Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What Do You Think?

I have been thinking today. I have felt sorry for myself, believed I should have been given credit for doing a good job, desired some words of appreciation for my extra effort, nursed hurt feelings, and become angry at a person who had been unkind to me several years back. Why should I even think about a long ago hurtful event? Sadly it only took a few minutes for my mind to race through this range of sinful thinking.

I am convinced that not keeping a tight rein on their thought lives is the downfall of many good people. Allowing a sinful thought to become a regular visitor to your mind means that in the near future that thought will take up permanent residence in your brain. Once it takes up residence, it will outgrow your thought life and become a part of your visible life. You will act on the sinful thoughts.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV

So we are to control our thoughts.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV

So we are to rid ourselves of sin, not just in our visible, physical actions, but also our thoughts. What a challenge. We cannot control our thought life without the strength and wisdom from the Holy Spirit. Pray today for God to reveal to you areas of sin in your thoughts before they manifest themselves in your behaviors.

Lord, make me aware of sinful thoughts. Through the power of the Holy Spirit eradicate them so that every thought may be obedient to Christ.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What's the Plan

I regularly use a Christian magazine titled Tabletalk as a guide for my daily Bible study. Today, three sentences from commentaries on 2 Timothy 1:10-14 profoundly affected my thinking.

• “The longer we have been Christians, the easier it is to take the glory of the gospel for granted.” Maybe this is why over time we tend to become less fervent in our Bible study and less excited about witnessing. We become complacent. But our relationship with God needs nurturing just as our relationships with our friends and family members need attention. When we neglect someone, our relationship with that person becomes less intimate, more distant. Why should we think our relationship with God can flourish if we take him for granted and do not actively listen to and communicate with him daily?

• “Were we to think on the mercy of our Lord more often, we would be far less likely to find ourselves ashamed of the gospel and far more willing and able to endure rejection for His sake.” What has God done for you and me? Reflecting on this question for only a few minutes brings me to my knees in confession of my sins and in thanksgiving for the mercy God has extended to me and those I love. So why don’t I boldly proclaim my love for Jesus, my Lord and Savior?

• “Christian faith is not revealed in intellectual assent to biblical doctrine alone but also in a true love for what God has spoken.” This statement caused me to reflect on my “quiet time” activities. I daily read the Bible. My time in Bible reading often involves seeking interpretation from reputable commentators and making marginal notes in my Bible on thoughts God reveals to me. I have memorized individual verses and Scripture passages in the past. But do I have a deep unrelenting love for God’s Word?

I used to have a well-defined Bible study, prayer, and Scripture memory program. However, my life has changed dramatically in the past month. I no longer can get up early in the morning and spend my first hour or two with God. I no longer can do my Bible memory work as I walk on the treadmill. I no longer have as much discretionary time to leisurely spend with God. I have been praying that God will draw me closer to him during this time of major lifestyle change. I am forming new habits and learning to adjust my activities based on the needs and schedule of someone else (my invalid mother-in-law). My time in God’s Word has to be set aside and carefully guarded. Over the past two weeks, I have figured out when and how I can spend my much needed time with God each day. What has been more difficult is finding the time for Bible memory. God has created a yearning in me for memorizing Bible passages. Because he has created the desire, I am sure he will show me the way as I need his word firmly planted in my head so I can refer to it throughout the day.

So do you have a time to read and study God’s Word built into your daily activities? Do you have a time set aside for more than a quick “thank you for this food” prayer at mealtime? Do you yearn to have God’s Word memorized so he can guide you during each moment of each day?

“ Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22:37-38 NIV

Lord, thank you for your word. Draw me close to you. Show me a plan to memorize Scripture. Through the power of the Holy Spirit give me the self-discipline to implement your plan.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Prosperity--You've Got to Be Kidding

The prosperity gospel preachers are wrong. Have they not read how God’s prophets were treated in the Old Testament? Have they not studied the life and death of Jesus? Have they not read any of Paul’s writings?

“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked." 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 NIV

If a spiritual giant like Paul suffered so severely, how can I expect my life in Christ to be without any struggles? God never promised leading a life devoted to him on earth would be easy or pleasurable. Jesus did say, however, that he will give us joy, peace, and strength.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11 NIV

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13 NIV

It is so hard and so threatening to witness for Jesus. What if they make fun of me? What if it ends up costing me money? What if others think I am weird? What if I will miss out on some fun? What if …?

So what should my attitude be when it comes to witnessing to others about my Lord and Savior? My goal is to be more like that great apostle Paul.

“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel…" 2 Timothy 1:8 NIV

Lord, give me the words, timing, and actions to make me an effective and bold witness for you. Create in me the willingness to confidently testify with and provide encouragement for Christian friends.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Heart Condition

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NIV

So what is the condition of my heart? I like to think I have a kind heart that has only good in it. But today I had to face the truth of my human sin nature. I had to admit that all my good deeds are as filthy rags when compared to God’s holiness (Isaiah 64:6). Today in church we sang the song "Purify My Heart." It is totally astounding how God times these things, but the message in this song was what I needed to handle an incident that happened later in the day. I have to admit that my heart is only pure for a few short seconds at a time. It so easily reverts to being filled with the selfish, self-directed thoughts that demonstrate my level of depravity.

I remember once during my “baby” Christian days that I told someone I did not have any sin issues going on at the time. Now that I have grown in my understanding of sin, I am astounded that I could ever make such a statement. Yes, I am a Christian and I do endeavor to remove sin from my life by the power given to me through the Holy Spirit. But every time I think I have a sin basically under control, a major temptation accosts me. That is what happened today.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 NIV

I am naturally a fairly verbal person so it is almost impossible for me to not expose my heart condition. For this reason, I study my Bible daily in some depth. I need to have God’s teaching freshly in my mind as I meet the challenges of each day. I also try to pray frequently throughout the day to keep me in close contact with God so that I will recognize his bidding and directions.

Well today something happened that opened up a deep emotional wound. It had scabbed over and was almost healed, but an innocent incident split it open again. I was hurt, vented to my husband about my hurt, and huddled up to nurse my wound. I rehearsed what I would say to the person as soon as the opportunity came.

The opportunity did come and God showed me that if I used my rehearsed speech I would be sinning. I would be speaking out of the selfish sin in my heart and not as a sincere God-worshipping Christian. I kept my mouth shut and found a way to avoid a destructive confrontation.

So as we face hurtful and difficult situations, turn it over to Jesus. Don’t let your sinful humanness rule for if you do your mouth will express your heart condition. Seek God’s direction and peace. He often uses fellow Christians to help us see past the current issues. Then look for opportunities to help a Christian friend when she needs encouragement to get through a tough situation.

“ But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness”. Hebrews 3:13 NIV

Lord, thank you for showing me that if I had said my prepared speech I would have been sinning. Please continue to grant me wisdom for my actions and patience with the persons involved in the hurtful situation. May my heart be as clay in your hands.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Not Sure I Really Get It

Keeping the Sabbath—how am I supposed to do this? I want to worship and honor God on Sunday because this is what he commanded. But what is required?

"Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work...the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” Deuteronomy 5:12-14a, 15b NIV

This is where I get confused. What is considered work? Is it okay for me to cook, make my bed, or put a load in the washer? Is it wrong for me to avoid the “work of cooking” by eating out which makes someone else work? I am loathe to venture into the topic of working a paid job on Sunday. Jesus in the New Testament does make it clear that we are not to be legalistic and be governed by rules in our observation of the Sabbath.

“Then he asked them, ‘If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?’" Luke 14:5 NIV

How am I to know what behaviors are acceptable on Sunday? I do not have a son, ox, or well. How am I to deal with current day conditions? Granted, Jesus is making the point that emergency situations are to be handled. He healed on the Sabbath, so kind and cheritable acts are also acceptable. This information gives me some direction. Tonight I read a passage in Isaiah which helps by giving a somewhat clearer vision of Sabbath observation.

"‘If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.’ The mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 58:13-14 NIV

So, to keep the Sabbath holy I must focus on God—on worshipping him with my whole heart. I am not to do as I please. I am to joyfully pray and sing to him. I am not to sit around gossiping or speaking idly. Instead I am to be praising God with my lips.

Lord, thank you for making the observation of the Sabbath clearer to me today. Keep revealing to me what you want me to do and not do on the day you have commanded us to set aside for worshipping you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Can I Say That?

"Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back — a trumpet-blast shout!
Tell my people what's wrong with their lives, face my family Jacob with their sins! Isaiah 58:1 THE MESSAGE

Boy, this is a tough one. I recently had to do just this. A mother was placing the needs of others ahead of the needs of her children. There is nothing wrong with helping others, with being a good Samaritan. As a matter of fact it is a good thing to assist and encourage those who are experiencing difficulties. Jesus instructs us to care for those who are facing struggles.

"’Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ Luke 10:36-37 NIV

However, meeting the needs of others is not always a good thing. It depends on your motivations. Is the motivation to be noticed and publically pronounced a good and kind person?

"Everything they do is done for men to see…For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:5, 12 NIV

Is the motivation to give yourself a warm fuzzy? If your bucket of self-esteem is low, do you find someone to help so you can convince yourself that you are a good person?

“Instead, it [your beauty] should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.” 1 Peter 3:4 NIV

So, when God gives you a task to help another Christian realize that they are exhibiting sinful behaviors even though by the world’s standards they may be applauded, you must follow God’s direction with sensitivity and kindness—with love.

Lord, give me wisdom in this area. It is so difficult to confront a sister in Christ about a sin. Give me the right words and the right timing. Keep my ego and my self-direction out of any encounter you are calling me to make for the purpose of revealing sin.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

No One Can See Me

“You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, 'No one sees me.' Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, 'I am, and there is none besides me.'” Isaiah 47:10 NIV

I venture to say that all of us have pulled a bugger out of our noses when no one was around and a Kleenex was not handy. We would not be seen and would breathe more comfortably. But if there is even the slightest chance that someone might see us, none of us would do such a thing! I was reflecting on this concept after being tempted to not go to the next room for a Kleenex today. As Christians, I wonder how much of the time we do things that we would not do if God was visibly standing beside us.

“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:9-10 NIV

So there is no wiggle room to tell “white” lies to make ourselves look good or kind. God seems to think a lie is a lie even if there is little chance anyone will know about the lie and it is an innocent, insignificant lie.

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” James 3:9-10 NIV

So we are not to be brutal in our honesty either. It seems that God does not approve of cursing and harsh words about or toward others.

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Matthew 15:19 NIV

So evil thoughts are even a “no-no” for the Christian. God knows about them. This verse covers sins that many of us do not admit to ourselves that we commit in our thought life. It is true that sins committed in our thought life are not seen by others, but they are known by God. This fact has caused me much unease. I do not like the idea that I harbor evil thoughts. My thoughts may not always be kind or productive—but evil? Well, yes, they are evil. Covert thoughts as well as overt actions are either pleasing to God or are pleasing to Satan. Sobering! I must not indulge my sinful thoughts if I desire to worship and serve God.

Lord, even though at some level I have long understood that all I do and think are known by you. Make me more aware of when my thoughts and actions are displeasing to you. Make me fully aware of your presence each second of each day.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Long Dry Spell

It seems like forever since I last sat down to write for this blog. Lately by the time I have completed my tasks for the day, my mind is mush. So writing anything coherent was not a possibility. I used to write first thing in the morning, but since my mother-in-law has come to live with us, that is no longer a possibility because of schedules and care responsibilities.

Even if I had the time to write when my mind was alert, I would not have been able to do so. I have had no ideas. Now that is a bit unusual as I can almost always find several life application ideas while studying my Bible during my daily quiet time. But lately the ideas just did not come. If an inspiration presented itself, it quickly evaporated to oblivion.

It has been a long dry spell. Why? I am sure God is leading me to write this blog. He has confirmed this to me several times in a variety of ways. So why is God leaving me cold, uninspired, without ideas, unable to put spiritual practices and principles into coherent passages?

“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20b NIV

If Jesus said he would be with me, he has been with me. But my mind was experiencing a dry spell. I had nothing to say in the blog. I lacked inspiration. Why was my mind so blank?

“…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’" John 7:37a-38 NIV

So according to the Bible, I must be thirsty for Jesus. Because of the pressing life issues, I have been going through the motions of praying and Bible study. If I am to know the words God wants me to say, I must thirst for Jesus. I must strongly desire him and seek him.

Lord, forgive my recent lack of focus on you. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the future make me aware when I start to lose focus and draw me back into close communion with you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How Does God Do That?

How does God do that? Have you ever asked that question when God puts together happenings, comments from a person or even a radio preacher, and a scripture passage during your regular daily devotion time in such a way as to be the most opportune times to get you through a tough situation? The obvious answer to the first question is because he is God. He can do anything. But it is absolutely awe-inspiringly amazing when it happens to me. If your answer to the second question is “no”, well, I’d have to say you may be like the character in the movie Signs who has signs from God all around him but he does not see them. You may have on your blinders so you do not recognize the work God is doing around you and in your life.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:28-29 NIV

This scripture passage was key to creating a peace in my mind today that only God could create. I am sure that even though my current life happenings may seem difficult to some, I have been able to maintain a sense of peace and rightness. God has a way of creating calm in me even while the storm is raging around me. Several things happened today that if the same things had happened ten years ago I would have been furious, devastated, frustrated, emotionally spent. Yes, my physical body is worn out—tired. But my emotional and spiritual self is healthy and energized. Praise the Lord who “ for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)

So I must keep my focus on God so I will recognize and respond to his signs for me.

Lord, thank you for loving me enough to give me the signs I need just at the moment I need them.

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's My Own Fault

Pastor is preaching a series of sermons about signs and symbols of Christianity. During the first sermon of the series, he showed a clip from the movie Signs that I cannot get out of my mind. In the movie the character keeps asking God for a sign while he is repeatedly being given signs. He did not recognize and respond to the signs he was presented.

Unfortunately, I am like that. I have a set of expectations of what type of sign God will give me and when he will give it to me. I spend too much time and energy trying to get God to conform to my ideas instead of looking for and recognizing God’s communication to me. As a result, God has to get my attention through discipline, and it is generally unpleasant. It would be better to open my eyes and mind to his signs.

“Lord, they came to you in their distress; when you disciplined them, they could barely whisper a prayer. As a woman with child and about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain, so were we in your presence, O Lord.” Isaiah 26:16-17 NIV

Unfortunately God gives us painful lessons because we refuse to see the messages--the signs--he has clearly placed in our lives.

So what is the answer?

“Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.” 1 Peter 3:15 THE MESSAGE

We are to keep our focus on Jesus no matter what the human circumstances are. Only then will we recognize the signs he is giving us.

Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit, may I always recognize your signs and “never tire of doing what is right” (2 Thessalonians 3:13) in your eyes.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Woe to Me If...

My life has dramatically changed. My mother-in-law has come to live with us as long as is appropriate. We invited her to live with us and are pleased she is here. This is not only an arrangement of altruism but also of necessity. She is currently unable to live in her home with her husband caring for her. As a result, our home is no longer the quiet, tranquil home of upper middle-aged adults. The addition of an invalid full-time resident and her spouse who spends most of the daylight hours here although he is not living with us is a bit of an alteration in my daily existence.

I am used to setting my own schedule while at home and doing whatever feels good at the moment. Actually, I am at home a surprisingly small amount of time, and when I am home, most likely I will be outside. Up until yesterday, I had been blessed with the opportunity to do as I pleased most of the time. That has all changed. I now have to prepare three well-balanced meals a day, provide nighttime monitoring, be engaged in conversation much of the day, and readily use encouraging words.

Shortly after I told her that Ray’s mom was coming to stay with us, my mother stated that I’d have to develop more patience. I thought I had developed a remarkable amount of patience with her after Daddy’s death three years ago. Apparently I need more. Only God can work the patience miracle in me.

How am I to develop enough patience and handle all of this change in my home—my sanctuary? While reading some passages in Isaiah tonight, God provided the answer. In the following passage, the context suggests that Egypt represents any one or any group who are ungodly.

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.” Isaiah 31:1 NIV

So, I am to seek help from God first. I am to go to him and seek his direction. If I rely on items the world would consider essential and not seek God, woe to me. If I seek advice/assistance from a source which God is not directing me toward, woe to me. God wants me to get my ego and my self-direction out of the way. He wants to be first in my life.

Lord, thank you for wanting to be first in my life. Make me willing to seek you before I take any actions. Thank you for directing Ray and I to bring his mother into our home. Please keep our focus on you as situations arise and circumstances change.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Invisible God--How We Treat Him

God is invisible to our naked eye. That is unless he chooses to reveal himself. He can do anything he deems right. The Holy Scriptures record that he has been viewed, at least in some form, by a very few in very special situations.

I think God being invisible is a good thing. If we could physically see God, we in our sin nature would behave while God is visible and sin with impunity when he is not visible. Can you imagine the manner in which Satan would use this to dupe us into more egregious sin?

The Trinity is a concept which is the key to our understanding of the Godhead. As I understand it, God is one person with three distinct essences—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. So when we mention any one of the essences we are also talking about the whole. All of this explanation is to hopefully help make my main point.

We talk about Jesus as being a friend. He should be our best friend, our go-to friend, our friend with whom we gladly spend our days. He is our invisible friend who is with us wherever we go and whatever we do. Because he is invisible and omnipresent, he can do that, and we can take comfort in the fact that he is always with us. He is our trusted and true confidant. Through the Bible and the power of the Holy Spirit, God counsels us on how to live our lives and handle our relationships with others.

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Matthew 22:37-39 NIV

In our daily lives do we treat Jesus as a confidant and counselor? He is our physically invisible friend. But is Jesus also our emotional friend—our constant go-to friend? Honestly, do we even treat Jesus as a distant friend? Is he treated as being nonexistent—as not being with us? Are we as rude to Jesus as we can be to our earthly friends whom we ignore at will because they are not interesting enough for fun enough at a given time?

So I must ask myself the following: How do I treat Jesus? Am I making him invisible in my life? Am I ignoring him during large portions of my day while he is right there beside me? Am I ignoring him when something more fun or interesting presents itself? That is sin. The Bible clearly says we are to be in constant contact with him.

“ pray continually;” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV

Lord, forgive me for treating you as my earthly friends have sometimes treated me. Give me a strong desire through the power of the Holy Spirit to be in constant loving contact with you.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Invisible Humans--How We Treat Others

I have learned how to become invisible. I involuntarily accomplished this feat the other evening for about thirty minutes. It would have gone on longer but I have not learned to control my responses to invisibility.

Let me explain what happened. I have been trying to re-establish a casual relationship with a former friend. We have had some rather severe difficulties recently. I’d like to say it is all her fault, but it is not. I have definitely contributed my share to the unrest. Of this I am ashamed. I know that it says in James.

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20 NIV

My human nature was firmly in control on this one. Part of the problem is that Satan is very skilled at making sure my buttons are pushed at the most opportune times to trigger my loss of control. I am so thankful that God is exposing this level of sin to me and is giving me the ability to control my hurt and anger better than I could a year ago. It has been a painful but increasingly profitable lesson from God.

I am going to explain what happened from my viewpoint solely for the purposes of exploring the human response. I had asked for a ride to a recent social event. My husband was not going to be able to attend so I thought it would be a chance to have some relaxed social interaction and maybe be able to start the healing process in our rocky relations. The first five minutes were good. But then everything rapidly fell apart. A secret was whispered to another person in the car just loud enough so I could hear. The information would have only been a minor surprise if said openly, and I would have responded with a polite comment or appropriate question. The ineffective attempt at secrecy hurt. But that was not the real issue of the evening. The real issue was that as soon as the engine of the vehicle stopped, I stopped being visible. I was not looked at or spoken to for the next thirty minutes. Other people all around me were eagerly embraced in friendly conversation. I did not exist. I was invisible. I felt like the only reason I was given a ride was as a charitable civic duty performed for a needy underling. I was not wanted. I was deeply hurt again. I could not keep my mouth shut.

“Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:15 NIV

So, later that evening I did some serious reflection. I wondered if I had ever treated someone else as if she was invisible. Sadly, I must admit I have although I did not do it intentionally. I have been thoughtless--insensitive—wrapped up in fun encounters with others. Or on days when I am a bit blue or suffering from a physical issue, I may not interact politely with anyone. At these times I have treated others as if they are invisible and that is inexcusable. The realization of the extent of my sin took me to my knees.

“ Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31 NIV

The evening ended in disaster. I started out doing the right thing but fell into sin within the first five minutes. How frustrating my sin nature is!

Lord, make me sensitive to others around me. Give me the wisdom and words to validate them as your valuable creations.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

No Idols for Me

Why can’t I be more like Paul? He was a steadfast imitator of Christ even when the going got tough. Others were giving up when things became difficult and returning to the worship of idols which were normally worshipped in their culture.

It is so easy to say I do not worship idols, but is that true? As I understand the biblical definition of idol, it is anything that I put before God—that I place before God in my life.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” Deuteronomy 5:8 NIV

I quickly cave to putting worldly things before Christ. Well at least sometimes—too often. Generally this happens in such a way that I do not realize something has become an idol—being somewhat stylish when I am being called by God to spend my money in other ways, spending my time as I desire, not doing a kind act because of some “more important” activity. You get the picture? Yes I am guilty.

Right now I am working very hard to turn our office into a bedroom for my mother-in-law. She will be coming to my house when she is released from the rehab hospital. Bringing her into my home is the right thing to do. Ray and I are sure it is of God’s leading. However, I am having to face some of my idols—how I use the space in my home, how I use my time, my self-direction, objects in my home.

“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth.” 2 Timothy 4:17 NIV

So my task is to realize God is at my side and will give me strength to proclaim the gospel. If I am doing this I will naturally eliminate any idols in my life because there will be no room for them. My life will be God-focused.

If I live totally for God, especially in the tough times, then God will use my witness for His glory.

To God be the glory. May there be nothing in my life before God.

Lord, my focus is too much on myself and things in my life which are important to me but have no eternal value. Change my focus to you—totally you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

God's Will For Today?

For any of you who have been regularly following this blog, I apologize for the lack of posts lately. It is not so much that I have been busier, but it is that my mind has been occupied with a daunting life issue. My mother-in-law had a serious fall recently. Her head hit concrete and she suffered some head trauma. Although she has some permanent damage, she is doing much better than the medical reports lead us to believe possible. God is good. Right now she is in a rehabilitation hospital and making some progress. However, within the next week or two she will be released. This is what is taking my time and energy. Ray, my husband, and I have been spending much time talking through the limited options. Ray’s step-dad, of course, will be making the decisions for the care of Ray’s mom. We can only suggest and guide. We know he will make a loving decision, but we want him to also make an informed decision. Time is running out on gathering information and making preparations.

I will be posting regularly but maybe every few days instead of every day or two. God has been a refuge and has laid some post topics on my heart that will burst forth in his timing.

So, please keep checking for new posts. Here are the two verses I use as barometers for my daily walk with God. They are great verses to memorize, and I often use them as a focus for meditation as I pray.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2 NIV

Lord, I praise you because I know you are in total control. I praise you because I know you have equipped me to handle anything I may face today. You are the Great Counselor, the Great Encourager—My All.