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Posts Tagged ‘Where did you find God today’

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Ephesians 3:16-18

Today in Bible study, my priest referred to unbelievers as cut flowers. They look like they are alive, but they have been cut off from the roots, so they can no longer grow. They are, in essence, dead and soon will show it. Christ brings life, but those cut off from God by sin will die, just as Adam and Eve did.

My mind wandered to the ivy cuttings I’ve had immersed in a vase of water in my windowsill for months. That water has kept them alive. I noticed a few days ago they were finally producing roots.

Jesus said He is the Living Water (John 7:38). Because of original sin, we have all been cut off from the root of Life, i.e. God.  In order to grow, we must produce new roots, and the best way to do that is to immerse ourselves in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the water who provides the Truth and the Life.

So all those “cut flowers” out there need exposure to the love of Christ. We need to help them see they want to be saturated with the Living Water through baptism in the Holy Spirit so they, too, can begin to grow roots and thrive.

I realized that, like my ivy, I need to have more patience with those believers who are not yet leading fruitful lives. We all grow at our own pace, and I need to do what I can to help make sure they stay doused in the Living Water. I, too, need to grow, so I also must stay in the Living Water…daily immersed in His Word, His Truth, and His love. We all do.

Don’t ever let the devil yank you out! But if he does, my friend, trust me. There will be people praying you back into the Living Water where you can grow again. If you ever asked Jesus into your heart, you are rooted in Christ.

 

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He blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased, and he did not let their herds diminish. Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled by oppression, calamity and sorrow…Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the LordPsalm 107:38,39,43

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

It’s that time of year again. Taxes. Ugh.

But on a positive note, it encourages me to look at my financial life over the past year. Where and how much I spent on what. How much did I save? Did my freelance writing business grow or make a profit? More importantly, what can I do differently this year to have a better outcome?

Now that we are in a new year, we can take a tally of our spiritual lives as well.

In my spiritual tallying, I found that the verses I’ve quoted of Pslam 107 hold a deep truth. Now, please understand. I am not advocating the prosperity gospel that states God blesses those who are “good” and put the disobedient in the poor house like a celestial Santa Claus with a naughty and nice list. Yes, we, as good stewards, should be responsible for how we handle what God provides. But we also must realize we live in a broken, unfair world where sometimes the bad seems to win out despite our best efforts.

Despite what happens, in prosperity or calamity, there are two things that occur:

First, a lesson is learned.

Secondly, God is still there and He loves His kids.

As I crunch the spiritual numbers, I find I need to be a bit humbler. I also need to be a bit more grateful. Most of all, I need to recall the number of times I realized God was right there beside me. One time, I had a dead car battery. I prayed instead of panicking. I found out my auto insurance offered free roadside assistance, and that after getting the car jumpstarted, there was a discount store a few minutes away from where I had broken down. When I arrived, I had hardly any wait time. And when I returned home and opened my mail, I found three unexpected checks inside which totaled up to almost the same amount I’d just spent on getting a new battery installed. Thank you, Lord.

Benjamin Franklin said, “There are only two things certain in life: death and taxes.” I suggest he was incorrect, as intelligent as he was.

The only two sure things in life are that, no matter what, God is there and He cares enough to teach us valuable life lessons. When you crunch the numbers, that about sums things up.

 

 

 

 

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He shall come down like rain upon the mown field, like showers that water the earth.  Psalm 72:6

Dad would always rush to mow the grass when he heard a rainstorm was headed our way. He said that the newly-cut grass would better absorb the water. It would grow more lush and thick. The mowing scattered the bugs that like to gnaw on the blades of grass, too. (It’s also easier to clean the lawnmower blades, but that’s not the point.) So he prepared the lawn for the blessing on the horizon.

I recall opening my bedroom window and smelling the freshly cut grass mixed with the rain in the air as it began dampening the soil. Now if Glade could capture that aroma in an air freshening spray…

So, when we read Psalm 72 in church, that verse made me smile as warmth spread over my heart. The psalmist also knew that aroma. He understood the importance of rain on a freshly mowed field.

I think God mows us down a bit in order to prepare us for the blessings on the horizon, too. He trims us so we can better receive His mercy and grace. We become more aware of His presence as He cuts a bit into our lives. And it scatters the negativity gnawing at our hearts. We grow better in His ways when we are trimmed back and are then more apt to soak in His blessings when they pour down upon us.

So during the next dry spell in your life,  when you are not sure where God is in it all, listen for the sound of the heavenly lawnmower getting ready to prepare you for the blessings to follow. We all need a good trim now and then.  Can you smell the sweetness of His mercy?

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I listen to the weather forecast so I will know what to wear in the morning. I hang up the outfit I have chosen on the back of the door before I go to bed…after I make sure it has no stains, loose threads, or dangling buttons.  Yep, I like to be prepared.

Much of the time the weatherman’s predictions are close to what happens, though sometimes things do not turn out as forecasted.  Sunny days become rainy ones. Warm temperatures plummet into teeth-chattering temperatures and vice versa. Especially here in Texas. The old saying is, “If you don’t like the weather, wait an hour.”

But today, thanks to modern technology, the blue norther storms that used to barrel down on us and drop the temperatures 30 degrees in an hour are now foretold days in advance. Tornado watches alert us of threatening weather on the horizon.

If only that was true with life. It seems those storms come in a flash, without much warning.  It’s hard to prepare ourselves for the unexpected things that hit us. In this broken world there is going to be trouble. Disease will ravage a body, a house will be burglarized, a person killed by a crazed gunman or drive-by shooting. The person who vowed to love us forever might find another.

But wait, they were foretold. By Jesus.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Things will happen. But take heart.

As Jesus said, He has come to overcome the world. One day His eternal reign will be reestablished, and peace will be restored on earth. We will once again dwell in an Eden. Until then, as He promised before He ascended into Heaven, He will be with us in Spirit.

Paul understood that and so he knew how to dress for life’s uncertainties.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  Ephesians 6:10.

Don the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, the shield of faith, and the breastplate of righteousness. Lace-up our shoes of peace that comes from knowing the Good News – God is with us. Then we will be ready.

So, the next time you wonder what to wear, turn to the list in Ephesians 6 and be prepared, no matter what the forecast says.

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“…put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” I Timothy 6:17b

I knew it was there. I recalled downloading it in the past. It was exactly the picture I needed. But, even though I was confident it was somewhere in my folders, I had to search for it.

Sometimes I think it is the same with the things that God provides. At times, what I need appears in an instant. Bam. Thank you, Lord.

In a few incidences, God’s provision has been there even before I knew to ask for it. But more often than not, I have to search for it. A blessing may be hidden in a circumstance I didn’t expect. Maybe I was looking for something else, then realized, oh, wow. Ok. This works. A few times I have wondered, “What in the world God is thinking?”

But I have confidence that God has provided what I need in my life because He knows my needs. He has already given it to me and it is there somewhere. And so, in faith, I keep seeking, knocking, searching. Like the woman searching high and low for the lost coin in Luke 15, I won’t stop until I discover where it lies.

Why? Two reasons. First I’ve found it in the past. My experiences tell me God has provided. Secondly, Scripture tells me He will always do so because He loves me, and the Holy Spirit whispers that I can trust in that fact. So, even when things appear hopeless, the love that kept my Lord hanging on the cross reminds me that the situation is anything but hopeless.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” Matthew 7:7.

Whatever you are seeking has already been downloaded into your folder of life. It may appear in the form of a hymn stanza, a Scripture verse, a friend’s timely phone call, or a myriad of other ways.

Don’t give up. It’s there. Seek, and you will find.

 

 

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We both burst out laughing. We couldn’t help it. My writing critique partner and I were going over an article I wrote in which I stated we are all untied in Christ. Typo.

I meant the word united, of course. My dyslexic fingers reversed the letters i and t.

Hmmm. Then we both looked at each other and grinned. “Blog topic!” I cried out.

She nodded. She knows me too well.

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14

What keeps things untied instead of united? It’s a matter of the strength and tightness of the strings, isn’t it?  One draws together, the other pulls apart.

When a person ties their shoes, they pull the strings, which in turn, draw the two flaps of the shoe to become interlinked together. The shoe becomes tight. It won’t come off as easily. It is sturdy and secure.

Unite the strings and the two flaps separate. Now the foot can easily slide out. Anyone who has watched a toddler wobble with untied shoelaces knows it is a trip hazard.

We, believers, are no different. To be strong and secure in Christ’s love we must be bound together. Christianity is meant to be a community thing, not just a “me and Jesus” fest. That is why we are His Body. We are made to interact, support, and work with each other as the parts of the shoe do when strung together. As the author of Hebrews warned, let’s not give up meeting together as some have been the habit of doing (10:25).  Satan’s battle plan has always been to divide and then conquer.

When we are united in Christ, we are drawn together by His love into a solid unit. Christ’s love is the “tie” that binds us.  He interweaves us together so we can become stronger in our faith, in our commitment, and in our service to others. It is hard to slip out of His grasp when we are tightly bound together.

But, once we begin to wriggle loose, we slip away from the other members of the Body. We are separated a bit so it is easier to slide out of the binds that previously bound us. The longer we remain apart, the further away we tend to get from not only our faith but the fellowship with other Christians. Oh, we may still go to church and smile and pretend everything is hunky-dory. But the close-knit feeling is missing. After a while, we may fool ourselves into believing church attendance is less important than a few more hours of sleep.

Slowly, other things in our lives loosen. Our habits, maybe our tongues? Our morals?

It’s all a matter of where we place the i and t –the “it” in our lives.  United shows that U ‘n I  are together.  Let the “t” (temptation) separate U and I and we are no longer as closely bound together.

What is the “t” that threatens to separate you from Christ and perhaps other believers who make up the Church (Body of Christ)?  Pride, unforgiveness, hurt, doubt, anger?

When one of us is not in church to worship and fellowship, the whole Body suffers. We need each other like the two halves of leather on a shoe.

Let’s U ‘n I make every effort to draw together often so we can be strong ties to our Lord through His love and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our faith, attitudes, and service will be better for it.

People will notice the unity that binds us in Christ’s love. We may also find our lives seem less unraveled as well.

 

 

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I was out of paper sacks, so I loaded my recyclables into a plastic trash bag and headed for the community recycling dumpster.  I had full intentions of opening the sack and dumping its contents into the receptacle. The bag was simply a means to carry the items to their destination.

As I walked along the drive, a man pulled over and rolled down his window. “Don’t dump it in there! They’ll fine us and we will lose the privilege of having a recycling dumpster here.”

He didn’t know my intentions, nor the contents of the trash bag. He assumed…and I was offended. How dare he presume to know my intentions! When I explained, he became red-faced and apologized. Even so, all the way back to my apartment I felt the heat in my cheeks. If he had taken the time to really look, he’d seen that the opaque sack was filled with plastic water bottles, flattened cardboard boxes and shredded paper.

The Holy Spirit convicted me. “You are judging by appearances,” Paul warned his readers in 2 Corinthians 10:7.  How often do I do that? To be honest, too often.

God sees the good intentions on the inside, in our hearts, minds, and souls. All we see is the opaque outside unless we take time to really peer into a person.  Our bodies are simply a means for carrying what are the most important things, the things God can recycle for His use.  Our thoughts, feelings, conscience, desires. He can take all of it and reuse it, remake it, reclaim it.

“God doesn’t make junk”, the bumper stickers proclaimed back in the day. Truth.

From now on, may I trash any preconceptions I have about other people and their intentions. Lord, help me do so.

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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

fernando-pelaez-cubas-nbt_zlrzb8i-unsplash.jpg

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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