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Posts Tagged ‘Where did you find God today’

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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Today is April 15th. It marks two big events this year. It is Tax Day, and it also begins Holy Week.

As a freelance writer, I am self-employed, so I have to pay double the taxes people with employers do. The thing is, when money is tight, it is tempting not to pay into my savings so I can make those nasty quarterly payments to the beloved IRS. And if an expense comes up, such as an unforeseen medical bill or a flat tire, well, okay I could skip a quarter and pay next April. Or hope that I can find a few more deductions to make up for it. I can let it slide, right?

The IRS won’t forgive the debt, though. By April 15th, I have to pay back every cent I owe to them. Or set up monthly payments at exorbitant interest rates. Talk about sliding downhill into debt! At times I wish I had a Sugar Daddy to bail me out.

Two millennia ago, Jesus warned, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.  Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:25-26). Debts have to be paid.

We live in a debt-filled society. Many owe thousands on credit cards. Our income barely keeps up with inflation, and the tax system is skewed to applaud those who can figure out the best how to get out of paying. When someone does, don’t they toot their horn and tell all their friends? “My accountant is the best. He found a way to deduct 1,000 extra dollars. The wife and I are off to Cancun after all.”

Cross on a hilltop in Kerrville, Tx. Photo courtesy of Coming King Sculpture and Prayer Garden

Not to be a Debbie Downer, I have good news. When it comes to our souls, there is also a way to get out of paying our debt to God for all that we have let slide. It is called accepting Christ as our Savior. He paid our debts–past, present, and future–on the cross.

The payback? Our gratitude, which draws us closer to Him. And it doesn’t hurt to tell others about how our debt was paid. “You would not believe how much I owed. But He paid for all of my transgressions. Every single one.”

God’s method of accounting would make a tax attorney rub his temples. God prefers to cancel as many debts as possible and let His Son pay them all.

But there is a catch. We have to ask for it.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9).

We ask for help at tax time from professionals, be it online, hiring an accountant, through software, or mulling through the irs.gov site (there’s a headache).  How much more should we ask for help from the One who can save us from the worse debt of all…the one caused by our sins!

This week, don’t let the IRS deadlines overshadow the tragedy that will happen on Friday, to His glory, and for our sakes.  Pay Ceasar his due, but render your hearts, minds, and souls to God.

Then rejoice next Sunday. Celebrate that our debt is canceled because Jesus is alive. He is risen indeed. And Daddy has bailed us out!

 

 

 

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The following is written by a lady in my writer’s group, Katy Huth Jones.  It definitely encouraged me. I hope it does you as well.

 

In the Bible, several things are described as precious. The Lamb’s blood (I Peter 1:19), the death of God’s saints (Psalm 116:15), an excellent wife (Proverbs 31:10), and this verse in Isaiah 43 that leaped out at me a few weeks ago: “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.”

Who is precious in God’s eyes? Verse 7 has the answer: “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

The Oxford Dictionary defines precious this way: “Of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly.” Which compels this soul-searching question: Do I see myself as precious in God’s eyes? If not, why not?

When I was younger and healthier, I was a whirlwind of activity in service (I sincerely hoped) to my family, church, and community. I felt I had value because of what I did for others, and I guess my identity became wrapped up in all that busyness and affirmation from others.

Now that my health has crashed and I’m living with a chronic disease as well as the ever-present threat of a third cancer recurrence, I have felt worthless and wondered why God doesn’t just take me home. But those feelings don’t come from God’s view; I’m comparing my present self to my former self, and there is no comparison. I’ve been wasting time and brain space on wrong thinking, treating carelessly what God sees as precious.

No, I can’t do what I once did, in the strength of youth. But what can I do for the Lord in my twilight years? First, show gratitude to the One who calls me precious and sent his beloved Son to shed His precious blood for my sins. I can also be thankful for a loving, godly husband who still sees me as a precious wife and is grateful I’m still here.

I can acknowledge that God cares for me daily while my body gradually declines. Instead of moaning and whining, I need to praise Him daily for the hope of heaven that can sustain me even on the darkest days. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) The inner self is our true self, our eternal soul which will live forever in the presence of God and the Lamb.

I can continue to grow in faith, and hopefully wisdom, so I can keep sharing God’s love with others until my last breath. “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” (Psalm 71:18) Even if I can’t “do” the things I once did, I can show by word and example what God has done for me. After all, He has brought me through the fires of tribulation, patiently molding me to have a genuine, precious faith: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:6-7)

If God sees me as precious, then who am I to call myself worthless?

 

 

 

Katy Huth Jones writes amazing novels (fantasy anthologies and Mercy series), children’s books, and a realistic, positive, daily devotional journey through chemo entitled Battling the Beast. It’s a must-read for anyone who has just been diagnosed with cancer or has a loved one who is starting chemo.

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At the suggestion of a friend, I got a battery back up for my smartphone. The older my phone gets (yes, it is paid for) the more quickly the battery runs down. I know the feeling!

Recently, the phone needed charging while I was not at home so I couldn’t use the cord.  I had carried the battery with me. As I plugged the phone into the battery, it occurred to me that I am like that. Sometimes I need recharging. Don’t you?

At any time, we can plug into our source of life, which is God. But sometimes, we don’t feel we are close to the cord. It may be stress, hurt, pain, or a sense of being overwhelmed. That is when we need someone else to pray for us and boost our energy. I honestly think God puts people in our lives for just that purpose.

Interceding for each other is so very important. Being able to honestly discuss what we are going through and where we are in our walk is vital. We all need one or two prayer warriors to plug into, with whom we can be totally vulnerable, knowing that they will not judge or chide us. Instead, they will give godly wisdom and prayer support. We know they are filled with power because they have been in the Word, have spent time with God, and have allowed His Spirit to reign in their lives. Life has not depleted their resources. In other words, because they have been plugged in and are fully powered at the moment, they can boost us in our weakened state.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

There will come a time when we will be the battery saver to someone else. Faith in community works that way. Sure, bearing another’s burden may drain us a bit, but we can always be renewed by plugging into the Source on a regular basis.

And here is what convicted me the most. I should always have power stored up in me  — the same way I try to keep my battery charger ready. If I don’t, then when I run low, I will be drained of energy and in search of something to energize me. If I haven’t brought my battery saver as a backup, or have not plugged my phone in for a while, it dies. It is the same with my soul. I need to plug into God through prayer and His Word often or I’ll become depleted. I’ll either seek a temporary fix such as caffeine, chocolate or comfort carbs, or I will lean on someone else over and over again to boost me, draining them.

It is wise to consistently plug ourselves into God’s power.  We all need a holy battery saver (or should I say Savior) for those dark times when the power of our own strength seems to go out. And doesn’t it always seem that power flickers the most during a storm?

Is your battery fully charged and ready?

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But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. Nehemiah 9:31

 

Perhaps it’s because I’m a child of the 1960s, but I can’t throw out a plant.

Years ago, I was given a Chinese evergreen in a sympathy basket when my husband died. When it grew, I replanted it and all went well…for a while. Then the leaves began turning yellow, one at a time. A few cat teeth marks appeared on a leaf that had become torn. I kept watering the plant, but finally, the only leaf remaining was the torn one. In fact, one could barely call it a leaf.

But it still was alive. I couldn’t bring myself to carry the thing to the dumpster. I watered it, talked to it, put it in a different part of the room. After a few months, another leaf appeared, and a few more teeth marks. So, I dabbed the leaf in vinegar and moved the plant from the floor to my desk, away from tempted felines. I aerated and added nutrients to the soil. Slowly, another stalk emerged and unfolded into a wonderful green leaf. I propped it with a gardening stick.

Now it has four healthy, thriving leaves. It’s taken almost three years to get this far, but I have hope that one day it will be full and lush again.

Today, as I watered it I heard God whisper into my spirit, “Now you understand how I feel.” When it comes to saving souls, God is even more tenacious than I am with plants. What others may see as worthless, He sees as potential.

Life may have been harsh. Perhaps we feel as if someone has gnawed on our egos awhile or ripped through our hearts. We droop, feeling useless.

Our loving Lord will allow His spirit to nourish us, prop us up, and give us what we need to once again grow. He won’t give up. He is patient. He has the time to continue to care for and encourage us. None of us are worthless in His sight.

Thank you, precious Lord, for your loving, caring, tenacious attitude towards us to have potential but are right now barely thriving. Thank you for not abandoning us, but mercifully nurturing us as we learn to grow in Your spirit.  Amen.

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When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets. When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” Luke 5:4-6

Our pastor preached on this account in Luke recently, talking mostly to the men about following their own agenda instead of God’s. But it “got me to thinking”, as we say down here in Texas.

What would Peter’s wife’s reaction have been? Did she wonder where in the world was her husband? Or did she learn from the other fishermen’s wives that they had gone back out in the waters because “that preacher” told them to do it? Did she hitch her hands on her hips and grouse?  Or maybe roll her eyes and stomp off mumbling, “Now supper will grow cold, and he promised he’d help me sweep the floor. Doesn’t he realize my mother is ill and can’t help me like she once did?”

Or did she smile and trust in this Jesus her husband spoke of with such passion.  Did his enthusiasm and new-found faith rub off on her? Did she wait on the shore, peering into the distance over the waves, excited about what might happen next?

Scholars say the men caught enough that day to provide income for their families for three years…the same amount of time they would be Jesus’ disciples during His earthly ministry. Did she wait to see the blessings of Peter’s obedience? Did she dance with joy when they had to gather other boats to bring in the biggest haul anyone had ever caught in that Sea of Galilee? Or had she gone back home, closed the door, and pouted?

 

Let’s take this beyond a husband and wife scenario:

How do you react when others don’t exactly do things the way you think they should?

How about when they follow a godly directive and become a success in what they set out to achieve? Are you happy for them, or does jealousy creep in?

Or do you wonder how come life is so tough for you right now and so easy for others? That their life seems abundant and “overflowing with fish” when you have been casting your nets until your arms are rubbery and not seeing results. Could it be that they were more quick to obey God’s commands no matter how hard or weird or unrealistic they were?

Do you dance with joy at their blessings or stomp away while mumbling?

Will you have faith to believe your day of abundance will come or think maybe God blesses others more than you? Perhaps, God is using circumstances in your life to prepare your nets for the right catch that hasn’t swum in your direction yet.

Do you have the faith and patience to wait, believing that a huge school of fish will veer near to your boat someday? And if it never happens, will you trust God to provide enough of a catch each day as you toil?

When it comes to reeling in what God wants us to catch, how many of us are willing to go out and try one more time…even though we have done it ten-hundred times without success?

How many opportunities have swum by us when we’ve already dragged our boats to shore?

Just some questions I pondered on the drive home from church…

 

 

 

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