Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

Things I do now   2 comments

 

 

Tread carefully and carry a sharp hoe. That’s what I do now while traversing across the uneven terrain in my back yard where tree roots have created a rough surface above ground making it difficult to maintain or mow. Trying to keep up with the yard maintenance is not an easy task and one that requires a lot of work as I am now single and on my own. I spray, hoe and dig up all kinds of weeds, fight off swarms of flies, filled a dozen trash bags full of raked leaves from the huge trees in my front yard, cleaned out the wet, slimy gunk from my gutters, shoveled and scooped huge piles of snow off my deck, driveway and walk numerous times from record snow storms and cold harsh weather, freezing temperatures, lightning and thunder storms. But when the storms passed I planted and potted new plants in containers for the front and back yard, then enjoy them feeling rewarded from all my labor.

Lately, I have added snake killing to the current list of activities after seeing several garden snakes slithering about from open holes and crevices in an area where I had planned to plant a vegetable garden, but have since scratched that idea.

One day I saw a green metallic colored snake slithering around under my deck just a couple feet from my patio swing where I love sitting while watching and listening to the birds in my yard and trees. I am no Annie Oakley, but am beginning to think I should have come out here to Nebraska’s farmland with a whip, saber or machete.

Jokes aside, it isn’t always the forces of nature or the unexpected chaotic interruptions in life that bring about character building I see God using to make me more the person He wants me to be, but the things and ways each day and the growing process He takes me through that leaves the biggest impact.

The one thing I am sure to learn through this is perseverance, patience and determination.

James 1:2 & 3 & vs 12, New Testament, NIV says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Vs 12, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

This brings me comfort and assures me that whatever new challenge or test that comes my way I have God to lean on and trust that He is there, directing my every step.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter (June, 2019)

 

 

The Wayward Son

“Dad, I’m taking what’s mine and leaving.”

“Why? I hoped you would want to work with your brother and I in the business. When I retire the business will be yours, and your brother’s. ”

“No. I want to see the world, travel.” He turned away avoiding the crestfallen look on his father’s face.

A few days later Mick closed out his accounts, cashed in his trust fund, took his share of the estate and left.

For months following he traveled the world, living like a man with no responsibilities or obligations. No concerns or thoughts to who or what he left behind and none for those he met along the way. He dined and partied with men and women who showed him a good time, drove fast cars, stayed at five-star hotels and resorts eating and drinking at expensive restaurants while spending, and charging all without a care. Life was good, easy. He felt free. But the money ran out, credit cards expired, loans defaulted, and he was broke, unable to pay his debts.

Now desperate and hungry he hauled grain and feed to the stock pens of a farmer eating what he could glean. When he asked for food, they replied. “Go away, can you not see all the hungry who still have no food to eat. There isn’t enough for our own.” So, he searched through alleys for scraps in waste bins behind the bars he once hung out in.

I will go home and apologize to my father and ask if he will hire me on as one of his construction workers. They at least eat well and are paid for their wages earned. I have earned nothing but the shame and disrespect of my family. Will even God forgive me for all I have done?

While walking up the long-gated drive to his father’s home he was met with the warm loving arms of his father, never asking where he’d gone or what he’d done. Only how happy he was to see him and know he had ‘come home.’ His father asked his servants to prepare a very special, festive dinner and celebration with his best wine for his youngest son had returned home.

But when Stan Jr. the older son saw all the commotion and celebration going on, he came to his father and asked what he was doing and why.

“Did I not work for you all these years faithfully running things at the business just like you taught me? And yet, now you spoil him with an outlandish display of gifts and party. Do I not deserve the same or better for all I have done?”

“Stan Sr. replied, “Son, all you need do is ask and it is yours to enjoy. All I have is yours already. But your brother was lost to us all those years and now has returned. It is time to celebrate, not be bitter. Let’s party.”

_________________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © 2019

The above story is fiction, but the truth and parable are scriptural. The story of the prodigal son is found in Luke 15: 11-32 of the New Testament Bible. It is one of many parables or stories Jesus shared with his disciples to illustrate a truth or lesson. This parable story is one of my favorites as it depicts the love our Father God has for us who come to him lost, with a repentant heart seeking forgiveness and wishing for a new beginning, a new life in Him. receiving the gift of salvation and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in directing our steps while on our journey of faith. I love how this father reached out to his lost son in love with no condemnation or questions as to where he’d been or how he conducted his life before his return. As Father’s Day is approaching on Sunday, June 16th I thought this parable story a perfect one to share and hope you have enjoyed reading my own fictional modern version of the parable of the ‘Prodigal Son’. I want to wish all fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day. Best wishes to you and yours on this special day.

JEM

A year like none other

It has been a year unlike any I have ever experienced in my life. Sometimes, because of our choice or decisions made there are circumstances that change or alter the course or direction for our lives. Other times it is God who has appointed and chosen one for us by allowing things to happen that require us to set out on a new path. We might wonder what He had in mind or wanted to accomplish in it. But we can only appreciate it if we realize He is teaching us to grow and learn how to trust him. It was that way with me this last year, although it was difficult and challenging.

I have so often thought and wondered what it must have been like for Mary, the mother of Jesus as she tried to understand or comprehend why she in her tender teenage years was chosen to be the one God used to carry and deliver His gift to the world. What a tremendous challenge it must have been for her as maybe she thought or wondered if she was worthy or ready for it. Maybe she went through a time of doubt or unbelief while hoping people, family and friends would see and understand that she was not a woman to be shamed, stoned or ostracized, pregnant with a child before her espoused marriage to Joseph, but instead God’s chosen vessel by appointment to deliver the Savior, King and Redeemer to a lost and sinful world. Scripture tells us there was great joy and jubilation at the birth of Jesus as angels heralded his birth before men. (Luke 2:9-18). But not all were rejoicing in his birth as King Herod sought him out to kill him. (Matthew 2:1-16). At that time of celebration and jubilation she had no knowledge or thought that one day she would weep for Jesus’s suffering too, as once again He would be sought out and killed. Yet, He went willingly to the cross for all. (Luke, chapters 22 & 23).

We cannot fully appreciate and comprehend the miraculous birth of Jesus, born to a virgin or His death and resurrection until we fully appreciate the new and miraculous rebirth in our own lives. The rebirth of our soul is only dependent on this one thing; that we believe in Jesus, the Son of God who came to forgive us our sin and trespasses and offer us hope and a new life. John 3:16&17. I cannot imagine what my life would be like if not knowing my Savior during this difficult year. It is what held me up, what lifted me during my down times, what buoyed me when I felt I was being pushed under with the strain and stress.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my faithful blogging friends and readers who have visited my blog through the last year, and for all the kind comments, feedback, thoughts and prayers as I went through a difficult period of my life with a divorce and relocation, as I set out on a new path of my own. We cannot know what our tomorrows bring, but we can grow through them, and learn to trust God as we move forward.

Merry Christmas and God bless you and yours in 2019.

_________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter (Johnson) (Dec. 2018)

Posted December 14, 2018 by Joyce in Chrisitanity, Christmas, Devotional, Faith, My Writings

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Enjoy today; worry not about tomorrow

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 NIV

I have always had a problem worrying over things I dreaded, things that could not be avoided like a dental appointment, a medical procedure, or having to drive somewhere where I didn’t want to go, taking me out of my comfort zone. I worried about getting lost, being alone in a crowd of people I didn’t know, getting in a bad car accident. You name it; the list of dreaded things I could not avoid would grow and increased my anxiety to a point that what I was really feeling was out-right fear, the fear of tomorrow, the fear of the unknown.

Worrying over our tomorrows takes our focus off what is important today, and steals the joy that God has for us. What God wants to do for us today, in us, or through us the devil wants to steal. When tomorrow comes we may have regret that we did not put more effort into making our yesterday the best it could have been. Even the memory of it might not be a happy one. Experiencing the joy of today enables us to not fear or worry about tomorrow. Fear sucks the joy right out of our very soul. It can cripple us from walking (daily) in the spirit.

I realized that more than the things I dreaded tomorrow was the inability to appreciate what I have today, an opportunity to make it my best day, to live in the moment and not dwell on what would come in its own time. Learning to take one day at a time even when there are things I knew were coming did not have to steal my attention off of today. For this day I choose to make it my best day, and be hopeful, expectant that whatever today brings I will rejoice and be glad in it because I know that God has all in His hands, and I know He has all my tomorrows as well.

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2018

Posted February 28, 2018 by Joyce in Chrisitanity, Devotional, Faith, My Writings

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The Promised Rock

 

 “Lady, do you want a pretty rock? I got pretty rocks. It just costs a nickel.”

The little red-haired, freckled boy stood outside my front door with a hopeful, expectant look. I didn’t think he could be over five years old. I smiled and said. “Sure. I’d love a pretty rock. Can I pick one out?”

 “No, I have to go get it. I will be right back.” Then he ran off down the street.

I went to get my nickel, then waited a few minutes at the door to see if he would return. He did. Running up to my door again, he held out his hand and a small, white, triangular-shaped rock lay in his palm. We made the exchange.

I said, “Thank you. That is a pretty rock.” Then he took off. As I watched him run back down the street I smiled and wondered if the little entrepreneur went looking  for another who might buy one of his rocks. There is nothing in particular about this little rock that stood out as anything special. But, it reminded me of the story in Matthew in the New Testament about John the Baptist who came as the forerunner telling all he met that God was sending the Son of God, the prophesied Savior. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy spirit and with fire.” Matthew 3:11

Christ came as the promised rock, the One whom we could place our trust  in and build our foundation upon. All that He asks from us in exchange for this gift of eternal life is to believe in Him, seeking forgiveness for our sins.

Jesus never demanded attention, did not dress to stand out in a crowd, or use other means to draw people unto Him. Yet, His love and compassion compelled people to come to Him. He stood out among the masses while doing what his father sent Him to do; loving all unconditionally, healing the sick, ministering to the poor, the hurting and brokenhearted, teaching grace and forgiveness. He came to fulfill the will of his father, to be the sacrificed lamb, the ‘promised rock’ of salvation. There is no way to the Father except through Jesus Christ, His son.

“The Lord is my rock and my salvation.” Psalm 18:2

_________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2018)

Just one day at a time

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 (New Testament Bible), NIV.  Those were the words of Jesus as he spoke them aloud to his disciples and the throngs of people up on the mountain top who came to hear him speak when he began his ministry. If we are honest with ourselves and God we all can relate to this.

When I first drafted this post it was way back in March of this year before I went on a trip to Hawaii, and weeks before my life took a drastic turnaround from the more normal days I was experiencing. Little did I know that a few months later into the summer I would go through a personal crisis that set me back. See the post and story here. Before that time I would just go about my days with the same routine, enjoying time and seclusion at my computer, writing, looking for some new inspiration, working on writing projects. Then something happened to disrupt it all. When I came back to this post to read or revise it, it seemed almost prophetic, to what I felt and what happened later.

There are times when we need to take stock of what we’re doing, hit the ‘reset’ button, rethink our priorities. Sometimes it means being ready for the immediate and the unexpected that ultimately determines what is most important, putting aside everything else, indefinitely.

I have learned it is best to live one day at a time, to make it the best I can, maybe even better than the day before. Then I am not disappointed in myself, but instead encouraged by what I’ve done that day and ready for the next day. I’m not against making plans and setting goals, but I do so with reserve that something could happen that might change it, or set it back. I don’t set my sights on tomorrow if I am not yet finished with today.

______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

 

Posted October 27, 2017 by Joyce in Chrisitanity, Devotional, Faith, My Writings

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Elevator Shaft

His hand gripped tightly. With grunting, gasping breaths he climbed up, and saw nothing but the tunnel of hard, cold steel that went on, endlessly in the claustrophobic tomb.

“Help!” He cried out.

Save your breath. It will only tax what energy you have left and be your downfall.

A hoarse cough broke from his parched throat.

My ‘downfall.’ Yeah! Done that! 
Don’t look down. The bottom is endless, too. Grab hold! Anything!

His feet felt like iron weights.

Climb! I can do this.

Please! Someone!”

The elevator shaft opened.

Light! Voices! 

Oh, thank God!

_______________

Psalm 31: 2, Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of rescue, a strong fortress to save me.  NIV, Old Testament

The above short story is fiction, but I used it as an illustration of the times when we need to be rescued from some trap or downfall, either by our own doing, or one of a literal sense. To acknowledge God, and His power to save, rescue and heal us, however it happens is when we need him most. The Psalms are full of the many stories and pleas of David, King of Israel who often found himself trapped by his enemies, or caught in literal or personal traps he’d set for himself. I’m thankful for the way God always provides us with a way of escape from that which the enemy sets up for us, either to catch us by surprise, or one placed there, warning us of what might come if we do not acknowledge Him, or seek His help .      

Joyce E. Johnson © 2016


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