Monday, June 29, 2009

I've Been Thinking...

I've been thinking about people who don't seem to get along with anyone. I am always going out of my way to try to please everyone. This is not a good thing. Then when people disappoint me, I get so discouraged and flustered. I tell myself it is really not necessary that everyone agree with me, or even like me. As I was thinking on this, the following scripture came into my heart.


And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Matthew 10:14

There will always be people who are hateful, but their hate falls on their own shoulders. Hate is self-damaging. It hurts the "hater" far more than it does the one to whom it is directed. I can choose to "shake the dust" off my feet or to receive it. The choice is mine.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bible Thoughts: And He Talks With Me

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day Genesis 3:8

Whenever I read the above scripture, I hear the words of the old hymn, In The Garden, (1) echoing around in my head.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

What a marvelous thought, that God would want to spend time walking and talking with me. Throughout the books of the Bible, we see examples of His desire for an intimate conversation with man. Both Abraham and Moses became so close that God called them His friends. (2) (3) He called out to young Samuel by name during the night. (4) He spoke to Balaam through a donkey, when nothing else could get his attention. (5) He answered Job's doubts with marvelous descriptions of His strength and power. (6) He lifted and restored the prophet Elijah when he was exhausted and depressed. (7) When Jonah became angry at Ninevah's repentance, He reminded him of His great forgiveness. (8) In the New Testament, we see Jesus speaking to all classes of society: lepers, Samaritans, and many afflicted with mental and physical diseases. (9) There are just so many, many examples, I could not possibly name them all.

God desires to walk "in the cool of the day" with you and I. The apostle Paul even tells us we should come "boldly before the throne." (10) I believe we can really see the heart of the Father, His yearning, in the following passage.

But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. 15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. 16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:14-16

What a wonderful thought, that God would keep my image ever before Him! Again in Isaiah, we can hear the Father speaking.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18

"Let us reason together." "Let's talk," in other words. God, who is our Father, (11) desires to spend time talking with us. He wants us to come to know Him, as we would know someone we loved and communed with on this earth. (12) He is not something way out of reach, untouched by our feelings. (13) No, He is "with us always". (14) Jesus said we've only to ask, and He'll be there to answer.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Matthew 7:7-8


(1) In The Garden, Words and Music by C. Austin Miles, 1912
(2) Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23; Genesis 17:3
(3) Exodus 33:11
(4) 1 Samuel 13:4
(5) Numbers 22:28
(6) Job 38:1; Job 42:12
(7) 1 Kings 19:4-8
(8) Jonah 3:11
(9) Matthew 8:2-3; Mark 1:40-41; Mark 14:3; John 4:13; Matthew 8:3;
(10) Hebrews 4:6
(11) Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6
(12) 1 John 4:7-8
(13) Hebrews 4:15
(14) Matthew 28:20



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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hymn Stories: Amazing Grace

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

These first lines of this familiar hymn tell the salvation story of its author, John Newton. Born in London in 1725, John Newton was the son of a shipmaster. At age six, his mother died and he was subsequently raised between time at a boarding school and the instruction of his father, with whom he began sailing at an early age.

Eventually, he joined the Royal Navy and was able to work his way up in rank. But his time in the navy was not, as they say, all "a bed of roses". When serving as a midshipman aboard the HMS Harwich, he was severely flogged and humiliated in front of the entire crew after trying to desert ship. It seems the upcoming voyage had appeared to be too long in his eyes and the captain of the ship determined he'd use John as an example. He was given 96 lashes and reduced in rank. These events left him extremely depressed to the point of suicide.

He did recover, and enlisted to work aboard a slave ship bound for the African coast. However, this trip didn't go well either. After a disagreement, he found himself discharged and left aground in Sierre-Leone. Here he ended up in the care of a local merchant's wife who was very abusive both to him and to slaves she owned.

"Once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in West Africa" - John Newton, upon remembering his time in West Africa

Well, back in England, John's father realized his son was not coming home and hired a merchant ship's captain to search for him. In 1748, he was finally located, but had to be fooled into agreeing to return. It seems his father knew his son would not cooperate and so he had spread the word that there was a large inheritance for him to claim. It was for this reason that he finally boarded ship for England.

But the story doesn't end there. Think about this. Here we have a young man who has spend considerable time doing things his own way, whose life has been full of ups and downs (with more downs than ups) who is only going home because he thinks money is involved.

May 10, 1748, finds John Newton aboard a ship bound for home when suddenly a great storm blows up around them and the ship begins to sink. John woke up to find his cabin full of water, the ship rocking violently to and fro, and I'm sure heard terrible sounds of distress all around him. It was this moment that he first cried out to God. For the rest of his life, John Newton would mark this date as the moment he finally found peace with God.

He would go on to become the rector of a church in England. This was despite his having no university training, a requirement in that day, or any formal experience. He was given the job when the landlord of the parish became really impressed while reading letters in which John talked about his conversion. He was an extremely popular speaker, so much so that the church eventually had to expand and add more pews to accommodate the crowds.

The hymn was written in 1772 and is based on a sermon he was going to preach and the story of his conversion. The final verse of the song, which begins "when we've been there ten thousand years", was added later when Harriet Beecher Stowe included them in her novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin", dated 1852.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.


* Links: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/m/a/amazing_grace.htm, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Newton, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace


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Suzanne

Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA


Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bible Thoughts: Finding forgetfulness


Philippians 3:13 NKJV Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,

Being able to forget the pains and upsets of the past is the first step in moving forward and obtaining healing and peace. In Hebrews 11, the apostle Paul speaks about the faith of Noah, Abraham, and Sarah. (1) However, I want to call your attention to verse 15.

Hebrews 11:15 NKJV And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.

What a powerful thought! Not forgetting, or we'd say "dwelling on the past", would have kept all three of them from living out the life God had called them to. Worse yet, they would have returned to the place they had come out of! Isaiah 43:18 gives specific instruction about forgetting. "Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old." Then in verse 19, it tells us why. "Behold I will do a new thing." (2) Notice that the first step to receiving the "new thing", was deliberately forgetting the past.

Being able to forget is a spiritual promise given to the believer by God, as much as is faith or love, peace or healing. God has given us the power to forget. But it comes as a result of actions on our part and faith in God's willingness to help us. (3) Proverbs 16:3 tells us to "Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established." Our part is to commit the process to God. His part is to establish it. There is one scripture I especially like.

Isaiah 41:12 The Message 11-13 ...When you go out looking for your old adversaries you won't find them—Not a trace of your old enemies, not even a memory. That's right. Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I'm not letting go. I'm telling you, 'Don't panic. I'm right here to help you.'

God's desire is for us to not have even "a trace" of memory of the painful event in our lives. In the next two verses, the prophet Isaiah speaks further on His desire for us to be able to forget.


Isaiah 26:14 Amplified They [the former tyrant masters] are dead, they shall not live and reappear; they are powerless ghosts, they shall not rise and come back. Therefore You have visited and made an end of them and caused every memory of them [every trace of their supremacy] to perish.

Isaiah 54:14 KJV Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.

Now, when I talk about forgetfulness. I am speaking from my own experience. After going through a tough physical and mental battle, I found myself unable to react in a manner I deemed as "normal". My every response to any situation, no matter how trivial, was extreme and negative. Inside I longed to walk in peace and to feel safe, but outwardly, I was unable to do so, being held back by habits I had formed during my illness. The habits I had formed to protect myself from bad feelings had instead placed me in an endless cycle of distress and confusion. Frankly, I couldn't see the way out. It was in my crying out to God, "How do I FORGET?? How can I change this?" that He answered my prayer and showed me it was in the forgetting, that I would finally be able to move forward.

In last week's study, I referred to the teaching of a popular preacher who said, "There is no such thing as an empty mind." Well, forgetfulness comes when you fill your mind with something else. Romans 12:2 states, "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Simply put, the mind is always going to be full of something. What you put in it is what will come out. (5) So if you are trying to find "that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" for your life, it starts by changing your thoughts. Spend time replacing the negative thoughts with positive, godly thoughts. Think on things that are "true, honest, pure, lovely, and of a good report" and they will crowd out the negative ones.(6)

We see this in these next verses.

2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

1 Chronicles 16:15 KJV Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;

Psalms 77:11-12 KJV I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. 12 I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.

The Word of God provides the cleansing for our mind that we seek for. (7) To "remember" is to "preserve the memory of" or "to have in mind an idea which had been in the mind before, and which recurs to the mind without effort". (8) We must remember all that Christ has done for us. We must remember what the Bible says about peace and healing. In the same turn, God wants us to forget, "to neglect, ignore, cease to care" about those things that have injured us. (8) Ephesians 5:26 calls this the "washing of the water of the Word". I like to think of that like an ocean wave that continues to return over and over again, until no trace of my footprints are left. But it is even better than that. Ephesians 4:4 tell us, "You have been called to one glorious hope for the future." I like that phrase. There is for me now "one glorious hope for the future".

She Sells Sea Shells


(1) Hebrews 11:13 NKJV "they were assured of it"
(2) NKJV
(3) Hebrews 11:6 "believe that He is...a rewarder"
(4) NLT
(5) Proverbs 23:7 "For as he thinketh...so is he"
(6) Philippians 4:8
(7) Matthew 6:31, 34 "take no thought, saying" 1 John 1:9 "to cleanse us"; Psalms 77:11-12 "talk of thy doings"
(8) Webster's Dictionary

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bible Thoughts: The Value of Self-Control


Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

I have read this passage of scripture many times over the years. As a child, I often heard it quoted during church services or at Bible studies, and much has been said about love, joy, and peace. In recent months, it has left a greater impression on me, especially the words "self-control". In the King James version, the word used here is "temperance", but I think the most people know about temperance are historical references to "temperance leagues" during the Prohibition time of U.S. history.

Let's look at more references to it in the Scriptures.

2 Peter 1:5-6 NCV ...do your best to add these things to your lives: to your faith, add goodness; and to your goodness, add knowledge; 6 and to your knowledge, add self-control; and to your self-control, add patience...
Titus 1:8 NKJV For a bishop must be...hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled,

There is a price to pay whenever we as believers choose to walk outside of the guidelines God has given us to act upon. (1) The process of "sewing and reaping" of which the apostle Paul spoke (2) is just as applicable in the negative as it is in the positive. If we believe we can "have what we say" and Christ will grant it, then in reverse we will also receive the affects of our unbelief and our bad behaviors.

True self-control applies to our speech, our actions, and our thoughts. James 1:6 speaks of "bridling" the tongue. This means we do not say everything we feel like saying. If your mother used to tell you to "zip your lip" and force you to go and apologize, then I have news for you, those same rules still apply to your life as an adult! And self-control also applies to our actions. It is how we behave both in public as well as in private, when we think no one is watching. You cannot do everything your body wants to do! Lastly, it applies to our thought-life as well. I cannot spend my days meditating, rehearsing over and over, everything that passes through my head. (3) Proverbs 23:7 states, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." If I spend my days thinking on fear, how afraid I am of an event, a person, or an idea, then fear is what I will become.

I once heard a popular preacher say, "There is no such thing as an empty mind," and that phrase has really helped me over the years. First of all, it takes away the idea that I should expect to get to a point where I never think anything. There will never be a time when some thought is not roaming through my brain. But if I find I am having troubles in a certain area of my life, take the fear I used as an example already, if I find I am terribly afraid all the time, then I have to realize part of the cause comes from time I have spent thinking about fear, or we'd say "worrying". You remember, it's all those "what ifs"?

What if I fail?
What if I can't make it?
What if he or she does that again?

Worry is simply thinking on some unhappy thought over and over and over again until it becomes more real to you than any other thing. Worry is caused by a lack of self-control over your thought life.

Jesus is our example of self-control. Think of what he was knowingly facing. In the garden, he knew of his pending death, yet he said, "Not my will, but thine, be done." (4) In front of Pilate, he "answered nothing". (5) Ask yourself, what would we have done if that had been us? Jesus knew the will of the Father, yet despite the pressure of death on the cross, He obeyed.

If there is no such thing as an "empty mind", that means we must replace our incorrect thoughts with correct ones. Instead of spending our time in worry, we should spend it thinking on scriptures about peace and safety. Put simply, find a scripture to stand on and stand there! (6) Romans 8:6 says, "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." I strive every day for my mind to become so full of God that that is all that is in me. The more of Christ I have in me, the less my flesh and my feelings will control my actions, and the easier self-control will become. For walking in self-control brings peace.

1 Peter 1:13 NKJV Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;


(1) 2 Timothy 3:1-3; 1 Corinthians 7:5,7; 1 Timothy 2:15
(2) Galatians 6:7
(3) 1 Corinthians 13:5 "thinketh no evil"
(4) Luke 22:42
(5) Matthew 26:62-63 "Jesus held his p'eace."; Matthew 27:12-14 "...he answered nothing"
(6) Ephesians 6:13-14 "Stand therefore



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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My Statement of Faith


God is a good God.


James 1:17 - 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Matthew 11:11-13 - 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

1 John 5:3 - For the [true] love of God is this, that we do His commands--keep His ordinances and are mindful of His precepts and teaching. And these orders of His are not irksome--burdensome, oppressive, or grievous." (Amplified)


God doesn't do bad things.

James 1:13-16 - 13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.

Matthew 12:25-30 - 25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? 27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. 29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.


God never changes.

Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not...

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.


God is love.


1 John 1:8-10 - 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


God's Characterics

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (CEV) 4 Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or 5 rude. Love isn't selfish or quick tempered. It doesn't keep a record of wrongs that others do. 6 Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. 7 Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. 8 Love never fails!


Story Saturdays

The deadline approaches. To receive April's book, you must be a member by midnight April 29th. The email will go out on the 30th. Thi...