Saturday, August 31, 2013
Do you remember how big your house feels after you get home from camping? All that space! Hot showers, a refrigerator, electricity, warm beds! Refuge from the storm. Even a little house feels like a palace after a week in an eight by ten tent. Remember that relieved, happy feeling of being home at last...
My reading this morning found me in 2 Corinthians.
5 For we know that if our earthly house, the tent we live in, is dismantled, we have a building from God, a house not built by human hands, that is eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this earthly house we groan, because we desire to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed, after we have put on our heavenly house, we will not be found naked. 4 For we groan while we are in this tent, since we are weighed down, because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.
Think of our bodies as a tent in comparison to what our heavenly bodies will be. We're roughing it down here folks. We're in a lightweight tent, a body that sometimes get sick, feels inadequate, and is subject to the storms of life. But when we get home, we'll have a body made by God, eternal and perfect. Like comparing a tent to the Newport mansions kind of house, and probably far better.
Camping can have some moments of awesomeness, just like our lives down here can feel pretty good sometimes. But it is a great encouragement to me to remember that down here we're just tent camping, and home is going to be SO AMAZING...
Friday, August 2, 2013
My reading this morning finds me in 2 Chronicles 32. The king of Assyria was getting ready to attack Judah. King Hezekiah encouraged the people with these words...
7 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him.8 With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
The enemy was talking trash and trying to inspire fear in the people.
15 Now, therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!’”
Hezekiah and his people knew something here. They didn't serve a "How much less" God like the idols of the nations around them. They served a "How much more" God that saves and delivers.
Let's read on...
20 Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven. 21 And the Lord sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he came into the house of his god, some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword.
God's people prayed and God sent the enemy packing.
When it seems like the enemy has you surrounded, remember you serve a "How much more" God, who will do exceedingly abundantly more than you can ask or think. Keep your eyes on Him today...
Thursday, August 1, 2013
There are certain times that we think of for fresh starts. January first. Monday mornings. The first of the month. The Bible says "His mercies are new every morning".
In my reading today, in 2 Chronicles, Israel had once again gone astray. Hezekiah begins to set things right, celebrating the Passover, organizing the priests, tearing down pagan altars, bringing in the tithe.
20 Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God.21 And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered.
Here we are at August first. Seven months of the year have gone by, but it is not too late to start fresh and get one of those good habits established. Celebrate you successes and continue to learn and grow forward!
Saturday, July 27, 2013
My reading today was in 2 Chronicles 20, God told Jehoshaphat this...
17 You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord [Who is] with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.
18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping Him.
On the morning on the battle, Jehoshaphat reminded the people about God's promise, then sent out the singers to praise God. This is what they found...
24 And when Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked at the multitude, and behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none had escaped!
25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take the spoil, they found among them much cattle, goods, garments, and precious things which they took for themselves, more than they could carry away, so much they were three days in gathering the spoil.
Without raising a sword in battle, the enemy was already defeated and the people collected the spoil. All because they believed God at His Word.
Sometimes you need to be strong and fight the battle.
Sometimes you need to praise God and let Him work.
The secret is to stay so tuned into Him you know which to do.
Keep your ears open to His voice :)
Friday, July 26, 2013
I love this picture! Quite frankly, it is very easy to be at peace when you are sitting in a spot as lovely as this. But what about everyday life? When the car is still in the shop or the hubby gets a layoff slip or some unexpected crisis pops up...
Peace was mentioned over 397 times in the Bible, according to my Bible Gateway word search. Maybe because, as humans, we need and long for peace, and are not naturally equipped to have it!
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.John 14:27
Peace is a gift. It's ours. Jesus said so. Then, knowing human nature, He told us LET NOT your heart be troubled. We tend to allow worry, fear and anxiety creep in. We look at our circumstances and expect the worst case scenario! We keep our eyes on our problems instead of our God....
Maybe that ties in to this verse:
For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.Romans 8:6
Many times we go back to our default settings, the old man, the old way of thinking and reacting, instead of responding in our new nature, like children of God. You choose how you think, and what you think about. If a thought pops in that is contrary to your new nature, replace it with the truth. Life and peace. Life more abundantly! Like the Luminosity commercial says "Retrain your brain!"
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Peace out friends!
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[b] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (NLT)
My life hasn't always been smooth. At 15, my folks got divorced. That was the year I got saved and my life changed forever! Then I was married at 18, and the first 5 years were pretty rough as Scott struggled with addictions that I didn't realize had a hold on him. Circumstances have not always been good! But, both of my parents have accepted the Lord and are on good speaking terms with each other, that is a testimony in itself.
And we celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary this year, which is a miracle, since I had people telling me to divorce him in those early years. I held on because I knew the man of God he was and would be...
Sometimes things we don't understand happen to us. No matter what we go through, know that God is with you, and has the master plan. In the big things, and in the little things.
Just an example of the little things... Last week my car overheated, and I made an emergency stop at a local garage to get it checked. They kept it overnight and had me on the road the next day, but it wasn't really fixed! I had the car towed back in. I claimed Deut.28:6 for my car, and decided not to worry.
“Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
A week later, and I NEED my car to get around, and I wasn't even hearing from them, I had to keep calling to even get a quote. I kept trying to walk in peace and not fret, and kept giving it to the Lord. The quote seemed really high and I didn't feel at peace about getting it done there, due to the length of time it was there and the non-communication issues. I picked it up this morning, and prayed as I drove it to my garage to have it fixed. I made it there without incident. I expected to be out of pocket for the original $168 repair bill to replace a thermostat, and maybe get charged extra for diagnostic charges, but when I got there, I was given a zero balance due bill, recommended repairs list to give to my mechanic, and a refund check, since they hadn't fixed my problem. That is grace! Sometimes it is hard to keep your peace when your flesh wants to throw a hissy fit over poor communications or speed of service or incompetence (like when it took a month to get my "stolen" check money returned) but we need to think "How does our attitude reflect on the Lord?" I chose to be polite and respectful in my dealings with this garage, and they graciously refunded my money without me even suggesting it or expecting it. Thank you Lord!
Thankfully Rebekah loaned me her car so I can make my usual commitments and appointments I had this week, and my mom has been shuttling me to and from the garage as needed. The car is with a mechanic we trust and it shall be fixed and running in due time. That's life, things happen, cars break, expenses come up. We can either react and worry or trust and believe. Trusting is a lot easier on your emotions, to realize God has your back and no amount of worrying will add a moment to your life or reduce a day off your garage stay...
God is so good, keep looking for and expecting His goodness to show up in your life. And take time to be that goodness in someone else's life today!
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
My morning reading was titled
The Future Glory
Romans 8:19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children,[g] including the new bodies he has promised us.
This passage reminded me of an old Audio Adrenaline song the kids used to sing. Listen to it here...Big Big House
I think about how much fun we had on family vacation. It was so great to spend time together and cook our meals over the fire and enjoy God's beautiful creation. Take that feeling, magnify it by 100, and maybe that is what heaven will feel like. God's big family, together, enjoying His company and celebrating life. WOW!
As believers, we may have days of groaning here on earth, when we long for that day. But it's coming, and it is going to be AWESOME! Meanwhile, let's invite as many along with us as we can, singing
"Come and go with me to my Father's House..."
At the dentist, I mentioned I went up in a hot air balloon for my 50th. The dentist, who is 54, joked "It's all down hill from here!" I replied "No, I am just hitting my stride, I'm getting good at this life thing, and it's going to keep getting better!"
How often do we accept the worlds view on things? I'd rather believe God's view on things. Psalm 92 says
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Do you have some things you wonder about in the Bible and haven't quite found the answer yet?
I do! So I was happy to find an answer to one of those questions in my reading today.
I have been listening to the Daily Audio Bible for my morning devotional time. (Click on the link and you will go to it! Make sure you go to July 21st) and today's section in Romans had some answers for me.
I always wondered, as Christians, what our relationship was to the Law and all the regulations of the Old Testament. After all, they were given to the nation of Israel, and we're Gentiles, not Jewish. Most of us will admit the 10 commandments are relevant to everyone, but what about the other rules and regulations? Everything from not eating pork, to tattoos, to being unclean, how does that apply to us today?
After all, Jesus did say in Matthew 5:17
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Ephesians 2 talks about our salvation being by faith, not by works. It also talks about Christ taking down the walls between Jews and Gentiles.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Today's reading in Romans 7 Amplified version...
4 Likewise, my brethren, you have undergone death as to the Law through the [crucified] body of Christ, so that now you may belong to Another, to Him Who was raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God.
5 When we were living in the flesh (mere physical lives), the sinful passions that were awakened and aroused up by [what] the Law [makes sin] were constantly operating in our natural powers (in our bodily organs, [a]in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh), so that we bore fruit for death.
6 But now we are discharged from the Law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive. So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life].
This gave me my answer. We are dead to the Law, but we are under obedience to the Spirit. Certain things from the Law will always be true, such as moral issues, do not kill, do not commit adultery, and the Spirit would bear witness to that. In my opinion, there are certain other issues that pertained to the times that may not relate to us today, such as a woman being unclean and not able to attend the temple during her monthly cycle. To go to church in our culture today during that time of the month would not be a sin. We don't have the same sanity problems that they would have had in their culture.
For me, this answered my question. Listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit and obey Him. If you have a question about what you are hearing, whether you are hearing God or understand something, talk to your Pastor or an elder or another mature Christian. So many have gone astray following their sinful desires and saying "God told me..." No, God would not tell you to divorce your spouse and marry someone who is also married. God would not tell you to do something contrary to His nature, which is pure and holy and just. Listening to God is a learning process. Don't be afraid to ask for confirmation or counsel.
We can walk, not in bondage but in newness of life...
Go hang out with His people today and celebrate!
Saturday, July 20, 2013
1: 5 I will build a great temple, for our God is greater than all gods. 6 Of course, who can really build a temple for him, since the sky and the highest heavens cannot contain him? Who am I that I should build him a temple! It will really be only a place to offer sacrifices before him.
It is always fascinating to read how elaborate the temple was in Jerusalem, and know it must pale in comparison to what heaven is really like. It amazes me that the complicated system of law and sacrifices and burnt offering of the Old Testament have been replaced in the New Testament with what God really wanted in the beginning. A relationship. I am so thankful we have a God that does not dwell far off, but longs to be a part of our every day lives, and commune with us daily, not in a place, but right where we are.
Think about it! Solomon was awed by the magnitude of building a temple for the Lord, yet WE are His temple. Sometimes we ask "Who are we to be His temple?" But we are His, blood bought, chosen, adopted, loved children and He wants us to be with Him. He loves us more than we can ever fathom.
I'll close with this prayer from Ephesians...
3:14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
My friend Tom likes to say "be the tea". I would say be the T. Be the temple. Today.
Friday, July 19, 2013
I' reading in the Old Testament, about the end of King David's reign. It was on his heart to build a temple for the Lord, but God told him Solomon should be the one to build the temple, because he would be a man of peace. What a monumental task that would be! David did not just forget about the project though, the Lord helped him design the blueprints for the temple, and David began to gather the materials Solomon would need. He lined up the craftsmen. He got the people behind the project and had them contribute to the work.
He did everything possible to make sure his son could be successful, he gave him the tools he would need for this mighty undertaking. He also advised and encouraged Solomon with these words.
1 Chron. 28:20 David said to his son Solomon: “Be strong and brave! Do it! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic! For the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not leave you or abandon you before all the work for the service of the Lord’s temple is finished.
As parents, we lay the foundation for our children's success. Hopefully we give them the skills needed in every area of their life, both physical, emotional and spiritual. We advise and encourage. Then we step back and give them the Nike message: Just do it!
28:10 Realize now that the Lord has chosen you to build a temple as his sanctuary. Be strong and do it!”
If your kids are young, you are still in the equipping and training process. If your kids are grown, you are on call as an adviser and will always be praying for them. That does not mean your work is done and you can sit on a park bench and do nothing! There is always a fresh crop of baby Christians coming into the church that need to be loved and prayed for and encouraged. We are family and family takes care of each other.
Just do it!
Thursday, July 18, 2013
I must admit to starting the day a little bummed out. My car overheated on Tuesday afternoon, and I left it with the mechanic to fix. On the way home from the garage yesterday, it overheated again. The antifreeze level was fine, he changed the thermostat and re-pressurized the lines. But obviously something else is still wrong. It is frustrating that I spent all that money and I will have to take the car back again to find the real problem. I don't like it when I can't trust my car to get me where I need to go, and the process it will take to get the problem solved. It is not my usual mechanic, so there is the awkward conversation of what to do next. So routine has been interrupted by a problem, so why does this surprise me or bother me? Eyes in the wrong place, on circumstances and things perhaps. A small blip in my schedule, really.
Time to shift my focus. Our Psalm for the day was 87. In verse 7, it says
New International Version (©2011)
As they make music they will sing, "All my fountains are in you."
I like how this version says it...
Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)
Singers and dancers alike will say," My whole source of joy is in you."
Singers and dancers alike will say," My whole source of joy is in you."
With the temps in the 90's in CT this week, we are blasting the AC trying to keep cool, drinking ice water and trying to beat the heat, this song seems appropriate. Take a listen and see if the lyrics don't fit this heat wave!
All my fountains song
Don't let the heat or circumstances steal your joy! This is a reminder for me to sit by the river and seek out that Living Water. Time to step out of my natural tendencies and switch to spirit mode. He is my source of life, refreshment, encouragement, and joy. Spend some time chilling with Jesus today...
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
1 Chronicles 24-26:11.
It seemed like pretty dry stuff. David organized the priests, and listed 24 of them, then he organized the Levites. Next he organized the musicians, then the gatekeepers.
25:8 They cast lots to determine their responsibilities—oldest as well as youngest, teacher as well as student.
9 The first lot went to Asaph’s son Joseph and his relatives and sons—twelve in all, the second to Gedaliah and his relatives and sons—twelve in all,
I tend to think of these passages and wonder what benefit we get from them as New Testament Christians. Obviously it was important to record the history of the nation Israel, but what can we learn from it today?
Number 1- Even in church, organization and communication are important. David communicated a very clear plan of who did what so the temple was an organized and peaceful place. He appointed musicians to play and even prophesy on the harp. The Levites and gatekeepers had their own specific role.
Number 2- Even the people who weren't specifically named were important. They may have been mentioned as a twelve in all... Gedaliah and his relatives and sons—twelve in all but they were none the less important to the smooth operation of God's house.
You may be a gatekeeper, handing out the bulletins as people walk into church. You may be the one who comes and cleans the bathrooms. You may be a musician, or someone new who hasn't quite found their way to serve yet. But God sees you, He hears you, you are important to Him, and to those around you.
26:8 All these were the descendants of Obed-Edom. They and their sons and relatives were respected men, capable of doing their responsibilities.
When we come with a heart willing to serve, we often learn on the job! If we are available, He can make us capable of doing what He calls us to do... We each have talents and passions and gifts that bring something special to His temple. Sometimes you may feel like one of the unmentioned listed as "twelve in all". But remember, it takes more than one instrument to play a symphony. Your part is important, and when it is missing, the song is not quite as good. You matter!
Be there. Play your part. Enjoy the music!
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Amplified Bible (AMP)
27 And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the [a]span of his life?
28 And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and [b]learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin.
29 Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his [c]magnificence (excellence, dignity, and grace) was not arrayed like one of these.
I have a confession to make. I have too many clothes. The problem, however, is that most of it does not fit or function well. Many of the things I have don't go well with other things I have, or were just given to me and not really my style at all. So I spend a lot of time dealing with laundry piles of stuff I MIGHT wear someday. Time to change that! If I haven't worn it, no matter how much I LIKE it in theory, it needs to go! I'd like to slim down to a mix and match-able core wardrobe that I don't have to think about so much. Quality versus quantity. Function and fashion. Then organization.
As Americans, how much time do we spend dealing with our excess stuff? Renting storage spaces, buying storage containers, dealing with clutter. Living in a small house, this has always been an issue. Today is a house cleaning, recover from the vacation, clean and unpack day for me. I found my motivational scripture in 1 Chronicles 22:16. David had assembled all the materials Solomon would need to start building the temple. It was an overwhelming task, I am sure, but this is the advice David gave...
"You’re all set—get to work! And God-speed!”
Time to get off the computer and get to work! How about you? Do you have something you have been procrastinating that you really need to tackle today?
Monday, July 15, 2013
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
For 15 years, we have been going to Letchworth State Park in NY on family vacations. One of the first years we were there, we watched a hot air balloon launch and fly over the falls. When we went in 2010, I started thinking I wanted to be in the park on my 50th birthday and go up in a balloon. This year was that year, and this pic was taken by yours truly...
I've always been uncomfortable around heights. As much as my brain tells me there is a railing and I am safe, I feel a little uneasy. Was I going to let that stop me? The Bible says "Perfect love casts out fear." I know I am under God's protection and care. I didn't want an irrational fear to keep me from the blessing. I planned the vacation for my birthday week and booked our flight.
It almost didn't happen. Due to weather, the pilot hadn't been able to do a launch in 3 weeks. The flight on my birthday got postponed until Thursday. We were due to leave Saturday, so we prayed the weather would cooperate as violent thunderstorms rocked the park on Wednesday night. We needed SUN and we needed God to SHIELD the area from storms...
Three of us went up. None of us like heights. Yet in the balloon, there was no fear. That is GRACE. We hit 6600 feet and went through clouds. We saw rainbows and the sunset. We looked down on some of the most beautiful countryside, rolling hills and farmland, waterfalls and forest. It was GLORY unspeakable, one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had.
God has so many "good things" planned for our lives, yet sometimes we are afraid to get in the basket with Him and launch out into the adventure of following Him. We want to keep our feet on the ground, we want a railing to hold onto, we want to be comfortable. But in letting go, we grow, we change, we climb to new heights and gain new perspective. We have profound moments that impact our lives and the lives of others, moments of grace and glory that leave us forever changed.
Let go of the safety rope that has you tethered to the ground and fly with Him!