Connie Lewis Leonard
|Posted on October 18, 2021 at 6:00 PM||comments (15)|
“You are resplendent with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game.” Psalm 76:4 NIV
“The everlasting mountains cannot compare with your glory!” Psalm 76:4 The Living Bible
The mountains are my favorite place. Some people love lakes, oceans, and beaches, but I love the mountains. The tall pines and spruce permeate the air with their fragrance. The brilliant blue skies, high above the pollution of cities, contrasted by clusters of cumulous clouds declare the glory of God. And when it rains, the world looks and smells crisp and clean, much like I imagine it did at the beginning of time. I especially love watching hummingbirds and deer up close.
Yet, all the resplendent beauty of the mountains cannot compare to the majesty of God. Since our last mountain vacation, I’ve told everyone we’ve talked to about the marvelous time we had, how relaxing and enjoyable it was. I’ve praised and thanked God repeatedly for allowing us to enjoy His beautiful creation. However, we should live everyday praising God wherever we are, on the mountain top or in the valley. Psalm 8 begins, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Verses three through five go on to explain: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (NIV).
God created the heavens and the earth for our enjoyment. What is your favorite place to relax and praise the Lord?
All good gifts come from the Lord, yet He is more excellent than anything this world has to offer. Take some time to praise God for who He is, for all that He has done in the past, for all that He is doing now, and for all He plans to do in the future.
Ask the Lord to help you live rejoicing always, to give Him all honor and glory and praise, to open your eyes to opportunities to sing of His goodness to those around you.
|Posted on October 13, 2021 at 4:55 PM||comments (0)|
“How we thank you, Lord! Your mighty miracles give proof that you care. ‘Yes,’ the Lord replies, ‘and when I am ready, I will punish the wicke the earth shakes and all its people live in turmoil, yet its pillars are firm, for I have set them in place!’” Psalm 75:1-5 The Living Bible
Do we love to talk about the Lord and His mighty miracles? In our society, most people are afraid to mention the Lord’s name in daily conversation because we’re afraid we’ll be labeled as a Jesus freak or a religious fanatic. In our politically correct society, we may be afraid that we will “offend” someone, and we could very well be chastised for violating someone’s “rights” by mentioning the name of Jesus Christ.
When I first started teaching in public schools, I could mention His name. I let my students know I was a Christian, and on many occasions they asked me to pray for them and their families. I even served several years as the PTA “Devotion Chairperson” where I brought devotions and led in prayer at the beginning of PTA meetings. Things changed over the twenty-three years I taught. I was called on the carpet once because I told a class that I prayed for them every day and thanked God for allowing me to be their teacher. A girl in that class complained. She wasn’t an atheist, but she had a friend who was, and if her friend heard that I prayed and thanked God for my students, it would offend her. The funny thing is that I did actually have a very outspoken atheist one year. She accepted me because I accepted her. When I had to have surgery at the end of the year, she was the first one who came back the next year to see how I was doing. I told her God took care of me, and I would be okay. She smiled and said, “Good, I’m glad.”
The news is flooded with stories of violence and murder, people who are evil, who are used of Satan to wreak havoc in the world. They receive notoriety and fame, when too often the victims are forgotten. God sees, He cares, and when He is ready, when the time is right, He will punish the wicked evil-doers of this world. He has a place prepared for Satan and all those who do his sinful deeds. People who hurt the innocent have a worse punishment ahead than drowning in the sea (Matthew 18:1-6). As Christians, we have a responsibility to stand up and protect the helpless (Proverbs 31:8-9).
What can you do to make your community and the world a better place?
How can you spread the love of Christ, share the Good News, and stand up for the truth of God?
|Posted on September 8, 2021 at 2:25 PM||comments (0)|
“For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help, The afflicted also, and him who has no helper. He will have compassion on the poor and needy, And the lives of the needy he will save. He will rescue their life from oppression and violence, And their blood will be precious in his sight;” Psalm 72:12-14 New American Standard Bible
Cancer is rampant. Deadly new viruses break out, threatening an epidemic. Homeless people beg on the streets and sleep under bridges in our great country of wealth. Children live in poverty without their basic needs being met. Horrible acts of violence dominate the news. We hear of wars and rumors of wars. People cry in isolation, wring their hands, hide in their homes, and wonder what can be done.
As Christians, we are to call out to God and depend on Him for help in all situations. We are also to help the poor and needy, the widows and orphans, the homeless and loveless in their time of affliction (James 1:27). This exhortation applies on a personal level first, then on a community, national, and global level. I would fight to the death to protect my family and loved ones, which is natural. But Christ’s Spirit within us gives us supernatural love. He tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our neighbors are those around us who are hurting, those who have been robbed by the world and beaten up by Satan, those who don’t know the peace and love of the Lord, those who haven’t discovered the abundant life of serving Christ.
War is terrible—lives lost, families torn apart, property destroyed, land defaced, and the aftershocks, even for the winners, reverberate for years to come. Studying history, I’ve often thought most conflicts, personal and global, could be resolved peacefully if both parties practiced patience and dependence on God. The problem is that most people don’t practice patience or dependence on God. Somebody always wants to bully or lord it over someone else. Somebody always wants to take what doesn’t belong to them. Somebody always wants to elevate themselves over others, to become more powerful.
Are you depending on God for everything you need? “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33 NLT).
Do you hear the needy crying out for help? Ask God to show you how He wants you to help.
Ask God to help you stand up for the rights of the oppressed and afflicted.
|Posted on August 26, 2021 at 3:05 PM||comments (0)|
"But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” Psalm 71:14 New International Version
Life without hope is hopeless—dismal, depressing, and useless. But the same could be said for life with misplaced hope—if we place our hope in anyone or anything other than Christ, we will be disappointed. He alone is the solid rock of our salvation. He is all-loving, all-merciful, all-gracious, and Almighty. When our hope rests on Him, all else around us may crumble, but we can rejoice and praise Him because our foundation is secure, always and forever.
“I’ll write the book on your righteousness, talk up your salvation the livelong day, never run out of good things to write or say.” Psalm 71:15 The Message
Blessings come from spending time with the lord. We can pray, telling God about our troubles, our fears, and our hopes, knowing that He hears us. We can read His Word, knowing His love, power, and promises are unchanging. We can ask Him to use us to bless others, talking up His salvation, to bring hope to the hopeless.
“I walk in the strength of the Lord God. I tell everyone that you alone are just and good.” Psalm 71:16 The Living Bible
Without Christ, we can do nothing that makes a difference for eternity (John 5:5). But with Christ, we can do all things He calls us to do, all things He gifts us to do, all things that help further His will and His kingdom on earth and in heaven. When God gives us desires, talents, and abilities, we can step out in faith to follow those desires, to develop those talents and abilities in service to Him and others. When God blesses us with resources, He will give us opportunities to share those resources with the less fortunate.
Are you placing your hopes and dreams in God alone?
Ask God to give you direction, to show you what He wants you to do to fulfill His plans for you and further His kingdom, to bring hope to the hopeless.
God promises that when we hope in Him, He “will renew our strength. We will soar on wings like eagles; we will run and not grow weary, we will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
|Posted on August 23, 2021 at 4:35 PM||comments (0)|
“I’m hurt and in pain; Give me space for healing, and mountain air. Let me shout God’s name with a praising song. Let me tell his greatness in a prayer of thanks….The poor in spirit see and are glad—Oh, you God-seekers, take heart!” Psalm 69:29-32 The Message
In our ladies’ small group last week we studied the thirteenth chapter of Acts. The “prominent women and chief men of the city” attacked Paul and Barnabas because they felt their way of life, their power and position, being threatened. The disciples went where God told them to go, they obediently did God’s will, but these leaders in the church spoke aggressively against God’s servants because of jealousy. Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from their feet and left the city filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
Too often when we’re hurt, we don’t shake it off. We carry the pain with us, letting it weigh us down. Hurt can easily turn into anger and anger into bitterness. Hebrews 12:15 says, “Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent” (Msg). Holding on to hurt, anger, and bitterness hinders healing. The best way to “shake off the dust” and put it behind us is to focus on the goodness of God. When we sing praises to His name, when we tell of His greatness, when we spend time in prayer thanking Him for who He is and all that He has done, is doing, and plans to do for us, the healing begins. When we seek God, we will see His goodness and be glad.
Are you hurt and in pain? Tell God all about your troubles, get it off your chest, give it to Him, shake it off, and leave it behind.
Repent of any anger, unforgiveness, and bitterness in your heart. Ask God to help you forgive others as He has forgiven you.
Ask God to help you think about “things pure, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (Philippians 4:8 Msg).