CAPABLE

Does the name Obed-Edom sound familiar?

First Chronicles records genealogies. Lots of them. And every once in a while, an amazing nugget of truth pops up. This one would make Indiana Jones eat his heart out!

Obed-Edom was first mentioned in 2 Samuel. Uzzah reached out to steady the Ark of the Covenant and God displayed his wrath against him. Yet, Obed-Edom stored the Ark in his home for three months and God blessed him and his family.

Ever wonder why God seemingly blesses some folks and not others? Let’s be honest – ever wonder why God blesses them and not us? Aren’t we just as deserving, faithful in our walk with the Lord, and every bit as humble? After all, how much would it hurt if the limelight occasionally shone on us?

Maybe those thoughts hummed through Uzzah’s mind when he felt he needed to prevent the Ark from toppling.

That’s when everyone ran and hid. Everyone but Obed-Edom. He opened his front door and hollered, “Sure, bring it on in.”

Imagine what the neighbors thought! For Sale By Owner signs popped up everywhere.

God knew Obed-Edom was the right curator for the Ark, the symbol of His presence. He blessed Obed-Edom with eight sons and numerous grandsons. In fact, his sixty-two heirs became temple gatekeepers. The Bible says “…they and their sons and their relatives were capable men with the strength to do the work…” (1 Chronicles 26:8, NIV)

God knows our hearts. David asked God in Psalm 139 to search his heart.

When God looks inside us, will He find us grumbling, seeking the praise of men, or capable of serving with the strength that only comes from joy in Him?

Written by Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title, CAPABLE, and scroll down.  Thank you and God bless you!  🙂

STARS and STRIPES FOREVER

An interesting story exists regarding William Driver, whose early years were less than stellar. In fact, he ran away from home instead of going to Sunday School. However, at age twenty-one, he was promoted to captain of a ship bound for the South Pacific. His mother and wife made him a flag, which he proudly hoisted on the mast. At the sight of his flag unfurling in the breeze, he exclaimed, “Old Glory.” Captain Driver served his country well, and his words became an affectionate nickname for our flag.

On July 4th, many Americans enjoy picnics in the park, family barbecues, fireworks, and display flags to commemorate our independence from England. The people of the United States of America have endured many hardships—wars, diseases, natural disasters, financial and economic downturns, civil unrest, and terrorism—to name a few. In recent years, our flag, a symbol of freedom, has come under attack.

Our founding fathers envisioned a country based on “liberty and justice for all,” a detail incorporated in our Pledge of Allegiance.

The colors and symbols carry the same meaning from the first to the current flag. The brilliant field of blue represents justice and perseverance. Fifty stars, one for each state of the union, gleam as bright as those in the heavens, placed by God’s design. Thirteen bold red stripes symbolize valor and courage, honoring the original colonies.

America’s flag stands for the hope of a new nation—perseverance, innocence, and purity—and the promise of justice and freedom.

Have we as a nation achieved the ideal of “One Nation Under God?” Not by a long shot. Wrapped in human frailty, we miss the mark.

But the God who created the vast blue skies, who secured the twinkling stars in the heavens, and who sent His son to bear our stripes, beckons. If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV)

God bless America, and may we ever remain the land of the free and the home of the brave.

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, STARS and STRIPES FOREVER, and scroll down. Thank you!  🙂

ONLY BELIEVE

“Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.” They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.” (Luke 8:50, 52-53, NIV)

Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed man in Gerasenes, an occasion that should have been marked with great celebration. Instead, the people of that region “were overcome with fear” and asked Jesus to leave! (Luke 8:37, NIV)

Fast forward and Jesus is now in Jairius’s home. This synagogue ruler’s daughter was gravely ill and died while Jesus was en route. Wouldn’t you think that when Jesus explained the girl was just sleeping, the crowd would have rejoiced?

These Galilean’s had a similar reaction to the Gerasenes. But this time, instead of Jesus leaving, he sent the mockers away.

So, why would Jesus need to tell Jairius not to be afraid? After all, Jairius himself asked Jesus to come heal his daughter. He was there when the woman with a twelve-year long blood disorder was healed. He saw Jesus’s healing power. Didn’t he?

Though accounts vary, the Bible mentions “fear” more than 300 times. Then, as well as now, fear plays a major role in our lives. Fear inhibits our ability to believe. Until Jairius believed Jesus, his daughter continued to sleep.

Notice what Jesus said . . . “she will be healed.” He didn’t say maybe, might, let’s hope. His words demonstrated that fear and belief oppose each other. He punctuated the promise of healing—if we’ll just believe.

Put yourself in Jairius’s shoes. If seeing is believing, his only, beloved child looked lifeless. Looking at our own situations today, things look impossible. Hopeless. No wonder the Bible addresses fear so many times. We need supernatural strength.

God can heal our lands. He can heal our homes. He can heal our minds. He can  heal our bodies. He can heal our finances.

Can we just believe?

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:25, NIV)

Like this verse, the chorus below emphasizes the power of God. When we only believe.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Only+Believe+Chorus&FORM=VDMHRS

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the words in bold above, “Only Believe,” and scroll down. Thank you!  🙂

THE PLEASURE OF THE KING

“I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:38,  NIV)

Jesus said this about his cousin, John the Baptist. Within days, John’s head would be sawed from his body.

For the pleasure of a king. A man who lived to gratify himself.

Our King is like no other king!

You and I will enter Heaven’s gates, we’ll glimpse Jesus and fall to our knees, and cast our crowns at His feet. And worship. Worship the One who set us free. Worship the One who paid the price. Worship the only One worthy to be praised.

For all eternity we will worship the Lamb of God who traded a palace for a manger, who suffered humiliation and pain like no other.

For the pleasure of the cross. And who will stand with arms wide open to welcome rescued sinners.

Lyrics to a popular song says, ”You didn’t want heaven without us”—a truth this side of Heaven none of us can fully grasp. Unconditional, selfless love isn’t modeled for us in our world today, so how could we know the depths of what God’s love did for us? But we can accept, believe, and live our lives each day…

For the pleasure of our King.

Below is a link to, “I Can Only Imagine,” a song that beautifully captures some of our thoughts about Heaven. I pray you’ll worship King Jesus as you enjoy the music.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=i+can+only+imagine&docid=608008420731912957&mid=B4A10ACFE804D786CAFFB4A10ACFE804D786CAFF&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, THE PLEASURE OF THE KING, and scroll down.  Thank you!  🙂

 

THE SOUL OF AMERICA

These are the times that try men’s souls. This quote comes from The American Crisis, a collection of articles written by Thomas Paine in an effort to encourage the American Revolutionary Army. America has gone through a number of crises and, during these times, history records Americans asking for divine help.

Americans observed a National Day of Prayer on May 7, 2020. Again on May 26, 2020, Anne Graham Lotz invited American women to pray for one hour. And while we are thankful for these nationwide calls to prayer, we can “come boldly before the throne of Grace” any day, time, or place, seek the Lord, and ask for His help on behalf of our country, our leaders, our souls.

May this prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi humble our hearts and turn to Him.

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, THE SOUL OF AMERICA, and scroll down.  Thank you, and God bless you!  🙂

 

 

 

 

JESUS IS THE ANSWER

Greetings everyone,

My spirit won’t let me keep silent…

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

“A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34

The verses above are just three that God have brought to mind as I think about the horror that has been inflicted on the Floyd family and our nation. Fear and anger and hurt are powerful emotions.

People need to see hope! I believe it’s time for us as The church, whether your skin pigmentation is yellow, brown, red, black, white, or blue to rise up and be heard! To be seen united in prayer and fasting whether in small groups, our leaders meeting six feet apart and praying together at the tomato bowl, we pray on zoom, messenger, in our homes and teach our children not to hate. To trust and seek God.

As it stands right now, I’m a black mother and grandmother striving to teach my descendants about God’s love on one hand, and reminding them to put their driver’s license and insurance card where they are easily accessible.  Stop in a well-lighted area if you are stopped…

Good cops are being lopped in one category with those who are doing wrong. That’s not fair. Their families wonder if they will come home safe each night.

Kids just want to wear their style and are profiled.

We can’t fix this by ourselves.  Yes we want justice!

But also peace and equality with fairness.

Jesus is the answer for our world today. Instead of exchanging angry taunts at one another, let’s prepare our hearts to hear what God wants us to do as individuals and as a city, and a nation.

Blessings!

Written by Sharon Simms

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, JESUS IS THE ANSWER, and scroll down.  Thank you!

P.S.  As a special treat, please copy the link below into your web browser to listen to Andrae Crouch’s song – Jesus is the Answer.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=did+Anrae+crouch+write+the+song+Jesus+is+the+answer&ru=%2fsearch%3fform%3dMOZLBR%26pc%3dMOZI%26q%3ddid%2bAnrae%2bcrouch%2bwrite%2bthe%2bsong%2bJesus%2bis%2bthe%2banswer&view=detail&mid=B24D9F4432589ECFF82EB24D9F4432589ECFF82E&rvsmid=FF5113DB3E070B78A9E2FF5113DB3E070B78A9E2&FORM=VDQVAP

 

JUST DO YOU

“That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being —Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” (Johns 4:23-24, The Message)

Once as an aspiring writer—still aspiring—a speaker set me free with the words, “just do you.” I struggled for years, not knowing what to write. After teaching Bible study for a long time, fiction seemed trite and unimportant, except it had been my go-to since childhood and probably contributed to my sanity more than anything else.

Those closest to me wonder about the sanity-part.

When I did decide on fiction, I didn’t know what genre to choose. So I went through the list. I don’t dislike Sci-fi, but not a huge fan either. Fantasy requires too much world-building. Much of Mystery/Suspense/Thriller involves guns and serial killers. Nope. Not there yet. No YA or children’s lit, although I enjoy it from time to time.

That left Romance. Who? Me? I have to admit, I didn’t have a high opinion of romance writing, but those are the only ideas that come together for me. The only books I’m able to write from start to finish are romances.

Then I realized that romance, along with a million other things, remains stereotyped and has a bad rap. Probably because there is a plethora of poorly written, bad stories out there.

But I write the kind of romance that I want to read. In other words, I “just do me.” Stories with truth infused through the pages. Light. Humorous. Fun.

If God is mainly interested in us being ourselves, and He is, then it’s perfectly acceptable for me to write romance. Especially since nothing else works.

On a larger scale, though, he wants me to “just do me” all the time. I don’t need to hide or put on a mask. I’m fine with the God who created the universe.

I check myself often to make sure what He says is fine … is fine with me.

By Mary Pat Johns

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, JUST DO YOU, and scroll down.  Thank you!

 

 

Set Free

Happy Memorial Day!

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, Set Free, and scroll down.  Thank you!  🙂

GOOD, BETTER, BEST

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.  (1 Chronicles 16:34 and Psalms 118:1, NIV)

Sounds familiar, right? We often sing this popular chorus as a praise to the Lord. And well we should.

David composed this celebration song when the Ark of the Covenant returned to Jerusalem.

The movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, offers an entertaining attempt, but bringing the Ark out of the woods to a safe dwelling place, was no small feat. In fact, it cost a man his life.

Though Uzzah had the best of intentions, David used the wrong men and method to move the Ark. And God issued a message, loud and swift.

David’s reaction to Uzzah’s death? Anger. At God! After all, Uzzah was just trying to help. Image result for free to use james tissot's picture of the ark of the covenant

But God’s action proclaimed His anger. The dead man beside the Ark served as proof.

Designed by God, the Ark symbolized a covenant between Him and His people. He’d laid out the specifications with great detail. Its construction, its covering, and how and who should carry it. Much like a parent, our Heavenly Father gave step-by-step instructions. For our good. Just as He’d done from Day One.

Whether our intentions are righteous or not, if we haven’t followed God’s guidelines, consequences will follow.

David, the man after God’s own heart, learned of the goodness of God through this incident and many others. We know this because, in the next verse (1 Chron. 16:35), David encourages us to cry out, “Save us, God our Savior.”

We can count on this constant: His mercies and love endure forever, unshakeable and never-ending.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9, NIV)

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, click on the title above, GOOD, BETTER, BEST, and scroll down. Thank you!  🙂

 

BATTLING WORRY

Think back to the beginning of this year. Despite previous failures, many of us made New Year’s Resolutions. This year would be different, we reasoned. Little did we know just how different!

Churches, restaurants, stores, and schools closed. Stock market earnings flattened. Gas prices diminished. Meetings and flights were canceled. And masks and toilet paper became the leading consumer must-haves.

Social distancing, now known as physical distancing, became our mantra. We obeyed one-way aisles and six-feet markers in grocery stores and elsewhere.

We may never know whether every bit of information about the pandemic contained news-you-can-use or added an over-sensationalized tidbit. With reality seeping into blurred lines, truckloads of worry moved in like caravans.

The textbook definitions of worry include words like anxiety, unrest, focusing our minds on our troubles, and concern. There’s a secondary, interesting definition having to do with the use of dogs or carnivorous animals’ teeth for tearing, gnawing, or dragging objects. Who knew?

Is worry more prevalent in this day and age than at any other time in history? The short answer is no. Why? The Bible lists more than one hundred verses on the topic! God knew our need to win the battle worry would wreak in our minds then and now.

Here are a few worry-relievers:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV)

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7, ESV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27, ESV)

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (Matt.6:27, ESV)

A couple acrostics I devised when my mind seems bent on wallowing in Worry Land are:

Who

Offers

Relief (and)

Revives

You?

 

Just

Empty

Stress

Upon (our)

Savior

Using your tried and true verses from God’s word, see what acrostics you can come up with. Then, the next time you feel prone to wade into Worry Land, arm yourself with God’s promises to you.

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, BATTLING WORRY, and scroll down. Thank you!  🙂