Archive | April 2014

GOOD INTENTIONS!

Do you ever get mixed up on the days? Perhaps you think it’s Wednesday, and it’s Thursday… or you date something with the month that just passed, and you’re suddenly feeling, “Where is time going!”?? It’s not just a senior-moment thing, it’s an every age, busy thing! We cram so much into our days that we’re living 36-hours in twenty-four.

All that to say it seems as though I just wrote, but here it is, almost two weeks! Two weeks, and I have to ask myself, what have I done for my Lord in the past two weeks besides go to church? Has anyone been impacted in a positive way for Christ? How about a negative way? Possibly–although I hate to admit it. Life is going by at the speed of light, and each second that ticks away on the clock behind me is one second I’m closer to eternity. How about you? Does it effect you like that?

I get up and mean to make the day count, but work interferes. Have you found that it stops you from doing a lot of things you’d like to do? But we’re locked into it, and nothing except time or catastrophe will end the work life of most people. And the family–when work is over, you have to spend time with the family, right? That’s a chunk of time. You start cutting the “pie” clock into slices, and see that there isn’t much left when all the priorities are cut. And again we have to ask, what was done for Christ?

Unless you’re in full-time ministry, there’s little time to make an impact on someone’s life. We’ve lived for eleven years in this house; except for taking Christmas cookies one time to the next door neighbors, that’s the extent of our knowledge of them. They never pull out of their driveways for church, so that probably means they are unbelievers, or at the least, back-slidden. I’ll probably have to answer for that in Heaven, and I doubt “busy-ness” will be an excuse.

What’s the remedy? I don’t know. We all are caught up in our job, whether it’s 40 or 60 hours a week (mine is 60), trying to run a home, interact with the family–whether they are still at home or living nearby with grandchildren–and do the errands that all that entails. Is there an answer? Are we in such a fast-paced world that time has gotten completely away from us? Perhaps. But there is an urgency in the air now, one that says we can’t keep on with such an ungodly society, with such withdrawl from those we don’t know that we are not even a testimony to those around us. Why would my neighbors think I care about them, when I don’t even make time for them?

Not much encouragement here, is there? But if you are breathing, it’s not too late! We can start, and that start can begin NOW. I’m not sure how–just a note that takes 5 minutes to tell someone “thank you,” “I’m sorry,” or encourage them in some way.

God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22,23), and we have a fresh start–let’s use it today to make a difference!

TO SIN OR NOT TO SIN–THAT IS THE QUESTION!

Memories keep events alive in our minds, don’t they? Flashbacks will come if the right terminology, situation, person or thing passes your vision or ear! This morning as I was reading in 1 John 1, he writes in verse 8 that if we say we do not sin we tell a lie: you can’t get much plainer than that. However, it reminded me of several years ago: I was talking to my then-pastor, and made the comment, “There’s never a day goes by that I don’t manage to commit several sins!” He looked totally horrified. “What?!” he exclaimed, as if he himself would never do that, nor even think of doing that! I sat quite stunned, wondering where he was spiritually.

Just this morning, deep in work and concentration, my phone rang. My husband was calling just to say hi; he was driving to an appointment, and decided that was a great thing to do with his time on the road (we won’t go into the logistics of cell phones here!) After we hung up, I was “upset.” That’s a woman’s word for furious, but sounds much nicer. Did he not realize I would be trying to take advantage of every second of the morning to get computer work done–work that is not only necessary but time consuming, mentally challenging, and with tons of deadlines? How could he be so thoughtless! BOOM! God lowered the conviction and I breathed deeply, as my mind quoted James, “the anger of man does NOT achieve the righteousness of God!” (1:20). My husband did not sin when he called me, but I certainly did by imploding anger after the call was finished. Repentance, forgiveness, a new start, in that order. Cleansed. But how long will it be before something else happens? Probably as soon as I get behind the wheel of my car! Don’t turn up your nose–you’re right there with me.

We are not perfected yet, despite the standard the world wants to hold us to (which, of course, does not apply to them). We are “justified” (just as if we’ve never sinned), we are being “sanctified” every day (set apart from the world and having a daily cleansing), but we are not yet “glorified” (present with Jesus and with our new heart)! Oh, that we were already perfect! Like the bumper sticker says, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven!”

If your day is not spent letting the Holy Spirit convict you of activities, thoughts, attitudes, or reactions that cause a blemish on your soul, do some self-examining and make sure you’re on the right path! It doesn’t take much: just ask God to reveal any sin that needs confessing, and needs to be dealt with. He will! It will flash in your mind instantly! If nothing does, then sing a song of praise, and keep on keeping on!

STANDING ALONE!

STANDING ALONE!

This poor tree, with a tiny one in its shadow! What an analogy to the modern day Christian! The strong one doesn’t blend in with all the other trees in the background, but somehow–whether by intention or reaction–it became a loner from the group, with only one weak follower, and was outsted from the others! Not only is it by itself (except for that weak little one that it is shielding), but as you can see, all the other trees are dressed in gorgeous colors, while our poor Christian tree looks rather plain, having lost all its beauty! There isn’t much room for hope, is there? It is stuck where it is, and only time will renew its strength and the fruit of leaves!

Do you ever feel like that? I doubt you’re a teenager reading this, who is trying to walk with Christ in school, but you may have one, and they can probably relate very well; or possibly even a college student in a Philosophy class, as in the now-popular movie that has made a Christian into a hero rather than shown as a ridiculed moron! But adults can relate as well! How? Well, walk into a class at the church, where all the faces are unfamiliar, and you feel like you are standing on stage, with everyone looking at you! Walk into a Bible Study, where everyone seems to know each other, and you wait, as you look for a table where someone not only meets your eye, but smiles a welcome. Standing alone makes you feel everyone is looking at you, judging you! Sit in the waiting room with a dozen others, while the appointment time gets more and more behind: this happened recently and everyone was cursing loudly enough for the secretary to hear and understand their anger at losing time; I finally spoke up, “Now isn’t the time to say I only read Christian fiction, is it?” The room got quiet, the cursing stopped, but I felt like the tree!

Standing alone is what God means when He says that we are to be “set apart” from the world. We are to dress modestly in a world where the females dress to attract the most attention; keep our language clean in environments where the females as well as the males no longer have any embarrassment about using profanity. When I was growing up, no gentleman would curse in front of a woman . . .  we could go on and on. God’s idea of a living sacrifice is to give up the things that are not good for your spiritual walk, and put your hand in His. Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to stand alone? It takes courage. It takes strength. It takes the Holy Spirit standing alongside you!

This week, be alert to situations where you can stand alone and shine for Christ! Pray He gives you opportunity to not be ashamed of Him in public!

Father, thank You for giving us salvation! It was a gift that cost You everything, and we often treat it so lightly. Forgive us, Lord, and let us take our “lights” from under our baskets this week, so that the world can see that we glow for You! Amen

You–The Only Christian Someone May Know!

The man in the pew in front of me, and slightly to the left, opened his Bible when the pastor announced the Scripture he would be using as the basis of his message. I knew him to be a sweetheart of an older man, always with a kind word for everyone–or a teasing joke. He also was the chairman of the deacons. As he looked for the passage in the Old Testament, he eventually turned back to the index, found the page, turned to it, and then turned his attention to the sermon.

Have you ever had to go to the index, especially if the pastor tells you to turn to, perhaps, one of the “Minor” prophets? When my husband and I walked out of the service and headed home, we both felt the weight of discouragement that had come to us as we watched someone who was a “pillar” in that church show his unfamiliarity with his Bible. We did not judge his salvation, but his testimony to us, although unseen by others, definitely was tarnished that Sunday!

It’s a common quote in the church to hear someone tell you that “You may be the only Bible some people read!” Have you ever realized that old sayings become old sayings because there is so much truth in them? Mr. Phillips may not have realized anyone sitting near him would notice his insecurity in finding Habakkuk, but to not know your Bible possibly leaves open the question, “How well do you know your God?”

There are few who are in love who would destroy a letter that has come from their soul mate. Perhaps we don’t destroy the Bible, but if we leave it on the shelf or in the car, and pick it up on Sunday, we are losing the relationship that our God wants with us. Read Isaiah 1, and you’ll read a modern-day exegesis on America! (As well as the world!) God tells Israel (please excuse the loose paraphrase), “Your sacrifice (going to church on Sunday in order to ‘satisfy’ your debt to me) sickens me! You act so holy and righteous outwardly when at heart you are nothing but sinful people who would rather fit in with the world than know me!” As you read Isaiah 1, you will see God has nailed on the head the cities in America in this new millennium! If I stand near the door of my church and watch people flow in, I see the world coming in the door–where are the parents who check out their children before leaving home? Are slips no longer part of attire? How far down can a tee shirt go before it hits the navel? Skirts, pants, tops that look as though they are painted on! We have lost our shame.

But there is hope! God tells Israel–as He tells America–beginning in verse 16, to put away the things that divide the relationship with Him! Repent of the sins and let Him cleanse you! There is so much hope for the backslider or the person who once loved God with all their heart, but who now plays with the Smartphone during the service! Anything that you love more than you love God needs to be tossed aside, until He fills you with joy in the morning, hope throughout the day, and blessed rest at night!

Remember as you go about your day, that truly your actions will be watched by someone who wants to know if you are real, or if you are just like them: they can justify their lives if they see you, who calls yourself a Christian, doing the things they do. Set yourself apart, and stand alone. Show the love of Christ to them, don’t use the words they use, nor flirt with the world, but keep yourself holy–for HE is holy!

 

PRAYER–YOUR FIRST OR LAST OPTION?

Sitting by the bedside of her only child, my friend stated in grief, “There’s nothing left to do except pray!” I heard what she was saying, and I knew she already had been praying, but what she was really saying was “It’s totally out of my control, the doctors don’t know what else to do, and God alone is my only hope.”

There’s nothing wrong with that! In fact, that’s where we should have been every day since the birth of any of the ones that God has given into our hands! Yes, sometimes we mess up–sometimes we make mistakes and there’s no going back because none of us are perfect, or even ‘good’–but we keep on giving them into the hands of the Savior. But when it has come to the point where no one can help, we turn to God in a different way, don’t we? We pray with an intensity that is fervent (and yet we all know that God still sometimes says “No.”)

Have you read the book of Nehemiah lately? His life of prayer gives us so many insights into his character! He had gone to Jerusalem after the captivity of Babylon, and was going to oversee having the wall rebuilt, but there were many enemies! Now turn that into your own life: you’ve had a difficult time going through a valley, and you start trying to rebuild: maybe a relationship, a life that was almost destroyed.. it can be almost anything! But when you start to rebuild, you find there are many “enemies.” These may be in the form of discouraging words from family members, friends that turn away, Satan’s devices to use obstacles that seem so terrifying, and you have a decision: do you keep on re-building or give up?

Nehemiah didn’t give up; he gave us a set of steps, and if we can use them, it might turn our valleys into mountaintops. First, he assessed the situation. He really wanted to know what was involved in the rebuilding, but the enemies were so many that he took only a couple of men and in the quiet of the night took a tour around Jerusalem to see what needed to be done. Secondly, he prepared a plan. He didn’t tackle this on his own–his narrative is filled with the prayers he prayed continually, asking God’s help, but he also involved the people. Not just any people! The people who “had a mind to work!” Surround yourself with friends who will encourage you, no matter how small the number, and who will be praying. Thirdly, while they were praying, they also worked: in fact, you will see if you read Nehemiah that the enemies were so great that while some worked, others were on guard with weapons! Choose friends, pastors or others whom you know who will be praying a hedge of protection about you and your friends as you rebuild! “Do not be afraid of them [the enemies]; remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your [family]!” (4:14b). Let others help you! Delegate the problem to those whom you can trust. And lastly, some of the workers worked with one hand, and held weapons with the other! Just because you have done your ‘homework,’ gotten people to pray and help you, you can’t relax your vigilance while you are rebuilding your life, your relationship, or whatever you are trying to repair–especially if it is going to bring glory to God in the end–you have to remember that Satan will try to attack in every way he can. So have your guard up, don’t be afraid, put your faith in Christ and Christ alone, and know you are fighting a spiritual battle at the same time you are re-constructing!

Read Nehemiah sometime! His is a story that is a definite guide to walking so closely with the Lord that his life gives us a guide to follow.

Father, if someone reads this and is trying to get a broken marriage back together, restore a child to the family, or rebuild a relationship for your glory, please give them wisdom, send friends who will intercede and fight on their behalf for victory, and shield them from the power of the enemy. Put a hedge of protection around them, and let them enjoy the days that You have made! In Christ, Amen

Spring–A New Beginning!

Saturday: It’s a beautiful sunny morning, with a temperature warm enough to get outside and work! What joy that spring is finally here! Sunday: Heading for church (8:45). Chilly, but no big deal, since it’s early, but suddenly I think my eyes catch something pass my vision. Turning to my husband I ask, “Is there a winter mix advisory, by any chance?” “NO!” Thirty seconds later.. “Did I just see a snowflake?” he asks. … End of story. Of course he had–that’s why I asked about the advisory!! For the next couple of hours it poured down!

This has been the craziest winter I can remember; how about you? Maybe you’re still  plowing through it! (Pun intended!) As we do, we have to remember that nothing here on earth is certain except–as the old saying goes–death and taxes! Weather forecasters and Farmer’s Almanac may try, but ultimately, unless they have a word from the Lord, they just hope they are right!

But all the uncertainty teaches us one thing: lean on God for everything, trust Him for everything, and let Him walk with you today, whether it’s sunny, snowing, or a day of frustration! Take comfort that everything that happens “comes to pass,” and I always  hope that ‘passing’ means it will go on down the road and be a forgotten memory!

Have a great day, thank God for life, and ask Him what He wants of you today! Pray for Him to put someone in your path today who needs a smile, a word of encouragement, or look at their eyes and see if they need prayer. You may be the only one who has a tender heart toward them today!

Now go out into the mission field–but don’t get stained!

Stains?

The beautiful yellow pillow was perfectly centered in front of the shams on the bed. The entire set had a gorgeous vintage look, and some bold accessories were going to make a lovely bedroom! As I, as seller, was packing the set for mailing to a buyer, I picked up the pillow to put it into plastic. Suddenly it toppled backward–one of those “wish I could undo it” moments, because it landed right on the butter dish, sitting on the dining room table! (Yes, I spent hours whipping myself that I had not moved the butter!)

I grabbed everything I could find in the next hour, trying to get the stain out; I “googled”; I prayed; I worked, used elbow grease, and every suggestion that anyone made! Finally, after it had had time to set for a day or so, it was about 98% perfect.

We’re so like that!! We go where we shouldn’t, or pass something we shouldn’t, and all of a sudden a worldly stain gets on us! Nothing the world can do will take it away–only by repentance, crying out to the Savior, will we be cleansed from anything unrighteous (1 John 1:9).

James tells us “for this is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God and man: to visit the widows and orphans in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the sins of the world!” (James 1:27, loosely quoted). And Ezra, many years before, had said the “children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the Lord God of Israel.”

A holy life is the desire of God’s heart for believers who are living in the world! Have you prayed today that your hours would be filled with His will, and that His protection would keep your life from getting stained today? If you haven’t yet, it’s not too late!