Reflection

No Time to Stress

  • Posted on February 23, 2020 at 6:53 pm

My faithful readers will have noticed that I have not posted for a while. To say life is hectic sometimes seems like an understatement. So much to do, so little time and yet, on top of work, I am also trying to walk most days, attend a Wednesday night Bible study, and have time for family. Invariably, something suffers and, for me, it has been my blog and personal correspondence, not to mention my living quarters which is in desperate need of organization. (I have made some progress but have a long way to go.) On top of that, I hit the road this week for our first convention of the year. I am so glad that God’s grace is sufficient. Although I do get overwhelmed (and will probably do so tomorrow; aaaaggggghhhhhhh!), I have learned to turn to the Lord and release my burdens. He knows the tasks He has for me to do and the ones I have taken upon myself. As He begins to help me to discern which is which, I can more easily rest in knowing that the important work will get done. The other stuff? It will be there until such time as I can more easily accomplish it.

I would covet your prayers during this season as I still deal with fatigue and do not do well with long days of constant “running.” I’m reminded of Isaiah 40:31:

They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.

I like the line that Stuart Hamblen added: “Teach me, Lord, to wait.”

I don’t know what your schedule looks like. Maybe you are able to stick to a quiet routine that never gets ruffled. I wouldn’t have a clue what that is like, but I want to encourage you to do whatever you are doing as unto the Lord. If life is beginning to be overwhelming, ask Him what He would like you to change. Take a “time out” to draw near to Him and learn from Him, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).

I realize this is easier said than done. I will need to remind myself of these things tomorrow as my last day at home draws to an end. But I am so thankful to serve a God who is happy to guide my steps and give me rest when I need it. He is so faithful!

Reflecting on Proverbs 10:8

  • Posted on January 21, 2020 at 10:53 pm

The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.  ~Proverbs 10:8

As I go through the book of Proverbs, I am struck at how much Solomon emphasizes wisdom. In Proverbs 9:11, he promises long life to those who are wise. So what is wisdom and why is it so important? As I read Proverbs 10:8 this morning, I interpreted it as follows: The wise person will be slow to speak, at which point she will hear more clearly God’s direction for her life. What? Is it that simple? In short, no, but I think it can be a start.

If you want to hear from God, you must learn to be still. This is scary to a lot of people but it is necessary. There are too many distractions and chaos which bombard our senses that I think it’s time to find that prayer closet that David Wilkerson used to talk about, the place where you give God your undivided attention and learn of Him.

I expect the “babbling fool” part of the verse refers to those who talk to much … mostly about nothing.

Not long ago, a friend was really upset about a situation and, although I can be a good listener, I chose to give some input which she misinterpreted, and she got really angry with me. She later apologized and said she was just taking her frustration out on me, but the fact is that I should have been more sensitive and bit my tongue no matter how much I wanted to share what was on my mind. There might have been a time to relay my thoughts, but I didn’t need to do it at that moment.  I expect I was being a babbling fool at the time, and I could have lost a friendship over it.

James 1:19 tells us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” Proverbs 17:28 says that “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise.” I think this is our challenge. If you desire to be wise, start by thinking before you speak and then pray about whether you should speak or hold your peace. I will be working on this as well.

 

Learning from the Master

  • Posted on January 19, 2020 at 5:51 pm

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30

When you think of this verse, you probably focus on the rest. I know I have. When I am overwhelmed or the burden feels like more than I can bear, it’s a promise I want to claim. Yes, Lord, draw me nearer so I can find that rest You are talking about. Last week, verse 29 jumped out at me like it never had before: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” Wait a minute! Have I been focusing on the wrong words all this time?! God’s timing is always perfect so I expect that, in the past, I needed rest but now I need to see the gentle and lowly (or humble) side of Jesus that He desires to teach me.

Humility is hard. It is a constant dying to self and not always needing to be right. I think pride is one sin that everyone has in common and, yet, as Jesus’ followers, we are told to put on humility (Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 5:5). This is something that we choose to do which can require biting our tongue (until it bleeds if necessary) in order to hold back that hurtful jab or that immense desire to say “I told you so.” I do not excel in this area, but I am asking for God’s help. It doesn’t bless anyone when I have to have the last word or make sure my opinion is known when my friend just needs a listening ear.

If you want to become more like Jesus, you must study what He is like. The fact is that He was obedient to death, even the death of the Cross (Philippians 2:8). That is what true servanthood is. That is being gentle and lowly in heart. When we become like Him, we will truly find rest for our souls.

 

Top Post of 2019

  • Posted on January 15, 2020 at 9:11 pm

Last year, the post that got the most views on my blog was Put Off Bitterness, which I just wrote in August. I expect this is because this is an issue that just about everyone has dealt with in some form or fashion. Most of us don’t have to live very long before someone mistreats us, lies about us, or hurts us in some other way. Forgiveness does not get easier as we get older, and yet it is in forgiving others as we have been forgiven that we find true freedom. If there is someone in your life whom you have still not forgiven, I hope that this will be the year that you can put those grudges behind you and walk ever closer to your Heavenly Father. He will help you if you ask Him to.

To Be Content or Not to Be Content

  • Posted on January 12, 2020 at 5:36 pm

But godliness with contentment is great gain.  ~1 Timothy 6:6

I think of myself as a content person. Sure, there are things I would change if I could, but overall, I am grateful to God for my life. The problem I have, though, is I also like routine, do not usually go for change, and am hesitant to try new things, at which point I have to question: Am I content or in a rut?

Contentment is important. God does not want His people to be complainers who are never happy with their lot in life. But you and I must also be willing to grow, to step out of our comfort zones from time to time, to know when God desires us to change our way of doing things. We must not confuse contentment with apathy.

I think the key is to seek God daily as to what He would have you to do. Then do those things with all your heart as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). If you are doing that, then you can be content that He will provide all of your needs. If, however, you find yourself becoming lazy and calling that contentment, you may want to reevaluate that.

This is a new year–a time to examine our lives and ask God what we need to change. If you are discontent with where you are in life, ask God to show you if you are where He has you or if you are there because of decisions you made without Him. If the former, then ask God to change your heart and help you to embrace your state and to serve Him joyfully. If your life has been full of bad choices that have placed you in the proverbial gutter, then turn to Him today and begin to change your ways. And if you are where you’re at because it’s where you’ve always been, and it’s become quite comfortable, then pray for discernment to know if you should be content at that place or if God desires to move you to another. Don’t forget that the only truly safe place to be is in the center of His will.

Rights or Privileges?

  • Posted on January 9, 2020 at 10:09 pm

In my post yesterday, I made the following statement: “You may feel like you have a right to hold on to your feelings, but Jesus gave up His rights for you. Why can’t you give up your ‘rights’ for Him?” This evening, I opened my Bible study and what do you think the subject was? That’s right. Rights! In fact, that was the title of today’s lesson, and it has me thinking more about this topic.

I’ve not read The Five Love Languages, but I understand the topic and when people ask me what my love language is, I reply, “I just like to be loved.” I can put my language in the order of preference but the fact is, no matter what the kindness, I will feel it deeply. For those who are not familiar with this, the languages as defined by Gary Chapman are: quality time, gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation, and acts of service. This last one was the one that I used to say wasn’t one I felt strongly … until a couple years ago when my sister suggested that this was probably because I felt like people owed me those. Ouch! That was not what I wanted to hear! But I expect that she was right. I didn’t realize it but I was blinded to just how much others did for me. I no longer say that acts of service don’t make me feel loved, because they do too.

One of the things my study had me do was make a list of the top ten rights that I feel like I have as a human being. I had to really ponder this because, again, I don’t think of myself as wanting my “rights,” but I expect that everyone feels like they should be loved and appreciated for the things they do. We feel like our family has to love us because we exist. Maybe you feel like you should get the promotion that just came up at work because you have worked there the longest and it’s about time they recognize you. But these are not “rights”; they are privileges. When these things happen to you, thank the Lord for His mercy. You and I deserve Hell. Plain and simple. If you have people who love you, that is a blessing. Ingratitude begins to take root when we think we deserve the good things we receive, and that is the opposite of thanksgiving which is the attitude we are told to exhibit in everything.

So, my friends, this may be the message of the year for my readers and myself: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). And meditate on Philippians 2:5-8:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

May we, like Christ, be willing to humble ourselves and surrender our rights completely to our Heavenly Father. Lord, send a revival and let it begin with me!

 

As a side note, if you are looking for a good Bible study, I highly recommend The Walk of Repentance. It is a great resource to really examine your heart in light of God’s Word. It’s a 6-month study but you can go at your own pace and take longer if you need to. Even if you think you are where you need to be with the Lord, this could be the thing that draws you even closer to Him.

 

More Love to Thee

  • Posted on January 8, 2020 at 2:42 pm

More love to Thee, O Christ
More love to Thee
Hear Thou the prayer I make
On bended knee
This is my earnest plea
More love, O Christ, to Thee
More love to Thee
More love to Thee

Last night as I was praying and pondering yesterday’s blog post, I began to ask God to increase my love for Him. It’s easy to say I love God, but do I show Him how much I love Him? Am I spending quality time with Him because I love to do so, or am I going through motions so I can check one more thing off of my to-do list?

Selfishness, unforgiveness, bitterness, anger–these are all signs that love is waning. Not only toward others but also toward the Father. He told us to love others as He has loved us, and the love He displayed showed the opposite of these things. You may feel like you have a right to hold on to your feelings, but Jesus gave up His rights for you. Why can’t you give up your “rights” for Him?

Don Francisco sang, “Love is not a feeling; it’s an act of your will.” Love is not always easy, but it is a command. And yet we cannot love our Brothers and Sisters if we do not first of all love the Creator of love. I am so thankful for the depth of God’s love for me, and I pray for help to love Him more, to love His people more, to be willing to lay down my life for Him, and to never stop praising Him for His love and mercy. He is so worthy!

 

Song quoted from the hymn, “More Love to Thee.”; Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash.

Understanding the Father’s Lovingkindness

  • Posted on January 7, 2020 at 8:11 pm

Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.  ~Psalm 107:43

A Scripture passage that I ponder periodically is Ephesians 3:17-19:

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

How do we measure and really get to know the love of Christ? I believe the psalmist is giving us a starting point in Psalm 107. We must:

“give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever” (v. 1).

In order to be able to give thanks for His goodness, we must acknowledge that He is good. In order to testify to that fact, we must recall the good things God has done for us. There is a reason God told the Israelites to tell their children and their grandchildren of the goodness of the Lord. I wonder how many Christians actively do that anymore. Maybe we are losing our children to the world because they don’t understand that every good and perfect gift they have received came from their Heavenly Father. They probably don’t understand how much He loves them, and I’m not sure it is totally their fault. Are we communicating those things to them effectively? Then again, maybe we don’t understand it ourselves.

If this describes you, I would like to challenge you to study this year to truly understand God’s love. In some ways, you never will totally be able to fathom it, but if you never try, it will be harder to give God the thanksgiving that He deserves. He has done so much for us, and He desires us in turn to love our Brothers and Sisters as He has loved us. That is a tall order but one that we must strive toward with His help.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  ~John 13:34

Thoughts On New Year’s Resolutions

  • Posted on January 1, 2020 at 6:38 pm

My sister-in-law commented the other day how much people are against New Year’s resolutions. Back in the 1980s, resolutions were a popular thing. I expect the number of those who kept their resolutions was close to zero but people made them just the same. I’m sure that lack of commitment is the reason I don’t hear people talk about making them today. But resolutions are really not bad.

I think part of the problem is that everyone has dreams and ideals. I might like to lose 30 pounds, or maybe I want to become a bolder witness for the Lord. These are not bad goals. In fact, they are really good ones. The problem is these things take effort and, after a week or two, when we haven’t even lost one pound nor talked to one person about the Lord, we give up. It’s too much work and cramps our style. Therefore, I want to propose that it isn’t the resolution that is the problem; it’s our lack of discipline and dedication. We feel better if we don’t make resolutions in the first place.

Lest I am sounding harsh, I should tell you that I don’t really make resolutions myself either as most people think of resolutions. But I do take time at the end of every year to evaluate my life and decide what God desires of me. What areas can I improve so that He can better use me? As He shows me, I ask for His help to do those things because on my own, they too will be more good ideas that fall by the wayside. Although I do want to lose more weight, and I want to be more used of the Lord, more than anything I am asking God to keep drawing me closer to Him, to teach me His ways, to show me how to better care for my health so that I can be more effective. With His help, I resolve to keep growing and writing and ministering and entering the doors He has for me to walk through. I want to keep learning what it means to rejoice in all things, to continually count my blessings even in the hard times. I’m expecting Him to answer my prayers as He continues the work He’s begun to make me more like Him.

So now that I’ve shared what is on my heart today as we start a new year, what are your resolutions?

 

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Magnify the Lord!

  • Posted on December 27, 2019 at 11:55 am

My soul does magnify the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior … For he that is mighty has done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.  ~Luke 1:46-47, 49-50

I love Mary’s response to the angel’s message that she was the one chosen to give birth to the Savior. For centuries, the Jews had awaited the promised Messiah and now, finally, that prophecy would be fulfilled … through her! Amid the awe and wonder that she must have felt, I wonder if she realized the heartache she would endure due to this calling. I doubt she would have wanted to embark upon that part of the journey but God knew that she would be up to the task. I don’t know exactly what it was that God saw in Mary, but she must have lived a pure life of humble submission in order to be entrusted with God’s child.

If God had not found Mary, would He still be looking for someone He could trust? Would anyone today slow down enough to hear His voice let alone be willing to give birth to a Savior and raise Him for the task He was destined for? Do we make room for Him at all in the hustle and bustle of life? I suggest that we all examine our hearts to make sure that God does indeed reign there. As this year draws to a close, take time to seek Him, to know what He desire of you, and ask Him for help to obey Him wholeheartedly. This is my prayer as well.

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