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Posts Tagged ‘Where did you find God today?’

HERE IS ONE I POSTED IN 2016…revamped a bit, of course.

 

While lecturing and book signing in San Antonio, I spent the night with my sister. When I blurry-eyed stepped into her shower, this is what greeted me.

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SIN AROMA. I had to laugh. It was 6:30 in the morning and I’d already found God today.

San Antonio is a bilingual city, so labels are in English and Spanish. “Sin Aroma” means “unscented”, but it got me to thinking. What is the aroma of sin? Isn’t it often undetectable?  Unlike natural gas, which is also undetectable, nothing is added to temptations to let us know danger lurks. No nasty, scrunch-up-our-nose odor to warn us to back away. Unless we have our holy prompter inside of us, the Holy Spirit. But even then, do we always obey His whispers?

Sin should leave us feeling dirty.  But too often, don’t we cover it up like an aromatherapy spray?  If you can’t smell it, it isn’t there anymore, right? Other times, it may be masked with an enticing whiff that pulls us in like walking by a bakery just when a batch of freshly baked bread is being pulled from the oven, even though you are on a low-carb diet. Yeah. Been there.

James wrote in his letter, “Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (1:15) The father of lies’ temptations are often what we think we want, need, or even believe is God’s will for us. Whatever it is, he knows it is a lure for us. So we dash ahead without taking it to God in prayer first for verification and blessing. We don’t detect the smell that might otherwise cause us to back away.

Back to the soap I saw in the shower imagery…

The fact that sin can wash over our body and we still “feel clean” is evidence that we live in a fallen world. But when we become part of the Body of Christ and He lives in us, sin’s enticement is more detectable. The more we allow ourselves to be washed in His Blood, the more protected we will become.  As believers, we all need a “body wash” (jabon corporal) to slough off the sins that have begun to stick to us like sweat.  That is why going to church is so important. So we can be in “corporate” worship together.

Hey, I am not trying to revive the 1970’s adage, “Save water shower with a friend.”  (Just to be clear.) But the same way a friend can pull you aside and tell you that you have a smudge on your blouse, as members of the Body we can lovingly and quietly point out a spot on each other’s souls that need to be scrubbed a bit. But spot cleaning doesn’t always do the job.

As individuals, just as we cleanse our skin each day, let us also remember to wash our souls daily by spending time with our Lord.

Now everyone sing …“What can wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus…”

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“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth…” Philippians 2:10

Today I saw the last part of this passage “under the earth”  in a new way. In my neighborhood, all the utilities have gone underground. Cable, phone, and I think even some of the electrical wires, are now all zipping through fiber optic pathways. No more tangle of wires weaving across tar-coated poles. It looks nicer as far as the landscape.  But out of sight out of mind, you almost forget they still exist until someone has to dig up the street. Then, what a hassle and a mess! Traffic has to be rerouted. People run late. Blood pressures rise.

Sometimes, God works underground. His love flows as a constant current.  We rely on it, and sometimes consciously forget that it is there, until we need a dose of it in our lives. Like flipping on a switch or remote control. Click. “Oh, there you are God. Hi. I need you.”

But we are the conduit of His love as well. We are supposed to be passing it on. to others, letting it flow through us and our day to day lives. It should underground all of our thoughts and actions.   And yet, we are also constantly under construction.

The old adage, “God isn’t through with me yet” is true. We all need repairs. Our emotions and human-ness can interrupt the flow. Sometimes, God needs to put on His hardhat and start digging down deep. At first, we think it messes up our daily routes. We get a tad annoyed. Right?

God’s constructive work can jam up a few things in our lives, but it is necessary work.  One day we all will have an uninterrupted flow of faith and every knee will bow at the name of Jesus. But not yet. Until then, we are in a construction zone, and miraculously, God’s love still moves along in spite of it.

Lord, let me welcome your digging into my life so I can be a better conduit of your love and commandments. In Jesus’ name that one day everyone will worship, amen.

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Therefore a lion from the forest will attack them, a wolf from the desert will ravage them, a leopard will lie in wait near their towns to tear to pieces any who venture out, for their rebellion is great and their backslidings many. Jeremiah 5:6

Words fascinate me. So God uses them often to get my attention. Today I saw the same letters in two different ways.

W-O-L-F.

What comes to mind when you think of a wolf? For me, it is something wild, snarling, attacking, hunting prey.  Beautiful animals, from a distance. But don’t get too close.

Scripture talks of wolves in this manner. Where I live we don’t have wolves, but we have plenty of their cousins, the coyote.  I lost a kitten to one several years ago. It ventured underneath the fence and the coyote, lurking in the tall grass of the vacant lot,  snatched it in its mouth.  They are stealth in their prowess.

Spiritually, there are a lot of wolves out there. There are ideas that seem beautiful at the time. The lure to run free is tempting. And just when you think all is okay, snatch. The consequences are lethal to the soul.

Wolves run in packs. It is the same with temptations. One rebellious act leads to another. One little backslide sends a person teetering on a slippery slope, ready to tumble.

Now flip the letters around. F-L-O-W.

Eden had a stream flowing through it to bring water to the lush vegetation as well as Adam and Eve. The promised land was described as flowing with milk and honey.  Jesus said He was the living water and no one who came to Him would thirst.  In other words, to the obedient, God provides abundantly.

Instead of rebelling and heading off on our own where dangers lurk, we can choose to “go with the flow”, as the 1970’s adage states.  Not only can we float in the boundaries of God’s will, but we can be an example to others who either don’t realize that is an option or have considered it too stifling.

Jesus said in John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 

So, it’s our choice. Be a lure in the right way to a thirsty world by letting His love flow, or go off on our own and be lured by the wolf called self who crouches waiting to devour our souls.

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                                             Today, take time out to thank God for His provisions, guidance, grace, and mercy. 

 

 

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“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

I watched through the windows of a friend’s house as several sparrows fluttered back and forth from the ground to lawn furniture on her veranda. They were chirping loudly. Then I saw why. Her dogs were crouched down, watching them.

One little bird flew toward the whirring ceiling fan instead of joining the others in their frantic dance. I held my breath, knowing there was no time to bang on the window and divert the little thing from flying headlong into danger. I watched with my teeth tucked into my lower lip, and yeah, I said a prayer.

But the bird was savvy. It knew how to fly above the turbulence caused by the blades and land securely on top — safe from harm of the fan and from the dogs below. Then I noticed a small tangle of grass and twigs. It was building its nest there! Smart critter.

God lesson: In Matthew 6, Jesus talks about how the Father cares for the birds of the air, and how much more He will care for us.

We can fret on the ground about things that are beyond our control, hopping around like chirping sparrows. We can sense the danger and feel helpless to do anything about it. It can overwhelm us with worry so much that our judgment is clouded. We may even just freeze, close our eyes, and pray we’ll come out unscathed as our knees crumble and our teeth chatter.

Or we can soar above the turbulence in life and nest safely in our Father’s love. We can ask Him to give us the way to lift ourselves above it all as we follow His voice and trust that He will either lead us out of the peril or armor us with the smarts to get through it by His mercy.

In I Samuel 17, David slung a stone and whacked Goliath smack dab in the one place that would fell him. He used his expertise in scaring off wild animals from his flocks, a talent God had developed in him for such a time as this. Just as God taught that little bird to judge the wind currents so he then could navigate the whooshes of the ceiling fan.

God is preparing you and me for His purpose. He knows what is going to happen and has our best interests at heart. He will provide the equipment we need to face any challenge or show us a route to safety.

So, before you think your life is going to hit the fan, seek the Father to give you both the strength in your wings and the knowledge you need to lift you above it all. He is faithful to do so — if you look to Him and not your situation.

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for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13

Sometimes, I have doubts. I know I am not supposed to, but I’ve always been one who judged my efforts by tangible results. It’s why I  love to clean–my  house, the church altar, the car. I immediately see the fruits of my labor and it feels good.

As a digital missionary who writes and edits for The Life Project,but not yet fully funded to do the work, my efforts are not always as visible. I become frustrated and wonder if they will tell me they can’t use me anymore because I can’t pay my way, which would break my heart.

Or as an author who struggles to get anyone to read or review her novels, even if those who do usually award them 4-5 stars. (I can picture other writer and authors nodding. We all struggle with it.)

Sometimes, I just wonder…am I even making a difference? Why put out the effort? Am I fooling myself? Should I just hang this all up?

God quietly responded this past week. “You are doing fine, daughter. Keep going.” How?

  • My Life Project team sent me gifts as a thank you for my service and a nice note telling me how vital I am to the ministry.
  • One of my articles saved a Satanist, helped another woman in an abusive relationship, and has now been translated into French and picked up by two other missionary publications, reaching thousands more than most of the other articles.
  • A friend told me one devotional I wrote was exactly what she needed to hear that day.
  • Another devo converted a man in prison, and he has made copies for others to read.

I say this not to puff up my ego, but to show that if we ask, God will provide proof that we are in His will, even if we can’t see it. It was a confirmation that He not only has a purpose for me but loves me enough to show me, the one exhibiting a “ye of little faith” moment.

But then, as if to drive home the point, God intervened again.

I set a pot of eggs to boil on the stove, then gathered my trash, hung it to my walker, and shuffled it across the way to the apartment dumpster. When I came back inside, the place smelled weird and my cat kept sneezing. I turned the corner to see flames leaping on top of my stove.

I’d placed a pair of kitchen shears too close to the burner. The toxic odor of burning plastic quickly filled my nostrils and made my eyes water. Terrified, I prayed a split second prayer. What do I do?

My logical side kicked in. I put out the fire, clicked on the stove vent, and opened the patio door and windows to air the place out. Soon both my cat and I began to breathe better. And I’d caught it in time, so the fire alarm didn’t blare in our ears.

So why do I contribute this to God answering me? Feeling fairly good for once, I’d thought about also dragging my walker up to the front of my large complex to get my mail, but then got a strong message, “Um, no. Don’t do that. Go back and get  your car keys. That is a too much of a trek in your condition.”

Had I ignored that thought and gone anyway, the whole kitchen might have caught fire, the fire alarm blare, and who knows what would have happened to my cat, which is apartment bound, as he inhaled all of those fumes.

Some might say it was my subconscious or the “universe” that made me change my mind. To me, God’s Holy Spirit did, and in the process, confirmed three more things. First, He is always watching over me. Second, He is ready to guide me. Third, He cares about things like me not losing my eight-year-old cat after having to put down my nineteen-year-old one two weeks ago.

Recently, I found a holy pat on the back through little things that happened one right after the other. Where will you find God today? Why not ask Him to reveal Himself and confirm His love and purpose for you?

 

 

 

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I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. 1 John 2:12

Ever since I moved into my apartment, anything that has been sitting in my freezer for more than a day reeks of garlic. I scrubbed the walls and shelves with various organic cleansers, tried lemon juice…and even so not so organic ones. Chemicals can’t survive in frost, right? Don’t burst my bubble. I never took chemistry.

Finally I discovered the culprit. The ice maker tub. The plastic container the ice dispenser decides to chunk a dozen or so cubes into at odd hours, like two a.m. Loud enough to startle you from a nice dream. Why someone had something garlicky in there is beyond me.

So I scrubbed it. Still smelled. I ran really hot water over it and added a touch of baking soda in it to let it soak for several hours. Nope. Last resort, I sequestered it to my patio for the three hot, Texas summer days until the trash truck came. That way I didn’t have to whiff it.

Come trash day I retrieved it and guess what? No more odor. I guess the sunshine warmed it enough to release the smell and then the breeze whisked it away. How about that?

Back in the freezer it went and now my freshly made ice cubes hold no garlicky smell. Nor do my other frozen foods. Ahhhh.

Now before you all send me recipes for how to safely get odors out of plastic, let me tell you why I even mention this.

I occurred to me that we humans need airing out, too…sometimes. I am not talking about whether your antiperspirant works or not. I mean the inward things. Residual stuff in our past can linger on our soul. Occasionally a whiff of them surfaces and catches our attention, just enough to remind us of our failures, mistakes, past sins, or the time we didn’t have the gumption to say “I’m sorry.”

We can scrub ourselves clean by doing good deeds or promising to be a better person, but the offense still lingers. Remedies don’t work. Fragrant offerings like being super kind to strangers, and even you relatives, may cover it up for a while…. but it doesn’t eradicate the stench. It’s like a faint odor that never quite goes away no matter how hard we try to cover it up.

To really get rid of the stink in our lives we need to air it out in the presence of the Son. Let the breeze of mercy flow over us long enough to where we believe anew that He really can forgive us and still loves us, in spite of our messes.

Exposed to the rays of His grace, what was offensive no longer has a lingering aroma in our lives. We can be of full use again. A fresh start.

Are there unresolved issues that hover over you in the middle of the night? Time to air them out, folks. Take them to the Son and let Him shine on it. Allow Him the time to remove that hurt or resentment or guilt that you are sure everyone else can smell as well. Then thank Him for forgiving you and make sure you take the final step…forgive yourself.

No one need to wait for trash day, because as the ol’ bumper sticker saying goes “God Don’t Make Junk.” You are still of use.

 

 

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