Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ready to serve

"A vessel for honor, 
sanctified and useful for the Master, 
prepared for every good work"
2 Timothy 2:21

I got a set of mugs for Christmas this year.  Six of them.  Red.  They were a gift from a wonderful friend at church.  She gives me a gift every year, and I never know what to expect.  If I go to buy a gift for someone, I generally try to have an idea of something they want or need.  If I don't know, I might ask them what they'd like, or ask someone close to them if they have an idea what they might want.

But this friend doesn't do that.  I guess she just goes shopping, and sees something she thinks I might like, or something that looks like my style.

The present was heavy, and I couldn't imagine what was inside it, and certainly didn't expect a set of mugs.  They're a beautiful shade of red, but they are larger than your standard coffee mug.  I tried once to have hot chocolate in one of them, but it's more than a regular serving, so it was too much.  But when I had a serving of soup in one, and it was perfect.  

So now we use the mugs for soups and chili; just the other night it was raining and we had a fire going, and we had soup while watching a movie.  And those red mugs were perfect.  Since we were watching a movie, we weren't sitting at the table, and soup that's in a bowl on your lap is a balancing act.  But these mugs are taller and deeper than bowls, so it's much harder to spill.  And they have handles, so it's easier to hold without burning your hand.  And because of the thick material they are made out of, and the fact that they are deep, whatever's in them stays hot longer than it would in a bowl.  Not to mention, you can use a spoon to eat the veggies in the soup, and then when those are gone, it's a cinch to just put down the spoon, and drink the broth right from the mug. 

And I can't believe I ever lived without those mugs.  I've used them two or three times a week ever since Christmas.  I rearranged my cupboards to put these in a handy place, and rarely are all six clean at one time!  They are so basic, but so useful.  They are not ornate ~ no floral patterns, no gold trim ~ they are not "beautiful" in the sense that you'd consider dishes to be ~ nothing delicate or fancy.  But they are solid and strong and useful.

This is what God wants of us.  Simple.  Useful.  Strong.   An expensive tea cup has to handled carefully or it might get broken, so it gets used only occasionally.  We can't be so sensitive in difficult situations that He's unable to use us for His work.   This is my prayer ~ that He will find me faithful, and useful.

~ "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, 
that the excellence of the power 
   may be of God and not of us" ~
2 Corinthians 4:7

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's in a name.

"I AM"
Exodus 3:14

I've been doing a short-term Bible study at church the past few weeks.  We are studying the different names of God, such as "Elohim," and "Adonai".  I generally refer to Him as "God", "Lord" or "Father" but the Bible has many other ways of referring to Him.  In Psalm 23:1, David said, "The Lord is my shepherd," and thus was born the name Jehovah-Rohi, "The Lord-my-Shepherd"

Our teacher pointed out a few weeks ago that many of God's names came not from Him, but from His children, such as David, realizing a characteristic of His.  Other examples include Abraham in Genesis 22 ~ Jehovah-Jireh, "The Lord will provide"; and Sarah in Genesis 16 ~ El-Roi, "The God who sees". 

I was intrigued by the realization that who God is goes hand-in-hand with what God is.  And I started thinking of other names He could be called; names that I could call Him, reflecting on His characteristics.  

The first one I thought of was complete.  He is perfect, lacking nothing.  He is all that I need.  Therefore He is Jehovah-Teleios.

He is understanding.  He knows me, all of me.  He understands why I think what I think, and why I do what I do.  Therefore He is Jehovah-Leb.

He is waiting.  He is not in a hurry; His timing is perfect.  He waits for His children to accept Him as Lord, and He expects us to wait on Him when His timing says, "not yet".  Therefore He is Jehovah-Qavah.

The older I get, the more I learn of Him; the more I understand Him.  But everything I've learned of Him gives me strength and faith to want to get to know Him more.  Praying His names to Him isn't for Him, it's for me.  It's realization and reminder and simple acknowledgement of His perfection, and how He loves me.
~ "I am the Alpha and the Omega" ~
Revelation 1:8

Monday, February 27, 2012

Here at the wall

"the sparrow has found a home"
Psalm 84:3


I know these pictures can be small, but can you tell what that is?  It's a wall.  And not a very well-built one.

Well, actually, I shouldn't say that.  It's well-built, in that it's still standing after many years, but it's sloppily done.  The mortar was not troweled as the wall was built, it was just left to ooze out between the bricks.  Now, years later, part of it has fallen off and there are a few holes in between bricks.  It's not very attractive.

Well, actually, I shouldn't say that.  It's aesthetically pleasing, in a historic way.  But it's not sleek and beautiful.  I would also not use the words "inviting" or "hospitable" to describe it.

And yet.... here's the whole picture:


My Awesome Girl took this picture when we were in San Antonio, Texas, last year.  This was near the Alamo.  So I don't know how old it is, but it could be as much as a hundred years.

It looked like the last place a bird would want to hang out, but there were dozens of them on that wall.  So clearly it held some appeal for them.  They found something they need there.  A perch.  Safety.  Height.  God provided for them, and they accepted the place He provided.


I've always loved the phrase "bloom where you're planted".  It's not Biblical, per se, but the sentiment is.  Where God has you, and what He has for you, is part of His plan.  Accept it.  Enjoy it.  Sometimes ~ or maybe often ~ we want something that looks like what we think it should look like.   But really, what do I know about where I should be?  After all, I wouldn't have chosen that wall as a resting place for those sparrows.  But they liked it there.  So if they can trust Him, of course I can, too.  After all, as the old hymn says, "His eye is on the sparrow, so I know He watches me."


~ " 'I will put My Spirit in you, 
and you shall live, 
and I will place you in your own land.  
Then you shall know 
that I, the Lord, have spoken it 
and performed it,' says the Lord." ~
Ezekiel 37:14

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tis the Season?

"it brings forth its fruit in its season"
Psalm 1:3

I love this passage.  I love all of Psalm 1, but this line is so vivid to me.  Here's the verse in context:  Those whose delight is the law of the Lord, and who mediate in His law day and night, shall be like a tree planted by water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf shall not wither.  I love verses about trees.

He who delights in His word, is like a tree, strong and bold.   And when the season is right, fruit is brought forth.

But look at the wording:  "its fruit" ~ meaning the fruit of that tree ~ because each of us has our own fruit.  We do not all have the same gifts or talents. 

"its season" ~ the season that is right for that tree, because only the Lord knows when each of us is ready.

"brings forth" ~ meaning when it is our season, and it is time for us to share our gift, we must bring it forth.  There is action involved, as if we must volunteer it.

One cannot go to an apple tree and demand apples.  They must be brought forth by the tree.  Nor can one expect apples in March.  They are brought forth only in its season.  Nor can one expect oranges from that tree, for God has not created it as such.  But the apple tree is not jealous of the orange tree's ability to produce oranges.  Nor should we envy one another gifts, but  rejoice in our own, and bring them forth in His timing. 


~ "every good tree bears good fruit" ~
Matthew 7:17

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Opposite Day

"she has not obeyed His voice"
Zephaniah 3:2

Remember Opposite Day?  Did you have that when you were a kid?  Someone would announce it, and then you'd have to say the opposite of the truth.  First one to forget, and say something accurate, was the loser.  We'd stand waiting for the school bus, saying "Here it comes" when it wasn't, and then, "It's not coming" when it was.  Weren't we clever fifth-graders?  Then someone would say something like, "Darn it, my shoe is untied," and that person would be the loser for stating a fact.


Might explain why I'm so hyper-analytic now...  Or not.

Okay, well I read a verse the other day that caused me to start thinking about the opposite meaning of the verse.  So I made up an axiom.  I never did that before, but it was kind of exciting!   So my axiom is:  "Bible facts are true, so the opposite of the facts are equally true."  Or how about, "Bible facts are true, ergo the opposite of Bible facts are ipso facto true."  Everything sounds better with a little Latin thrown in...

Let me show you what I mean.  The verse that made me start thinking about this was Zephaniah 3:2  ~ "She has not obeyed His voice, she has not received correction; she has not trusted in the Lord, she has not drawn near to her God."  The "she" in the verse is the city of Jerusalem.  I was very intrigued that the verse started with "she has not obeyed His voice," and then everything that followed was the explanation of that fact.  She has not received correction, she has not trusted the Lord, she has not drawn near to her God.  In other words, by not receiving the correction of the Lord, Jerusalem was disobedient.  Subsequently, not trusting in Him was disobedience, as was not drawing near to Him.

There are a lot of instructions in the Bible.   And to think of them in terms of obedience and disobedience is very thought-provoking.

Psalm 150:1 "Praise the Lord!"

Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing"

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks"

Exodus 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother"

I think sometimes, when we don't do what He commands, we just feel like we're exercising our free will.  Sort of like when I grab myself a handful of chocolate chips in the middle of the afternoon.  Hey now, don't judge me...

I'd scold my kids for doing that.  But somehow, as an adult, I feel I can justify it.  "Hey ~ I'm a grownup.  I can make my own decisions."  But making our own decisions, if they cause us to not do what He has told us to do, is disobedience.  And all of a sudden, exercising my free will takes on a more somber tone.

~ "You shall love the Lord your God 
with all your heart, 
with all your soul, 
with all your strength, 
and with all your mind, 
and love your neighbor as yourself" ~
Luke 10:27

Friday, February 24, 2012

How many i's are there in "sacrifice" ?


"When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, 
is that not wrong?”
Malachi 1:8

It seems incredible to me that in the time of animal sacrifices, anyone could possibly have done it wrong.  God gave such clear instructions on what and how to sacrifice to Him.  Instructions so precise, some people would say they are among the most tedious parts of the Bible to read.  And over and over, He specifies the condition of the animals to be sacrificed:  spotless and without blemish.  Yet here they were, sacrificing blind, crippled and diseased animals. 

Why did they bother?  Did they think that God wouldn’t notice?  Or did they think it was only important to obey the spirit of the law?

So then I have to wonder: what are the sacrifices I make?  And are they truly sacrifices? Does it please God when I give clothes to the needy, but only those that no longer fit or are faded?  Have I done what He asked if I give money to my church every Sunday, but only what I can afford without affecting me?  Is it enough to have quiet time with Him, but only when it fits into my schedule?  Is it enough to make the effort to do it in the morning, but without sacrificing my sleep? 

He expects a spotless and unblemished sacrifice from me – and He is worthy of nothing less.


~ "I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God
   that which costs me nothing" ~
2 Samuel 24:24

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Waste not, want not

"Having then gifts... let us use them"
Romans 12:6


I was running some errands last week, driving in the rain.  I like driving in the rain, cuz I like rain.  I like the cool grey skies, and the rich green color of the leaves when the sun is not shining on them.  Sometimes, if it's only drizzling, I even have my sunroof open.  Which, of course, makes it a rainroof.  My kids just love it when I do that.  Not.  But they do tolerate it.  They're good kids ~ Amazing and Awesome, you know.

But when I was running errands, it was raining pretty hard.  Not driving rain, you understand.  Just me, driving in the rain.  But I saw two things that got me thinking.  Actually, it was sort of one thing, two times.

The first was at a bus-stop I drove by.  There was one person waiting, a young man who looked to be in his early to mid-20s.  But he looked like he was slightly developmentally disabled.  One of those wonderful stories of someone who started life a little behind everyone else, but was loved and taught enough to function in society.  Maybe he even has a job, and the bus is how he gets there.

There was no shelter at this bus-stop, just a sign and a bench, and the young man who was waiting had an umbrella in his hand.  It was open, but he wasn't holding it over his head.  He was holding it sort of in front of his face.  I don't know if he was inspecting it, or was confused about the service it was supposed to be performing for him, or simply liked to feel the rain on his head.  I was just driving by, so I didn't get to assess the situation very well.  But I thought, well, that piece of equipment is not really doing the job it was intended to do...

So I kept driving, and when I was arriving at my destination, I saw a woman walking her dog.  And it was still raining.  But she had an umbrella, so she was nice and dry.  But her dog was walking along behind her, looking drenched and bedraggled. 

{Okay, side note here.  Because I love words, I just looked up the word "bedraggled".  I wanted to see if it meant the same thing as "drenched" because I didn't want to be redundantly repetitive.  Turns out that "bedraggled" is really a combination of the root word "draggled" and the prefix "be".  Did you know "draggled" was a word??  This is my new favorite word, simply because I never knew it existed.  It means "dirty or wet, typically by being trailed through mud or water".  Now, when you add the "be" in front of it, it means "thoroughly draggled".  Betcha didn't know that!  So now that I think about it, "drenched and bedraggled" seems a bit much...  Okay, back to the dog now.}

Her dog was walking along behind her, looking very wet.  Because although the woman had an umbrella, it was only over her.  Which makes sense; it's what I would do if I walked my dog in the rain.  But it struck me as odd, after seeing the man at the bus-stop.  Here were two cases where this tool was not doing all it could.  In both cases, there was an umbrella in the vicinity, and still someone getting wet.

And I started to wonder what there is in my life, that God has given me, that I'm not using to its full potential.  Maybe gifts He has given me, that I'm hiding under a bushel.  Maybe friends in my life who could be teaching or encouraging me if I made the time to connect with them more often.  Certainly I could say it about the Bible, which spends more time sitting on my table than it does open in my lap.

It's foolish to leave something valuable behind.  It's thoughtless to ignore something you have, that someone else wishes they had.  It's rude to ignore a gift someone has given you.  What umbrella do you have, that you are not using to its full potential?

~ "that you may be perfect and complete, 
   lacking nothing" ~
James 1:4

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Just Breathe

"The Lord said, 
'Peace be with you; do not fear' "
Judges 6:23

The kids and I watched Apollo 13 the other night.  It was the 50th anniversary of John Glenn orbiting the earth, but since we don't own The Right Stuff, watching Apollo 13 was our way of honoring NASA and the amazing men and women who have made space travel possible for the last 50+ years.

Apollo 13 is one of my favorite movies.  It's a great plot ~ can't do better than a true story, right?  It's well acted and directed ~ I still get tears in my eyes when the spacecraft lifts off, and I still get anxious during the four minutes of blackout, during which no one was sure if the astronauts would survive re-entry.

We own the movie, so I've watched it several times in my life, and some of the lines of dialogue have worked their way into our family's lingo.  Sometimes they just pop into my head during appropriate circumstances.  For instance, if I have a lot going on, and I'm feeling overwhelmed, I remember when Tom Hanks, as Jim Lovell, said to his crew:  "There are a thousand things that have to happen, in order.  We are on number eight.  You're talking about number six-hundred and seventy-nine."   It's a great reminder to me to just do the thing in front of me, and let God worry about what happens down the line. 

But I think my favorite "spiritual" line from Apollo 13 is when they are having trouble with the carbon dioxide levels.  The astronauts were living in the Lunar Excursion Module, or LEM, as the Service Module (the SM) had been damaged in an explosion.  Because this was not where they were expected to spend so much of their time, the carbon dioxide they were breathing out was starting to build up. There were canisters of lithium hydroxide to remove the carbon dioxide from the air, but not enough.  So the ground crew had to teach the astronauts to jury-rig a device that work with what they had on board.  It's an intense scene, as the astronauts build this device (which they nicknamed "the mailbox") knowing they have to hurry, as the CO2 was building up every time they breathed out.  But because they were hurrying, they were panting a little, and their anxiety was causing them to expel even more CO2

The astronauts get the device hooked up, and they are waiting for it to start to take effect on the air around them.  Two of them look anxious as they wait and watch the CO2 indicator, and without realizing it, they are holding their breath.  And the commander, Jim Lovell, looks at both of them, with a slightly wry smile and says, "Just breath normal, fellas." 

Sometimes, I think I hear God saying that to me.  Well, He doesn't call me "fella" but He's gentle and soothing and compassionate.  I got this.  I'm taking care of it.  Trust me, and just breathe normal. 

And I do.  Because in His command is the power to obey. 


~ "God is not the author of confusion, 
     but of peace" ~
1 Corinthians 14:33

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Something to talk about...

"the Lord listened and heard them"
Malachi 3:16

Do you have any friends that are talkers?  Verbose?  Chatty Cathy-types?  They're everywhere.  Despite the fact that there are twice as many ears as there are mouths in the world, I think the talkers outnumber the listeners.  Listening is hard.   It requires thinking about someone else.  And that's hard for even the best of us. {Not that I'm one of the best of us.  I'm just one of us.}

I chatted with one of my "talky" friends last week.  We had about a 20 minute conversation, about 17 minutes' worth of her talking.  Which I've come to accept.  That's just how she is.  I'm pretty sure that there are other relationships in my life wherein I do most of the talking, so it all works out.

Now, think about it from God's standpoint.  How much must He love His children who are talkers! He loves us so much, and prayer, after all, was His idea!  Is it even possible to talk too much, to Someone who loves the sound of your voice ~ because after all, He created the sound of your voice.  Is it possible to bore Someone who loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you?

And here's my favorite verse on the subject:  Psalm 105:2 ~ "Sing to Him; sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!"  The reason I love this one so much is because the command to talk comes right after two commands telling us to sing to Him.  I have no choice but to believe that the next one ~ talk ~ means to Him, too.  In other words, "Talk to Him of all His wondrous works!"  That, my friends, is praise.   Talk to Him.  Muse, communicate, speak, complain, ponder, sing, praise.  To Him.  There's no such thing as too much.


 ~ "Then you will call upon Me 
and go and pray to Me, 
  and I will listen to you" ~
Jeremiah 29:12

Monday, February 20, 2012

Ancient Words

"this is the law 
which Moses set before the children of Israel"
Deuteronomy 4:44 


Our church moved to a new location recently.  We are renting space in a beautiful old building that is the perfect size for us, but also has a wonderful charm and history to it.  As a matter of fact, it's on the National Register of Historic Places.  Or the State Registry of Historic Places.  Or the County.  Or someone official thinks it's cool.  Or something....

At any rate, what means is that we cannot make any changes without permission.  We can't even put a nail in the wall to hang a picture.  Which is fine; it's beautiful as it is.  But it's interesting to me that in a way, we're not just renters, we are caretakers ~ entrusted with something valuable. 

I thought about that today, as I sat looking at the beautiful architecture.  And then I thought about my Bible.  Well, my Bible is really not that old.  Maybe ten years.  But the words in the Bible.... oh those words.... These are the words of Moses, and David, and Peter, and Paul.  They are the words of God, spoken by His Spirit into the men who held the pen.  Or the quill.  Or the chisel.  Or whatever they held...  People have been reading and reciting and memorizing and loving and living by those words for thousands of years.  They are precious.

But I don't always treat them as such.  I treat my Bible with respect and reverence.  If you consider coloring, highlighting and writing in a book to be respectful and reverential.  Which I do.  But if I really treasured the words, wouldn't I spend all day reading, and trying to absorb every bit of knowledge and wisdom into my pores?  I'm a caretaker of a precious thing ~ His truth and wisdom ~ and I have an obligation to hold it close to my heart and my mind, and my ears, as well as teach it to my children, and anyone else He might want.   James wrote in 1:22 "be doers of the word, not hearers only."  And I desire to be a doer.  But first, I have to make sure I'm a hearer.


~ "You have magnified Your word 
      above all Your name" ~
Psalm 138:2

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Yet Another Lesson from my Dog

"eat what is good"
Isaiah 55:2

I cleaned off the counter in the garage yesterday.  Matched up a few socks that had been pining for their mates.  Straightened up the canned goods that make up our surplus pantry.  Uncovered and returned to their owners a few stray items that had accumulated, like baseball cards, pigtail holders, some loose change... Well, who are we kidding; I pocketed the loose change.

I also came across some pieces of dry cat food on the counter, apparently spilled the last time someone refilled the small container we keep in the house, from the big bag we keep in the garage.

I tossed these on the garage floor, and our dog, who was already nearby (doting pet that she is) came running.  Although she couldn't have known what I dropped on the floor, I'm pretty sure her mouth was open even before she got to the food, and she had swallowed it before you could say, "Careful, don't eat that dust bunny!"


Because frankly, our dog, like most dogs, is not that discriminating.  She'll eat almost anything edible ~ food, stuff might be confused with food, stuff that used to be food....  And she'll eat it from anywhere ~ out of her dog bowl, out of any bowl, off the floor, out of the trashcan... If she can reach it, she considers it fair game.


And I think that's sort of sad.  She's content with dusty and dirty and dregs and trash and things that aren't even fit to eat.


Are you?

I don't mean that you eat like that.  If you own or have access to a computer, then you must have a standard of living above that, praise God! 

I'm talking about the life you're living.  We are very, very precious to God, and He wants to bless us with a life of abundance.  After all, He led the Israelites to the Promised Land; a land of milk and honey.

Now, I'm not necessarily talking about material things.  There's nothing wrong with money, and God blesses some of His children with wealth, but that's not really what I mean.  He wants for us a life of peace, and joy and love and wisdom.  He is the source of all of those, so there's no heavenly reason not to have them in abundance.  But the world is full of distractions.  Things we wish we have, that take our minds off the things we can have.  

I think this calls for prayer on your part.  And on mine.  We need to ask Him to open our eyes to all that He offers, and we need to not settle for less ~ like entertainment or friends or pursuits that drag us down and take our minds off of Him.  After all, if He is the source of abundance, why would we expect to find it anywhere else?

~ "I have come that they may have life, 
   and that they may have it more abundantly" ~
John 10:10

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Forever

Forever is....
How long the Lord shall reign
Exodus 15:18

Forever is...
How long it will go well with you 
and your children after you, 
when you do what is good and right 
in the sight of the Lord your God
Deuteronomy 12:28

Forever is...
How long His mercy endures
1 Chronicles 16:34

Forever is....
How long something is blessed, 
if the Lord blesses it
1 Chronicles 17:27

Forever is...
How long the Lord is King
Psalm 10:16

Forever is...
How long we will dwell 
in the house of the Lord
Psalm 23:6

Forever is....
How long the counsel of the Lord 
will stand
Psalm 33:11

Forever is...
How long the glory of the Lord 
will endure
Psalm 104:31

Forever is...
How long He will remember 
His covenant with us
Psalm 105:8

Forever is...
How long His righteousness endures
Psalm 111:3

Forever is...
How long the works of His hands stand fast
Psalm 111:8

Forever is...
How long the truth of the Lord endures
Psalm 117:2

Forever is...
How long His name endures
Psalm 135:13

Forever is...
How long we can trust in Him
Isaiah 26:4

Forever is...
How long the Word of our God stands
Isaiah 40:8

Forever is... 
How long He will be glorified
Philippians 4:20

Forever is...
How long Jesus Christ is the same
Hebrews 13:8

Forever is...
How long the truth will be with us
2 John 1:2

Forever is... 
How long blessing and glory and wisdom,
 thanksgiving and honor and power and might, 
will be to Him
Revelation 7:12

Forever... and Ever...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tickling the Ivories

"I will play music before the Lord"
2 Samuel 6:21


Okay, can we talk about my cat playing the piano?  Honestly, she's so funny... Every once in awhile, she jumps up on the keyboard, walks up to the high notes, then turns around and walks down to the low notes.  And sometimes back again.  Then she has to make a decision.  Either she sits down and makes herself comfortable right there on the piano keys, or she jumps up onto the top of the piano to sit, or she gets down.  I know cats like to be up high, so I could understand it if she were using the keys to get herself to the top, but she doesn't always do that.  So it certainly seems sometimes, as though her goal is just to play the instrument.


And you know what?  She's not bad!  Her randomly chosen melody is always enjoyable.  It's never a tune I recognize, but I can't have heard them all, you know?  But the reason that the music is pleasurable to me is not because of the cat, but because of the piano.  The instrument is designed to make music, which means she can do that without training, without a discernible sense of rhythm ~ heck, without even fingers. 


You, my friend, are a cat.  And I'm a cat.  And our work for Him is the piano.  Well, for purposes of this illustration, anyway.  We are designed to do something beautiful, without even being trained.  Ephesians 2:10 says "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." 

I like that verse.  And I've known it for a long time, that He has things He wants me to do, to show and share my faith to others, and to show my appreciation to Him for salvation.  But I think sometimes we hesitate to do them.  I'm helping out in the Children's Department this Sunday, and I'm not particularly looking forward to it.  Children are not my "thing".  I'm crazy about my own,  but I don't feel I relate well to them in groups, generally speaking.  At least not young ones.  So it's easy for me to say that I won't be very good at it.  But my simplest efforts to serve these kids will be music to Him.  I love the "songs" that my cat plays.  How much more will my efforts please the Lord?

~ "All the house of Israel played music 
before the Lord 
on all kinds of instruments" ~
2 Samuel 6:5

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Warning Glory

"if anyone among you wanders 
from the truth..."
James 5:19

A wonderful thing happened to a friend of mine last week.  Her father was in a car accident.  Isn't that awesome?

Oh, you don't... right... sorry.  Here's the rest of the story:

Her father had a cardiac arrest while driving home from work, late one night.

Still not a wonderful thing?

When he blacked out, he drifted, and hit a guardrail.

Cardiac arrest and a one-car accident still not doing it for you?

Hitting the guardrail jolted his heart back to life.

How's that for amazing?

He came to, and realized what had happened, but all he knew what that he had lost consciousness.  He went to the hospital, and they realized that his heart was not healthy, and he's now on a pacemaker.

Wonderful!

But this is not a post about God's miracle in saving this man's life.  Make no mistake ~ there was a miracle here.  Had he been home asleep, as most people would have been late at night, he likely would have died, as there's not much that can jolt a heart back to life when one is asleep.

And this is not a post about God using a bad thing, like a car accident, to accomplish something good.  But make no mistake, God did that here.  Romans 8:28 is true ~ God works all things for good to those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose. 

No, this is a post about guardrails.  And drifting.  And hearts.

Guardrails exist for a reason.  They are an obstacle for someone who's heading in the wrong direction.  And they are a warning for someone who doesn't realize they are heading in the wrong direction. 

Our hearts are prone to wander, and we may not even realize it's happening.  So just like my friend's dad, we may need a good hard jolt to wake us up, and give us a good scare.  Then we can sit down with the Great Physician, who can bring our wicked hearts back to Him.

So if you're feeling a little jolted; a little banged up, ask Him if that was a collision with a guardrail, placed in your path by Him, for your spiritual protection. 

~ "He guards the paths of justice,
    and preserves the way of His saints" ~
Proverbs 2:8

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Just don't call me late for dinner...

"old things have passed away"
2 Corinthians 5:17

Have you ever thought about how many people in the Bible had their name changed?  Like Abram to Abraham.  And his wife Sarai to Sarah.  Jacob became Israel, and Saul became Paul, although that wasn't really a name change so much as a change in the way Scripture refers to him. 

What if we did that today?  What if, at a crossroads or milestone in your life, you changed your name to reflect that.  The lines at the Social Security and Department of Motor Vehicles offices would be crazy.... You'd constantly have to be reintroducing yourself to old friends.

Women, of course, adapt a new last name when they get married, but I wonder how often that's more a legal thing than an acknowledgement of a new identity on the inside.  And I guess a man doesn't really ever change his name.  Oh sure, there have been a few athletes who have, for religious or.... I guess publicity, reasons.  But a name change to signify a change in your spiritual status, is rare.

But I'm not the same person I used to be, are you?  And not just because I got married.  I'm not even the same person I was a week ago.  That's my whole goal in going to church and studying the Bible, to change and grow, and be better than I was before.  So not only could I have changed my name when I gave my life to Jesus Christ, but I could have changed my name dozens of times after that.  Any time I went through a trial, or experienced a miracle that gave me new insight into His wisdom, or love, or glory, I was a person changed. 

A name change is a lot of work, but it does help insure there's no going back.  After all, I can't imagine Abraham saying to his friends and family, "It's okay, you can just keep calling me Abram if it's easier."  The old is gone.  Every day and every week and every month and every year, you and I are on a journey of completion, and there is constantly reason to celebrate our progress, and who we no longer are. 

It might be hard for the people around you to tell; after all you might look the same, and you haven't changed your name ~ but God knows the difference!

~ "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation!" ~
2 Corinthians 5:17

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Responsibility

"all the congregation complained
against the rulers"
Joshua 9:18

Chapter 9 is an interesting chapter in Joshua's career.  He's a fine man of God ~ courageous, obedient, a good leader... but not perfect.  None of God's servants are, of course, but Joshua seems to come close.  This chapter, though, is about one of Joshua's mistakes. 

In the beginning of the chapter, the people of Gibeon are in fear of the Israelites, having heard about what happened at Jericho. But they don't rally for war against the Israelites, as so many other nations were doing.  Instead, they decided to protect themselves against the strength of God's people, by not battling them at all.  They clothed and supplied themselves to appear as if they had traveled a long way.  They arrived at the Israelite camp and told Joshua and his leaders that they wished to sign a peace treaty with the Israelites.  They agreed to be their servants, if the Israelites would agree to let them live.

Joshua and his advisers agreed to their proposal, "but they did not ask counsel of the Lord."  Big mistake, right?  See, the thing is, God had told Joshua to take over all the territory He had given them, and let no nation survive.  But because these travelers had appeared to come a very long way, the men of Israel believed them when they said they were not of that territory.  It wasn't until three days later that the children of Israel found out that the Gibeonites were part of the region they were supposed to clear out.

And that's when today's verse comes in.  The children of Israel knew they were supposed to go to battle, but couldn't, because of the agreement that Joshua had made.  And so they complained.  And I love that.  They recognized that the whole Gibeonite mess was the rulers' fault.  As the decision makers for the whole nation, Joshua and his advisers had made a mistake.  And the people called them on it.

I like the lesson of this, both as a leader, and a follower.   As a leader ~ whether as a parent, or the job I'm called to in my ministry ~ I have a responsibility to seek God's wisdom:  through Scripture, prayer, and Godly counsel from friends.   But as a follower, I have a responsibility to hold my leaders to the same standard. 

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

Monday, February 13, 2012

Loss, Judgement and Compassion

~ "But You, O Lord, are a God 
    full of compassion, and gracious, 
 longsuffering and abundant
   in mercy and truth" ~
Psalm 86:15

A friend of mine died last week.  She was a beautiful, gifted woman, that I've known for more than 20 years.  They don't know yet how she died.  She was only in her 40s, so her death was unexpected.  That's part of the pain of her death, though death is never easy.

I hadn't seen her in awhile.  We'd both gotten busy; both of us has gotten married and had kids.  Frankly I didn't even think of her very often.  I sort of kept track of her for awhile, through friends, but we didn't have much in common anymore.  I wasn't too fond, unfortunately, of her husband, although to be fair, I didn't know much very well.  But what I did know of him, I didn't like.  But I think he'd been in trouble with the law.  I'm not sure why.  All I know is gossip, so I tried not to take too much to heart.  But I guess that made me disappointed in her judgement.

It was not an easy marriage, from what I heard.  They're divorced now, but they had a beautiful little girl, and I'm thinking about her this week.  I'm not even sure how old she is now.  I'm guessing she's at least into double digits, but maybe even older.  Time flies, and sometimes I can't believe how old my own kids are!

To be honest, I won't miss her that much; she was pretty much out of my life and out of my thoughts already.  But her ex-husband will miss her, I'm sure.  I think sometimes when couples divorce, there's still love there, but not the strength or ability to make the marriage work in light of whatever difficulties they are having.  And I know her daughter will miss her terribly.  Nothing can replace a mother in a growing girl's life.  Or even a grown girl, for that matter... 

And oh, how her mother will miss her.  Her mother, I think, is probably hurting the most.  She's walked with her daughter for forty-plus years.  Through a tumultuous marriage to a man who made wrong choices more than once.   My children aren't even dating yet, but the first time someone breaks their hearts, I don't know how I'll forgive that person.  I think that her mother must have been my friend's everything here on earth.  With a husband here and gone, and a daughter too young to understand life's troubles, she always had her mother to turn to.  And now her mother has to say good-bye.  Sad.

Okay, now the rest of the story.  All of that is not entirely true.  I'm actually talking about Whitney Houston, who died this weekend.  She, of course, was not a friend of mine.   I can't even honestly say I was a fan of hers, but I grew up in the 80s, so I was familiar with her music.  And of course I was amazed at her beautiful voice. 

But then I got out of high school, and pretty much stopped listening to pop music, opting for a local Christian music radio station.  After that, the only time I ever thought about Whitney Houston was when her name was in the news for some untoward behavior.  And when that happened, I shook my head in wonderment and pity at her choices, then forgot about her again.

And when I heard that she died, I reacted much the same way ~ at first.  Then someone on the news mentioned her mother, and I remembered that she was a daughter.  And I thought about her daughter, and I remembered that she was a mother....  And then I stopped thinking about a celebrity who'd made bad choices.  And I stopped judging her. 

I don't know if you have the same trouble ~ the judgmental spirit that I sometimes have.  But if we try to look at someone the way God does, we often see someone differently than we see simply by looking through our own eyes.  So I thought if you and I looked at Whitney Houston as if she were someone we might know, or someone just like us, we might feel less inclined to judge her choices, and more inclined to just pray for her.  And her daughter.  And her mother. 

What it comes down to, is that she was a gifted woman whose life ended too soon, and the people who loved her are hurting. That should invoke in me not judgement, but compassion.

~ "Judge not, that you not be judged" ~
Matthew 7:1

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hope & Faith

"the Almighty has afflicted me"
Ruth 1:21

Though the book is named after Ruth, it was Naomi speaking these words.  Naomi was kinda bummed when she said this.  Which is understandable, as she had lost her husband and her two sons in a matter of a few years.  And because she didn't know what else to do, she moved back from Moab, to Bethlehem, as she had heard that the famine from which she and her husband fled, had ended in Bethlehem.  Her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, wanted to accompany her, but she urged them to return to their own families.  She didn't know what there was for herself in Bethlehem, much less for them.  "It grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!"  See?  Bummed.

Orpah was convinced of Naomi's logic, and returned home to Moab, but Ruth would not.  She insisted on going to Bethlehem with Naomi.  And today's highlighted verse is what Naomi said to the women of Bethlehem upon her return home.  They were all excited to see her coming home, saying, "Is this Naomi?"

But Naomi replied, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara."  She wanted them to call her Mara because Mara means "bummed".

Kidding. 

The name Mara means "bitter" and she wanted to be called that because she felt the Lord had treated her bitterly.  "I went out full and the Lord has brought me home again empty... the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me."

I've always thought of Naomi ~ excuse me, Mara ~  as a bitter woman.  Perhaps because she practically requested to be thought of that way.  And yet I've never doubted her faith.  She spoke of what the Lord had done in her life.  She knew the Lord existed, and acknowledged His power and sovereignty.  She clearly had faith.

What she didn't have, was hope.  Her bitterness about what had happened to her was causing her to look to the future with pessimism.  And that, I think, is what saddens me about her. 

Things started to look up in chapter 2 of Ruth, but it wasn't until she saw God making things happen, that Naomi began to think something would happen.  I think, that even though she had faith in God, she didn't have hope in Him. 

Hope in Him is not the same thing as faith in Him.  Faith in Him as Lord, and your Savior, is necessary for salvation, for eternal life.  But hope in Him is about living a life of abundance right here and now.  It's about knowing for a fact that you are going to encounter difficult times, but also knowing they won't last, and that He's doing something amazing in and through you during those times.  Hope in Him is believing there's a Promised Land, of blessings and beauty, right here on earth.  Hope in Him is knowing He is with you and in you and loves you.  Cuz He is, and He does. 

I hope you have hope.

~ "I know the plans I have for you," 
declares the Lord,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you a future, and a hope." ~
Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What's mine is His...

"he would not drink it, 
but poured it out before the Lord'
2 Samuel 23:16

This is just one of the mentions of "pouring out water before the Lord" in the Bible.  I think the concept is so interesting.  It has different intentions, though, depending on who's doing the pouring.  In 1 Samuel 7, the children of Israel pour out water before the Lord as a way of confessing their sins.  But the first time I ever saw the act (well, read about it...) was this one in 2 Samuel.

David was in battle against the mighty Philistines, and he said longingly, "Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem!"  So his three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem and took it and brought it to David.  But instead of drinking it, he poured it out to before the Lord.

When I read that, many years ago, I couldn't believe it.  These warriors of David had risked their lives to get him that water, and he just poured it out on the ground!  I could just imagine these guys, still panting from their daring mission, handing him this jug of water that they had smuggled past the Philistines, and I'm expecting him to take a long refreshing drink of this wonderful water from Bethlehem, and then he'd turn to them, and he'd say, "Hey, kid" and then he'd toss his game-worn jersey at them, and they'd say, "Thanks, King David!" and it would be this really touching moment.

But no, it was no Mean Joe Greene moment.  It was far more beautiful than that.  David was honoring the risk those men had gone through.  He said in verse 17, "Is this not the blood of the men who sent, in jeopardy of their lives?"  Because they had risked their lives, he considered it as blood, and he poured it out, this water he had wanted, as a sacrifice to the Lord.

That's an amazing offering ~ giving something back.  And it makes me think about what the Lord has given me, and what I've offered back to Him.

What has the Lord provided for you, that you wanted... that you needed.... and have you offered it back to Him?

~ "he who waters will also be watered himself" ~
Proverbs 11:25


Oh, and yesterday's trivia question?  About the two words in the English language that change pronunciation when you capitalize their first letter:  job (Job) and polish (Polish).  Fun, right?  :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Control Freak

"the fruit of the Spirit"
Galatians 5:22

I love words.  I love the funky spelling of some of them; I love their interesting origins, and the depth revealed in the many ~ and sometimes conflicting ~ definitions. 

So I was excited when a new homophone was revealed to me recently.  You love homophones, too, don't you?  Those words that sound the same but are spelled differently, and have different meanings, like knew and new.  Not to be confused with antonyms, which are words that mean the opposite, like night and day.  And not to be confused with synonyms, which are words that mean the same thing, but don't look anything like each other, like shut and close.  Synonyms, of course, should also not be confused with cinnamon, which sounds similar, but tastes better...

And here's a wonderful piece of word trivia:  what two words in the English language change their pronunciation when you capitalize the first letter?  I'll give you the answer tomorrow, cuz I know some of you might want to ponder that little tidbit for awhile.

So, the new homophone I've come to appreciate might surprise you, because it's probably not technically a homophone.   It's more like a word that has come to have a whole new meaning for me, so that now, it has two different meanings.  And frankly, the word stopped scaring me when that happened. 

Are you wondering what word in the Bible is scary?  Or are you thinking of some, like smite, and lake of fire.  Although, if you find those scary, then I'd be remiss in not making sure you know that salvation is a prayer away!  Acknowledge that He is Lord; acknowledge that you're a sinner; ask Him to be your Lord.  Done and Done.  Amen, Hallelujah, and the angels are rejoicing!  :)  "there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." (Luke 15:7)

Okay, so the word that's been scaring me for several years is self-control.  It's from today's highlight verse, in Galatians.  It's one of the nine fruits of the Spirit.  And it's kind of scary because it reminds me that I have no excuse for misbehaving.  Self-control means being able to stop oneself from lying, or losing one's temper, or gossiping, or whatever one's weakness is.  So when I don't stop myself from doing whatever, it's because I'm failing to take advantage of that fruit.  God has gifted me with self-control, so I feel like if I'm not using that gift, it's my fault.  That's a very simplistic view of the fruit of self-control, but I'm not exactly rational when I'm critiquing myself.

So now the new meaning.  I had a dilemma the other day.  Someone in my life had made a decision that negatively affected me, and I have no choice but to live with it, no matter how frustrated it was making me.  I cried my anger to the Apple of my Eye, and he understood completely how I felt.  I know he was praying for me, but this is not the first time this person has done this to me, so although I desperately wish it weren't the case, I seem to be unable to completely forgive, since my frustration has increased since the last time. 

But then I called a friend of mine who has often been a source of wise counsel for me.  She knows me very well ~ my weaknesses and my strengths ~ and she also knows this other person, so I thought she'd be the perfect person to give me some advice on how to handle the unforgiving state my heart was in.  I was desperate not to continue in that unforgiving way, but I didn't seem to be able to help how I was feeling. 

Well, my friend had wonderful advice for me.  She understood my frustration, but showed me that there are things I can do, positive steps I can take to avoid being hurt in the future.  I was seeing myself as a victim, but that doesn't need to be the case.  Though this person will still be in my life, I can make sure it's not in the same way.  It's a change in the way she and I will interact, but there's also been a change in how I feel about her.  And you know how I felt when I realized I could make these changes?  Like I'd been given control.  I can allow myself to be a victim to someone else's choices in life, or I can make my own choices that give me control.  Self-control.  It doesn't mean that she, or someone else, can't make my life difficult anymore, but it can be the exception, not the rule. 

I see now, that self-control is a gift.  It means I'm not a puppet, of God, or of anyone else.  It means I have free will, and that when there is something negative and avoidable in my life, I have the ability to do something about it.  Choosing not to lose my temper, or judge, or gossip, means choosing to avoid situations that might lead to that.  And man, that makes me feel free!

~ "Stand fast, therefore, 
in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, 
and do not be entangled again 
with a yoke of bondage" ~
Galatians 5:1

Thursday, February 9, 2012

One for all, and all for one

"Do unto others"
Luke 6:31

My Awesome Girl made me dinner the other night.  An omelet.  It was awesome.  Perfectly cooked.  Omelets are such great meals ~ quick and easy, and perfect for any time of day.  They've got protein, and the vegetable-y benefit of whatever you add.  I love mine with zucchini and tomato, with a sprinkling of flax seed, for its crunchy Omega-3 benefits, and a slight shredding of extra-sharp cheddar cheese.  And just a dollop of sour cream on top, because everything tastes better with a dollop of sour cream on top.

Well, almost everything. 

Some things taste better with a dollop of whipped cream on top. 

And how much fun is the word "dollop"?

I'm sorry; what were we talking about?  Oh, right, the omelet.  Well, the reason my girl made me dinner was because the boys were out.  Amazing Boy had baseball practice that night.  The Apple of my Eye is the Assistant Coach for the team, but the Head Coach was out of town, so my guy was running the practice.  He helps coach baseball partly because he loves baseball, but mostly because he loves our Amazing Boy.  Coaching is such a wonderful way for him to spend time with his son, encouraging him, teaching him, and also offering his wisdom and support to the other boys on the team.  He has a lot of gifts, and he was out that night sharing them; doing something for someone else. 

So why didn't I make dinner?  Well I was working on a project.  It was something that the Apple of my Eye needed, and I only had a few days in which to do it.  He could have done it, but he's been so busy lately with work, and the Bible Study he teaches, and coaching, and fathering, and husbanding (which is different from husbandry...)  So I volunteered to do this project for him.  I didn't mind.  It was simple, and I was happy to be doing something for him, since he does so much for us. 

So while I sat in the living room working, my Awesome Girl was making me dinner.  I didn't ask; she offered.  She does that frequently.  She appreciates what I do around the house, so sometimes she just decides she's going to do something for me.  And no matter how much I say, "No, it's okay, I can do it" she won't be deterred. 

So there she was, doing something for me, while I did something for the Apple of my Eye, while he did something for Amazing Boy.  It was like a beautiful domino effect of kindness for each other.  It was wonderful.

Jesus never said, "Do unto others while they do unto someone else."  But I think He was smiling...

~ "By this all men will know 
     that you are My disciples, 
       if you love one another" ~
John 13:35

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sitting at His Feet

"distracted with much"
Luke 10:40

Busy weekend for our household recently.  Baseball practice (Amazing Boy and the Apple of my Eye, who was running the practice in the coach's absence); and an informal Bible Study (Awesome Girl) on Saturday morning.  I was over at my folks' house visiting with my sister and brother-in-law, who were in town for the weekend.  Then, as soon as baseball practice was over and showers were taken, we drove with my parents, my sister and my brother-in-law, almost two hours to my uncle's for a family gathering.  Food and fun and family for several hours, then drove the two hours home, taking the scenic route through Los Angeles so my brother-in-law could say he has seen the legendary intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

We got home and collapsed in bed, eager to get as much sleep as possible, because the busyness began again on Sunday morning...

We had to be up early for Awesome Girl's volleyball tournament, which meant missing church.  Neither the Apple of my Eye, or myself, are proponents of that, but fortunately very few of her tournaments are on Sundays.  And we are fortunate that our church has a mid-week service, so we won't have to wait an entire week before we can go again.

From volleyball we went straight to a friend's house to watch the Super Bowl.  Awesome Girl had to change in the car, our schedule was so tight.  Watched the game, ate some great food, and enjoyed getting together with friends for a few hours.  From there we drove the 30 minutes to my parents' house to have dessert and play some cards.  We wanted to squeeze in as much time as we could with my sister and her husband, before they had to fly home the next day.

Everything we did this past weekend was fun.  It was all something we were looking forward to, and it was all the result of blessings from the Lord ~ the blessings of family, good health, and the freedom to choose how we spend our days.  

But you know what?  I think it was too much.  As much as I wanted to do all of it, I did not want to do all of it on the same weekend.  When I was at one thing, I was thinking about another.  Worried about the drive, wondering if we'd be late, do we have everything we need, since we're not going to be home again until tonight, hoping the dog was okay at home alone, and wishing I could just be enjoying each thing more.  I was wishing I could focus

So I'm thinking today about focus.  About one thing at a time.  And I'm knowing that most of the time, distracted is what God gets from me.   And it's not even just that when I'm praying, I start thinking about what's for dinner.  I think God understands that, and waits for my mind to come back to Him.  But sometimes, physically, I'm not even entirely with Him.  By that I mean, listening to Scripture online, but doing dishes at the same time.  It's efficient, but how effective is it?  Or reading the Bible while filing my nails or folding laundry.  What exactly is my goal there??

Multi-tasking long ago lost its allure for me.  More and more I want to do one thing thoroughly.  I always encourage my kids to be themselves in any situation, telling them: "Be who you are."  I think my new reminder to myself needs to be:  "Be where you are."  The benefit, and the enjoyment will be purer.  And I know He'll make sure I still get the laundry folded...

~ "Jesus answered and said to her, 
'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled 
about many things.  
But one thing is needed, 
and Mary has chosen that good part, 
which will not be taken from her' " ~
Luke 10:41-42

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Necessary Faith


"God tested Abraham"
Genesis 22:1

Sacrifice is a difficult word for us.  At its worst, it's a reminder of the unpleasant acts necessary in the Old Testament, for sins to be forgiven.  Even at its best, it's the surrendering of something precious to us.

But God instructed Abraham:  “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love… and offer him as a burnt offering...”  It's a painful, almost inconceivable command, but God has so much for us in this sentence.  First of all, He referred to Isaac as Abraham’s “only son”.  He says that more than once.  Hebrews 10:17 tells us, “Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.”  Ishmael was the fruit of Abraham’s impatience, and God doesn’t even acknowledge him.  

Next, is God’s use of the word “son”.  He uses the word 13 times in 19 verses.  Do you think He wants us to know that He gets it?  That He knows what He is asking?  And this is the first use, in the Bible, of the word “love”.  And the first time God uses this word, it doesn’t have to do with husband and wife, or mother and child, but father and son. He doesn’t make this command lightly.  He wants Abraham to know – He wants us to know – that He gets what he’s asking Abraham to do.

God is very direct here.  He tells Abraham where, he tells him what, and he tells him when.  And in obedience, Abraham rises EARLY IN THE MORNING to saddle his donkey, split the wood necessary, take Isaac and two young men, and set off to do as the Lord commanded.  Verse 3 says “he rose early in the morning AND saddled his donkey AND split the wood AND went to the place…” The word “and” used here, in the original language implies continual, deliberate, willful action, without hesitation.   

But what enabled Abraham to obey so immediately?  The same faith that stirred him to action so many years before.  Hebrews tells us  “By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance.”  “By faith, he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country.” And  “By faith he offered up Isaac.”  If it were possible to measure the faith necessary to obey this command, it would be the Grand Canyon of faith.  Or the Mount Everest of faith.  Where does Abraham get this faith?  Would I have it?  Would you?  Yes.  Abraham got his faith the same place you and I get ours.  From God Himself. 

Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  Jesus commanded the lame man, “Rise, pick up your mat, and walk” and at Jesus’ words, the man was enabled to obey.  Our faith comes from His Word.  The faith to obey not just when it makes sense.  Charles Spurgeon said, “Without our God, we should fear to move, but when the Lord bids us go, it would be dangerous to tarry.”  What opportunity is God giving you, to exercise your faith?  He is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord who provides.  We can trust Him to provide the faith that empowers us to obey.  

~ "Abraham called the name of the place, 
'The-Lord-Will-Provide' " ~
Genesis 22:14

Monday, February 6, 2012

It ain't resting, unless it's resting in Him...

For reasons that I'll explain in a future post, my sweet family and I are absolutely exhausted.  Eyes sleepy; brains non-functioning; arms and legs dragging.  So as we pulled into the garage, I started thinking about some of the things God has to say about rest. 

I hope I'll be reminded ~ and maybe you, too ~ that rest isn't just about getting enough sleep, but about knowing we are His. 

"God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work, which He created and made"
Genesis 2:3

"The Lord my God has given me rest on every side"
1 Kings 5:4

"Thus says the Lord: 'Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is.  And walk in it.  Then you will find rest for your souls.' "
Jeremiah 6:16

"My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest"
Exodus 33:14

"My heart rejoiced and my tongue was glad and I will rest in hope"
Acts 2:26

"This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest... this is the refreshing"
Isaiah 28:12

"Thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: 'In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength' "
Isaiah 30:15

"My people will dwell in peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings and in quiet resting places"
Isaiah 32:18

"O Lord our God, we rest on You!"
2 Chronicles 14:11

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls"
Matthew 11:28-29

I wish this for you...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A day for praise

Why?  Because He is.

He is Most High
"You, whose name is the Lord ~ 
You alone are the Most High over all the earth"
Psalm 83:18

He is Light
"This is the message we have heard from Him 
and declare to you:  
God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all" 
1 John 1:5

His is my Keeper
"The Lord bless you and keep you; 
the Lord make His face to shine upon you, 
and be gracious unto you"
Numbers 6:24-25

He is Joy
"Indeed, You are our glory and joy"
1 Thessalonians 2:20

He is Incomparable
"'To whom will you compare Me?  
Or who is My equal?' says the Holy One"
Isaiah 40:25

He is our Help
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble"
Psalm 46:1

He is the Giver of Life
"I am the Resurrection and the Life.  
He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  
And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die"
John 11:25

And all God's people shout, "Amen!"