The Inextinguishable Flicker of God

by: Elora C. Seniah (aka Carole L. Haines)

Hope is the inextinguishable flicker God ignites in our souls to keep us believing in the prevailing power of his light even when we are surrounded by utter darkness. It’s the unswerving belief that better days are ahead, probably in this world and most certainly in the next. It’s the quiet resolve he hardwires into our spirit that clings to the seemingly impossible truth that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” and that, in the grand scheme of things, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:28, 37). (Lee Strobel, Investigating Faith) 

Lee Strobel’s expression of hope quoted above, just blessed my heart this morning. To envision hope as a flicker of God in the Human soul that cannot be extinguished, lifts my heart and my spirit. It reminds me of another verse about flickering flames: 

“A bruised reed He will not break 
And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish. 
(Isaiah 42:3a) 
This Scripture is amidst a longer prophecy about the Messiah, God’s Messenger. Gazing into the heart of Jesus, as we are privileged to do when we read the Gospels, gives us insight into just how kind and tender He is towards us. He brought hope wherever He went. People were drawn to Him like moths to the Flame. He still has this effect on us when we take the time to watch and listen to Him in His Word, seeing every written detail of how He interacted with others. He was very inclusive of those whom Society had deemed outcasts. He was inviting, engaging, and uplifting. But there was another side of Jesus we saw when He encountered pride, hypocrisy and the manipulative tendencies of the religious elite of His day.  
Jesus spoke truth, absolute truth to whomever would hear Him. He gently drew truth out of the Woman at the Well (John 4). He rescued the woman caught in adultery, probably entrapped by her very accusers (John 8). He healed lepers, cast out demons, received and blessed children. And when Jesus departed the earth, He sent the Holy Spirit to fill us and empower us. 

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
(Romans 15:13) 
All praise be to our Savior, Lord of Hope, Prince of Peace, who continually grows us, corrects us and encourages us in our daily lives. To Him be the Glory forever and ever. Amen!

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Author and Perfecter of Faith

by: Carole ( aka Elora C.) Haines 

The secret of the Christian life is not to have great faith in God. Did not Jesus recognize the smallness of belief when He said, O, you of little faith?” (Matthew 14:31) The secret is to have faith in a great God. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Might; when you realize His great strength and the great things He can do for you, your faith will be strengthened to believe in far greater things. Don’t just pray for greater faith, pray for understanding of God; then you can have greater faith. (Prime Time with God Devotional, 9/18/20) 

The truth expressed in this quote from one of my favorite devotionals really struck me this morning. I realized that so often, I put the focus of faith on me and my ability to “have faith,” rather than on God who is source of all faith. Jesus is called the “Author and Perfecter of faith.” He is to be my focus, not the faith itself. 
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1-2) 

I had never considered that before. Am I placing too much thought on my own faith, or am I fully fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of it? The word, author means:  chief leader, prince, captain.  
I cannot follow my captain if I am looking down at my own feet of faith. I must fix my eyes on the one who is the source and creator of my faith. I need to trust Him with my faith, which is often as small as a mustard seed. But Jesus tells us the Parable of a Mustard Seed Faith: 

The Mustard Seed 

31 He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”  
(Matthew 13:31-32) 

Jesus is not only my Captain of Faith, He is its perfecter. The word, perfectermeans: completer, consummator, finisher.  
This word occurs nowhere else in the Bible. Jesus creates, sustains, perfects and finishes my faith. I shouldn’t try to conjure faith from the empty recesses of my own self. Sometimes I do this to try to show God how much I trust Him or love Him. But I must always and only fix my eyes on Jesus, gaze in wonder at His amazing love and faithfulness. This is the Key to peace and joy in the Christian Life. 

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Who’s Essential?

A guest Post by: Christine Laporte


“We are therefore Christ’s Ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us”.

(2 Corinthians 5:20)
One of the more creative tasks I get to do at work is to create slides for our program’s Monthly Review. My boss creates the data pages and asks me to come up with some “End” slides for a little comic relief. He will give me a theme and I will search for memes and funny quote slides to pop into PowerPoint for his approval. With essential workers being a trending topic since the spring, I started looking at images / memes related to that subject. I particularly liked this saying, “Essential workers: because ‘sacrificial’ sounded too dark”.
There’s a good amount of truth to this saying, however. While others were being told to stay home, self-quarantine and tele-work; other employees and industries didn’t really have that choice. We know who those people are and continue to pray for their safety and protection from the COVID-19 virus. Until the second week in April my coworkers and I were considered “essential”. We were given an official letter permitting us to travel to and from work and we carried them with us in case we were stopped by authorities.
One morning on my way to work I looked next to me on the passenger seat and spotted the “official” letter in a plastic sheet protector and felt a sense of pride. I thought to myself, “I’m important and needed; it says so right on this letter”. But it didn’t take long before I was reminded that what makes me important and an essential part of this life is being a child of God. I am part of his family and the church of Jesus Christ. And, as part of the church, I have a role to act out that has eternal values and ramifications. As stated above in
2 Corinthians 5:20, “We are Christ’s Ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.” If we go back to the verses preceding verse 20, we read the following:
All of this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation”.
( 2 Cor. 5:18-19)
There are a lot of roles for God’s children here in just these two verses. We are reconciled to God in order to minister to others with through His ministry. And how do we help others become reconciled to the Lord? We share that message with others. We are reconciled, ministers and message givers. There’s a great deal of purpose in these tasks. It is humbling to know that the Lord would trust us with such a precious ministry and job. We also read in Ephesians 2:10:
We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
A few things really jump out at me as I read this verse. The word workmanship comes from the Greek word “poiema” and means “masterpiece, poem or work of art.” Creative people, like me and many members in my family, put a significant amount of time into crafting a work of art. Whether we are writing creative literature, painting a picture or making flower arrangements, we give specific attention to details. We think of things like: theme, color, purpose, materials, process and even the receiver of our artwork. To think that our boundless God, the supreme Creator of the universe and all of its content, put His personal touches on each of us is both mind boggling and humbling.
There are two other words that grab my attention when reading Ephesians 2:10.
They are the words “prepared beforehand.”

“Interestingly, God prepared what He wanted us to do for Him long ago. He has already planned what He wants us to do with our lives. We do not need to copy [or compare] what someone else has done or is doing. He has a unique plan for each of use to serve Him in this world. This includes certain spiritual gifts and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to lead us in service to Him.” (commentary on Eph. 2:10 from Bibleref.com)

We find our purpose and a life of fulfillment in doing what the Lord created us to do (and be). He has given each of us very specific talents, strengths, desires, and personalities to carry out divinely appointed tasks that have both temporary and eternal value. This makes us “essential.”

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The Purity and Simplicity of Devotion to Christ

By:Carole L. Haines (aka, Elora C. Seniah)

God is ever-present with us. He promises never to leave us or forsake us. But my heart has been craving a closer walk with Him, that deep sense of joy I’ve had at just being in His Presence. I miss Him so much. I don’t know how I slipped away from the simplicity of abiding in Christ alone, but I have. I am crying out to Him this morning to restore the joy of walking with Him closely. I saw, in the Psalm below, the pathway back. Prayer and Meditation. I emboldened the words for me to follow. 
 

 remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings.  
muse on the work of Your hands. I stretch out my hands to You.  
My soul longs for You, as a parched land.      Selah. 
Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails; Do not hide Your face from me, Or I will become like those who go down to the pit. 
Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You. 
Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul. 
Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; I take refuge in You. 
Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God. 
Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. 
For the sake of Your name, O Lord, revive me. 
In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble. 
And in Your lovingkindness, cut off my enemies 
And destroy all those who afflict my soul, For I am Your servant. 
(Psalm 143:5-12) 

God is so good. He heard the cry of my heart and this is the first Scripture that I opened to this morning in Bible Gateway, Verse of the Day. I am going to pray through this whole Psalm this morning with the Lord. If you are missing God join me. My heart is crying out for “the purity and simplicity of devotion to Christ.”(2 Corinthians 11:3) Join me in the quest for a restored and closer walk with our wonderful God and King. 

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Tears mingled with the Heavenly drops

Photo taken by: Bruce Nevin Haines

By: Carole L. Haines (pen-name: Elora C. Seniah)

Lightning followed the Thunderclap, closely, as if to let me know how near it was. I awakened from my sleep with a jolt, at first, but then a sense of thrill rushed through me as I realized the rain was coming. That sweet fragranced, refreshing rain, to wash the heat away and send the flowers soaring once again toward the sky. No longer, barely hanging on, barely eking out an existence, but beginning to thrive once more.  
‘Is it over, Dear Lord? Can this dry, hot spell really be done?”   
Three rains in one week, I can hardly contain my joy. I walk out into the grass to tend my heavy garden, soaked through to every crevice. Each petal clinging greedily to these long-awaited drinks from Heaven. I carefully lift the stems and slowly weave them together, as I do every year, supporting them with a strong, tall, deeply sunk post or cage, Tying them with twine to give them extra support, to give them something to lean on. 
As I weave and support these precious flowers, laden with their harvest of blooms, I begin to ponder that this is how the Body of Christ should work together; woven, strengthened by one another. The rain falls in all our lives, but storms are not always a dreadful thing. They are often refreshing, welcome relief from life’s dry spells. Where things once lay wilted from the arid Winds of July, now hope springs forth and reaches once more toward life. The harvest we thought was ruined begins to thrive and flourish, as stunted stalks of corn reach high toward the sky. That long-awaited Harvest is finally coming in. 
“Enlarge the place of your tent 
Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not. 
Lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs. 
“For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. 
And your descendants will possess nations 
And will resettle the desolate cities. 
“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame. 
And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced. 
(Isaiah 54:2-4a NASB) 

We need to support each other in the Body of Christ, woven together in the tough times and the good. Sometimes the load of fruit we carry from the Blessings of the Lord need to be carried together, not alone. Burdens shared and Blessings given away to those whose times of little are upon them. We need each other, in the Body of Christ, for support in the times of scarcity as well as the times of abundance.  
So here it comes again, The Rain. Bringing with it healing powers to wash away the dirt clinging to us from the desert of loss we have trudged through in the last several years. I walk outside to await its arrival with joyful expectation and hope. And the rain falls, and I drink it in. My tears mingled with the Heavenly drops. My heart spilling over with gratitude and peace. Here come those Healing Rains, bringing our long-awaited Harvest. 

Thank you, Jesus, for the times of scarcity and want, where we are barely scratching out an existence. If it weren’t for these dry times, how would we appreciate the abundance brought to us by Your gift of rain. Amen 

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A Sweet Aroma of Christ

Photo taken by: Cody J. Haines

by: Carole L. Haines

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. (2 Corinthians 2:14) 

We don’t necessarily associate triumph with hardship, but they are paired together often. I have seen dedicated athletes up at dawn, fitting in their workouts before their workday begins. They are out in all kinds of weather too. I admire them but can’t say I relate to them at this time in my life. I rise at dawn for a different reason. I find that I just can’t start my hectic, stress-filled day without some alone time with Jesus. I need that solitude, that silent time of prayer and sitting with Him in His Word. I must have it, like some people need a morning run or a piping hot cup of coffee.  
My job can really put the squeeze on me, and because I work with young children, each squeeze yields something that will affect them. They are tender, precious little ones in the sight of God, and He cares for them so much. I need God to fill me with Himself before I go in to work, so that He can pour His kindness, love and encouragement through me, to these little ones. Oswald Chambers puts it this way: 

If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours through us that really counts. God’s purpose is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us. Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measures it, but only by what God pours through us— and we cannot measure that at all. 
(Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest) 

I pray that God will meet with you in your times of quiet and rest, so that when the squeeze of life is put on you, a Sweet Aroma of Christ is what others receive. May you become a delightful fragrance of Christ, wherever you happen to be. We are blessed by Him to become a blessing to others.  

“He who believes in Me…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”— and hundreds of other lives will be continually refreshed. Now is the time for us to break “the flask” of our lives, to stop seeking our own satisfaction, and to pour out our lives before Him. Our Lord is asking who of us will do it for Him?  
(From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition) 

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Prisoners of Promise

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By: Carole L. Haines 

But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. (Acts 16:25-26) 

I saw a double rainbow the other day. Dark clouds hung low and menacing on the horizon, so my husband and I decided to chase the storm and catch up to the rain. We found the storm and came through it to the other side. This is where I saw one of the most beautiful sights, a double rainbow. But the most miraculous thing was that the end of the rainbow was directly on top of a prison. Barbed wire surrounded it. No trespassing signs were posted outside. Most of us don’t think about the individual lives of those behind those barriers. But I believe God was showing me that He had not forsaken these prisoners. That those who turn to Him are no longer in prisons of hopelessness. Those who Turn to the Lord in Prison, have miraculously become Prisoners of Promise, God’s Promise. 

There are other kinds of prisons, not just buildings. Some struggle with mental disorders, like my social-anxiety disorder. Some are sick and confined in bed or wheelchairs, unable to get around as they would like. Some people feel confined to a job they don’t like very much, or a relationship that is incredibly difficult. I believe all of these things can make us feel imprisoned sometimes. But God promises to be with us and transform us into His Prisoners of Promise, never leaving or forsaking us. 

For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. 
(2 Corinthians 1:20-22) 

We can rest in His promises and trust His love and care. God is with us in our difficulties, struggles and failures. He promises to work all things together for our good and His Glory (Romans 8:28). He is faithful. Turn to Him and yield these difficult places in your life to the Only One who can really change us and our difficulties, Turn to the Lord and see how blessed it is to be His Prisoner of Promise. 

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Sacred Moments

By: Carole L. Haines 

 “All the earth will worship You, 
And will sing praises to You; 
They will sing praises to Your name.” Selah. 

 Come and see the works of God, 
Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men. 

Psalm 66:4-5 

God fills our lives with Sacred Moments, moments where He breaks in upon our ordinariness and makes His Presence and Beauty known. I witnessed a sacred moment yesterday. I am a Pre-K teacher and was in the classroom with my children as usual. They asked to play with the music basket. This basket is filled with streamers and little drums, shakers and bells, etc. I put some Christian Music on for them from a VBS that occurred several Summers ago. They proceeded to dance and play, twirling their ribbons as the music played, “Rescue me.” 
One child, who is taking dance classes, began to whirl and move with the streamers with such grace. The other girls followed in turn. Soon I had what seemed to be a time of Sacred Dance happening right in my classroom. It was so beautiful. Time just seemed to stand still as I listened to the words of the song and watched them whirl and dance. They asked to play it again, so I did. It was truly a Sacred Moment of His Grace. 

God is continually breaking in upon our Ordinary lives with moments of His Grace, Presence and Beauty. Are we watching for them? Whether it’s a Monarch butterfly wafting down upon a playground full of fascinated children; or catching the scent of lilac on the wind. It can be a smile from a stranger, a Verse from the Scriptures, a Song on the Radio. God is speaking to us in the ordinary times, making them extraordinary simply by His Presence. Watch for Him, Listen for Him. Wait for Him to bring you Sacred Moments. 

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The Ruler of my Heart 

Chincoteague 151

Guest Blog by: Bruce Nevin Haines 

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:15-17) 

Joy and peace are stolen from me to some degree, every day. Emotions of anxiety, hurt, betrayal, and insignificance, take up the space where peace and joy should live. My method of Overcoming has been to ignore them and view them as a passing storm. Moments of peace and joy do come, but they are interrupted by circumstances that I let take control and dictate what I feel. Circumstances and relationships, both past and present, divert my attention…and I let that happen. 

Viewing them as a passing storm may be a good first step but I need to follow through. I need to immediately fill the empty space with God’s Word, His promises, and His comfort. For God’s peace to rule in my heart, His Word must be present. It is a declaration of who the Ruler of My Heart should be. The word, RULE, in the above Scripture, means, referee, or umpireHere is a quote from the book, Sparkling Gems from the Greek, by Rick Renner. 

The Peace of God can work as an umpire or referee in our hearts, minds, and emotions.” 

Help me, Lord, to let go of the hurt, anxiety, and weariness, so that I can fill the space with the peace that is woven into Your promises. In this way, all other emotions are held in check by Your peace and will not rule my heart. That authority I yield to You. 

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Trying to keep it away from myself 

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By: Carole L. Haines 

Our cat, Ponyo, was batting the newest member of our cat-toy gallery around the floor this morning. It’s hysterical to watch. My husband said to her, “Ponyo, it looks like you’re trying to play a game of trying to keep it away from myself. You play with it a while, then you throw it away, then you go after it again.” 

Now isn’t that just like our habitual sins? We play with them awhile, we try, in our own strength, to throw them away. Then we tend to pick them back up again. Or as some people say, slowly slide back into them.  We cannot conquer our hang-ups, sins, and bad habits in our own strength. 

 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (Romans 7:15) 

The topic line for this Passage of Scripture is The Conflict between The Two Natures. We’ve all felt that conflict, that pulls toward what’s not good for us.  I love how this conflict is described in the Book of James 

But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (James 1:14-15) 

1) Carried Away by temptation 

2) Enticed by his own lust 

3) Lust is conceived 

4) It gives birth to sin 

5) Sin brings forth death  

Sin, habits, hang-ups, call it what you will. It’s at least a five-step process. It begins in our thoughts. We think about sinful things. This is where true change must begin. We must learn to replace our thoughts with the Wonderful truth of God’s Word. Those of you who know my story, know I have had to build a whole new mind on the Word of God. My tendency toward anxiety and depression nearly crushed my soul. But God’s Word has, is, and will continue to make me new. If transformation does not begin with the Spirit of God’s power through His Word, it is usually only behavior modification. Behavior modification is humanly based and will not be lasting.  We need God’s transformational Word and Power, beginning with our thought life. Let’s be transformed from life to life, from glory to glory, from where we are to who He sees us to be in Christ. 

Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2) 

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