Are You Doing It?

 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.  Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. Psalm 34

As I read two different devotions today, they were remarkably opposite of one another. The verses above were part of the daily devotional called “Days of Praise” which I’ve sometimes quoted. Today’s reading was called “Godly Pursuit.” As I read the verses above, I did a personal check on each one:

  • Do I “keep my tongue from evil?’ OUCH!
  • Do I keep my “lips from speaking guile (deceit)?” YIKES!
  • Do I walk away from evil, or do I allow it to come right into my living room on that flat screen?
  • Do I do good, going out of my way to do it?
  • Am I seeking peace, or am I stirring things up, even in my home, because I want things to go my way?
  • Am I pursuing (fervently running after it, chasing it, hunting for it as though my life depended on it) peace—dying to self to allow the peace of God to rule my life?

Henry M. Morris III goes on in the devotional to say,

“So many today appear to desire the approval of the world’s philosophy or its adherents, attempting to compromise the clear messages of the Word of God with the views and lifestyles of the wicked.”

The opposite path was sadly expressed in Jeremiah 44:16-19:

“As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?”

How sad! But the question for us is, “Will we only be faithful to God when things are going well—when we are prospering?”

God gives us so many promises but that doesn’t mean that the Christian life will be problem free and full of prosperity. Why?

Because rough waters make the best teachers!

Are you discouraged—tired of watching your godless neighbors prosper in all they do? The psalmist sums the whole picture up nicely for us in Psalm 73 (might be good to read the whole psalm!)

Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end (v 17).

So, if you’ve fallen off the “Godly Pursuit Trail” today, take heart! You’re not alone. Seek the Lord’s help and even the help of others to get back on the horse and ride! You will never regret making wise choices.

 

Advertisements

Why not me?

ID-100180787Last night, my husband had a really bad headache.  He does get migraines, but this was different–just a bad headache.  It started at supper and he took a pill. Later, after picking up kids in the church van, leading Wednesday night prayer meeting and taking kids home, we were watching some TV when I looked over to see him holding his head. The pain was worse, so I got him another pill. I decided to sleep in the guest room and went there after kissing him good night, leaving him there all curled up in a pathetic ball with the covers over his eyes.

It’s now 4:19 AM and my brain is in overdrive. What if he… I should go and check on him, but I don’t want to awaken him, but what if he’s…

Such a morbid thought, but isn’t it possible? Why not me? The hurricanes just snuffed out lives–someone’s husband or father–why not me?

What would I do? More morbid thoughts, but it may be true, or will be true, someday. I hope it’s not today. He’s only 59.

An amazing statement came into my life recently and I can’t give credit, but this morning, in the wee hours of the day, sitting at his desk, they have new meaning:

God doesn’t give us grace for our imaginations.

I can’t even imagine what I would do. Tom and I may be weird, but we play these things through our minds every once and a while.  He, like most men, always says that he’ll die first and he’s probably right.

I think these thoughts are haunting me because –

  • We just remembered 9/11 this week. Sixteen years ago.  That doesn’t seem possible, but I’m sure anyone who lost a loved one on that day feels something different about the day.
  • 9/12 is the anniversary of my own father’s death. It’s always a hard day, mainly because I don’t want to ignore it but I’m never sure what to say, especially to my mom. I write the date on a piano student’s practice notepad and think, what’s today’s date? Oh yeah, the twelfth–the day my dad died, but I don’t say anything.
  • We went to a funeral this past Saturday. It was an untimely death even though his grandmother was 74. Less than a year ago she was healthy. Then the dreaded news came–cancer. Her husband is quite a bit older than she was and he probably never thought he would be facing that day. As I came to him during the viewing, he asked ME how I was doing! And then, after I asked him how he was doing, he said, “Good.  What are you going to do?  It’s how it is, and you just have to accept it.” WOW!

So, I’m heading back to bed. I may slip into our bedroom and just listen. I’m sure he’s OK…

… but if he’s not, I know only one thing, but it’s a really, really, BIG thing:

God’s grace will be sufficient for the day, no matter what it brings. He’s already taught me that. We carry burdens and heartaches. We have scars from past wounds. We’re made of tough stuff, although the bottom line is that God created us from dirt and when under pressure, it crumbles. But …

God’s grace will be sufficient.

I’m thankful that I can’t speak from experience on this one, but don’t we believe that faith is the substance of things hoped for, THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN (Hebrews 11:1)? Can you believe this wonderful, precious promise and the One who promised it for whatever you are facing today? Will you let the strong arms of Jesus carry you through?

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, 
Stand in his strength alone; 
The arm of flesh will fail you, 
Ye dare not trust your own.

Bart Millard

 

 

 

Seriously? A Big Bang?

partial-solar-eclipse-cloudsAfter watching the 80% partial solar eclipse in our area, I stand in total amazement at the awesomeness of our almighty Creator. His amazing exactness continues to overwhelm me! For example:

  • First of all, the earth is the exact distance from the sun to keep us from being cooked or freezing.
  • The moon is the exact distance from us or just the right size—take your pick—so that it covers the sun perfectly in a solar eclipse.
  • The moon’s axis rotation matches its orbital path around us so that we always see the same side of the moon. (It would be like one person circling another person while always facing him.)

It’s beyond my imagination to understand how anyone could believe that a Big Bang could be that smart?

What an awesome God we serve! He certainly displayed His Majesty today!

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

“What’s Your Problem?”

ID-100122418We may have heard this phrase or even used it in a harsh, accusing way, but I’m asking it with a heart of concern. What is your problem? You may say, “I don’t have a problem.” Good for you! Or, you may say, “Where do you want me to start?” Then others might smile and say, “Nothing. I’m good,” with a smile that tries to cover a breaking heart but doesn’t quite get to the eyes. You know what I mean.

I’ve recently discovered something: God’s grace. How does that really work? I’m learning that it only works when we do several things:

  1. Speak the truth in our hearts.  He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart (Psalm 15:2).”
  2. Turn our cares completely over to God. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5: 7).”
  3. Stop trying to salve the hurt with other things. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12: 9).”

How do you deal with hurt? So often we turn to other things for our comfort and don’t even realize we’re doing it! Like…

  • Hobbies – We get busy with a craft or exercise at the gym or parties
  • Home – Ladies, we clean fiercely, or cook extravagantly, or spend lots of time redecorating or rearranging furniture
  • Work – We throw ourselves into our work, spending long hours away from home, especially if the problem is at home
  • Internet – We fiercely display all our pent up anger, hurt, disappointment, frustrations, or whatever on a social media page. We vent.

All of these things, except the last one, are not bad things.  They may even take away the pain for a while, but in the end, we’re right where we started: dealing with a situation that we cannot change.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

 

This poem has long been a favorite of mine, so much so that I put it to music way back in high school! Its simple truths continue to circle back into my life.

When we turn to other sources of relief, we are like a child with a splinter.  We squirm and cry and dramatize, making it more difficult, if not impossible, for the “splinter-remover” to do his or her job! Is that why God had David write Psalm 23? “He MAKETH me to LIE DOWN… He LEADETH beside…”

He knows what is best. We can’t fix it. We can only rest in His grace, allowing it to soothe when nothing else will soothe. Only He can calm the soul. Only God and His grace give peace.  Is it a “once and done” thing? No, my friend. When the problem continues, so does the possibility for angst and the need to once again sit at the Master’s feel and sense His sufficient grace!

Moth in the Window

mothinthwindow-layout_300It was just a moth stuck in the bathroom window this morning! I’m not one of those crazy (I take that back—they’re not crazy!) kind-hearted people who take insects outside instead of squashing them, but this guy was so frantic… and big, I didn’t want to make a mess!

So, I released the screen to let him out only to find that he was between the top and bottom windows. Now, I’m holding the screen out the window and trying to move the windows so he can find his freedom. I just about gave up, but, hooray! he was able to brave it and fly around the wooden frame and out to his world.

Lesson # One: He was so close to freedom but wouldn’t make the leap away from light to clear the window. His instinct told him that if he just headed towards the light, he would be fine, but his instinct manual didn’t include any instruction about glass! When am I afraid to go “Beyond Common Sense” and do something extraordinary for God? What is it that I’m trusting to be the right way, but it’s not? Hmmm?

Lesson # Two: His way was the wrong way. Proverbs 14:12 tells us that “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Yikes! That’s pretty serious! Believing in anything but the Blood of Jesus Christ is the wrong way to heaven. It’s really frightening to think that “good” people will be in hell but look at Nicodemus. He was a really good guy, but if he had kept on his “right” path of good works, he wouldn’t be enjoying God’s presence right now!

Lesson # Three: Patience! I was ready to give up on the poor stupid thing! After all, if he couldn’t figure it out, it wasn’t my fault. How many times do I become impatient, perhaps giving up on someone when a change of heart is right around the corner?

Finding God’s message in the mundane—He has so many lessons for us! What a wonderful heavenly Father we have!

Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. Psalm 143:10

Who are you?

Tigger_pose_Ah, the Hundred Acre Woods! It’s filled with those loving characters created by A.A. Milne. As I was reading a story from the Winnie-the-Pooh collection it came to mind that we all may be characterized by one of those personalities! So, who are you? I would like to think that I’m Piglet—sweet and lovable, but, if I’m honest, I’m a Tigger. I relate to his bouncy, happy-go-lucky character. But it made me wonder if I’m also as annoying as Tigger can be to his friends! Hmmm! I’ll need to think on that one! Perhaps I need to make some changes!

So, which Bible character are you? That may take more thought and be more beneficial in shaping you into who God wants you to be. Of course, as women, we all want to be the Proverbs thirty-one wife or picture ourselves as an Abigail or Esther, but the truth of the matter is, as my husband was preaching on the woman at the well, I realized that I was very much like her! No, I didn’t have five husbands and never lived with a man, but her whole demeanor and self-righteous attitude really struck an uncomfortable chord with me! Her past did somewhat resonate with my own pre-salvation life, as much as it could for a seventeen-year-old. And while her salvation experience sparked an 180-degree turnaround, mine was more of a five year slow U-turn as I eventually joined a strong Bible-preaching church. Each bi-weekly gathering filled my heart and soul with God’s amazing truths, and I was ready to receive the milk of the Word. It drastically changed my life!

Ultimately, the answer to the question, “Who are you?” needs to be Jesus Christ. As His followers, we will spend our days on this earth trying to be more like Him. It’s an amazing process and truly takes a lifetime to accomplish! We will not reach perfection until we see Him face to face, but every day, as we read His Word and talk to Him in prayer, that two-way communication has its way of molding us into His image if we are willing to allow it to shape us. Our sweet Savior is so patient with us! His love is beyond our human understanding in its greatness—it’s “unconditionalness!” But then, He sees us through an eternal lens, whereas we are only given a pair of finite glasses!

John said it the best:

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,

are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 3:18

For the Birds (and me too!)

As I sit here watching two male Rose Breasted Grosbeaks having breakfast at my feeder, I see a wonderful lesson for believers, actually several! 🙂

It’s a droopy rainy day, and they’re both hunkered down under the little overhang on the feeder.

  • We come to God’s Word to be nourished and find shelter there from the annoying drip, drip of daily life, as well as from the storm!

As they eat, I see a pattern: pick up a sunflower seed and then look around as they chew, their heads jerking to the left and right, scanning the area for an enemy.

  • Am I on the lookout for my enemy?
  • Do I even know who my enemy is?
  • Do I understand his strategy, agenda, and incredible perseverance to destroy me?

I have never seen a hawk at my feeder, and yet the Grosbeaks are on the alert. Am I that alert about my enemies?

  1. The world – it comes in all shapes and sizes custom-made to attract each of us! Enjoying the pleasures of this world are not wrong until they push out our devotion to God.
  2. My flesh – it is SO strongly bent the wrong way. If I were a Grosbeak, I’d be happily delving into my delightful breakfast, chatting, laughing, singing and never once thinking about any danger! We live in our flesh.  We know our flesh better than anyone else (well, except maybe enemy #3!) Does your flesh cause you to stumble away from the peace and joy of serving Jesus?
  3. The Devil – Old Scratch! What a wonderful name for him! He makes the itch in our lives—makes us uncomfortable in so many ways! He sows thoughts of unbelief. Remember… “Yea, hath God said?” You’d think he’d get a new slogan, but he doesn’t BECAUSE THE OLD ONE WORKS EVERY TIME! He sows doubts about God and His Word. He stirs up strife in the family of God. I could go on and on, but instead just remember this:

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4

Do I need to be aware of my enemies? Yes, but unlike the Rose Breasted Grosbeaks, I understand that I am safely sheltered in the arms of my Eternal, Omnipotent, Ever-loving Father! My enemies are powerless against my Father!