the choice at that moment to believe...he and all of his household...
He could have chosen to do away with himself because he knew he would be severely punished if the prisoners escaped...but God had a better plan for this jailer's life...and he chose to believe God and be saved...

2. By Direction:  God gives us commands and teachings in the Bible.  
Exodus 20:1-17 contains the Ten Commandments...what we should not do.
Matthew 5:1-12...The Sermon on the Mount: Gives us directions of what we should do. How we should live..."Love your enemies" , John 15 teaches us to Abide in Christ,  and in the Epistles God reveals His directions for how we should live as Christians in the world.  God's Word is filled with stories for everyone and every circumstance in life.

3.  By Discernment:  Detecting how we find God's leading us through the Holy Spirit...
Romans 12:2 "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
The Holy Spirit shapes the mind through prayer and the Word of God.  When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior we are filled with God's Holy Spirit...and He will teach us what is right and wrong...God guides us through the Holy Spirit working in our hearts and lives.

4.  Declaration:  God declares to us what we should do...Acts 8:26 Philip is told by the angel to "arise and go"...
If you trust in God, He will give you a message...He'll let you know which way to go, and what is the right way or the wrong way. 
We can rest in the  declarations of God.  Romans 8:28 tells us:
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, 
to those who are the called according to His purpose."

Philippians 3:12-16 tells us to press on toward the goal...for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus...
The Apostle Paul's goal was to know Christ, and to be like Him...and to make Him known.

We are to lay aside those things that will keep us from being a committed Christian...
Practice the way God wants us to be...
Read our Bible, Pray, Meditate on God's Word...

God has a plan for everyone...He leads us in different ways...but we must be OPEN to God's leading...be WILLING to accept His directions...

A closing thought:

God will get you there one way or another...might as well go peacefully!!
Read your Bible, lean on God and learn of Him...
We are here to serve Him and to do His work here on earth...

We closed the service with the hymn:

"When We All Get to Heaven...what a day of rejoicing that will be...when we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!!"

Yes, that will definitely be a day of rejoicing...
I hope you have already made the choice to accept God's free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
If not, there is no time like the present!!

Sermon Notes from FUMC, Interlachen, FL, Lay Pastor message...

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunday Morning Meditation

Excerpts from Galatians 5

16.  "I say then:
Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh."

 17.  "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, 
and Spirit against the flesh; 

 and these are contrary to one another, 
so that you do not do the things that you wish.

18.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

22.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, 
longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23.  Gentleness, self-control. 
Against such there is no law.

24.  And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

26.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another."

Some Sunday morning meditations from the Memorial Garden.
Have a blessed and glorious day!

Friday, April 27, 2018

"Why Should I Be Discouraged?" (Revisited for Friday Foto Friends)

I can't believe it's Friday, and I don't have any new pictures to share with you again! It was a busy week with Dr. appointments and other commitments, and, well, you know how it is! We all have weeks like that...no time for taking pictures when we are in the midst of "life"...so here is a post from a couple of years ago about a cute little wren who built a nest on our back porch.  The wrens still come and go, but I haven't seen any evidence of nest building on the porch yet this year...but it is still early...

This little wren is sitting in her nest, right out in plain view on my back porch. As I walked by the nest this morning on my way to hang up the bird feeders for the day, I almost missed the fact that she was sitting in there. She didn't even move as I swept by singing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning!" at the top of my lungs. I think she was afraid to move into the path of something so....noisy?! Anyway, I tiptoed in and out of the house quickly to get my camera, and very quietly tiptoed back to her nest asking myself, "Do I dare disturb this little wren just so I can have this wonderful picture that I know the world wants to see?" My hubby told me not to do it. But he should know better than to tell me that...you'd think he'd have learned by now... But anyway, I stood there very quietly for a moment while my camera focused and prayed that she wouldn't fly away...and this is my gift from God this morning to share with you! I quoted from the wonderful song, "His Eye is on the Sparrow, and I know He watches me." Yes, I know this is a wren, not a sparrow...but to my knowledge no one has written a song or Bible verse about a wren yet. And that message comes from the scripture found in Matthew 10:29-31:
"Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do NOT FEAR therefore; YOU ARE OF MORE VALUE THAN MANY SPARROWS!" 

I pray this little wren will bring a smile to your face today as you remember that not only does our heavenly Father watch over the birds of the nest...but that He IS ALWAYS WATCHING OVER YOU...AND YOU ARE VERY VALUABLE TO HIM! Praise God!

This is another picture of her nest...not very neat,
but it seems to suit Mrs. Wren very nicely!
I guess that is all that matters!
"Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!"

Why should I feel discouraged and why should the shadows come?

Why should my heart be lonely and long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion, a constant Friend is He, 
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy; 
I sing because I'm free; 
His eye is on the sparrow (WREN!)
And I know He watches me.

Let not your heart be troubled; these tender words I hear; 
And resting on his goodness I lose my doubts and fears; 
Though by the path He leadeth but one step I may see; 
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy; 
I sing because I'm free; 
His eye is on the sparrow (WREN!)
And I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted; whenever clouds arise; 
When songs give place to sighing; when hope within me dies; 
I draw the closer to Him; from care He sets me free; 
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy; 
I sing because I'm free; 
His eye is on the sparrow (WREN!)
And I know He watches me...

(Written by Civilla D. Martin, 1905)
You can see this perky little bird has been a source of joy and delight for me for a while!

Rest peacefully little Wren...I'll try not to bother you anymore today!

AND HERE!   and HERE'S ANOTHER ONE!   It would appear that this blog has gone to the birds!  But there are so many valuable lessons to be learned from God's creation.  I never get tired of seeing what God is going to show me next!  Certainly is a wonderful way to lift our spirits, don't you agree?

Have a blessed day my friends!  Go out and see what YOU can learn from God's magnificent world around you today!

Back to the present:  Now let's fly on over to Deb's place at Breathing in Grace and see what our other Friday Foto Friends have been up to this week!  Have a blessed and happy day!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sermon Notes: Here I Am, Lord

Isaiah 6:8
"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
"Whom shall I send,
and who will go for Us?"
Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

We sang the following song as a hymn today at church, and it was all I could do to get through the whole song without choking up and crying...

"Here I am Lord"
I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard My people cry. All who dwell in dark and sin, My hand will save. I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright. Who will bear My light to them? Whom shall I send? Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord? I have heard You calling in the night. I will go Lord, if You lead me. I will hold Your people in my heart. I, the Lord of wind and flame, I will tend the poor and lame. I will set a feast for them, My hand will save Finest bread I will provide, Till their hearts be satisfied. I will give My life to them, Whom shall I send? Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord? I have heard You calling in the night. I will go Lord, if You lead me. I will hold Your people in my heart.

The disciples were crouched in fear in the upper room...waiting for whatever would come next...fearful that they would soon be the ones to be killed for their relationship with Christ...and then...
A sealed tomb could not hold Jesus in...a locked door could not keep Jesus out...Suddenly everything changed...Jesus appeared in the locked room after His crucifixion and resurrection...He said to them, "Peace be with you." (John 20:19)  Jesus Christ had conquered death...He conquered their fear...and He gave them a job to do...and He gave us, His followers a job to do as well...

John 20:21
"So Jesus said to them again,
"Peace to you!
As the Father has sent Me,
I also send you."

But we are not expected to follow Jesus alone...

John 20:22
"And when He had said this, 
He breathed on them, and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit."

Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit onto the disciples that day...equipping them for service and for all of the things that were yet to come...and Jesus Christ has also breathed His Holy Spirit upon us, filling us with His very Presence...giving us all of the gifts and tools that we need to go forward into the world in His Name...He goes with us...we are not alone.

So, what's next, Lord?  I've been at this place before...many times...and whenever I (we...hubby and I are a team, but You know this already, Lord) heard You calling "in the night", I/we responded, "Here I am, Lord."  And You always took me/(us) at my word, and there was always "a plan"... so, again, here we are, Lord...You know we are retired, right? I have a feeling that is something that is an advantage for You, Lord...not a disadvantage...so...what's next, Lord? 

"Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord? I have heard You calling in the night. I will go Lord, if You lead me. I will hold Your people in my heart."

Stay tuned for further developments...
God always has a plan...

Sermon notes from FUMC Interlachen, April 22, 2018, Pastor A.C. Myers

Jesus Shall Reign!

I discovered this "Global Hymn Sing" on Facebook yesterday, and while watching these people from every tribe and nation around the world singing "Jesus Shall Reign", all at the same time, I couldn't help but have goosebumps rise on my arms and tears come to my eyes.  One day we will all be in heaven together...people from every tribe and nation who have proclaimed Jesus as their Lord and Savior...and we will all be singing praise  and honor to our King...Jesus Christ!! Hallelujah!!
What a thrill and joy and glorious day that will be, when our Jesus we shall see!!
"And we look upon His face, the One Who saved us by His grace!"

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Doth his successive journeys run;
His Kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

To Him shall endless prayer be made.
And princes throng to crown His head,
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.

People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His name.

Blessings abound where’er He reigns:
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains,
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blest.

Where He displays His healing power
Death and the curse are known no more;
In Him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.

Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud Amen.


Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday Foto Friends ~ A Ride Through the Woods

Here it is time for Friday Foto Friends again, and I realized tonight (Thursday) that I didn't have any new pictures to share with you.  It's been a busy week, and I already shared pictures earlier in the week, and just didn't get out anywhere interesting enough to take any more pictures.
So tonight I told my hubby I was going for a ride down further on our road, which I rarely ever do by myself, especially in the evening, because of the possibility of bears, etc....but hubby didn't feel like going with me, so I got brave and went by myself! 

 It is a long winding dirt road through the woods, which is actually a kind of a peninsula surrounded by marshy waters, leading to houses and canals at the end of the "key" into Big Lake Kerr, but for two miles there is nothing but woods and wildlife. Thankfully God was with me, and He provided lots of interesting things for us to see!

There were actually two turkeys running down the road,
and as I was driving it wasn't easy to get a picture quickly enough. (These pictures were taken through the front window of the car as I tried to stop and focus before they disappeared)

So thankfully this turkey straggled his way into the woods, enabling me to catch a quick pose before he disappeared...(He's thankful it isn't Thanksgiving yet!)

This "pond" used to be just a marshy area before last fall's hurricane and the subsequent rains...I was amazed at the amount of water still in these marsh areas...that is actually a good sign that our water tables are rising.

These grasses along the side of the road and pond on the other side show signs of paths worn through them from the deer and possibly the bears...

I should have let you hear the frogs croaking while taking this picture...they were very loud.  There may have been an alligator croaking as well, so I didn't want to venture too far from the safety of the car...

Again, this used to be very dry and barely a marsh...and now it is teeming with life.

This tree was staring at me as I drove further down the road...interesting face, don't you think? Not sure if that is a llama or a deer...it certainly got my attention...

The Florida Live Oaks are always very interesting in their shapes...

Mr. Red Shouldered Hawk flew right in front of me and landed in this tree. It was nice of him to pose for a quick picture before taking off again after his supper...

When I got back to the house, I decided to walk around to our own little pond area to check on the Sand Hill Crane family, and ran right into the deer family on their evening stroll...as you can see they are quite as curious about me as I am about them...

This picture is funny...the deer on the left has four ears and  eight legs...and the one on the right is leaping away as quick as he can...literally caught in mid-air.
 "Yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer's feet,
and He will make me walk on my high hills."
Habakkuk 3:18-19 NKJV

What a treat to discover the Sand Hill Crane family settling down on their island for the night.

Here is one of the "colts"...as you can see they are getting taller every day.

From a distance you can see the four members of the family spread out across the sand bar island, where they settle in every night...the same place where their nest was.  I guess they feel safe out there.

Last, but not least...this dragonfly landed on a frog-gig spear alongside the dock. And time for me to head back home, thankful to have found some pictures to share with you!

I hope you enjoyed this little ride through the woods near my home. If you ever come to visit for real, we will be sure to take this little ride (or walk if you're brave enough!)

Now let us walk on over to see what our other friends have been up to this week.  You can find them at Deb's place, Breathing In Grace.    Have a blessed and beautiful day my friends! What do you see outside your open window?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Lift Up Your Head! Revisted

Today, April 19, 2018, marks the 7th anniversary of the passing of my father from this life into heaven.  I was just thinking about him as I scrolled through some old blog posts, and came across this one, which brought tears to my eyes in a good way as I read about the loving act my father did for me many years ago when I needed it most.

Original Post 7/24/2014:
"But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head..." Psalm 3:3

Young Fawn at dawn in my neighborhood today

I was reading in the book "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young the devotional reading for today, July 27. Here is what it says:
"Hope is a golden cord connecting you to heaven.  This cord helps you hold your head up high, even when multiple trials are buffeting you.  I never leave your side, and I never let go of your hand.  But without the cord of hope, your head may slump and your feet may shuffle as you journey uphill with Me.  Hope lifts your perspective from your weary feet to the glorious view you can see from the high road.  You are reminded that the road we're traveling together is ultimately a highway to heaven.  When you consider this radiant destination, the roughness or smoothness of the road ahead becomes much less significant.  I am training you to hold in your heart a dual focus: My continual Presence and the hope of heaven."  

This reminded me of a time in my life when I was going through a very difficult time, and it was tempting to hang my head in despair and hide away from prying eyes and wagging tongues.  That year for Christmas my father surprised me with a special gift that I will never forget.  We had previously lived in the north country, where moose were a very BIG part of our lives. (pun intended).  If you were lucky, you might see a live moose walk through your yard occasionally (as we did).

(Picture from Internet)
 If you were not so lucky, you might NOT see a moose crossing the road in front of your car in the middle of the night...and then you'd be in BIG trouble.
Internet Photo
 That is why you would often see along side every road a sign that said: 

I had often mentioned to my my father, who was a retired hobby carpenter, that since I had moved back to Florida it would be such fun to have a "moose" in my yard again...meaning a wooden cut out of a moose.  He always said "maybe, sometime when he had time, he'd think about it..."   And then in that particular year some things had happened that brought sorrow and disappointment to our home, and having a moose in my yard was probably the last thing on my mind.  But apparently not on my sweet father's mind.  Imagine my surprise on Christmas when he led me out into his back yard with my eyes closed and standing there was the most delightful bull moose ever seen in the state of Florida!  It looked something like this:
Internet Photo

Actually there were two of them, which I don't have a picture of, but the other had its head lowered, and it was a gift for a friend of ours who was also from New England. But about the one standing tall and erect as above, my father said, "This one is for you, because I want you to always hold your head up high like this and be strong."  It brings tears to my eyes even now to remember that moment, and how loving and compassionate my Daddy was as he presented his gift to me that day. It was a gift of love and hope to me from my earthly father, but I believe it was also from my Heavenly Father. HE wanted me to know that I was not alone in my struggle...and that He was to me, as quoted above in Psalm 3:3 ~ 

"But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, 
My glory and the One who lifts up my head."

and then  
"I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around."
Psalm 3:5-6

I wish I could say that all my troubles were magically over at that moment, but that was not the case. However, my attitude was changed...my hope was restored...and I was better able to hold my head high and move forward with renewed strength and courage, ready to face the future knowing that God was with me, sustaining me, and making my path straight.

And now, "It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places..." Psalm 18:32-33 

Bye Bye little deer! You have cheered my heart today!

 How about you?  Have you ever felt like letting your head hang low and hiding away from your perceived "enemies"?  Take heart from these words today, and "LIFT UP YOUR HEAD!"

In loving memory of my dad, this is one of my favorite pictures of the two of us, taking a nap on a Sunday afternoon. Precious memories. 

William F. Mursch, 8/9/1918 ~ 4/19/2011

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Precious Promises

Psalm 36:7-8

7.  "How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!

Therefore the children of men put their trust 
under the shadow of Your wings.

Sand Hill Crane Family Portrait

8.  They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, 
and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.

Psalm 37:1-2

1.  "Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity,

2.  For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
and wither as the green herb."
 (aftermath of the little storm that went through here Sunday afternoon)

Psalm 37:3-5
3."Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land, 
and feed on His faithfulness.

4.  Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

5.  Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,

And He shall bring it to pass."
(Family visiting with our grandson Noah and his girlfriend, who came all the way from Maine to see us on their spring break.) (Note: Noah is our only grandchild, the son of our son Matthew who entered heaven's gates almost four years ago. Noah will graduate high school this June...and we are so very proud of the young man he is becoming.  We know his daddy would be very proud as well. )