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NUGGET Today's Devotional

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Post  Admin on Sat 14 Oct 2017, 5:36 pm


Welcome to the Nugget

October 14, 2017

CATHEDRALS!

Lessons on Being Supportive, Part 6: Die Schlosskirche

By Answers2Prayer
Last Thursday, in "CATHEDRALS! Part 5", we learned from La Playa de Las Catedrais, the naturally sculpted "cathedral" on the beach in Ribadeo, Spain, that when our advice and assistance is not requested and we can't do anything to change a situation, we need to simply release it into the hands of the Master builder and pray for God to make something beautiful out of the bad circumstances and decisions.

But what if we release the situation into God's hands; what if we commit ourselves to prayer and...nothing happens? How can we continue to be supportive by--doing nothing? Isn't there anything else we can "do"?

Perhaps one of the most famous of all European cathedrals can be found in Wittenberg, Germany. Officially called the "All Saint's Church", but commonly known as the "Schlosskirche" or "Castle Church", this beautiful, 15th century Gothic structure is a magnificent work of architecture. On October 31, 1517, however, the cathedral forever entered the books of history when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses to its door.

Despite its fame, history has not been kind to the All Saint's Church. During the Seven Years' War, the church was bombed; and the ensuing fire destroyed almost everything, including the wooden door to which Martin Luther actually nailed his theses. The church was rebuilt, but because of its exposure over the years to wind and weather and the normal wear and tear affecting all great buildings, further restorations have been required. The church was completely renovated in the late 1800s; and in honor of the 500 year anniversary of Protestantism this year, the church is once again undergoing renovations.

This is not a unique occurrence. It is a common sight in Europe to see cathedrals covered in scaffolding, for all buildings are exposed to the eroding properties of wind and weather, many are subjected to fire, and the two great wars have brought about much need to rebuild and restore. Often the churches have to be completely torn down and new structures built in their place, and if you take the time to read through the history of the majority of the cathedrals in Europe, you will find that most have been restored and many have been rebuilt, often from the ground up, sometimes up to three or more times!

In the same way that wind and weather have eroded the magnificent cathedrals, circumstance, as well as poor choices, can significantly impact our lives and the lives of those we love and wish to support. Being there for them, offering advice and help and praying for them will help to stay some of the impact of the circumstances and poor choices; however, when our advice goes completely unheeded, when our offer of help is completely ignored, or when the circumstances are completely outside of our or their control, there will be negative consequences. What is our role then?

Most would be tempted to sit back and say, "I told you so. If you had only listened..." This kind of a reaction, however, won't change anything. It is kind of like saying to the All Saint's Church, "I told you the wind and weather would damage your stones, but you wouldn't listen!" In fact, the "I told you so" attitude will only serve to push us even farther from the lives of those we wish to support.

Besides praying about the situation and surrendering it into God's hands, do we have a role to play when we've been forced to sit and watch those we care about going through tough times?

Let's again take lessons from the Master Father, the God of the universe. When He was forced to do nothing in the face of the destructive choice of Adam and Eve in the garden; when He had to sit back and watch the horrific consequences of that choice, He didn't say, "I told you so!" Instead, He was there with a solution: He sent Jesus to provide a way out of that poor choice, to reconcile us once again to God. He was there to help us pick up the pieces, to show us the way to recover from that bad choice: "For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NLT).

Our role, then, is to follow God's example. Just like the state of Germany is stepping up to fund the restoration of the All Saints' Church, we must resolve to do everything in our power to rebuild and restore. Those who are hurting need to know that we are there for them, no matter what.

What does this look like?

When that marriage falls apart, the one you advised against in the first place, you are there to humbly hold them up, to comfort and to assist in any way possible.

When the student loan money is completely wasted because that young person didn't heed your advice and stay in school, you are there to humbly comfort them, to encourage them, to hold their hand through it.

When the car you advised against buying breaks down and strands the one you care about, you are there to humbly pick them up, drive them to work, and assist them in getting the car fixed or replaced.

Remember that sometimes it takes these kinds of situations to help people realize their need to listen to advice!

Oh, and just one more thought...Perhaps a vital part of being supportive has to do with forgiveness. We must forgive the ones who refuse to listen or accept our advice and help.

This is the last part of the "CATHEDRALS!" mini-series. If you have missed any parts of this series, you will find them by clicking here. Or contact me at lyn@sermonillustrator.org and I will be happy to forward them to you. Meanwhile, may God bless you abundantly as you lovingly support those you care about by committing them into God's hands through prayer, and then being there for them to help pick up the pieces.

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
Announcement:

And speaking of Die Schlosskirche -- the All Saint's Church...

The 500 year anniversary of the birth of protestantism -- that famous day in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of Die Schlosskirche -- the All Saint's Church -- in Wittenberg, Germany, is coming up at the end of this month! Please join us the last week of October as we take a special look at protestantism and Christianity.
©️Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."
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Post  Admin on Thu 12 Oct 2017, 9:24 pm


Welcome to the Nugget
October 12, 2017

CATHEDRALS!

Lessons on Being Supportive, Part 5: La Playa de las Catedrais

By Answers2Prayer
Last Tuesday, in "CATHEDRALS! Part 4", we learned from the towns of Mediano and Janovas in Northern Spain that when our advice and help is requested, we must be there for those requesting it; but when it is not, the only way we can truly be supportive is to respect their wishes.

But wait. When we see that those we wish to support are making the wrong decisions and taking the wrong paths, when we see that withholding our advice and help may result in disaster, how can we, as loving, caring parents and friends, simply sit back and do nothing?

We can't, and God used the "cathedrals" at "La Playa de las Catedrais" to help me understand what it is that we not only can do, but we must do...

La Playa de Las Catedrais is a beautiful beach near Ribadeo, Spain. Directly translated, the Spanish words mean "Cathedrals Beach", and when you walk on the sand at low tide, it becomes quite apparent how this section of coastline got its name. The cliffs, some over 32 meters high, have, through the ages, been sculpted by wind and sea, forming spectacular arches, vaults, cracks, tunnels and galleries of rock. To make it even more special, from the sands of this beach, you can look out over the water in the mornings and evenings to watch remarkable sunrises and breathtaking sunsets.

Although all the rock formations are formidably beautiful, there are a couple in particular, that if caught at the right angle and in the right light, make you forget you are on a beach. In fact, were it not for the bare feet and rolled up pants, you would feel like you are standing in a spectacular cathedral.

We had admired so many grand cathedrals throughout Northern Spain, photographing and appreciating each for its unique architecture and decor; but as we stood at low tide that morning, in perhaps one of the most magnificent works of architecture we had ever seen, we realized something vitally important: God is the greatest architect!

With that thought came yet another: God doesn't need suspended models such as were used in the construction of the Sagrada Familia; He doesn't use the cranes, buttresses or molded decor so commonly seen supporting European structures; He doesn't worry about funding, and the threats of fire, flood and wind don't faze Him in the least. In fact, He uses the wind and the waves as tools in His hands; and in the end, His structures stand, as a lasting reminder, that where man fails, God...is!

Friends, when our offers of advice and assistance are rejected; when we are forced to stand by and look on while those we care about make the wrong choices; when any assistance on our part will only break the fragile connection that hopefully still remains between us, remember La Playa de Las Catedrais. Just as God uses the wind and water to expertly sculpt the beautiful arches and vaults found along this beach, He uses the "wind" of our poor choices and the "water" of our circumstances to form us into something of even more beauty and higher value: "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time." (Eccl. 3:11 NLT); "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (Rom. 8:28 NLT).

What, then, can we do when our assistance is rejected?

We can release the situation into the hands of the Master Architect. We can trust that the same creative hand that uses the wind and waves to sculpt something of formidable beauty along the beach at Ribadeo, will also mold something of great value out of the circumstances and bad decisions made by those we care about. The most important thing we can do to support our loved ones through the hard times is to release them into God's hands.

Wait. We are fixers. Letting go and letting God is not always easy. Isn't there anything we can do?

Yes, there is. We can pray. Prayer is like the machinery that opens the sluice gates on the locks so that the water can raise the ships. Prayer is like the electrician who repairs the broken power lines so that electricity can flow into homes and provide power and light and heat. Prayer is like us pulling the trigger on the gas pump so that gas will flow into and power our vehicles. Prayer is what unleashes God's creative power to change the situations we can do nothing about.

So just what does it look like to be supportive?

It is being there for someone, providing advice and assistance when it is requested, and it is knowing how and when to let go. But most importantly, it is releasing the situations that we cannot change into the hands of God, the Master Architect, and then praying His creative power into those situations.

But what if we release the situation into God's hands, what if we commit ourselves to prayer, and...nothing changes? Isn't there anything else we can do?

Join us Saturday for the conclusion of this series: "CATHEDRALS! Part 6: Die Schlosskirche".

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
Announcement:

John the Baptist said, "The time has come...The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15). But what exactly is the Kingdom of God? Check out "Basics of Basileia", a four-part mini-series by Brother Suresh Manoharan designed to help us have a better understand of God's Kingdom!
©️Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."

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Post  Admin on Thu 05 Oct 2017, 9:22 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

October 5, 2017

CATHEDRALS!

Lessons on Being Supportive, Part 2:
The Sagrada Familia

By Answers2Prayer
Last Tuesday, in "CATHEDRALS! Part 1", we saw that being supportive means we need to hold up those we care about, while at the same time, ensuring that we are not sources of frustration and discouragement to them.

All that is very informative from a cognitive level; but as I stood in the streets of Barcelona that morning, waiting for the famous "Sagrada Familia", to open for the day, I couldn't help wondering just how I could go about holding up, reinforcing and assisting those I want to support. Little did I know that God would use this lofty cathedral to teach me three important facts about being supportive...

The Sagrada Familia is, hands down, the #1 tourist attraction in Barcelona. This towering cathedral dominates the skyline and can be seen for miles from the air; but as I stared at it that morning, I realized something amazing: It didn't seem to have any external supports! I would later learn why. The Sagrada Familia is the creation of the famous Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi. When he designed the basilica, he went to great lengths to learn from the forces of nature how to create a self-supported structure. He made upside down models of his designs out of weighted string. He then noted the angles at which these weights fell, and he designed the actual upright structures on the same angles. This cathedral was actually designed to stand--without external support!

Herein lies the first lesson: Being supportive means that we do everything in our power to teach those we care about to be self-supportive. Where Gaudi did this by building upside down models, we do it by introducing them to the source of true strength and support: Jesus Christ. If they already know Christ, then we do everything to encourage them to rely on Him and allow Him to be their support.

As I contemplated this, it occurred to me that the workers constructing the basilica must have had great faith in Gaudi's plans. I mean, wouldn't all those crazy angles seem ludicrous? I suspect, however, that they had seen other creations of this master architect and knew his blueprints could be trusted...

From this comes the second important clue for how to be supportive. It doesn't start when the apparent need for support becomes visible; rather, it begins when we first meet those whom we wish to support. This means we make a habit of building relationships and establishing patterns of listening; it means that we love them unconditionally and unselfishly, not just when they are in difficulty, but all the time. The key to being supportive lies in having established a firm pattern of trust with those we wish to support!

A third lesson about being supportive that we can learn from the Sagrada Familia comes from its external beauty. As mentioned above, the basilica appears to have been built without external supports; and when you see the structure, you realize immediately that adding external supports would not only be unnecessary, but would turn this beautiful work of architectural genius into something ugly.

Unfortunately, this can one of the more painful lessons in being supportive. In the same way that putting external supports on the Sagrada Familia would ruin the structure, we need to realize that those we wish to support may not always want or need our support. If we try to be supportive when they don't need it, it will be cumbersome to them. In order to truly be supportive, we need to simply be there, like the Rock of Gibraltar, ready and eager to help, but not pushing ourselves on them when they don't ask.

Does this sound cold?

Think of it from a different perspective. There is no better parent than God: Abba, Papa, Daddy God. God never pushes Himself upon us, but when we open our hearts to Him and cry out, He is always there: "The godly cry out and the LORD hears; he saves them from all their troubles." (Ps. 34:17 NET).

We also know that we need to "ask" to receive: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you." (Matt. 7:7 NET).

Just as God is always there for us, we also need to be there for those we wish to support. We shouldn't be physically in their faces, but we need to ensure that they realize we are there for them the moment they ask.

But what if they are too proud to ask for help? Or maybe they don't realize we can do anything for them. Or maybe they are simply too overwhelmed by the situation to do anything at all. Then what?

That's when we quietly offer our help. We offer to be a listening ear and to share our ideas. If they accept the offer, then we are free to help, to share ideas and to be that listening ear. If they do not, however, then we must respect them as God respects us. We must release them to make their own decisions, for isn't that what our ultimate Father does?

How to be supportive? We point them to God, our ultimate support; we make every effort to prove ourselves trustworthy; and we offer our help, but we don't push our support upon them if they refuse our offer.

But how can a loving person just sit back and watch people make the wrong decisions? Join us on Saturday for CATHEDRALS! Part 3: Gaudi's Crypt.

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
Announcement:

Most of us truly desire to be supportive, but we simply don't know how. Little did I know that God would use the towering basilicas from Norther Spain to teach me valuable lessons on how to be supportive God's way. Join us for the next week and a half for: "Cathedrals!" by Lynona Gordon Chaffart
©️Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."
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Post  Admin on Tue 03 Oct 2017, 2:22 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
October 3, 2017

CATHEDRALS!
Lessons on Being Supportive, Part 1: Definition
By Answers2Prayer
Last Saturday, in the introduction to this series, we saw that we are called to be supportive of one another. This is easier to preach about then to practice, however, for many of us don't fully understand what it means to be supportive or how to separate it from its destructive cousin, control. I was struggling with these questions at the time of our family vacation last summer, and God used the cathedrals of Northern Spain to teach me valuable lessons in supportiveness.

The first thing that amazed me as we visited these beautiful feats of architecture was their age. Though a few are more recent, some date back to the 12th and 13th centuries. This means they have passed the test of time; they have weathered the storms, the humidity and the pollution; they have withstood erosion, fire and war; and the reason they have survived is because they were designed and constructed with multiple internal and external supports. Here are just a few of the common supports used in European architecture:

* The Abutment: the reinforcing block of masonry that adds support to the great vaults and arches.
* The Arcade: a row of arches set atop columns. The term sometimes refers to the arched roof itself.
* The Hammer Beams: Right angled support beams projecting from wall tops to brace wooden roofs via vertical extensions known as hammerposts.
* The Jamb: The vertical side surface masonry of a door, window or portal entranceway.
* The Tribune: A vaulted gallery which forms or covers the ceiling of an aisle.

The list could go on, but suffice is to say, these supports literally find their way into every part of the structures.

Like the cathedrals, we also need support in every part of our lives so that we, too, can stand the tests of life. God desires to be our support, and it is for this reason that we are told to, "...be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power." (Eph. 6:10-11 NET). Unfortunately, many of those we wish to support do not believe in God, and are, therefore, cut off from this ultimate in support. Those of us who believe have access to God’️s strength and support; however, we tend to not fully trust His power to sustain us in hard times. We often don't heed His words of wisdom; we usually don't allow Him to guide us; and overall, our faith is weak. As a result, even those of us who believe in God often live without our intended support network. This is why we are told to: "...encourage one another and build up each other..." (1 Thes. 5:11 NET), and to: "...pray at all times in the Spirit...with all perseverance and requests for all the saints." (Eph. 6:18 NET). It is our job to love them enough to be there for them, no matter what, for if we do not support them, they will not stand.

But we are only human beings. We are not pillars and buttresses of stone. Just what does being supportive mean in terms of human relationships?

My first stop in answering this question was the dictionary, and here is what I found. Support: to bear all or part of the weight; to hold something up; to give assistance to; to enable to function or act.

In order to have a clearer meaning, my next stop was the thesaurus to find other words that might be similar. Support: hold up, bear, carry, prop up, keep up, brace, shore up, underpin, buttress, reinforce, undergird, help, aid, assist, maintain, keep and subsidize.

Finally, since it's always easier to understand a concept by looking at its opposite meaning, my last stop in my search of a definition for "support" was again the thesaurus, for antonyms this time: disapproval, frustration, opposition, stop, and discouragement.

Where do these definitions teach us?

That in order to be properly supportive of those we care about in life, we need to carry, prop up, brace and reinforce them; we need to help and assist them; we must be to them pillars, props, crutches and braces; and we must contribute to their maintenance, their keep and their sustenance. Finally, in order to be supportive, we must also keep from being sources of frustration, opposition and discouragement, and we must not be disapproving.

That, friends, is how we can be the abutments, the arcades, the hammer beams, the jambs and the tribunes to those we love. The problem is, just how does one go about holding up, carrying, bracing, reinforcing and assisting those we wish to support, without frustrating, opposing and discouraging them?

Join us next time for "CATHEDRALS! Lessons on Being Supportive, Part 2: The Sagrada Familia

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
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Do you have a prayer request? Do you know someone who needs to be prayed for? Prayer works! The Bible confirms this in James 5:16: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (NIV) Send your prayer request here and let us pray in agreement with you! Matt 18:20: "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (NIV) Hallelujah!
©️Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."

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Post  Admin on Sun 24 Sep 2017, 11:47 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
September 23, 2017

A Time to Surrender

By Answers2Prayer
"Furthermore, tell the people, 'This is what the Lord says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; they will escape with their lives. I have determined to do this city harm and not good, declares the Lord. It will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire.'" (Jeremiah 21:8-10 NIV)

As I read the above text the other day, I did a bit of a double take. Putting myself in the shoes of the people of Judah, I couldn't help but think that in their minds, surrendering to the Babylonians would be the worst possible thing to do! After all, they were the enemy! We are programmed in our genes to fight to the end. How on earth could God be saying to these people that they would be better off surrendering to the Babylonians? How could He say that it was only in surrender that would they save their lives?

As we read more about the Babylonian captivity, we see that the king Jeremiah was speaking to was Zedekiah, a puppet king placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar when his nephew, Jehoiachin, was deported to Babylon. Further glances at history show that Jehoiachin actually did surrender to Nebuchadnezzar. He was then taken alive to Babylon and was later released. He did not die, and even in exile, the Jews considered Jehoiachin to be their king.*

Zedekiah, on the other hand, though appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, broke his oath of loyalty to the king of Babylon and entered into an alliance with the king of Egypt. He was urged by the prophet Jeremiah to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar, but he would not. In the end, Jeremiah records that Nebuchadnezzar, "...killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes; he also killed all the officials of Judah. Then he put out Zedekiah's eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon, where he put him in prison till the day of his death." (Jeremiah 52:10-11 NIV)

Wow. When you see the whole picture, you realize how much better it would have been for Zedekiah to have followed Jeremiah's advice!

It is certain that none of us are in ancient Jerusalem with the Chaldean army pounding on our walls, but we are all struck by different kinds of evil. Our "Chaldean army" may be illness or any other kind of hardship. We want out. We want resolution. We want healing. We want our "Chaldean army" to simply go away.

But sometimes God calls us to "surrender".

Why?

Because God sees the end from the beginning, and He knows that sometimes surrender is the best way. This was God's message to me when I went through cancer five years ago. Why didn't God intervene? Why did He ask me to "surrender" to His will rather than miraculously heal me? I don't have all the answers because I don't know what would have happened in my life if He had simply removed the cancer. But I can tell you this: The day I surrendered the cancer and all of its implications into His hands was the day I found peace. Not only that, but it was also the day that my relationship with God began to grow as I learned to trust Him with every aspect of the disease and its treatments. In looking back over those sweet times with my loving Heavenly Father, I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.

Yes God does still perform miraculous healings. Yes, we need to put our trust in His healing power. But we must also understand that sometimes the paths of suffering are actually the "preferable" path over what might otherwise be, and during those dark moments, we can trust in our God to carry us through. When we do, we can be assured that we will not rot in a prison as Zedekiah did. Rather, like Jehoachin, we will eventually be set free and go on to be the people of God we were created to be.

Yes, there is a time to take a stand in faith, and there is also a time to surrender the circumstances to God and let Him be in charge. Only then can we be assured of the best possible outcome.

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeconiah

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Post  Admin on Thu 21 Sep 2017, 6:16 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

September 21, 2016

Simple quiz to see how you handle fear.

By Answers2Prayer

What joy, the plane landed a bit earlier in Quito, Ecuador. My friend would be waiting for me and we'd be on our way to our week of ministering to those affected by the earthquake.

The airport employee who guided me out of the plane grabbed my bags and led me toward the exit of the airport. Then he asked, "What does the friend who's picking you up look like?"

I leaned on my white cane and gave a silly grin. Although I met her during her visit to the states, being blind, I had no clue what she looked like.

"Don't worry," I said, "she'll recognize me and we'll be on our way."

We waited. And we waited. No friend. Then logic filed in my head. What if, since I've been traveling so much, I ended up in the wrong country, or arrived on the wrong date.

"This is Ecuador, isn't it?" I asked, sort of joking.

Whew! He said it was. At least it was the correct country. But with no one there to meet me, I had to decide what to do. I couldn't use my cell phone; it had no service in a foreign country.

Here's when we have the choice--whether we allow fear to rule us or faith empower us.

I chose the latter because of this test I gave myself. And I invite you to take it too:

* Is God aware of our every glitch?
* Is He faithful when we encounter unexpected circumstances?
* Is His faithfulness active even when we fail?
* Does His answer come in ways we never predicted?
* Is His protection available no matter where we are?
* Does He warn what to do about fear, worry and anxiety?
* Can I rest, knowing His hand is upon me no matter if I'm blind, deaf or crippled?
* King David might have taken this test because he declared: "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1)

I passed the test, then gathered my suitcases around me, plopped in a chair near the exit and relaxed while I waited. If you also answer "yes" to all of the above, you're on the way to a life of faith. And if you recognize His promises as you answered the questions, you've arrived at a place where faith rules, where peace reigns, where your steps are firm. And best of all, even when circumstances don't change, your heart is secure, your thoughts are calm and His answer is sure to come.

And my answer indeed came. My friend had received wrong information from the airline, telling her the plane was delayed for three hours. Eventually she sent someone to pick me up from the airport. And although I didn't know this person, I still trusted--not so much in her as she was a stranger, but I trusted in god who is truly trustworthy.

How about you? Are you at a place strangely painful? What does the test reveal about your fear, about your faith?

Janet Eckles
If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet's cyberspace home for more inspiration.

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Post  Admin on Tue 19 Sep 2017, 10:50 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
September 19, 2016

Focus
By Answers2Prayer
"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" (Psalm 8:1)

One summer my husband and I had the opportunity to travel to the emerald isle. The camera was attached to my wrist, where it was handy, since there was one great shot after another. On this particular day there was a family behind us, also sightseeing. The adults and the grandparents seemed captured and caught up by the natural splendor. The youngest seemed oblivious to the grandeur surrounding us; his focus was fixed on a handheld computer game.

Sometimes I am just like that child. I can get so caught up in what I have in my hands that I miss what God has in His.

God is all around us in nature, sharing His majesty and revelation (see Psalm 104). Not just in the mountains and hidden waterfalls, but also in a daisy, a perfectly veined leaf, the flash of a lightning bolt, or in glistening drops of rain.

Open my eyes, Lord, and thank you for helping me shift my focus to what You have for me to see this day.

Inspirational Messages, Sally I. Kennedy 2015

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Post  Admin on Mon 18 Sep 2017, 12:00 am

Welcome to the Nugget


September 16, 2017

The Sunglasses
By Answers2Prayer
Why is it that the moment we are in the midst of the worst circumstances, God seems so far away? And the more we pray and seek His help, ever believing for God's mercy and grace, the more it seems that He doesn't respond? Is this how Job felt when he said, "Even today my complaint is still bitter; his hand is heavy despite my groaning. O that I knew where I might find him...If I go to the east, he is not there, and to the west, yet I do not perceive him. In the north when he is at work, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I see no trace of him." (Job 23:2-3, 8-9 NET)?

But wait. Hasn't God promised to never leave us or forsake us? "...He will not fail you or abandon you!" (Deut. 31:6 NET). Why then, in the midst of our problems, is He not there?

Recently my husband and I had the privilege of visiting "Rock City Park" in Olean, New York. This is a unique land formation made up of tall, flat-topped boulders with narrow, deep ravines running between them. It is most impressive to see how deep these ravines are, and I was leaning out over one when my sunglasses slipped from my head and tumbled to the bottom.

Of course, they were just sunglasses, but they had cost 25$, and I really didn't want to lose them. At the first opportunity, my husband and I took the designated staircase to the foot of the boulders and searched every ravine we found. As I reached the end of one long, narrow crevice, I noticed a small opening that led to the next one. Certain that we were in about the same place where I had lost my glasses, I "corkscrewed" my way through that opening. Things didn't seem quite right from the other side, however. The landmarks weren't quite the same. This couldn't be the right spot...and I squirmed my way back out.

We went back to the gift shop next, and I asked the attendant if there was any way to get those glasses. He was kind enough to loan us a tall ladder, and I was able to climb down the designated ravine to rescue my eyewear. As I was heading back towards the ladder, however, I noticed a familiar-looking opening under a fallen boulder...I was in the same ravine I had wiggled my way into not 30 minutes earlier. I had been where my sunglasses had fallen, I had likely come very close to stepping on them; but I hadn't seen them. Once I had crawled out of that tiny hole under the fallen boulder, my eyes had immediately gone upward, and I had been too intent on the landmarks at the top to even search the ground under my feet.

While in the midst of our problems, it seems that God is as lost as my sunglasses. In the same way I searched for my eyewear, we search for God; and just like the glasses were, indeed, right there, so is God. Hasn't He promised to never forsake us (Deut. 31:6)? Isn't He faithful? "Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments." (Deut. 7:9 NLT. See also Ps. 36:5, Ps. 119:90, 1 Cor. 1:9, Rom 3:3, etc.). The bottom line is this: God is faithful to keep His promises, and this includes His promise to never leave us or forsake us.

The problem is, just as I was too distracted with trying to figure out where I was in relation to where I had been when the sunglasses fell to actually see them under my feet, we can easily become distracted by our circumstances; and when we allow our eyes to fix on our problems, we won't see, feel or hear God's presence. This doesn't change the facts, however, that God is always faithful and will never abandon us. Whether we realize it or not, He is carrying us through.

So what do we do when we can't find God in the web of our circumstances?

The first thing I did to find my sunglasses was look for them. In the same way, we need to seek God, especially in times when we don't see Him. The second thing I did was find a ladder. There is a "ladder" for finding God as well. Our "ladder" is our faith in His goodness and love. We need to cling to the fact that even when we don't see Him, even when it appears that He isn't answering our prayers, it is then that He is carrying us through. When we fully embrace this Truth, we will begin to see His hand upon us, even in the midst of our circumstances.

Don't abandon the search. Instead, seek Him. Get out your "ladder" of faith and keep on believing in the One who will never abandon you to your circumstance.

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

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Post  Admin on Fri 15 Sep 2017, 1:26 am

Welcome to the Nugget

September 14, 2016
Little Blinkers

By Answers2Prayer
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matt 5:16)

I was walking my beagle, Snoopy the other evening while the last light of the setting sun colored the clouds purple and pink. I looked up to the sky and smiled. After a minute Snoopy started pulling at her leash. She was more than ready to head inside for a bowl of dog food and a bacon treat. I wasn't quite ready to go in yet, however, so I knelt down and patted her head. I was waiting for my friends the Little Blinkers to appear.

It wasn't long either before I saw them switching their lights on and off. They were fireflies, of course, also known as lightening bugs. Over all the years that I have lived here they have never failed to appear at this time during the Summer to do their mating dance of light and love.

They have never failed to delight me. They have never failed to amaze me. They have never failed to make the world a little brighter. It has always been such a joy too knowing that God created such wonderful creatures that can shine their own light and make the dark meadows look like the starry skies above. They make me want to share my own light as well, even if it isn't that bright and even if it does tend to blink now and then.

Robert Fulghum wrote, "I know some people who give off a lot of light. Because they have absorbed a lot of light themselves. They Shine." I don't know how much light I have absorbed over the years, but I do know that I won't keep it hidden under a basket. I will shine it. I will share it. I will use it to bring as much goodness, love, joy, and wisdom into this world as I possibly can.

May you always shine your light as brightly as you can. May you always share it with others as well. Remember too that God doesn't ask you to illuminate the whole world. He just wants you to make your little corner of it a bit brighter.

By: Joseph J. Mazzella

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Post  Admin on Wed 13 Sep 2017, 12:45 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
September 12, 2017

Three Questions...

By Answers2Prayer
Turbulence made us shake and jostle up and down and from side to side. We were about 20 minutes before landing in Orlando when the announcement came:

"Ladies and gentlemen, turbulence is too severe for us to walk down the aisle," the flight attendant said. "We'll go with the honor system. Please make sure your seat belt is on, bags stowed under the seat, tables are secured and your seat is in the upright position. And please look to the person beside you and make sure they have also complied."

Look to the person beside us? Good idea. We can hold each other accountable.

"Make sure you, yourself have complied first before checking others," the flight attendant added.

Makes sense. Before we try to correct the person beside us, we have to do a self-check first.

The check list is important as we all encounter life's turbulence. Whether it's slight or severe, without exception, we all approach the final destination. And being wise, sharp and alert, and recognizing our human vulnerability in situations out of our control, we prepare.

And in the preparation, fear leaves, anxiety is gone and peace soothes our heart when we answer these three questions:

Are we secure in Jesus our Savior? If so, we're guaranteed life eternal, and we prepare the attire for the journey: "As God's chose people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." (Colossians 3:12)

Do we have any baggage of resentment stowed away in our heart? "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:13)

What do we hold high, above all? "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (Colossians 3:14)

In the turbulence of our days and in the fast pace of this world, our final destination may be closer than we think...so...how would you answer these three questions?

Janet Eckles
If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet's cyberspace home for more inspiration.

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In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Moderator, The Nugget, Scriptural Nuggets website, with Answers2Prayer Ministries
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Post  Admin on Thu 07 Sep 2017, 10:00 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

September 7, 2017

Eat Dessert First



By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul." (Matthew 16:26).

My wonderful daughter made me a red velvet birthday cake this year using her own special combination of creativity and love. It was huge and I cut myself the biggest piece. With the first bite I closed my eyes and smiled. It was so moist and sweet. The butter cream icing on top was delightfully thick. It had countless calories and it was so delicious without being necessarily nutritious. I didn't mind, though. I savored every bite and added a few scoops of ice cream as well. My sons and I polished off every bit of it. When we were done our bellies were full, our souls were satisfied, and dinner was still four hours away. We had followed that wise saying of a happy existence: "Life is short. Eat dessert first!"

I have spent way too many years of my life putting off the desserts I was given until everything else was done. Like far too many people in our society, I thought that work came first, duty came second, and joy was somewhere way down the list. It took me a long time to see God's simple truth that: "We work to live but we live to love." Without love, without laughter, without joy, without goodness, without all the simple pleasures life can bring, our existence becomes a dull and miserable journey.

Thankfully, I finally realized that when you put love first in your life, everything else tastes so much sweeter. Don't put off the simple joys that life can bring. Don't put off the beautiful love that you can give. Eat dessert first! Give your kids hugs before homework. Jump in the leaves before bagging them. Dance on the floors before sweeping them. Do random acts of kindness and goodness. Play with your dogs. Pet your cats. Watch the sunset. Give thanks to God. Shine your smile. Spread your sunshine. And share your love with everyone. You will be amazed at how wonderful life will be when you "Live to Love" while you "Work to live."

By: Joseph J. Mazzella

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Post  Admin on Tue 05 Sep 2017, 10:36 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
September 5, 2016
Grab On

By Answers2Prayer
"The Lord made you; He formed you in the womb and he will help you." (Isaiah 44:2)

"For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand." (Isaiah 41:13)

The vine was going crazy. it was growing so fast and looking for something to grab onto all the time. Thin tendrils were reaching out continually, waving in the breeze. One grabbed onto an empty rough hewn basket; the others were pawing at the air.

How often in life we are so like that plant, looking for something to grab onto. Something to hold onto, to ground us and provide stability.

Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher, said, "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made know through Jesus". Until our souls find rest in Him, we can be unknowingly waving about in thin air trying to latch onto meaning for our lives.

It is indeed good news that we have God's promises that He is with us (Joshua 1:9), will never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:8), and will help us (Psalm 46:1).

Irish Thursday Inspirational Messages, Sally I. Kennedy
Copyright 2016 All rights reserved.
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Post  Admin on Sat 02 Sep 2017, 10:46 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
September 2, 2017
The Joy of the Lord
By Answers2Prayer
It's amazing how quiet and peaceful it is at 6:00 am.

It would be a busy day, as this was the day of my son's graduation from university. As usual, I had over-planned everything, beginning with a "graduation brunch", then a drive to Waterloo for the ceremony and reception, and then back home for a "graduation celebration supper" that would be complete with a gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free (and hopefully, tasty!) graduation cake, all homemade due to my significant diet restrictions. The timing of everything would be critical, and as I took the dog for her walk on the back country roads around our home, I couldn't help reviewing everything in my mind.

As busy as my thoughts were, it took me until I was nearly home before I actually heard the familiar Bible text that God's Spirit was working hard to impress upon my mind: "Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world." (Ps. 46:10 NLT).

I quieted my unsettled mind for a moment, and that's when I realized how still and peaceful it can be at 6:00 am. I began to see the winter wheat waving in the field across the road; I took in the beautiful flowers, the birds and the trees; and as I did, yet another Bible verse was impressed upon my spirit: "The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world." (Ps. 19:1-4 NLT)

As I contemplated this, I began to remember how tumultuous things are in the world right now. Terrorists shootings and bombings, plane crashes, threat of war on every front, scary election outcomes, troops being deployed "just in case", global warming, hurricanes, etc.; and naturally, there was also the tumult in my own day. Nonetheless, the birds were singing, the wheat was waving peacefully in the breeze, the flowers were blooming, the sun was shining...

I knew what God was trying to tell me: even amidst turmoil, He is my rest, my peace, my joy, my love, my everything. As I came indoors and sat down to read my Bible, God directed me to Nehemiah 8, and the following text jumped out at me: "Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!" (Neh. 8:10 NLT)

I understood. It was a day of celebration for my son, and I was ruining it with my over-planning and worry. I needed to learn some serious lessons from the birds, the flowers and the wheat fields. I needed to learn that "the joy of the Lord" is very much my strength. I sat down then and began to type this devotional, something I was sure I wouldn't have time for today...

Everyone reading this has "things" going on. For some it is simply plans. For others, it may be something major such as health problems, financial or relationship concerns, problems with transportation, child problems, etc. Some of you out there may be in war zones, or your home may have just been demolished in a hurricane. Whatever it is, let this be your takeaway today: "This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!" (Neh 8:10 NLT)

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

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Post  Admin on Thu 31 Aug 2017, 11:16 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
August 31, 2016
How to be set Free From Sin
By Answers2Prayer
There I was last week, holding on to the escort's arm, pulling my luggage behind. With quick steps, we made our way through the airport.

"This way to immigration," he said.

Immigration? I had forgotten I was coming in on an international flight and of course immigration and customs were part of the process

"I need to call my husband and let him know," I said. "He's waiting for me outside the airport."

We stepped in the immigration area, and I pulled my cell phone out. And as soon as I gave Siri a command, I felt a tap on my shoulder. "Ma'am, this is security," a man said, "cell phone use is prohibited in this area."

Gulp. I gave a silly smile. "So sorry..."

What was I thinking? I remembered the announcement made loud and clear earlier detailing the regulations and Homeland Security laws. But, busy with my own agenda, I dismissed them.

But what's new? While navigating through the airport of life, we do the same thing. Pulling behind past sin, current sin and on-going sins. Sometimes we hide them; we ignore them, or even live drowning in shame because of them.

Know why we do all that? Because we dismissed this important announcement God made in Isaiah 43:25, "I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."

Did you know that in the area of God's grace it's prohibited to recall past sins? If once on our knees we repent, freedom comes. And in His grace we can let go of the suitcase of sin, release the shame, and leave guilt behind.

If God remembers your sin no more, why do you?
Janet Eckles

If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet's cyberspace home for more inspiration.
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Post  Admin on Wed 30 Aug 2017, 2:49 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
August 29, 2017
Visual Neglect
By Answers2Prayer
Anyone who has either experienced neurological difficulties or works in stroke or brain injury rehabilitation knows exactly what I'm referring to when I say, "visual neglect".

This "neglect", also known as hemiagnosia, hemineglect, contralateral neglect, hemispatial neglect, etc., is a common occurrence after stroke or brain injury that is characterized by the survivor being unable to attend to half of his or her body. It can affect either the left or the right side, depending on where the damage has happened in the brain, and it can occur in many gradations, with milder cases missing only the occasional stimuli, and severe cases missing everything that is on the neglected side. (For a more complete definition of visual neglect, I invite you to click here.)

Visual neglect is something I see often in my work as a Speech Pathologist/Therapist. A patient with a severe left neglect, for instance, may start writing on the far left side of the page and write in a single word column. I often see the frustration on their faces at the apparent "narrowness" of their page. In reading, this same patient may confuse words such as run/fin/fun/gin/gun, as they will likely see the "u" as an "i", and won't see the first letter at all. When asked to read a sentence, it is common for the first few words to be left off completely. The patient with visual neglect may not see you if you stand too far to the affected side, and there may be significant spillage from the affected side of the lips during eating and drinking. In severe cases, the patient may not even attend when you speak to hiim/her from that side.

This kind of neglect can be even more pronounced physically. This patient may run into people or objects on the affected side, and we might see the arm on the affected side getting caught up in the wheel of their wheelchair. This can also cause what is known as "pusher syndrome", where the patient, being completely unaware of the affected side, will push harder with the unaffected side, thus "pushing" him/herself towards the weaker, neglected side. You can imagine the difficulties that can create with such simple activities as sitting up, toileting and walking.

The most interesting part of visual neglect, however, especially in cases where the neglect affects the left side, is that the patient may be completely unawareness of the problem. It's awfully hard to correct something you don't even know is there!

Recently I had the privilege of meeting a new patient with severe left neglect. My student was working with him from his right side, and he was completely unaware of my presence on his left. As I observed the assessment, it occurred to me that the majority of Christianity has neglect--"spiritual" neglect! We are aware of Jesus' gift of Salvation. We give lip service to the presence of the Holy Spirit; yet we neglect the richness of the spiritual life God has in mind for us.

The apostle Paul warns us about this in his 2nd letter to Timothy: "...having a form of godliness but denying its power." (2 Timothy 3:5 NIV).

And just what is this "power" so many are denying?

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe (Eph 1:17-18 NIV) (see also Eph. 3:14-19)

We are denying the immeasurable greatness of God's power, and this causes a "spiritual" neglect. We may call upon the name of the Lord, but we will deny the power of that name. Some may even go so far as to deny that the gifts of the Spirit are for us today, completely forgetting the prophecies of Joel 2:28: "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions." (NIV)

Just like there really is a left (or right) side to that piece of paper for that patient with visual neglect, and just like that sentence really doesn't begin on its 5th word, God's Spirit really has been poured out upon us (remember Pentecost? See Acts 2). Our problem is that we don't pay attention to Him, and maybe we aren't even fully aware of His presence. We live our lives as if God doesn't love us enough to heal us and He doesn't care enough to foretell the future. When we read God's Word, we don't understand half of it, and as a result, we go through our lives spiritually malnourished, having no concept that the spiritual food God has given us is simply "spilling" away. Worse still, because we can't see or feel our spiritual nature, we come to believe God has abandoned us.

I want so much to help my patients see and understand that if they would look towards the affected side of their bodies, they would discover a whole new world waiting for them. In the same way, I want so much for all of my fellow followers of Christ to understand that when we have "spiritual neglect", we are missing half of what the Christian life is meant to be!

Lord, remove our "spiritual" neglect! Help us to see, help us to believe in "the other half", in Your sweet Spirit that has already been poured out upon us. Help us to stop denying the power that has been given to us by Your precious gift at Calvary! In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
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Post  Admin on Sat 26 Aug 2017, 8:59 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
August 26, 2017
Muscle Knots

By Answers2Prayer
I must hold a lot of tension in my upper body, because after just a few minutes of working in the kitchen, I develop muscle knots between my shoulder blades. After several months of trying different things to relieve the pain of these muscle knots, I discovered the tennis ball. I can actually sit in my favorite reclining chair with the tennis ball positioned in the "sore zone" and give myself an amazing massage.

Now I won't lye to you and say that it feels good. In fact, sometimes it hurts so much that tears come to my eyes; but if I persevere, I can feel those muscle knots between my shoulders easing. Call me a glutton for punishment if you wish, but I can honestly say that the relief I feel is well worth the moments of pain.

Naturally there are a couple of other simple solution. I could ignore the pain, for one. The only problem is, the pain would only worsen to the point where I could no longer work in the kitchen. Another potential solution would be to simply not work in the kitchen so that the muscle knots between my shoulders would never develop. Both of these options, however, would prevent me from being able to provide food for my family...hum....Perhaps the painful tennis ball treatment is for the best after all...

As I winced this morning from the pain of the tennis ball rolling from one muscle knot to another, it occurred to me that I also have a few "muscle knots" in my character: "impatience", "pride", "selfishness", "self-reliance" and "lack of faith", to name just a few.

Since I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one with spiritual "muscle knots", I have good news for us all. Just like the tennis ball works the muscle knots out of my upper back, God also has ways of working out our spiritual "muscle knots". For this, He sometimes uses the trials that life has thrown our way. Consider the following, so-often-quoted texts:

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation." (Romans 5:3,4 NLT)

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." (James 1:2 NLT)

Unfortunately, these solutions are often painful. What hurts more, for example, than being snubbed in a relationship? What produces more fear than a bad medical diagnosis? What results in loneliness more than death?

So often we wish these troubles would just go away. However, if I never used that tennis ball, the muscle knots between my shoulders would only get worse, and the pain would eventually stop me from being able to feed my family. In the same way, ignoring our spiritual "muscle knots" would eventually render us useless to God's Work. This is why we are advised: "when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." (James 1:2 NLT). We are also told that we: "...can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials..." (Romans 5:3 NLT) so that we will be: "...perfect and complete, needing nothing." (James 1:4 NLT)

When we are patient through our trials, relying on God to carry us through, we are allowing our painful trials to works out our spiritual "muscle knots". We are allowing God to use them to render us: "perfect and complete, needing nothing." (James 1:4 NLT)

But wait! Please tell me there is an easier way. Who wants to go through such pain just to work out the "knots" in our characters?

Let's look at the next verses of Romans 5: "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation." (Romans 5:4 NLT). Don't we need patience? Strength of character? A strong hope of salvation? We learn these things through our trials! But the best news is, we don't go through these "spiritual massages" without hope: "And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." (Romans 5:4 NLT). We have hope, for God has poured out His love in our hearts through His Spirit, Who we have already received.

Got some spiritual "muscle knots"? Don't wish away the trials that might help to massage them out. Instead, rely on God and His love that has already filled your heart to get you through. This will ensure that in the end, you will be, "perfect and complete, needing nothing" (James 1:4 NLT).

Anyone need a tennis ball?

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

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Post  Admin on Fri 25 Aug 2017, 6:11 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
August 24, 2017
We are Loved

By Answers2Prayer
"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." (Ps. 28:7)

The other day my two sons and I got into my old car to drive to the local post office. I backed out of my drive slowly like I normally do and then pulled to a stop at the side road that leads to the main highway. When it was clear I pulled out and stepped on the gas. As I stepped on the clutch and tried to shift into second, though, I immediately knew that something was wrong. The normally solid gear shift now felt like a spoon in a bowl of soup. I tried quickly to get it to lock into any of the gears but to no avail. Thankfully, the steering wheel was still working fine and I allowed the car to coast to the end of the side road where I was able to pull safely into a wide spot and turn the engine off.

My sons and I walked back to my house, borrowed my daughter's car, and drove to a local garage to arrange to have my car towed in for repairs. It was only later in the day that I finally realized how blessed and watched over I had been. I could have been on the main road when that stick shift failed. I could have been doing 55 miles per hour instead of 15. I could have been in the middle of a curve with no place to turn off the road. I could have had a car too close behind me that wouldn't have been able to stop in time. A hundred things could have made this incident dangerous or deadly. Yet, the gear shift broke at just the right moment to keep me and my boys safe.

Far too often we only see the bad things in life. We get angry with God when things don't go our way, and we fail to see the thousands of times that they do. We are loved and watched over in this life more than we can ever know. God loves us and His angels protect us every single day. Yes, my car broke down. Still, my sons and I are safe. We are loved. And we have been given more time here in this world to share our own love and light. Thank you God!

By: Joseph J. Mazzella

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Post  Admin on Tue 22 Aug 2017, 9:18 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
August 22, 2017
My Father's Hands

By Answers2Prayer
"You received the Spirit of sonship (adoption), and by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'" (Romans 8:15).

Long fingers, veins bulging a bit on the backs, knuckles slightly swollen, brown spots and other tell-tale aging signs. "These hands look like someone else's hands," I mused, as I looked down. "For sure, they look like my father's hands."

It would be great if my hands would stay as busy as my father's did, as long as he lived. There was always something to do, a few weeds that needed pulling, patches of peeling paint that needed sanding and touching up, pantry items to be shared with a neighbor. Each morning those hands held the Bible, as he read the large print. And every day his hands were postured in prayer, probably more than once.

While I was thinking of my father's hands, I thought of a song written by Amy Grant, called "Father's Eyes": She's got her father's eyes Her father's eyes Eyes that find the good in things When good is not around Eyes that find the source of help, when help just can't be found Eyes full of compassion, seein' every pain Knowing what you're going through, and feelin' it the same Just like my father's eyes."

I don't have my father's blue eyes, but I sure would love to have my Father's Eyes, like the lyrics describe. When I look at my hands perhaps I can think of how really great it would be to see situations, and others, through our heavenly Father's eyes of never-ending love.

Irish Thursday Inspirational Messages, Sally I. Kennedy
Copyright 2016 All rights reserved.

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Post  Admin on Mon 21 Aug 2017, 10:15 am

Welcome to the Nugget
August 15, 2017
Waiting

By Answers2Prayer
"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:14)

The pelican duo paddled in place, bobbing in the canal. They were waiting in anticipation, expecting that scraps would be soon be swept from the fish cleaning board into the water. It was just a matter of moments.

There's a waiting room in our local hospital where people can stay if a family member is having surgery. Minutes can masquerade as hours, and hours like days, while waiting for results of the operation.

I have found that waiting is not easy and can be frustrating, even confusing. And it seems to go on, and on, sometimes. Occasionally our hands are tied; we have to wait because of circumstances. Times when a course to pursue is not plain, waiting is necessary for clarity. While trying to sort it all out and allow it to unfold, we sit in that waiting zone.

The waiting place, not usually where we choose to be. It's not forever, though, and it is for a season, a reason, and even a purpose. It's possible to wait with positive expectation, anticipating things working out for the best. God knows, and He has all things in His hands, especially His children.

That is good news.

Inspirational Messages, Sally I. Kennedy 2017

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©Copyright 2011 Answers2Prayer | Matt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give."
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Post  Admin on Mon 21 Aug 2017, 12:32 am

Welcome to the Nugget


August 19, 2017

The Iron, Part

By Answers2Prayer
Last Thursday, in "The Iron", Part 1, we saw that mountain-moving faith is this: In the same way we would never doubt that the iron will remove the wrinkles from the cloth, we must trust without doubt that God will keep His promises. We also saw that God doesn't expect "blind faith"; rather, He sends us proof of His love, He sends us stories of His miracles of the past, and He sends us encouragement and reassurance for our present circumstances.

I was sure God was finished teaching me lessons from my iron, but when I picked up a random daily Bible study that came through my email that same day, I realized God had yet another important faith-lesson for me to learn--about patience in waiting!

Did you know that the definition of patience is, basically, "delaying of judgment"?

We are told that, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9 NIV, Emphasis added). In other words, by delaying His judgment on us, God is showing us patience!

Let's take this just a bit farther. You set a just punishment for your erring child, but when you choose to patiently sit down with that child and attempt to reason with him or her and to negotiate a compromise, you truly are delaying that punishment.

What about patience in waiting? When we are impatient, aren't we really saying we don't truly believe the awaited thing will happen?

As a child, I often caved to impatience at Christmas time. I was known to secretly unwrap and rewrap presents under the tree in order to verify that I had received what I wanted. What I was really saying in my heart was that I didn't believe my parents knew what I wanted enough to get it for me. In my impatience, I was passing judgment on them. Had I been able to patiently wait until Christmas, I would have been "delaying" that judgment.

What about the times we are called to wait for God to fulfill a promise? Isn't it common to become impatient and allow doubt to creep in? And in our impatience, aren't we truly saying, "God, I don't believe You will come through, I don't believe Your timing is right"? Aren't we truly just passing judgment on...God?

In essence, it is like me saying to my wrinkled clothes in the laundry basket, "I don't believe that applying the iron will do its job because I don't yet see the wrinkles disappearing from my clothing." Of course that would be silly, for the wrinkles don't begin to disappear until the iron is applied. In the same way, when we are impatient with God over the delay in the answer to our prayers, we are, in essence, accusing Him of not caring enough or not being powerful enough to take care of our problems. We are, in essence, passing judgment on...God!

That's a pretty scary concept, and it's one I encourage each of you to consider as you are tempted to doubt and be impatient while waiting for the answer to your prayers. Whatever unanswered prayer you may have, please join me in taking that stand in mountain-moving faith, ever believing that as sure as the iron will de-wrinkle the clothing, God will come through in His perfect time. Oh, and while we wait, let's open our hearts to God, for He will send us reassurance along the way. Finally, please join me in resolving to never again pass judgment on God by being impatient with the "delays" to our prayers. Instead, let's "delay" our judgement on God by patiently waiting for His perfect time.

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

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We hope and pray that you will find this newsletter a blessing to you and to your families. God bless each of you as you strive to draw closer to Him!
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Post  Admin on Fri 18 Aug 2017, 5:13 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
August 17, 2017
The Iron, Part 1
By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible." (Matt. 17:20 NLT)

If you are anything like I am, you truly desire to have that "mountain-moving" faith the Bible describes in the text above.

You likely already understand that the primary reason our prayers are often not answered is our lack of faith: "'You don't have enough faith,' Jesus told them." (Matt 17:20a NLT). In addition, you more than likely wish to please God, and you realize that this requires faith: "And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him." (Heb. 11:6 NLT). You may also desire to be a good witness, and you are keenly aware that taking a stand in faith provides a powerful testimony: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith..." (Heb. 12:1a NLT).

The thing that you still may not fully comprehend, however, is just what this "mountain-moving" faith actually looks like...

That's the question I was asking myself this morning as I renounced, yet again, that demon of doubt over an issue I had weeks ago committed to a stand of faith. I was ironing at the time, and as my eyes were drawn to the article of clothing on the ironing board, the thought occurred to me that I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that the iron would successfully smooth out the cloth. Suddenly I understood. In the same way I would never doubt the iron's abilities, mountain-moving faith in God leaves us without doubt that God will take care of the problem at hand.

If you think about it, why should there be any doubt? Haven't we experienced God's miraculous power far more often than we've ever experienced the power of the iron to remove wrinkles? Haven't we seen God at work often enough to know beyond a doubt that He will come through? Don't we believe the many stories in the Bible and all the testimonies of our fellow followers of Christ? Shouldn't that alone make us 100% certain that no matter what, God will keep His promises? When God asks us to have mountain-moving faith, He isn't asking for us to blindly believe. He has already given us adequate proof of His power and love.

But does that mean that our stand in faith is without present reassurance?

Not at all. God knew how much I desired to have that mountain-moving faith, and once I had put away my iron, He proceeded to give me some direct encouragement straight from the Scriptures, words that spoke directly into the situation I had committed to a stand in faith. This wasn't the first time He had sent me encouragement about this isssue, either. In the months leading up to this incident, He had time and time again given me reassurance that He would come through in His time.

That's what happens when we take a stand in faith. Our "mountain-moving" faith, that belief beyond doubt that God will do His job, doesn't need to be a blind faith at all; rather, He is willing and able--and even desiring--to provide us with plenty of reassurance along the way. Our job is simply to meditate upon what He has done for us in the past (See Ps. 77:12; 143:5, etc.); to contemplate the depth and length and width and height of His love for us (see Eph. 3:17-19); to watch for the encouragement He will send along the way; and to believe, with the same assurance we have that the iron will do its job on our wrinkled cloths, that He will come through in whatever situation we are facing at the moment.

Remember: Whatever it is you are praying about, God has already promised the perfect solution. Just as you believe in the power of the iron, you can believe, without hesitation or doubt, in God's promises; and when you keep your heart open to Him, He will send those reassurances and encouragements along the way. No matter how serious your circumstances may be, they are nothing more than "wrinkles" on the "fabric of life", awaiting the touch of the "Master Iron", God Himself. Believe in that "Iron" of God's unfailing power, love and grace, and especially in the well-established fact that: "...the Lord your God is God, the faithful God. He keeps His promise and shows His loving-kindness to those who love Him and keep His Laws..." (Deut. 7:9 NLT).

I was certain then that God was finished using that silly iron to teach me lessons in faith, but I was wrong. Join us on Saturday for a timely, poignant--and somewhat hand-slapping--look at...patience: "The Iron", Part 2.

In His love,
Lyn
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

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Do you have a prayer request? Do you know someone who needs to be prayed for? Prayer works! The Bible confirms this in James 5:16: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (NIV) Send your prayer request here and let us pray in agreement with you! Matt 18:20: "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (NIV) Hallelujah!
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Post  Admin on Sat 12 Aug 2017, 8:56 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

August 12, 2017

Foreign Wives

By Answers2Prayer
Ezra the priest was horrified. The people committed to his care were involved in a grave sin: "Many of the people of Israel, and even some of the priests and Levites...have married women from these people and have taken them as wives for their sons. So the holy race has become polluted by these mixed marriages. Worse yet, the leaders and officials have led the way in this outrage." (Ezra 9:1a,2 NLT).

Throughout history, God had often warned Israel to separate themselves from the people of the land: "When the Lord your God hands these nations over to you and you conquer them, you must completely destroy them. Make no treaties with them and show them no mercy. You must not intermarry with them. Do not let your daughters and sons marry their sons and daughters..." Deut. 7:2,3 NLT).

This wasn't because intercultural marriage, of itself, is bad; rather, it was because we have been warned: "Don't team up with those who are unbelievers." (2 Cor. 6:14a NLTL). Why? Because, "How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?" (2 Cor. 6:14b NLT). And this was what was happening in Ezra's day. The women from the foreign cultures brought with them the religious practices they had been raised with, and the men adapted them: "They have taken up the detestable practices of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites." (Ezra 9:1b). These women were turning God's people away from God, and when the returned exiles of Israel disobeyed God by taking foreign wives, they proved that they loved these women more than they loved God Himself.

Fortunately, following Ezra's heartfelt prayer (See Ezra 9:6-15), the people were convicted of their sin: "...Then the whole assembly raised their voices and answered, 'Yes, you are right; we must do as you say!'" (Ezra 10:12 NLT). Not only did they admit they are wrong, but they put a plan into place for dealing with the problems: "So this was the plan they followed. Ezra selected leaders to represent their families, designating each of the representatives by name...By March 27, the first day of the new year, they had finished dealing with all the men who had married pagan wives." (Ezra 10:16a,17 NLT)

I'm afraid that the church, world-wide to some degree, but most poignantly in North America, is also guilty of the same sin as the returned exiles of Jerusalem: We've taken "foreign wives".

I'm not referring to marrying unbelievers, here. Rather, by "foreign wives", I'm refering to our love of the American dream and our pursuit of personal happiness. These "loves" have succeeded in causing us to pursue the wordly passions of materialism, self-advancement and covetousness. We've completely lost track of Godly, selfless love, and as a result of becoming lovers of the world, we cannot be effective servants of God. Jesus Himself said, "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matt. 6:24 NLT). God calls us to love one another as we love ourselves; but if we are lovers of the world, how can we truly obey this command?

Like Israel of old, we are called to put away our "foreign wives" and return to right living. We are called to return to God's ways, to love selflessly, the way God loves us. Only then can we become a force that the devil will be afraid to contend with. Only then will we be able to completely and thoroughly live our lives the way God intended them to be lived. Only then will we be the fruitful witnesses that Jesus commands us to be: "Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt. 28:18-20 NLT).

But wait. It's easy to say we're complacent, to admit that we don't love selflessly, that we've blinded ourselves to the harsh realities of this world; but how do we break out of this pattern?

The answer is two-fold: First and foremost, we must, on a personal basis, reconnect ourselves to the Vine (See John 15). We need to spend time with God. We need to confess our sins of apathy and complacency. We need to ask God to help us learn to love the way He loves, to flow His pure, selfless love through us to a lost and hurting world. It is only by fixing our eyes upon Jesus, our ultimate example (See Heb. 12:1), that we will be able to put off our "foreign wives" of apathy, of materialism and self-advancement, of complacency; that we will be able to live lives completely devoted to God; that we will become the effective witnesses for Him that He calls us to be (See Matt. 28:18-20).

Secondly, once we, ourselves, have put off our "foreign wives" by renouncing our own pursuite of riches and worldly happiness, we must do what Ezra did when he heard about the sin of the people. We must pray! "At the time of the sacrifice, I stood up from where I had sat in mourning with my clothes torn. I fell to my knees and lifted my hands to the Lord my God. I prayed..." (Ezra 9:5,6a NLT). Ezra 9:6b-15 goes on to record Ezra's heartfelt prayer for the people. Here are just a few excerpts: "O my God, I am utterly ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens...And now, O our God, what can we say after all of this? For once again we have abandoned your commands!Your servants the prophets warned us when they said, '...Don't let your daughters marry their sons! Don't take their daughters as wives for your sons. Don't ever promote the peace and prosperity of those nations. If you follow these instructions, you will be strong and will enjoy the good things the land produces, and you will leave this prosperity to your children forever.'...O Lord, God of Israel, you are just. We come before you in our guilt as nothing but an escaped remnant, though in such a condition none of us can stand in your presence." (Vs. 6b, 11, 12, 15 NLT)

Will you join me in purifying your own lives and in praying the Ezra prayer for the church? Please email me if you will.

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

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Post  Admin on Thu 10 Aug 2017, 10:56 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

August 10, 2017

Five Mistakes that Bring on Regret
By Answers2Prayer
I woke up, and while still in bed, I stretched and yawned one night during my visit to Ecuador. As I pondered about the time, I had no way to find out. My cell phone didn't work--no connection. Unlike here in the States, there was no land line phone to use to call for time.

Most of you who are sighted, would glance toward your phone or clock and know the exact time. Not so for this blind gal.

Surely it must be morning, I thought. So, I started my morning routine. But before getting dressed, I realized it must still be the middle of the night as I heard no birds singing.

Have you done the same? We all do it, don't we? We take action and begin our routine at the wrong time. Even worse, we forge on without checking God's timing. Without consulting His will. And without seeking His guidance.

Then when we're in the middle of the journey, things begin to fall apart. That's when we try to hide our regret, and, with a sorrowful look, we ask God for His input, His help and rescue.

Jesus told that very story in Luke 15. He relates how a young man chose to follow the recipe for bitter regret marinated in foolishness. And often we do, too. We go through these five stages:

We follow our own intuition, our wisdom and whims. "....the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living" (Luke 15:13).

Later, we evaluate the situation and scratch our head, wondering how we got there. "After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need" (Luke 15:11).

We scramble, looking for an answer. "So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs" (Luke 15:15).

We recognize our bad timing, our mistakes and our pitiful ending. "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you'" (Luke 15:17).

The glorious good news is God welcomes us back: "The son came back home and...while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him" (Luke 15:20 ).

The father delighted in the son's return. God does the same. No matter the foolish path, the sad mistakes, the pitiful choices, we can always, always come back. God will run to meet us, throw His arms of compassion around us and give us the kiss of forgiveness.

What regret still nags at you today?

Janet Eckles

If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet's cyberspace home for more inspiration.

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Post  Admin on Wed 09 Aug 2017, 11:48 pm

Welcome to the Nugget
August 8, 2017

Coat of Many Colours

By Answers2Prayer
As an old age pretence of real gardening, I have a habit of picking seed heads off flowers and planting the seeds in pots of soil. If they come up I am pleased and if they don't, I have not really lost anything except a tiny brown speck that could be anything.

One particular seed, not expected to grow, came up. I have planted similar seeds and have been mostly pleased with outcomes but this one has left me somewhat perplexed to say the least!
It does not look anything like what it would be expected to look like. It has grown into a different shape, a different colour, the leaves are at odds with every other plant of the same family, and the smaller flower, while it can be forgiven for its size, bears no family likeness.

I remember putting the seed into this particular pot so there is no doubt about its parentage. It is who it is supposed to be but it is nothing like who it is supposed to be!

One day I found a small moth attached to one leaf of the new flower and it looked appealing. I liked the multiple spots on the wings of the moth, and the variety of colours it showed to the world and had often seen many such moths flittering around the garden. They stay for several weeks and then they go off to wherever their destiny might be.

Their family name is not important to me, all the members of the family look much the same, but just as they are important to the flower in the pot, it seems the flower is also important to them.
The moth stayed there for several days, then it slipped underneath the leaf for a day or two, apparently drawing nourishment from the recalcitrant flower that would sustain its coat of many colours ready for its long absence afterwards.

Back to my flower, I grew its mother from seed, and she is a beautiful pink rose that I love dearly. This new plant is the child of a well-respected mother, it is a genuine rose but it has absolutely no resemblance to its mother.

It is recalcitrant, but beautiful in its own right - with or without her moth!

So it came to choosing a name for the new rose and I thought of the sustenance it provided for the moth, of the resting place it gave the moth, and how it protected the moth with its little prickles. Then I thought of how the moth enhanced the rose, its wings covered with its vivid, tiny spots and I could think of no name more appropriate for the rose than 'Joseph.'

Just as my new rose wore a coat of many colours, Joseph, of the tribe of Israel, wore a coat of many colours and he provided sustenance to a nation that lasted over the centuries. You remember the story -- Genesis 37:3: "Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a coat of many colours." (Genesis 41:41): "And Pharoah said unto Joseph, 'See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.'"

My prayer is that I will be as faithful to what is entrusted to me as Joseph was faithful in what was entrusted to him. And may my recalcitrant rose ever remind me of the variety of needs that are near to me. 'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;...' (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Thank you, Joseph.

Elizabeth Price
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Post  Admin on Sat 05 Aug 2017, 4:23 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

August 5, 2017

White Bread? Or Whole Grain?



By Answers2Prayer Subscribe Unsubscribe Devotionals Contact us  We have become aware in recent years of the problems associated with consuming large quantities of refined foods. We see a push towards whole grains and less-refined sweetening options; but if you delve a bit deeper into the issue, you will see that it isn't what is in the refined foods that is the problem; rather, it is what has been removed from them. Our bodies need that added nutrition that can only come from what has been refined out of our food. 

As I crunched on my unrefined, whole-grain "miracle loaf" this morning, I began to think of the story of Ezra. In Ezra 9 we see that Ezra was made aware of the sins of the people, and even though he, himself, had not committed these sins, we still see him confessing, weeping, mourning, tearing his clothes, pulling out his hair and fasting (Ezra 9:3,4; 10:6). That's how much Ezra cared about the people. That's how much he loved God's law. 

What? You don't see the connection between Ezra's prayers and the white bread/whole grain quandry? I would ask you to stay with me a little longer...

The first few verses of Ezra 10 show that there was an immediate response to Ezra's prayer: "a very large crowd of people from Israel--men, women, and children--gathered and wept bitterly with him...'We have been unfaithful to our God, for we have married these pagan women of the land. But in spite of this there is hope for Israel. Let us now make a covenant with our God to divorce our pagan wives and to send them away with their children. We will follow the advice given by you and by the others who respect the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law of God. Get up, for it is your duty to tell us how to proceed in setting things straight. We are behind you, so be strong and take action.'" (Ezra 10:1-4 NLT)

Ezra may have taken comfort in the response; yet we see that he wasn't yet praising God for answering his prayers..."So Ezra stood up and demanded that...all the people of Israel swear that they would do as Shecaniah had said. And they all swore a solemn oath. Then Ezra left the front of the Temple of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib." (Ezra 10:5,6a NLT). In fact, he continued mourning and fasting: "He spent the night there without eating or drinking anything. He was still in mourning because of the unfaithfulness of the returned exiles." (Ezra 10:6b NLT)!

It makes me think about my prayers in general. I pray for people, yes; and I don't pray just because I feel pressured to do so, either. I pray because God has placed His love for them in my heart. But do I truly love them the way God does? Am I following Ezra's example?

I must admit that as soon as I begin to see God at work in a situation, I am tempted to stop praying. I would likely never think of continuing to mourn and fast. Hey, most of the time I don't even mourn and fast in the first place. And aren't my prayers being answered without all the mourning and fasting? Isn't God coming through anyway? Isn't the rest between Him and the one(s) I'm praying for? Can't I simply wash my hands of the rest of the situation? After all, if the one(s) I'm praying for decide to go against God at this stage, isn't it their responsibility and not mine? 

As I reread the above paragraph, I realize something vitally pathetic: I have become apathetic. Ezra, on the other hand, truly loved those people. He loved them enough to continue mourning and fasting in order to ensure that things would truly be set right between them and God. Hardly the apathy I see in my own prayers...

Please do not think I am being critical. I believe that every prayer we utter in love is powerful; but do you remember the white bread/whole grain quandry? It isn't what's in the white bread that is bad for us; it is that we truly need what has been taken out. If selfless love has been taken out of our prayers, then they have become "white bread prayers". They aren't bad prayers; but they could be so much more powerful if they were of the "whole grain" variety: if they were filled with selfless, Ezra-type love.

Think about it! 

Anyone want a slice of fresh white bread?

In His love,
Lyn 

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
 
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