A Grateful Heart Mimics Jesus

A Grateful Heart Mimics Jesus

By Machelle McDowell

Jeremiah 32:19

“Great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve”. 

My friend Denise has taught me the true meaning of counting my blessings and being grateful. She gets up every morning and counts her blessings one by one. How do I know this, because It is evident in her lifestyle! 

You see, Many days she is basically confined to her home as she cares for her “special needs” son. He physically depends on her for all of his basic needs. It is difficult for her to transport him outside of their home which means she gives a new definition to a stay home mom. 

It is a treat for her to be able to go out and have her hair done or do a little shopping. To spend time with a friend over a cup of coffee is rare and far between for this sweet lady. She never complains. She always has a smile on her face and joy in her heart.

Our purpose in life is the very meaning of our existence and without knowing this we often painfully miss out on our own significance. 

We sometimes are guilty of getting caught up in the lie that our lives don't matter and we have no connection or impact on the world around us. 

The message that this precious lady heralds from within the walls of her home on a daily basis speak louder than any message we might hear from a podium or a podcast. 

Her conduct is selfless, sacrificial, and saintly. She embraces her plot in life as the greatest gift God could have given her. God assigned her to be, “special.” She is gifted to fulfill special needs of her son. God designed in her all of the right attributes to be given such an honor. Sound familiar?

We all know someone like this…. His name is Jesus!

Denise exemplifies Jesus and is fueled by a heart of gratitude and thankfulness. When we look for things to be grateful and thankful for each day, we will find them!  Overtime this type of behavior will change our mindset and how we look at the world. 

We will become a more positive person and be far less self-centered. She lives life the way Jesus instructs us to live! 

I Thess 5:18- Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

She counts this season of her life as blessed. Do we? Or do we spend the majority of our time focusing on our woes?  She finds joy in each day and brings new meaning to the song, “Count your blessings.” Name them one by one. Count your many blessings!

I want to challenge you today! Look around for the blessings that God has placed in your path today. You will not have to look far. You will find them, I promise!

Exhibit a grateful and thankful heart and it will change your outlook and the outlook of those around you. It changed mine!

Follow The Leader

Be careful who you follow!

Be careful who you follow!

Are you walking in the right direction?

By Machelle McDowell

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it, when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left”. - Isaiah 30:21

 I pulled out of my driveway this morning and headed down our street on my way to work only to realize everything looked blurry and I couldn’t see clearly!

It only took me moments to realize I had failed to put in my contacts nor did I have my glasses on! I was definitely going to be directionally challenged if I didn’t go back and better prepare for my day! 

How many times do we leave out in the early morning hours not having a clear direction for our day because we failed to use our spiritual eyes and ears to guide us down the path that God has ordained us to travel?

Proverbs 16:9 instructs us that, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” 

Being in God’s word in the mornings is such a blessing to me and serves as a roadmap not only for my day, but my life! 

Seeing God’s word,hearing his voice, and letting my heart dwell on Him empowers me for whatever the day may hold. 

As children we played a game called, “Follow the Leader,” most times than not the things that the leader had us to do were fairly easy… But when the things began to become harder we didn’t wanna play anymore. Isn’t that true of our Christian walk?

What does it look like to follow the Leader? Jesus said pick up your cross and follow me. 

Sometimes the road we travel is not easy! We encounter bumps along the way and sometimes we head in the wrong direction altogether. It Feels like we are living in a blur! There’s nothing worse than feeling lost! 

We cannot possibly carry our cross and follow Christ if we don’t even know what that actually means? If we have no sense of spiritual direction.

 It is hard to follow a road that you cannot see clearly. We must study the roadmap! But, not only must we study….We must follow it! 

If I am taking a road trip and I have studied the map backwards and forwards, but I decide to take another route anyway, it is not going to end well for me! 

I think sometimes as Christians we have the studying part down, but we’re not too good at the following part. It is hard to follow a road that you cannot see clearly. And in order to see clearly  The road God has prepared for us to travel, we must take what we know and apply it to our life. 

It is probably safe for me to say that I have completed over 100 Bible studies in my lifetime. But, if I never apply any of it to my daily life, what good is it? What have I gained other than a head knowledge? 

Are you tired of  walking with Christ in a blur? Not having a clear vision as to His directions for your life. Do you want to hear God say,  “This is the way walk in it?”

See through the eyes of Jesus! Listen for His voice! Let your heart be in the rhythm of His! Be careful who you follow. Seek a clear direction.

Apply the knowledge you have learned from his word and let the holy spirit be your road map. Let him show you the direction daily that God has purposed for you.

How Should A Christian Vote for the Governor? or President?


Don’t you wish God made it more clear how you should vote?  Here are some biblical principles to consider before, during, and after you cast your ballot for Governor next week…and for the President next year.

Prayerfully.  Pray more, politick less.  Our nation and state are divided greatly with polarizing views between political parties.  What is a Christian to do?  Pray first.  Pray continually.  Pray consistently.  Pray equally for those leaders you agree with and also for those with whom you disagree.

1 Timothy 2:1–2 "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (ESV)

Biblically. The Bible has a lot to say about Biblical issues.  God cares about the poor, immigrants, marriage, dignity of life at all stages (including unborn babies, terminally ill, and elderly), racial equity, religious liberty, sexual ethics, war, economics, international relations, women’s rights, children’s rights, education, housing, and criminal justice.

Which politicians, if any, model a genuine trust in Jesus?  Which party’s policies and platforms are most in line with God’s plan for humanity?  These questions are important in clarifying how to vote in complicated and contentious times.  Know what God says before you vote.

1 Samuel 12:14–15 “If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well. But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king.”

Privately.  Why advertise your vote?  Is pride tied to your partisan politics?  Do you honestly think that your social media posts make people change their votes?  Would you change your vote or position because of someone else’s yard sign, t-shirt, bumpersticker, hat, or social media post?

Many Christians have done great damage to their Christian witness through political bias, pride, snarkiness, mockery, and endorsement of ungodly characters.  Go private with your political persuasions during this polarized season.

Proverbs 10:19 “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”

Wisely. Are you willing to reconsider your vote?  Would you reevaluate your opinions? Have you listened closely and considered the positions of all sides?  Do you understand the perspectives of those with a different political persuasion?  Do your homework before you cast your ballot and don’t just trust the sound bites and media moments.

Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

Selflessly.  Do you vote only for what is in your best interest and agenda?  Or are you voting in the best interest of the common good? Vote in a way that benefits and prioritizes others more than yourself.

Philippians 2:3–4 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Humbly & Respectfully. Your vote is important, but what changes a nation ultimately is the Gospel.  Are you more passionate and public about your politics or about your Jesus?  Do you put more hope in the next election cycle than you do in Jesus’ return?

Godly Christians often feel led to vote in different ways.  Some may vote Republican.  Others feel led to vote Democrat.  Still others choose to vote for a third party candidate that might never win.  Others Christians may feel called not to vote at all.  You may be right in the choice you make, but then again, you could be wrong.  Be humble.

People will view issues differently than you.  Be kind.  Friends, family, coworkers and neighbors will vote differently than you.  That’s their prerogative, stay calm. Don’t let discussions devolve into arguments.  Know where you stand but be respectful towards others.

Romans 14:1 “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.”

May these truths and principles guide us into, through, and beyond this election season.

Is it possible for a Christian to lose salvation?

The short answer is “no.”  The deeper answers are found in understanding what God describes (through the Bible) as true salvation, how we can understand if we have been truly saved, and what biblical assurance and perseverance means.  Unfortunately, many of us have witnessed people who claim to be Christians but their lives and beliefs do not agree with God’s Word or they eventually “fall away” publicly from their previous confession of Christ.

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?— unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV)

We are each called to examine the genuineness of our faith.  True believers confess with their mouths publicly that inwardly they love, treasure and trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior, believing that Jesus is the Son of God and died on the cross and was resurrected from the grave (Romans 10:9-10).  When God justifies us by faith in Jesus, He gives us His Holy Spirit within us (Ephesians 1:13-14) that outwardly evidences the inward reality of a new, saved heart through the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:16-24).

More here on how to become a Christian and how to be sure you are a Christian:

“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16

God wants us to keep watch on ourselves the teachings we receive and give to ensure a right understanding of who He is and His Gospel plan.  Once we are truly saved (justified), God continues His salvation through a process of change within us (sanctification), that continues until we meet Him in Heaven (glorification).  God promises that His children are no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1), can never be separated from His love (Romans 8:31-39), and will never be put to shame (Romans 9:33).  God assures true converts that He keeps them in the faith (Jude 1:24-25) , finishes His saving work within us (Philippians 1:6), and promises their future resurrection (Romans 6:5) .

1 John is a great book to read that distinguishes true belief from false belief.  It is written to encourage Christians to know and have confidence in the genuineness of their salvation (1 John 5:13).  1 John also shows in various ways that there are others who have publicly claimed to be Christians, but evidence lostness through their words and actions.  Jesus’ parable of the soils is another place to see where there are some who have initially seemed to respond to the Gospel that eventual wither away or are choked out, evidencing their lostness by their fruitlessness (Luke 8:9-15).

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” 1 John 2:19

More verses on biblical assurance here: http://www.trustworthyword.com/assurance and perseverance here: http://www.trustworthyword.com/perseverance 

Although true Christians will go through highs and lows, stumbling at various places in life, they will endure in their faith, preserving to the end in an evident way of increasing fruitfulness through God’s Spirit within them.  If you are struggling with your own salvation, I encourage you to study these Scriptures to either confirm your faith or to expose your need to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  If you are asking this question out of concern for a friend or family member I encourage you to pray for God to open their heart to salvation and to use you to share His truth and show His love.

“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:13

“This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” 1 Timothy 1:18-20 (ESV)

“This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” 1 Timothy 1:18-20 (ESV)

Bitterness And Its Minions

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How Can I Escape a Bitter Root?

By Machelle McDowell

Does a bitter root have you enslaved? Where there is bitterness there is no room for forgiveness.Hebrews 12:15- See to it that no one feels to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” Springs up and causes trouble and by it many become defiled.

What is this verse saying to us? If bitterness takes root in our hearts and remains, it breeds contamination of our thoughts, deeds, actions, and attitudes. Our spirit is affected! It is like taking a pure glass of water and pouring ammonia into it. It becomes contaminated and not healthy for drinking. 

The living water that resides within the Christian cannot move freely if bitterness is present. The vessel becomes tainted. Bitterness seeps throughout our entire being. It takes on a mind of its own and invites its friends; resentment, anger, pride, and even hate.

How can forgiveness have a chance to filter out such contaminants in an environment of defilement?

Bitterness comes between us and God, therefore becoming an idol! Wow! This is much more serious than we realize.

The spirit must pass through our inward parts. This monster of bitterness that takes residence in our bodies begins to affect our testimony, our personality, and our relationships. Whoa! Pump the brakes! This thing is a snowball that leads to an avalanche of despair that can be stopped!

How to stop the bitterness in one proven step!

Begin to pray for the person that has embittered you! Taking this step is hard, but needed if healing is to take place. If we cannot bring this person’s name before our Holy God and allow Jesus to do the work of healing the relationship… We have a deeper issue. This is the hardest step to take but the most empowering and healing for both parties!

It is impossible to hold a grudge against someone you are praying for every day. 

Take a step further and ask God to turn the bitterness you feel into love for that person. You may feel that is undeserved. We didn’t deserve that kind of love either, did we? Jesus models this forgiveness on the cross!

This is the key that unlocks the prison doors that we have placed ourselves in under the guard of bitterness!

Jonah experienced this kind of bitterness against the Ninevites. In his heart of hearts he could not forgive the Ninevites! He was sure the consequences of their sin would bring demise from our Lord, but to his surprise God loved the Ninevites back into His good graces because of their repentant hearts. 

The Bible never mentions Jonah experiencing forgiveness for the Ninevites nor towards the Lord for the forgiveness shown to the Ninevites. This is a sad legacy to be remembered for.

Bitterness leaves you feeling out of control; so take back control by laying it at the feet of Jesus!  We must be willing to forgive. We forgive because we’ve been forgiven much. 

We don’t have the capability of forgiving others on our own, but God can empower us. Philippians 4:13 shares that promise, “I can do all things through Christ,”  Pray until you feel God melting away the bitterness you have against someone. Lay the bitterness aside so that the gift of forgiveness through the power of Jesus Christ can bring healing.

Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it.

Bitterness sours life; love sweetens it.

Bitterness paralyzes life; love empowers it.
Bitterness sickens life; love heals it.

Bitterness blinds life; love anoints its eyes.

Harry Emerson Fosdick

What Makes A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood?

 What makes a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood?… Children! 

By Machelle McDowell

“ A heart that beats in rhythm with a child is one that captures the essence of God‘s love for kids.”

We as parents, grandparents, and educators, sometimes do not appreciate the value of children we have been rewarded the privilege of sharing the neighborhoods of our lives with. Psalm 127:3 reiterates that children are a valued reward

Do we see them as such? I realize some children may not seem like a reward and appear to be everything but. This is not true in God’s eyes. We must see all children through the eyes of Jesus.

God shows us his deep love and respect for children in Psalm 139. The writer points out that God formed our inward parts; and knitted us together in our mother’s  womb. We are wonderfully made. His eyes saw our unformed substance; in His book was written every one of them, the days that were formed for us.

God gives us children as a gift, not a burden. They are a heritage from God, created in his likeness! No wonder Jesus himself declared, “For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” He in essence is instructing us to Steward  them well.

What an example of Jesus’ love for children than the host of the television series for 33 years, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood! 

Fred Rogers was the epitome of demonstrating a heart for children. He recognized the worth of a child in a manner that led him on a lifelong journey loving and respecting children as a valued part of society. A  lesson we can all learn from.

When I think of Fred Rogers, I can envision Jesus himself wearing one of the 25 hand knitted long sleeve sweaters that Mr. Rogers wore on each episode as he welcomed his audience into a safe haven where children could be themselves. Mr Rogers reflected the same love and warmth that fills our souls when we speak of the name of Jesus.

I can just imagine his kind gentle voice quoting Matthew 19:14, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Fred Rogers believed this scripture! He modeled it!

Every episode of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was filled with the presence of a sweet spirit that welcomed all children no matter what the issue discussed. They would learn;

  • It is OK to feel our emotions and talk about them.

  • It is OK to make mistakes; we learn from them and tomorrow is a new day.

  • It is OK that you were not perfect, but God takes our imperfections and mold them into something beautiful for His glory.

Children have an uncanny ability to see through the motivations of adults. They can read us better than we read ourselves. If we don’t take the time to be personal and relational with our children, grandchildren, or students, we have missed out on the very blessing God has bestowed upon us!

Sometimes, it appears we treat our children, grandchildren, or students, like an inheritance of an invaluable heirloom. We leave them sitting on a shelf only recognizing them when they make us feel good or gives us a sense of pride. We don’t appreciate them as much when they needs a little dusting or a little TLC.

Parents! Grandparents! Educators! I feel, our job is one of the most important God-given responsibilities ever created. We have been given a reward.

How we relate to children in the early years of their lives can change the trajectory of who they become as adults. They need to be listened to and given an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas. God has designed them that way. Jesus beckoned the children to come to Him in Matt 19:4. Be proud of the reward we have received.

Fred Rogers demonstrated a sweet Godly spirit that welcomed children into each episode and at the end of the program they would leave a better human being than when they entered.

That is my challenge for us today: let’s help our kiddos enter this world knowing they are loved, respected and hold a special place in the neighborhoods of our hearts! Let’s help mold them to become disciples of Christ that they may exit the same world a better human being because of it!

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood when we treat our children like a reward!

Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red, yellow, black, and white

They are precious in his sight


Be A Storehouse of Blessings


By Machelle McDowell

What are you harvesting this Fall?

Fall brings us into a new season of our lives. We leave behind Summer and hotter temperatures, t-shirts, baseball, and cook-outs, only to be replaced with cooler air, sweaters, football, and bonfires!

We transition into a new phase of life!

We begin to see a noticeable change in our surroundings. The green line of trees that capture my attention as I look out my kitchen window is now dotted with a burst of color in random places. 

If we are honest, our pasts are quite colorful as the autumn leaves appearing on our trees right now. Unfortunately, not as pretty. Most of us are quite ready for a new season to burst forth and bring about a change. 

God shares a horn of plenty when it comes to good things for those who love Him, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

Paul speaks of this in Romans 8. He also speaks of how we cannot live to please God by pleasing our fleshly desires. He goes as far to say that when our minds are set on the flesh, it leads to death, but if our minds are set on pleasing God it leads to life and peace. Romans 8:1- There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. What a truth to rely on as we head into a new era of our lives.

This time of year brings about harvest for our farmers! A farmer loves this season. Why? It is one in which they witness the fruit of their labor. As Christians our harvest should be that of love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These characteristics bear witness to the fruit of a Godly harvest. 

Unfortunately, we don’t witness these things abundantly in the storehouses of our hearts. Instead we find an over abundance of anger, bitterness, resentment, depression, jealousy, selfishness, conceit, and pride. These rotten fruits prevent us from from being who God has called us to be and from plowing the world in search of the lost soul in need of harvest. We must weed them out of our lives! They are toxic.

Harvesting is the most labor intense activity of the growing season! Producing good fruit in our lives takes work! Living our lives in a way that is pleasing to God will reap a cornucopia of good things in our hearts and minds. 

The beauty of a spiritual harvest is that it just doesn’t take place in the Fall of the year! This is an everyday experience for the Christian. John 4:35 instructs us to open our eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest! The world is filled with lost souls in need of the Savior! 

The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Let us begin this new season in our lives focusing on weeding out the thistles that keep us from being a laborer that fills God’s storehouse! 

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”  Robert Stevenson

Songs From the Soul


Songs From the Soul

By Machelle McDowell

“Music drives away the devil and makes people happy”

Martin Luther King

We find in the book of Psalms one of the greatest biblical leaders and a man after God’s own heart whose love for music gave birth to one of the most referenced writings in the Bible, David.

As did David, music has a way of piercing into the deepest  parts of our souls.. It helps us to express ourselves and respond to God in a way that is pleasing to his ears and brings glory to his name, even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket! 

There are over 1000 verses in the Bible that reference music and the power of song. Singing about  the precious name of Jesus sears the very ears of the enemy who prowls around like a lion in attempt to defeat God’s people. 

The power that comes from the soul through a song can defeat armies! Really

Check out 2 Chronicles 20:21! God placed singers in the front line of a battle! We find in this chapter, King Jehoshaphat places singers, (not soldiers), charging the front line with songs of victory! Prior, God assured Jehoshaphat the victory was already won! 

So, Jehoshaphat charges the enemy with songs of Thanksgiving. God gives us spiritual songs as an effective tool to use against the enemy.

Ephesians 5:19- Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Your battles may not be like the armies that came against Jehoshaphat. Your attackers may be in the form of anger, depression, loneliness, addictions, fear, and on and on! 

Put a song of praise and worship in the forefront of your mind and in the depths of your heart. And when these attackers come against you... begin to sing!! 

Allow the Holy Spirit to heal your heart and mind with the anointed words that the spirit brings forth from the depths of your soul through hymns of worship!

Need more proof? Paul and Silas are found in the book of Acts16:24-26. 

They have been severely beaten and thrown into prison. About midnight they were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly, there was a great earthquake and the doors of the prison was opened and everyone’s bonds  were unfastened! The jailer found Jesus that night! 

Gods spirit was present in that singing that night! That singing wooed the heart of the jailer into the very presence of our Father!! 

“Then sings my soul, my savior God to thee, how great thou art, how great thou art!”