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Posts Tagged ‘Where did you find God today’

A friend shared this on Facebook:

Amazing Things @AmazingThing Official Education Website July, 2018

Fascinating, right?  So I had to ask, am I an oyster or a clam?

We live in a dirty-water world today. Everything is murky. Rules of society are not clear anymore. And it seems people like to stir up muck whenever they can.

Like oysters, believers in the Way are called to not only clean up their own act by filtering out all the negative and immoral influences that cloud our thinking but by doing so, we can bring clarity to those around us.  And in groups, we can do a lot of good.

Often times,  I want to clam up instead. Shut myself off from the world and surround myself with my Christian music, Christian friends, and Christian literature. Blindfold my eyes, stuff my ears, and hold my nose as I walk through this life.

But Jesus didn’t do that. Jesus was an oyster.  He met people in the middle of their messes and made them clean again, from the inside out. He immersed himself in the filth of the world but didn’t let it taint Him. Instead, He changed it and encouraged others to follow Him in His clean-up efforts. Scripture says He is still filtering and will until the end of time.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (Matthew 25:32)

I think filtering all that stuff must be a bit painful for the oyster. Talk about getting down to the nitty-gritty!  The sand particles must be abrasive. But the reward for all this uncomfortable task? A pearl. The more filtering the oyster does, the larger and more precious the pearl.

Jesus said in one of his parables, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls” (Matthew 13:45).

When God looks for fine pearls, will He find one growing inside of me?

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My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.  Psalm 25:15

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My parents used to take us to the coast each summer. We were told to be wary of the undertow. My sister and I find pockets of this mild quicksand, and at first, it was weirdly intriguing to watch it surround my feet. Cooler than the surrounding sand, untouched by the sun, it held a strange sensation. I could feel the sand particles almost come alive as they encased my feet. But the longer I stood still, the more the sand developed my lower extremities, up past my ankles. I was stuck! I couldn’t wiggle free.  I was helpless.  TALK ABOUT A SAND TRAP!

My eyes scanned for my mother or father as my breaths quickened and the sand crawled higher.  When our gazes locked and my father dashed to free me, I sighed in relief.

An intriguing, not-so-legal situation, a temptation, a movie with iffy scenes can be intriguing. We are drawn to it. Yes, it may not be proper or wholesome or upright. The Holy Spirit may whisper for us to back off, turn away or be careful…even so….  we venture toward the experience.  A little of it won’t hurt.  I’ll just watch for a few minutes. Everyone else is doing it, right?

Then, we might go deeper, watch longer, become more entangled in the deceit.  Soon, we are stuck. This isn’t fun anymore.  Two choices. Try to get free on our own with our eyes solely on the problem as panic begins to gurgle up from our stomach juices, or…

Raise our eyes and seek our Father. Call out to Daddy for help.

Of course, if we had kept our eyes on Him in the first place, we never would have wandered. But no sense going back to woulda, shoulda.  Instead, it is best to ask forgiveness, receive His help, and move forward while holding on to His hand. It may take a while to shake the wet sand from our feet. Actions do have consequences. But if we walk with our Lord in the way He deems, then the undertows in our world will no longer be a snare.

Just as my father splashed sea water on my toes that day to release the sticky, itchy granules, we can be washed in His waves of mercy.

 

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thanks to Peggy Sue Thompson for this photo

A friend posted this on Facebook and stated if it had been her, she’d have cut the tree down since so much of it was missing.   As I looked at that majestic tree the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “I have done this for many whom others have seen as a lost cause.”

I don’t know what happened to gouge out this tree.  But some kind soul saved it by pushing these stones inside the hollow trunk. It was a purposeful act, not a freak of nature.

Thanks to the stones stacked inside, the vulnerable core of the tree was protected from varmints, bugs, and weather. The stones strengthened it and encouraged it to grow straight and tall instead of toppling over. They, by their very nature, add substance and sturdiness to the trunk.

What a testimony of a Christ-filled life!

What are the stones in our lives? Are they our trials, lessons learned, or spiritual nudges when faced with a decision? With the Rock of Christ living in us, stone by stone He is building a testimony.  Each rock is stacked just so in order for us to keep standing, keep growing and keep digging our roots deeper into the faith. As a result, we are able to withstand what otherwise might topple us.

Jesus said in Luke 19:40, “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”  For me, these stones cried out today telling of the amazing work Christ can do in people we may consider lost causes.  They also tell of the work He continues to do in me.  What happens to me through this process is a purposeful act, not a freak of nature. 

May He continue to use whatever He needs in order to strengthen me from within. I pray the same for you.

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A dear author friend of mine, DiAne Gates, has an eye for beauty that she readily captures in her photographs and her sketches.  She paints great word pictures in her stories, too.

She recently posted this picture of morning glories on Facebook. I can see why they call them glories. They are absolutely gorgeous. Look at how their centers reflect the light. It draws you in, right?

Morning glories are a vine that can tolerate wet rainy seasons or drought conditions. But they need a pole, fence, tree trunk, or something else sturdy to support their growth. Otherwise, they won’t flourish. When darkness blankets the earth, they shut tight. But come sunrise, they greet the new day by opening wide and soaking in the rays.

Describes Christians pretty well, too. Doesn’t it? Or it should.

We can tolerate any condition as long as we can cling to something sturdy, Jesus. He is the main vine, and we branch off of His strength. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”  (John 15:5).

We repel darkness of this world and shut it out, but we are attracted to the Light of Son, Jesus Christ, which in turn attracts others to us, “…that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9).

May we all be morning glories, because His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23).  May each of us today, and every day, turn to the Son the very first thing and give Him the glory as He shines into the center of our hearts, minds, and souls.  And, as we go about our day, may the Light of Christ deep inside us attract others to Him through our actions and conversations.

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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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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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