Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cynisism and Healing

We're half-way through the second week of Advent. I've noticed there are several different ways in which people choose to observe it. I've also noticed that the candles can even mean different things... we've chosen HOPE, PREPARE, JOY, LOVE and then of course, CHRIST. We also are doing Jesse Tree. Depending on what week we're in, we read the stories of Jesse Tree and we search for our theme in that passage. I'm loving this week. Prepare. Its dimensional; that question. How did God prepare the way for Christ, for the HOPE we learned of last week? How can I prepare my heart to make room for His presence in my life? How can I prepare the way for Him to enter into the lives of others?

Last week, while reading the story of Sarah , I was caught of guard and something clicked in that story that had never clicked before.... cynicism... maybe even a twinge of bitterness. I've always understood the concept of doubt in this story.... but the cynicism... I can really relate to that. Especially here of late. But the LORD reminded her, 'Is anything too hard for the LORD?'

So here I am asking myself, "How many times have I been the bitter, angry, cynic? How many times have I prayed with that cynical root in my heart?" And its always the same excuse. Free Will. It trips me up. Yes, God can do anything. But, if we have free will, how can he make someone act a certain way? I guess the same way he was able to get Pharaoh to free the Israelites. Persuasion. Harsh if need be? And that's where we were last night in our Jesse Tree; the story of Moses and the Israelites and that stone tablet full of commands. And for those of us who know much about that journey in the wilderness... we know that those Israelites who witnessed miracle after miracle after miracle were incredible cynics, weren't they? At times bitter, angry, cynics. Remember the story of the Marah? And what does God tell them there? "If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who HEALS you."

This morning during my personal Advent time, the Scripture reading was found in Psalm 119:105-106, "Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. I've promised it once, and I'll promise it again; I will obey your righteous regulations." Isn't that what I promised as my confession of faith? That Christ is my Lord? And we see in Luke 6:46 "Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I say?" This is how He prepares the way. His Word, His commands, they lead me down the path of healing.

This whole post here, originated from a text message from someone close to me, going through a broken family relationship. The Lord reminded me of Micah 6:8 "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Because you see, I can point the finger so easily at all the faults of the other person, but that wouldn't allow me to walk humbly with my God. How can I possibly walk anywhere with Him knowing he knows every. single. sin. I have committed. Even some that I'm not aware of, yet in His loving mercy He forgave me. He even dares to walk this road with me, Him all white and holy; me all dirty with the grime of sin. I can advise to hold that person accountable, but that wouldn't be loving mercy, and it doesn't say to demand justice from others, it only says that I am to act justly (or do what is right). There is nothing but broken hearts left behind for this family that has fallen apart. But God promised, do what is right, ....and remember... I am the Lord who HEALS you. Satan would try to say, its too painful, its too risky, they're getting away with hurting others. But God says, "Have faith."


I have prayed for restoration for this family so many times. But every. single. time. It was with a cynical heart. I have no faith in the other party involved. But honestly, why am I so concerned with them? I should only be concerned with obeying my Lord's commands and from there on out, trust Him. If they break my heart, my LORD heals. If they break my friends' hearts, my LORD heals. It is not for me to seek revenge, or to dole out punishment. ALL that is required of me is to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God.

So from here on out, there is much weeding to be done pulling up those cynical roots. Lots of prayers for help with faith. Lots of prayers for my friends and all who are involved in this broken family. Lots of prayers and reminders that I am to be an encourager to obey His commands NOT an enabler to take it into our own hands.



Friday, November 15, 2013

Rest

Rest. I fight it hard. Even during the night time hours when I'm supposed to sleep soundly, I often wake up in the wee hours unable to fall back asleep. My movement disorder tries to get me to stop and relax too, when I'm doing too much, but I often shrug it off and try to push through the spasms, and awkward postures and the pain and pulling sensations. There's always something to be done. But the LORD spoke this word, "rest", to me today. Clear as a bell. Rest is important. What was rest designed for in the first place? Biblically? Time for a word study. My Logos Bible App  tells me that the Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:2 (the first place we see this word) means to cease, stop; to be absent; to come to an end; perish, die; to rest, celebrate (the Sabbath). Exodus 31:17 tells us that on the 7th day the LORD rested and was refreshed. This rest, this refreshment, was even important enough that the LORD made provision for the land to rest (Leviticus 26). So in times of rest I need to stop, be absent from the business of this world, die to myself, and rest in the provision of the LORD and celebrate the fact that He loved me so much that he has already met all of my needs. Resting is not laziness, its appreciation and an act of gratefulness. Imagine if I worked hard to prepare a great meal for my family and they instead of sitting down and enjoying it, came in and made themselves something to eat. Is that not what I do to my LORD when I don't stop and appreciate all that he has done for me? I am blessed. Abundantly. But do I even notice the meal laid out before me, in the business of doing? something? anything? So today, I will sit back and rest and give thanks to my God who loved me so much that He sent His Son, who also loves me, to pay the price of my sinless ways, to pay for the way I act, not even realizing what it is I'm doing. He has placed me in a land overflowing. I have warmth, shade, food, clean water, gadgets galore, a car, fuel, friends, family. I am blessed.  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 2 of 30 Days to Growth

Okay. I don't even know where to start. So I guess I'm just going to jump and see where I end up.

The focus verses for this post are still Ephesians 1:1-14. Suzie writes on her blog, "Digging into one passage and staying there for a while — a day, a week — helps us to really soak in the story of that passage."

Okay in my last post, when answering the question of theme, my answer was this:  God's love, divine purpose, and provision.
Well that's not exactly what they were looking for. The theme is 'in Christ'. And I love it. This phrase 'in Christ' didn't really stand out to me much in the NLT version I was reading from, but once I knew what to look for and then went and read our passages in a few other versions, (ESV, NIV, The Message) it really came alive.

Now first off, before Ephesians was a divine book in our Holy Bible, it was just a letter from a spiritual leader to a group of fellow Christians. So I like to take it and remove headings and verse numbers and try to read it as it originally was; a letter. That's how I've presented it here, but I'm also going to mark it up as I study it and look for my theme, 'in Christ'.

Ephesians 1:1-14
New International Version (NIV)


Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory
.So from this point I went and wrote out all the things we are 'in Christ'.
  • we are blessed with every spiritual blessing.
  • we are chosen to be holy and blameless in his sight.
  • we are adopted into His family with pleasure!
  • we are given glorious grace.
  • we are forgiven, paid for (with the price of a life).
  • the mystery of His will is made known to us.
  • we are chosen.
  • we have hope.
  • we are included.
  • we are marked with a seal--given the Holy Spirit.
From here it was my intention to go through and write out what each of these things meant to me but (for now) I never made it past the first thing; every spiritual blessing.

 "In Christ we are blessed with every spiritual blessing.” I keep going over it asking myself. What is this “spiritual blessing”? Then it hits me, “That’s the intro…. Its from there Paul is laying out these “spiritual blessings”" Its a spiritual blessing to be chosen, forgiven, redeemed, adopted, included, united, lavished, marked, sealed, given something to hope for, to hope in, to belong."

So yesterday and today I am going to think about these truths and how I don't want to take these things for granted. I am loved so much that Christ gave His life so that I would never have to feel worthless, left out, alone, unwanted, unloved. My life has a purpose and His Holy Spirit is proof of my inclusion. He leads me every day and is here, now, willing to teach me what I need to know. There is reason to hope and more importantly there is GREAT reason to rejoice and PRAISE my Creator. My Father. The lover of my soul. Who took pleasure in giving me these things. He didn't do it begrudgingly. And I would be wise to remember that the next time I have a bitter, unwilling, spirit that doesn't want to do what is asked of me.

I can't wait to see where this study takes me. Like a child up against the wall marking how tall they grow through the years, I hope to come out on the other side of this thing with a notable difference!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Express Love First....

I belong to a small group that gets together on Wednesday evenings to study and fellowship. We currently are going through the book of Malachi. In an effort to be consistent in my blogging, I figured today, I would blog some of my gleanings. The one I'll share didn't even come to me, until today while I was going over this past weekend's events, aka "The Melt-down", in my head. I was thinking about how it started. I think its a communication problem. One thing about the hubs and I, currently, is that we have a lot of heartbreak and rubble in our review mirror and it makes communication hard. We fall apart quickly.

If you don't know what the book of Malachi is about, I would encourage you to read it. Its a small book, only 4 chapters long. I will tell you its named after its author who is either a specific person or a title. Most people lean toward the latter, since Malachi means "my messenger". Malachi is sent to confront the Israelites of their sins of insincere worship and corruption. God is VERY upset. At one point He even threatens to rub their faces in manure (Ch 2:3)! But the very first thing conveyed is found in Chapter 1 verse 2, "I have always loved you," says the Lord.
And that got me to thinking....before I have a bone to pick with the hubs, or the kids for that matter, what are the first words out of my mouth? I'm willing to bet that 99.9% of the time its NOT, "I have always loved you." And I doubt my tone implies that thought either, even if its absolutely true....




Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day 1 of 30 Days to Growth

Day 1 of 30 Days to Growth

Today, read Ephesians 1:1-14. Ask these questions.
Who wrote this book? Paul the apostle. Paul was originally called Saul and was a Jewish leader who was very active in the persecution of the early Christians. Acts 9 tells of his conversion.
Who was he writing it to? God's holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.
Why did he write it? To make Christians more aware of their heavenly wealth in Christ and to motivate them to draw upon those resources in their earthly walk.
Is there a theme in this passage? God's love, divine purpose, and provision.
What was the author trying to say? That before the creation of the world God laid into action a way for us to be brought into His family. Providing the way for us to be a part of His family (the sacrifice of Christ) gives Him great pleasure. It was through unimaginable kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom from our sin and the sins of this world through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. And for those of us who believe in this miraculous, loving act of Redemption and in the person of Christ, who He is and what He has done... He has showered on us not only the grace of the forgiveness of our sins, but also all wisdom and understanding. Our receipt, our guarantee of this purchase of freedom, is in the gift of the Holy Spirit. And our ultimate purpose is to praise and glorify Him.
What scriptures in this passage spoke to me today, and why?
vs 3 - That being saved and becoming a Christian didn't only redeem me from my sins, or give me power to overcome the temptations of the sins in this world, but  it is like a gift pack, I also have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. Its not just life after death. Its a life FULL of EVERY SPRITUAL BLESSING in the heavenly realms.
vs 9 - So much of the old testament pointed to the Messiah. God has opened our eyes and ears to understand these things and once you go back and see all the ways Christ fulfilled those Scriptures... its just mind blowing! And, in my opinion, if there is any way for you to study Hebrew, there is just even more there than what most of us learn in Sunday School or during the morning Sermon. My favorite place to learn the culture of our LORD is from John J. Parsons the author of Hebrew for Christians.

Are there scriptures I don’t understand? I used to be very defensive and close-minded about questions that unbelievers or even doubtful believers had. I mostly wouldn't even listen to their questions. I took them as accusations against my God and some of them, where earnestly asking questions. I've come to finally understand that. Some of these questions I don't have an answer for. I wish I did if it would ease their minds and fortify their faith. One such question arises from verses like 4-5. A person close to me once said, If God knew beforehand the stew (His creation) was going to be bad (sin would be a part of His creation), why does He keep adding to it? Why didn't He throw out the stew? Why didn't He wipe out ALL of creation with the flood? I think because not all of the stew is ruined eternally with no hope... He has a secret ingredient (Christ) that can make some of the stew enjoyable. And God LOVES His stew. For now, we're all swimming in this pot of stew with some unsavory ingredients (maybe the juice/broth?) and Christ is the slotted spoon? He fishes the good stuff out while all the other stuff remains in the pot until God chooses to throw it out. Maybe??? I don't know. And I can't exactly explain the depth of my faith. Sometimes it holds on to me instead of me holding onto it. And I know that's God's saving Grace. Its one of the things I am most grateful for. And I don't know why not everyone feels that way.... but I wish they did. I hate that some struggle so much with doubt and faith.

Here I Go (Again) With This Blogging Thing....

Wow, its been a while. I do not do this consistent blogging thing well! Always with the good intentions but never the follow through... not with the blogging anyway. My intention this time around is to blog along with an online study, hosted by Suzie Eller, on Spiritual Growth. I have done really well about being in the Word on a near daily basis, but I've noticed I've become stagnant. This past weekend I was convicted about how my walk had become check-list oriented. My study had an agenda or an intense focus on what I wanted to learn. Now don't get me wrong, searching and praying with purpose is a great thing. But I think God is trying to let me know that I'm becoming too "busy" in my time reading and studying His Word and I haven't earnestly gone to Him seeking His will and direction first. It seems like one sure fire warning that I'm not growing is when my actions stop lining up with what I'm studying. When my walk isn't lining up with my talk. That happened this past weekend with an argument that led to melt-down between myself and my husband. And every single time this happens, whether the fault is mine or his, I can always go back and trace my steps to where I went off the path. And yesterday I found myself in my prayer closet (a small walk-in coat closet that we turned into my bible study area) feeling worthless. I felt like a pattern has shown itself in my life and that God had to be tired of hearing my apologies just as much as I was tired of saying them. I felt I was given a pretty stern warning from Matthew 5:13 about how my life is not my own and the way I behave influences, for good or bad, the lives of those closest to me and can ripple out from there. My actions have a pretty big impact on my husband and are to be an example to my children. Am I on the brink of becoming unsalty? Because in the day or two after the melt-down, I feel pretty worthless. Hmmm... I'm getting an analogy. Salt is thrown out on sidewalks and stairs to melt ice. So maybe I can remember the next time things are spiraling toward a melt-down that its a sign of worthless salt being thrown out and trampled underfoot. I love it! Thank you LORD! He knows how much I love a good analogy. Anyway.... after spending time in repentant prayer followed by my sincere paraphrasing of the Lord's Prayer, especially the part of feeding me His truth as my daily bread, He guided me to 1 Peter 2:1-3, "So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord's kindness."

Now I'm going to attempt to make my thoughts flow here... wish me luck!

James 1:22 tells me that I practice deceit whenever I spend time studying His Word yet don't apply it! "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." I'm lying to myself! I need to honestly come before the LORD with humility and pray for him to search my heart and open my eyes to my shortcomings! And its completely hypocritical of me to teach my children to act one way while I act another and then justify it by the circumstance. And I've thought about it before... what people would think if I had hidden cameras inside my home where they could see the other side of me; the tired, worn, cranky, yelling mother. The cold, pouty, angry wife who didn't get her way or who blows things out of proportion when expectations aren't met. I know we all mess up. I get that. But over and over and over again? In the same area? Proverbs 26:11 says, "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness." OUCH! and EWW! I don't want to make excuses for myself, here. I want to be honest and find a standard and try my hardest to measure up. I don't want to keep making the same mistakes or re-act the same (wrong) way whenever I read in Scriptures that I'm supposed to be different. If I just say, "That's why we have grace." and brush it off I will never change. And I want to change. GROW. And jealousy, that's what caused this most recent melt-down. I was measuring our family's happiness factor against what I perceive most other Christian families to look like and I didn't feel like we were measuring up. And maybe we're not... but they don't have live video feed in their homes either, so who knows how happy they really are. I must remember, "Comparison is the thief of joy!" And you know I couldn't call this episode a melt-down if there wasn't some unkind speech. A lot of unkind speech. That's what I regret the most. And its my BIGGEST problem. I fly off at the mouth and spew all these hateful things that I feel in the moment. And every. single. time. I do, I become a fool.

So back to this concept of growth. After finding this Scripture in 1 Peter, I ended up on FaceBook and in my newsfeed is this post on growth from Suzie Eller. The timing was perfect. So without further adieu... here I go to read the first installment (not counting the intro)....

My next blog post will be my thoughts/gleanings. I really do just love her heart!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Unfailing Love

Today's reading:
Psalm 36 (NLT)

Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts.
They have no fear of God at all.
In their blind conceit,
they cannot see how wicked they really are.
Everything they say is crooked and deceitful.
They refuse to act wisely or do good.
They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots.
Their actions are never good.
They make no attempt to turn from evil.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
in the shadow of your wings.
You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
letting them drink from your river of delights.
For you are the fountain of life,
the light by which we see.

Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you;
give justice to those with honest hearts.
Don’t let the proud trample me
or the wicked push me around.
Look! Those who do evil have fallen!
They are thrown down, never to rise again.

 I'm having a hard time focusing.... Today marks the one-year anniversary of my nephew's death. I'm distracted. I can't quit thinking about my SIL.... I desperately want to reach out but what do I say? And when I try to read this Scripture in view of what I'm feeling in the moment the one thing that stands out is unfailing love. And I go back and forth between comfort and feeling like its all a bit cliché. I guess that's the reality of the human condition. I will say shortly after my nephew's passing I came across this verse in Psalm and it gave me great comfort...because it was so him... I know this to be true of his situation. He is fully satisfied....

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Witnesses....

Today's pre-dated Scripture card is Isaiah 43:1 "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name, you are mine."
So I read the what fell under the Sub-heading 'The Savior of Israel' verses 1-13:
Isaiah 43:1-13 (NLT)

The Savior of Israel

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
Others were given in exchange for you.
I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
I will gather you and your children from east and west.
I will say to the north and south,
‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel
from the distant corners of the earth.
Bring all who claim me as their God,
for I have made them for my glory.
It was I who created them.’”

Bring out the people who have eyes but are blind,
who have ears but are deaf. (How often has this been me? How many times have I read a Scripture only to have an "Ah-Ha!" moment later on. How many times have I missed it completely? How many times has this deeper understanding felt like it was just on the horizon but I just never reach it? How many times have I just been a fool (Jeremiah 5:21) or rebellious (Ezekiel 12:2)?)
Gather the nations together!
Assemble the peoples of the world!
Which of their idols has ever foretold such things?
Which can predict what will happen tomorrow?
Where are the witnesses of such predictions?
Who can verify that they spoke the truth?

“But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the Lord.
“You are my servant.
You have been chosen to know me, believe in me,
and understand that I alone am God.
There is no other God—
there never has been, and there never will be.
I, yes I, am the Lord,
and there is no other Savior
.
First I predicted your rescue,
then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world.
No foreign god has ever done this.
You are witnesses that I am the only God,”
says the Lord.
“From eternity to eternity I am God.
No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.
No one can undo what I have done
.”

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

For When I'm Nearsighted....

Today's pre-dated Scripture card was for Proverbs 15:15 ".... for the happy heart, life is a continual feast." So I read the entire 15th chapter of Proverbs:

Proverbs 15 (NLT)

A gentle answer deflects anger,
but harsh words make tempers flare.
The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing,
but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.

The Lord is watching everywhere,
keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.

Gentle words are a tree of life;
a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

Only a fool despises a parent’s discipline;
whoever learns from correction is wise.

There is treasure in the house of the godly,
but the earnings of the wicked bring trouble.

The lips of the wise give good advice;
the heart of a fool has none to give
. (Not that you're a fool because you have no advice to give but because you're a fool none of your advice is worth taking!)

The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
but he delights in the prayers of the upright.

The Lord detests the way of the wicked,
but he loves those who pursue godliness.

Whoever abandons the right path will be severely disciplined;
whoever hates correction will die.

Even Death and Destruction hold no secrets from the Lord.
How much more does he know the human heart! (I tend to make excuses for my behavior because I feel sorry for myself and I know how difficult a situation is, and because God "knows my heart" he will have pity on me.... not always the case. The LORD also knows when I'm just being bitter or selfish and don't want to give others the grace and mercy I so badly desire and desperately need if there's to be any hope for me at all!)

Mockers hate to be corrected,
so they stay away from the wise.

A glad heart makes a happy face;
a broken heart crushes the spirit.
(Oh how my broken heart keeps my spirit crushed. I need to pray more diligently for God to heal my broken places)

A wise person is hungry for knowledge,
while the fool feeds on trash.
(Convicting me on the music I let my children listen to. I'm not nearly as restricting with their music as I am their television/movie restrictions)

For the despondent, every day brings trouble;
for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.
(Despondent. Hopeless. Downtrodden. These are the feelings that steal my joy. Why is that? Why do I feel these things? Just yesterday I was reminded of the TRUE reason for my JOY... and it wasn't my circumstances. It was in Isaiah 61"I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness." My problem is in my seeing. I am too easily blinded by my circumstances. My 'Spiritual sight' doesn't hold my attention. And that is unfortunate. It must change!)

Better to have little, with fear for the Lord,
than to have great treasure and inner turmoil
. (This one kind of speaks for itself but its good advice I often forget... or chalk up to being better fit for the more wealthy people. But today's little reminder from a Max Lucado flip calendar I have says this: "Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot." Luke 12:15 (The Message) "Are you in prison? If your happiness comes from something you deposit, drive, drink, or digest, then face it--you are in prison, the prison of want. That's the bad news. The good news is, you have a visitor. And your visitor has a message that can get you paroled. Make your way to the receiving room. Take your seat in the chair, and look across the table at the psalmist, David. He motions for you to lean forward. " I have a secret to tell you," he whispers, "the secret of satisfaction. 'The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want'" (Psalm 23:1)) 

A bowl of vegetables with someone you love
is better than steak with someone you hate.

A hot-tempered person starts fights;
a cool-tempered person stops them.

A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers,
but the path of the upright is an open highway.
(Sometimes I catch myself saying, or thinking, "Man I just can't catch a break!" Maybe its because I am being lazy. Because its hard work to take a good hard look at myself and see what it is I'm doing wrong or what sinful behavior am I feeding. Its hard work to intentionally change.)

Sensible children bring joy to their father;
foolish children despise their mother.

Foolishness brings joy to those with no sense;
a sensible person stays on the right path.

Plans go wrong for lack of advice;
many advisers bring success.

Everyone enjoys a fitting reply;
it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!

The path of life leads upward for the wise;
they leave the grave behind.

The Lord tears down the house of the proud,
but he protects the property of widows.

The Lord detests evil plans,
but he delights in pure words.

Greed brings grief to the whole family,
but those who hate bribes will live. (I discussed earlier in another post what taking a bribe looks like in my life. Its when I give in to the satisfaction of my emotions. When I listen to the lie of the enemy that it will feel better to speak my mind or be mean or get angry or _______. I've taken a bribe for immediate gratification instead of the promise of peace that comes after the discipline of holding my tongue and offering grace, love, and mercy or simply just turning my cheek.)

The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking;
the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.

The Lord is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayers of the righteous.

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart;
good news makes for good health.

If you listen to constructive criticism,
you will be at home among the wise.

If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself;
but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.

Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom;
humility precedes honor.

I underlined/bold/italicized what stood out to me. And in a different color and in parenthesis I add my thoughts beneath.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Little Bit of Everything.

The verse on today's pre-dated Scripture card was Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed."

So I read the entire 61st chapter of Isaiah.... and it blessed me and spoke to me about so many things. My head is spinning. Where do I begin? I will underline here what I underlined in my 'real life' journal and outline my thoughts...
Isaiah 61 (NLT)
Good News for the Oppressed

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
though they have been deserted for many generations.
Foreigners will be your servants.
They will feed your flocks
and plow your fields
and tend your vineyards.
You will be called priests of the Lord,
ministers of our God
.
You will feed on the treasures of the nations
and boast in their riches.
Instead of shame and dishonor,
you will enjoy a double share of honor.
You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice.
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be recognized
and honored among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
the Lord has blessed.”

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit
or a bride with her jewels.
The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
with plants springing up everywhere.


  1.  captives will be released: I did a quick Google search for the definition of captive and definition #2 best fit me. It is defined as, 'one held in the grip of a strong emotion or passion.' I have the strong tendency to be an emotional wreck guys. I may seem okay on the outside (sometimes) but I'm going nuts on the inside. I have 'broken free' and escaped my captors on several occasions.... but I always get found out and led back to my 'chains.' Its a terrible cycle. But I'm reminded here that I have the key to my shackles--Christ!
  2. enemies: I've had a few 'enemies' in my lifetime but ultimately I've come to realize (see note 1) that my true enemy is Satan and how he uses these people to lead me back into my 'emotional prison.' When I'm at peace and not in utter turmoil I truly harbor no ill will towards these people. When I let God have control I can see with His heart how they're his loved creation too! I do get frustrated though, at how these truths are like sand in the palm of my hands.... How I long to hold onto it for good.
  3. festive praise instead of despair: That word, despair. 2009 marked a tragic time in my life and I've been fighting despair ever since. I long for a day of festive praise! If only I could once and for all fix my eyes on the spiritual and not so much my circumstances.
  4. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.: I read this and got a little excited since my last reading had me focusing on the Terebinth tree. When I read this I think of how great oaks provide shade. And like my reading in Psalm last week, we learned how shade is a place of refreshment or protection from the heat of the sun and the hardships of life. Maybe when we walk in righteousness we can glorify God by providing shade to others in their hardships?
  5. rebuild and revive: Again, when we walk in righteousness maybe we can help others to rebuild their broken lives and revive their down-trodden spirit?
  6. You will be called priests of the LORD, ministers of our God.: This is our purpose! Bringing glory to God trough being examples of himself! We are called to influence those around us. Instead of passing judgment on the hurting sinful people around us, maybe we can look deeper and recognize our own struggles in them? Maybe we can see the face of God in their eyes and the lies of the enemy that haven taken them captive too. Here the Hebrew word for minister is 'sharath' which means to serve but not  in terms of  general labor but more like public servant. We are serving God. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us, "You are royal priests,* a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light." Note: the goodness of God not the judgment of God. Also we find in 2 Corinthians 3 that "You are a letter from Christ... written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God." and "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
  7. I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness.: I actually circled this in my journal. Because this is it! The ultimate TRUTH! My HOPE. And where my JOY should come from. My PEACE... this says it all!
  8. Everyone: I'm reminded in Romans 14 and Philippians 2 how everyone will profess Christ as Lord and every knee will bow. I long for the restoration of all things. For the Day when all Truth is revealed and there will be no more lies from the enemy.
  9. His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.: Can you imagine a life where sinlessness just pops up everywhere? I am going to challenge myself to start looking for this here and now. Instead of looking around me and constantly complaining about the sin I see all around. I'm going to start looking for the opposite. And with each moment I hope to reflect on the goodness of God and remember my hope.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Choose Today

Today's verse from my pre-dated Scripture card is Joshua 24:15 "But as for me and my family, we sill serve the LORD."

So I read....

Joshua 24:1-28 (NLT)

The Lord’s Covenant Renewed

Then Joshua summoned all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, including their elders, leaders, judges, and officers. So they came and presented themselves to God.

Joshua said to the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River, and ...
they worshiped other gods. But I took your ancestor Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him into the land of Canaan. I gave him many descendants through his son Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave the mountains of Seir, while Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

“Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I brought terrible plagues on Egypt; and afterward I brought you out as a free people. But when your ancestors arrived at the Red Sea, the Egyptians chased after you with chariots and charioteers. When your ancestors cried out to the Lord, I put darkness between you and the Egyptians. I brought the sea crashing down on the Egyptians, drowning them. With your very own eyes you saw what I did. Then you lived in the wilderness for many years.

“Finally, I brought you into the land of the Amorites on the east side of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I destroyed them before you. I gave you victory over them, and you took possession of their land. Then Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, started a war against Israel. He summoned Balaam son of Beor to curse you, but I would not listen to him. Instead, I made Balaam bless you, and so I rescued you from Balak.

“When you crossed the Jordan River and came to Jericho, the men of Jericho fought against you, as did the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. But I gave you victory over them. And I sent terror ahead of you to drive out the two kings of the Amorites. It was not your swords or bows that brought you victory. I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build—the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them.

“So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

The people replied, “We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods. For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, he preserved us. It was the Lord who drove out the Amorites and the other nations living here in the land. So we, too, will serve the Lord, for he alone is our God.”

Then Joshua warned the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy and jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you abandon the Lord and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you.”

But the people answered Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!”

You are a witness to your own decision,” Joshua said. “You have chosen to serve the Lord.”

“Yes,” they replied, “we are witnesses to what we have said.”

“All right then,” Joshua said, “destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God. We will obey him alone.”

So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day at Shechem, committing them to follow the decrees and regulations of the Lord. Joshua recorded these things in the Book of God’s Instructions. As a reminder of their agreement, he took a huge stone and rolled it beneath the terebinth tree beside the Tabernacle of the Lord.

Joshua said to all the people, “This stone has heard everything the Lord said to us. It will be a witness to testify against you if you go back on your word to God.”

Then Joshua sent all the people away to their own homelands.
As I read through this, the beginning reminded me of scolding's I've given my children. Where I remind them of all the things we given them; unearned! And I thought about how God was counting their blessings for them. I have to get better at this.
Also I'm reminded (once again) how I've let a situation in my life bring forth bitter waters in my soul and I complain like the Israelites at Marah instead of believing and trusting in my LORD and choosing today to drink in the living waters of His Spirit the waters that bring forth life not bitterness. As I arrive here at this thought, I'm reminded of Elijah's plea to the people, "How long will you waver between two opinions?" I've never been a big fan of tattoos but I'm leaning towards getting one.... of the terebinth tree.... with a stone beneath it that says 'I've chosen'..... and then I think and remember a quote I saw on FB just this morning.... "It's not the life you choose, its the life you live." I've got to be more intentional!
While searching images of the terebinth tree I came across this poem written by Bud Morris of Delavan, IL
Shechem and The Terebinth Trees
Abram passed through the land of the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh.  Genesis 12:6
Early on, Shechem ("Shoulder") seemed to be a place of choice between serving the Lord and worshipping idols. It lay in the hollow between Mt. Gerizem and Mt. Ebal. It was frequently associated with Terebinth trees, which may symbolize the aspect of the cross as the source of strength and fortitude needed to serve the Lord.
Have you come as far as Shechem in your Christianity? To the Terebinth of Moreh that foreshadows Calvary? Why stop short of all the goodness to which holiness aspires? Crucify the flesh within you with its passions and desires.
If you covet all the blessings of Mounth Gerizem of old, And you shudder at the curses Ebal's echoes have foretold, You must choose to serve the LORD and know the riches of His grace, And your soul will not regret it when you meet Him face to face.
Bury all the foreign idols you've collected from your birth, gods of money, gods of pleasure, all the attitudes of earth; They will rob you of your blessings, they will surely cause you loss if you fail to leave them underneath the shadow of the cross.
Put away the gods of Egypt that are lurking in your soul; If you let them gain a foothold they will take complete control. Serve the Lord who died to save you, He is worthy of your praise; And enjoy the Spirit's blessings the remainder of your days 
 




 

 

 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Praying Friends and Praise!

Today's verse from my pre-dated Scripture card is found in Daniel 2:20.... my reading for today:
Daniel 2: 1-23 (NLT)
Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

One night during the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had such disturbing dreams that he couldn’t sleep. He called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers, and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed. As they stood before the king, he said, “I have had a dream that deeply troubles me, and I must know what it means.”

...
Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, “Long live the king! Tell us the dream, and we will tell you what it means.”

But the king said to the astrologers, “I am serious about this. If you don’t tell me what my dream was and what it means, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into heaps of rubble! But if you tell me what I dreamed and what the dream means, I will give you many wonderful gifts and honors. Just tell me the dream and what it means!”

They said again, “Please, Your Majesty. Tell us the dream, and we will tell you what it means.”

The king replied, “I know what you are doing! You’re stalling for time because you know I am serious when I say, ‘If you don’t tell me the dream, you are doomed.’ So you have conspired to tell me lies, hoping I will change my mind. But tell me the dream, and then I’ll know that you can tell me what it means.”

The astrologers replied to the king, “No one on earth can tell the king his dream! And no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician, enchanter, or astrologer! The king’s demand is impossible. No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they do not live here among people.”

The king was furious when he heard this, and he ordered that all the wise men of Babylon be executed. And because of the king’s decree, men were sent to find and kill Daniel and his friends.

When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, came to kill them, Daniel handled the situation with wisdom and discretion. He asked Arioch, “Why has the king issued such a harsh decree?” So Arioch told him all that had happened. Daniel went at once to see the king and requested more time to tell the king what the dream meant.

Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened. He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon. That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. He said,

“Praise the name of God forever and ever,
for he has all wisdom and power.
He controls the course of world events;
he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the scholars.
He reveals deep and mysterious things
and knows what lies hidden in darkness,
though he is surrounded by light.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors,
for you have given me wisdom and strength.
You have told me what we asked of you
and revealed to us what the king demanded.”

A few things I take away from this reading today are first that Daniel in a time of great stress... I mean could you imagine someone from the Military showing up at your door to lead you to your execution?... handled the situation with wisdom and discretion.  Second, he asked his friends to pray. I've gotten better in this area of my life. I used to find it so hard to ask for prayer. I felt it was weak or needy and honestly some things are just extremely private. Also I don't have many friends. But God has gifted me this past year with a friend that I know I can turn do with any issue and ask for her prayers and I trust she is faithful to do it. Prayer is not something to be taken lightly. I have gotten much more intentional with my comments that I will pray... if I say I will, I do my best to stop what I'm doing in the moment and actually do it and if its something in the future I have started to set reminders on my phone so I won't forget. This is one thing I love about this lovely blogger over at Coffee with Jesus. She is so faithful to pray over any request you share with her. So if you are needing a friend to pray with you might I suggest stopping in over here. Or leave me a comment and I will be humbled to pray for you as well.

And lastly, he remembered to praise God for his answered prayer. I'm reminded of the 10 Lepers found in Luke Chapter 11. I don't want to be like the nine ungrateful lepers.




 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

If You.....(Now That's a bit Misleading...)

Today's reading:
Psalm 91

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”
Hmmm.... At first glance, David or whomever wrote this Psalm sounds a bit like BilBad from yesterday's reading in Job. But the longer I reflect and read over it... not as much. Is he recollecting the first Passover in regards to protection of deadly diseases that come in the night? Because my first read through made me stop and think, "Wait I know SEVERAL good Christian people that have suffered painful death caused from diseases, like cancer." I read the second paragraph and I think this could easily get taken the wrong way... "If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home." That doesn't seem to hold any truth when taken at face value, right? Then the famous quote that Satan used when tempting Christ in Matthew Chapter 4. When this happens maybe I should stop and see where two stories are colliding. Is this more of a prophecy? Is this more of a spiritual thing--and not physical? Because this past year more than any other year of my life has been deeply spiritual. And I don't see it as that until the battle has been won by my attacker! I'm struggling to put into words what I know in my heart but I don't think that believing and trusting and doing our best as a believer will win us some imaginary force field against trouble. I do believe that our best bet at getting through it is to look to our Savior. Because while physical death, disease and turmoil may over-take us here, it won't in the life to come.

P.S. I did turn to 'Google' to try and get some sort of help in this blog post, I eventually gave up. No one is reading this anyway and I understand what I'm trying to say... But I did come across this article over at Desiring God and I LOVED it! So with that..... 'Let us read!"
 


 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

For When I'm Feeling Hopeless....

Today's key verse on my pre-dated card was Job 8:21 "He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy."
I can't tell you how timely this verse is.... Here's the entire Chapter:
Job 8 (NLT)
Bildad’s First Response to Job

Then Bildad the Shuhite replied to Job:

“How long will you go on like this?
You sound like a blustering wind.
Does God twist justice?
Does the Almighty twist what is right?
Your children must have sinned against him,
... so their punishment was well deserved.
But if you pray to God
and seek the favor of the Almighty,
and if you are pure and live with integrity,
he will surely rise up and restore your happy home.
And though you started with little,
you will end with much.

“Just ask the previous generation.
Pay attention to the experience of our ancestors.
For we were born but yesterday and know nothing.
Our days on earth are as fleeting as a shadow.
But those who came before us will teach you.
They will teach you the wisdom of old.

“Can papyrus reeds grow tall without a marsh?
Can marsh grass flourish without water?
While they are still flowering, not ready to be cut,
they begin to wither more quickly than grass.
The same happens to all who forget God.
The hopes of the godless evaporate.
Their confidence hangs by a thread.
They are leaning on a spider’s web.
They cling to their home for security, but it won’t last.
They try to hold it tight, but it will not endure.
The godless seem like a lush plant growing in the sunshine,
its branches spreading across the garden.
Its roots grow down through a pile of stones;
it takes hold on a bed of rocks.
But when it is uprooted,
it’s as though it never existed!
That’s the end of its life,
and others spring up from the earth to replace it.

“But look, God will not reject a person of integrity,
nor will he lend a hand to the wicked.
He will once again fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy.
Those who hate you will be clothed with shame,
and the home of the wicked will be destroyed.”


I don't think we'll ever know why bad things happen; to the good, bad, guilty or innocent. I used to think the same way Bilbad and Job's other friends think. It must be because of sin! I don't necessarily think that way anymore. I will be the first to admit that from this side of heaven a lot of unfair things seem to happen, but ultimately I can only find peace in handing it over to God and trusting He knows what's best. Sometimes I do that quite well. And sometimes I don't. Sometimes I give it to Him just to grab it back later. But verse 21 was definitely something my hopeless soul needed to hear lately. I don't know if my laughter and joy will come on this side of heaven or the other but its coming one way or the other.... its hard to remember that sometimes. That these dark moments won't last an eternity. It only seems that way sometimes.....

Monday, July 29, 2013

It's All About The Journey... not the destination.

Today's reading comes from Psalm 121. The chapter heading reads, 'A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.' And I immediately think of my Siesta verse #9 -- Psalm 84:5 "Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage." I had chosen this verse as a reminder of my purpose. I had finally come to realize that somewhere along my journey I had gotten mixed up in my understanding and while I knew that my salvation was a gift unearned, I had ended up with this terribly self-righteous attitude. Also I become pre-occupied with Hell and would find myself on this roller-coaster of "faith" where I just couldn't reconcile the whole works vs. faith thing! Then somewhere along the way, God saw me in my mess and quieted all the noise from the preachers, and teachers, and well meaning believers and helped me to stop focusing on the destination and start focusing on Him. On Christ who only desired a true relationship with him. And if I'm walking with him I shouldn't be so caught up in my destination. Because HE is the destination. He will never lead me away from himself.

Pilgrimage is defined as: a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion.
Psalm 121 

I look up to the mountains--does my help come from there?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.
The LORD himself watches over you.
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.
The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
So here I'm reminded that my focus (help) should be on the LORD, my travel guide & companion. Not on what's going on around me. Not the mountains on the horizon or the one's in the rear-view mirror. Not what I hope or fear in the future. Not some difficult climb from my past. The past is over and gone! Tomorrow isn't a guarantee. When my focus is on Him, I won't stumble. Its only when I take my eyes off of him that I stumble. I can be confident that He never sleeps. He is always aware of my circumstances. He 'stands beside you as your protective shade' -- at first glace I read this and thought of so many examples of his lack of protection in my life, the life of biblical characters, and those in the headlines. But now after prayer and a deeper reflection... I think... you can't have shade without the sun. So he's not saying difficult circumstances won't come upon us, but if our focus remains on Him during those times, we can find refreshment in the shade of his promises. In the shade of his mercy. His grace. His love. It may be hot... but not AS hot. There we can regain our strength ('blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage---remember?) To me the sun is a metaphor for life-- the hard circumstances that come from living in this fallen world and the moon is more of a metaphor for the attack of the enemy. The LORD is keeping watch. He's not asleep. He's right there.... and when I feel the heat of the sun or the creepiness of the night with all its shadows... where do I go. All I need to do is look to my companion. He's right there beside me the whole time. He's not waiting at the end. He's right here on this journey with me! When life gets hard (hot) I need to remember without Him its a lot harder (hotter) and when the enemy creeps in and I start to doubt or stumble I am reminded by my companion that "[He] is the LORD [my] God who takes hold of [my] right hand and says, 'Do not fear, I will help you!" (Is. 41:13) I have set my heart on this pilgrimage! My strength is in the LORD! I because of HIM, I am blessed!
 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

For When I'm "Passionate".... in the wrong ways

Ephesians 2:1-10 (NLT)

Made Alive with Christ

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
When my husband and I enter into a discussion, often times the conversation can escalate. He will then accuse me of being angry or at times, self righteous. I'm quick with the comeback that I'm neither "I'm passionate," I say. Hopefully this wording will help me to keep my 'passions' a little more in check. :)

I need to exercise my 'self-control muscle' a lot more! Which reminds me of a journal sketch I did based off of a guest blog post over at Ann Voskamp's A Holy Experience.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

For When I'm Slipping....

Psalm 73 (NLT)

1Truly God is good to Israel,
    to those whose hearts are pure.
But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
    My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
For I envied the proud
    when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
They seem to live such painless lives;
    their bodies are so healthy and strong.
They don’t have troubles like other people;
    they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.
They wear pride like a jeweled necklace
    and clothe themselves with cruelty.
These fat cats have everything
    their hearts could ever wish for!
They scoff and speak only evil;
    in their pride they seek to crush others.
They boast against the very heavens,
    and their words strut throughout the earth.
10 And so the people are dismayed and confused,
    drinking in all their words.
11 “What does God know?” they ask.
    “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?”
12 Look at these wicked people—
    enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.
13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?
    Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?
14 I get nothing but trouble all day long;
    every morning brings me pain.
15 If I had really spoken this way to others,
    I would have been a traitor to your people.
16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
    But what a difficult task it is!
17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
    and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path
    and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
19 In an instant they are destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors.
20 When you arise, O Lord,
    you will laugh at their silly ideas
    as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.
21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
    and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
    I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 Yet I still belong to you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
    but God remains the strength of my heart;
    he is mine forever.
27 Those who desert him will perish,
    for you destroy those who abandon you.
28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
    and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
 
 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rest

Yesterday's reading was from Ecclesiastes 11:1-6. I suggest reading it in The Message version. Its cryptic. LOL.

Today's pre-dated card was from Hebrews 4:16. I read the entire 4th chapter of Hebrews.

Promised Rest for God’s People

God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,
“In my anger I took an oath:
    ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’”
even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.” But in the other passage God said, “They will never enter my place of rest.”
So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:
“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts.”
Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.
12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Remember a few days/posts ago, where I had prayed this prayer about rest? And now here we are four days later reading an entire chapter on the Promised Rest for God's People. Interesting, don't you think. So I had prayed that I wanted to rest in Him alone. And here in the first few verses he says its something of such importance that we should tremble with fear that some might fail to experience it! WoW!  He goes on to explain that only we who believe can enter His rest. If when we hear His voice we don't harden our hearts! We're then encouraged to "do our best to enter that rest" and not to fall by way of disobedience as the people of Israel did. We're reminded that we can't hide from God. He knows us completely and our best bet at getting to know our true selves, our true nature, is to measure ourselves by the Word of God. And through obedience to His Word we can best achieve this rest. By marking out a straight path for our feet! And for the times when we fail? We can hold to what we believe about Christ. That He has experienced all we have, except the sin, and He offers us mercy and grace during the times we need it most.