Saturday, February 28, 2009
My daughter began training Cozmo, a bull calf, when he was six weeks old. Hour after hour was spent with him, letting him become familiar with her voice and touch.
In these days of e-mail and fax machines, why take the time to train an ox? A farmer friend made the training request so that, with only a yoke on his shoulders and by voice commands, Cozmo could help with farm work. Hauling heavy buckets of sap to be boiled down into syrup, plowing the garden area, carting wood for the woodstove - these tasks were waiting for Cozmo when he was old enough and ready for the yoke.
The importance of beginning the training of Cozmo at a young age was readily apparent after just a few weeks. He was growing fast! Cozmo grew to love and trust our daughter.
No matter what our age, we are all young in the light of eternity. For us to come under the yoke of God’s rule in our lives, we must begin as early as possible, too. If we are to be of service to God in this world, we must become familiar with Jesus’ voice and touch day after day. When we are ready, He will be able to place the yoke of service on our shoulders for tasks He needs accomplished.
It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Lamentations 3:27
Heavenly Father, please draw me close to You so that I recognize and respond to Your voice and touch in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Have you ever gotten up in the morning, utterly sad? Perhaps from a bad dream? Or the anniversary of a loved one’s death? Or a physical ailment which just won’t go away?
Sometimes it seems a mystery how to climb out of that Slough of Despond. Yet right there in Scripture is the answer: If we commit ourselves to God and keep doing those things He has directed us to do, He will lift us up.
A wonderful thing can happen if we heed God’s words to us. As we go about doing our heavenly Father’s business, the black cloud will begin to lift. He may begin to show us why the sadness had engulfed us - yet it may no longer matter so much . . . we are busy . . . enjoying what God has given us to do.
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator. I Peter 4:19
Heavenly Father, thank You that You know the why of any sadness. Please help me to hear Your promptings to do good to others no matter how I feel. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
In a rural setting, farmers can often be seen separating animals from one another. Calves are separated from their mothers at a certain age. Chickens are separated from one another, some sent to market and others kept for laying eggs.
Jesus, too, lived in a rural setting. He used the picture of sheep being separated from goats to reveal to us God’s plan for the future when He comes to judge the earth. Those who love God, obey Him and live godly lives will be separated from those who don’t.
Thinking of our own lives, we can see how the Lord continually works to separate the godly attributes in our characters from those attributes which don’t please Him.
If we allow God to work in our lives, He provides His own attributes of patience, kindness, self control, gentleness, joy, peace and His Love. Let’s allow Him to live those character qualities through us!
. . . and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Matthew 25:32
Heavenly Father, please open my heart to be changed into the person You created me to be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
It had been a difficult morning. Our car died and we were stranded in town, ten miles from home. While waiting to be rescued, my daughter and I walked two blocks to the library.
As we tried to enter the front door, we found it locked. The door should have been open at that hour. We could even see the librarians inside. No amount of knocking, however, could have been heard through the double oak doors. We decided to wait, enjoying the morning sunshine and birds’ songs. Eventually the librarians would note the time and open the door.
Soon other library patrons joined us. Some wanted to go to the back of the building and pound on the employee’s door. Others began waving their arms around in hopes of being seen by the librarians. Someone else suggested going to a nearby business and calling on the phone so we could enter.
It became clear - we could patiently wait or we could expend excess energy uselessly trying to get what we wanted - NOW!
Isn’t this the same scenario we experience when the Lord places us in a position to wait? We can become a whirlwind of activity or we can be still, knowing and trusting that in God’s perfect timing He will act and open a door for us through which we can walk.
Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Psalm 37:7
Heavenly Father, when it is a time of waiting on You, please show me how to wait patiently. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Have you ever traveled to a place where nothing was familiar? It seems such an effort to get anywhere, as we have to constantly peer at the maps, turning it this way and that, trying to get our bearings.
The one way streets always seem to be going in the wrong direction. Unfamiliar restaurants and motels loom on unfamiliar streets. When a bridge to cross the river is found, it is the wrong bridge. Being unfamiliar with the days and times which businesses are open, the shops are found to be closed. Activities are canceled due to unusual circumstances, something with which there is no familiarity. After a few days, we can become quite weary of the effort, longing for some sort of familiarity.
Once home again, we marvel at the comfort and ease which familiarity brings. We are reminded that God, our heavenly Father is familiar, such a comfort, because, as Scripture says, He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
May we come to know Him, thankful that He is always the same - kind, caring, just, loving. He is easily recognized.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
Heavenly Father, thank You that I can get to know You, that You have become familiar to me, easily recognized by Your loving ways toward me. In Jesus’ name.
Monday, February 23, 2009
While switching the television channels recently, I heard a woman exclaim, “Sometimes we have to go on faith.”
I have no idea to what situation she was referring, but I immediately thought - faith in God isn’t a sometimes kind of thing. It is an everyday action, absolutely necessary.
Faith, defined by the dictionary, is: “complete trust, confidence or reliance”. Faith, defined by Scripture in Hebrews 11:1, is: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Certainly it can be seen that faith in God who is loving and just, must be an always, moment by moment, day by day action of the heart and mind. Faith isn’t optional, it is mandatory for each of us who call ourselves believers in God and followers of Jesus.
After all, Scripture also says:
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
Heavenly Father, please increase my trust, confidence and reliance on You as I set about knowing You more each day. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Sunday, February 22, 2009
We know what we have to say about growing older, but what does God think about it?
As we get older, the complaints seem to multiply:
My eyesight isn’t what it used to be.
My hearing isn’t as good as it once was.
My hips seem so creaky.
I can’t get down to wash the floor on my hands and knees.
Gardening is almost impossible for me.
The list goes on . . . .
What does God say about us as we get older? In Ecclesiastes 12, verses 2-8, there is a humorous (I think) description of old age. Read it through this week, but please notice the verse that precedes the description. That verse tells us what God says about aging:
Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth . . . . Ecclesiastes 12:1
If we reach the age of 80 or 90, anything less than that will seem like youth. Let’s remember God now, while we are young!
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your humor about growing older. Please help me maintain an attitude which honors You as the years pass. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Have you ever felt like you were in a pressure cooker? Everywhere you turned something was pressing down on you. There just wasn’t enough time in the day to get everything accomplished. The kids were experiencing problems at school. Your elderly parents needed your help. Your spouse’s job was uncertain. You weren’t feeling well. The car broke down . . . again. On and on the pressure continued, building until you felt like you couldn’t deal with one more thing.
Do you know what a pressure cooker’s job includes? It is to make tender. Without the pressure cooker affect at times in our lives, we wouldn’t be tender either. Our hearts wouldn’t ever know how it felt to be human.
How we should thank God for sending just the right pressures into our lives at just the right times. Sure, pressures from all sides aren't enjoyable, but since we know God is sending them and since He is using them for our good, we can endure . . . maybe even rejoice . . . by His grace. And as we come out on the other side of the
pressure, perhaps He can use us to bless others in ways only He can imagine.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh.
II Corinthians 4:8-11
Heavenly Father, please help me to see Your kind hand behind every pressure in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Friday, February 20, 2009
It happens sometimes . . . . Friends who we thought would be close to us for a lifetime hurt us and walk away.
We know the importance of forgiveness. Thus, when we are hurt, we know we will forgive them if our paths ever cross again. And we keep walking . . . .
We admit it, we feel hurt and ill treated. But we try not to dwell on the negative feelings. We try not to allow the experience to cause us to stumble.
Suddenly we hear the Lord admonishing us to forgive NOW . . . not when we see our friends . . . someday. We are to forgive NOW!
After we forgive, we may continue to feel hurt from the wrong done to us, but our souls will be clean. As we forgive our friends, God Himself will forgive us any trespass.
. . . . if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Heavenly Father, thank You for directing me not only to forgive, but You expect me to forgive NOW. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
It’s happening all over our nation. One day, a family is secure in their newly remodeled two story house. They have two cars in the garage, a summer cottage on the lake and a dream of a boat. The kids are enrolled in the best schools and wear just the right designer fashions. All is well with the world, they think.
Then one day the breadwinner of the family comes home with a box of belongings from his office at work. His job is finished.
It is happening to families, to couples trying to make ends meet and to single adults, young and older.
How can we cope with these lightning fast changes which seem to come out of nowhere? It is simply a matter of continuing to rely on and trust in God our heavenly Father day by day. He knows what is ahead of us.
As we live a day at a time in obedience to Him, there is never a need to panic when difficulties arise. He will show us the way over, under, around and through. Our part is to maintain a close relationship with Him every day, no matter what. Then when difficulties arrive, we will continue right along with His directives for that day . . . and the next . . . and the next.
Give us this day our daily bread . . . . Matthew 6:11
Heavenly Father, I thank You that there is nothing in my future that You don’t know about. Please help me to listen to You and obey today . . . and tomorrow . . . and the next day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Recently, our son took some video footage of a car trip which was 11 hours long. No, he didn’t take video of every mile traveled, just the highlights. Mountains, valleys, railroad trestles over gorges . . . they were all there.
While viewing the three hour long piece, he decided to speed up the film so that everything went by at a much faster pace. At times, it all became a blur.
How glad we should be that God hasn’t pushed the fast forward button on our lives. We wouldn’t have the opportunity to see, taste, feel, smell and experience all He has for us to experience along the way. We would be going too fast.
Relying on God’s perfect pace for us, we can rest assured that pregnancies will take approximately nine months, not three seconds. Our children will grow and mature over an 18 year span - not in five minutes. We will be able to accomplish all God has planned for us each day throughout our life span, not in ten minutes. Oh, how wise is our God! May our pace match His.
For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
Heavenly Father, thank You that You have established a certain pace to my life and my days. Please help me to be sensitive to Your pace for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
It was an unusually dry summer. Heat and humidity descended upon the midwest. It didn’t rain for weeks. Plants, animals, humans and trees were stressed from the lack of water. The grass was not only brown and dying, but crackled under foot, it was so dry.
Hardy plants wilted on their stems. Birds frequented the bird bath in search of water. Humans, too, started to feel the affects of the dryness. Water consumption was up, air conditioners ran day and night. Oh, for relief, we all cried out, watching the skies . . . hoping, longing for some rain.
Have you ever felt dry and parched spiritually? The answer is God Himself! We as humans are to long for God just as we long for rain. Without His Presence in our lives daily, we become parched, brittle and dry. God Himself invites us to partake. May we go to Him daily so that He may fill us with His living water.
. . . but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst, the water that I shall give him will become a kind of spring of water welling up to eternal life. John 4:14
Heavenly Father, I am so thirsty for You. Please fill me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Do we lead two lives? If we aren’t walking daily with the Lord, the life we live in the world’s eyes or when we are alone with ourselves will look nothing like the life we live in front of other believers.
How do we act when someone cuts us off in traffic, if a business deal doesn’t go our way, if we are inconvenienced, if the neighborhood children pick our prized flowers, if our pet dies, if our air conditioner breaks during a heat spell? Oh, how we try to keep that life a secret. We would be so embarrassed if another believer would see us at the moment we react in such an ungodly manner.
How do we act when we are around other believers? Are we full of good cheer, a plastic smile pasted on our face, so stiff. We sing songs, mouthing the words which don’t touch our hearts. We listen to the teaching about God Almighty and what He expects of us while our thoughts drift here and there, not listening or heeding.
The truth is - God does not want us to have two lives, but only one. He sees our hearts. He knows the real ‘us’. He doesn’t want us to live that secret life which so dishonors Him. Do we think He doesn’t see us at those times? He wants to live out His holy life through us . . . every moment of the day, no matter where we are or what the circumstances . . . if we would only allow Him to do so.
Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. Luke 12:2 & 3
Heavenly Father, please give Your grace and power to me to live a life open to You. In Jesus' name. Amen
Sunday, February 15, 2009
After a relationship of any kind lasts for a period of time, there is usually much to forgive. We are, after all, human. We may not have meant to hurt husband, child, parent, sibling or friend . . . we just do. On the other hand, they probably didn’t mean to hurt us . . . they just did. Perhaps because of thoughtlessness or carelessness, usually unintentionally. But the fact remains, as the years fly by, if we are not careful, the grievances against those whom we love begin to stack up.
Just think of a large family gathering. This person is no longer speaking to that person. Another person is hurt and will not attend. Instead of a loving gathering, it becomes a hotbed of irritation and ill will.
In Scripture, we read that God will forgive us in the measure that we forgive others. How careful we must be to make forgiveness active in all of our relationships, past and present.
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Heavenly Father, please help me to be as gracious in as You are to forgive me. In Jesus name. Amen.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Approximately eight years ago, my friends Mike and Sandy Jones left their places of employment in Michigan, sold their home and moved to the Washington state area to be Directors of in Wenatchee, Washington. Their work was among the children.
After a couple of years of serving there, Sandy went home to be with the Lord. The following is a letter she dictated. For today's Reflection, I would like to honor Sandy by sharing her thoughts with you. And to ask that you pray for Mike as he continues to walk with the Lord.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Today is my day to fly home to Jesus. All these years I have taught it and now I will experience it.
I have enjoyed being here to teach the children with the story of Christ. My first thought is who in North Central Washington will have a desire to tell the children about the love of God?
: “Be strong in the Lord…”
A Teacher’s Prayer
Give me a little child to point the way,
Over the strange sweet path that leads to Thee;
Give me the little voice to teach to pray;
Give me two shining eyes Thy face to see.
The only crown I ask, dear Lord to wear,
Is this: That I may teach a little child.
I do not ask that I may ever stand
Among the wise, the worthy, or the great-
I only ask that softly, hand in hand,
A child and I may enter at the gate.
I have learned many things while here. I have learned to trust God no matter how hard the situation. God has shown me over and over He will take care of me.
Mike is carrying me back to Michigan where I lived all my life. He will continue on with CEF in NCW until God makes it plain he is done.
I love you,
May I ask you - is there a child in YOUR life - your own child, a grandchild, a neighbor child with whom you can softly, hand in hand, enter in at the gate?
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving lives such as Sandy's which point us, no matter how old, to Jesus. In His precious name, Amen.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Have you ever found yourself putting in long hours on a project in order to get it completed on time? Perhaps it was a quilt project for a class you were taking. Or a writing deadline hung over you. Maybe a project at work had to be completed before you went on vacation. Life seemed to be thrown out of balance as all of your time and energy was poured into the project. Meals were skimpy, sometimes non-existent. Your family was neglected. Your health suffered as you forgot all about your exercise regime. You knew that this was not a life which is pleasing to the Lord.
You decided to stop and prayerfully evaluate how you were spending your time and energy. The Lord gave you clear direction on how better to fulfill your objectives. All of a sudden it was like coming out into the sunshine from a cold, dark cave. Life’s pieces began to fit together more smoothly. It all got done in God’s good time. That peaceful life is part of what was promised in God’s Word.
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10
Heavenly Father, please keep me from the frantic pace this world sets. I desire Your life which includes an abundance of peace within. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Have you ever found yourself procrastinating - putting off something until another day? Of course you have, we all do it. Whether it is a task at home (cleaning out an overflowing closet), at work (putting off a project) or in our spiritual lives (I'll get around to loving my neighbor - later), the habit of procrastinating can have serious repercussions in our characters.
According to Joseph Ferrari & Timothy Pychyl, procrastination represents a problem of self-regulation. Time is squandered as a person tries to duck away from the responsibility they know they must meet.
How does a procrastinator operate in the spiritual realm? I can just see it. The Lord gives you something specific to do - big or little - and the task is pushed to the background in one's life day after day, only accomplished when one is pushed to do it by outward circumstances.
Perhaps God continues to speak to you about a certain action He needs you to take but you put it off . . . again and again. Eventually you get around to doing it - maybe. To do something on your own terms, when you choose to do it, when you feel like it, when you think it is important to do - is not at all.
Can God trust a person who is not actively listening for His daily commands? Can He trust a person who may or may not get around to doing something He wants done - now?
Let's be as Samuel in the Old Testament who had his heart and ears attuned to God's voice by saying, "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening." I Samuel 3:10
Then let's run with swift feet to obey the Lord promptly - at home, at work, in the neighborhood, in the marketplace. God will be smiling, confident that obedience is being built into your character. Obedience to God is an essential quality of good character.
"I will hurry, without lingering, to obey Your command." Psalm 119:60
Heavenly Father, please instill in me the desire to hear Your voice immediately and to obey You immediately - to Your glory. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
One day we prepared to set out on an errand about ten miles from home. Before we left, our daughter decided to have a quick breakfast so her stomach wouldn’t be empty. We waited for her to eat, trying not to become impatient with the delay. Ten minutes later, we headed out the door.
Arriving at our destination, we noticed a man and his car were imprisoned inside a fenced area. Apparently the electrical power had gone out and he was trapped. Tugging and pulling at the closed gate, the man’s consternation was readily evident.
As we witnessed the man’s struggle, it was apparent that the delay at home had resulted in a perfectly timed and choreographed adventure, staged by our kind heavenly Father. If we had arrived ten minutes earlier as planned, we would have been stuck, too.
Instead, of being trapped, we were able to lend assistance, freeing the man from imprisonment. He was gleeful. God’s timing is always perfect!
My times are in thy hands. Psalm 31:15
Heavenly Father, the next time I become frustrated by delays, help me to rest assured that You have it all under Your control. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Think about one of the most memorable days in your life. When you awoke in the morning, you probably had no idea that something so special was going to happen. Perhaps it was the day your parents surprised you with your first bicycle. Or the day you received a call telling you that you were hired for a job you’d wanted. Or the day you became a grandparent for the first time.
Most memorable days begin in an ordinary fashion. We have no idea that something surprising is just ahead. Then all of a sudden, the commonplace is flooded in delight as God surprises us with His goodness. May we see the continual surprises of God.
How precious is Thy steadfast love, O God!
…Thou givest (us) drink from the river of Thy delights. Psalm 36:7-9
Heavenly Father, please open my eyes and heart to see Your delightful surprises You have created just for me. In Jesus' name. Amen
Monday, February 9, 2009
Recently I attended a cross country race, my first ever. Not to run, but to watch - the runners, the crowd.
It was a crisp day with blue skies, the trees just beginning to change into golds and reds. As the runners gathered at the starting line, I was amazed to see the buzz of activity. Muscles were being stretched and a continual movement of limbs was going on so as to be ready for the race.
The starting gun was sounded and off they ran, around the woods, returning to the area filled with the cheering crowd. Off they went again …then down the homestretch they came. The crowd lined the running path, cheering the runners onward, encouraging each one until the last runner had completed the race. It didn’t matter that a runner wasn’t first, stumbled or was in pain. Each runner was running the best they possibly could and the surrounding crowd cheered each one onward.
It brought tears to my eyes as I realized that is what is going on around us as we run the race God has given us. There are cheers going up for each of us. Some cheers are from people around us, but many cheers are from that great unseen cloud of witnesses:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
How important it is for us to join with that unseen cloud of witnesses and cheer for our fellow-runners. No matter how swift and skillful or slow and stumbling a runner may be, we can cheer them onward. That is what encouragement is about.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11
Heavenly Father, please open my eyes to see areas in which I can encourage others…and then to do so. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Have you ever offered your volunteer services for a specific project, thinking that was what God wanted you to do? Perhaps it was offering to go next door each day to prepare lunch for an elderly neighbor. Or help was needed in the community to pick up litter. Or you volunteered to plant flowerbeds and keep them weeded in your neighborhood. No matter what the task, you proceeded, fully expecting to serve in that specific area for months…perhaps even years.
After a short span of time you then felt that you should stop. In ‘s leading, you withdrew your help, wondering…. Did you misread the Lord’s direction in the first place? Guilt began to set in as you wondered what kind of person you were to start and stop something. Sure, in the limited time you had to serve, you knew that you had touched lives…in your neighborhood,…at a nursing home…in your community. Yet you continued to wonder, asking forgiveness if you hadn’t heard correctly, requesting that the Lord would continue to make His way clear.
Suddenly, a fresh idea seemed to come from God Himself. The Lord trusts you so much that He knows He can give you directions to move in a certain direction and you will. Then He trusts you so much that, after a short time when He has accomplished His purpose, He knows that He can ask you to change direction, or to stop, and you will obey that, too. He trusts you! What an awesome thought!!!! What a humbling thought!!! May we live up to His trust!
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night….
Heavenly Father, please help me to continually seek Your will in matters big and small. I know that only You have the wisdom to direct our starts and stops. Help me to hear both clearly and to obey. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
The other day as I drove through my village, I noticed that the old bowling alley which had perched along the edge of the lake was gone - bulldozed - leveled to the ground. All that was left was a pile of rubble.
Have you ever felt like a bulldozer had just run over your life? Perhaps you have experienced the loss of a loved one, a change in job situations, graduation from school, a new house in an unknown neighborhood, a new baby in the family, an empty nest, retirement …all of these changes in our lives can give us the bulldozed feeling. We lose our bearings, unsure what is next, we don’t know which way to turn, what to think, what to feel. We become disoriented for a bit because things as we had known them are suddenly different.
After the bulldozer has done its work, we are in shock. The entire landscape of our lives is different.
Take heart - from the rubble, by God’s resurrection power in your life, something may happen which is so glorious you never could have imagined. The key, instead of making plans and re-building on your own, is to give your life over to the Master Builder. He has the Plan. He knows, layer upon layer, what is needed to re-build a life. Then cooperate with Him, obey Him. He will reveal what step to take next…and next…and next. If you haven’t learned to surrender to God’s Plan for your life - now is the perfect time to do so. He has the best Plan for each of us. If looking to God and living in obedience to Him has been worked into your character, you will have a life you may not even recognize. It will be that good.
So, if the bulldozer has arrived, stand aside and let God do His work in your life. He will build in you what is to endure for an eternity with Him.
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasure of living with You forever. Psalm 16:11
Heavenly Father, the bulldozing can be so painful. Please help me look to You for what You will do next. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Years ago I read a book which asked: What do you find yourself saying to yourself throughout the day? When you reach for that extra cookie, do you carry on an internal dialogue with yourself using phrases such as “lack of will power” or “weak”? When you find yourself yelling at your husband or children, do you berate yourself as “impatient,” “a horrible wife” or “a shrewish mother”? When you accidentally burn the dinner, do you find yourself saying such words as “inept,” or “failure”?
Imagine someone following you around all day, verbally berating you. Soon you would banish that person from your presence. Why, I wonder, don’t we silence that negative internal dialogue?
Why, I wonder, don’t we invite God’s voice to follow us around. He has only good, encouraging words for us to hear such as “I love you...” “I died for you.” “I want you to live with Me forever . . . beginning now. . . .”
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. Jesus in John 1:27-28
Heavenly Father, thank You that You think the best of me at all times. Please help me to hear Your words above my own. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Are you ready for this?
Recently I was looking through a magazine at work having to do with our specialty, packaging. I ran across this quote:
“There are solutions that facilitate the implementation of best practices.”
What are your first thoughts about that statement, besides that it is a bunch of specialized jargon. Do you know what I thought? I thought about the in the Old Testament - God’s solutions for facilitating the implementation of best practices. Have you read God’s commandments to us lately? If not, they are in Exodus 20 - listed for us so that we know exactly The Solutions for facilitating the implementation of best practices. God knows what is best for us and every other creature on earth. If we follow His solutions, we know that is the best.
Also I thought about Jesus’ many words in the New Testament. “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.” “Blessed are the pure in heart….” “…be reconciled to your brother.” “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” “…do not be anxious…” His words expand the Ten Commandments into practical, everyday living - He lived the life and He finds pleasure in us when we allow Him to live His life through us. He knows the solutions that facilitate the implementation of best practices - we just need to obey Him.
Read: Jesus’ words in Gospel of John.
Heavenly Father, please teach me how to facilitate the implementation of best practices in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
It looked like fun. Bass boats were gathering at the lake for an informal tournament here in the village. My son and I grabbed our boats to go out on the lake to watch the fun.
Little did I realize that, as I paddled to a safe spot away from the powerful engines, that the aroma of gas fumes and engine exhausts would be carried by the wind straight into my . I couldn’t change positions or hold my breath long enough.
Over the next couple of days I could feel my throat and lungs reacting to the toxins I had inhaled. A respiratory infection set in, I was exhausted from fighting the germs and I needed to come to a complete stop. It became very clear to me, the importance of the scripture:
“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a utensil God can use for His purpose. Your life will be clean and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” II Timothy 2:21
From here I could go on to caution against the negative toxins in this world - how we spend our time, what we read, what we listen to.
I prefer to change things around a bit and look at what we SHOULD fill our lives with which help us keep ourselves pure: a healthy dose of sunshine, our ears filled with bird song or our own voice lifted in praise to God, our eyes feasting on the colors God has created and on His Word, the aromas of the season filling our hearts with gladness. I’m sure you could list countless others.
Heavenly Father, please help me keep myself pure - spirit, soul and body. Then I can be of use to You in ways I can’t even imagine. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Perhaps you've been attending school, taking classes to pursue your career goal - forever it seems. You are weary. Or you have been looking for a job and not finding one and you are just plain weary. Or you are caring for a sick child, spouse or parent and you are weary. Or perhaps you have had a long bout with illness and you are weary to the bone. Or just the common ordinary days are wearying to you.
Yet Scripture says, "Let us not grow weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart." ( )
There is the command in black and white, but how does this work?
It‘s simple, really. In Scripture we are told to do two things to bring pleasure to God:
"Trust God and do good...." (Psalm 37:3)
Jesus gives the same two basics - only a bit more specific: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and . And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Certainly God would not give us things to do which would weary us to the bone. Yet when we are already weary, even two basic commands seem almost too much. What do we do?
Again God has the answer - He knows we are but dust: "...they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
Wait on the Lord? But Lord, you say - I have these tasks, duties, classes and responsibilities. Looking at the word "wait" in the language in which it was written helps - to wait on the Lord means to bind together. As we bind together our lives with that of God's life in us, no wonder we will be able to walk, run and fly! It will be His life which gives us the grace and power to trust Him and to continue doing good until He returns for us. We become energized as we obey Him.
Trust God and do good - it's that simple and energizing...and pleases God!
Heavenly Father, please help me to wait ... and receive. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Monday, February 2, 2009
As a child growing up in Pennsylvania, I loved to play outside in the neighborhood - riding my bike, playing marbles, jumping rope, building forts in the trees. It was the fresh air, sunshine and freedom that called me to the out-of doors.
Yet my ears were always listening for my Dad’s whistle. Wherever I was, whatever I was doing, if I heard my Dad’s whistle, I came running. You see, my Dad was known for his beautiful, melodious whistle. During the war, my mother would know when he arrived home on leave, walking up the street toward home - because of his joyous whistle.
After my Mom and Dad had children, he created a whistle for each of us children so we would know who he was calling. Thus, no matter what we were doing, if we heard our father’s whistle for us, we’d run to him, eager to discover what he wanted.
How about you - do you, no matter what you are doing, have your ears open to the Father’s call to you? Is your heart open to His very own special ways which He uses to get your attention? When you hear Him calling, do you run with obedient feet to discover what He has to say to you?
“…when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not listen.”
This is such a sad picture, to me, of a God who is calling, wanting to communicate with us…and He is ignored.
Instead, let us say, “Your principles have been the music of my life throughout the years of my pilgrimage.” Psalm 119:54
Heavenly Father, I need to attune my heart to Yours. I long to hear what you have to say to me. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Sunday, February 1, 2009
A friend of mine who lives in California, recently completed his first CD entitled “Western State O’ Mind”. It is filled with traditional western songs reminiscent of Gene Autry days. Included also are songs he has written, all of which are accompanied by his guitar or mandolin.
Recently he and his wife sent me a copy. Because I have known this friend since high school and college days, I wondered if I would recognize his voice?
Listening to it, I could hear the essence of who my friend was and is to this day. I could hear the warmth, the delight in what he had created, the good humor, the kindness, the contentment and the discipline of hard work.
As I was listening to him sing, I realized for the first time what a personal thing a voice is. It is uniquely ours. No other person in the world has our voice. God deals with us in unique ways which are reflected not only in our physical voice but the voice behind our voice.
I began to think about God’s voice. He, too, has a distinctive voice, like no other. As we come to know Him, we come to know His voice. If we listen, we will hear words of love, encouragement, peace, wisdom, joy, patience, instruction, kindness, correction, goodness, gentleness, comfort…and any other word we may need at the moment.
If we listen to Jesus (you know, the red letters in your Bible), you will also come to know God’s voice and, thus, to know Him and His essence.
Yes, sometimes God’s voice thunders as in Psalm 29. But usually God speaks in a still, small voice, heard only by those who truly want to hear what He has to say.
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, there was a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire was the sound of a gentle whisper.”
I Kings 19:11-12.
Heavenly Father, please open my ears and my heart to Your voice so that I may heed Your slightest whisper. In Jesus’ name. Amen.