Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Gorgeous Photos from 4x4ing and Hikes

Hiking Higher

Hiking Higher
Jagged mountains
Cutting the horizon
Cold crystals caught
On all their pointy peaks

Alive azure skies
Broken only by
Wind waved bristlecone branches
As we hike higher and higher

Lord, Your hand
Is upon this wilderness
And resting on us
Your mightily blessed

May we never forget
What you have
Brought us from
And released us to.

And we praise You
As we lift Your name
Higher than jagged peaks
Up unto the heavens.
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

What Does God's Word Say? Taking Difficult Stands

What Does God's Word Say? Taking Difficult Stands

WHAT is the matter with that child? He is running straight for the fireplace with his arms out like he wants to embrace the flames... well, after some blisters he will learn, won't he?
Oh, no, there is my friend, running to catch the bus but she doesn't see the car turning the corner right in her pathway. Boy, after spending some time in the hospital maybe she will learn to look both ways.....

Is that what a parent, friend or the Creator of the Universe would think? Doubtful that anyone who professed to love or care would react that way in the situations above. God spent a lot of time and effort inspiring numerous authors over countless years to write His Word, the Bible. Why? Because He knew we would need His input and guidance written down. He loved us enough to do it for us. He loved us enough to send His Son, Jesus, to die on our behalf and pay the penalty none of us could pay.

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (NKJV)

If we truly love someone, we will be caring enough to share the truth of God's Word with them, right? Even if it is not considered politically correct, even if it means taking a stand instead of smiling politely or saying "sure, I will pray for that..." when we know it doesn't line up with God's Word.

For example, a friend might be asking you to pray for him to get married. He is currently dating someone who is an atheist - doesn't really believe in God at all. This friend professes to be a Christian.  Let's call our friend Pete. Pete wants you to pray that God will allow him to marry Sue. Actually, they plan to move in together next month... What is your response? Do you ask for a wedding invitation or a shower plan since they are living together first? Or do you pray and take a deep breath and share the truth of God's Word with them, BECAUSE you love them?

1 Corinthians 6:9-11New King James Version (NKJV)
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

And regarding prayer, God is not a genie in a bottle, is He? We don't simply go to Him with our wish list... especially if we are not walking with Him.

Psalm 66:18
If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. (Doesn't this mean if I am living in sin and choosing sin on a regular basis that my actions have stopped up God's ears.... repentance is needed here to reestablish open communication with god)
How loving would it be to smile or, worse yet, say "I will pray with you!", when you know what your friend or family member is planning or already will get them hurt even worse that being hit by a car?

Why is it not in their best interest to put their request on the prayer chain? Because what they are talking about doing is in direct opposition to God's loving guidelines.
Psalm 139 New King James Version (NKJV)

God’s Perfect Knowledge of Man
For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
139 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

Does the above passage sound like God loves you and knows you? He wants the very best for each of us - even if we don't see it that way at the time. Who knows the end from the beginning? Not you, not me but rather God.

SO, perhaps next time my unbelieving friend wants me to pray about them getting into a relationship that is really, well, fornication, I will have a couple choices... immediately put their request on the prayer chain, gently but surely explain that God had a better plan for them and share His Word or smile and say/do nothing.

There is nothing new under the sun. So those who say culture has changed, times are different need to realize this:
Ecclesiastes 1:9
That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.
Sin (our choices which break God's heart and separate us from Him) is still sin. We have a choice to sow good or evil into our own lives. We do not "earn" our salvation by works. We don't need Jesus death on the cross AND _______________. Fill in the blank here... When HE said it is finished, He meant just that.

Hebrews 7:25-27New King James Version (NKJV)
25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
John 19:28-30New King James Version (NKJV)

It Is Finished
28 After this, Jesus, knowingthat all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Time is so short. We all have loved ones who have never been "born again".

John 3:7
Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
What to do? Do we let them run with their arms extended straight for the fireplace and the fire? Or do we "share the truth in love"?

Ephesians 4:11-15New King James Version (NKJV)
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

We are the watchmen of this day.
Ezekiel 33:6
But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’
I am asking myself this final question: if the church doesn't look like Jesus ( and part of looking like Him, I think, is sharing His truth in love) then who will show Him to our world?

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved - use giving proper credit only.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Does Jesus Know You Best?
When a voice makes the command “SIT” do you look around expecting to see a four legged friend with fur being obedient and placing his or her backside on the ground? Well, sometimes my Lord Jesus and His Holy Spirit know me and what it will take to get my attention even better than I know myself. Yes, He speaks to us in a “still, small voice” but sometimes His voice is strong and has a very commanding presence.
It was on one of those “commanding presence” days in which I seemed to hear Him say:
Sit. Bring your mind into captive concentration on my Word and your Jesus.

There is warfare going on and the spiritual enemies are everywhere and permeate the world BUT mighty is HE who overshadows all, has overcome and is yet to RETURN.

Be a disciplined soldier loved and encouraged as the child you are, SOON to see your FATHER and redeemer!!! Selah. Selah. Selah.
In Romans 8:7 the Word of God says that the sinful mind is hostile to God. It doesn’t submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
The above scripture should explain a lot. Looking around in our world today, that scripture seems to touch upon what we are seeing and sensing and going through each and every day of our lives.
A bit further on in Romans 12:2 we are given some really good instructions about not conforming any longer to the pattern of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
Do we need to be transformed? I think most of us would state a resounding YES to that question. One thing I think about too, if the renewing of our minds comes from reading God’s word what happens with other sources of information that we put into our minds. Other sources like less than encouraging “entertainment” perhaps TV, videos, books, conversations…… I get the mental image of a huge vacuum cleaner coming with those sources of stuff going in and sucking our spirits dry. Not a good image at all but think about it for a minute. Then I think about placing God’s Word from the Bible or an encouraging devotional in our minds and can see our spirits flourishing in Him.
1 Corinthians 14:15 poses the question and answers it “so what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.”
We aren’t just a “mind” and we aren’t just a “spirit” we are both surrounded by our earth suit or body. We can talk to God with our minds and our spirit. We can speak in our prayer language to God (“tongues of men and angels”) or even sing in tongues. We can communicate with the creator of the universe. Take time. Make time. He is the most important one you will speak to today.
Psalm 135:5
I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. (NIV)
We can be encouraged by 1 John 4:4 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (NIV)
The one who is in us would be Jesus in the presence of His Holy Spirit. Jesus has overcome the world!
2 Timothy 2:3  admonished us to endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. I have found over the years that my Jesus will not ask anything of me that He isn’t willing to equip me to do. Be encouraged as our Lord Jesus strengthens us to walk in Him in every step we will take today!
Prayer: Oh, Father God, please help us to be good soldiers.  Help us to be equipped by You to fight the battle in our minds and to pray always without ceasing in the Spirit and in our understanding, to grow up to be like our Jesus.  AMEN.
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved.




Monday, March 16, 2015

Why Do We Always Want to Be in the Driver’s Seat?

Why Do We Always Want to Be in the Driver’s Seat?
We were trying to buy the tiny lot to build our first home. The cost breakdown came in too high. My dad decided on a business proposition as he wanted to invest in land but not where he was living. He rarely ever helped in his children's finances but he offered here. We bought the lot and then more things came in "over budget". I was at the point where I thought it was never going to happen and the Lord laid this on my heart.

Cannot I control? I who bedecked the starry heavens in ornamental splendor? Cannot I work out the small details for one of my beloved child's heart's desires?

You may choose to REST in who I am or limp, encumbered for a time under the weight of cares you needn't assume in the first place. Is your loved one going to fail you? Did he? Neither will your Father in heaven.

Breathe in my peace. Fret not. I am working miracles of self revelation in your husband to encourage him, draw him and help him be sure. You allow him and I AM to take the responsibilities for your covering.

I have gone before you and the way is being prepared.

I love you with an unquenchable love and am acting out that love in your life, home and marriage for My glory.

Breathe in my peace, receive.

Daughter I am your beloved, your redeemer, your ways and means preparer. Know with a certainty you have no need to doubt but enjoy this time as it unfolds for you. Be lifted up now.

We built the house and had much fun (and "blood, sweat and tears" equity) and 4 years later sold it and got completely out of debt, then built another. God is good!
In Genesis 50:21 the bible encourages us to not be afraid saying God will provide for us and our little ones, going on to say that he spoke kindly to them and comforted them. I think this might apply to us ever today.
In John 14:27 Jesus is speaking of the peace he gives to us, not as the world gives but Jesus peace. I have found that it rises above the world the cares thereof. The Lord goes on to say to let not our hearts be troubled or afraid.
Do we trust Him enough to believe these scriptures and allow the Lord to actually drive the car? Do we trust Him to get us to our appointed destination, the best one we could ever arrive at? Can we trust Him enough to turn over control to Him, the one who made us? If we can’t trust the Lord Jesus then who can we trust?
Prayer: Dearest Lord Jesus, help us to remember, moment by moment, who is able to guide, direct and lead us right where we are supposed to be. The wisdom of the world is foolishness. Help us to follow hard after You, the best shepherd we could ever hope to have! AMEN
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with with proper credits.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

WHO is this God?

WHO is this God?
I have found that God IS NOT who I thought HE was (in my head) HE was not made up in the image I dreamed up... HE was and is who HE said HE is in His Word to us, the Bible. Who else would have known WAY before Columbus sailed (and they thought would sail off the FLAT earth?) that the earth was a sphere... many scriptures in various books indicate this knowledge ' "as far as the east is from the west..." indicated a knowledge of the earth on its axis... if you travel north, pretty soon you are going south... totally different with east - you just keep going east and never come to the west... His word speaks of the "circle of the earth..." and other such references to show that HE is someone who KNEW even hundreds of years before our best scientists figured it out....
SO, why would we choose to believe HE is not who HE says HE is in His Word? Because if HE is that God then we need to believe what HE inspired to be written... I had a huge problem with that back in my atheist years - I wanted to do it MY way and didn't want to listen to someone else. I drew my own lines in the sand - "I will do this and NOT that..." but somehow I always managed to step on or over my own, self imposed boundaries...
Later, after crying out for forgiveness, I realized that all God did was because HE loved me so much. Not because he didn't care or was arbitrary or trying to keep me from being who I was.... HE knit me together in my mother's womb - who better would know what would fulfill me - HE knew the plans HE had for me from the beginning, while I bumbled and stumbled around making a real mess of my life.
I thank Him for His patience, and for His Word which is there to help and teach us if we will only yield.
How can we not but tell.... we have the keys to the kingdom because of Jesus - who died and rose again to set us captives FREE.
We simply cannot sit and hush when there is such a great gift available for the asking. We have ALL broken His heart. We can ALL ask for His forgiveness and be made new.
Wow, what a most incredible God...
(C) Marijo Phelps. All rights reserved.


Whose Child Are You
We might not get to pick our earthly parents. I don’t know anyone who has had that privilege actually. But we can pick our heavenly Father to be ours for time and eternity. The question becomes would we pick a Father who was the creator of the universe? Would we pick on who put the very stars in place and owns the cattle on a thousand hills? After thinking about those things a better question might be why wouldn’t we choose to call God our Father?
Pausing to be quiet before Him I can hear His still, small voice once again:
Child,I desire to say on to you, you ARE my child. You are surrounded by My mercy and My love – know that you are mine and I AM yours. Yield and draw neigh to my embrace. I AM that I AM – I came and died and conquered death so you might have abundant life. Don’t be half alive. Don’t be half dead but soar/rise up in Jesus’ name and strength and Spirit. He empowers you, yield. Selah.
In Song of Solomon 2:6 we are given the picture of God drawing us close with his left arm under our head and his right arm embracing me.
Our God is an intimate and loving God if we allow Him to be that for us.
In Isaiah 9:2 we are encouraged with comments about people walking in darkness who have seen a great light; on those living in the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Jesus is the light of the world and He can be your own personal light too, you have but to ask Him to forgive you and be your Lord! What an expensive and extravagant gift He has given to you and to me.
In John 10:10 we are told about the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy and then that Jesus has come so that we may have life and that more abundantly.
That shouldn’t be a difficult choice to make. Looking back I wonder that it took me so long to come to that conclusion.
Isaiah 40:31 speaks of those who hope in the Lord renewing their strength and soaring on wings like eagles, running and not growing weary, walking and not fainting.
Most of us could use a bit of extra strength on a daily basis. What a great promise to realize and hang onto.
Isaiah 40:29 speaks of God giving strength to the weary and increase power to the weak.
I could use more strength and power in my life – more of God’s strength and power and He promises to give it!
Prayer: Dear Lord, please help me to GET UP and begin spending quality time with You, to “draw neigh”, to hear Your voice. I miss You so!! Help me over rule my sleepy flesh. Please don’t let me be puny but let Jesus in me be strong! AMEN
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with  proper credits.



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Who Is Praiseworthy, He Who Calls Us “Friend”

Who Is Praiseworthy, He Who Calls Us “Friend”
What is praise? The dictionary says it is to put a price on, to comment the worth or express approval or admiration. to laud the glory of God. Why do we praise someone or something? Perhaps because we see and acknowledge someone greater than we are and want to give notice to Him. Awhile back I felt God nudging me, that little elbow, then the voice whispering to me heart, if I will listen:
You read Exodus for a purpose. I desire praise and worship. They always murmured and complained even in the midst of my miracles. Take heed to trust me with your praises always.
What an interesting thought, trusting God with our praises. In this day and age when the word “love” is tossed about so freely, “I love pizza”, “Oh, that dog is so cute, I just love him!” or “Don’t you just love that sit com?” How do we set apart something or Someone who we really think highly of? We might chose to believe them, take them at their word and act upon that belief.  We might even go so far as to verbally lift them up or exalt them. We might choose to praise their attributes, character or their very being.
In James 2:23 is mentioned that Abraham believed God, it was credited to him as righteousness and he was called a friend of God. Can you just imagine what it would mean to be called a “friend of God”, the very Creator of the Universe? He who wants to spend time with you on a regular basis, who wants you to get to know Him better and better, more and more.
The Bible poses a profound question “what is man that you are mindful of him?” God wants relationship with us, each of us. He literally counts the numbers of hairs on our heads. Before you laugh at that picture, please consider the detail that represents. If He is concerned with your numbers of hairs, or lack thereof, how much more is He concerned with your heart? Those things which matter to you matter even more to Him.
In Isaiah 41:8 it is said God has chosen Israel (Jacob) and mentions again Abraham His friend. To think of friendship with the immortal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Lord of all is almost incomprehensible. Yet, it doesn’t have to be. The Lord Jesus Christ is all about relationship. He is all about intimacy. He already knows you and every thought you think or ever will think so there is nothing to hide from Him. In spite of all of this He desires to spend time with you and me. Can you even begin to wrap your mind around that one?
If this doesn’t give you a reason to praise Him my prayer is that you will be set free to do so! He died on the cross for you and for me, a horrible death that only God could pay, the penalty for a sinner (that’s you and me). We owed a huge debt. I couldn’t pay it for you because I owed the same debt as you did. Jesus, Son of God, very God himself came to earth as a baby. He is fully god and fully man yet lived a sinless life as a man. He was not under that penalty of death as we all are. He could and did die in our place.
Have you done what it takes to accept that incredible sacrifice? All you need to do is talk to Him – tell Him you believe that He is God, that He died for you and ask Him to forgive you for your sins. We have all broken God’s heart with choices that were not good. Those choices are sin. We can be forgiven. We can be free and have relationship with Him. This most incredible gift is ours for the asking.
If you have never asked His forgiveness why not let today be that day? It will totally change you and your life for all eternity.
Psalm 47:6 speaks of singing praises to God, sing praises, sing praises to our King, sing praises. Ever wonder why the writer was so focused and, well, into praising? Because he knew the most incredible act of being forgiven, that’s why. If you never have asked, please, please let today be that most significant day, THE most significant day in your life.

Prayer: Lord God, it is a most high honor to be called "a friend of God". Help us to give you, freely, our praises and worship. Help us to remember to enter your gates with thanksgiving and into your courts with praise.  You alone are worthy of our praises and adoration. Forgive us our trespasses, we pray. AMEN
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

What is the Answer or Maybe We Should Ask Who?

What is the Answer or Maybe We Should Ask Who?
Questions that we ask over our lifetime, answers that we try to find, sometimes we think the quest is taking us in many, diverse directions. For me, many of those questions were answered when I met Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. If I get quiet before Him I can usually hear Him whispering to my heart of hearts. Following is one of the things He has whispered to me:
Fear not, for I am with you. You shall not always have an answer for your each and every circumstance because you KNOW and TRUST THE ANSWER, Jesus.

He has perfect understanding, relax in His wisdom. Do not badger yourself trying to know every facet of that which you are supposed to walk through in faith.

When a child's hand is in the Father's his is to go rejoicing, not questioning every turn and corner. Curiosity is ok but figuring or analyzing so you're "in charge' or "calling the shots" is only going to slow the journey and cause you pain.

My love and perfect plan for you is birthed out of great compassion and concern for your very best interest. Take my hand and we shall go forth victorious. Rely on my strength my child. I love you most dearly.
In 2 Corinthians 4:18 we are encouraged to fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. What is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal. This scripture is a mind boggler. How can we look at what we cannot see. Yet, when we focus on that how can we not “see”?
In Isaiah 25:1 the prophet is lifting up his Lord and God saying he will praise God and exalt His name, in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago. One look at the evening sky here in the mountains confirms that. One look at the life I used to lead definitely underscores the mercy and love of God.
I Chronicles 16:11 encourages us to “look” to the Lord and His strength, seek His face always. Can we see Him with our eyes. Not yet, but we are anticipating and waiting that very day!
Prayer: Ah, Lord, looks like I am retaking a test again to lean on Your strength, dare to believe and hold on to only You and realize that I don’t have to have each little answer if I know and trust in You.  HELP?  AMEN
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.



Sunday, March 1, 2015

God’s Presence is Present With Us

God’s Presence is Present With Us
Do you have those days when you wonder “where is God in all of this?” those times when things seem to be falling down around your ears? He really is there. Maybe you can’t sense His presence for one reason or another but His Word promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us. HE is SO faithful and we, we are “but dust”. Sometimes I think maybe I should do more spring cleaning of my spirit, know what I mean?

Daughter, some days what I would impart to you is not profound or pertinent to KNOWLEDGE, rather that I AM with you always.
In Colossians 1:27 the Bible says that Christ is in us (those who have asked Him to be their Lord and Savior) and that is the hope of glory. What a promise, I think it is also a glorious hope too!
Matthew 28:20 is Jesus speaking and teaching and promising he will be with us always, even to the end of the age.
The Lord doesn’t give us a life of ease and no troubles but he promises to walk through it all with us, right by our side. He is our strong champion. Sometimes when the going is too rough He will pick us up and hold us close to Him and carry us. These are the times of the proverbial “one set of footprints” that we have all experienced. Thank you, Lord, for those times when we are too battle weary to even hobble that you pick us up, hold us tightly to your chest and carry us onward.
Psalms 23:4 speaks of walking through the valley of the shadow of death and fearing no evil because God is there with the writer. What a promise for us even today!
Prayer: Dear God, to have you with us always, there is nothing more we could ask or desire and we praise You! We thank you for those times when our weakness is so weak for then your strength can be tested and proven to be perfect for us in that very moment. AMEN
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.