In Your Heart
Last night my son and I ate at a restaurant I worked at for three years when I was in high school back in the seventies.  My seventeen-year-old son worked there last summer as well. 
One of the same managers was there and the same people still owned it after all these years.
As we walked down the line everyone knew Matthew. The girl who took the order, the cook, the cashier.  As we approached the end of the line someone spoke to me.  It was the owner who had been there about 34 years ago. It was a surreal moment I guess is how I would describe it. He laughed and told my son I was always faithful to be there, always on time, never asked off except once a year.  Mr. Mason told Matthew the week the fair was in town they finally learned not to put me on the schedule the whole week.  He told him they knew that is where my heart would be if I was at work.  They wouldn't have gotten any work out of me so they always just let me off -no questions asked.
As we sat down to eat a young man came and talked to Matthew. He and Matthew had a speech class together. He had done a speech on his experience as a volunteer firefighter. Matthew asked him how he got interested in fire fighting.  The young man told him he had been going on calls with his dad since he was a very young boy. He told him his dad had been a volunteer firefighter for 27 years and never gotten paid a dime. What he said next is what really touched me.  Matthew's friend patted himself on the chest and said,
"But that is where his heart is at, he is doing what he loves to do."
Right then everything seemed to stop. It was like a revelation moment for me. I myself volunteer a lot.   I don't fight fires, but I do outreach and love every minute of it. Yes, there is some hard work involved at times, but I know that is where my heart is.  I know I am doing what God has called me to do.  
I thought of where my heart was all those years ago when I was a young girl working at that restaurant. My heart was with the fair that came to town.  My heart was with the adventurous life I thought those who traveled with that fair led. I had my heart set on leaving with the fair one day and did attempt to as a matter of fact, but my mother put an end to that adventure rather quickly, thank God.  That is who I once was many years ago.
As I watched the young man working cleaning tables, I thought of the pride in his voice when he talked of his dad being a volunteer for 27 years. I wondered many years down the road would my son or a grandchild perhaps be discussing me with someone.  Perhaps they will do a speech one day about an outreach they went to with me.  I hope they can say with pride that they know that is where my heart is. 
When I was young someone once told me to always follow my heart and I would never go wrong.  Well, if I had followed my heart and went with the fair I probably would have gone very wrong.  I think if anyone asked me today I would just advise to always follow the call God has on your life and you will never go wrong.  Your heart will be full of joy as you follow after Him with your whole heart.  There may not be a lot of treasure collected here in this world of the monetary kind, but the satisfaction and heavenly treasure collected is tremendous.
Over the past couple of months, I have learned I don't always get to go and go and go like the Energizer Bunny as bad as I want to.  First of all January 29th, I was ill for about three weeks.  Then the middle of February my mother was in the hospital for two weeks. The first of March she passed away. The last few weeks have been hard not only because of grief and feeling completely lost without her, but also a lot of working cleaning out my mom's home and taking care of her final business.
At church, I have been doing outreach for about four years. Needless to say the last two months I haven't been able to do as much.   February and March everyone has stepped up and done what I usually do wonderfully. I know nothing I do is really special and can't be done by others just as good or even better, but I have found God has got this all covered. When the day comes I can't do what I do, God will still get it done. It is reassuring to know ministries I have put my heart and soul into will continue.
Thanks to everyone for all the support you have given me the past months. I love each of you.
Today's devotional is written by Michele Beachum.
Giving It All Or Not At All?
I find myself on occasions wondering if I am doing all that I can for God.  Will what I do while in this life, and the decisions that I make ever be enough to warrant all that He has given up for me?
The Bible states that good works alone can not help you get to heaven, so, what does it take?  My immediate response to myself is always no, there is so much more out there for you to do.  Am I doing the right things?  Am I making the right decisions?  Will everything that I have done be in vain?  What if I busy myself with things that are not important in the end? 
We live in a throw-away society.  We throw away our money, time, food, love, friends, family, children, animals, environmental resources, and the list goes on and on.
As I prayed and milled over these thoughts, I reflected on
Matthew 7:7-8
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
In Job 41:11 we are reminded that God is the creator of all and owns all.  In our giving, we are only giving Him what is already His to start with. 
Job 41:11
Who has a claim against me that I must pay?  Everything under heaven belongs to me. 
So, if I cannot give anything to God that is not already His then what do I do?  How can I earn a place with Him in heaven?  What is my purpose here at all? 
Well, Brenda and I decided to purpose these questions to those with more wisdom than us on our monthly trip to the nursing home.   I assumed that as people age they become more set into the fact that they are going to heaven no if, ands, or buts.  I believed that they did not struggle as much with feelings of conflict when it comes to their salvation.  We were given the following advice:
1.      We also feel confused at times, but we know that it is the devil that makes us feel this way.  He is the author of confusion and gives us self doubt and tries to make us feel unworthy.  A lot of people try to say that the devil is not an active force in the world, but it is not true.
2.    We are saved by His grace.
3.     Prayer is very important.  We must be in constant communication with the Father.
4.    We must have faith and believe.
5.     We must read the Bible and hold His word in our hearts.
6.    Repent of our sins.
7.     Go to Church it is for both the saved and the sinner.
8.    Don't worry about anything.  Just put your trust in Him and he will take care of it.
9.    Do what is right no matter what the cost.
    10. Treat everyone right your enemies and all.
    11.  Be a good example.
As we continued to talk and sum things up, we came to the conclusion that the things that you do for God are not in vain.  The devil just wants you to feel conflicted and lost.  During your time on the earth, you are carving yourself anew and working to make yourself like Christ.  All the things that you go through and experience are to help you move closer to your heavenly Father.  With faith, we will obey God and when we obey God we move closer to what we were created to be. 
Spring is springing. Have you noticed? Everything is looking green.  Even though the mornings are still cool. you just know it is Spring when you see this year's new blades of tender green grass sprouting up here and there in the middle of dead brown leftover grass from last year.
A friend told me a story last week of something she saw while traveling. It seems one of the little devotionals I write came to be right in front of her eyes.  She said, "I saw a devotional for you to write." So write it I will.
On the road one morning Cheryl noticed a pasture full of goats.  The pasture was still kind of brown, but outside the fence was plenty of green grass. The grass was truly greener on the other side of the fence.  Some way, somehow, one little goat made his way to freedom, to the greener grass on the other side.  He was free but remained right beside the fence eating the green grass. He never realized how very free he was.  He only went so far outside the fence and never ventured any further to see all the wonderful freedom that was available to him.  The goat was satisfied with just a  little taste of freedom.  Cheryl said this reminded her of Christians. So often we taste and see that God is good. We accept Jesus as our Savior and that is as far as many ever go. Many never experience the full freedom that is available to all of us.
The funny thing about Cheryl's story was that it was similar to the first devotional I ever wrote. My first devotional was about a dog, a collie that I set free. He was on a chain and I let him off. The dog ran around briefly, but then returned to the spot he had been chained and just laid back down.  The title was just that, "I Think I'll Lay Back Down."  I saw the devotional happen right before my eyes. I could see the words going on paper as the dog returned to the spot he had started from in the first place.  I thought of Christians who never get it. They don't realize they are no longer bound but are free in Christ.  I wrote the devotional, which was the first of many that God gives to me to share with others.
So it seems to me that God didn't just happen to use two similar situations to speak to two friends the same message. God showed me this story coming to life about five years ago. He showed Cheryl her story a couple of weeks ago.  Hmmm, perhaps He wants to make sure someone gets the message, perhaps me, perhaps you. 
When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. You are free to run, to leap, to soar. You need never return to your chains.  The grass is greener on the other side and if you have accepted Christ as your Savior you are on the green side, the good side, the new side, the free side.  The dead brown dried grass is behind you. Taste and see that God is good and continue to experience more and more of God's goodness and freedom that is available to you every single day.  Let your life be someone else's message from God coming to life right before their eyes. Let them see how God has set you free and how you will never return to your chains. Let them see they too may be truly set free indeed by the Son.
Growing in Grace and Knowledge
This weekend I grew in grace and in knowledge.  I felt it in my heart. I knew it in my head. What new knowledge did I gain?
Sometimes God sends us on journeys we had no intention of going on simply to let us see what another person gets from going on the journey. 
God allowed me to watch Him extend His grace to someone else this weekend, therefore I grew in grace. I knew God could reconnect with people.  and I knew He could reconnect people, but this weekend He allowed me to watch Him do both of those things at the very same time up close and personal. I had a front-row seat to seeing God's grace in action.   It was an amazing experience.
As you see relationships between man and God, as well as relationships between men restored, God allows you to grow in His grace. I realized God allowed me to see the grace He was extending for a specific purpose other than just to give me a whole lot of joy, which by the way it did. 
I am to take this experience, this knowledge and use it on a daily basis. God is in control. There is hope in all situations. There is restoration available to all relationships between man and God and between men. To God be all glory for that restoration both now and forever.
Today ask God to give you the grace to forgive those who you need to forgive. Ask Him to show you what grudges or bitterness you might hold in your heart against someone.  Ask Him to restore relationships you have lost with someone in your life that He wants to be restored.  God will give you the knowledge. God will give you grace. You will grow in Christ love.  You will find great joy and probably bring a little someone else's way who just happens to be along on the journey watching God extending His amazing grace right before their eyes.