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Sweet Wisdom

I called home from the office knowing that in a little while I would be heading out to the grocery store. I wanted to double-check with the family to see if there was anything they needed to add to my list.  While chatting with my youngest son, I asked, “Is there anything you need?”  To which he enthusiasticly replied,”Oreos!” Now what 13-year-old really needs Oreo cookies? Apparently, mine does! He was craving a sweet bite. Can’t say that I blame him to much because often enough I crave a sweet bite too.  We have to face cravings in life every day. We often crave things that are not good for us. Now I know that I shouldn’t have gone there should I?  🙂  Here you were hoping to be uplifted today then I started messing with your “Oreos”.  My own healthy eating plan has had its ups and downs so I am speaking today merely as a student of this, not the master. God gave me a nugget of truth today so I thought I would pass it along. God does have a “Sweet bite” He wants us to crave.  Are you ready?

In my devotions, Proverbs 24:13-14 grabbed my attention. It reads,”My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.” It never ceases to amaze me how God speaks to me through his Word. It not because I have a special gift, I’m just His child.  If you are a son or daughter of the King then you have the same access to Him. God has a special portion available for you today. Dive in His Word, and find out what  He wants to say to you. In the verses above, God wants us to crave wisdom. He wants us to go after it as someone goes after something sweet. When the craving hits, you just have got to have it. Why don’t you go for it? Get in God’s Word, and search it out. Proverbs 3:15 speaks of wisdom in this way, “She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared to her.” The desires and cravings we face are not to be compared to wisdom. Wisdom is a precious commodity. We need it!

Not only do we need wisdom, but it is also good for us. Often the things that I crave do not have good nutritional value. When faced with temptations, do verses come to my mind that help me? When I need comfort and direction in trials, does the Holy Spirit guide me to biblical truth? Wisdom is the key. The more wisdom I have the better it is for me when I am faced with the daily tribulations. The more I hide God’s Word in my heart, the more wisdom I have access to.

The Last sweet morsel of Proverbs 24:14 to me is, “thy expectation shall not be cut off.” I will never be disappointed in going after wisdom. The more I dig deeper into God’s Word, the more wisdom I will receive. This should be a daily challenge for me. Every day I should strive to learn more about God. There is great reward in gathering sweet wisdom.

My prayer is to crave more of Him than anything else!

When you need a Word…

As a child, my parents, Sunday school teachers, and pastors have encouraged me to pursue Scripture memorization.  One of the highlights of my young years was going to a Bible Club every Wednesday in the next neighborhood over from ours. We were taught stories from God’s Word, and lessons on how to follow Jesus. We were taught the plan of Salvation through the verses of the Romans Road (Romans 3:10; 3:23; 5:8; 5:12; 9:10-13).  Scripture Memory was emphasized every week. We were sent home with a cookie and a Scripture verse on a piece of paper to learn for the next week. One of the first verses I learned was Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against God.”  I also learned Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” They even offered a complete camp scholarship if you learned 300 verses of Scripture. I was encouraged to go for it. I am so glad I had people in my life to encourage me in the study and memorization of God’s Word.

It is because of these early experiences that I am blessed today. There have been times in my life when I needed a word from the Lord. The things we face in this life can catch us off guard and circumstances can overwhelm  us to the breaking point. Have you ever been in a situation where you needed a word from the Lord and your Bible was either in the car or back at home? This is where the Lord began to bring verses of Scripture to my mind when I needed them most. Sometimes it was just a phrase or two of a verse, but a phrase is often sufficient when in tribulation.  I was reminded of this again when I was sitting at my desk quite overwhelmed with a problem, and I found myself really scared. I prayed to the Lord for help, and in an instant the Scripture came, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” Over and over on that day, when thoughts of fear came, the phrase remained. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” How thankful I am that He is willing to speak to me where ever I am with words of comfort from His Holy Word.

The Word of God is more than just a book. It is a living testament of a Holy God reaching down to man. The promises are endless. The words are true. God has given to us a guide on how to live this life. We, as a follower of Christ, need to follow his teaching wholeheartedly.  Pehaps you would like to  know more of the word of God. Take one or two verses per week and commit them to memory. You may think that one or two verses a week is not much, but as time goes by you will know more and more the heart of God, and when you least expect it, He will bring to mind a verse that will give you what you need for that moment.  You can ask the Lord to guide you and He will. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know many verses from memory, you can start today. I am glad that God is willing to take us right where we are and move us forward. He does that just because He can, just because He is God.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Open your eyes, Cat!

As I have already mentioned in a previous post, My cat, Marshmallow, had 6 kittens. You can call her an overachiever if you wish. She has not had a litter under 5 kittens to date.  I usually go out and visit with them when I get home from work in the afternoons. A couple of days ago, I discovered every one of them had their eyes open. This was an exciting time. Now they can look at me when I look at them. 

I also get excited when God shows me something from His word that I had not seen before. A few years ago, I heard for the first time a song entitled, “Open My Eyes, Lord”.

“Open my eyes, Lord. I want to see Jesus to reach out and touch Him and say that I love him. Open our ears, Lord and help us to listen. Open our eyes, Lord. We want to see Jesus.”

Through my personal walk with the Lord, I want to see Him.  In  Ephesians 5:15-16 we read, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time because the days are evil.”  “Circumspectly” is synonym for “carefully”.  We need to walk carefully with our eyes open to what the Lord has for us. In “Avoid ‘Cat’astrophe” I illustrated a cat walking on a board fence between two yards with dogs in each. The cat must walk “circumspectly” with her eyes open to the danger that surrounds her.  How often are our eyes open to the danger that surrounds us every day? The danger is real. We must carefully walk with wisdom and protect our families from the dangers of this world. We need to protect our testimonies as well. 

Those that oppose Christ would like nothing better than for the Christians to go from day to day with their eyes closed to what is going on in the world. We should not hunker down in our holy bunkers waiting for Christ to come back and take us away from it all.  The Bible tell us to “redeem the time.”  We must make full use of the time we have before the Lord  returns. Our calling as Christians is to win the world for Christ.  God has given us the opportunity to be a light shining in the darkness. It is time to take advantage of the moments of this life to reach out a helping hand to those who are hurting and in need, and man’s greatest need is the need of a Savior.  Are we spending our time wisely as the Scripture says to?

When we strive to go through this life with open eyes not only will we see Jesus, but also we will recognize more opportunities that He places in front of us.  Every day He brings people into our lives that need ministering to. You don’t have to be a pastor to minister. It is the responsibility of all Christians.  When we walk with open eyes and with wisdom, we can avoid the snares the enemy hopes to entangle us with. Jesus longs for us to follow Him closely. One of the first things my husband told me when we were walking in the woods was to step where he stepped. He told me this so I would be safe and out of harms way.  I imagine Jesus wants me to follow Him that way too.  By stepping where he steps my path ahead will  be cleared of danger and free from harm.

“Open our eyes, Lord we want to see Jesus”… and others too.

*I would like to highlight a devotion that follows Ephesians 5:8 which we discussed in my last post.  SelahV, at SBC Impact, has written an excellent post entitled “Ten Watts Short Of A Light Bulb”.

Avoid “Cat”astrophe–Part 2

I went on the porch last night to visit my cats. My cat, Marshmallow, had kittens about 2 weeks ago, and I wanted to check in on them. One of my cats, Tony, came running up to say, “Hi.”  Without hesitation I scooped him up. It was then I realized he had gotten into something that smelled terrible. I dropped him like a hot potato and went back inside to wash my hands. Tony was quite dejected and wondering why I dropped him so fast. Apparently, he did not notice his unsightly odor.

In continuing with my last post, I want to revisit the thought of our personal walk with the Lord.   I know in my own life so often I fail to walk as I should.  I struggle with sin and fail. I am stained by my sin and I am surrounded by it’s terrible odor.   In the book of Jeremiah, the Bible says that even our righteousness are as filthy rags. Can you imagine how bad our sins smell in the nostrils of  a Holy, Righteous God?  This makes it so important to keep a short sin account.  What I mean is we need to confess our sins every day. A friend of mine met a wonderful missionary by the name of Miss Bertha.  This missionary encouraged my friend to make a sin list by writing down all of her unconfessed sin in a notebook and praying over each one. (This was to be done in private.)   My friend testified how this dramatically changed her heart before the Lord.  As she began praying the Lord continued to show her the sins hidden in her heart.  She began to see her sin the way God saw her sin. After confessing her sin list, she had been instructed to burn it because once we confess our sins to God and ask forgiveness, He throws it in the sea of forgetfulness.  As I begin to ponder this method, I see the truth of what it can do in the life of a christian.  David, in the Psalms, proclaimed, “I acknowledge my transgression and my sin is ever before me.”  He put it in front of him and looked on it the way that God looked on it.  We often try to justify or lightheartedly look on our sin.

In Ephesians 5:1-2 we read, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;  And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us , and hath given himself for us and offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.”  In the  verses that follow verse 2, Paul lists several sins to avoid. These are sins that can hinder our walk with the Lord. Then in verse 8, he declares, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”  Before when I read this verse, I put an “in” in front of light in my mind (Example: Walk in light), but that is not what the verse says. The verse says we “are” light.  We are the light called to shine in the world.

Imagine a lantern on the front porch with a candle inside. Because it is outside it will get dusty from the wind and dirt from the road. The glass over time becomes dingy and dirty. Before long the light will not be as visible in the darkness. We need to take it down, grab a cloth and clean it so it will be useful to all who step on to the porch. It would be so much easier to clean if we cleaned it every evening rather than wait until the dirt and grime is so thick we cannot see into it.  The darkness of sin dims the light in our life.  We need to remove it from our life by confession. (1 John 1:9)  When we confess our sin, Christ does the cleansing.  He washes from us the stain and stench of sins, but he does not stop there. 1 John says he will “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

That is just why my cat, Tony, needed me. He needed me to wash him thoroughly from the uncleanness and stench that was all over him.  He couldn’t do it himself. In fact, He came running up to the one who could do it.  In the same way, we need to run to our heavenly Father for thorough cleansing every day. Do I perform this as I should every day? No. But I am trying to do this.  I want to be clean before God, and I am watching more closely and trying to be more conscious of what I do and say. When I do sin, I know who to run to for cleansing.  When God looks at me and takes a breath, I want Him to inhale a sweet smelling savour not a foul stench.

I want to be sweet smelling to God. I want to be like Jesus. (Ephesians 5:2)

Rock Hunting

Three friends decided to go fishing. They got all their gear together and piled into the fishing boat.  The man who owned the boat trolled out to a particular spot and dropped the anchor. One of the three questioned the spot, but decided to go along when the second man agreed with the owner of the boat that  it was a fine spot.  Not too long into their fishing, the owner of the boat told the others that he forgot the special hooks he brought for the day in the truck. He stepped out of the boat and trotted across the lake to the truck as the third man looked at the second man in shock. The second man suddenly remembered that he forgot his snack in the back seat of the truck.  So he stepped out of the boat and trotted across the lake to the truck.  The  third man could not believe his eyes.  Both of these men seemingly walked across the water.  “Well, if they can do it I can too!” he exclaimed. He stepped out of the boat and went straight to the bottom of the lake.  The first looked at the second and said, “I guess we should have told him where the rocks were!”

How different this man’s trip to the shore could have been if someone had told him which rock to balance on?  Do you ever feel that someone forgot to show you where the rocks were hiding? 

When Gordon and I first began our ministry, I really wanted someone to clue me in on what to do.  I read books and prayed, but for the most part I was clueless. How I longed for someone to talk to who had been where I was and could offer some insight to the ton of new responsibilities I was undertaking.  A majority of the things I learned were by trial and a lot of error.  So in essence I learned that the first rock I need to balance on was the rock of pleasing God.

As people pleaser, I often handled things on how others viewed my actions and this included my family and church members. (I think I have alluded to this briefly in another post.)  I wanted every one to be happy.  Now I know that in the “real world” this was not possible, but I figured that certainly if I focused and tried hard enough it was indeed possible.  I ended up putting so much pressure on myself to succeed that instead I failed over and over again. The Lord showed  me that where people are involved everyone is not going to be happy all the time. We are fallible and so far from perfect. We cannot expect perfect results when we have imperfect people living in an imperfect world.  What I needed to do was to focus on pleasing him, and to find a balance in my life that was livable.

I came across a verse that I have probably read several times, yet I really saw it today. In Galatians 1:10, “For do I now persuade men, or God?  or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”  Paul is speaking in the context of bringing another Gospel to the church of Galatia. He says that he would not do that, and if any one else does to let him be accursed. His overwhelming focus here is his drive of pleasing God rather than pleasing men.  This surely applies in my own life as well.  I call myself the servant of Christ.  I strive to do his will.  Do I have the evidence of pleasing God in my life to back up this claim?

Finding balance in life is one of the hardest things I have ever tried to do.  It is so easy to slide from one extreme to another like a pendulum.  It is so easy to try not to please others when so often they go out of their way to be critical and hurtful.  We are human and self preservation kicks in many times.  Yet, I would rather have others upset with me than God to be upset with me.  I saw a quote on Ron Jackson’s blog the other day that goes along with this theme.  It read, “I have learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I need to live my life in such a way that no one will believe it.”  Even then, sometimes people will believe the worst.  Should that stop us from doing right? No.  Should it drive us forward to please God more? Indeed, yes!!!

The balance I seek may take a long time, but I will not give up.  May we keep searching till we make it to Heaven’s shore.

Grab the Broom 2

 Spiders and I have an understanding in our household. We do not co-exist. I have shouted out a warning in my home to all spiders. If you show your creepy, crawly little bodies, I am going to grab my broom, shoe, newspaper, or anything handy and whack the fire out of you. 

Hopefully we have all grabbed our brooms and have acknowledged “the spider”.  We  are now ready to continue the “Spring Cleaning” process of our hearts.

Step one was to acknowledge our sin. We are to look at it from God’s perspective, his point of view. We have identified the sin that it is against God. Now we need to confess it and forsake it as it says to do in  1 John 1:9.  Now here is the point where we might have the tendency to push the spider toward the front door rather then whack it over the head with our broom.  What I mean by this is we throw out a general prayer, “Lord, forgive me of all my sins.” Throughout the Bible, God is specific in naming sin. He tells us what it is, and not to do it. I think he wants us to be specific with Him as well. Why else would He go to all the trouble to name all of the sins he wants us to avoid?

Let me clarify, we do not need to go around aloud telling everyone we meet about each sin we have ever committed. Instead for our own benefit, We need to be specific with naming our sin to God.  This is not so He will know which sin we are talking about. He knows all things. Being specific is part of the acknowledging process.

It also causes us to be humble before God.  Pride can get in the way of our being specific with our sin.  We start to look at it saying, “This sin is really not as bad as I thought”, or “There are a lot more sins that are worse than this one.” In 2 Corinthians 10:12, we read, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” We must squash pride right away by telling God exactly what sin we have committed and ask for forgiveness.

God is always ready to forgive anyone who comes humbly to Him and follows his steps of cleansing.  He is faithful to forgive. We do not need to push our sin around or try to cover it up.

We need to grab the Broom and whack it on the head!

Grab The Broom

With the best of intentions a gentlemen in a week of revival services came to the alter. The first night he prayed out loud, “Lord, remove the cobwebs of sin in my life.” On the next night, he prayed again out loud, “Lord, remove the cobwebs of sin in my life.” On the third and fourth night, he prayed the same prayer. On the fifth night after his prayer, the pastor stood up and exclaimed, “Lord, forget the cobwebs! Grab a broom and kill the spider!”

When we begin the “spring cleaning” and “decluttering” process in our heart and life, we may come across unconfessed sin that we have failed to confess and forsake.   We often treat the sin in our life the same way this gentleman did? We try to find a way to treat the symptoms of our sin rather than to attack the sin itself.

We find numerous Scriptures in the Bible calling on us to “be holy as he is holy”. I know that I can not do this apart from Christ it is only through Him that I can accomplish anything, yet he calls me to be clean before him. This is something I can do. When I sin, he has shown me in his Word the steps I must take to be clean. 

The first step is to acknowledge the sin we have committed. Psalm 51:3 reads, “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” David is at the point where the conviction of his sin is causing him to focus on it so much he can’t get away from it. Does our sin bother us like David’s sin bothered him?  If it doesn’t, this could be an indication that we are focusing on the symptoms rather than the sin. 

Do we really look at our sin the way that God does? To often we want to call our sin a mistake,a slip up, or even a lapse in judgment rather than a sin. We need to remember our sin is something that goes against the very nature of God.  Jesus came and suffered and died for the very sins we want to excuse or ignore in our life. It is time to call sin what it is and confess it and forsake it as we are told to do in  1 John 1:9. The Bible says in 1 John that if we do confess, “he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I want to be clean before God. The first step is to see my sin the way God does. Grabbing the broom and doing housecleaning in my heart requires work and a willingness to get into all the corners, cracks and crevices. We will see how dirty we are when this happens, but God is faithful to clean us up if we ask. But first we must…

Grab the broom and kill the spider.

What do you know?

“O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me.” What a powerful beginning we see in the 139th Psalm. David writes in the following verses how deeply God truly knows him, and how he is “acquainted with all his ways.”

As I watched my son play basketball this evening, I saw some things about him that I already knew. I know about his competitive drive and his willingness to play harder than any kid I have ever seen.  He has his faults like all of us do, but he has a love for sports that I admire. I saw tonight also how much he wants to help and please his teammates. When the loss occurred, he hurt.  Our heavenly father knows all about us also. He know our strengths and our weakness. He knows when we need encouragement. He knows when we hurt.  Just as he knew David; he knows us too.

What he knows about us can stir several emotions in us. The first is he knows and sees when I do wrong or make mistakes. Many times I think we tend to focus on this aspect of his knowing us. We do need to be aware when we sin to confess it and forsake it. (1 John 1:9) It is important to keep a short sin account. God is a God of justice and he wants us “to be holy as he is holy.” I know in my own life I am harder on myself than anyone else is. This is an area God has been helping me to overcome. If God went through all he went through so I could be forgiven, I do not have the right not to forgive myself after I ask for his forgiveness. I am learning that there are times when I need God to forgive through me. I see alot of myself in my son, so I am trying to pass on what God is teaching me.

The second aspect of this knowing is that he knows and sees when I am doing right. He knows when I am striving toward the good and right way. He knows when this is a struggle for me. In verse 16 of this chapter it reads, “Thine eyes did see me substance yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written…” and in verse 17, “How perfect are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them.” He knows me, yet he loves me in spite of me. In Psalm 40:17 it reads, “I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me…” I am so glad my Lord thinks about me and I marvel at his patience toward me.  I pray I will be more like him and treat my son the way God treats me with love and patience.

By the end of this psalm, David is asking God to search him and know him even more. David has seen all God has done in knowing him and loving him and ends with a plea to cleanse and heal him and to point him in the right direction. I pray God will do this for me. Just as he wants to know me; I want to know him. 

He knows me completely because he made me. He made me just as he wanted me to be. He has a purpose and a plan for me.   In verse 14, David proclaims, “I will praise the Lord for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works: …”  When my son was born, I fell in love with that tiny soul left in my care. As I looked at him I saw a blessing and felt such great joy. He has grown so much since that day. I find that behind the drive he shows there is sensitive soul. He loves God and I pray God will use him even now. My love for him grows every day.

I think it is time to look at myself the way God sees me: as wonderful testimony to his grace and mercy. I am one who God loves and one who he knows extensively. With the psalmist I will lift my voice and I will praise Him!