Fire and trials

Thanks to all of you who have read my posts, kept me in your prayers and offered words of encouragement and comfort. A couple of the recent comments had reminded me of a word God had given to me some years ago.

A sword when formed the materials chosen are put through the fire, stretched, folded, and hammered. This is done over and over until the blade is formed. The more the blade is folded the stronger it becomes. The part I am focused on today is the fire which inspired by both a recent painting I had posted, ‘Going through the fire’, and a current one that I have been working on for a client, ‘Risen’. Risen is not ye finished and neither are the rest of us. I like to say we are a work in progress and God is not done with us yet. Both paintings represent fire.

Risen unfinished by Julie Sheppard
Through the Fire by Julie Sheppard

First thought of fire you think of destruction. Homes and forests burned to the ground. Getting burned. Yet fire is not just destructive. You cook with fire. Create with it. Fire can be scary but look at Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abed Nego. They refused to bow down to and idol and were thrown into a fiery furnace. They did not burn and they came out not even smelling of smoke. Then think of the Holy Spirit Fire. We grow when we go through the fire. We are refined. We are made stronger. In the painting immediately above I had explained in a previous post. The current painting which is unfinished I will tell it’s story when it is finished. Clay pots are put into kilns and baked. God is referred to as The Potter and we are His clay, to be molded and shaped into vessel He can use. This also means to be made solid we too must go through the fire. I am not sure how long it is going to take for me to finish my current painting but I will post it when it is finished.

Remember His fire will not harm you but make you stronger!

Through The Fire

I used to have this nightmare that terrified me years ago, where I was surrounded by fire, covered in blood, and being attacked by something I could not see. Recently God revealed to me that it was not a nightmare, which I would argue until He gave me understanding. He told me that even though I was surrounded by fire I was not being burned. The blood that covered me was not my own, but His Son’s blood which was protecting me. Even though I was being attacked, that I did not die, but stood firm. That the fire kept the enemy from destroying me, and that it was His Spirit that surrounded me. This inspired this painting.

Through The Fire by Julie Sheppard

Which I hope inspires hope for those who are going through their own fiery trials, or nightmares.

Call To Prayer / 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Call To Prayer /  1 Timothy 2:1-2

1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NKJV)

1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

Let us pray for ALL men, this includes women and children. Praying for every person. Peaceful life, lives free from strife and hatred, healed from all illness and disease, filled with love, and joy.

Here is a scripture to think about during our prayer time.

Philippians 4:8-9  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Let us pray together for God’s will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Leave any prayer requests in the comments so we can all pray together and for each other.

Thank you and god bless and keep you safe.

May 10, 2020

May 10, 2020

I recently had a word given to me to give to someone I knew who had asked me to pray for their situation. They have since told me that I should share this word.  They believed that this word could help another, as it at helped them. So I will share it but not the persons name or situation.

This is the word that I had received;

‘You have had someone hurt you. This pain was not caused by their actions but because of what they did not do.  You feel hurt and are disappointed. Their actions did not live up to the words the spoke to you. They made a commitment and they failed you. I know exactly how this feels. You cannot count the numerous times per day people who have committed their lives to Me, that have turned back to the world the second they have a problem. Instead of turning to Me, they return to doing things as the rest of the world does.

The second troubles come you want to turn and walk away and say that it is no big deal. I want you think about what would happen if I gave up on you that easy. If I turned from you every time you disappointed Me,  hurt Me, or even cheated on Me, etc….  Every time you have been hurt, I have been hurt.  Every time you were rejected or abused, so was I. Now multiply your pain by an infinite amount.  What you go through with others, I go through too. I don’t give up on you. I will never leave you or forsake you.

Yes you have been hurt by these people, but can you see now how I feel? Can you see how much I love those who have hurt and wronged Me?  You may be the only one who is bringing my Light into these peoples dark world. Don’t give up on them. They have never met anyone to show them my love before and they do not know how to react. The spirits operating in their lives are don’t want to let go. Yet My Light can drive away the darkness in their life. You carry this Light within you, like a lantern in a dark world. Let them learn of my Love through you. Another might now show them this love. Remember Love is patient, and love is kind and it also long suffering. ‘

To put it in other words. God puts up a lot with the mistakes we make, the pain we cause and He does not give up on us.  There are bad relationships that we have to escape, because they can and will cost us our life if we don’t leave. This message is for those of us who have been slighted in any way that hurts us, we need to remember the pain of a Father who sent His Son to pay the price for those pains. How much pain Jesus suffered for our sins. We sometimes will have to let go of people who we cannot help and will only continue to hurt us and themselves. Yet our first reaction to pull away at the first sign of trouble we should rethink. Sometimes God will use these people to teach us, smooth out our rough spots like sandpaper.

Please take a moment and read 1 Corinthians 13.

May 9, 2020 The Seeds We Sow

May 9, 2020 The Seeds We Sow

IMG_20200502_154937IMG_20200509_124354This grapefruit tree, which is still a sapling, was grown from a seed from a grapefruit given to me a few years back. It had come from a tree that was growing in a friends yard back in Florida. I kept a few of the seeds after I had eaten the fruit and thought I would see if the seed would grow. To my surprise a few weeks after I had planted it in a pot did I see a sprout. To my amazement it continued to grow over the past few years. This spring I thought it was time for it to be planted in the ground. Living in an apartment I had not planned on planting it in my little yard, but when I had seen that the bush outside my door had died over the winter I thought it was good as time as ever.

I have grown many plants from cuttings and had even been able to grow an avocado tree from a seed but this is my first attempt of growing any kind of citrus.

IMG_20200509_124129This is an orange tree that was also grown from a seed that I planted.

Avocado trees.

I love watching things grow. It lets me know there is still life no matter how dark things may be at times. They also let me see growth. For one to truly live we need to grow, not just physically but spiritually. Jesus gave us the parable of the sower and the seed.(Matthew 13:1-23/Luke 8:1-15) I have grown plants and trees from either cuttings or seeds, they have both needed to be planted in order to grow. They have also needed to be cared for, if I wanted them to grow.

There are things in our lives that grow that are not plant life. I gave birth to a beautiful daughter, who then had her own child. What God had blessed me with has been fruitful and had given birth to a child who will grow up and some day give her a grandchild. Now there are other things we grow, relationships are one of those things. How we grow in these relationships depends on the care and nurturing we give to them. We do this not only by the words we speak but by are actions as well.

We are not judged by our words alone but how we live. If we live in love we grow in love. Others see how we live, if only for a brief moment a stranger can be effected by how we act and speak. These are the seeds we plant without thinking about. Yet these seeds are just as important as the close relationships we have with family and friends. Simple acts of kindness can impact people in ways we may not see or realize. These are seeds we may not nurture or see the fruits of but they can grow and the next person may be the one to nurture and cultivate what we have planted.(1 Corinthians 3:6 Contemporary English Version / I planted the seeds, Apollos watered them, but God made them sprout and grow.)

I look forward to seeing this tree grow, and possibly produce some fruit. This will take time and over that time I look to learn even more and do some growing myself.

May 3, 2020 The Dead Sea

Today I have been thinking about the Dead Sea. Many tourists travel to it because of the high mineral content and the buoyancy caused by the salt volume. This is supposed to have healing qualities, but it is the name that is stuck in my mind today. Water flows in but it goes no where and this is to be the reason why for the high salt and mineral content. This sea is called dead because it cannot support life. Water continues to flow in but then it under the sun it evaporates. I wonder how many of us are like the Dead Sea? His spirit and blessings are flowing into us, but what are we doing with what He is giving to us? Works do not produce faith but faith should produce works.

James 2:26
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.(Read James 2:14-24)

Think about the parable of ‘the servants and the talents. Matthew 25:14-30. In this parable three servants are each given talents. The amounts varied, but it was what each servant did with what was given to them. The first two increased their talents, but the third one buried his talent and it produced him nothing. It is with this servant that the master was not pleased. This servant lost his talent and it was given to the first servant. This parable too, reminds of the Dead Sea. I want to be like the first two servants and do something with what God has entrusted to me.

Even though I have faced many trials and abuse in my life, I know He has been with me through it all. He kept me going when I there was nothing I could do. When I felt hopeless He gave me hope. He did not create me for the pain I have lived through but that pain inspires me to help others who are in pain. I don’t want to wallow in my self pity, but share that even when everything in the world is coming against you, He never leaves you and His love is limitless. For all that He has done for me I want to do whatever I can to be there for others. I want to be a vessel that He uses, not one that sits on a shelf collecting dust, and I don’t want to be a dead sea. Receiving but doing nothing with what He has given to me. I want to be more than a hearer of the Word, but a doer as well.

What about you? Are you using what has been given to you to further His Kingdom, or are you sitting their collecting dust?

 

 

Pilgrim’s Progress / Movie and Book

In 1664 John Bunyan was in prison for holding services outside of the Church of England. while in prison he began writing, ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’. This book is one of my favorite christian books that I have read. I have also enjoyed the movies made based on this book. A book written over 400 years ago is still speaking to us today. It has withstood the test of time. In short it is the story of a man named Christian, who goes on a journey. This journey is one we are all on, whether we realize it or not. I can relate to the trials he faces on this journey. I don’t want to go into too much detail because if you have not read it or seen any movie based on it, I do not want to spoil it for you.

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Revelation Media has produced the most recent version of the movie and it is also animated so your children will enjoy watching it with you, as I have watched it many times with my grandson and highly recommend it. I have enjoyed every production I have had an opportunity to see.

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Here is a link if you would like to purchase a copy. https://www.revelationmedia.com/donate/thepilgrimsprogress/

You can currently watch it on youtube as well as this version with Liam Neeson who plays Christian.

I hope you will take time to check the book out or watch anyone of the movies based on it. There are many things you can learn from it.

 

April 18, 2020

Many these days are anxious because of the pandemic of Covid19, that is world wide. It is effecting people of all nationalities and classes. Social media has become the main way people are keeping connected. Unless you have a job that is deemed necessary, you are basically grounded. When the stay at home orders were first being issued, one of my first thoughts were about the parallel of Passover and the Exodus. One of the things Moses had told the people to do before Pharaoh would finally release the Hebrews, was that they were to put blood on their doorposts and were to remain inside. The reason for this was to keep their first born alive. For the plague of death of every first born was coming. yet those under the blood would be safe.

Exodus 12:22-23 22 Take a cluster of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin, and brush the top and the two side posts of the doorframe with some of the blood. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. 23 When the LORD passes through to strike down the Egyptians, He will see the blood on the top and the two sideposts and pass over the door; so He will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

We are all going through a terrible time right now and the treat to life is real, so I understand why so many are afraid. This virus does not care if you are a first born, what your religion is,what color your skin is, or if you are wealthy or poor. Any one of us could get sick from this virus. If we take the necessary precautions we should be okay. Looking at the story of Exodus I do see the reason to have hope. If you are stuck staying home you could very well have cabin fever by now, and are itching to get out. If you have a full house you may want to get away just to find some peace and quiet, if you live alone the desire for company can make you want to leave the safety of your home. As much as I do not like feeling like I have been grounded, I do see the importance of staying home unless I have an important reason to go somewhere.

We need to remember these is temporary and that we will get through this. There is hope. I turn to the Word for this hope and it never lies.

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Art by Julie Sheppard

Light at the end of the tunnel is not a train but the Light of Jesus Christ!

April 14, 2020

John 16:32-33 “Look, an hour is coming and has already come when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and you will leave Me all alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. (33) I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!”

With all this social distancing we are supposed to be practicing, there are many who are feeling isolated and alone. I work as a home care attendant taking care of those who are home-bound to begin with. Now they are limited to only myself and nurses who come to take care of them. My own contact with people outside of those who I care for has been restricted because I cannot risk exposure with my clients already compromised health.  It almost feel like we have been grounded. Isolation can make one feel cut off from the world, even with modern technology, and all the social media, it is not the same as fellowship. Gathering together, and sharing each others company. Man was not made to be alone, we need each other. Yet while there are many who are alone in their homes, there is One who is with each and everyone of us. He never leaves us or forsakes us. He is always with us. I hope this brings comfort to at least one person who is feeling lonely because of this isolation many have to practice.Even In The Dark3 Art by Julie Sheppard

Love your enemies

Matthew 5:43-48, and again in Luke 6:27-36, Jesus is teaching us to love our enemies. We can say the words ‘I love you’, without meaning what we say. We can say it as easily as saying “Hello”, or ‘Goodbye’. We are being polite, but we are not truly caring about the other person. Now this is where it is going to get harder, ‘Love your enemy, bless those who persecute and you’. I have tried over and over again in this area and failed miserably, so what I am writing is for myself and anyone else who struggles with this.
I have been thinking a lot about Jonah lately. He was a man God used to save the people of Nineveh. Yet he did so unwillingly. He tried to run from His purpose of giving the message of repentance to the people of Nineveh. To say that he did not like them is being kind. He wanted them to be condemned for how they lived. He had passed judgment on them and thought they deserved what was coming to them. So he ran in the other direction, and ended up in the belly of a whale, that spit him up on the shore of Nineveh. He told the people to repent for God’s judgment was at hand, and they did. This did not make Jonah happy though. He sat outside the city angry and wanting to die. Even though the people had repented and God showed mercy, Jonah had no love or mercy for the peopl of Nineveh.
How many times have we turned and gone another direction because we did not like what a person or group was living without taken the time to give the message of God’s love, and the price Jesus paid to show us how much He loves us? Yes there are those who we have shared God’s Word and love with who rejected what we had to say and even turned against us. Yet how many people do we reject? We don’t like how they dress, talk, live or their beliefs’. Is this a spirit of humility? Are we so much better than we can turn our backs on them?
There are people in my life currently that I have a hard time dealing with, from their behavior and vulgar language to their hateful attitude and I must admit that even though I have been polite, I have wanted to take a gallon of Dawn dish soap and a toilet brush to their mouth. this is not a loving attitude and I know it. I also have had people in my life that I have shared the Word of God with and His love who are members of a church who have not only rejected me but cursed me and slandered my name while living in adultery. Do I forgive the one who is attacking me personally and yet judge the other because they do not attend church? Or should I love them as Jesus loves them. It is not up to me or you to change how they live, but to introduce them to the only true love that can transform their lives as He is continuing to mold us into His image.