Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Unmasked

Who am I really – behind the mask you see?
Questions to ask:
1. What percent of my money do I spend where?
2. What percent of my time is spent with my family?
3. What percent of my time is spent on me?
4. What percent of my time is spent with God?
5. If what I do is an overflow of what is in my heart, what does that say about my heart?
Each question is a cause for reflection on who I really am. In my self-examination, I cried out to God about the selfishness I found in my own heart and asked him to replace it with His love for others. The next morning, he gave me this verse that I am clinging to as I look to Him. “God gave him another heart” I Samuel 10:9. I am trusting God for His heart as I walk with Him.
                Who are you really? Take off the mask, and ask God to give you another heart--His heart.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Whole Heart

       Last month I was studying Psalm 119 and noticed the reference to our Whole Heart several times. This month in reading through other Psalms, I see the same reference. In studying the words whole heart, it communicates the complete center of my being.
       I reviewed different places in scripture referencing my whole heart or all my heart to see what I am to be doing with my whole heart or from the complete center of my being. Here is what I came up with.
From the complete center of my being, I should:
Praise God
Seek God
Keep God’s Word
Cry out to God
Trust God
Love God
Serve God
Fear (stand in awe of) God
Walk in truth
Turn to God
Rejoice in God
Believe God
       There are others, but these stood out. I am not just to praise God, but I am to praise Him with my whole heart, with everything I am, with nothing left back. It is the same with each one. I am to seek Him with everything I am, keep His word, cry out to Him, trust Him, love Him, serve Him, fear Him, walk in His truth, turn to Him, rejoice in Him, and believe Him with my whole heart and nothing left back. 
       Wow! What would my life look like if this is how I lived each day holding nothing back from God? Scripture also has promises that go along with this type of lifestyle. God promises His blessings, His mercy, His rest, His direction, and that as we seek Him we will find Him. My challenge is to live for God in each of these areas with my whole heart, from the complete center of my being.

“Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. A
nd every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered” (II Chronicles 31:20-21).

Monday, October 22, 2012

Thankful for Oranges

My grandson started kindergarten this year. He called me the other day to tell me he received two oranges at school. He spoke so fast, I could barely understand him. Why would a five year old be excited about oranges, especially a five year old that doesn’t even like oranges? I assumed it was the thrill of having received something and began to consider my own attitude of thankfulness. Am I excited and thankful for the things I receive every day, or do I have expectations that cause me to discount the blessings in life?
It’s eye opening to discover the things we can learn from children. They are thankful for simple things. For example, one Christmas when my daughter was four years old, she colored a picture from her coloring book and wrapped it as a present for her two and a half year old brother. When he opened the present, she began showing him how she colored each detail. I was amazed at his sincere response, “Thank you, Katie”. She made it for him, and he was thankful.
Children are easily molded and follow our example. We can teach them to be thankful with words, but the results of what they learn will be based on what we show them with our actions. What they see will be what they learn.
Remember a five year old so thankful for two oranges that he called his grandma to tell her about it. Of course, I later learned that the behavior system for kindergarten at my grandson’s school has changed. It’s no longer green for good behavior, yellow for a warning, and red for uh-oh, I’m in trouble. A rainbow of colors ranging from red (which is now the best) to orange to yellow and several other colors now reflects behavior. I think there might even be a purple with green polka dots somewhere in the rainbow. Five year olds must be smarter these days in order to understand this system. My grandson sure expressed excitement about his oranges, and I gained a lesson in thankfulness.
Have you received any oranges this week that you don’t like? Remember to be thankful for what you receive. Unlike kindergarten, you can always bless someone else by passing your oranges to them. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Good Works With a Passion

                If it became illegal to be a Christian and interviews were conducted with those you see every day, would there be enough evidence to convict you? The interview questions would not ask what you say. They would ask how you live. Are you doing anything that would cause others to know you believe?
                I’m in the middle of Beth Moore’s Bible Study on James. James emphasizes a faith that produces works. Reading in Titus, Paul expresses the same thing as James. Titus 1:16 states that “they profess to know God, but in works they deny Him”. Titus 3:5 tells how we were saved by His mercy and not our works of righteousness; but then in verse 8, Paul states that “those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works”. Our works are an acknowledgement and fruit of our belief.
                What is your passion? Where can you serve? I have friends that love to work with children. I love my children, and now I love my grandchildren; but I can’t say that I love working with other people’s children. I have friends that love working with the elderly. I love my mom, but I am not comfortable in ministry with the elderly. That doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to do with children or the elderly, but it does help me narrow down my passion and where God wants me to serve. My heart is with women in general. I also love to organize and entertain. I love to study, learn, and write.
                What about you? Where is your passion, and how can you work within that passion in service to God and in good works reflecting your salvation?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Remember When

                I face some consequential decisions right now. Okay, all decisions have consequences, but I am currently needing to make more than a day to day decision. A few weeks ago my pastor said that if you want specific answers from God, you need to ask specific questions. With that in mind, I have taken my need for direction to God.
                This morning while reading in Psalm 77, I was reminded to remember the works of the Lord. He is the God who does wonders. As I reflect on this, it encourages me to see His answers to prayer in the past.
                In I Samuel 17 David stepped up to fight Goliath, the giant. When Saul questioned his youth, David told Saul how God had delivered him in the past from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear; therefore, he trusted God to deliver him from Goliath. He was able to look back on how God had provided before in order to step out and trust God’s deliverance again.
                Do you remember what God has done for you? While I don’t journal in the same way others might, I have started keeping a journal with my daily Bible study and how God speaks to me and answers my prayers. This way I can look back and remember the works of God in my life and have confidence in his continuing answers to prayer.
                When faced with life’s day to day decisions, I remember his day to day answers. When faced with life’s larger decisions, I remember his larger provisions and direction and have confidence in His answers to my prayers and direction for my path.
                Are you facing decisions? Take them to God, and have confidence in His answer by remembering what He has done before. Remember when.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Silently Wait

                Have you ever heard someone recite a list of everything wrong in their life and then say, “but I’m trusting God to take care of me”? Are they really? Psalm 62 spoke to me recently. I am to silently wait with quiet trust in God because from Him comes my deliverance in every situation. My hope, what I long for, comes from God alone.
                If I am trusting in God, I am talking to Him about my needs. Why do I need to share with everyone else? There are times we may be compelled to share with someone that can pray with us. That is great, as we are called to pray for one another. Otherwise, complaining and possibly hoping others will meet our needs is not trusting God.
                How do you think others see you? Do they see you trusting God and hear about how He has met your needs, or do they only hear you talking about God and still complaining about your problems.  Sometimes we just want to complain when we should be trusting God, silently waiting for Him.
                I want to share with others how God has met my needs and let them know I am trusting Him for everything. I want to stop complaining. And so, I will silently wait and share what He is teaching me along the way. God meets my needs. He is my deliverer.

“Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation. My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him” (Psalm 62:1,5 NKJV).

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Speechless

Sometimes I am speechless. This is not a word my husband associates with me. When I tell him I’m out of words, he tells me I must be mistaken. He doesn’t think I ever run out of words. Reading the Bible gives me inspiration for writing, but many times I find myself speechless. The magnitude and grandeur of God’s Word can’t be expressed.  I have no words, and for me that is rare.
Today I am speechless. Leave a comment, and tell me what makes you speechless?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Effective Efficiency

                Everywhere I look in business and at home, I see articles and tips on being effective or efficient. Seven steps to a more effective life. Five steps to highly efficient teams. Three ways to get it all done in less time by being more efficient. There is something to be said for efficiency, as long as we are still effective.
                When my son first went to college, he wanted to manage his time well. In his effort to be efficient, he would cram everything possible into one load of laundry. His efficiency saved time, but it wasn’t effective. The clothes didn’t get as clean, and they came out wrinkled.
                I am naturally a planner and very organized. The spices are alphabetized in the pantry, the towels need to be folded a certain way, and I am the queen of list making. To get things done, I have a schedule. Sometimes my day is planned by the half hour. When running errands, I list everything in order of stops so I’m not running back and forth across town. I like to think I am efficient and effective.
                The morning starts with time for God, but should God really be put into a time slot? Yes, I believe starting the day with prayer and time in the Word make a big difference in my day, but relationships can’t be planned. Sometimes I need to slow down and let go of the plan.  Approaching my prayer time with a list of what to pray is okay, as long as I am also open to God’s leading to pray for something that is not on my list. I also need to be open to spending a little longer reading a certain passage of scripture that God is speaking through. This might mean a longer prayer time and some rearranging of my schedule. It can be hard for a control freak like me, but I have learned that God’s plan for my day will always be better than my plan.
                I need to slow down, be still, and let God lead. I want my prayers and my life to be effective. Sometimes that means letting go of my efficiency.