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, October 29, 2018

Sermon Notes and A Conversation With a Stranger

A kind of an "On Golden Pond" moment...last evening's reflections from the golden sun shining on the trees, reflecting the golden hue upon the water. What I didn't see when I took the picture was the two deer on the other side of the pond...one looking at me...the other eating his dinner. You just never know who may be watching you!
This could be said about our life in general...and our conversations online as well... read on...

The following are excerpts from a conversation on social media with a person I do not know personally, who is a "friend of a friend", in response to the friend's cry out to God, "Jehovah Shalom", our God of Peace...wondering where He is in the midst of all this sorrow and chaos in the world...and wondering what her next steps should be in the aftermath of the Sabbath Day Synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh, PA... read on...

Me: "Pray, Pray, Pray. Then let God lead you. That is what we all need to do. Get on our knees and pray. God will give us answers as we listen to His voice."

Friend of friend: "I realize that prayer helps people, but really, if that’s all we did, well, it all seems futile. Wouldn’t a benevolent, loving god want to fix this horrendous stuff with or without prayer? We must think deeply about this and be prepared to back up our beliefs with action. We must continue to speak out about this and make sure our voices are heard."

Me: "Prayer is just the beginning. Listening to God's voice and not all the voices of the world is the next step. Tune in to Christ, and tune out all the "noise" of the media and chatterboxes out here in social media telling us how to think and what to do. I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I know Who does, and praying helps me to hear what He has to say on these matters. Then I am better prepared for appropriate action. I like the saying "What would Jesus do?" and prayerfully seek His direction before acting and/or speaking out."

Friend of Friend: "But to recommend prayer and faith, even as a starting point, is to assume that anyone who reads your message has the same beliefs that you do. I respect your right to belief what you will, but do remember that there are those of us who carry different beliefs, and that we are not all starting from the same place."

 Me: "I appreciate and respect your response. And I certainly respect the fact that many do not share the same faith and beliefs. Perhaps it should be better said that we all need to take a deep breath, and give serious contemplation to what is truly best for all. I realize that many will come up with totally opposite responses, but we can at least agree to talk rationally and calmly and peacefully to come up with some reasonable solutions. "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me". That is a good starting place."

Friend of Friend: "Thank you. Yes, we can agree on that. There's so much going on, so much agony, and I just feel absolutely lost. I've walked in demonstrations, I've called my Congresspeople, I vote in every single election. I rant and rave on Facebook! And yet none of it seems to matter. It's all so dismal."

Me: "There is a lot of sorrow in our world/nation these days, about many things. And sadly, we are often not given all of the information about all of the positive things that are also happening in our country. There are good things happening, and many many good people working hard to restore our nation to peace and a place of promise and hope for our children's future. When all we listen to or hear are the negative voices we miss out on the positive news. This has been a very sad and disturbing week for our country. Mental illness and people with evil hearts do so much hurt and damage. But these people are not the norm. They are the disturbed exceptions. Our nation is filled with so many really wonderful, good, hard working, loving people. Let us unite together to overcome the forces of evil that are trying to dismantle and destroy our nation."

No further response.

What I wish I could have said: The reason people feel so lost and like nothing seems to matter and "it's all so dismal" is because you are correct. When people do not have faith in God and do not have the hope that faith in Jesus Christ gives us, everything must look dismal.  Without Christ in our world and hearts, there is no hope. Those of us who have faith in Christ can get down on our knees and pray and know that God does hear our prayers, and He WILL give us answers and appropriate ways to help those in need and respond to the crisis around us. I have hope in my heart because I know that God is with us. He is in the midst of all suffering and trials and sorrows, and He is giving comfort to those who grieve.  Without faith in God we can never combat the evil presence that is in the world. Sadly, so many have become a part of that greater evil because they are fighting for the wrong cause...they have allied themselves with the forces of darkness when they continue to fight against all forms of godliness and righteousness.

I have shared all of this conversation as a prelude to my sermon notes for this week. 

Our message on Sunday was taken from the book of Matthew, chapter 9:35 - chapter 10:8

35.  "Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
36.  But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.
37.  Then He said to His disciples,:
"The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
38.  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

Skipping down to chapter 10:7-8~

"And as you go, preach, saying, 
"The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, 
raise the dead, cast out demons. 
Freely you have received, freely give."

  • We have great news! I am a part of the church that knows The Shepherd...where people's lives are being transformed!  (We do have the answer to all that is wrong with the world!)
  • I want to bring them in so they can hear the Good News of Jesus Christ!
  • Who do we belong to? 
  • We become harassed by the world (social media especially these days)...and sometimes we give up, lay down, play dead.
  • Jesus said seek out those who are without a shepherd...
  • Without Jesus in my heart: pills won't help take away the anxiety and fear...(neither will Marching, ranting, calling our congressmen),
  • People are powerless to change their own lives...
  • Are we reaching out to our "cranky neighbors" (wherever they may be...not necessarily next door)...perhaps they are family members...Who are the harassed and hopeless in our own community?
  • Jesus' response is compassion...
  • When He sees our world...it through His eyes of compassion.  
  • Compassion is the complete opposite of indifference
  • Our life as a Christian is more important than football games or other social event...
  • Jesus is the only One who can solve the problems of our world today...
  • Jesus is the only answer.
  • We need to prepare ourselves to live as a follower of Christ...we are called to reach out, step up and step out to His people...
  • But we get greedy...we have been given a gift and we want to hold onto it and not share it...the knowledge of Jesus Christ as our Savior and healer and redeemer...Our only hope in this  world...
  • If Jesus is calling you...and you just sit back...then who will go?
  • Our activities at our churches need to be rooted in the gospel...shared with others... we should share the gospel with others as we share food, clothing, or whatever we give to the needy.
  • If not you, then who?
  • We may say, "that's not my calling..."
  • Then, what is your calling?
  • Your calling is not to sit back and watch...
  • Compassion is not a spectator sport...it requires action.
  • If not you, who then?
As we closed our service, we sang the following song:  Freely, Freely

"God forgave my sin in Jesus' name. 
I've been born again in Jesus' name 
And in Jesus' name I come to you 
To share his love as he told me to. 

He said 'Freely, freely you have received;, freely, freely give. 
Go in my name, and because you believe others will know that I live. 

All pow'r is giv'n in Jesus' name 
in earth and heav'n in jesus name 
And in Jesus' name I come to you 
To share his pow'r as he told me to. 

He said 'Freely, freely you have received;, freely, freely give. 
Go in my name, and because you believe others will know that I live. 

God gives us life in Jesus' name 
he lives in us in Jesus' name 
And in Jesus' name I come to you 
To share his peace as he told me to."

So I ask you and myself:
If not you, who then?
Go and share the hope you have within you with those who are lost  and feeling so dismal and hopeless. Perhaps they will not listen because they do not have the faith we have, but we can plant the seeds...and perhaps another will come and water...and someday they will be a part of that great harvest.

Please Note : I want to repeat this disclaimer here...the notes, outline, and content included here are based upon my own personal understanding of the message that was being given.  I am not attempting to completely quote or reproduce this message or any other message I've shared previously.  Just as each person reading these notes may glean insights and thoughts that seem to directly apply to one's own situation and interpretation, my own delivery of these messages is skewed by my hearing and translation of what is being said.  Some may read my notes here and wonder if they were hearing the same message as I...and I say, God speaks to each of us as He wills...there are things He is trying to get across to each individual that may be entirely different than what the person sitting next to you in the pew is needing to hear...  That is how the Holy Spirit works! He knows what we need to hear and how to apply it to our hearts.  So it is with that understanding that I present these sermon notes to you.

Sermon Notes from FUMC, Interlachen, FL. Pastor A.C. Meyers, 10/28/2018

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Random Acts of Being a Good Neighbor

With all the crazy stuff going on out there in the world, I thought you might like to hear about a thoughtful "random act of being a good neighbor".
Nothing huge...just sweet.

I was coming back into our back yard after a quick morning walk. It was starting to sprinkle rain, so I was in a bit of a hurry.  But as I entered our gate, I thought I saw a dragonfly land on something on top of one of our fence-posts that divides our property from our neighbor.
I couldn't quite figure out why the dragonfly was landing on something higher than the top of the post.  That didn't make sense.
So as I walked a little closer, the dragonfly flew away, but then I saw what it was he had been standing upon:

This little bear, just standing there with his paws behind his back, looking like he had a little secret.

So I turned him around and saw that he had a little fish in his paw, and thought..."well, isn't that something! I wonder where he came from?  I've never seen him here before..."
He just stood there, looking so innocent and nonchalant, as if to say, 
"Ha Ha...I've got a secret, and I won't tell, I won't tell, I won't tell..."

I was flabbergasted! Where did he come from? How long had he been there?
Did one of our neighborhood bears leave him there as a little reminder that they are always nearby, even when we don't know it?

So, of course, I took his picture...and then I left him there on the post until I could solve the mystery.
Later that day our neighbor came outside as I was going out to get the mail.
He said hello to me...and I asked him, "Did you leave this cute little bear sitting here on our fence post?"  He said, "Yes, I wondered how long it would take for you to find him. He's been there for about a week!"  Me, dumbfounded, said, "I guess I just haven't been very observant lately with so much on my mind."
He said, "well, I found him in a box of stuff I got at the flea market, and knew that you loved bears so thought you'd like to have him."

Of course I'd like to have him. What a sweet, thoughtful gesture.
As I said, nothing big...just a little kindness from a nice neighbor.
He's kind of a big bear of a guy himself...kind of a loner, but very kind and thoughtful. This isn't the first "random act of being a good neighbor" he had done for us.
People like this make it more difficult to move. 
I pray God will send just the right kind of neighbor here for our neighbor to appreciate and vice versa.
And may we always be that kind of neighbor to others as well.
Just little random acts of kindness...whether they be neighbors next door or across the street or across the highway, or in the next county...at the grocery store, the gas station, 
wherever we meet people,
May we always strive to be a "good neighbor" who spreads kindness and good will.

Here is a good story about being a good neighbor:

Luke 10:25-37 New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

So now, this little bear has joined some new friends here in our house. He seems right at home here.

Hey! " Won't you be, won't you be, please won't you be, my neighbor?" (Mr. Rogers)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

My Morning Walk

I looked out our back windows this morning toward the eastern sky, and noticed that there was a gorgeous sunrise developing.  So I grabbed my flannel shirt (58 degrees),  my camera, my bear whistle, and I headed out the back gate and down the road toward the pond. I will take you along on my journey so you can experience what I saw. 

As I turned out of our back gate and looked down the road, there was the sun rising in all it's morning glory...and also you can see "Old Glory", our American Flag, blowing in the breeze at the top of that pole:

As I rounded the bend and passed the little A-Frame cottage (that is currently for sale, btw), I noticed a lone deer in the yard, having its morning breakfast...

It was a little dark to get very clear pictures at this point, but this was beautiful.

As I kept walking down the road to the pond, I could see the gorgeous sun rising up between the trees...

Upon arriving at the pond, I just stood in awe at the majesty and beauty of God's amazing morning creation.

Psalm 123:1 says
"Unto You I lift up my eyes, 
O You who dwell in the heavens."

Psalm 121:1-2
"I will lift up my eyes to the hills, 
from whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth."

 I wish you could have heard the sounds of the morning birds (a Kingfisher bird was calling and darting back and forth around the pond)  (click on the video above to hear him. No, I  didn't get a picture of him. He was too quick)

Psalm 121:5-6
"The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night."

Psalm 121:7
"The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul."

 Psalm 121:8
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
from this time forth, and even forevermore."

And then I looked and saw that same deer headed for the water, and I thought about the verses found in Psalm 42:1-2

"As the deer pants for the water brooks,
so pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirst for God, for the living God."

You can sing along ...

Soon the deer headed back up the bank, and I turned to take one last look at the sunrise reflecting on the water...and praised the Lord for His goodness to us...His mercy and grace and great love.

As turned to head back home, I noticed the whole deer "family" trotting down the road behind me...they were trying to high-tail it past before I could catch up with them...and they were successful. By the time I reached the road they were nowhere in sight, having slipped back into the woods. They were probably watching me as I walked by, giggling about that crazy woman with the camera always out there watching for them.

That's okay...they weren't the "main event" today.  God's glory in the skies was what drew me this morning...and it was wonderful how He threw in the extra bonus of the deer, the Kingfisher bird, and the peace and joy of time spent alone with Him. 
As I headed back to the house I resolved in my mind that whatever house we move to, I hope and pray it will be near some water, because I would truly miss these beautiful moments with the Lord. But then, I must remember...He is everywhere present...I don't really need water views and great sunrises, or even deer...to appreciate His beauty and glory.  He is my one desire...and I long to worship HIM...
So, Lord...wherever You lead, I will go. I feel certain You will have plenty of beauty and surprises waiting for me wherever that may be.  Thank You, Lord, for this marvelous blessing today. Amen.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Friday Foto Friends: Being Rooted and Grounded

Hello my Friday Foto Friends! I hope you have had a wonderful week.

It's been kind of topsy-turvy here for me.  I wanted to take a little trip to Georgia to visit my brother, Russell, who is fighting leukemia, but thanks be to God, is currently in remission . My other siblings were going to be there, and I really wanted to be there too. But things just weren't coming together for us to travel up there, and reluctantly I finally had to call and let my brother know I wouldn't be able to come. It is a good thing I didn't go...within 24 hours of making that call I came down with a terrible cold, and spent the next couple of days blowing, sneezing, coughing, and feeling absolutely miserable. There is NO WAY I should have been there visiting him with a cold...so I thank the Lord for giving me the wisdom to cancel the trip before getting sick.  Thankfully, I am starting to feel better now...and my siblings all had a great time visiting even without me. 

Here they are:  Clifford, Doris, and Russell. Praise the Lord that he is doing so well. Trusting we will have this opportunity again when I can go.

Other topsy turvy feelings...as most of you are aware, we are trying to sell our house, with the intention of moving to a little community about 30 miles away, to be near our kids and the church we have started attending and enjoying so much this past year.  Of course, while waiting to sell our house, we are also kind of looking for a house to purchase there, and this week we found a house that we really loved.  We wanted to try and tie it up somehow until our house sells, but realized that just wasn't going to happen.  So, again, reluctantly, we have had to make phone calls to say can't do it yet...gotta wait...and try to be patient...and wait on the Lord to open the doors of His choice...
 (pictures were taken near the house we fell in love with...)

This morning's devotions were read from Ephesians 3:13-21.  Here are the parts that really spoke to me and gave me a blessing as I read them:

14.  "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15.  from Whom the whole family 
in heaven and earth is named,
 16.  That He would grant you, according to the riches of 
His glory, to be strengthened with might 
through His Spirit in the inner man,

17.  That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

18.  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-
19.  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge;
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(anyone recognize this? I think it is a persimmon)

20.  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us,
21.  to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.

This helped me to realize that I need to stay focused on Christ, and be "rooted and grounded" in love..and He will strengthen me with might through His Spirit...and He will also do "exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think..."

I just need to be patient and wait on the Lord to work all these things out...He knows what is best for us in every way. 

On a funnier note, for several months I have had my eye on a little house for sale that is right down the street from our son and daughter in law's house. I kept telling the "kids" that was the house we would probably buy if nothing else developed. That statement was usually greeted with a raised eyebrow from our son, and a giggle from his wife (the newlyweds, remember?)  I'm not sure they ever said anything too enthusiastic, like, "Oh that would we be great, Mom," or, "Oh, we would be so excited to have you living so close..."   I called it our "back- up house", as it was the right price, a little on the small side, but from the pictures that were shown online, it looked like it was pretty nice inside and it could work in a pinch.  Well, in our little journey this past week to look at houses we finally did look at that house inside.  Let's just say that it is always a very good idea to see something in person and not rely on pictures on the internet to sell you a house...  I could not believe how filthy dirty this house was inside...I don't think the floors have ever been mopped...and it was obvious they were smokers judging by the choking stench and the yellowed stains on the walls...and as we were finishing our tour, the "gentleman" who lives there pointed out three very small packages of Lysol cleaning wipes  sitting on the kitchen counter and said to us, "Well, I got my cleaning supplies ready to start cleaning up the place..."  It was all I could do to stifle my laugh until I got outside and could breathe again...  Anyway...the "kids" seemed a bit relieved when I told them they didn't have to worry about us moving into that house any time in the near or far future...  Lesson learned...Don't judge a book by its cover (or a house by pictures on the internet), and don't try to live too close to your kids. 

So, tell me, dear friends, what have you learned this week in your journeys? I am looking forward to reading your stories and seeing your pictures.

Have a blessed weekend!  Now let us join our other Friday Foto Friends over at Deb's place at "Breathing in Grace."  I hope to get caught up with each of you.  I'm a bit behind in my reading due to being so "topsy turvy" this week.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Sermon Notes "Just Like Them!"

Before I get into the message from Sunday's sermon,  I'd like to share these thoughts from my morning meditation beside the waters as I watched the mist rise up from the surface much like the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters:

Genesis 1:1-5
1. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2.  The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.
 And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
 3.  Then God said, "Let there be light";
and there was light.
4.  And God saw the light, that it was good;
and God divided the light from the darkness.
5.  God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.
So the evening and the morning were the first day."

What a powerful way to start the day! I Praise God for this gift.

This past Sunday was "Laity Sunday" at our church, and thus the Pastor was given the day off from preaching and our lay people took charge of the service.  This is also in conjunction with October being Pastor Appreciation Month.  Of course, our Pastors should be appreciated every month because they are there for us 24/7/12 months of the year. Trust me, I know...my hubby spent quite a few years in the ministry, and as the Pastor's Wife, I know what kind of hours the Pastor puts in.  But it is a calling...called to serve the Lord and His people, and any person who believes he or she has been called to serve in the capacity needs to be aware that it is a full time, life time commitment. Not something you can just walk away from, even when retired.... (and wives and family are a big part of this "calling". If you don't think you can take it, best not marry a pastor!)

All that being said, we appreciate our Pastor very much, and thank the Lord for his dedication to the flock of God at our little church.

In light of this special day, one of our laymen delivered the message entitled "Just Like Them",  from the scripture passage found in I Samuel 8:4-20.  In this passage the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel the Prophet and demanded that he "make us a king to judge us just like all the nations." (see verse 5)

Verse 6 says, "But the thing displeased Samuel when they said , 'Give us a king to judge us.'  So Samuel prayed to the Lord."

7.  "And the Lord said to Samuel, 'Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them."

God apparently was not surprised that His chosen people of Israel would demand a king to reign in place of Him.  Way back in the book of Genesis 35:11 He told Jacob (who was renamed Israel by God), 
"I am God Almighty.  Be fruitful and multiply; 
a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, 
and kings shall come from your body..."

Israel had rejected God's leadership. Their basic problem was disobedience to God.
  • In Leviticus 20:26 God said to the people of Israel: "You shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the people, that you should be Mine."
  • Israel was called to be a holy nation, but they no longer wanted God to be their nation's ruler.
  • They wanted to be like other nations with a human king
  • They did not understand that only God's strength can make them flourish.

  • We, too, are disobedient to God and not listening to Him as a nation (and as a people)
  • In Deuteronomy 28:1, God told Israel:
  • "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth."
  • But we, as a nation, have turned away from God. Our nation is divided.
  • We are His people also, not just Israel.  
  • Romans 12:2 says: "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 world is corrupting our minds and our nation.  
  • Our refusal to conform to world "values" must go deeper.
  • Only when the Holy Spirit renews, educates and redirects our minds can we be firmly planted in Christ.
  • We need to pray, and ask the Holy Spirit to lead us.

  • Read God's Word, the Bible.  Let God's Holy Spirit do His job of leading us.
  • Romans 8:5 says:  "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit."
  • There are two kinds of people:  Those who let themselves be controlled by SIN
  • Those who let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit.
  • Ask yourself:  What would Jesus want ME to do? Then do it eagerly!
  • Make God YOUR king, and follow Him!
Thank you to our layman and Sunday School teacher, David Perez, for this excellent message from God's Word. We are so blessed to have such excellent leadership in our little church.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Evening Reflections of God's Glory

Psalm 8
1.  "O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth.
who have set Your glory above the heavens!

 2.  Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
that You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

3.  When I consider Your heavens, 
the work of Your fingers,
the moon and the stars, 
which You have ordained,

4.  What is man that You are mindful of him,
and the son of man that You visit him?

5.  For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
and You have crowned him with glory and honor.

6.  You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,

7.  All sheep and oxen-even the beasts of the field,

8.  The birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas.

9.  O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!"