Saturday, April 15, 2023

If you play with fire you're bound to get burned.

If you play with fire you're bound to get burned.

I remember hearing that phrase even growing up as a little child.

Really? Who would want to play with fire?

This idiom is a warning against folly. It's a red flag for dangerous and unsafe acts or behaviors that can lead to pain and injury.

This week the news reported the warning that it was Red Flag week. What does that mean? It means that the conditions outside are conducive for spontaneous fires. It won’t take much to start a fire. The humidity levels are low and often winds can promote fires that can engulf acres of land.

These fires don't apologize or give warning to anything in its way. It will consume the dilapidated house along with the mansion down the road.

Yesterday evening I received photos from a friend. The images depicted the danger of the flames running rapidly through a local neighborhood.

As I stared at the photo it was so surreal. I could see the danger, but the image was so captivating.

As I spoke with my friend the Lord impressed me, that's exactly what happens when my children are very close to sin.

It's a captivating time. Often, we will reason that “we can handle it.” We say things like “I know what I'm doing.”

We are convinced we have a grasp on our situations, environments, troubles, marriage, gambling, drinking, drugs, and on and on it goes.

Something even less subtle is when we pull back from gathering with the Saints. The Lord has made it clear that we are not to forsake coming together.

Sunday, the first day of the week, is an opportunity for us to gather, worship the Lord, giving him thanks for who he is. Praising him for protecting us from darkness that was unbeknownst to us.

The fire is neighboring us. Sometimes we see the smoke. The danger is when we are captivated and drawn in. Wake up! Sin visits us all. It tempted Jesus in the desert. Jesus, the Word overcame him with the Truth!

We need our safe net! We are not strong enough to fight without the Helper! The safe net is prayer, touching and agreeing with someone before we become attracted and fall. Run! Run! Sin is crouching at the door waiting to see who will open it. (Genesis 4:6-8)

Water is what is needed to quench this wild fire. Fire departments will fight this on foot and from the air. The fire must die. Fire lines are created to break and stop the flames from this destructive path. If left alone it will continue to burn and destroy everything.

The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit himself is our Counselor and will warn us even before we see the smoke. He will direct us. He will use others to warn us. God will cause a donkey to speak just to save us from the threat.

God himself that will draw the fire lines so that sin won’t be entertained and cause our fall.

We need to resist the pull of sin from every angle. Physically we remove ourselves from the path of temptation. Spiritually we call on the One that is our Helper. He will make a way of escape for us. Follow Him. He knows how to get us out of the fire before we get burned.

Look around. If the landscape is changing perhaps, it’s because the flames are coming. God sees it is all. The warning has come. Run!

God bless you!~Liz

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Good Diet

How miraculous!  God provides fresh food daily for his people. He still does that today! When we open his Word daily, he is speaking life to us.  It’s nourishment to us, his people.

But what happens when we skip a day?  Ok, let’s say two days.  Life gets busy so now it's three days.  We did not realize that life’s complexities were going to send us in a direction that was not on our calendar.  Now what?  Did you eat?  What will keep us going?  Where is the spiritual nutrition he has so aptly given -  that we have neglected to eat?

We thought that yesterday’s bread would be sufficient. 

We are depleted. We are sluggish and our spiritual vitality is being hindered by the lack of the “Good Diet”.

Run!  Go back to the table of the Lord. 

Do you see it?  It’s a beautiful spread of sustenance that will keep us alert and healthy.

Come, sit at the table. 

Manna is daily.  Yesterday is gone.  God has something GOOD for us today.

Sit, eat and note his presence is with us.

He gives us His Word for our lifetime. 

God bless you!~Liz


Friday, November 18, 2022

Get Up!

Have you called on Jesus? He told the paralytic man who had been sick for 38 years, to get up and to walk.

Sometimes life’s opposition, whether it's sickness of the physical body, anxiety, depression or just the unfamiliar walkway we're traveling, ­- it seems like it will never change!

We are stuck in familiarity when God wants to do something new!

When I read this story and I hear the man was sick for 38 years, the assumption is that this man was sick his whole life. But what if he was older than 38 years old and maybe at one point he was well and then he got sick? What if he just wanted to return back to wholeness and health? Perhaps a heart of sorrow was reaching out to the only one who could restore him?

Jesus later encounters him and tells him to stop sinning unless something worse happens. Not all sickness comes from sinning against the Lord. This is a fallen world. 

One thing I do know is that God is merciful and gracious. He is able to heal, restore, redirect, bring life to the dead and redemption to the lost.

So, GET UP.  Go to the Master - to the Healer -  to the Savior  – He knows how to RESTORE!

"When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”  “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath." John 5:6-9

God bless you!~Liz

Monday, September 19, 2022

The Cycle

It's a crisp morning. 
There are leaves all over the backyard. 
My feet crush them as I stroll about my deck making that beautiful brittle crunch announcing that Fall is coming.

All I hear are the sounds of God's creation. Birds chirping in the background, squirrels running up and down the tree trying to store some food for the upcoming season. The chipmunks stop when they see me hoping I don't see them as they scurry about the piles of leaves and branches.

This is one of my favorite times of year. Once again, the cycle begins.

Hopefully you remember when you were young, and you learned to ride a bike and the freedom that you gained. For me that freedom was about half a block in the Bronx but nevertheless in my mind it was a highway. No matter how many times I rode back and forth it was an adventure! I imagined I was on a freeway. In my imagination I would stop to pay the toll. Yes, this was way before E-Z pass! So much fun. The imagination of a child, how exciting.

Fast forward a few decades and I’m still going around in circles. The landscape has grown and changed. This is life. There are cycles that we go through. But, can I learn from theses journeys?

The Bible speaks about the Israelites and their travels. Our great God chose them, revealed himself to them, explained to them what pleased Him and what would be best for them in this adventure of life.

Today he is still intercepting our travels to reveal himself to us. Have you seen Him? Have you recognized his whispers as you travel? Have you marveled at his creation that he made just for us?

This morning the Lord reminded me of life cycles. Yes, we have seasons that cause our landscape to change. I'm amazed at how trees are stripped, perhaps even commanded to let go of their leaves. It seems like death. But give it some time and the seasons will change again and you'll see life spring up.

A young girl. Riding my bike back and forth noticing new things without a care in the world. I could see friends waving at me. Even the wind visited me causing resistance as I pedaled. Pebbles often appeared that I missed the first time causing a bump on the road encouraging me to hold on just a little tighter.

The sun is about to go down and dusk will arrive. I recognize his walk, I recognize his stride. It was my father arriving home. My day’s adventure was about to close. Dinner will be served and soon a new day would begin along with new adventures.

What cycle are you in today? Are you struggling with belief? Has doubt come to visit and its trying to shake you from your foundation? Has discouragement arrived? They may be real, but they're just pebbles on the road. Hold on tight, stay focused. Lift your head and look forward. 

Do you see him? Do you recognize him? Yes, it's your Father. He wants to sit and have dinner with you. You will share your day and he will once again give us direction. He has the Map for Life. He covers us with his love. He'll encourage you and remind you today is about to end. He gives sweet sleep to his children.

A new day will arise and he will go before you. There are cycles in life. Seasons change.

God is with us. Lean in. Listen and hear his heartbeat for you! He has sent us a Helper. Yes, he has been there all along. It's a tandem bike and he has chosen to let us ride with Him!

Share the adventure! 

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

God bless you!~Liz

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Blessing is in the Chicken Aisle

I usually do my grocery shopping online. But today I actually walked into the supermarket.

Have you ever had the Lord whisper something to you in the most peculiar places? Well today it happened to me when I was in the chicken aisle at ShopRite.

I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few items and then began to browse. Once again, the sticker price on meat alone shocked me. The prices on chicken legs took me to the Old Testament of the Bible. Yes, right in the chicken aisle.

2 Kings speaks of a famine in Samaria where a donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels. Every time I read that scripture, I can envision a donkey's head and it surely does not seem appetizing to me. But in the midst of a famine, it sold for 80 shekels.

“There was a great famine in the city; the siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a quarter of a cab of seed pods for five shekels.” (2 Kings 6:25)

Please don't misunderstand me.  I'm not saying we're in a famine but for some it may feel that way. Times are difficult.

So, what did the Lord minister to me? It was a word of hope and encouragement.

Hope a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
Encouragement the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope. (Oxford Dictionary)

I began to think of how many may be struggling even to put one meal on the table for their family. It might be a family member, a friend, a neighbor, maybe even our enemy.

I personally don't like to waste food. Yet, sometimes I find myself doing exactly that. Perhaps I made too much of something and after a couple of days it is discarded.

I’ve learned when I cook, I immediately wrap whatever is leftover and try to give it to someone. It might be something as simple as my son's favorite meal so I drop it off to him. My heart is encouraged to know that my son enjoyed the meal I made. There was no extra effort involved, it was leftovers.

Do you know someone who might be blessed by a meal? We can become chefs in the kitchen where a bag of potatoes and a few pieces of chicken can be transformed into a message of hope and encouragement. Literally the hands and feet of Jesus!

It's interesting sometimes we think a person has to be in a financial need for us to share a meal. 
Sharing meals in the Bible was just part of life.

We have cocooned ourselves. What are we afraid of? When did we stop living? We are a gregarious people.  That's how we share the love of God!

I recall being a young girl watching my mom in our Bronx kitchen make coffee. Brewing Bustelo and filling the air with its aroma. The scent would travel to the upper floor of our city building where our neighbor lived. In no time at all, Anna the neighbor would come down for a cup of coffee. Sometimes my mom would send me on a coffee run and I would be the messenger of blessing. The gift doesn’t have to be lavish. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money. The blessing of this exchange is still producing fruit to this day. 

Yes, in the chicken aisle at ShopRite the Lord told me to write this message. Share it with your friends. Encourage them from their bounty to bless someone today. We don't have to wait for someone to be sick or in need before the blessing begins.

Hope a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Encouragement the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope. We can do both today!

My heart has been encouraged many times. I've had friends drop off meals, soup, fresh corn, pasteles, coffee and on and on it goes. No, I wasn't sick or in need for every delivery. It was just a kind gesture that made my heart glad.

At the end of the Bible story, the prophet Elisha appears on the scene. “Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.” (2 Kings 7:1) 
The man of God was correct and the famine broke.

There is a lot we can do to serve others. Sometimes we just need a reminder even if it's in the chicken aisle at ShopRite.

May the Lord use you to bless someone unexpectant. Amazingly the reward will be yours.

To God be the Glory.

“May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

God bless you~Liz

Sunday, July 3, 2022

The Dress

In 1982, I was engaged to be married. 

I remember as a young lady I relied on the use of bridal services to help the big day come to pass.

One thing I knew for sure. I wanted to design my own wedding dress. I sketched it out and patiently took clippings from bridal magazines.  I remember flipping through the pages.  Month after month I would purchase magazines with the latest trends. After all I wanted to know what the world was wearing.

I designed the sleeves, the length of the dress, sketched out the neck all and of course the material that would bring this garment together.

After almost 40 years of marriage the story of the dress is still fresh in my mind.

The seamstress took my sketches and clippings.  She designed the dress according to the style I gave her. 

I'm only 19 years old. A young girl unaware that soon I would encounter One who loved me even more than my husband to be.

The dress was almost complete.

A few more tweaks, after all this dress would be stamped in every photo and memory forever.

What a ride!  What a thrill!

A few weeks before my wedding day, the bridal store shut its doors without warning.  

In 1989 my life would change. I traveled with my young son and husband to the state of Florida.  This trip would take a twist that would affect my life forever. I visited a small church with my cousin who was a born-again believer.

I found myself at the church altar with the pastor asking me if I wanted to give my life to the Lord Jesus Christ? Quite frankly I wasn't sure what that meant. I had been to church before and grew up doing my due diligence, but give my life to Jesus?

It's a marriage. The Bridegroom preparing his bride.

There was an issue of wardrobe.

He offered me a new dress.

For a quick moment I remembered I was already clothed.  I don't need a new dress!

In those few moments there was an internal conversation that was happening, a dialogue of love that was being spoken over me.

Is as if he said, “your dress has wrinkles, the stains that the world has placed on you I'd like to take them away.” 

What stains?

You can be in the world Liz but don't let the world be in you.

Watch your eye gate.  All that you see is not all that there is. 

There is a lure, a draw, a bait design just for you. The intention is to keep you from Me.

Open your eyes my daughter. This dress is for you.

After the bridal store closed down I was able to get my unfinished dress back. 

What do I do with a dress that's halfway finished?  I can’t sew. My search began again.

This time I would choose a dress that was already designed. It was right off the rack, as if it was made just for me.

That evening in the small church I traded my dirty rags for beautiful white garment.

“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

My design was flawed.
 Yes I looked just like the world wanted me to look.
But the God who loves me wanted me to look different. He would do the change!

The intimate quiet conversation echoed in my inner being.

As a Christian I know the Lord has called me out of the world even though I still live here. Jesus himself prayed to the Father not to take his children out of the world but to keep them from evil. (John 17:14-16)

He still speaks to me today, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Can you hear him?

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

The dress off the rack looked beautiful. The photos still testify of it today.

I was still attached to my worldly dress. I cut it to the knees. On my wedding day I wore two dresses. The one that was perfectly designed for me and the one I designed.

What a foreshadow in the two dresses. The dress of the world that I couldn't let go and the perfect dress that was on the rack all along.

The Dressmaker took my filthy rags and exchanged them for a beautiful robe of Righteousness. 

Like the young girl that wanted to design her own dress, sometimes I go back into the world's closet.

But I hear the Dressmaker singing over me reminding me. His love speaks to me.  

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Galatians 5:16-17)

Liz, a young girl with an awe for a dress designed by the world was intercepted by the Dressmaker. 
He has clothed me in his Righteousness and continues to love me to this day. 

Actually, this is a forever APPOINTMENT.  I have been SUITED UP!

What are you wearing? 

God bless you!~Liz

Friday, May 20, 2022

Empty Bag

"Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine."  (1 Samuel 17:40)

I am an organizer. I'd like to prepare in advance, arrive early and be ready. It's the administrator in me.

David, a young man, was sent on an errand to bring lunch to his brothers at the front line of a battle. This young man had no fear and it seemed like no concern about delivering food to the frontline.

I wonder how I would have prepared. Perhaps I would have packed my own lunch just in case I was delayed. Take plenty of water and have my camo gear on!

David is on a mission from the Lord, and he doesn't even know it. His lunch delivery will be intercepted, and David will be used by God to bring victory to Israel and glory to the Lord!

Preparation and planning is a great quality to have nevertheless when God is doing something in us and through us we must remember he will accomplish what he started. He will do it with our empty hands and everything at his disposal.

David had a lunchbox not a sword.

God will accomplish what he wants even if it seems we are unprepared. King Saul tried to help him and offered his armor. But the armor was too big. David rejected the armor.

David was a young worshipper and a psalmist. We know he was anointed by God because Saul himself called for him when he was tormented by an evil spirit, and the evil spirit left.

He honored God and acknowledged God’s authority as he spoke to the Philistines. “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:45-47)

He was a humble shepherd. He verbally recited his resume to King Saul. “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”          (1 Samuel 17:34b-37a)

So, when thrusted into life’s difficulties, why worry? I don’t have to be concerned whether I have planned all things out. Truly I never can.

“Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:40)

David’s reliance on the Lord is noted here. His pouch, the shepherd's bag, was empty. He really was on a lunch delivery run. Nevertheless, he was ready to be used by the Lord.

I guess it was no strange thing for David to go to the brook and grab a few stones and put them in his bag. David picks up 5 stones. But, all he needed was one.

Whatever situation we are in or the one we might face tomorrow, we must in humility acknowledge God in all our ways. He makes the way for us.

For David the enemy was conquered with a stone from the brook. For us it may look a little different.

The battle for us may be won if we keep our tongue in check.

The enemy may be overcome as we quietly pray through our pain and tears. God brings the victory.

Like David the worshiper, the sacrifice of praise brings breakthrough. Though sorrow may last for the night joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) And sometimes God will use a stone.

God will accomplish victory for himself. We must be willing vessels. He will use frogs, locusts, turn the sky dark, part bodies of water, bring down walls as we shout in praise, 'cause the sun to turn back and provide daylight, and on and on.

We have nothing to fear. Indeed, my God owns the whole earth. (Psalm 24:1) If he wants to use a stone from the river to bring victory for himself, let his name be praised!

Our armor consists of prayer and submission. The victory is his and he provides the weaponry.

Listen, can you hear the river bubbling. Incline your ear as David splashes through the water. No fear. He is listening to the Lord’s instruction. His sandals are wet, his legs are sturdy. He bends down to pick up 5 stones. Perhaps from the distance he can still hear the taunting from the enemy.  He is determined. He takes one stone at a time and places them in his shepherd’s empty bag. He walks away from the brook with his garment wet. He is focused. He marches right back to the front line. His confidence was not in the size of the stone or how many stones his bag could hold. His trust was not in his skill. His faith was in the Lord!

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.” (1 Samuel 17:45-46a)

God bless you!~Liz  

If you play with fire you're bound to get burned.

If you play with fire you're bound to get burned. I remember hearing that phrase even growing up as a little child. Really? Who would w...