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Archive for the ‘Biblical’ Category

“O taste and see that the Lord is good!” Psalm 34:8

This verse had always confused me until I saw something in a restaurant. A mom carved off a very small piece of her meat and put it in her toddler’s mouth. The tiny eyes widened as a smile spread across the little girl’s lips.

The mom nodded. “See? Good.”

Toddlers taste everything. They judge what is good and bad by how it reacts on their tongues. Are we any different? How many of us have asked someone to taste what we are cooking to “see if it is good”?  Even though smell and taste are intertwined, we describe food as yummy or yucky more by its taste than its smell, appearance or texture.

So, why should we not taste and see that God is good?

And how good is He? The yummiest thing ever. Better than gooey caramel, a chocolate candy bar, or a fresh-from-the-oven bread. Better than lobster dripping in butter, chowder on a cold night, or ice cream…well, anytime.

Jesus often used food as a conduit to fellowship. One of his miracles involved multiplying a simple lunch of fish and bread. It wasn’t until He served the disciples fish that they recognized him on the beach after the resurrection. At the Last Supper, He said the bread represented His body and the wine His blood and commanded us to remember Him whenever we broke bread together.

Recently, I had not been physically able to attend church in months. A person from the congregation brought me a small, tasteless wafer from the communion service. That way I could be “a part” of the community of believers that had gathered at the altar table. As it dissolved on my tongue, it truly was the best thing I’d ever tasted. I instantly felt the connection of the Cross…vertically to God and horizontally to the people in my church.

I could almost picture God smile and say, “See? Good.”

Yes, Lord. I have tasted Your goodness and now I see. Let me always hunger and thirst for Your righteousness and for the fellowship with others who believe. Amen.

 

 

 

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In Bible study on the Book of Exodus, our lecturer said the Ark of the Covenant was a “portable Eden”. It was where God chose to dwell among His people on earth.  Placed in the Holy of Holies inside the Tabernacle, God recreated Eden in a golden box so He could travel with His believers and be in covenant with them.  Once the temple in Jerusalem was built, God dwelled there, in the midst of the land He’d promised them. It became “Eden.”

That sent a flutter through my chest. Why? Paul told the Corinthians that their bodies were the temple since the one in Jerusalem had been destroyed. It has never been rebuilt, by the way. Not that it needs to be because God now dwells in the hearts of believers. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1Corinthains 3:16).

That makes you and me portable Edens!

In Eden, there was love, goodness, peace, calmness, and serenity.  Mankind freely communed with God. They shared time and space. Sin was an outsider.

Eden is not a lost world. It still exists. The peace that passes all understanding still resides there like a gorgeous flower that is always in bloom. Faith, trust, and compassion flourish in lush fullness. This wondrous place now travels with us wherever we go in this un-Eden-like world. It is our “go to” spot whenever we need it. Better than comfy pants or chocolate.

So, if this portable Eden is always with us, and thus God is, why are we not more serene and content?  Why aren’t our lives centered more in Christ?

And…If our hearts contain that marvelous, fruitful place called paradise, why do we try to bring the seeds of worry, strife, anger, and bitterness through the garden gate? Those need to stay outside. We don’t need to haul them inside to dwell where only God should.

Where can we find God today? He is in Eden, a heartbeat away.

 

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“God does all these things to a person—twice, even three times— to turn them back from the pit that the light of life may shine on them.” Job 33:29-30

A dear friend gave me a pothos ivy. The kind with wonderful green leaves that stretch into strands to dangle down bookcases, shelves or stair rails. I placed this one on top of my bookcase near a window so it could get some sunlight. Soon, the tendrils began to grow longer, curling down the side of my bookcase, leaves angled toward the light streaming through the blinds. After a while, all the leaves exposed to the light had turned toward it. Their leaves were lush and full.

However, on the “darker side”, the leaves stop growing, and several died. I decided to turn the plant so that side could receive the light. And sure enough, the thriving side’s leaves still began to turn toward the light, even though they were further away. They had gotten used to it and knew it was what they needed.

Now the botanists among you will nod, saying this is common. For plants, yes. But is it common for us humans?

Once we receive the light of the Son, we thrive on it. We know we need it to grow in our faith. To flourish, we need to be near Him daily. But Jesus wants all of us exposed. That means even our darker sides. The side that harbors our bad habits we try to hide from the world. The sins we have pushed to the back of our hearts and minds because we simply do not want to deal with it right now. Perhaps we gossiped, or unkind words slipped from our mouths. Maybe we left off some tiny thing on our tax return so we could get a bigger refund. Perhaps we told a lie because it sounded better, or we didn’t want to reveal the truth. Maybe worse.

Eventually, Jesus will nudge us to turn those darker things to Him so His loving mercy can expose them. Once that happens, His grace can pour in. We can begin to flourish again where we were once stunted, and in fact, shriveling.

My ivy taught me that though I may not wish to do so, I must expose my whole being to my Lord so I can reflect His Light in my life. All my thoughts, fears, desires, and doubts need to be turned toward Him. Full Son exposure!

Do you dare turn your darker side to His glory?

 

 

 

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Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” Ezra 10:4

courtesy of twitter@bigtoe.

After surgery, I learned I could only put “big toe” weight on my right leg for a month. That meant my left leg, supported by a walker, had to bear the load. In order to keep me from ending up with one weak, puny leg and one buffed one, I have non-load bearing PT exercises for the right one.

Did I mention this is a huge “adjustment”?

Why only big toe weight? Our big toes are big for a reason. Our bodies use them to balance. Ever watch a ballerina “on toe”? It provides the rest of the foot leverage. Without thinking about it, you put your weight mostly on your big toe when you lift off a chair. Go ahead, try it using any other toe or your heel instead. I’ll wait…

Back now? To continue…

For now, my right side is weak. The surgery on my right pelvis needs to heal. The pins need to knit into the plates and bone. So, I must rely on my left side.  But, without the walker or crutches, I’d be catawampus and fall down a lot.

That has made me think about how much I lean on God for support, especially when I am weak. But even if I feel strong, I should still use Him as support. I need to consistently practice this unique way of walking through this journey we call life. We all do.  It feels unnatural. Most of us don’t want to lean on a crutch. We were taught to stand on our own two feet.

I’m not saying Christians should be wimpy. Actually, it takes strength of character to admit you need assistance.  The winds of change in our culture are blowing hard. We can only stand if we press into God’s Word and prayer for support, and lean on His understanding, as it says in Proverbs 3:5, fulling trusting in His strength to bolster us. In the meantime, we can strengthen our stance by practicing our faith through the life exercises we are given. But as long as we exist in this cultural environment that wants to pull us out of balance, we need our Lord for support.

Christ gives us strength when we yoke to Him. (Philippians 4:13, Matthew 11:28-30).

He is my spiritual walker, and I don’t want to let go, lest I fall.

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courtesy of brianna-santellan unsplash

A friend drove me to do my weekly shopping, but by the time we got there all  the handicapped spots were occupied. (Many of you know I have to use a walker, so even grocery shopping is a chore.) As we pondered whether she should circle around to drop me at the door then go find a place to park, a car began to back out across the way, right near the entrance. I immediately lifted my hands. “Thank you, Lord.” My driver agreed.

 

I recalled someone asking me if I truly thought God did little things like provide parking spots. My reply? “Why not give God the glory?”

Then, in my Bible reading I ran across Psalm 34. It starts out with a phenomenal faith statement: I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (vs.1)

At all times? Not just when I think He has shown me favor? Would I say “thank you, Lord” if the only parking spot had been 100 yards away and my friend had not been able to take me? Would I have blessed Him when the pain shot down my leg and my foot scraped the ground as I tried to hobble back to my car after a half hour of walking through grocery aisles because all the scooters were being used? Would I thank Him if I’d gotten to the register and discovered some hacker had drained my account when my refrigerator had an echo in it and my cupboards were bare?

Paul put it a different way in his letter to the Philippians. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (4:4).  Always. In every circumstance. Good or bad.

I don’t think it means we shouldn’t get angry in response to injustice. Yes, we may feel frustration.  Our heart may jolt at a strange sound or coil at a perceived danger. It is in our nature to react. But we shouldn’t let it gnaw the edges of our faith.

A singer in an older Christian contemporary song states that whatever happens in life has already passed through God’s hands.  Very true. He knows long before we can. And He is always there, ready to make it a lesson for us. Ready to send helpers to comfort us, and His Spirit to guide us. Even in bad times, “God is good all the time”, as the chant states.

Today, I found a lesson from God in a parking slot and a psalm.

Dearest Lord, I will try harder to live out Psalm 34:1 and Philippians 4:4. If King David, who had to run for his life and hole up in caves, or Paul who suffered whippings and Roman prisons, could, why can’t I? Forgive me when I do not acknowledge You moving in my life. Amen.

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“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

I have this in a frame over my desk…

But recently, I read a devotional that reminded me we have a gentleman God who knocks and asks to enter into our lives, our souls, and our thoughts. The writer asked if our daily Bible time had become bone dry? Were we praying for the Holy Spirit to join us and reveal the meaning to us?

I thought about how many times I yawn as I sip my coffee, crack open my Bible, find the passage of the day, read it, and then check it off my to-do list. My feelings would be crushed if I knew readers treated a book I wrote in this manner.

When did I lose the idea that this is a love story?

I truly believe “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16)  I have known times in my life a passage has pierced my heart with the truth of it’s message as if God reached down and typed it onto the page.

Perhaps you have as well.

We are blessed in the western world to have the Bible in so many places and in so many translations. It is on my coffee table, on my bookshelf, in an app on my phone, and bookmarked on my computer. Framed verses scatter the walls of my apartment. Some are taped to my desktop monitor and secured with a magnet on my fridge.

I am surrounded by the Word, hemmed in, armored. Do I take that for granted sometimes? I confess. Yes, I do.

Forgive me, Lord. Speak to me anew. Enter in…the door is open.

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One hour. 60 minutes. One 24th of a day. We cherish it when it comes to sleep time. We become anxious if we have to wait that long. And often we waste it on things like TV, social media…even worry as we pace the bedroom floor in the moonlight.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:26

Jesus asked the question. How do we answer? If worrying doesn’t consume your time, substitute another phrase – by being proud,  by being angry, by being revengeful, unforgiving, caught up in a video game, vegged out on Netflix…yep, I am stepping on my toes, too.

Yes, we all need down time, but during that time can we spare an hour of talking, reading and listening time with our Lord?

Tonight, Jesus will face his fate with blood sweat and tears. He will kneel face down in the dirt among the scraggly olive trees and cry out to His Father. And His disciples? Snoozing. He’d asked them to stay awake and pray for one hour.

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter (Matthew 24:6).

They didn’t, and when the soldiers came, they fled. They didn’t have the strength to stand and stay because they hadn’t been bolstered by God-time.

Are we any different?

Will you carve out an hour today, or tomorrow on Good Friday, to reflect (and thankfully praise God) over what Jesus did for you?

 

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