Romans 2:21 You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal?
Yesterday, as I sat to have my quiet time with the Lord, it was with a somewhat broken spirit. I felt totally under attack and a little defeated. I’m sure it’s because Saturday I’m speaking at a luncheon for my church. God has given me a message that I’m really excited about – and I know He is doing a mighty work within the women of Evergreen. It’s amazing how, when you’re seeking the Lord and following His will, being used by Him – the enemy of our souls hones in on your weak spots and starts scheming to derail you. That’s where I was yesterday. I’d taken a direct hit to my soft underbelly and was dragging myself to God for medical assistance. Continue reading
1 Corinthians 3:3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?
Ouch. Zing! Just in case any of us thought we were obeying all the little Bible rules and are therefore somehow better than the next guy…guess what? You’re not. I’m not. None of us are.
In this installment (number 37 by my count) of God’s lesson entitled “Everybody Stinks”, I read today in 1 Corinthians about people quarrelling, fighting and generally being divided over who’s following the right rules. The people of Corinth were taking issue with each other over which church leader their neighbors were following – who was better. Like somehow it actually mattered – that it was a big enough deal for them to be separated because of it. And Paul sets them straight, without any sugar-coating. I think I would have liked Paul.
Acts 1:6-7 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
Sometimes I get impatient. Ok, I get anxious and impatient a lot. Specifically when dealing with relationships. I want things to be fixed now. If not now, then I want to know when problems will be resolved. I want an end date. I want to give God a deadline. I struggle with allowing God to work out the timing. I frequently forget that His timing is always perfect. Always. Even when it seems to be taking too long. When it appears to be going nowhere, God is working out the details. I need to remember that.
When driving a commute, I would much rather take side roads and be zipping along at 35-40 miles an hour on a windy route that takes just as long as if I’d sat bumper to bumper on the straight freeway. That’s my nature. I want to be moving…somewhere. Even if it’s not really actually making up any time. I feel that way when waiting on God. I want to grab the wheel, get off at the next ramp and take my own meandering path to our destination. But you never know on the freeway where the traffic is going to “magically” dissipate, leaving miles of open road to speed along. In life, I never know when God will put all the proper pieces in order, removing obstacles and roadblocks to allow for smooth sailing. In the midst of relational troubles, especially when waiting on God’s timing, it’s easy to throw my hands up and say “Just forget them. It’s not worth my energy. I’m outta here”. Pausing to let the Lord’s work be done is like torture for me, but I know that ultimately a beneficial resolution will only come when I pray and wait for God’s perfect road clearing will to be completed. I just wish it wasn’t so difficult to do.
God, please help me to continue to wait on you. Allowing your work to be completed on my road of life. Please make clear my path and open the highway of my relationships for a smooth pleasant drive. Thanks God. I love you. Amen.
Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Obviously, these days our trust in chariots has somewhat diminished. Those things would never pass the NHTSA’s side impact protection tests. Chariots and horses were much more than the Israelite equivalent of a commuter car though, they were symbols of wealth and power. They were powerful weapons for armies. David captured so many chariots during the wars of his reign as king, that his son had to make entire cities for storing them. Chariots also served as protection, with their waist-high, curved, shield like front, they were models of multi-tasking.
Our chariots have become more sophisticated these days. Rather than trust in two wheels and a couple horses, we cling to the our modern-day versions. We trust that if we just made $$ (insert-slightly-higher-than-what-you’re-currently-making-salary), we’d feel confident, comfortable and carefree. We believe that our intelligence and wit will make us a force to be reckoned with in our social circles. We protect ourselves from pain, not with gilded gold-plated shields, but with sarcasm, silence or secrets. As we’re rumbling through life trying to keep our high-powered chariots under control, we’re missing the peace and contentment of trusting God to take the reins, pull over and walk the road with us.
What chariot are you driving? Where is your trust being placed? If it’s not in God, it’s going to let you down. And chariot crashes aren’t pretty. Watch Ben Hur if you don’t believe me.
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself also in the Lord. And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
For years my mother has been pleading with me to have a daily quiet time with God. Many times, I shrugged off her requests in irritation. I would get extremely annoyed at her insistence that my walk with the Lord needed to be deeper than church on Sundays. Carving out twenty, thirty or forty minutes of my precious time each day just didn’t seem worth it to me. I was doing alright. I was saved wasn’t I? Why didn’t she just let me be?
In my dozen years as an “adult”, I have learned lessons the hard way. Without a real relationship with God, decisions have been consistently made based on what I thought, felt or desired at any given moment. Raised in the church, I prayed for things often, but only lately have I realized that I couldn’t possibly have actually heard God when waiting for direction. I mean, I had no idea what His voice sounded like. I’d never spent any time with Him, so how could I possibly expect to discern His prompting apart from my own ideas about things? Ultimately, I’m pretty sure it’s been my way, not God’s that my life has been lived. Continue reading
1 Kings 19:11-12 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
Let this be a lesson to you. When your pastor reads a scripture that touches your heart, be sure to write down the address. I just spent about 25 minutes trying to locate the above verse in Isaiah. Silly me. This verse isn’t about Isaiah – it’s about Elijah. Duh. Oh well. Continue reading
Psalm 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Yesterday, I got a horrible migraine at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. My husband is usually home around 5:30. Those ninety minutes seemed like torture. My daughter wanted me to sing with her, my son was feeling grumpy/tired and whining. I felt like my head was going to explode. I pulled out my phone to call my husband when he wasn’t home at 5:31…and saw an e-mail saying he’d be working late. That he probably wouldn’t be heading out of the office until half past 5. I felt like vomiting. By the time Zack walked in the door at 6:20, I could hardly walk my head hurt so badly. I remember mumbling something and staggering to the blissful black of my bedroom and closing the door. I remember nothing else except about 20 seconds of my husband coming to bed around 11. Then my alarm was going off this morning.
Let’s just say that I wasn’t pleased with how my day ended up yesterday. And, this morning I still have the aching remnants of that headache. I’ll never be able to explain how bad it is for those of you who’ve never had a migraine, my fellow sufferers need no description. I really kind of feel like being grumpy all day because of all I had to get accomplished that just didn’t get done last night. But what am I instructed to do upon opening my Bible this morning? Rejoice and be glad in the day God has made. Super.
Much more often than I’d like to admit, I reach the end of the day with a list of complaints. Rather than focus on the joys of each day, I get caught up in what didn’t go well. I forget that God crafted that day with special purpose for me. In the morning, I don’t think about the promise and possibility of the day ahead, instead concentrating on what tasks need to be completed. Daily we should delight in the wonderful gift of life. We’re not promised tomorrow. Instead of that making us somber, it should make us supremely grateful for the day in front of us. So, I chose to say “Woo-hoo for today!” I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. (The Message)
I say “thank-you” all the time. When I drop my daughter off at child care, if someone lets me in front of them in line, picks up a toy Donovan has thrown from the cart, or hands me a sugar packet I couldn’t reach across the tea-table. The niceties in life are always met with a swift “thanks”. But how often do I thank God for the blessings in my life? Not often enough. Even less do I thank Him in the midst of trouble. My devotional book is written as if it’s Jesus talking, a line from today read – “When you thank Me for the many pleasures I provide, you affirm that I am God, from whom all blessings flow. When adversity strikes and you thank Me anyway, your trust in My sovereignty is a showpiece in invisible realms.”
I recognize God’s overt blessings in my life. I’m grateful for my (mostly) well-behaved children, caring husband, comfortable home, for the career Zack has been successful in and that God allows me the freedom to be home raising my family. I cherish my childhood, the advantage I have as a mother because I had godly, loving examples for parents. My grandmother is taking my husband and I (and siblings, parents, cousins etc.) on a week-long Mexican cruise – I’m REALLY grateful for that! I’m supremely thankful for my good health and ability to use all my limbs. Which brings me to the concept of thanking God in adversity. I don’t know that I’ve ever done that. I certainly have never overflowed with thanksgiving for the struggles in my marriage. When Madison is being an ornery three-year old I’m not praising God for her presence in my life. When my dad started having heart problems, I don’t remember emoting gratitude. When I was told just after Christmas that my legs still needed another month to heal, I didn’t walk out of the clinic worshiping the Lord for His goodness in my life.
Griping and complaining rather than being thankful is a demonstration of distrust. As hard as it is for me to grasp, no matter what happens, God know what He’s doing. The application of knowing that is gratitude. For the good and bad in life, cheerfulness. I need to take a deep breath and be disciplined in displaying joy.
I love my mom. I think it is fantastic that I want to talk to her on a daily basis. What’s even better, is that I always come away with some amazing insight from our chats. I recently have really enjoyed talking to my mom about God. She is the most spiritually mature person I know. She’d probably laugh at me if she read that, but it is totally true. My mother has had an hour or more quiet time every day since I was very young. I cannot remember a time that I didn’t wake up to Mom’s Bible, journal and her concordance strewn near the big chair in the living room. She loves hanging out with God. During one of our recent conversations, my mother said something that showed such discernment, I was blown away. First, a bit of background on our talk. Continue reading
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJ) For we walk by faith, not by sight.
People associate success with victories in life. We strive for a bigger house, nice job title or well-behaved children, but what we should really be looking for is problems, failures and weakness. When by my own strength, intelligence or resourcefulness I’m achieving great things, I feel like I don’t need God’s help. In the times when I stumble and fall – my dependence on His grace and mercy in my life becomes an intimate need, not just a casual fall back plan. The closest I have ever felt to my Lord was in the lowest of lows in my life. The times when I had peace resonating through my being were in choosing to turn my problems over to God, knowing that there was no earthly way to fix them. The growth that results from just letting go, from really depending on the Father to manage the details cannot be developed any other way. Unless I rely on Him, how can I tell others He is reliable? If I’m always “making it” without any real submission to God’s will, how am I a follower of Him?
2 Corinthians also says “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (verse 9) While it’s all good to be driven to the Lord’s feet in times of struggle, if we can come to a place of dependence on Him always, our lives would be so much more fulfilling. Sometimes I think we limit God’s ability to work in our lives in amazing ways, because we think we’re not good enough, strong enough or smart enough to go after big dreams. But that’s the whole point right? WE aren’t. But God is! There is no aspiration that’s too big for Him. No unattainable goal. When I’m in God’s perfect will and am striving for the seemingly impossible, I have the ultimate partner to turn my failure into His success.