A Fruitful Life

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Fruitful Spirit

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Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. Ps 92:14 (NLT)

Big toes crossed underneath the others, legs thin-skinned, injured from years of hard work in tobacco fields.

“I just love the Lord! He’s been so good to me. I’m ready to go anytime.”

By any global standard, Betty is not rich, not even noticeable in a crowd. But as I view this woman’s crinkled face in her simple kitchen I feel honor for her. She is truly bearing eternal fruit in old age.

My desire is to grow old like her. A worn-out body with a Spirit-filled soul.

Since I am careening down the other side of the proverbial hill, looking back, there is understanding. Not of everything, but events and thoughts and actions and words are colored over with the sage view of time.

But getting old is hard. And painful.

My desire is to finish well. We could take a few cues from Betty.

First, she said loved the Lord. It is easy to say, harder to implement. How I learn to love the Lord more is to make spending time with Him a priority. I can’t say I do this every day, but usually, I devote about 20-30 minutes first thing in the morning to read His Word and talk with Him. There is also time to listen. The more I know Jesus, the more I love Him.

She is grateful. We are a cynical society—and generally ungrateful. As I worked in our fields on our farm a few years ago, my thoughts went to a time of slavery and how they did not have a choice about when and how long they worked. I thanked the Lord for choices and when a cloud covered the blazing sun, I thanked God Almighty for clouds.

Lastly, she said she was ready to go anytime.

Paul said to be absent from the body means to be present with the Lord. In fact, Paul said being with the Lord is very much better!

Being ready to meet Jesus is a win-win situation.

But some of you may be hurting now. Whether it is growing old, or you or your family have been diagnosed with a disease, or a myriad of other reasons.

I am sorry, friend. My heart aches for you.

Meditate with me on these words from the Apostle Paul,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

One last word—don’t let sin get in your way of finishing well.

Let’s pray that for each other.

See you in heaven.

Copyright © 2018 Pauline Hylton, used with permission.

How Long, Lord

How Long, Lord?

This devotional appeared on 7/15 at cbn.com

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“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” Psalm 13:1-2 (NIV)

Anxiety engulfed me. Sitting up in bed, I fought to breathe.

This time it centered around our move to North Carolina. How would we move Mom there? What about her hospital bed? How could we load it into the moving truck and still have a place for her to sleep? What about our son who remained behind?

Ever feel like that?

That’s what I thought.

Where does anxiety come from and why do I struggle so much with it?

It helps to know that King David suffered from anxiety. Seems like he had a better reason—people were constantly trying to kill him. Usually, I’m just worried about what others think of me, or if we will finally be able to take a vacation.

Many times, I worry about my adult children. Those are the thoughts I struggle with the most.

A pastor I enjoy says all sin stems from unbelief. The more I’ve chewed on that, the more I’m convinced.

Do I really believe the Lord has my best in mind? Do I really believe He is sovereign? Can He protect my children? Does He really love me in spite of myself—my sin?

The Bible shouts a resounding “Yes!” to all of the above.

Still, I doubt. And worry.

What is the antidote? Thank God, He has given us His answer. It is found in Philippians 4:6-7,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Prayer brings me to the heart of God and the truth about myself. The more I understand God, His Word, and the priceless message of salvation, the more I comprehend my unworthiness. This brings me to my knees in much-needed humility and lifts God up to His rightful place of worship.

As my anxious heart prays to a forgiving, loving, faithful God, I begin to taste His peace.

Beth Moore said once that she began to thank God for His answers before He answered. And the verses above command us to pray with thanksgiving.

I’ve begun to do that in my prayer life. I have prayer cards with Scripture verses for each of my family members. As I pray the verse back to the Lord, I thank Him for how He will answer.

I look back on the awesome ways He has answered in the past—ways I could not have imagined—above all I could ask or even think.

Funny thing, as I pray, peace comes. It did for King David, too.

And it will for you.

A Father’s Day Tribute and Challenge

Here is my latest post from CBN.com

Or you can visit their website at http://www1.cbn.com/devotions/crying-out-to-the-most-high

Crying Out to the Most High

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“If you put some money in the kettle, we’ll stop singing!” my larger than life father shouted as we manned a Salvation Army stand on Christmas Eve. He would throw his head back, laugh and then remind those around him how funny he was.

Since my parents were Salvation Army officers, and my sisters had their own families, it was usually the three of us plowing through that busy season. Last-minute-Christmas shoppingand singing questionable three-part-harmony on the kettles became our tradition.

As a teenager, I’d roll my eyes when my father did something embarrassing. I wouldn’t now.

Dad entered heaven ten years ago, and I still miss him. Especially on Father’s Day. I have possession of his Salvation Army Songbook and New Testament. His left-handed all caps print is noticeable in many of the margins. In this book are personal notes about the songs and humble prayers of a man who failed much—and knew it. Often his prayer centered on forgiveness, but many times he cried out for a deeper relationship with the Lord.

His passion and prayers still speak to me.

Reading through the first few chapters of Nehemiah, I also feel the depth of his passion and his prayers. Heartbroken because Jerusalem lies desolate with no walls, he fasts and prays—crying out to the Most High, confessing his sin, and the sin of his people while lifting up the name of Jehovah. Listen to this:

“O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.”Nehemiah 1:5-7 (NLT)

With Mother’s Day behind us, and Father’s Day right around the corner, I’ve been wondering how I will be remembered. Will it be for complaining or discontentment? Will my children think of the times I yelled or functioned at just a notch above crazy?

I hope not. My desire is for them to remember me in the same way Paul remembered Timothy’s mother and grandmother in 2 Timothy 1:5,

“I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.”

Genuine faith—not perfect—a woman of passionate prayer and humble repentance.

Just like my father. Just like Nehemiah. Just like a myriad of others who pressed on in this fallen world, looking for a better place.

What about you? How will you be remembered?

Let’s passionately pray about it together.

Copyright © 2018 Pauline Hylton, used with permission.

The King’s Announcement

This posted yesterday at cbn.com. Hope you enjoy!

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“The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.” 2 Kings 23:3

Several years ago, I realized my love for Jesus had grown cold. Wondering how to renew that sweet fellowship I’d once experienced, I prayed Jesus, I want to fall in love with You, again. Help me.

What happened? My pastor began to teach on Matthew. The Bible Study Fellowship group I attended studied Matthew, and the ladies group in our church based its lessons on the first gospel.

I wondered if I’d be bored.

Far from it.

As I read the pages of Christs’ life, saw the depth of His love, heard the words from His lips, my love for Him was rekindled.

In 2 Kings, we learn about King Josiah. He began to rule over Judah when he was only eight.

That is scary.

But he had a heart for the Lord. Several years into his kingship, we read of a national gathering where God’s Word was read aloud. At that point, we glimpse a fresh renewal in the king’s heart. Not only that, because the king recommitted his life to the Almighty, the people followed his lead.

What if our nation followed suit? More importantly, what if we as believers recommitted our whole being to the Lord?

It would change the world.

How to begin? Like the king. Reading His Word. Prayer. It’s not that complicated.

Romans 12:1-2 states,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

While visiting a friend in Georgia, a country preacher said something I will never forget.

“Our bodies are just vehicles for the Lord’s work. Some of us are Fords, some are Chevys, and some are Mercedes. But we all have the same job—serve and obey the Lord while we are on this earth, until we get to heaven.”

But all of us need tune-ups.

How’s your vehicle? Would you make a commitment like King Josiah did?

Josiah changed the whole kingdom.

Perhaps we could change the world.

Copyright © 2018 Pauline Hylton, used with permission.

God Blesses Us

 Here is the devotional for today at http://www.christiandevotions.us/

Visit their site each day for encouragement in your Christian walk.

God Blesses Us

DEVOTION BY POSTED 3/31/2018 12:00:01 AM

God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.  Psalm 67:7 NASB

Photo courtesy of pixabay.“How are you today, Pauline?” my co-worker asked as we passed each other by the copy machine.

“Better than I deserve,” I shot back.

Some think I am weird. Others build up my self-image with phrases like, You deserve good, Pauline. You’re a good person.

But I know better. I understand God found me, Christ died for me, and I live my life in His strength. So when I read of God’s blessings in His Word, I take notice.

In Psalm 67, the writer names how God blesses us: His face shines upon us, He judges uprightly, He guides the nations, and He causes the earth to yield its produce.

If you have ever witnessed the face of a new grandmother staring at her grandchild, you can picture that as God’s face shining on you and me. He guides the nations and is sovereign over the world. Even though it doesn’t seem that way to me, I trust God’s Word and trust Him to guide the nations. And produce? I live on a farm and have tasted the best tomatoes ever. It all comes from His hand. Those are some pretty heavy blessings.

God blesses us to make His way known, so people will praise Him, and so that all the earth may fear Him.

But I wonder if I’m making God’s way known to others, or if I’m too busy with this world and more excited about football than sharing the gospel? Or if I’m living a life of grateful thanksgiving and praise or being like Miriam in the Old Testament who was inflicted with leprosy because she grumbled. I can share the gospel by being clear that we are all sinners and need a savior, or sugarcoat it.

Answering my co-workers in the way I do reminds me of my blessings and my opportunity to bless others.

Make a resolution to meditate on God’s blessings and share them with others. You just might make hanging out at the copy machine more interesting.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Pauline Hylton

Pauline Hylton is a freelance writer whose publishing credits include USA TODAY, Chicken Soup, Today’s Christian Woman, The War Cry, and several newspapers. She writes about anything from caregiving to chickens and from farming to family. She especially enjoys writing humor. She loves the Lord, her family, and dark chocolate—not necessarily in that order.