Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Shadows

When I was little, I was very afraid of the dark.  I was sure something was lurking there, ready to devour me.  I knew it was there, and at times I was sure it moved!  I called out to my mom, and she would come in there and reassure me that all was well.  She turned on the light, and I could see that nothing was truly there.  I didn't have to be afraid of what was in the night.

 But there are those who live in the dark.  They dwell in their own personal shadows during the daytime, as well as the night.  They can't seem to get out of it, no matter how hard they try.  They wonder if life is worth it.  They live on the brink of the shadows of death.  But in this is not imaginary.  It is very real.

To begin with, I would encourage anyone who is feeling this way to please talk with someone, a doctor perhaps.  Many times it is a chemical issue...something you cannot control on your own.  Please do this.  It can make a world of difference.

How do you get to the shadows?  In many cases, it can be the experiences of life that overwhelm us and make us feel unloved or worthless.  It seems we get hit from the left and right, and we get pushed further and further down a hole.  A very dark and deep hole that is filled with shadows. Soon, the thought of a light is the blackness is almost impossible to imagine.

But the Light is there.  His name is Jesus.  Luke 1:79 tells us that He came "to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."  God knew that His children would at times sit in darkness, and dwell in the shadow of death.  They would tend to go there, and they needed Someone to guide their feet into the way of peace for their souls.

”Psalm 34: 17-20 tells us, "When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.  When we cry out, God hears us.  

He is near to those who have broken hearts and who's spirits are crushed.  Not just broken spirits...but crushed spirits.  For those who have had the world stomp on their spirits over and over...broken beyond recognition.  God is there for them, to save them.  He is a Lifeline in the Sea of Afflictions.

So if you are a resident of the shadows, know that God DOES see you.  You are not alone.  He loves you enough to send Jesus to shine His Light in the room, and show you that it is all right.  You don't have to be afraid of the night.  He is there for you.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Breeze

Do you ever feel like a crumb in the middle of a picnic full of ants?  Oh...make that a crumb covered in sugar?

Today's verse is Psalm 55:18  "He has delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me."

The Bible scholars differ on how this verse can be interpreted, so I'l stick with the side of the fence that touched my spirit.

Even though we constantly fight those doggone ants...they still keep coming.  Relentless, aren't they?  They come from all sides to get a piece of you.  You are brave and confident and fight as best you can (for a crumb), but it seems impossible to survive.  Then all of a sudden a strong wind comes along and begins to blow the ants away.  The invaders are longer a threat.

Yes, I know it's a strange analogy, but it's how I roll!

We fight ants every day.  Sometimes they come in the form of sugar ants: little things like battling pride and self.  Other times they are in the appearance of fire ants: financial difficulties or family issues.  Then others are the big carpenter or wood ants: cancer or a devastating loss of a loved one.

 But take heart.  The psalm shows us the PROMISE that God gives us.  He HAS DELIVERED my soul IN PEACE.  God has not forgotten us.  He WILL deliver us.  And peace is possible...even though we may not feel it at the moment.

And don't forget the last part: for there were many with me.  Now this is the part where the scholars differ.  It could mean there are many against me...which we know to be true...or I like to look at it from the other side of the fence...there are many who are with me.  Fellow Christians who are praying for me and standing with me before the Throne of the Father.  Their prayers are the wind blowing those ants away from their food source.  Their prayers are the Breath of God blowing the enemy away.

So keep fighting.  There is a breeze starting to form.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Reason

I was making hubby's breakfast this morning, and packing his lunch. As I was putting the peanut butter on the bread, I began thinking about the beginning of a new work week.  The routine sandwich making was rote.  I smiled to myself as I imagined what other women would think of my breakfast and lunch making tasks.  I could just hear it.

     "Are you serious?  He's a grown man!  He can make his own breakfast and lunch!!"
     "You are spoiling him!"
     "This is not the 1950's!! Get with the times, girl!"
     "He MAKES you do that??!

Just for the record:  I am serious...Yes, he can make his own lunch...Maybe I am spoiling him, but he spoils me right back...I am aware that the year is 2013...and no, he doesn't make me...I WANT to!!  

Disclaimer:  Now in NO way am I saying that women who don't make their husband's lunch are bad wives!!!  LOL!  This is just what I choose to do!  This is one way that I show him how much I love him. Other women have to find their way of showing affection.  What's important is the motive behind the actions.

My motive is not manipulation.  If I make his lunch, he'd better do THIS for me.  It is not out of obligation, for that would be nothing more than a warped form of slavery.  My motive is not to be put in the running for the "Wife of the Year" award!  My motive is love.  It is a way to show him thanks for getting up every day at 5:30 am and working hard in the hot sun all day, to provide for us. Motive is the key behind everything.

What drives you to do the things you do?  What is the force driving you and your actions towards others?  If it is manipulation, or obligation, or attention seeking, or may want to rethink things.  

! Corinthians 13: 1=8
I may speak in different languages, whether human or even of angels. But if I don’t have love, I am only a noisy bell or a ringing cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy, I may understand all secrets and know everything there is to know, and I may have faith so great that I can move mountains. But even with all this, if I don’t have love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have to help others, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing by doing all this if I don’t have love.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it cannot be made angry easily. Love does not remember wrongs done against it. Love is never happy when others do wrong, but it is always happy with the truth.Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits.
Love will never end.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A New Attitude

"You'd better change your attitude!!"  How often did we say that to our kids? (Or had it said to US!)
What kind of attitude should we have?  How should we 'be'?
We find our answer in the Word.  Matthew 5 tells way of something we call the Beatitudes.

"Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, 2and He began to teach them, saying:

3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,

for they will be filled.

7Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.

10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

I'm not going to go through each one...but note the very first one "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  That was not just a random choice for first place.  I'm sure Jesus didn't have all of the beatitudes in a hat and pick one to see which one got to be first in line!

You have to be poor in spirit, in order to be able to have the other 'attitudes'.  You have to be able to give up your 'will' or surrender your life to Christ, in order to be truly merciful or pure in heart.
"Give up my will?  Why would I want to do that??", you may ask.
Ah...there is a second part to that first beatitude. "Theirs is the kingdom of God"! The kingdom of God begins in your heart, the moment you surrender your life to Him.  You slowly begin to see things differently than you used to...the way God sees them. The  relationship with the Father begins.  Through prayer and the Word, He begins to change you until one day you notice that the other "attitudes" are YOUR attitudes.

And it all began with a poor and humble spirit.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

What to Wear?

What to wear? What to wear?  What clothes should I put on today?  I think I'll look in the Bible.  WAIT!!  Before you click off of this crazy woman's page, hear me out!! :)

Colossians 3 tells us:
"12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

Clothe yourselves.  We are to 'put on' compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, like we would a shirt, or a pair of pants.  They are to cover us.  Cover our 'self'.  Even though our 'self'ish nature is still underneath, we must choose to cover that with godly virtues.  And as verse 14 states, we must bind or cover all of these things with the cloak of love.  Love holds all of these characteristics together, perfectly.  Because if we didn't have love, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness or patience wouldn't mean a thing.

So if you're trying to decide what to wear today...pick up your Bible!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Mighty Oak

We have a huge oak tree in our front yard.  About 50 years ago, the woman that lived there, planted the tree as a young sapling when her son went off to Vietnam.  The tree grew and grew, and every year produces thousands of little acorns.  We find little sprouts growing everywhere.  Of course we have to pull them before they get too big. We've even found them on the roof!  Who wants an oak tree growing above their bedroom ceiling?

There is an old phrase, " Mighty oaks from little acorns grow."  It is meant to express how great things can come from small beginnings.  I think there could be a flip side to that adage.  While oak trees aren't bad in and of themselves...growing on a rooftop might be a huge problem!

The little tiny acorns of sin in our lives can become huge oaks before you know it.  In the beginning, it doesn't seem like a big deal.  A young person sees a cell phone that they think they will never be able to own...they can't stop thinking about it...then, they begin to think they deserve to have it.  It's not fair that that kid can have one and they can't.  It becomes an obsession they believe they can't live without...soon they are sitting in a jail cell for theft.  A mighty oak of a police record is now on their rooftop.  It didn't start out that way...but it never does.  They all start out as tiny acorns.  The acorn of pride turns into the oak of bitterness, the acorn of jealousy turns into the oaks of theft or greed, and the acorn of irritation can grow into an oak of hatred or worse.

It's easier to grab a sprouting acorn while it is still small.  Once the roots start to take hold, it makes it more difficult to get rid of it.  Because, then it begins to invade other areas of our life and before you know it, it has taken over.

Ask God to give you the power of His Holy Spirit to yank the unwanted sprouts out.  He will help you nurture the good growth of kindness and self control, and help the fruits of the Spirit flourish in the garden of your life.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Protector of My Head

Marley, our three year old Maltipoo, has a very strange habit.  He loves to lay by my head.  No matter where I am sitting in the living room, he is right by my shoulder, at times resting his head on it.  It is very sweet.  A few months ago, he began to extend this position to nighttime.  He found that he enjoyed laying above my pillow.  It's as if he is guarding my head  He is making sure nothing comes along that will harm me. Day or night, he is as close as he can be, keeping watch.

The other day, I glanced over my shoulder and saw him just looking at me, with love in his little black eyes.  I began to think of how the LORD keeps watch over us.  Psalm 140:7 says, "Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle."

God is our Faithful Protector.  He is right by our head at all times, guarding it during the battles of life.  His Holy Spirit helps us guard our thoughts and reminds us if those thoughts or actions are not pleasing to the Father.  He doesn't let us face those battles unprotected.  How wonderful that our Father loves us so much to ever leave us alone...and I thank Him that He gives me a little ten pound bundle of fur that reminds me of that Love.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Crossroad

As I was sorting the weekly laundry this morning, I grimaced as I saw that there was not one, but TWO loads of hubby's work clothes.  He has been doing some extra work, for a neighbor this past week, and the extra load was evidence of it.  Yuck.
Almost right away, I felt a catch in my spirit.  "At least you have a husband who works hard."  I felt ashamed of my disgruntled thoughts, and immediately thanked God for the blessing of my husband.  He works hard, in the hot sun all day; then was willing to help a neighbor in need.  Are there things I would like to change about him?  LOL! Yes!!  But I'm positive there are things about ME that he would be glad to 'modify', also!!  When I come to the crossroad, I have to redirect my thoughts when they start to go down Grumble Street.  I need to pull them over to Gratitude Ave., to let them bask in the gifts that I have been given.  Do I like to do smelly laundry?  Not exactly...but I DO have clothes that are clean afterward!  It's all in my perspective.

Do you ever come up to the crossroad?  Make a wise choice as to which road you will go down!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

What It Means To Be Free

Independence Day! A day to celebrate our freedom.  We have the ability to do whatever we want.  In many countries, citizens do not have that right.  For those of us who are Christians, we also enjoy the freedom from sin's penalty.  But are we truly free to do what we want?
Our freedom comes with a responsibility to use it wisely.

Galatians 5:13-14 
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

To show our thankfulness for this freedom God has given us, we need to turn to those around us and simply love them.  Are we going to want to love EVERY one of them? be honest, probably not!  But we must do so, regardless of their beliefs, regardless of their political persuasion, or their choices in life.  We are called to just simply "love" them.  Why?  Because Christ told us to.  Period.  

It's not about the fireworks.  It's not about the hamburgers and hot dogs.   While those things are great, and fun...what can we really do to celebrate our many freedoms?  Love those that God places in your path today!

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