Connie Lewis Leonard
|Posted on August 19, 2021 at 3:45 PM||comments (0)|
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” Psalm 68:5-6 New International Version
I thank God every day for my family of origin who loved me, provided for me, and protected me. My parents believed in God, and we were taught to say our prayers. I can still picture my mother singing hymns as she cleaned house. I thank God for the family He gave me—for Gary and the life we’ve shared for over forty years, for his family, and for our children and grandchildren who have blessed and enriched our life.
We are a close, affectionate family, and we try to show and tell our children how much we love them. We probably have done a little better job with the grandchildren because we are older, wiser, and more patient. I make it a habit to pray for them, out loud in front of them, thanking God for the wonderful blessings they are. I want them to know they are precious gifts from the Lord, fearfully and wonderfully created in His image, to fulfill His plans, and to live the abundant life. Our sweet little Ryanne is too young to understand all of that, but she is aware of attention, affection, acceptance, and love.
No family is perfect. I once read a quote that said, “Our family is not unique because every family is dysfunctional.” Unfortunately some families are more dysfunctional than others. Many people don’t grow up knowing they are loved. Most of us can look back on our families and pinpoint things we didn’t like, things we don’t want to repeat. We also remember things we did ourselves that we should have done differently, things we wish we could undo or do over. Growing up in the 50’s, we watched Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver, and many other programs where parents were loving, patient, and wise. Every problem could be successfully solved within the thirty-minute sitcom. These were unrealistic portrayals of picture-perfect families. But what can we use as a model? Parenting books abound from Dr. Spock in the 60’s to Dr. James Dobson in the 80’s, and on and on. We have the Bible, and we have the family of believers within the church.
God established the church to be a family, brothers and sisters in Christ, united by our Heavenly Father, filled with love through the Holy Spirit. The church should be a place where children from dysfunctional families can experience unconditional love, acceptance, and safety. The church should be a place where the lonely are welcomed and embraced, a place where the homeless find a home. The church should be a place of freedom, freedom from exclusivity, freedom from ridicule, freedom from gossip and slander, freedom from judgment and criticism.
Ask God to mold you into the godly person He created you to be patient, loving, kind examples of integrity and faithfulness.
Ask God to help you be a functional part of the church drawing people to Christ, rather than a dysfunctional part pushing people away from.
|Posted on August 13, 2021 at 3:25 PM||comments (0)|
"May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. . . . Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him. " Psalm 67:1-2 & 6-7 New International Version
Whatever we're experiencing, may we remember that it is only a season. The dead of winter gives way to the promise of spring. Daylight breaks through the darkness of night. No matter what mess we're in, God can "use the rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of the past" (Isaiah 58:12 The Msg.),
Ask God to help you see His light in the desert places and accept the storas a season of cleansing.
Ask God to restore unto you the joy of His salvation. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy" (Psalm 107:2 NKJV).
|Posted on August 12, 2021 at 5:10 PM||comments (0)|
"Blessed be God: he didn't turn a deaf ear, he stayed with me, loyal in his love." Psalm 66:20 The Message
Because of God's great grace and love, we should live rejoicing every day, telling the world what an awesome God we serve.
Is there sin in your life that you need to confess, asking God to have mercy, to forgive you, to create within you a clean heart, and to return to you the joy of His salvation (Psalm 51)?
Do you have praises on your tongue, ready to tell the world what Christ has done for you?
|Posted on June 25, 2021 at 1:05 PM||comments (0)|
"The righteous shall be glad in the Lord and take refuge in Him. And the upright in heart shall glory." Psalm 64:10 New King James Version
Do we see God's work around us? Do we rejoice and declare His goodness? The heavens declare His glory through the beauty of a sunrise and sunset. The sun gives light in the day, displaying brilliant, blue skies and fluffy, cottony clouds. The moon and stars illumine the black blanket of night. And the rain washes everything clean, refreshing and renewing the earth.
Are you happy in the Lord? Is praise your habit?
Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in your life?
If you have lost your joy, run to God, take refuge in Him, and He will renew your spirit.
|Posted on June 14, 2019 at 3:55 PM||comments (0)|
From A Psalm a Day, by Connie Lewis Leonard
“On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:6-8 New International Version
When we can’t sleep “through the watches of the night,” it is a perfect opportunity to count our blessings and sing praises to God in our hearts. As I read this Psalm, I thought of the song “Count Your Many Blessings,” which is one of 5,000 songs written by Johnson Oatman in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. The first verse tells us to count our blessings during troubled times when we are discouraged, “And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.” Even in the worst of times, we can find much for which to praise God if we only open our eyes to see. The second verse of the song says that when we’re burdened with a heavy load, if we count our blessings our doubts will flee and we “will be singing as the days go by.”
The Bible contains many references about God’s wings. The metaphor illustrates the safety and refuge of the wings of God. His wings also carry us to safety (Ex. 19:4) and bring healing (Malachi 4:2). When we get tired and weary, if we wait and trust in God, He will “renew our strength, we shall mount up with wings like eagles, we shall run and not grow weary, we shall walk and not faint” (Is. 40:13).
We can also rest in the safety of God’s right hand, a metaphor for His majesty, power, and salvation. If we’ll take His hand, He will lead us beside still waters, in the paths of righteousness for His name sake, and be with us through the valley of the shadow of death. If we give Him our burdens and humble ourselves under His mighty hand, He will lift us up and exalt us in His time (I Peter 5:6-7).
Will you take refuge beneath the shadow of God’s wings?
Will you rest in the righteous right hand of God, allowing Him to lead you in the right way, the safe way?
If you’re down and out, reach up to God so He can lift you up.