Sunday, December 31, 2006
Sometimes we face a personal struggle, or mountain, that can block us from receiving God's blessings. If we can just muster up the faith to be patient and persevere, God can make that mountain into a road. The God who makes mountains can flatten them in a heartbeat. If we believe with all our heart that God can help us overcome that struggle, he will show us the way over the mountain. Keep going, tiny step by tiny step, and God will take care of those mountains when you need it most. Zechariah 4:10 says "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin," Keep it up and remain steadfast in your faith, he will see you through to the other side of the mountain.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
One of the things I find amazing about this verse is the "absolute-ness" of it. If I have this tiny measurement of faith, what I want will be so. How is that possible? I can hope that I am on the right track. More and more I find myself seeking God's will in the things I do. Even something as simple as shopping. Should I go buy groceries today? And there are plenty of days where God has said "No, stay home today." Now, he doesn't come right out and I hear his voice loud and clear or anything, but I will get an overwhelming desire to stay home and the idea for dinner will appear in what I have in the house at the time. And who knows what the reason behind the decision to stay home may be. Perhaps we are avoiding a horrific accident on the way, or maybe the beef I intended to purchase is contaminated that day, or maybe I'm just not supposed to spend money that day because an unforeseen expense is coming up. It doesn't matter to me the reason. I just know that when I've been praying about a decision, however simple it is, when I start to feel a string urging one way or another, I know I have my answer.
One thing is certain. There is ALWAYS an answer. Sometimes the answer may not be what I want it to be initially, but the desire I originally had does go away. As an example, this past fall, I was leaning towards beginning the process of home buying. Having our financials examined, doing some preliminary real-estate walk-throughs, that kind of thing. I prayed on this, and asked God for his will on this matter. I put complete faith in God that he knows what is best for us, and what our future holds, and whether it was time for this speculating or not. A short while after that, Andy's job was in danger, and I got a very clear and resounding "no, it is not time for you." And amazingly, the desire to look into buying a home went away. As a result, over the past several months, we have taken steps to help our finances along, we've gotten smarter with money, both our credit scores are going up, and we chose instead (with God's blessing) to buy Andy a reliable car. And I know that when we do get to the point of buying a home, it will be everything we want PLUS. God wants us to be happy, and he has promised me that if I am patient, and continue trusting in him, our faith will be well-rewarded.
With faith the size of a mustard seed I can move mountains. With faith, I can pray for my little girl who has a fever, and know that when she wakes in the morning she will be well. With faith, I know that I can pray over my checkbook, and know that our bills will be paid on time, and the money will be there when I need it most. With faith, I can do anything! My God is amazing and he gives me the desire to have faith in him. Faith is such a wonderful thing, it is a source of contentment and complete trust. As we roll into the new year, I am praying wholeheartedly that my faith will grow stronger and not waver.
Friday, December 29, 2006
There is so much joy to be had just by living in the Lord. And by allowing him to prune away the "yucky branches" of our past life, we can grow to be sweet and fruitful. There is no need to hang onto those bad branches of the past. Imagine how wonderful it could be to stop viewing every move with caution and sourness! Having a positive attitude towards life is a fantastic gift from God, and it can be such a witness to other people as well. People are truly amazed when Andy is discussing work and time off, and saying how he isn't worried a bit because God will provide. There is certainly some disbelief there, and some shaking of heads, but a seed may have been planted that some day will bear it's own fruit.
God is great! He is an amazing provider, and a wonderful gardener. I am grateful to him for removing my dead branches and allowing the ones I have to sweeten. It's so much better living a life of sweetness and optimism. And hopefully, it's contagious. :-)
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
36In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas[a]), who was always doing good and helping the poor. 37About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, "Please come at once!"
39Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
Tabitha was a servant. She was generous and talented and she was constantly sharing what she had with the less fortunate. In return, the people she helped turned out in droves to mourn her passing and do what they could for her. The example here is what can happen when we spend time helping others, they in turn, will help us out when we need it most. These verses continue as Peter arrives at Tabitha's death bed, and the prayers of all those in attendance are heard, and Peter raises Tabitha from the dead. If that isn't a benefit of serving others, I don't know what is! Serving others is such an important part of faith and believing in God, and sometimes, we forget that. There are so many times when we should be placing others needs before our own. But do we?
In the example of the movie, It's A Wonderful Life, George Bailey was always kind and generous- even when he couldn't afford to do so. And even thought the crux of the movie is what the world would have been like if he hadn't been born, it's also important to see the message of sharing with others. because what happened when George spent his life sharing all he had with those around him? They turned around and helped him when he needed it most. What goes around comes around.
How can you be a servant to someone? That is something to think on today and the days to come I think.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
11So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life."
Not only did God grant Solomon his wisdom, but he gave him so much more! He gave Solomon riches and honor, and a long life. All because he asked God for wisdom, and that pleased God so much, that he wanted to heap his blessings on Solomon. That is a fantastic lesson! How many times do we not even ask God for help or for something. Here we have a lesson that not only do we get what we ask for, but sometimes God gives us more, and just decides that he wants to bless us even further. That is incredibly exciting, and a wonderful reminder of how often we don't ask God for something. Why not? Because he thinks it's unimportant? To God, there is no such thing, we are all important in his eyes. And if we are truly walking with him, he will give us the desires for the things he wants to give us, all we need to do is ask.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
I leave you today with the famous words of that Christmas expert, Linus Van Pelt.
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the lord shone round about them, and they were afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men'". That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie brown.
Merry Christmas to all of you, may God Bless you wonderfully and may you be filled to the brim with the Joy of Christmas.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
I feel like that sometimes when I'm reading the Bible. I'll read something several times, and I just can't quite grasp what is beyond what I'm reading. What is the meaning of this verse? Or why did God lead me here this morning, this isn't applicable. I have learned though, that this is a lesson to be more like Mary. Daily Bible reading, even if I don't quite grasp it every day, is actually gathering treasure. Just as Mary did after the birth of her son, I to can gather little nuggets of treasure from God. Then later on in the day as I'm doing dishes or playing trains with Zander, I can take a few moments to ponder those things that are in my heart. Or perhaps they will just stay there for a while, and then one day I will read something or hear a message that will turn the light bulb on.
The experts say that learning happens best in the morning. Your brain is more alert, and you more readily absorb knowledge. It only makes sense that time with God would be best applied in the morning. Spending time in the morning in God's Word can lead to an entire day of occasional reflection, of pondering things quietly treasured. And the more time you spend in God's Word, the more treasures there are available to reflect on. When I was young, there was an afternoon cartoon on by Disney that featured Scrooge McDuck, the wealthiest person in the world. Daily he would go for a "swim" in his vault of money and gold. That is how I want to start my day, only I don't want it to be real gold, but God's Gold. Think about that, think about immersing yourself completely in God's Word, enjoying every second and reveling in it completely. I can start with Mary's example, and quit sweating the days I'm not grasping what I am reading. I can just thank God for sharing it with me, and reflect on it further. What a wonderful thing to be able to spend bits of time throughout the day thinking on what he has shown me.
Friday, December 22, 2006
In the fullness of time, He carved out a plan;
With one sacrifice He would rescue all man,
In the fullness of time He came.
"In the fullness of time, the Word became flesh;
In the fullness of time, all nations were blessed.
For Jesus had come baring our righteousness,
In the fullness of time He came.
"And the whole world cried, 'Hosanna, God save us!'
And heaven replied, and called His name, 'Jesus!'
King of kings and Lord of lords,
In the fullness of time He came."
This is an exerpt from a song that our choir sang in our Singing Christmas Tree. Read the words and rejoice in the fact that God hears us, answered our cry for a Savior, and sent His ONLY Son to be our sacrifice, so that we can live in fellowship with Him! THIS is why we celebrate Christmas...the greatest gift of all, Jesus and His sacrifice!
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.
Many people I know seem discontent with their life. There never is enough of anything for them. Not enough time, not enough things, and not enough money to go around. They walk around waiting for the "next big thing", hoping that it will fulfill all their needs and desires. In this verse, David uses gold and honey to describe the value of God's word. Gold represents wealth, for the Bible is wealthy in knowledge and understanding. Honey represents the sweet success of living in that knowledge. All the wealth in the world cannot satisfy us like God's word for us. Christ is the sweetest treasure and he alone can provide complete satisfaction. There are eternal riches waiting for us, and earthly gold cannot substitute for any of that. The law of the Lord is perfect! Collecting earthly riches puts us at risk of losing those riches in some way, but accumulating the knowledge and understanding that comes with God's word can only benefit us and enrich our lives, causing complete contentment.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture."
Isn't that awesome! That is such a beautiful picture to me- The Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. Can't you just see that? Can't you see the most beautiful sunrise you've ever seen, accompanied by the flutter of healing- healing from pain, sickness, stress. Total comfort and total peace. I can just close my eyes and imagine the feeling of warm, comforting wings being wrapped around my body like a toasty blanket on a cold winter's night. We can have that! All we need to do is recognize and fear the Name of God. This is a promise, a promise of good things to come for those of us who revere our God.
But wait! There's more! Look at the second part of that verse- leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. :-) I can just see a cartoon of calves leaping for joy in a sweet green meadow. filled with clover and sunshine. Pure bliss. Imagine the joy and the bliss that will come from total healing and total comfort. No more worries or sorrow, just pure joy at being in the presence of Our God.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Let's start with grace. According to my Bible, the Greek word for grace is related to a common greeting, and means kindness, or goodwill. May God give you grace. Hmm. May God give you kindness and goodwill. I think I like that thought. May he give me the grace TO be kind and share goodwill with others.
Then there's peace. The Hebrew greeting Shalom means peace! It has to do with an actual state of being. Not quiet or stillness of noise, it means stillness of the mind and heart. A calmness that we receive from God when he takes away our sin and welcomes us to his flock. Grace is how we best explain the great gift of Jesus, and peace is the result of that gift. I just love how they work together.
In Paul's various letters, he often described God as a God of peace and the God who gives peace. Philippians 4:9 says "Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you." God gives us the peace we need as we follow his instructions and remember what he has done for us. As followers of Christ, we have this wonderful life of peace that comes from grace. "Peace on earth, Goodwill toward men". That is really appropriate for today's thoughts. Jesus came to earth to bring us peace, via his grace. This Christmas season, may God continue to bless us all with peace. Peace of mind, peace of heart, peace of soul. It's a wonderful feeling.
Monday, December 18, 2006
God has also been the ultimate provider. Just as the first time we see this name, Jehovah-Jireh, a father is offering his son for sacrifice, God as Jehovah-Jireh offered His Son as the ultimate, PERFECT, complete sacrifice for us...to cover our sins.
Jireh means "to see." This comes to mean provide because God sees our need and that it is met. My friends, even though God sees our needs does not mean that we should not seek Him and ask Him for provision. We are instructed to pray asking and believing. He wants us to come to Him, seeking Him to fulfill ALL our needs: those here on earth and those that are eternal. Worship Him in obedience and trust Him, knowing that He is your provider!
The last several hours have been some of the more difficult hours of being a Mommy. Andy and I were woken in the middle of the night by our daughter. I imagine there is very little worse than comforting a child as their little tummy rebels for several hours. After she settled down a little, we made up a little bed for her in our room, right next to the bathroom, and she slept fitfully for a while. Listening to that little girl whimper in her sleep just led me to a long night of prayer. I wanted to be able to hear her if she needed me in the night, so I slept poorly, waking to pray a bit and check on her here and there. And as I'm watching her right now, lying on the couch, watching Mary Poppins and missing her share day at school, I am given a reminder.
I've been busy this past week. Very busy. I had so much to do as far as cooking and baking to make sure I had the goodies I wanted to share as Christmas gifts. I had shopping to do, wrapping to do, and lots of general running around to do. And even though I have enjoyed being busy, it's too busy. I've been too busy to pay much attention to my children. Oh we've spent time together, but not focused time. It was always squeezed in between batches of cookies or trips out the door. Not so today. Today I am thankful for the reminder that I need to spend time this Christmas season with my kids. They don't care about another batch of cookies, they just want to play a game with me and be silly.
Thank you God for the reminder that my children are precious to me, and just as they are precious to me, they are even more precious to you. May you wrap your arms around my little girl and comfort her, and may your arms also protect my son from sharing in her misery. May we continue into Christmas full of joy and with a constant reminder of the reason for all our joy this time of year.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
The promise comes when He was talking to Moses at the burning bush. God told Moses to go to pharoah and tell him to let his people go. After Moses finally submitted to God as Adonai, he asked how he should make the people of Israel believe that God had sent him to them.
"Now they may say to me, 'What is His name?' What shall I say to them? And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM'; and He said, 'Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you...Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, "The LORD (Jehovah), the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God is Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you." This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generation'" (Exodus 3:13-15).
God promises to us that HE IS. He is Alpha and Omega. He is the SAME yesterday, today, and always. Everything we need for life and eternity is found in Him! We can rest in His promise to be all we need and to not change. He cannot fail. He keeps His covenants, even when we don't! I am so thankful for that because I fail Him everyday...yet He never fails me!
"And the LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD. Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, 'The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations'" (Exodus 34:5-7).
THIS is Jehovah! Rest in Him as your all, for HE IS!
Today's reading led me to Mark chapter 4, verses 30-41. This passage starts with the Parable of The Mustard Seed. Jesus was attempting to describe the Kingdom of Heaven to the people. In this instance, he says the Kingdom of Heaven is like a tiny mustard seed that gets planted, and then grows into a huge plant that can provide shelter to the birds and animals.
But the key verse today is verse 38, "Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion." Jesus and his disciples were crossing a lake in a boat, and a fierce storm blew up. The disciples feared for their lives, but Jesus slept. Jesus slept. In the middle of a storm, Jesus put his faith in His Father and rested when he needed it. What an example for us! Especially this time of year when stress and pressure can get to the best of us. We can be under the most intense pressure but we always have a refuge in God's arms. The pressure may still be there, but God can give us the strength and the attitude to be content in our current situation. He can give us a rest from the mental and spiritual stresses, all we need to do is ask him, and he will wrap his arms around us and take the stress away. Not necessarily the stressors, but he will give us the grace to deal with the stressors.
Our faith can give us rest when we need it most. This is a good time to remember that.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
We put up our Christmas decorations right after Thanksgiving. They come down sometime after the New Year, so for us, that is over a month of daily reflection on Christmas, and what it means to us. I love watching my precious children light up every day when they turn on the lights, and move the calendar counter one day closer to Christmas. And I especially love it when I take them shopping for a gift. Yesterday I took them to buy something for Daddy. And they both were so thoughtful, picking out just the right things for Daddy- it wasn't a random, pull it off the shelf, there was thought behind both pairs of eyes as they wandered around looking for something for their Daddy. You can see the love in their eyes as they hand a gift to the cashier, and get to walk out of the store with it in their hands. And the smiles as they wrap it and set it under the tree, and you know how excited they are going to be to have Daddy open up those gifts.
Christmas through the eyes of a child is a wondrous thing. One of the traditions that I'm still glad to see on TV is the Charlie Brown Christmas. What a better way to show a child the importance of Christmas, than through these silly little kids putting on a Christmas play. Every time I hear Luke 2:8-14, I think of Linus, reciting the verse for the play. So today I read the Christmas story, and I thought I'd just post that here today.
"1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.
4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
"Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from Thee will perish; Thou hast destroyed all those who are unfaithful to Thee. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of Thy works."
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
The Wise and Foolish Builders24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Woo-Hoo! The Bible tells me directly that I am supposed to be joyful at all times, always to be exact. That doesn't just mean we should be joyful when everything is going swimmingly. It also means we should be joyful when the ship is sinking. Now that doesn't mean that we should be joyful because the ship is sinking, but we should be joyful because we have someone to turn to in or time of trouble. We are to rejoice in our relationship with God always.
Joy is our membership badge. Paul wrote this verse in Philippians from prison! He was sitting in prison and he was telling the Philippians to be joyful! He refused to let the prison and the conditions of prison stifle his joy in the Lord. When we are unable to praise God for the situation we are in, we can still praise him for being him. We can thank him for being with us in the midst of our trouble, and we can be filled with joy.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Fortunately, we have an answer for all those situations. Isaiah 50 shares the not-so-secret secret of communication. Isaiah 50:4 says The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. The Lord has already given me the right words to say before I come across such a situation, I just need to remember to ask for those words. God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us in those times of need. To guide our tongues and our hearts to the right words to say. We still have to do our part, we need to wake up in the morning ready to hear what he has to say to us. We need to ask for guidance and wisdom for those moments of awkwardness. How often I forget to say a quick prayer! So many times I feel dumbfounded and unsure what to say, those are the moments when I need to remember to say a quick prayer thanking God for placing me in that situation today, and to guide my tongue to say the right thing.
The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom,
so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
and opens my understanding to his will. Isaiah 50:4
What an encouraging way to start my Monday morning.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
1"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6"At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
7"Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'
9" 'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'
10"But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11"Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'
12"But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'
13"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
It's amazing to me how much information can be packed into one short story. Today I'm thinking about those foolish virgins. They were not prepared. I wonder why? Were they more concerned with other things that they couldn't pay attention to their oil supply? Perhaps it took them too long to get ready for the party, they were concerned with their appearance, and spent too much time dwelling on their physical appearance. Regardless, they were surprised when the bridegroom finally came and they didn't have enough oil. They were surprised by his appearance, and they were unprepared. Then we look at the last verse that we do not know the day or the hour. How very true. We do not know the day or the hour when our Lord will return to gather us to his party.
So would I be wisely prepared if today was the day? Or would I be foolishly prepared? Would my lamp be filled with oil, and would I have extra oil if needed. I think in order to answer that we need to think about what the oil is. Oil is used a lot in the Bible. There are many, many references to it, and all throughout the people found oil to be important. There are also references to oil like the story above where the oil represents more than just oil. Oil is life. Oil is salvation from our sins and God's love that sustains us from day to day. So are we filled with oil? I would like to think that I am. I would like to think that my lamp is ready and waiting. And on the days where my flame may be flickering, I can pray that God will re-fill my lamp to overflowing, because I want to be like the wise virgins who were prepared and welcomed with open arms into the wedding banquet.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
“But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’
We can read this passage this time of year and compare it to that of Scrooge. The rich man spent his life on earth worried about money and nothing else. And just like Scrooge, the rich man spent his life ignoring the needs of the less fortunate, who sometimes even ended up on his doorstep. And what did all his wealth and all his fortunes get him in the end? An eternity of torment, because he failed to open up his heart. Scrooge on the other hand, gets a second chance as we all know. Let's see what Proverbs has to say about wealth today.
2 Tainted wealth has no lasting value,
but right living can save your life.
3 The Lord will not let the godly go hungry,
but he refuses to satisfy the craving of the wicked.
4 Lazy people are soon poor;
hard workers get rich.
5 A wise youth harvests in the summer,
but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace.
What I like about these verses especially is verse 4. Lazy people get soon poor, hard workers get rich. And in verse 3 it says God will not let the Godly go poor. Both verses tell us that God will take care of us always. He will not let us go hungry- ever. He also tells us that there are reqards for diligence. Hard work does not go unnoticed by God. Part of all this though is being wise with the money you do receive. Here's Proverbs 10:16: "The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin." God's provision is great! But we need to be smart with what he provides, and along with that, we need to be grateful for his provision, and share what he provides.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
How many times to people talk to you about their problems? Whether it be someone standing in the grocery line, a friend, another parent at school, or a relative. If I really think about so many of the conversations I have from day to day, it amazes me how much of that time is focused on someone's problems. I overhear conversations all the time when I'm out. Especially living in a small town. I'll be at the grocery store, and two people will strike up a conversation. Inevitably, it always starts with "How are you?" The caveat is that most people don't really mean that when they ask it. They are really just being polite. But about half the time, the person who is asks "How are you." Launches into some kind of dialogue about all the wrongs in their life. Or perhaps the person who originally asked "how are you" is really just looking for a "fine, how are you?" so they can unload.
Now imagine you being one of the ones who was involved in that conversation. And imagine, when they tell you how they are really doing, you shared that verse in Romans with them, "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abundantly overflow in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13) What do you suppose they'd do? I really don't have the answer to that, but it is something to think about. As Christians, even we get caught up in the problems of every day life. The difference we have is that we always have hope. We always have a champion looking out for us, and someone who is looking out for our best interests. We can give our problems to God, and the beauty of giving him our problems, and asking for his assistance is the comfort and peace we receive in return.
In the next few weeks, we will potentially be facing Andy being laid off for a while. It's a reality in the construction field, and so far, we've been extremely blessed with God's provision for us. A few months ago, I made the decision to give our finances to God. I completely gave the issue of Andy being laid off to God, and prayed fervently, that he would take care of it. And not only has God continued to provide work, he's also taken the financial stress away from me. I am completely at peace with the fact that at any time, Andy could walk in the door and announce that he is laid off until February. Now that is a real gift from God. I am overflowing with joy and peace (especially this Christmas season) and I know that it is the Holy Spirit dwelling in me that is filling me with this wonderful hope.
I can pray today for continued peace with Andy's job, but I can also pray for the ability to share God's hope with other people as they share their problems with me. "For whatever things were written in times past were written for our learning that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." Romans 15:4
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
but the way of the wicked will perish
I thought this was a good way to start the day today. This is an exciting chapter! I want so much to be this person. The righteous person delights in the law of the Lord. Delights in reading the Bible! And as a result, at the end of verse 3, "everything he does prospers." There are rewards for following God's direction. Rewards for both now and for eternity. That's pretty cool to me. I certainly don't want to be like the person described in verse 4. They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Yikes. Basically, useless. I certainly don't want to be like dust blowing in the wind.
Verse 2 is the key today though. "But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night." I think it is saying much more than a simple "read your Bible daily." It's saying to meditate on it day and night. Psalm 119:105 says "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." We need to keep God's word with us all day long. It's much more than a daily BIble reading, it's a full digestion. It's taking in God's word, meditating on it, and then practicing what gets read each and every day. That certainly sounds ambitious to me! But an ambition worth striving for, each and every day.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
One of the things I love about this passage is the little details you can pick out. Today I want to pick out the detail of hands. Verse 13 says she works with her hands. Verse 17 says her arms are strong for their tasks, and verse 20 says she extends her hands to the needy. Wow! So many things to do with hands, and while this verse is talking about a wife of noble character, this so easily applies to any woman. Let's think about all the things we do with our hands throughout the day. They select and prepare food, they guide smaller hands across the street, they wash dishes, babies, and windows. Hands fold laundry and puts it away, hands type e-mails and write letters to old friends. Hands knead dough for bread or sprinkle salt for seasoning. Hands comfort the sick and can have the power to heal. Hands turn the pages on a 2000 year old manuscript, and it's our hands that we lift to Heaven when our hands need assistance.When was the last time we stopped to appreciate all the things our hands are able to do? I know I don't realize how much I use my hands every day until I have a cut or a blister and it hurts with every activity. And yes, there are days where I find myself wishing God have given us two pairs of hands, but I think those feelings are meant for us to avoid pride and ask for help. It is truly amazing when I think about everything that God gave us the ability to do with our hands. Today as I go about my daily business, I am going to be more conscious of my hands and what they are doing. And I'll appreciate them a little more. I am so blessed because of the talents I can do with my hands, I thank God for providing the most useful tools- and they are always at the ready! I also thank God today for the desire to be more like the Noble Wife written above. I pray that he would have me use my hands today for his glory.
Monday, December 04, 2006
"O how I love Thy Law! It is my meditation all the day." Psalm 119:97
I have things on my mind this morning. :-) I didn't do a study yesterday because I really was having a rough time wrapping my brain around something.Yesterday was just one of those Sunday mornings. Those Sunday mornings that make you wonder how the heck the church seats manage to be filled from week to week. I am certain those mornings are a gift from Satan. Trying to keep me from going to church, and let me tell you, there are some times where it almost works.
Anyway. I've been thinking on tithing. That can be a hot button for many. Tithing often causes discussions about how much we are supposed to tithe, and what percentage is correct and so on and so on. For this purpose today though, let's say that the amount is ten percent. In fact, that percentage is mentioned in Nehemiah 10:38 "and the Levites are to bring a tenth of the tithes up to the house of our God." I grew up understanding a tithe to mean ten percent, so I will use that today for my thoughts. Let's look now at a verse in Matthew. (I promise there is a point coming.) "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." Matthew 23:23.
Today I am not thinking about tithing in the financial sense. We do practice tithing in our household, and we do utilize the ten percent rule. But that verse in Matthew has me thinking this morning that when God's talking about tithing, he's not just talking about tithing our money. What else could we tithe? The one thing that we have more of than anything else, and that is our time. I've become quite fond of my morning study time, but there are days (like yesterday) where time gets the best of me and God's time gets pushed aside. So this morning I'm thinking about applying the concept of tithing to my time management. And what does that boil down to? 24 minutes. Just 24 minutes a day that I can give to God freely.
There's more to this though. When we tithe with our money, we tithe 10 percent before we pay any bills or go shopping, or pay anything else first. The first bit of money goes to God. Why can't I do the same with my time? Why couldn't I wake 24 minutes earlier in the morning and give it to God. Well, that's certainly easier said that done. Imagine, waking up an extra half- hour earlier to read the Bible and talk to God. That's hard for a busy Mom like me to really wrap my mind around! That would be a loss of 30 minutes of sleep. There are 800 reasons why I shouldn't wake earlier every day, but I suspect that God is leading my thoughts in this direction for a reason. I imagine waking up earlier and after spending time with God, actually getting something accomplished in the morning before the day really begins. I spend so much time every day thinking about all the things I could be doing, and they don't actually get done. And just as God blesses our finances when we give him the first portion, maybe my time would be better blessed if I gave God the first portion.
"She also rises before dawn and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants." Proverbs 31:15
That could be me... something to pray on today and for a while I think. It will take a great deal for me to get up even earlier, and I wonder if I really can do it.
Happy Monday everyone! I pray that your week ahead is productive and wonderful.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
When God told Moses (Exodus 4:10-14) to go to Pharoah and ask him to let the people go, even after God told Moses that He would give him the words he needed, Moses said Lord, send who you will but not me, I can't speak (basically!). God was angry at Moses. Why? Because He called Him Lord but didn't trust or submit to Him as Lord, as a Master.
This all also applied to Jesus! How exciting is it to think that when He returns EVERY knee is going to bow before Him and confess that He is Lord! (Philippians 2:10-11). WOW! In the Greek, Jesus is sometimes referred to as kurios (Greek meansing "supreme in authority, controller); however, He is more often despotes, which means "an absolute ruler." Let's look at what this means for us with Jesus as Lord.
Luke 14:25-27 - We must make HIM our priority and follow Him. This means that He is our priority over even our families! What? Yep, but He is a God of family, He created it and does not want it to suffer; so, following Him will doubtless benefit your family!
Matthew 10:34-40 - We must love Him most, take our cross (any struggles, loss, etc that comes from following Him), and follow! This requires losing our life (our own plans, etc) and following Him, trusting Him to guide us in paths that are righteous and beneficial. So hard to do!
John 13:13-16 - We are to follow Him example as a servant. We are not greater than He, so just as He is humble, we too should show humility.
Romans 10:8-10 - To be saved we must confess Jesus as Lord and believe that He died for us. Belief brings righteousness but confession of Jesus as Lord brings salvation!
Matthew 7:21-27 - Those who deny Jesus' lordship in their lives have missed salvation. Hear His words and act, obey, let Him be Lord in your life. Do the will of the Father. But if you hear His words and ignore them, your foundation will crumble and fall. Trust in Jesus for salvation and give Him your life as Lord. This is a daily thing, I know it is for me!
Remember, we are slaves of the one we obey...sin or righteousness. BUT (!!!!), we were once slaves of sin bound for death, yet now through God we are slaves of righteousness (which is really freedom!) - Romans 6:16-17.
This is an interesting parable to reflect on. Because how many times do we let life get in the way of something. There are many times where we get invited somewhere, and we have an excuse not to go. I think most especially of church fellowship events right now. Quite often we have other plans when a get-together is going on, but I admit, there have been a few times where we've just chosen not to. Oh, we always have a reason, and they are valid reasons, but maybe we could make more of an effort sometimes. While it's still not a good idea for our kids to stay up really late on a school night to watch a movie, that doesn't mean we couldn't go for at least a little while until bedtime. Fellowship is so important, and so often we let life get in the way of that fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters.
I also read today Proverbs 9. This is an interesting chapter. We begin with the woman Wisdom, inviting everyone to her house to feast. In verses 5 and 6 she says, 5 “Come, eat my food, and drink the wine I have mixed. 6 Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live; learn to use good judgment.” Then we meet Folly. See what she says in verse 16 and 17. 16 “Come in with me,” she urges the simple. To those who lack good judgment, she says,17 “Stolen water is refreshing; food eaten in secret tastes the best!” Which invitation would you accept? There are always distractions. There are always going to be excuses available. Let's think bigger than church fellowship. How about inviting someone to go to God's banquet with you? You see the same co-workers, neighbors, and friends all the time. But do you know where their hearts are? Do you know whether your neighbor is going to spend eternity with you or not? And why don't you know that? Because there are always excuses.
For the longest time I didn't want to even mention church or God briefly on my blog, Tummy Treasure. The idea I had in my head was that if I just befriended everyone I "met" eventually my true colors would come out, and maybe my reflection of being an overall good person would make an impression. That maybe just by being nice and friendly and accepting, that I was planting a seed. Obviously that wasn't quite right. Now I have this blog, which anyone can access through a quick link. And you know, if it isn't for them, they won't click on the link again. But maybe, just maybe, that link will link someone here who needs it. Maybe this blog will plant a seed or two. I can pray about that. And I can also stop making excuses as to why I can't do something. I have a banquet to get to, and there will always be excuses as to why I can't. And before I use one of those excuses, I need to make sure it's not Folly, presenting an alternative.
Friday, December 01, 2006
This scripture verse is in my head this morning. I figure if it's in my head (unusual in itself) that it must be thought upon today. I am still trying to figure out the direction I want this blog to go. When I read through the last few weeks or so, I am not sure that was the direction I meant to head. I don't necessarily want to be reading scripture and disecting it here on the blog. I want to read scripture, pray, spend time on that, and then share something and how it is affecting my life today. Today I read a passage in 1 Samuel, and while I love reading anything in the Bible, it wasn't particularily encouraging- more convicting. And one thing I want it for this blog to be encouraging, and not convicting. A place of refuge. A place to share and encourage others who may stumble onto this blog. I think that's why I've enjoyed the names of God so much- so much encouragement in a name! So today begins the new Heart and Soul. More heart, more soul, and less scripture analysis.
Back to the verse above. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. This is a verse about me, and it directly applies to me. And while it is convicting, it is also encouraging to me today. Some days I really have a hard time finding motivation to do anything constructive. Some days, I really think I am a bad housewife. I stay at home with Zander all day and not a whole lot gets accomplished. Occasionally I'll cook and do dishes, but mostly, my day is spent playing with Zander, or here on the computer. I have taken on a lot, maintaining three blogs, plus a new writing adventure for another website. And there are days where I just spend too much time cruising the internet or spending time catching up on my blog reading. Not bad things in itself- but there is really no reason for me to be checking in on a blog 8 times in one day. Once a day should be plenty for me. At times, the internet to me is like other people's Soap Operas. (And yes, there was a brief period of time where Days of Our Lives called my name every day at noon- but that quickly passed.)
And while I am devoted to my blogging, and I really think my ability to do so is a gift from God- and one of my Talents, it does not give me excuse to be idle and sit around all day doing nothing. Which is what I am guilty of many times over. Take today for example. I am tired. Zander had me up very early this morning, and I never really got back to sleep. And while the coffee is certainly kicking in in my physical body, my brain is in slow motion, and I am just tired today. I would like nothing more than to give Zander something quiet to do and spend the morning frittering away online. Today though, that will not be me. Today, I am seeking assistance from above. Today I am praying that God will give me the strength and the energy to oversee my household properly today. That I can finish up the laundry and clean the bathroom and bake some loaves of bread. And that maybe he will bring to mind something that I haven't done but need to. And of course, there will be time spent on the floor with Zander, and with Abigail after school.
Here's the thing. I want to have a cheerful heart when I do these things. I want to be glad that I am snug in my home while the winter wind whips about outside. I want to be grateful that my husband has a job that enables me to be at home with my son, and I want to be able to keep the housework caught up, so that when my husband does come home from work, he doesn't feel its necessary to do the laundry for me or clean up something. But mostly, I want to please God. I think that keeping the home maintained and keeping busy is pleasing to God. So why is it that most days I don't do that? Honestly? Because I haven't asked for help here. I make my own plans and my own agenda, and I don't think about what God would have me do every day. Today the bread of idleness will be kept at bay with help from God. God will help me stay busy and feel better about myself and my daily activities. And overall, I think the end result will be pleasing to my entire family and myself. And now, some yeast and flour is calling my name.