Monday, November 30, 2009
We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving, I'm sad to see it over already, except that Thanksgiving being over means that we begin the brief march towards Christmas. Where we spend Thanksgiving being thankful, Christmas is all about joy and celebration, and I daresay, Christmas already started for our family. Yesterday we were given some bags of clothing for the kids and all but a very small handful of pieces are going to fit them well. Today the kids and I have plans to go through their closets after school, and we're all so excited to be able to remove those things that don't really fit, but that we kept because they couldn't be replaced. It really was like Christmas with each piece of clothing that we pulled out and inspected and held up to enjoy. And now my kids are going to be warm and cozy and dressed in clothes that fit. God is so great.
Somehow thinking about that this morning made me think about this verse from 3 John today. When I read this verse, it seems to me that it's implying something. See? It says at the end "even as your soul is getting along well" and when I think of that, it seems to me that my health could be sub-par, and circumstances could be less than desirable, but that my soul is well and good. Since my soul is well and good, it seems to me that the rest of me has some catching up to do. This gives me such hope for the future, and here's why:
"being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:9
God is not a God of part-way. He isn't just going to work on part of me and let the rest of me fall apart. If my soul is well, it is God's intentions that the rest of me is going to catch up. My physical being and my spiritual being are going to catch up with my soul, which is already well, and then I will be complete in Him. It says right here in Philippians that the work which God has been doing will be completed. I know I've read this verse many times before and been encouraged by it before, but I don't think I ever paired it up with a separate verse which tells me that my soul is already well.
You know how you get together with people and you ask how each other is doing? Sometimes people use that opportunity to unload and tell you all the wrong, sometimes they just say fine or okay or good. But what if we took that opportunity and said something like "hey, my soul is doing fabulous" or "My soul is doing so well! Thanks for asking". Just thinking about that, just thinking about that fact that while the rest of me may be a huge work in progress, that my soul is doing well and is great gives me such a boost. It makes me smile, and it gives me something truly positive to focus on. And we all know that focusing on the positive is such a huge key to living as Christ did. So I plan to do that today. I plan to focus, and every time I feel something negative trying to squeeze in, or something less than desirable tries to steal my joy away, I am going to think to myself that "It is well with my soul" and see where that takes me.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his ;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
his faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100
Happy Thanksgiving to all of my Heart & Soul readers. God loves you- and I love you. I am so thankful that you think to make Heart & Soul a part of your day. Be blessed, and I'll be back on Monday.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
his love endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:34
I have a child waiting just off my shoulder here, simply dying for the opportunity to use the computer this morning. Lol, I guess I needed some inspiration to get up and get some work done today! But I'm going to try and be quick and brief this morning, because I think it's rather obvious that this week, as we're praying for President Obama and his family, that we should also be thankful for our president, and also thankful for this free country which we are blessed to call home.
We have spent so much time in the last month or so learning about how this country began. While there are some things that are not to be proud of- treatment of the Native Americans for one-but the freedoms that people were trying to escape from in Europe are something we just seem to take for granted these days. Or we aren't taking them for granted- we're not enjoying our freedoms, and we're looking to the examples of other countries instead of looking inwards and looking up. God knows how to make America beautiful again- from the inside out.
We're learned about the pilgrims, fleeing the King and the fact that getting together for a Bible study in their homes was enough to throw them in prison or into the stocks for several days. We've learned about the blessings the Native Americans actually were to those pilgrims, teaching them how to survive in such a wild land. And I think that's one of the things that is forgotten as time goes on. I also think there is still healing to be done between the Native American people and the rest of the country. This morning, as I pray for this country and the Thanksgiving celebrations going on all over the place, I am praying for real peace. I am praying for a great healing among the Native American peoples. My heart breaks for them, as I have learned more about a lot of the horrors the original inhabitants of this nation underwent. But while we can all look back with regret and wish that things had gone differently, we can't go back. We can't go back 300 years and undo all the travesties. But we can move forward. We can move forward in forgiveness and understanding, and we can work together for the good of all.
So this morning I am praying that the First Family will have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving together. I am praying prayers of Thanksgiving for being born in and living in the most wonderful country on the planet, and I am praying that God will have His way with our country. I am also praying for peace for the Native American groups. May they know that God loves them, that He created them as the perfect people they are, and that they do have a purpose here.
"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!" 1 Chronicles 16:31
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Do we ever overflow with thankfulness? Let's think about this for a minute, because I wonder if we really do. Overflowing... that's a lot of thankfulness! Overflow is 'to fill a space to capacity and spread beyond its limits', like filling a bathtub with water and letting it spill over into the bathroom. What would it take to really fill you up with that much thanks?
It seems to me that this verse is saying that this excessive thankfulness is part of living in Christ. I'm just thinking out loud here, but how often do you run into a fellow Christian and get a sense of thankfulness to the extreme? It seems to me that should be a regular character trait according to this verse. That we should walk up to our brother in Christ, ask him how he's doing, and he just starts exploding with thankfulness, telling us how thankful he is, because he can't simply hold it in. Instead, the conversation usually quickly goes sour. We're so quick to share what is wrong- we're so quick to be negative.
The thing is, this overflowing thankfulness is so much like joy- it's contagious. Think about it. It's Thanksgiving week, and our whole country is celebrating with friends and family. And as the gatherings ensue, conversation will undoubtedly steer towards things that are wrong. Jobs, money, family issues, etc. What if we all purposed, instead, to focus on that which we are thankful for? If you started off your Thanksgiving gathering by refusing to discuss the negative, and only talk about the positive, the people you are spending time with would catch that. Guaranteed. And even better, perhaps there will be someone at your gathering who needs to meet Jesus. Your attitude- your thankfulness will go such a long way in showing that someone that loving God is a wonderful thing, and not a burden that weighs you down.
Overflowing thankfulness. I think that is so appropriate! As we're celebrating Thanksgiving this week, we've been talking about celebrating with abundance- abundance is 'of ample quantity' or overflowing provision. It seems to me that overflowing provision and overflowing thankfulness can go hand-in-hand.
Monday, November 23, 2009
And strengthens her arms." Proverbs 31:17 (NKJV)
I need to start getting a notebook or something and writing down all these blog topics that come to me randomly. I swear in the last weekend I had about 12 different scriptures jump out at me with subjects for blog posts. And now that it's Monday morning and I'm back in the saddle, do you think I can remember any of them?
But I do remember this one. This verse is from the ever-famous and popular Proverbs 31 and the wife of noble character. I did a study on this a while back, and while I learned a lot from the study, I'm finding that I am still often gleaning something new from the passage. I read this verse the other day and it really spoke to me and agreed with me. "She girds herself with strength" tells me plain and simply in black and white that we are to take good care of these earthly bodies.
While the medical community may not always agree on the way certain aspects of bodily health take place, we can agree that we should at least, do what we can to take care of our bodies. As a wife and mother, and as someone who is always interested in learning more about health and nutrition, I often wish the Bible told us more about how to be healthy. As the chief food producer and preparer I set the bar for the rest of my family. Where my health goes, so to does theirs usually. This means that I need to set a good example myself. Sweets and treats are kept in moderation- enjoyed every once in a while, not all the time, and certainly not in place of something more healthy. When we sit down to a meal together, I don't load my plate up with as much as possible, I eat sensibly, and I load up on the vegetables- I'm always encouraging my children to eat more vegetables. But this verse is saying more than just watching what we eat.
Girding myself with strength also suggests a mental strength as well. My attitude about food and eating is also important. I don't look at a piece of dessert and tell myself and my family that when I eat it, I'm going to get fat. Instead, I am going to enjoy that dessert and maybe I'll even thank God for it. Instead of looking at food as the enemy, as something that could wreck my body, I need to look at it as fuel- as amazing and wonderful fuel which God created, and then gave man the ability to manipulate into wonderful creations!
When I gird myself with strength I am also doing other things to take care of my body. Cleanliness and hygiene are important, as is exercise and taking the right vitamins. By keeping my body healthy I am better able to resist any germs or diseases the devil may try to throw at me.
I'm still thinking about the eating part. I'm thinking about girding my strength with food, and strengthening my arms with exercise and hard work, but mostly, as we're entering the holiday season, I'm thinking about the eating. You talk to anyone- and I mean anyone, they are concerned about watching what they eat this time of year. There are groans and moans about the big Thanksgiving dinner, and too much food. And I just can't help but think that God has provided all this food. In fact, I just got a phone call that totally blessed my socks off. We're being blessed with a complete turkey dinner... now, I've already done most of my Thanksgiving grocery shopping, and God knows this. Yet He has seen fit to bless us with abundance. He isn't blessing us with this abundance so that I can look at all this food and regret the added calories or snugness to my waistline. He is blessing us because He can, because He wants us to know that we are loved and that He provides always.
So when we sit down to a celebration that involves food, we need to celebrate! We need to praise God and be thankful in all things. You know, I can't help but think of food celebrations in the Bible. Or offerings- like the offerings at the temples that were meant to be eaten by the priests. Can you imagine one of the priests in those days saying "Sorry, I can't eat this leg of lamb. I'm watching my saturated fat intake." Or I think of the widow who used her last oil and flour to make a small cake for Elijah. Could you imagine if Elijah turned that down and said something like "I'm sorry, I'm watching my carbs this month." In the Bible, feasts and celebrations often lasted a full seven days! A full seven days of celebratory eating and praising God. Surely, we Americans can manage to celebrate for a day or two without feeling guilty and diet conscious.
So Happy Thanksgiving week! Instead of being regretful and hesitant about celebrating, let's just celebrate! Let's give thanks to God for all that He has done, and more importantly, for all that He will do. He is our God and King and His love endures forever!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
he makes his covenant known to them." Psalm 25:14
This verse came to me yesterday afternoon in a most unusual way. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you may remember back in July I had an experience where God showed me what I should read in the Bible through the word "see". Well, yesterday's experience was along the same kind of lines. I was cooking dinner and enjoying a mug of chai. I was also back and forth at the computer to look up a few things, and of course the kids were around- they were upstairs watching TV, so I was back and forth a bit. At one point, I was looking something up online, and thinking about some "God thoughts" I was having, and I remembered my mug of chai. So I walked back to the kitchen to get the mug, and there, sitting on the rim of my mug was a sticker.
It was a very small sticker that read 2514- it actually is the sticker from Abigail's bike lock. She hasn't used that bike lock since the last day of third grade. The sticker... well, I have no idea where it's been hiding, but when we bought the lock, I took the sticker off and wrote the combination on our calendar so that we'd know what it is. Anyway, I picked the sticker off my mug, looked at it, and instantly knew that I needed to read Psalms 25:14. I read it a few times, and honestly, all I could think was "wow, this is big." I walked away from reading the verse, and pretty much have just been reciting it to myself ever since then. And last night, on the way home from dance class, I was thinking about this mysterious sticker and making myself laugh by thinking about the angel digging around in who-knows-where to find this specific sticker and stick it to my mug.
I just find it so incredibly fun and exciting when God speaks. Whether it's through a dream, a person, or some strange physical experience, God is always talking. In October we'd had our big church conference, and we stayed away from home for a few days. When we got back home, there on my porch was a lone blossom on my clematis plant. The plant that had already met it's fate with killing frost for the year. I saw that blossom and saw that even when it seems like there is nothing there to enjoy or salvage, there is always beauty. A few weeks ago, driving home from a Sunday night church service, the kids and I had to stop for deer twice. Andy followed behind us a few minutes later and had to stop for deer four times- and sometimes in places you don't expect deer- in cities and neighborhoods. Do you know what a deer is? It's provision. And it's not just provision- it's provision fit for royalty. For the Native Americans a deer was something they would gift to royalty. I saw that night that God would provide greatly for us, and that sometimes that provision would come in the unexpected.
But this verse yesterday is really something.
"The LORD confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them"
As I thought about this verse last night, I wondered if I really fear God? I mean, lately, I've been so enraptured with His Goodness and His Mercy and His Provision, I've been getting to know the God who loves all His children. That God, the loving God, is the Daddy God, the one who wraps His arms around us and tells us everything will be all right. That got me thinking about my own earthly daddy, and then I got it. I think I do fear God. When I was young and growing up, the one thing I feared more than anything was getting Daddy mad at me- or making him disappointed in me. I always wanted Daddy's approval. Punishment always was painful because it cut right to the heart. The punishment may not have even been a physical one, but it hurt all the same, and I would feel ashamed of my mistakes. That fear of my Daddy I think helped keep me on a straighter and narrower path while I grew and learned from my mistakes.
But what about my Godly Daddy? Do I fear His punishment and His retribution? Oh yes. I really do think about that sometimes. I think about the day I stand before Him, and I so fear that He will look at me and shake his head and say "not good enough." I almost get tears just thinking about that-thinking about disappointing the One who calls me beloved. I also think about how He is the giver and taker of life, and at any moment, He could decide to call me home. Or could decide to call someone precious to me home. And He could do that, because He's God and He has the final say in everything. And I fear God because even though I have been drawing closer to Him, there is still that part of me that is afraid of more. The part of me that is afraid to totally let go, because what if He doesn't like what He finds there? What if He tells me things I don't really want to hear. I am so afraid of that sometimes, even though I know there is nothing to fear really.
So now that I've reconciled that yes, indeed, I do fear God. What about this verse.
"The LORD confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them"
All I have to do is ask. All I have to do is wait on Him and spend time in His presence, and He will confide in me His plans for me. His plans for my family. He makes His covenant known to those who fear him. The Lord confides in them! He confides! He tells His secrets and shares the intimate details of what is to come, and what will be.
And yet there is that part of me that fears God so much that I don't know if I want to know.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
And there it is. Plans to prosper and not harm me. Plans for hope and a future.
I still don't really know why I was led to this verse. I have to spend more time with it. Maybe look it up in other translations, and meditate on it to see what God is really trying to tell me. But I do know this. God wanted to talk to me, and so I will listen. I do want to know, and I can't wait to see what He has in store for us. I am so, so thankful that God does speak to me, and I am thankful for whatever it is He has to tell me. Who am I that He would notice me and speak to me?
"what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8:4
Sometimes I wonder if we struggle with things simply because we don't ask God to take it away. When I read verses like this in the Bible, which say that God is faithful and will do what is being asked, it tells me very simply that if I pray, God hears and answers. God is faithful to His children and wants to answer their prayers...
Yet sometimes we struggle with something. I think of all those years that we struggled with finances, we were such spenders. Andy would bring home a paycheck that we needed to pay bills, only we decided not to pay bills and instead take the kids out for dinner, and stop for a new toy or something. Then, of course, our bills got behind and it was a horrible cycle that we replayed over and over. Oh, we would pray about the situation, but it was more prayers of this nature "Dear God, we need money." Instead, perhaps we should have been praying "Dear God, please help us with our horrible spending habits. Help us manage our money in a Godly way." See the difference? While we knew we were doing wrong, it didn't occur to us to pray about the bad behavior, just what we thought would fix the problems short term.
Thank God we did see the error of those prayers and gave our checkbook to God. We're still not perfect, but we certainly aren't spendy anymore. Not even a little! I honestly cannot think of the last time we were frivolous with God's provision. We asked, and God delivered. He took that desire right out of us, and we're changed people because of it. In fact, I wonder sometimes if I'm almost getting a little crazy about it. I've been eyeing up the clothes that are starting to look a little snug on Zander and I've been wondering if I could take a sewing machine to fabric and combine two sets of ill fitting pajamas to make one nicely-fitting set. Really? Who does that? Lol.
God is faithful!
So what am I not asking God for this time around? I've been guilty of not asking for motivation and energy to be honest. I feel like I've been sleeping a little later every day, and then when I wake up I just feel sluggish. Starting school with the kids is, well, lets just say that we're taking next week off and it's very well-timed for me. As I look around my house and see all the things I could be doing during the day, it baffles me why I justify laziness. We finish up school for the day and I take a break by sitting at the computer for a while or pulling out a book. Instead of tackling the mountain of dishes or cleaning the bathroom. Yet in the back of mind, I confess that I know that if I ask God for motivation and energy, that He will give it to me. But I don't ask.
I imagine it's the same for someone with addictive behavior. Regardless what the problem is, there is some part of them that enjoys the behavior. Just think about what talking to God could do... just think about asking God to take the bad behavior away, instead of just taking away the temptation.
This is definitely something to think about this morning. Why do we avoid asking God for what we truly need? I think it's because we know that He will answer us faithfully.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I was reading a quote by Abraham Lincoln this morning. I thought I'd share it here, because it speaks volumes about our country.
"I do not rely on the patriotism of our people … the bravery and devotion of the boys in blue … (or) the loyalty and skill of our generals … But the God of our fathers, Who raised up this country to be the refuge and asylum of the oppressed and downtrodden of all nations, will not let it perish now. I may not live to see it … I do not expect to see it, but God will bring us through safe."
As we're getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, we've been spending a lot of our history time every day talking about how the United States began. Let me say this, if the only US History you remember is about making paper pilgrims and pumpkins, you need to get yourself a good history book and read it. US History is fascinating, and I think it's so important to see where we've been as a nation. As I read this quote from President Lincoln, it just made me sad because I believe what he said. I believe that God raised up our country to be a refuge and an asylum for persecuted people from all over the globe. And I think that where we are as a country today- so fraught with political problems- needs some perspective and prayer.
So this morning, while I do continue my prayers for President Obama, I also think that my prayers need to address the divisiveness that is tearing our country apart. Why is it that when we experience tragedy, the whole country can come together for only the tiniest measurement of time? Then the blame game starts, and people start tearing each other apart for reasons that are probably unknown- even to them.
When the pilgrims came over on the Mayflower, they didn't all agree. There were people from very different walks of life, yet before even one of them left the boat to touch the dry land of America, they made a pact to work together for the good of ALL. They agreed that no matter what, they would work together to create a new community- despite their differences in opinion. They came to some compromises, signed their names to paper, and then it was done. Oh, how far we have fallen! We have elected officials who we elect to represent us in the arena of government, and these elected officials spend their time fighting and arguing. And instead of working together for the greater good, they work for themselves or special interest groups.
I don't believe our country is lost. But I do believe it needs serious prayer from everyone who can pray. The United States has long been an example to the world, and lately, I suspect the world is wondering. The United States needs to return to God first, and as we go, the rest of the world will follow. The world will see and know that the answers to everything lie with God, and God alone. Change isn't going to happen if we just sit back and ignore what is going on, the change that we all seek lies just out of our grasp, and if we will take hold of what God is holding out to us and carry the torch and pray for our country, we CAN and WILL make a difference.
And the Lord will bless our country. He will bless her people and the world will be blessed because of the prayers of the faithful.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
and works with eager hands." Proverbs 31:13
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." Ephesians 6:18
"We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers." 1 Thessalonians 1:2
I've been in the mood to bake lately. This is a great thing, because for some time there, I wasn't in the mood to cook anything- let alone go through the sometimes tedious process of baking. Part of the baking bug is that a few times over the last few months I've had occasions to give a small gift to someone, and with Andy not working, gift giving is not a priority. But I can bake.
It started with a loaf of bread. I decided to bake up a loaf of artisan bread for someone special to us, and as I was working and kneading the dough with my hands, it struck me that I should pray for them while I kneaded. So I did. This particular loaf of bread takes about 12 minutes to knead, so that was quite a bit of praying! So I baked and I prayed, and of course the bread was truly appreciated.
Then a few weeks later, someone else was having a birthday. As I thought about this person, and wondered what we could do for them to honor them on their birthday, it occurred to me to ask them what their favorite cookie was. So I did, and then promptly went home and baked up a few batches of cookies for them. The thing is, I wasn't just baking cookies. The whole time I was mixing the dough and scooping dough onto cookie sheets, and then removing cookies from cookie sheets, I was aware that I was baking these cookies for a precious child of God. I was baking up these cookies for someone who God has placed on my heart to pray for, and so I did that. I did that a lot, because I made double batches of cookies. So when I handed these packages of cookies off, I wasn't just handing off sweets or something to eat. I was actually handing off prayers.
Sometimes as I go into my prayer time, I forget all those people who I would like to pray for. It's like they'll be on my mind quite a bit, but then the time comes where I'm actually praying, and those thoughts are nowhere to be found. I've discovered the idea that if I bake something for someone, they are in my thoughts the whole time I'm baking for them. Consider the time I spend shopping for ingredients, and then assembling ingredients, baking the cookies, wrapping them up and delivering them- that's a whole lot of prayer going into some baked goods!
Now, does my praying make my baked goods magical in any way? Nah, they're just cookies and bread. But. The whole process, that whole time, I've spent thanking God for them and praying His blessings over their lives. And most likely, they have no idea that I've specifically been praying. But God knows.
So this past weekend, when I was thinking about someone, wishing there was some way I could bless them, it should have been no surprise to me when I very clearly heard a voice say "bake them some cookies". So I will bake some cookies. And while I bake, I will pray.
Maybe you're not a baker. But maybe there's another talent that God gave you that you can do. Think about that, pray about that. Ask God to show you how you can pray for others in a way that will bless them. We are in a time where the body of Christ needs all the prayers they can get. Praying for one another is pleasing to God, and do you really know anyone who wouldn't appreciate some extra prayers? My prayers happen to be seasoned with sugar and spice. Maybe your prayers are seasoned with watercolors or scrapbook paper. Or maybe your prayers are seasoned by the scent of freshly mowed grass or shovels full of snow. Ask God to show you what you can do to remember those you love in prayer- I think you'll be excited with what He will show you.
Monday, November 16, 2009
How many times do we say to ourselves that we need to read our Bibles more. I think we hear that all the time- from both ourselves and others. Even someone who does read their Bible a lot is known to be said that they need to read their Bible more. The beautiful and unique thing about reading the Bible is that it is alive. The words within are from God Himself, and at any given time, He can make the words leap right off the page and into your heart. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. It's those little things- you've read a passage a hundred times before, but you're only now seeing that one part.
I've found that when I am going to sit down with my Bible, that beginning with this verse helps me so much. It's a key to unlocking the mysteries of the Bible. When I close my eyes and whisper a prayer before I open my Bible, I include the verse above "open my eyes..." and I am never disappointed. There is always something within to capture my attention and speak to my soul.
Sometimes, the things that jump off the page are important to my personal walk with God. Sometimes, the verses that catch my eye are meant for others, and they often get shared here on the blog. And sometimes, I think God causes a verse or two to pop out at me because they make me smile. It still makes me smile to think of some of these that He's shown me over the years. I still think about Eve talking to the serpent like she did it all the time. If a snake started talking to me, I don't think I'd be so casual about it. And speaking of snakes- when Moses threw down his staff for the very first time, and it turned into a snake, he ran from it. Like a little girl, he ran from the staff-turned-to-snake.
"The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground."
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it." Exodus 4:3
Actually, there is meaning behind him running from the snake, and one of these days I'll talk about it, because it's pretty cool. But this is a perfect example of things in the Bible that you just never notice until your eyes are opened up to the wonders that it beholds.
So many times, we sit down with our Bible like it's a task. We grab it and flip it open, thinking that we better read our Bible because we want to check off today's reading on a checklist. We have another square to check off "done" or we simply feel like we HAVE to read the Bible. We're told in Sunday School class to read it, so we pull up to it like we're about to hoe potatoes.
I have to tell you, I don't read my Bible every single day. For a long while there I was reading my Bible every day with lunch. It was a great time to read my Bible, because the kids usually watch something with lunch, so I could sit at the dining room table alone with my Bible and read while I ate. After a while though, it became a routine. It almost became mindless. I would fix myself lunch, grab a glass of water, and then grab the Bible. I would sit down with it and open it up and start reading. I sat down with no expectations of revelation, no prayer for seeing what is truly written. I just read, because it was lunch time, and this was my Bible reading time. The last time I read with lunch I turned to 2 Chronicles and read about 8 chapters before it occurred to me that I was reading for the sake of reading. I felt like I'd been caught red-handed, really.
To get the most out of reading my Bible, it must be done purposefully. I need to spend my days watching for those quiet moments where I can just grab my Bible and spend a few minutes seeing what God is telling me. Now, for some people, they do need to schedule a time, or it never gets done. I understand that, and God understands that. But for me, I needed to get out of the rut of a routine and just learn to watch for those little moments. A great time for me to read the Bible is actually when baking cookies. You can read a lot of Bible in between batches of cookie baking. (And I have a post tomorrow all about cookie baking- I think you'll enjoy it!)
But the number one key to getting the most out of reading my Bible is to talk to God first. To pray Psalm 119:18 before I crack my Bible open. If I can do that, if I can open up my mind to whatever God wants to show me, then every single time I open my Bible, I will come away with something wonderful. Try it. No matter how much scripture you're intending to read- try asking God to reveal His Word to you before you read. Then start reading. Sometimes, you'll only get to read one verse, sometimes, you'll have to read a whole book before something jumps out at you. It works every single time- God answers the prayers of His children, and He loves to it when we desire to know more of Him through His Word.
Friday, November 13, 2009
I never, ever tire of reading Exodus. Every single time I amazed and in awe of Yahweh. Every single time I am also amazed at the Israelites, and how quickly they forgot God's provision for them. Here they are, in the verse above, just after the Red Sea had parted, allowing them to cross on dry ground.
God parted the Red Sea, the Israelites crossed to their freedom on dry ground, between two walls of water. Then, when they were all safely on the other side, the Egyptians came after them, and then the water collapsed, swallowing the entire army. The Israelites were free at last, and here they are grumbling about food. They are wishing they were back in Egypt, because they are worried they are going to die from a lack of food. Really?
I can't help but read this and just want to slap them silly! Did they really think that God would have done all that He did, only to let them perish from starvation? Did they really think that God had brought the ten plagues upon Egypt, and then parted the Red Sea, only to let them perish from lack of food. Oh my! And you know this continues! In response to this grumbling, God provides manna, the bread from heaven, and it doesn't take too long before the Israelites start complaining again about a lack of water, and then later on they complain about the very manna that God has provided for them.
We can learn so much from reading about the Israelite people. One being that when God brings us through a trial, through a struggle, there is purpose for it. God is not going to bring us out of the depths of despair and then just leave us to our own devices. He is with us always and knows what we need before we need it- he will provide it. The Israelites show us how not to behave. I have to think that if I had gone through a trial tantamount to the Red Sea, that I would not so easily forget it. I have to think that I would remember for days and days and years and years, and I would be telling stories to my children's children about how God saved us from our enemies. I think it's important to remember that. I think it's so important to look back every once in a while and just thank God for what He has done for us in the past. When we do that, it gives us hope and encouragement for the future and what is to come.
Because we serve a God of love and hope and He is not going to bring us through trials only to abandon us later. He loves each and every one of us so much, that He will wait until every single one of us have made it to dry ground before releasing the torrent on our enemies. Not a single Israelite or herding animal was left behind to be swallowed up by the Red Sea. Every single scrap of clothing remained dry, and every cart was wheeled onto land before the waters were released. God wants each and every one of us to know His love and His provision.
Speaking of that provision. The Israelites were concerned about food, so God provided food from heaven, called manna. He also gave specific instructions for gathering this manna, as a test to the people. I can't help but read this and think of this and compare the manna of that time to money. Let's think on this trail for a minute. God provides for all our needs, and He also provides instructions for those in His Word. When the Israelites did not follow the instructions for the manna, let's see what happened.
"The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed.
19 Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning."
20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.
21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. 22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23 He said to them, "This is what the LORD commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.' "
24 So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25 "Eat it today," Moses said, "because today is a Sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. 26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any."27 Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28 Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions?" Exodus 19:17-28
When the people did not follow the instructions of the manna, they went without. The people who kept some overnight had their manna taken away from them, really. It rotted and was filled with maggots and was inedible. Those people, the people who kept the manna overnight did not believe fully in God's provision. They had to have not believed that God would provide for them, so they kept a little back, just in case God didn't follow through on His promised provision for them. Just in case the God who freed them from Egypt and parted the Red Sea for them did not follow through on His promise to provide food for them.
Are we those people? Are we those Israelites who wanted to believe God, but weren't sure if we should believe God, so we do what we humanly can? Do we keep a little something back for ourselves- just in case God doesn't follow through on His promises? Wait- what promises?
"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19
God will meet all our needs. ALL! Every single one of our needs will be met. So when we see someone in need, or hear of someone in need, we need to listen to the Holy Spirit in us that's telling us to give. I may have the last $20 in my pocket that I'm going to see in a while, but by golly, I need to trust that God will provide for me each and every day and give that $20 where it is desperately needed! We need to follow God's instructions and take care of the widow, the orphan, and the leper.
And then there are the other Israelites. The ones we will call foolish, because they didn't listen when instructed to gather extra on the sixth day. They didn't work when the Lord told them to work, and as a result, they went hungry on the seventh day. Sometimes, God's provision may not come in a way we want it to. Sometimes we're still sitting by the mailbox waiting for that magic check to show up, but God wants us to work for His provision. He sends us an odd job or a period of employment to provide for our needs instead. We need to listen to those instructions! When God sends a way to earn money in our direction, we need to take it- or we too, will go hungry on that seventh day!
There are so many nuggets that we can glean from the Israelites and their time of wandering. The manna is just one of many examples, no doubt. I think for me, this shows me this morning that we really need to pay attention to what God is saying. He says right here, "how long will you refuse to keep my commands and instructions", and I don't want to be one that He is saying that about. What does God say about money? How does He tell us to use it- it seems to me that we would all be well-served to spend some time in our Word, searching that out.
God will provide for us each and every day- but first we need to listen and follow His instructions for us.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." Psalm 28:7
November has become my favorite month. It really is a time to be thankful and spend time celebrating God's provision. No matter how the provision has seemed. I mentioned a few weeks ago our blessings chart on the fridge. Any normal person would walk into our kitchen, see this list (which has grown a lot, by the way) and see all these little things and ask what on earth we were so thankful for! A few pieces of meat, a few meager dollars, a tank of gas... really? And we're so incredibly thankful for these tiny little blessings? Yes, yes we are. Because every little thing is a gift from God. Every. Thing. Every small thing tells me that God is watching over us, and He knows exactly what we need.
There's a trick that I've discovered though to getting through the tough times, and that is joy. It may not be a new trick, but it's there nonetheless. And imagine that, I found this trick right in my Bible. Nehemiah 8:10 says "the joy of the Lord is my strength" the key word here being joy. It is joy that gets us through every thing that is difficult. I was just reading somewhere this morning where someone asked if anyone there takes anything for stress. I actually giggled to myself and crafted a reply in my head that yeah, I take joy. In any form I can get it sometimes. I can wake up with the biggest headache in the world, I can feel like just staying in bed for the day, but then one of my children will walk into the room with the biggest smile on their face, ready to greet the new day, and it's infectious. Sometimes I need to find joy by watching something funny that makes me laugh. Other times I'll put on some exciting music and let it energize me.
Everything I do, I do it joyfully. There are some days where I can really feel the world pressing in, trying to break through that joy. And other things threaten. Despair threatens a lot these days, as the finances seem really grim. I'll tell you, more than once I've found myself in a bad mood about an hour or so before it's time to go to church. In such a bad mood, I'm thinking about not going. Oh, thank God for His joy and the Holy Spirit, because I recognize that foul spirit and I start singing some praise to myself. Before long, the music in my head has gotten rid of that bad mood and I can look forward to worship with my church family.
Something else that really presses in on me, trying to distract me, is the feeling of inadequacy. I really have to battle that one away sometimes. I spend a lot of time listening to preachers and evangelists encouraging believers to "go into all the world" and I find myself questioning what I am doing. I question myself, am I really supposed to stay at home with these children? Are we really doing the right thing my homeschooling? Maybe we'd be better off if I sent them to school and I got a job- we'd certainly be doing better in the area of money. But then I open up my Bible and I see that I am just as I should be.
"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13
I can do EVERYTHING through him who gives me strength. And where does that strength come from?
"for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10
When I can do everything through Him who gives me strength, that means everything! It means that I can be the best mom that I can be, and I can be the best housewife that I can be- because God's giving me the strength for all of it.
"for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11
The first thing I need to do when these negative feelings come on me is to thank God for my current situation. I thank Him for the gift of my children, for my husband, for the roof over our heads, and for the groceries in the fridge. I am thankful to God for the opportunity to teach my children every day, for the opportunity to care for these beautiful children day in and day out. I must thank God in all things! I am thankful for every little thing. And as I am giving thanks to God in all that I do, I find that I start to believe myself. I believe that I am thankful that I am "just" a housewife, and I am thankful for every opportunity that a new day presents.
And then, with that thankful mindset, I can set to my tasks joyfully. Yesterday I scrubbed my kitchen floor and my kitchen cupboards, and I did so joyfully. Sounds crazy, I know, but I smiled as I scrubbed away at the grime and the dirt, thanking God for the desire to clean. When I can be thankful and joyful in all situations, I find that I am happy and I am content. My circumstances may seem pathetic to some, but for me, I am content exactly where I am at this exact moment.
And you too can have this contentment. First, be thankful for whatever your situation- and yes, be thankful for the problems and the struggles too, because you will come out of them. You, with God's help, will triumph over those struggles and will find yourself much stronger because of it. If you work in a bakery, and spend your early mornings in a hot kitchen baking loaf of bread after loaf of bread, be thankful for the opportunity and make every loaf of bread with the joy of the Lord in your heart. If you are a mechanic, be the best mechanic you can be, because God gave you that unique ability to understand machinery. He made you for such a time as this- a time when people need mechanics. As people are looking for ways to save, they will turn to their mechanics to try and salvage their vehicles instead of spending money on a new one. It is your turn then to bless them. To repair their vehicles to the absolute best of your ability- and when you do that, they will tell others about the great job you are doing- and how you were so honest and up front and nice, and how you didn't overcharge them. And God will bless you richly for it.
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' " Matthew 25:40
I will be content in whatever situation I am in. With thanksgiving in my heart and joy in hand, I can do ALL things, through HIM who gives me STRENGTH.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The day will come. The day will come when our country will turn back to God. The day will come when our president will remember that he is a beloved child of God, and that God has entrusted the leadership of this nation in his hands.
I'm praying for that day. I'm praying for President Obama, Michelle Obama, and their beautiful girls. I'm praying that God will continue to protect this precious family and keep them safe- both in the physical sense, as well as the spiritual sense. God loves that family. How could He not? He made them for such a time as this, and so I will continue to pray for them.
And this morning, I also am praying for our military that is oversees. May God bless them richly for their service, for their dedication to serving freedom and their country. May they know the love of the Father while they are away from their earthly families.
"I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Genesis 28:15
I also pray this morning for the precious veterans- those people who have already served and are serving no longer. May they also be richly blessed for their service, and may God heal them of any wounds that continue to fester. Both physical and mental, because I know for so many veterans, the wounds run deep. They shouldn't be suffering as a result of their service to their country- instead, they should be filled with joy and should be abundantly blessed. They should know that their service was so important, and that it is appreciated- no matter how long ago it was, whether it was 50 years ago or 50 days ago. May they know love and peace, and the love of a Father who created them so perfectly and beautifully.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
God is awesome. It totally sent my heart doing cartwheels this morning when I read "he does great things beyond our understanding." He does just that, each and every day. This morning I woke up and when I looked outside there was frost on the snow. Each blade of grass was individually coated with a layer of light frost, and has swiftly been melting away with the rising sun. Why does it do that? What purpose do these light frosts serve? God knows. God knows why he sends the frost.
Just the other day, I walked out of the grocery store with a bag of oranges. You'd have thought I'd brought home a jackpot, the kids were so delighted to see oranges! Only God could create a cycle of seasons that bring forth new fruit just as we're tiring of the old. Our delight with apple season has been waning for a while now, and to peel those fragrant oranges was such a treat and a delight. That first bite of orange for each of us was truly something special and wonderful. Now, come March, when we're truly tired of oranges, those first fresh strawberries from the south are going to replace them. But for now, God has delighted us with His mysterious ways.
Sometimes God's ways beyond understanding are more difficult. Why is Andy laid off so early this year? Why are so many people struggling with finances? I know, more than anything else I know, that all this is because God has His ways. At just the right time, God is going to do something so special, and so wonderful! What He does is going to be so awesome that we're not going to be able to explain it any other way than God did it. When all those around us, and all those who know us see what God is going to do, we're going to have such a wonderful testimony! They won't be able to deny that He exists and that He is wonderful beyond comprehension.
My children are beyond my understanding most of the time! They are such amazing and wonderful little people, and I marvel at them every single day. Every day I thank God for the honor of raising these little treasures for His Glory, and someday they are going to share that glory. Honestly? I'm beginning to wonder about that. The last few times that we've been at dance class watching Abigail, Zander has been drawing a crowd. It's like all the kids in the hallways at the dance school are drawn to this little boy. Everyone wants to play with him or sit by him or talk to him, and as I watched him last night share with other kids and have a good time playing with them, I couldn't help but see a little Jesus in there. I bet Jesus was a lot like that when he was five years old. I bet all the kids in his neighborhood wanted to play with him, because there was something special about him, and all they knew was that they went home thinking that they had a great time. Mysterious ways indeed!
There are times, I admit it, that I wish I did have understanding. My human brain wants to understand the way things work, the way things are, and the way things are meant to be, but you know what? My spirit is understanding that my brain is not going to comprehend all that God is and can and will do. My spirit is taking over, and it's my spirit that wants to rejoice all day long. And so I do! It may be totally silly to some people, but all this driving back and forth we've been doing has been like a treasure hunt for me. As we drive along, I watch and see what wildlife God is going to show me today. I've seen every bird you can imagine, and most of them pretty up close and personal. We've seen dear, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, cats, dogs, and other farm animals, and every time I see an animal I think about the amazing God who created everything to be so unique. Why did he make a male pheasant so beautiful? Why does the female partridge have those feathers that stick straight up off her head like antennae? Why on earth are there so many wild turkeys in our area! (And do they taste good- I wonder?) When I see a critter, I rejoice, because God made it and put it right there for me to see it.
God's ways are mysterious, and my human brain cannot begin to understand. But my spirit, the part of my being that belongs in heaven, rejoices in God being God. I rejoice every time God does something different or new. I hate snow! I hate cold weather, but when it snowed almost a month ago, I rejoiced, because God did something different. I feel like there is something inside me about to bubble over.
"This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24
Monday, November 09, 2009
The other day I got an e-mail from someone asking how to know that the Holy Spirit is present in their lives. I was touched by the question, and I've been carefully crafting an answer and consulting my Bible to give the right answer. I thought I'd share my answer here this morning, because maybe someone else has the same question.
"he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:5-7
When we ask Jesus to become our Savior, the Spirit comes alive within us. We are born again when we ask Jesus to come into our hearts and save us. Anyone who has asked Jesus into their hearts and lives has the Holy Spirit dwelling within them!
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:5-8
Jesus is the answer. Jesus was the ultimate sin offering for mankind, and it is only through Him that we can have eternal life. Being born again is only the beginning of walking with God. We have a God of love, who would never let us walk the walk of faith alone, and so He gave us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. It says in 1 Corinthians 3:16 that we are temples of the Holy Spirit. So we can know that the Holy Spirit is active in our lives IF we have been born again and received salvation through Jesus Christ. Every born again believer has the same Spirit dwelling inside of them- that's what makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, the Spirit enters into our being and changes our DNA- we become family, one with another. When a new baby is born in this world, there is much rejoicing for the family as a new being is welcomed into the family. So to is it with God! When a new being is birthed into the family of God, there is much rejoicing!
"In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Luke 15:10
The Spirit dwells in us to be an ever present help to us. He is there always- He will never leave us, or forsake us.
"because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5
When we are wondering if the Holy Spirit is present in our lives, we can be encouraged and know that if we have confessed our sins and asked Jesus into our hearts, the Spirit is there and can be called on anytime to help us make a decision, or to give us courage when the need is there. The Spirit Himself, bears witness that our spirit is born of God, and that we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior.
"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Romans 8:16
So how do we really know that we have the Holy Spirit in our lives? If we have asked Jesus to be Lord of our life, it's a done deal. The Spirit is there- He's here, guiding me every step of the way. And if I keep my thoughts and my mind focused on God, the Spirit within will come even more alive to me with each passing day. I should note here that what I am talking about today is simply the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives- not the actual baptism of the Holy Spirit. That, I think, will be the subject for another day. Tomorrow, perhaps, if the Spirit leads me in that direction. For now though, I want my precious reader to know that they are so, so special to God, and He loves them so much that He sent His son to die for them, and He sent His Spirit to comfort them and dwell within them always. Each and every one of you is special to God. Say that to yourself today- I promise it will put a smile on your face. Go ahead! Say it out loud-
"I am special to God."
Now say "I am God's temple and God's Spirit lives within me."
Isn't God wonderful?
Friday, November 06, 2009
and a season for every activity under heaven" Ecclesiastes 3:1
Last night as I sat at dance class, I overheard a mother talking about their recent trip to Florida. It had been a spur-of-the-moment trip, but at the same time, before they left for the trip she was scrambling to try and get stuff done before they went. She had paperwork to do, a house to clean, work of some kind to do, laundry, things like that. She said that finally, she just looked at all that was piled up before her and decided that it could wait. So instead she prepared for their trip, went on their trip and had a lovely time, and came back home to find that the universe hadn't ended because she didn't finish all that stuff before going.
I used to think I was indispensable when I was working. I would put in 14 hour days because I thought that no one else could do my job, and that I was vital to the success of the store. How silly I was! When I quit, it was so hard on me because I loved my job and my company, and I really thought that the store would struggle without me. And you know what happened? Someone else quickly slid into my place and the store continued to sell stuff. Oh sure, the boss missed me a great deal, but the everyday operations did not cease to exist simply because I wasn't there. The customers who came in looking for me didn't find me, so you know what they did? They talked to someone else, and left satisfied.
It's the same way with housework and day-to-day stuff. Some days I'll look around and think about all the work I have to do that day, and just groan about it. I'll start working on it, get some things done, and then at the end of the day there will still be stuff to do. Do you know what happens when I leave that pile of legos in the middle of the floor overnight? It's still there in the morning. *Smiles.* I can pick up tomorrow, or heaven forbid, it can be picked up a few days from now. And I daresay if someone dropped in as unexpected company, they would understand the legos being there. I even suspect that, depending on the company, they might find themselves putting legos together themselves.
The point is, so many of us have made ourselves victims of time. We find ourselves dashing from activity to activity because the world says that we're supposed to. Gosh, I hear it all the time at dance, and I wonder where these parents find the energy to take their kids to ballet/soccer/karate/swimming/gymnastics/religion/lego league/school play and on and on and on. And that's just one kid! Why do we do that? We sit down and make a schedule- we outline our day according to a clock on the wall, and to what end? Our day is over before we even begin it. Thank God for the one thing that He has given us the most of- and that is time. God has given us time, and He has given it abundantly.
There is a season for every activity under the sun. Everything! That means that there will be more time. We get ourselves so harried, rushing kids in and out, speeding down dangerous streets, stressing out because we're late, we're late, we're late. What good does that do? I have learned that lesson! What good does it do for me to sit in the van stewing while I drive because we're ten minutes late for dance? You know what, we still arrive, dance still goes on, and a great time is had by all. Or we'll be waiting for company to arrive. And waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Why do we fret about that? Really, in the grand scheme of life, does it really matter if our company is an hour or two late? They still arrive, we have a great time, and time goes on. Time goes on. There will always be more. And if there isn't, it's because Jesus Christ has returned and then we are all in glory anyway, so time really doesn't matter!
I've watched time try to creep in on me and mess me up more than once in my life. The world tells us time is important. From the day a baby is born, the doctors and the books tell us that a routine is imperative. A schedule is a must, to show baby that they are secure and safe and loved. Hogwash. A routine and a schedule turns that baby into some kind of autonomous being. They must eat at this time, they must play at this time, they must sleep at this time. It doesn't allow for flexibility in the least. And what happens then when the routine is interrupted? Oh, I know we've all seen those- the wailing and the howling because the routine is disturbed.
Do you know that God made the earth the way it is for a reason? We've been studying astronomy for school, and the earth rotates perfectly to give us the perfect amount of day and night. Once upon a time, people didn't use a clock. They used the sun. The woke when the sun came up and went to bed some time after the sun went down. In between they worked, they did chores and lived life. They ate meals when they were hungry, not because the clock said it was noon and time for lunch.
As I'm writing this all out this morning, I'm getting my own personal revelation. I love it when God does that! This week has been a real struggle with Zander, I have to say. He has really not been wanting to do school, and I've been at the end of the rope with him, so to speak. We continue with each day, but I've been feeling like at any moment, the task I ask him to do could be the one to cause the meltdown.
You know what? He's five. And he's doing hid kindergarten year of school. He can read, write, and do his sums. And we have all the time in the world to build on those basics. We have all the time we could possibly need to educate this little boy. He's already beyond what is learned in a standard kindergarten classroom. In just ten weeks of school, his schoolwork is looking more like first grade than kindergarten. And you know what? It's not going to hurt him in the least to let him take some time off and de-school.
We are not victims of time. Or slave to a clock or a calendar. There will always be a tomorrow. God made it that way! God gave us the beautiful gift of time, for which there is time for every activity under the sun. This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!
Thursday, November 05, 2009
"Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13-14
Last night as I lay in bed not sleeping, I was thinking about praise and worship music and how much it has changed over the years. I know I really like the direction that music is taking because I love to rock! I love music that's fast and exciting- it gets my blood pumping, and nothing gets me in a state of worship better than great drumming. Lol. Anyway, as I lay there in bed, I started thinking about some of the old songs we used to sing in church, and I realized that we really had no clue what we were singing! Does this look familiar to anyone?
I've got a river of life flowing out of me
Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free
I've got a river of life flowing out of me.
Spring up, oh well
Within my soul
Spring up, oh well
And make me whole
Spring up, oh well
And give to me
That life abundantly.
Yet the very same people who 20 years ago would sing this song with the biggest smile on their face are scowling when we talk today about the healing waters of Jesus Christ flowing out of our bellies. Why? They've been singing about it for years! As I read these song lyrics, I am just amazed that I haven't really read them before, because they speak volumes. This very song that was always one of the first ones taught to young kids. Every kid in church knew how to sing this song, and as I read these lyrics again, I am filled with hope for the church as a whole and the future. It's just simply time for this song to awake- everyone knows it! I don't mean that it's time to start singing this song again, but what I mean is that it's time for everyone to reach down into their soul, pull out these lyrics and put them into practice.
Because Jesus Christ is our living water. When we asked Him into our lives, we drank of the water of eternal life. Jesus himself, poured that living water into us, it's just that most of us haven't figured out yet how to pull it out and share it with others.
"Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give." Matthew 10:8
It's time for us to start shouting "Spring up, oh well!" It's time for us to walk around and claim the words of this song as meaning for our life. I have a river of LIFE flowing out of ME! And look what that river does- it makes the lame to walk and the blind to see! It releases those who are bound and sets them free! And at the very end of the song every single one of us have been asking over and over that we want that life abundantly!
The river of life, which flows direct from the throne and right into the body of Christ. Right into us! Right into you and me! It's flowing in us, we have it inside us, we just need to figure out how to let it out and share it with everyone who needs it.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
We really need to pray for our nation this morning. I think yesterday was a sign that people are praying. It was election day in some parts of the country. The state of Maine defeated a gay-marriage referendum, preserving that marriage is between a man and a woman. The states of Virginia and New Jersey have elected new governors, hoping to bring change to their troubled states.
God is listening. He is hearing the cries of His people, and we must continue crying out. We need to fall on our faces at the feet of Jesus and ask for mercy for our troubled nation. We serve a God of second chances, and He wants to hear our prayers for our country. He wants to hear His servants lifting President Obama in prayer every day. He wants to hear our cries for a revival and an awakening to take this country by storm.
I believe this verse this morning with all my heart. If we will seek Him, and turn from our wicked ways, He will remember our beautiful country. Our country that was founded by people who were fleeing persecution for worshipping God. In classrooms all over the country, schoolkids are working on their Thanksgiving projects. They're making turkeys out of hand prints, and they're making little paper pilgrims, or paper pilgrim hats. Maybe they're acting out a play about the pilgrims. But do they know what a pilgrim is? Do they know that a pilgrim is someone who is traveling for religious reasons? Someone who is fleeing persecution, or traveling for holy reasons, like a pilgrimage. And as the pilgrims and Indians sat down for that first meal together, they prayed. They prayed and they thanked God for their freedom and their bounty at that feast. These pilgrims were not people who sailed the ocean just to explore! They risked life and limb, literally, for the love of God. Nearly half the pilgrims died in that first winter... I bet they died with prayers of thanksgiving on their lips.
We need to be thankful for what we have. We need to be thankful for the freedoms we do have in this country, and we need to pray that it stays that way. When that verse says above to turn from our wicked ways, I don't think it says what it looks like. My first thoughts were, of course, of wicked things, like gambling, adultery, cheating, stealing, murdering, etc. But then when I read the verse again, God was talking to those he called 'My people'. God's people, the ones who already love and worship Him need to turn from their wicked ways. So what are the wicked ways? My first thought is apathy. Apathy, meaning, it's not my problem, why should I worry about it. It's apathy that is tearing this country apart. We hear about an issue in a neighboring state and we think that it's great that we don't live there, instead of praying for the issue. This applies to other countries as well. Think about what it really would be like to live in a troubled part of the world. Really think about it, and think about how you would feel knowing that Christians all over the US are looking their way and simply being grateful they live in the land of the free, instead of praying for that same freedom for those persecuted citizens. The opposite of apathy is the traits that Jesus displayed- love and compassion. It's compassion and love that is going to bring this country out of it's murky depths and into something glorious and wonderful.
If we can turn from the wickedness of apathy, turn on the compassion and the love, seek God, and call out to Him, THEN He will hear us and answer our prayers.
And He will heal this troubled land.
I think that's worth some time praying about, isn't it?
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
For probably the last month or so I've been really tired and sluggish. We picked up a bug or a cold or something and it just kept hanging on and hanging on and it's been so difficult finding the motivation to get anything done. I was getting up later every morning, it seemed. We would get school done for the day and by then I was just exhausted! My brain didn't even want to function to figure out something for dinner or to read a real involved book. As the days went by and I was still tired, I just blamed it on being busy and having this cold thing going on. I figured it would go away eventually, and if it didn't, well, there's always coffee to give me a little pick-me-up during the day.
Thank God for His Goodness.
Daylight savings time this year was such a gift. I slept and slept that extra time and woke up so refreshed and rested. This morning I woke up at a more normal time, and it just feels great to be alive and awake this morning. And while I could blame this great feeling on daylight savings, I know that's not really the case. The answer is found here in 1 Thessalonians- I am a son of light and a son of day, which means I get to be alert and self-controlled. Alert means that my brain is on full cognition capabilities- I can think about meals and getting some work done around the house. And I think I really just needed to read these verses and say okay to them. I needed to believe that I truly AM a child of God and that I belong in the day, full of energy and alertness.
"She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands." Proverbs 31:13
Eager hands are not tired hands. Eager hands are the ones that are always busy, and always mindful of the tasks to come yet. Eager hands are not the ones that sit down and get sucked into the internet vortex for hours at a time, because there is no energy to do anything else. I have eager hands!
"She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks. " Proverbs 31:17
Instead of waking in the morning, still feeling tired, and like I want to sleep for a few hours, I've been doing something a little different when I wake up. I lay there for a few extra minutes. And while I'm laying there, I may think a little about the tasks that lay before me, but mostly, I'm just laying there smiling, and thanking God for this new day. Before I even get out of bed, I am thanking God for the day before me, and asking for His provision of strength and energy for the day. Did you know that if you ask God for strength and energy He'll give it to you? Those days where it just seems impossible to make it to bedtime, all it takes is a cry to the Lord and He will hear your cry and answer?
"When I called, you answered me;
you made me bold and stouthearted." Psalm 138:3
God is so good. He knows what my day is going to be like before I even get out of bed. He knows every step that my feet are going to take before my eyes even open. I may as well thank Him for those steps before I even take the first one, because I know that He is going to be with me as I take all those steps. And as I thank Him for those moments before they even arrive, I am filled with His love and His assurance that every step is full of Him. Now how can that not fill me with energy and eagerness?
Monday, November 02, 2009
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well." Psalm 139:14
It really is a month of Thanksgiving, I'm ready to thank God every day and every waking moment. It's a new day! And for that, I AM incredibly thankful.
This morning I am thankful for me- that God made me just the way I am. Just as God made you, just the way that you are. And I'm laughing this morning. I'm laughing, because for the last few months, I've just been waiting for this big plan of God's to be revealed for my life. Honest. I have been spending more time in the Word, and more time thinking, and more time just trying to figure out exactly what it is that God wants me to do. I've even gone to drastic measures!
When I say drastic measures, I mean that I pretty much gave it all to God and told him that if he wanted me to stop, I would stop. I've posted before how my blogging has been lacking lately on my other blogs. Oh, I've been a terrible blogger... my main blog for the longest time was my food blog, which stemmed off of my passion for cooking. Well, over the last few months, I haven't been feeding that passion. In fact, I almost felt like I was in a fog, I wasn't enjoying cooking, I wasn't planning well for cooking, and I certainly haven't been blogging about much cooking. This past week my website hosting was up for renewal and I actually thought about what it would be like to not renew...
And then, God spoke. God made me just the way I am. I've known that before, I've blogged about it before, but somehow, I've lost sight of that. Here I have been, just waiting for "the next big thing" and all along, I've already had it. I have a passion for cooking, I love to cook food and feed my family and feed other people, and God put that passion in me for a reason! God made me this way- that I would love to cook so much, and He put the bug in me to blog about it. The last few weeks when I told God that I would stop if He wanted me to stop was just plain silliness, because God made me just the way that I am! I am supposed to cook- I am supposed to blog, I am supposed to feed those who need to be fed- and I am not supposed to hold back!
And it's not just about the cooking and blogging. It's about everything I do, everything that I enjoy doing that God has put inside of me. He put that there for a reason! As we've been looking to move in the spring, we've been very cautiously eyeing up our options and thinking about if there's anything we could eliminate from our want list- and one of those things I've wondered if we shouldn't be looking for is the large yard for gardening in. I'm not wondering anymore. The house that God is preparing for us has the large yard that I can garden in, because God put this desire in me to garden, He's not going to stifle it by moving us somewhere I can't do it.
Even my conga and percussion playing is God-Breathed. He put that inside me- it was hidden away for many years, but boy, I've really come to enjoy playing my instruments, and I really am eyeing up some more to make my percussion have more of a global sound. Every once in a while, I have my doubts as to whether I'm supposed to even be doing that for worship- maybe I jumped in too fast and I'm meant to worship elsewhere. Silly me! God made me just the way that I am! He put this desire to play percussion for Him inside of me- and He wants me to keep doing it, not lock it away where no one can hear it.
Now when I think about these past few months and how everything I do has come into question, I can see where the enemy was really trying to discourage me! He was trying so hard to get me to stop being me- to stop doing what I'm doing and to question my very being sometimes. God made me just the way that I am! God placed all these desires in my heart that make me uniquely me for a reason! And I will keep doing what it is I want to do- and I will do it with all my heart. I will no longer be sitting around waiting for "the next big thing" because I'm already here! God has already placed the desires of my heart in my heart, and I am going to listen to Him, because He knows me best.
And God wants you to know that too, this morning. God made YOU just the way that you are! He put you in the exact spot where you are right now for a reason. He made you just the way you are, with the passions and the unique talents that you have. Foster those talents, enjoy your passions, because God put them there! Maybe I have strange abilities to some, maybe the ability to cook is not something you could even imagine wanting to do. That's okay- because maybe you have the ability to do amazing craft work. Or maybe your special talent isn't even something you do with your hands, but with your heart. Maybe you have a unique ability to love children or animals or you love to spend time doing winter sports. All of that is wonderful, and all of it is what makes you uniquely you- and God made you just the way that you are! He gave you all those desires and all those abilities, and He wants you to use them and enjoy them! How cool is that- how awesome is it that God can take a person and give them all these wonderfully different abilities and talents and passions that make them such a unique and special person. Because you are. You are a unique and special person, and God made you that way.
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well." Psalm 139:14