Monday, October 31, 2016

Trick or Treat

We always have a lot of trick or treaters in our neighborhood. For the last 14 years we have had between 60 and 100 each year. So, of course, I stock up on the candy. 

The dilemma comes in not eating the candy I purchase. My solution? I only buy the candy I don’t like. I won’t eat what I don’t like. If I buy my favorites, I will have to just eat one “of each”. 

The trick is that I can just eat one. Not likely. The tricks in life are the same. Just one look. Only one snide remark. Only one tidbit of gossip. One small white lie. Those are all tricks which turn into sin. 

The treat comes from God’s word. “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). 

Sin seems pleasurable for a moment, but it results in death. The trick of the devil.

The treat is that there is something better for us. Life through Jesus Christ.

The difference between the trick or treat is found in God’s Word.

So today you can choose to trick or treat. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Spiritual Awakening - Are You In?

I first posted this blog in June of 2014. I believe it is still applicable and more so. We fill our spiritual jewelry box so that we can then pour into others and do what God wants us to do. If you read it in 2014, I hope you enjoy it again. If it's new to you, awesome! 

My pastor spoke that Sunday morning in 2014 about how we need a spiritual awakening in America. I agree 100%. You probably agree too, in theory. It sounds good. 

Great awakenings in the past brought renewed faith, new believers, and a sweeping return to the principles of God’s Word. But is it just a dream?

Today I hear more teaching on the end times than I do on spiritual awakening. I believe a desire for spiritual awakening has been written off because we are conditioned to believe we live in the last days. 

And everyone knows things will continue to get worse in the last days. Why fight it? It’s prophecy. It’s here. There’s nothing we can do about it.

Really?

We have been living in the last days since Christ rose again and the church as we know it was born. Christ could return today, but He could also return 100 years from now. We should live as if He is coming today but at the same time live as if He isn’t. The best way to live is to be prepared for either.

My prayer is for another great spiritual awakening in America. I believe it is possible, because God says with Him, “All things are possible.” As one of my favorite songs says, “I refuse to let someone else do what God has called me to do myself.”

I want to be part of a great spiritual awakening. I don’t know what my part will be, but I am seeking God’s will for my part whether seemingly small or great. I am seeking it day by day as I step out into my city, my county, my state, and my country.

When that great spiritual awakening comes to America, will you be able to say you were part of it? I pray we both will.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Jewelry - Day #29

Filling our spiritual jewelry box is not just reading the Bible or memorizing scripture. It’s opening our heart to what God has to say through His word. 

Whatever your circumstance. Whatever you need. Faith, Strength, Love, Peace, Hope. It’s all there in His word and available to each of us. But we can’t place God’s word  in our hearts if we aren’t in His word.

“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). 

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward . . . rather let it be the hidden person of the heart” (1 Peter 3:3-4). 

What’s in your jewelry box?

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Tablet of Your Heart - Day #28


Do you have a tablet? When I started first grade, I had a red Big Chief tablet with wide spaced lines to make it easier to form letters correctly. I used a very thick pencil to write on this tablet. Today I have a tablet with a keyboard. Or I can just swipe my finger across the screen. 

My tablet has more than lines. It has apps. I can place an app on my tablet for anything from maps to music to books to games to restaurant menus. If you can think of it, somebody has probably created or is now working on an app for it. 

In the Old Testament, the 10 commandments were written on a tablet of precious stone that many scholars believe to have been sapphire. God wrote the words with His finger. I guess tablets of stone are to God what electronic tablets are to us today. God used the strength of a precious stone of sapphire to record His words. 

Today God writes on the tablet of our hearts. Placing His words on the tablet of our heart makes us strong like the stone of sapphire. 

“You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all mean; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). 

Download God’s apps into your spiritual jewelry box, and let God write on the tablet of your heart. 

“Keep my words, and treasure my commands within you. Bind them on your fingers; Write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 7:1,3).

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Chaotic Peace

It’s day #27 of 31 days to fill your spiritual jewelry box, and we can’t let the month go by without adding some peace.

What do you think when you hear the word peace? A quiet place, maybe a slow moving stream with birds singing in the trees above, or maybe complete solitude? Does it mean no war? Is it the absence of trouble or fear? Do you only experience real peace when you sleep?

What peaceful moments can you remember? I remember rocking my children and watching them sleep in my arms. There is nothing so peaceful as a sleeping baby without a care in the world.

There are other types of peaceful moments. When my grandson was four, we went to his T-ball games. Parents were already yelling at their children to hit the ball, chase the ball, and throw the ball. But in the midst of all the commotion, he was totally peaceful in the outfield playing in the dirt.

There is another kind of peace. It’s the peace in the midst of true chaos. The doctor has given a terrifying diagnosis, a love one has unexpectedly died, or your 17 year old daughter calls to say she is pregnant. Peace. Rolling emotions, scattered thoughts, fear, but deep inside, an inner peace. Where does this peace come from?

Peace comes from taking our eyes off of the chaos and focusing on God. “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).

Peace is a fruit of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . .” (Galatians 5:22)

Peace from God is beyond our understanding. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Fill your spiritual jewelry box with peace. Jesus says, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Abide in Him. Live in His word and by His words. 

Peace 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Lord is My ???

In Psalm 23:1, David said, “The Lord is my shepherd.” He didn’t say the Lord is my tentmaker or the Lord is my builder. He had firsthand experience in being a shepherd. He knew what a shepherd did and how a shepherd cared for His sheep. 

Most of us have been taught about a shepherd and his sheep in order to truly understand the references to God as our shepherd.  But what if David weren’t a shepherd? What other analogy might he have used? 

I know what my role is at work and where my strengths are in everyday life. The Lord is not only my shepherd (because I have learned what that means); He is also my manager, my planner, my organizer, my project manager, and my life controller. These are areas that I know firsthand. 

Here is one way this speaks to me. It's Psalm 23 from my life.

The Lord controls my life, I shall not worry.
He makes me sleep peacefully at night.
He leads me beside fulfillment. He restores my soul.
He leads me down paths He has prepared, because He knows best.
Even though I walk through the valley of the unknown,
I will not fear, for You are with me.
Your omniscient GPS and Your compass comfort me.
You prepare a plan before me in the presence of the chaos around me.
You anoint me with love, and my heart overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

I challenge you to write this for yourself. Is God your financial planner, your caregiver, your home manager, your teacher, your assistant, your dispatcher, or your guide? 

Sometimes the hardest area to surrender to God is the area you know best. What is your career, or what are your strengths? Let God be those things to you, just as God was a shepherd to David. 

Leave a comment, and let me know what God is to you. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

You Are What You Wear

You’ve heard it said that you are what you eat. I believe you are what you wear. Society places stereotypes on what kinds of people wear certain styles of clothing. Maybe we shouldn’t be judged for taste in fashion, but it happens. People see you through the eyes of your fashion or your lack of it.

I’m not really talking about physical fashion. We are what we wear on the outside as far as it projects from the inside. It doesn’t really matter what clothing we wear on the outside if we have filled our spiritual jewelry box first. Filling this box is all about having something available to wear. Do you wear your pearls of prayer or your diamonds of faith? Do you wear rubies of love and emeralds of hope?

This is the spiritual jewelry that God intends for us to wear. Many things that are good end up replacing what is best. When friends, jobs, family, houses, and cars become our treasures, they make it hard for us to find the real jewels. These represent the things we accessorize our life with other than the precious stones from scripture. 

Just as diamonds are dug from the dirt, many times it is in the dirty circumstances of our life that we turn to God and His Word and find gems. Place these gemstones in your jewelry box, but be careful not to dump the dirt in with the diamonds.

The next time someone cuts you off on the highway or is rude to you in line at the store, wave your spiritual charm bracelet at them exercising love, patience, and self-control. When you have a mountain to climb, pull out your diamonds of faith. When someone is hard to love, wear your rubies of love. All of these are available for your spiritual jewelry box if you seek them from God’s Word. And remember to wear your prayer pearls every day. 

You are what you wear. What’s in your spiritual jewelry box?  

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings for evil things” (Matthew 12:35).

Monday, October 24, 2016

For Such a Time as This

In many ways we, as Christians, have become indistinguishable from the world. We tolerate sin. There is a difference between love and tolerance. My pastor is sharing a series of messages from Esther right now. And I have been convicted and moved. 

We all love the story of Esther and the verse “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Several verses before this there was great mourning, and the people were fasting, weeping, and wailing. There is another place in the Bible with a similar reference.

Joel 2:12-14
“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God. For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and retreat, and leave a blessing behind Him?” 

It’s a message to God’s people. It begins with us.
  • Turn to the Lord your God
  • With fasting, weeping, and mourning
  • For such a time as this
  • Who knows if He will relent and leave a blessing

I’m reminded of the words to a song that say, “Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours.” Are our hearts broken?

Such a time as this. Today, not tomorrow. Now!

I am a child of the King. I love you, but I will no longer sit idly and ignore sin. I will stand. 

Will you stand with me? 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Flimsy Excuse

This weekend I attended a writer’s workshop. During one of the sessions, we were given a writing prompt and told to write for 5 minutes. I initially thought I had nothing to say. The prompt was “Well, that excuse sure sounds flimsy”. Here is what poured out. 

That excuse sounds flimsy. How many times have I thought this? 
  • My teenager didn’t mow the lawn because he thought dad already did.
  • An employee is late to work because their dog was sick.
  • It was raining.
  • I got lost.
  • There was a train.
  • I was too busy.
  • And probably the worst one, “I forgot”. To come to work? Really?

How many times has God looked at me and thought, “Well, that excuse sure sounds flimsy.” Those times when I gave a similar excuse for not taking time with Him and His word. 

Sorry, God. I couldn’t spend time with you this morning because my alarm clock didn’t go off. Sorry, I was extra tired this morning and hit snooze too many times. Sorry, I forgot about this last minute project at work. I was spending quality time with my husband watching TV. I’ve just been so busy. The dishwasher called. Those new emails might be an emergency. 

In reality, maybe sometimes I am just lazy or selfish. My excuses are lies. They don’t work. And God knows the truth. 

Employees might get fired, children might get disciplined, but ignoring our time with God causes a greater consequence. It empties our spiritual jewelry box. 

We think we see through other’s excuses, so why do we think God won’t see through ours. Why not just say, “I’m truly sorry. Please forgive me. Can I start again?” 

I hope you spend some time with Him today. It’s the most important thing you can do today and every day. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Born to Hope

Actually we aren’t really born to hope. The good news is we are born again to hope. 

Born again. What’s up with that? That was the question Nicodemus asked Jesus. Jesus told him that what is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. A physical birth, and a spiritual birth. If you are reading this, you have had a physical birth. But, have you had a spiritual birth? 

Why? 

We are born again to a living hope. It’s a hope that is alive through the resurrection of Jesus. It’s a hope to an inheritance that won’t perish, is undefiled, and is unfading, reserved for us in heaven. You can’t make this stuff up. It’s written in 1 Peter 1:3-5. 

Romans 15:13 is one of my favorite verses. It tells me.  
  • God is the God of hope.
  • He fills us with all joy and peace.
  • In believing we are filled.
  • We are filled and believe, so that we can abound in hope.
  • The Holy Spirit is the power by which we abound in hope.
My prayer is for God to fill my spiritual jewelry box with hope. 

Scripture tells us Jesus Christ is our hope. It tells us God is our hope. If you don’t believe in scripture, I guess you have no hope. But there IS hope for you. Your hope comes in your spiritual birth. 

Jesus went on to tell Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16  -- This is your second birth. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I'm Too Tired

Sometimes life is confusing. Two equally intelligent scholars can give two equally intelligent yet opposing views. I’m tired of trying to figure it out. 

Two educated adults can both sound like silly children. Who can I trust? Who is telling the truth? 

Work is challenging, and I have a list of things to do. Then I receive 15 more emails that need answers NOW, but my boss has confidence in me. I wish I did. 

I’m tired. I feel lost. I feel confused, downcast, and almost hopeless. When no one else understands and there is nowhere to turn, what then? 

So you figure here is where I tell you to fill your spiritual jewelry box. You’ve heard that enough, but you don’t feel up to the time it would take to even start. You’re too tired. 

So let me challenge you to find comfort. Make a list. Use the one below. Start slow. Cross off one thing at a time. 

Do the first five things today. Then take 22 days to complete Psalm 119. Do the next five things the next day. In 24 days, email me. 

  • Praise God for who He is. It really doesn’t take much effort.
  • Thank God for something. You can think of something. If you can’t, email me.
  • Acknowledge that you are tired. That was easy.
  • Release your burden to Him. You’re too tired to carry it anyway.
  • Listen. Just listen even if you don’t hear anything at first. Keep listening in the quiet.
  • Open your Bible to Psalm 119. It’s near the middle, so it’s easy to find. For the next 22 days, simply read 8 verses from this chapter.
  • Listen.
  • Release.
  • Acknowledge.
  • Thank God.
  • Praise God.

Exchange your weakness for His strength. I want to hear your story.

“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Diamonds – A Girl’s Best Friend?

So what makes diamonds a girl’s best friend? According to the song, diamonds are reliable. They don’t grow cold or lose their shape or lose their charm. When others disappoint, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. 

If the guy walks out on you, keep the diamond. Diamonds don’t cheat, they don’t lie, they don’t forget, and they don’t leave. They add bling to your life. They always sparkle and are never dull or boring. Diamonds light up a room.  Diamonds are a girl's best friend. Or are they?  

We use the word friendship loosely. We have business friends, work friends, church friends, neighbor friends, service provider friends, friends of friends, and conference friends. It’s hard to know what someone actually means when they refer to a friend. 

How many friends do you have? Facebook says I currently have 536. I like Facebook. This social media venue has made it possible for me to reconnect with friends I lost touch with over the years. 

I found a friend from elementary school that I hadn't spoken to in many years. She was a good childhood friend that had a significant impact on my life. I found a friend from 6th grade that now lives in New Zealand. I’ve been able to reacquaint myself with old friends and keep up with their lives through postings and pictures. 

My church youth group was unusually close and has been able to reconnect and keep up with each other and our families through Facebook. We have planned get-togethers, attended funerals, and provided prayer support for each other due to this connection. I have renewed friendships and been able to share in others' experiences that have both strengthened my faith and rejuvenated my prayer life. 

I have also developed accountability relationships and prayer partners with friends I have met at writing or speaking conferences. This wouldn’t be possible, at least not as easily, if it weren’t for today’s technology. 

These are all friends but not necessarily best friends. 

Merriam-Webster has a dictionary for English language learners that defines a friend as a person you like or enjoy being with. So it stands to reason that your best friend would be the one that you like best or enjoy being with best. 

An urban dictionary defines a best friend as the first person you think of when making plans. 

In John 15 Jesus talks about His friends and why they were His friends. 

This weekend I’m having a slumber party with my best friend. We’re going to hang out, watch a movie, play games, stay up late, take selfies, maybe make a craft, and leave our mark on someone else in some way (in high school this meant wrapping houses, but I don’t think we’ll go there). 

You may know my best friend. We sang about this friend as children. You probably know, but if you don’t, my best friend is Jesus. He can be your best friend too. 

I can’t wait to share my slumber party moments with you next week. Maybe you can have one too. 

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” – John 15:12-14 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Do You Measure Up?

What has God saved you from? What if you were saved before you needed saving? 

Don’t misunderstand. We are all sinners and need a Savior. But do you ever feel like if you are a Christian, you can’t let anyone know you might still make mistakes? Especially, big ones? 

I was “saved” at age 6. I asked Christ into my life to be my Lord and Savior. So how is it that once I grew up I made some bad choices? How is it that there were times I did things my way? Why haven’t I always listened to God’s voice and followed His direction? Even though I was saved, there have been times I needed saving. 

If you are a Christian and have made mistakes, you’re not alone. We all have problems in our lives and have all made poor decisions. I used to look at other people’s lives and think I was the only one. But I’m not, and you aren’t either. We don’t need to compare ourselves to others. We don’t have to measure up, because none of us would. 

The only measure that counts is God’s measure. Jesus Christ lived the perfect life and paid the price for our poor choices, our sins. Even after we have been saved, we can’t measure up on our own. We must still rely on Him.

1 John 1:9 is written to Christians. It tells us to confess our sins, and He will forgive us. Each day is a new day. We can begin again. Where are you in your walk with Christ? It’s never too late to get back on the path of righteousness. Take His hand, and step out in faith. Measure up by walking with Him. 

Let me know how I can pray for you.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Love Languages

The book by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages, has sold more than 8 million copies. People want to know how to communicate love to each other and to understand how they best receive love from others. 

According to Chapman, the five love languages are:
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of service
  • Physical touch

We each have one and tend to give from the one we have. But it doesn’t matter what your love language is, God knows which one is yours. He communicates in all love languages and understands how to receive your love as well. 

Words of affirmation – He has given us His word.

God speaks encouragement to us through His written word. If we need affirmation, we can look to His word to know how much we are loved and who we are in Christ. The Holy Spirit also speaks to us in different ways depending on what we need. You can read the same passage of scripture at different times and receive a different encouragement based on your circumstances. The words are the same, but the application might be different. 

Quality Time – He is there whenever you are. 

God gives you his undivided attention. You can be in a room with 1,000 other people praying, and God hears you individually. Take a walk with God, talk to Him. Make a date with God. Take time for Him every day. He is there just waiting for you. 

Receiving Gifts – He gave the greatest gift. 

God gave His Son Jesus Christ to pay the price for our sin. There is no greater gift. Yet He continues to give us more. We each have spiritual gifts, and as we abide in His word, we receive the gift of the fruit of the Spirit. 

Acts of Service – He meets your needs daily. 

God knows what we need before we ask. He does for us like no other. We need only to open our eyes to what He has placed around us. 

Physical Touch – He has touched my life. 

Scripture is full of those He touched physically. When I am in need of a hug, I can feel His presence and His arms around me.  He reaches out and holds my hand. He heals my broken heart. 

Do you know which love language is yours? No matter which, God has them all and loves us through them all. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Are You Content or Complacent?

Are you content? Yes or no? 

Before you answer, realize that both answers are right and wrong. It all depends on the definition of contentment. 

The apostle Paul wrote, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11) and also “Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6). 

Does this mean if we are content, we are happy with where we are and never strive for more? Or does it mean we are thankful? It’s actually a perfect condition where we have all sufficiency independent of external circumstances. I think of it kind of like joy. The joy of the Lord is not dependent on happiness. 

Many times in our spiritual lives we look at scriptures such as these and claim to be content, but that is just a crutch for complacency. We get by with our Sunday spiritual nourishment.  We only pray when we have an immediate need. A daily devotional book replaces personal time in God’s Word. We read our Bible and pray out of routine habit without thought. Are we growing spiritually?  Are we challenging ourselves? 

Paul also wrote, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). 

Don’t allow yourself to become comfortable and satisfied with cursory routines. Press toward the goals God has for you. 

Be content, but don’t become complacent. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Is it Hopeless?

In Jeremiah 18:11, God tells Jeremiah, “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” 

I don’t know about you, but I think I would straighten up. 

In verse 12, the people respond by saying, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.”  

My first thought was, “how could they blatantly decide to reject God and follow their own ways? They were intentionally walking away from God.” As I read further and also read other passages, I realized this is us. 

They felt it was hopeless. How many times do we feel like a situation is hopeless? Things are so bad that not even God can fix them. And even if He can, why would He? We must take matters into our hands and figure it out and solve the problem ourselves. After all, it is hopeless unless we do it ourselves and follow our own hearts. 

We aren’t that different today than the disobedient Israelites in the Old Testament. 

This could be our personal life or it could be a burden for our country. Things are never hopeless. Sometimes God has something for us to do, and other times He is just waiting for us to get out of the way and let Him handle it. 

Remember to do your part. In our upcoming election, I will vote. I will not vote for a spiritual leader, since there isn't one running. But I will vote for the one that I believe will provide opportunity to lead our country to better values. And if I cannot see that in either one, I will look at their running mates and cast my vote for the one I can best support there. But I will vote. 

Things are not hopeless. God still sees. God still hears. God still answers prayer. And God still expects us to do what He has called us to do individually. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:10. 

Do your part, and do what He has called you to do. And then let God do the rest. 

In Acts 3 Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” They did their part and God did His part. 

Back in Jeremiah, God told them their part was to “return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” But they chose to do it their way alone. 

Do you have a “hopeless” situation? Ask God what your part is, take that step of faith, and then let God handle it from there. Sometimes He is just waiting for us to get out of the way. 

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope” Psalm 130:5. 

As long as we have the Word of God, we have hope. Place hope in your spiritual jewelry box. 

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work” 2 Thess. 2:16. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Is It Empty?

Do you fear empty containers?

When the toilet paper is almost (but not quite) gone, my husband throws away the roll and starts a new one. Our bathroom trash can is full of toilet paper rolls with several sheets of paper still on them. I could unroll what’s left and make a new roll.

When jars of peanut butter or hot sauce or bottles of shampoo or anything else are almost empty, my husband leaves them on the shelf and opens a new one. Before long we could have 5 jars of peanut butter lining the shelf with a tablespoon or two in each.

I think perhaps my husband has a fear of empty containers.

He also doesn’t unload the dishwasher. I’m sure this has nothing to do with my fussing over not being able to find anything the times he tries.

And he also has a need to fill the car with gas when it gets below half a tank.

But perhaps my husband sets a good example. There is one container that we should never let become empty.

Our spiritual jewelry box.

We need to fill the jewelry box in our heart with treasures from scripture on a daily basis. As we walk through each day, we can pull out what we need for every encounter on our path. If we aren’t filling it daily, we might find it empty just when we need it most.

When we are feeling spiritually full, the temptation is to slack off. Don’t do it. Don’t slack off. It’s better to overflow spiritually onto those around us than come up empty in a time of crisis.

So do you have a fear of empty containers? Hopefully your spiritual jewelry box never runs dry.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Drive Thru Experience - God Give me Strength

I am sitting in the drive thru line. The car in front of me pulls up, but not quite far enough for my window to reach the speaker. The attendant inside asks, “May I take your order?” But they can’t hear because I’m too far away. So I yell my order. Now everyone within two blocks distance knows what I’m having for lunch. Everyone in the parking lot and surrounding cars knows my order except for the person trying to take my order. 

Why can’t the car in front of me just pull up a little more? Don’t they see me behind them? For that matter, don’t they hear me yelling? Does anyone else get annoyed by this? It’s like every car in the drive through lane leaves a full car’s length between them. Just pull up already. 

The same thing happens at a red light where I’m left blocking an intersection. If the cars in front of me would just pull up six inches each, I would no longer be blocking the person that is staring at me from the cross street waiting for me to get out of their way. Just pull up already. 

You might be thinking I lack patience, but the real issue is control. I know how far each car should pull up and how they should merge and how they should park. My way is best. If you don’t believe me, ask my husband. 

So I’m driving through my Bible study and God says, “Stop”. This is one area I relinquish control. I stop. I’m in the middle of a Bible study about my weakness and God’s strength, and He keeps bringing me back to control. Mine, not His. However, it should be His, not mine. 

Wait a minute. I was hoping to learn how to have God’s strength in place of my weakness. So I stop and listen. Perhaps control is my weakness. Along with the many benefits being in control can have, God says it is also my weakness. 

I love to plan and organize and problem solve. Those things are great--unless I plan and organize and problem solve God right out of the picture. He wants to be my planner, my organizer, and my problem solver. 

What annoys you? Is it the drive through line, the traffic circle merge, the empty coffee pot on a hot burner, or the toilet paper rolled the wrong way? What can God teach you through your day to day routines? 

Give up control, but be sure you give it to God.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

There is Strength in the Trust

Our back yard is pretty sparse as far as landscaping goes. We have two fig trees that have grown over the years but not much else. Earlier this year my husband planted a small vegetable garden. About two weeks later we had torrential rains. The ground couldn’t dry out before another round of storms would come in bringing heavy downpours of rain, gusting winds, and threats of hail. 

We were concerned about the small plants in the garden. Would they be beaten down by the hail? Would the winds and rain uproot or drown them? But never once did we worry about the fig trees. They are strong and deeply rooted in the ground. The gusty winds made the branches bend back and forth, and they lost a few leaves. But they are strong. We weren’t worried. 

This reminded me of how we survive the storms of life. Are we more likely to be beaten down, uprooted, or drowned? 

Jesus gave an example of two types of homes during a storm. One was built on a rock foundation and stood firm when the storms came. The other was built on the sand and was washed away. The contrast given represents the difference in our lives when we are obedient to His words, and it all starts with knowing His words. 

I love the imagery in Psalm 1:3 of the man who delights in and meditates on God’s word. The psalmist says that man will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water bringing forth fruit in its season.  

The same imagery is repeated in Jeremiah 17:7-8 after a contrast from vs 5-6. 

Thus says the Lord: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust IS the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." 

You’ve probably had to make decisions before where you listed the pros and cons of a choice. You contrast the good and bad. Let’s do that here. 

Trust in man results in – a shrub in the desert – will not see good – inhabit wilderness
Trust in the Lord results in – a tree by the river – will not be anxious – yield fruit 

The choice of strength is ours. Trust in man or trust in God.