Finding ourselves in the Word

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalm 119:18 NIV

When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, “It is talking to me, and about me.” Soren Kierkegaard

The following is a devotional from the book, Inspired Faith 365 Days a Year and is entitled: A Fresh Word. Enjoy.

You’ve heard the joke about marriage: A wife asked her husband if he loves her. He answers, “Of course.” She then asks why he never tells her he loves her. He answers, “I told you I loved you twenty years ago, and I never changed my mind.”

Good marriages need words of affection repeated. Often. Similarly, we need to hear from God every day. The Bible is filled with insights, so when we sit down to read it, often we encounter something brand-new for our spiritual life. But sometimes the very same words, containing the very same truth, speak to us in a new and fresh way. A Bible verse as well known as John 3:16 can be a brand-new reality we realize for the very first time—even though we’ve heard it hundreds of times before. As you open the pages of God’s Word, do so with an open heart and a sense of anticipation. God has something fresh and new to say to you.

Lord, we want to hear You speak through Your Word. Please show us what you want us to know today. Amen

Servanthood Christmas!

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them…that you will be saved—and that by God. Philippians 1: 27-28 NIV

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV

Have you ever wondered how someone as insignificant as you could make a difference in this world?

Servanthood! That’s how!

Christmas-Servant.jpg

Servanthood is the way to…

Conduct ourselves among unbelievers.
Live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Make sure that people hear about us and the God we serve.
Stand firm in one Spirit.
Strive together for the faith.
Serve without being frightened in any way, especially concerning those who oppose us.

Servanthood is a great way to show others that we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared for us in advance to do.

Christmas is a great season to practice our servant abilities. People are open to receive what we have for them at Christmas time, maybe more so than any other time of the year. So, get out there, smile a lot today, give others your place in line, and buy someone a coffee. Go above and beyond for the gospel. And remember, faith without works is dead (James 2:14-19).

Today, let’s seek to have servant hearts and busy hands—always looking for one more opportunity to be the Light of Jesus for this dark world!

In what ways has serving others filled you up in your soul? What can you do for those around you today, to make them feel more loved, nurtured, needed, and full?

Flying with the Seagulls

seagulls-flying-over-ocean-jhhuang

As I watched the seagulls, I thought, “That’s the road to take; find the absolute rhythm and follow it with absolute trust.” Nikos Kazantzakis

Compulsion is self-will run riot!

It’s the polar opposite of effortless obedience—of being in harmony with my Redeemer, of “going with the flow,” letting go and letting God.

Self-will can get me into trouble!  

It’s amazing how quickly I can fall into trouble when I decide to do things my way.

When I decide my way is the right way.

When I decide that my way is not only the right way, but the ONLY way!!

Standing and looking at the train wreck I create when I’m being willful convinces me (or has convinced me long ago), that I need to have a Wise Guide helping me move through this life. Someone who has my best interest at heart. Someone who wants to see me succeed and then wants me to share when I’ve learned with others, so that their rocky path can be made a little smoother.

Standing by the river of life and waiting…watching for God’s prompt to step in, and praying for his guidance and direction (obeying when He speaks), brings me joy, a sense of fullness…satisfaction, purpose and meaning.

Today I have a choice.

I can go my own way and struggle, finding life a whole lot harder than it needs to be and hurting others along the way, or I can lean in to Jesus, ask Him which path before me will benefit me and others more, and go in that direction.

One thing I have learned is that my Lord is absolute truth, and He absolutely knows what is best for me. The proof is in the outcome, and my outcomes have been much, much, much better since I learned to fly with the seagulls.

Much better!!

Are you flying like the seagulls, in absolute rhythm?  What is your absolute truth?

Who Cares?!

carefree

If there’s one place I struggle in life, I would say it’s in the area of carefree living.  I worry too much.

I fret.

I’m overly concerned with what I say…

what I do…

my identity…

my being.

I’M LEARNING!

The good news is that I’m learning how to live a more carefree life these days.  I’m learning that God is everything in my life, and not nothing. If He is everything and knows everything, and created me the way I am…and if He’s in charge of my life, and directing my thoughts, and preparing my soul for transport to where he is someday, then I can trust myself to Him today.

I can let go and let God.

I can relax and know I’m in His care.

I can quit trying to be perfect at everything, and instead focus my energies on being in intimate and passionate contact with the One person who knows me inside and out–warts and all–and loves me anyway. He loves me anyway!!

I can trust!!!

The ability to trust is in me; it’s just that the world has whispered for a long, long time that I can’t. But I can. I have the capacity, and when I see the rewards that come from living carefree, oh, how I want them.

I want to not have to be perfect.

I want to be accepted for who I am, faults and all.

I want not to be distracted by imperfections.

I want just to be His!

Simply His.

Wholly His.

Today, I choose to focus my energies on not being perfect, not being careful, not be afraid, and not being intimidated. I know that 95% of the things I fear will never come to pass and I know that 100% of the things that happen to me, my God can handle.

Today, I choose the freedom that comes from living carefree.

How about you, are you afraid to live your best life today? What keeps you in bondage to careful deliberations, instead of carefree living?

 

Thanksgiving

…the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light…he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:12b-13 NIV

thanksgiving-dinner-dishes-836012728-5bdda2e6c9e77c00262539e0

I “might” be thinking about Thanksgiving this morning, since it’s only days away.

I might be thinking about roasted turkey.

Or maybe baked squash all sugared up with marshmallows and such.  Ooey, gooey, good!

I “might” be fantasizing that ALL.THE.PIES. are smothered with mounds and mounds of real whipped cream.

But really, don’t we have reason to be thankful every day? Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae is full of expressions of thankfulness, which is a blessing when you hear all the talk of bad news that’s going on in our world today.

What was Paul thankful for regarding this church? 

Their newfound faith in Christ.
Love, believers shared with their fellows.
Faith that sprang from hope.
The gospel message that came to them and changed them forever.
Faith that bore fruit.
That they understood grace!

And what did Paul ask for from God, when he prayed for this church?

Knowledge of God’s will for them.
Wisdom!
Understanding of God’s plan and how it would be pieced together.
More fruit bearing abilities.
Good works, performed wisely.
Strength to persevere in their faith.
Power, according to God’s glorious might.
Joy, abundant and overflowing.
Redemption and the forgiveness of sins!!!

These…these are the more beneficial things to think on today, and they have zero calories! A win/win for this gal; maybe for you, too?

Who do you have praying for you? Who are you praying for today? 

I do this for your good

bible-heart.jpg

“An average view of the Christian life is that it means deliverance from trouble. [But] it is deliverance in trouble, which is very different.” Oswald Chamber’

God does all these things to a person-twice, even three times-to turn them back from the pit, that the light of life may shine on them. Job 33:29-30 NIV

I’ve recently been reminded that God is more concerned with my character than my comfort.

Ouch!

That means that I might be asked to pass through deep waters at some point, and I might have to cross swollen rivers. I might even be placed smack dab in the middle of a horrific storm that produces flash floods of emotional upheaval and spiritual challenge, for my good.

For. My. Good. people!! 

This kind of goodness-in-disguise is meant to save me from the pit–a much worse and eternal consequence of steering my own ship. it isn’t trouble produced or allowed by God to crush me, or even perplex me, but to grow me. One day I am going to need the strength of character and faith in God required to do hard things. Now is the training ground for that then.

Now is the proving ground.

Now is the time when I get to concentrate on what real hardship means and how it can, when we ask God to enter in, become a pathway to peace.

For me, it’s all about acceptance and surrender and neither one of those happens quickly in my experience. I am a big boat of self, so I don’t turn on a dime. It takes time, and I’m so glad God is invested in seeing it done. Even when I resist far beyond the point where it is helping me.

Are you currently struggling with a season of hardship you wish would quickly end? Why not join me in prayer today, when we can together ask God his purpose for the hard, what he wants us to learn in the training, and how we can more quickly surrender to His will.

I’ve heard it said, “The safest place for any of us, is in the center of God’s will.”

When has a hardship proven to be good for you?  When have you, as a parent [God figure in your kiddos lives], allowed or even produced hardship for their good?

He Forgives When We Act

Sin is energy in the wrong channel. Saint Augustine

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,“ and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5 NIV

Reading in this morning’s devotional, Breakfast for the Soul, I came across a good word from Keith Miller. I quote Mr. Miller here:

“The way surrender takes place may be different for each person, but certain events seem to ‘mark the trail’ for almost everyone.

The universal nature of sin is such that without ever knowing it, all of us become centered in our selves in a way that is not conducive to healthy relationships and to long-term happiness. We put ourselves in the center where only God belongs. The way this sin often manifests itself is that we gradually begin to focus on one thing in particular in our lives so much that eventually we cannot by our own strength want God more than that thing.”

Ouch!

Some of the things that unseat God in our lives are our mates, our children, our job, our play times, our ambitions and our addictions…whatever we use to sooth.

Keith Miller goes on to say that the remedy for this sin affliction is awareness and confession.

“…when we see and confess our sin we can repent, surrender, put God back in the center, and defeat the [sin] disease—thus overcoming the alienated, guilty feeling that things are not okay.”

confess

Today, let’s focus on awareness of our shortcomings and God’s unlimited power to work in our lives for our good and His glory.

What do you use to sooth, when you’re feeling God is not enough?  Do you agree that awareness is the first step to recovery of our true center, God?  

 

So, I had a weird dream last night!

I was shopping for furniture in a red nightgown that was ripped under both arms.

In the dream, I’m walking through this long, long store full of showrooms while holding my arms straight at my side, hoping against all hope to hide the fact that my clothing is ripped.  It’s not working very well.

At some point I decide this shopping trip is too much for me.

I’m not clothed appropriately, and there is no furniture in here, although I keep walking and walking and see lots of sales people on the “sales” floors that flow from one to another in rapid succession. There is something I’m able to see, not sure its furniture but it could be, behind thick meant-to-be-transparent plastic sheets that go floor to ceiling in each room.  It’s like the place is a warehouse, but the entrance is like a Costco, and there are salespeople everywhere, all professionally dressed, all eager to sell, but what?

Anyway, I decide at some point I need to leave. I’m self-conscious, and maybe because of that, but maybe not, I decide to put my clear plastic hair barrettes in my mouth.

Why?

Who knows.

I’m now headed out of the store, through voluminous showrooms, trying to keep my ripped armpits from being seen by others…my arms straight down at my sides.  I’m  hustling through salespeople with barrettes in my mouth, when I think of the large piece of pineapple I left at the door when I came into the store. The guy outside said I couldn’t bring it in with me. It was a big slab, so I didn’t want to leave it behind.  I’m worried it will be covered with dust and debris by the time I get back to it.  The door man had said, “Just leave it on the ledge over there. You can pick it up when you come out.” So I did!!!

What??!

benefits-of-pineapple-1296x728-feature

As I’m running with my arms straight down at my sides, monster-like, and thinking of the pineapple slab and what condition it will be in when I retrieve it, I swallow one of my barrettes.

Swallow it!! But just one…and it’s stuck! In my throat.  At the base of my throat; inside, where my throat meets my neck. Stuck! I can feel it there. It hurts.

I try to swallow hard to get it down.
Then I try to cough it up.
Nuts!  It won’t budge!

I can’t get it to go either way.

And then the horrid thought hits me that there will be a surgery in my future, and I decide to leave the pineapple slab and just go home.
Finally, I find the exit.

The dream ends…

I blame the Tylenol PM I took last night for this wacky, crazy dream, but it could be something else going on. Maybe…

All I know is that that big ole juicy pineapple slab was lost to me, and for that reason, I’m sad. LOL

Do you ever have weird dreams? What do you make of them?

BTW: it was the best sleep I’ve had in weeks! Go Figure!!