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Psalm 51:9    Create in me a clean heart, O God,  and put a new and right spirit within me.”
Whether it was a computer unit, high-end technical instrument or simple MP3 player, we have all owned or seen a piece of technology that had inscribed on the back - “Do Not Open – No Consumer Parts Inside”.  In essence the warning was telling us to not tamper with the merchandise and that if anything went wrong there were not parts that could be replaced by the consumer.  Only the manufacturer could handle any of the workings on the inside.  Well this is true with us also.  In a recent conversation with my pastor we discussed how we often see areas in our lives that need fixing and we strive to make the changes ourselves.  She reminded me of my own tendency to try to fix the ailments when in all honesty I had to re-evaluate and note that there are some things (and usually it is most things) that need mending or repair could only be addressed by the manufacturer, our creator God.  Even simple things like being kinder or less judgmental or more patient all require a rewiring by the God who knows us better on the inside than we think we know ourselves on the outside.  We may be able to make temporary fixes on some physical and emotional traits but to make lasting changes only God has the keys to unlock the old and instate the new.  Let me encourage you today to not worry about what is wrong or how it can be fixed, simply take your concerns to God in prayer.  Just like the high-tech equipment, don’t be surprised if God has to turn your life over or upside down in order to get to the area of need.  It might mean shutting you down for a while or even taking you out of the environment where the problems may exist; but rest assured you may be displaced or a little topsy-turvy, but you are never out of the Master’s hand. Be blessed. Dr. JoAnn

Leave Some!

Leviticus 19:10 -"It is the same with your grape crop—don’t strip every last piece of fruit from the vines, and don’t pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and for those traveling through, for I am Jehovah your God."

The blessing of having enough, and even better than that, the blessing of having more than enough carries with it instructions to share with others. God blesses us in many ways and magnitudes. God tells us that when he blesses our bounty, we are not to collect and hoard what he has allowed to increase. Some of our lives overflow in areas that are rather easy to share. If you are blessed to be financially comfortable it might not be taxing to contribute money to charitable causes, If you have talents that can be shared- that is wonderful and many may benefit from your inspirational singing, dancing, speaking, sewing, and artistry, These can be great areas to express altruism; where the giver bestows upon the receiver. Many have and need to be blessed through these kind acts of sharing. But God tells us in this scripture that it is helpful to not bundle up all you have and then dole it out in increments to open hands; but to allow opportunities for those who are able and willing to "work" for the blessing of your overflow. In essence God is blessing them through you, not because of you. This system allows the gleaner to appreciate the harvest, have pride in their work, and stops the devil from twisting helpful acts into areas of scorn. It never fails that the devil can turn altruistic gestures into scenarios of "look what I did for you" if we are not careful. The scripture tells us that when we provide opportunities for others to gain, we may never know who they are, their state of being; whether they are passing through our lives or will be regular fixtures of our destinies.  The main point is that -no relevance is given to who you will help so there can be no prejudice. Help someone by giving them an opportunity to do a good work through you. Don't know what to do or how to proceed? Ask God- he is awesome in providing opportunities for us to be more like him. Be blessed. Have a great weekend...see you Monday. Dr. JoAnn 

Feast of Famine

Philippians  -"I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need."

Some days it seems we have a little surplus; enough to share with others and a little left over to bank away.Then other times we are ordering from the dollar menu and not super-sizing a thing. Our journey is full of days of plenty and nights of insufficiency; but through it all the secret of enduring is to do as Paul prescribes.  There are three things he shared in his epistle to the church at Philippi.  1) He acknowledged that abasement is where we are "brought". Usually we do not venture to go to the minimum.  We are often brought into situations where we may be depleted or used up.  Whether it is our money, our time, our resources or our energy, we can be drained if we are taken out of our element and operate in unfamiliar dimensions. Therefore a remedy is to get back to the familiar and operate in your strong suit. 2) He tells that there is a 'know-how' associated with levels of existence so we must be cognizant of where we are, how we got there and then be open to shift between one and the other without it effecting who we are.  The old adage states that "clothes do not make the man". Character is what defines him. So whether your shoe bottoms are red or full of patchwork, carry yourself with dignity and keep your head and countenance up. 3) Paul stated that he learned to 'face' any situation. No matter what station you find yourself in life, do not be ashamed of where God has placed you.  Whether in the High Court or in the prison, Paul never lowered is standards or lost his inner self worth.  He knew and always proclaimed that it was not him but the Christ that lived within him that made all the difference in the world.  As long as we have the King of kings, the Lord of Lords and the purveyor of everything in us, why should we care whether we are being escorted to our private table at 'McCormick and Schmick's' or standing in a soup line.  Keep your head up. Nothing lasts forever but God!  So if you are 'up' right now, be kind to those who are not.  If your train has entered a dark tunnel, rest assured soon there will be the light of Jesus to illuminate your way and get you back on prosperity's track. Be blessed,  Dr. JoAnn

Keep Love First


Daniel 6:22 -"My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” 
Life can be vicious; people can set traps for us; rules can be unfair and even in innocence we can get caught up and thrown to the lions. Daniel was the victim of one of the most historically famous cases of haters orchestrating a set-up. Jealousy, envy, insecurity, ignorance, low self esteem and just being plain mean are all potential motivators for haters to stop handling their business and start messing in yours. Don't be surprised if you get hit from  out of "nowhere" with an attack that could throw you for a loop. But DON'T get thrown off your game! Keep love in your heart. Most haters will never attack you right out; they try to weaken your resolve and cause you to cave in, then throw you to the lions. They will gossip, hurt your feelings, stretch the truth to its outer limits, bring up old hash and anything to shake your resolve. Do like Daniel and keep focused on your Godly purpose. Keep your heart pure. No one is perfect; but your haters will not allow you to have faults. It is not written in the bible that Daniel protested or fought back or even put up a struggle when they escorted him to the lion's den. You can't fight organized evil in your own strength- so don't try... just stand with God and let him do the fighting. Keep love first and foremost in your actions. Resist the urge to 'give them a piece of your mind' or to show them they "messed with the wrong one". To your haters it will seem like they got the upper hand and that you are 'weak'.... But they just don't know God will shut the mouths of the destructive forces they thought would undermine you. The lions of isolation, gossip, divorce, debt, abuse, un-/under-employment, and anything that can devour us can be shut down and ineffective.  Instead of consuming us, God will use these very things to cushion us as he works out our escape plan and destroys our haters.  Stay loving. It is not easy; but each time you do the next trial gets easier until eventually you will do just like Daniel and not even get flustered when you see your haters coming,  Be blessed! Dr. JoAnn

Take Your Medicine

Job 5:17- "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty". 

As a child my cousin lived on the corner of a street that had a steep curvy hill. We loved to ride our bikes down his street and then turn that corner at full speed and cascade down that curvy hill with our feet and arms outstretched. My uncle used to warn us to be careful because a spill down that path would surely not only be embarrassing but hurtful because a fall would definitely be followed by a tumble and many rolls. Well...as my aunt cleaned the dirt from my wounds and applied the burning antiseptic she would say..."stop squirming and take this medicine, it will kill the germs and help it heal.". God gives us warnings- many we do not heed because of the thrill or because we are following others or maybe we just like living on the edge. He tells us in his word that our daily walk will involve lessons that might often end with bruises, scrapes and hurts, but his medicine heals not just the wounds but protects our souls from the infections (evils) of the world.  It might sting a little and we might shed a few more tears but God's medicine is soothing. Don't shun his application of the things which ultimately will heal your situation. You may see others doing the same activities and getting away without chastisement; but their journey is not your journey. You might get knocked off of your bike and skin your knee so that you avoid later being hit by a car and breaking many bones.  God knows your future, embrace his correction today! Stop squirming and take your medicine. Be blessed! Dr. JoAnn

Do not Grow weary

Acts 9:17 "So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 

Today I want to encourage those among us who are caretakers. Your tasks are often overwhelming, tiring and in some cases thankless.  As I have watched my generation mature I've witnessed many of my friends care for elderly parents whose health has deteriorated; some provide financial assistance and emotional support as siblings battle cancer and various debilitating diseases; others stand strongly by their marital vows of "for better or for worse," Just like Ananias when told to care for the blinded Saul, I am sure many of you were apprehensive to take on the caretaker role; not because like Ananias you were afraid for your life, but because you might have feared you would not be adequate for the task.  For those who have been caring for an autistic or disabled child or young victims of accidents or abuse be assured that God's word tells of the blessing that comes from advocating for the innocent. For those who are standing strong with brothers and sisters and giving up of your time to care for their needs; remember that Christ said that your o'giving up your life' in time and sacrifice is the greatest gift.  For those who care for spouses-what a blessing it is to emulate the love that Christ, the bridegroom has for us, his bride. Your love and sacrifice sends arrows of joy straight to the heart of God.  Galatians 6:9 tells us to "not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." There is a quiet sense of fulfillment each night when you finally get to rest after a long day of serving others but it shall never compare to the harvest of joy that shall be yours when you are rewarded in Christ.  Maybe Alzheimer's has robbed mom or dad of remembering your  birthday or a stoke makes it hard to get a hug from your hubby; or maybe your child will never be able to live on their own, but rest assured your love and care are not going unnoticed.  Do not try to operate in your own strength or you will fatigue easily and frustration will cripple your efforts; but lavish in knowing that God honors your service and those you help appreciate it even if they can not or do not tell you. I praise God for your life.  You are a blessing! Dr. JoAnn

Godly Obedience - Be Exact

In continuing our look at characteristics of Godly obedience, today we highlight trait #2 -which is to be "exact" in following the commands of God. Just look at the works of the Earth's design and the mathematical precision of the heavens; it is evident that our God operates through a system of creative order.  He does not throw things to chance but utilizes "Divine Order" in creating and appointing. Read the story of Achan in Joshua 7 and see why precision and exactness in following God's desires is crucial for those who love him and aim to please him. The children of Israel were given specific instructions of how to handle the spoils of war and one man's decision to "do it his way" caused the death and destruction of thousands. We are all a part of the building of God's kingdom and the action of one effects the lives of others.  When God tells us how to do something, where to do something and when to do something it is for a specific reason and he expects and requires that we be obedient and trust him.  Don't worry if it seems strange to your carnal intuitions or perplexing to those around you. When God told Joshua to have the people walk around the city of Jericho he didn't say ..."do it until you get tired"... he gave specific instructions.  And if you listen to God carefully he will guide you also.  Do it the right way! Be exact...be blessed! Dr. JoAnn

Instant Obedience

Deuteronomy 26:17-"You have declared today that the Lord is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice." 

This past Sunday I heard a televised message which reminded me of four chief characteristics of Godly obedience.  Over the next couple of blogs I will share them with you. First of all when we are obedient our response must be "instant".  Don't dillydally. drag your feet and procrastinate.  Take lessons from Jonah and Abraham- do the assignment when it is given. Jonah had his own agenda and even though God made it plain what he was supposed to do, how to do it and where to do it- he bucked and did not respond right away- he fled. On the other hand Abraham (at that time called Abram) believed God and even though he was given few details he responded and set out on a journey that set the course of blessing and salvation in motion. He did not know where he was going or even how God would manifest the promises given to him but he got up and got to "stepping". Today I encourage us to be instant in our response to God. If you waver because you are uncertain that what you are feeling is "truly" from God- ask you him! Tell him YES and ask for clarity- but respond.  God is not the author of confusion; he may not give you every step or detail but his peace will allow you to operate in surety; that's how you will know you are on the right path. Be blessed! Dr. JoAnn.

Faithful Cohort

Matthew 18:19-20  "Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” 
Find a good and faithful friend, companion, sibling, etc., who will stand in the gap with you about an area where you are being challenged. Jesus reminds us that if we are abiding in his purpose and walking in his will then we have the power and authority to agree with like-minded believers for anything and to expect a favorable end.  This does not mean that you should run out and ask a friend to agree with you about some ludicrous Idea or desire and believe that just because you both think it is good for you that it will "magically" happen; nor does it mean that because you have been standing in strong affirmation with someone and nothing has happened, that this scripture is untrue.  By the contrary what we must realize is that, if and when we are in alignment with God's will then we are inline with his purpose.  When God purposes something through us he provides all that we will need to accomplish that work. But the provisions may not drop out of he sky.  We must ask, seek and find.  God wants you to expand your horizons and move into another dimension.  Every time you see a billboard about enrolling in a program or see someone doing what God has told you to do, you get convicted, but it seems the money or time or confidence to move ahead is out of your reach. If God has purposed it then he is placing all the variables in place.  Find a believer you trust and tell them your desire and ask them to pray for your need; now you are unlocking and releasing that which God has already set out on the shelf for you to claim.  But we must be careful who we share our ideas with; don't you know- you can even ask God who should stand with you when you lift petitions to him.  Be blessed Dr. JoAnn 

Mom and Pop!

Matthew 15:4 “For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and,‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’” If you are blessed enough to have one or both of your parents or guardians still living, be sure to honor their life through your adoration and attention.  If you have lost your parents; are estranged from them or have never known them, it is still worth the effort to give God praise and thanks for their existence.  Even if as a baby you were abandoned and left on the church front steps, it is easy to find a reason to rejoice.  Some children were destined to abortion clinics and abuses that terminated their young lives before they ever took a gasping breath in the delivery room. Others fell victim to neglect and shamefully were dismissed from this earthly realm with very little fanfare or remembrance. For whatever reason, your mom decided you were worth the nine months of weight gain, swollen limbs, aching muscles and joints, uncontrollable emotions and clothing that never quite fit right.  You were valuable enough to her to endure the pains and uncertainty of hours of labor and the pressure and pain of delivery.  If you were fortunate enough to have both parents in a loving home cherish the blessing that is surely yours.  Let’s take a moment today to honor our mothers and fathers.  If they are just a phone call or a short commute away…get in touch with them and remind them of how much you appreciate them just for the fact that you are here and alive.  If they have passed away honor their memory by doing a random act of kindness to another elder who might be all alone.  Remember Mom and Pop and watch your days fill with adoration and love.  Be blessed!  Dr. JoAnn
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