Archive | January 2015

Lesson in forgiveness

Matthew 18:21,22 – “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

At the beginning of the week, my daughter came home telling me that they were discussing this verse in her social skills class. Her school has different electives that the students must take to improve overall well-being. This is one of them.

Anyway, it has been interesting to see how God is weaving this lesson through my life this week. Yesterday, she came home with homework that required her to think of times in which she would need to forgive. None of them included the incident that happened last night.

She and I had decided that we would do our nails last night. My daughter is constantly doing her nails. She has already put one mark on the coffee table and one mark on the end table with the fingernail polish remover. My husband was not too happy over that one. And then last night, as she was watching television, she spilled red nail polish on our rug in the living room. Panic mode!! I’m grabbing washcloths, my iPad to find out the best way to remove it, hair spray, rubbing alcohol – you name it! I had every imaginable item that I could conceive to get it out of the carpet. All the while, I’m trying so hard not to yell and scream at her. It’s kinda funny how roles reverse. My husband was the calm one in this incident while I played that role with the nail polish remover.

While we are scrubbing and discussing the best way to get the polish out, my daughter sits down in near tears and says, “I can’t do anything right.” “No baby, it’s not that you can’t do anything right,” I said, “it’s just that sometimes you forget to pay attention to what you are doing. You can do lots of things right.” That was the turning point in the whole drama. My eleven year old daughter’s self-confidence hung in the balance in that moment and I could not let her down. I had to practice forgiveness. And when I did, the nail polish didn’t matter any more. What was more important than a stain on the carpet was that she needed to know that her mom believed that she was still awesome even though she spilled red nail polish on the carpet.

Isn’t that what we want from everyone? We want to know that our mistakes do not diminish our worth in their sight. Forgiveness allows that. Forgiveness puts away mistakes and does not bring them up again. Oh, we might remember them and learn from them, but we do not hold them against another when we truly forgive.

Once again, Jesus is our ultimate example. He forgave us all our sins before we even knew how to commit them. He loved this old, sinful world enough to die for it. And He forgives. O, does He forgive. Psalm 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Now that is a sin-forgetting action. That is forgiveness. All we have to do is ask.

So today, Princess, people are going to disappoint you and maybe even hurt your feelings. But do something extraordinary- forgive. Forgive even if they don’t ask for it. Forgive all the more if they do. There should be no limit to your level of forgiveness. Sometimes it might be harder than others, but it should never be something that you refuse to give.

And by the way, you really can’t even see the nail polish on the carpet unless you get down on your hands and knees with a flashlight and really look. God blessed us with a rug that covers a multitude of sins!šŸ˜Š

Stuck in my head

Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

I have a problem.
I love music. I love all kinds of music, well, not all kinds – I’m not a big fan of rap or techno music. I have a tendency to get songs stuck in my head. Every morning when I wake up, I have a song waiting for me in my head.
Unfortunately, lately, I have not had uplifting songs in my head. And you know why? Because I have let those type of songs be played in my car. My kids like to listen to secular stations after school. And I usually let them. The bad part is that those songs that they play over and over again on every single station get stuck in my head. The songs are not encouraging. They don’t honor God.
What’s a mom to do?

The Bible tells us to think on things that are pure and true and honest and lovely. These songs tiptoeing around in my head are catchy but not pure, honest and lovely.

I think I need a purge. My kids are not going to like it. They need an alternative. And our area just doesn’t have a super good Christian station that plays a wide variety of new Christian music. I guess it’s time to break out the phone and play some music that we already have that we know we enjoy that is catchy and honest.

Music has such a potential in our life. It has the power to bring us to tears or send us to the mountain top dancing. Most people don’t pay two cents worth of attention to the lyrics. But I do. I hear them and am typically appalled when I hear secular music. So why do I let my kids listen to it? That is a really good question. I don’t have a good answer. Maybe it’s because we don’t have cable or satellite and this is my way of allowing them something “normal” in their life. Maybe it’s a break that I need too. Maybe I just want to give them a little control. I don’t really know why we listen to that stuff.

So, let me encourage you today, princess, to really listen to whatever you listen to. Is it true and pure and honest and lovely? Or is it full of stuff that is none of those things? Remember, junk in, junk out.

By the way, “Favorite Song” by TobyMac was stuck in my head this morning. And it is currently fighting for control as I write.

Don’t negotiate

2 Kings 18:36 – “But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not.”

Let me set up the scene for you – the king of Assyria was on a conquering conquest. The people of Jerusalem had heard he was coming. So they all ran to the walled city for protection. The leader of the group of Assyrians would go to the wall and begin verbally assaulting the people. He was trying to conquer them with psychological warfare. It’s a lot easier to conquer someone that way. King Hezekiah had given the people the command to not reply to the Assyrian. They were to hold their tongue. But all the verbal assaults were heard and the people’s hearts became heavy. They were saddened by the blasphemous words that were being spoken. Yet they held their tongue and prayed that God would protect and deliver them. And you know what, He did just that – because they put their trust in Him and not their own power.

There are times when the devil wants to get in your head. He wants to try and break you down with psychological warfare. It’s a lot easier to conquer you that way. But you can’t let him win. You have to fight back. Do you need to yell and scream at him? No. Don’t say a word. The more you talk, the more trouble you find yourself in. Don’t say a word. You can’t negotiate with this being. He doesn’t back down and he doesn’t give in. You are better off to not say a word and give it to the Lord in prayer, just like the people of Jerusalem did under King Hezekiah.

There is a children’s song that goes like this: “The devil is a sly old fox. If I could catch him, I’d put him in a box. Put him in a box and throw away the key. For all the tricks he’s played on me.” Don’t talk to the sly old fox. Don’t try and reason with him. Doing so will only get you in trouble.

Temptations

1 Corinthians 10:13 – “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it .”

My husband teaches the teen Discovery group at our church on Wednesday nights. This week, his lesson was on temptation.
He had the kids to fill out note cards with times when they feel tempted. One that was very common, that I really don’t think about, was their language around their friends. You know, I remember those days when sometimes you just really wanted to talk like the people you are around, but you remember that talking like that is not the right way. Nowadays, I still have people who chose words that I don’t speak but it doesn’t bother me as bad. But I do notice that people notice that I don’t use foul language and they will try to curb their language or apologize when they use words that they know I don’t say.

Ok, back to the thought. Temptation. We all face it each and every day. I am trying to cut back on my sugar intake. We are going on a really nice trip this summer and I don’t want to look like a beached whale in my bathing suit. So, cut back on the sugar. Well, it seems that everywhere I turn there is something sweet to eat or drink. It has been a challenge to go to my favorite restaurants and not drink my beloved sweet tea. But I’m doing okay. I have only had two small cookies and one gluten free brownie in the last three weeks. I have decided to go back to real creamer because I just can’t take the taste of sugar free creamer any more.

My point is this – when we are tempted, it won’t be more than we can bear. You can go through it without fear of doing it alone. Jesus walks with you. And if you go through it, He will provide a way out of it. Sometimes temptation can be avoided. But sometimes it is unavoidable. You just have to go through it.

And when you reach the other side, you are stronger. You have faced the temptation and you have rejected it and because of that rejection to sin, you have added another layer to your armor. You are more spiritually strong. You are more mentally strong. You know that if you can face this temptation, you can face any other one that comes your way as long as you are walking with Him.

Perspective

Ezekiel 4:4-6 – “Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.”

Ezekiel was a prophet of God to the children of Israel. I have been studying Ezekiel these last few days. I have decided to do a personal Bible study on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It has been very interesting.

When I read these verses yesterday, I stopped in my tracks. God told Ezekiel to lay on his left side for 390 days. Three hundred and ninety days! It is recorded that God bound him with a rope to stay in that position. And then when he had those days completed, he was to roll to his right side and stay like that for 40 days. Forty days! That’s like 14.5 months! So, of course, my practical mind kicks in – how is he going to go to the bathroom? How can he possible lay like that for that long? Maybe I’m reading this passage all wrong; help me out if I am – we are in this thing together!

God asked the prophets of old to do some really out there things to get the attention of the children of Israel. God was always desiring repentance from their sin and for them to just walk with Him. Yet, oftentimes they just didn’t listen, even to the wild and wacky outcries of the prophets. Bless their hearts. They tried so hard and were so obedient to the Lord.

When was the last time God told you to lay on your left side for 390 days? My guess is never. But what has God asked you to do? I guarantee that it is no harder than what He told Ezekiel to do. And Ezekiel did it. I’m not sure how, but he did it – I’m sure of it.

As I was driving along yesterday, I was thinking about this. We all have things that God has asked us to do. Yet, we belly-ache and moan about it like He has asked us to do something horrible and outrageous. Why is that? Shouldn’t we be excited to serve our Lord?

My challenge to you is to determine what it is that God has asked you to do. And then go at it with a fervor. Get it done with joy in the Lord. Be happy that He has chosen you for this task. Remember that it is all about perspective and you have to line yours up with His.

Selfishness

Psalm 36:2 – “For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.”

I have been known to say, quite frequently actually, “It’s their world and your just living in it!” Selfishness is running rampant in our world today. Too many people would rather think of themselves than any other. There are children being abandoned by their parents because they don’t fit into the parents’ plans. Families are being torn apart because one spouse chooses to leave the relationship for one reason or another. People are getting in car accidents because the other driver thinks that their text message is way more important than the person they are meeting on the road.

Selfishness is everywhere. It’s an epidemic really. It is a seed that has always been there but in our current social climate, it flourishes.

So, what do we do about it? How do we live an unselfish life? How do we tolerate those who choose to think only of themselves? Well, I don’t have all the answers but I know Someone who does.
Philippians 2:3 – “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
It is hard, sometimes, to do this. You don’t want to be at the bottom of the thought process. You want to do what you want to do. You don’t want to have to think about others along the way. But Jesus commands us to do just that – think of others along the way. Can you imagine how different His ministry would have been if He had thought of Himself at any time?

You see, it’s a great way to show others His love when you think of others more than yourself. You choose the hard things instead of the easy way out. You sacrifice your time and your efforts for someone else’s gain – and you are okay with it. You don’t complain when things get hard, you face them and move through them. You don’t become bitter and nasty when asked to do something.

Princess, I just want to encourage you to be different. Choose to walk away from selfishness. Choose to be the kind of person that is ready to serve no matter the cost. Choose to be the kind driver out there on the crazy road. Choose to be the one who volunteers to do the task. And shine on, sister – let them see His light coming through you.

A little cup of water

Psalm 100:1-5 – “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

Yesterday, my daughter and I were at the coffee shop. There were several people in there but one in particular caught our eye. She was about a year old with this big round face and chunky little thighs. She had four teeth and was being quite vocal. She wasn’t crying but rather babbling and just being happy.

As we waited for our drinks, the lady who was with this little bundle got her drink and asked for a little cup of water. The barista handed her this super tiny little cup full of nothing but plain, pure water. When the lady brought it over to the little girl, her eyes lit up. She was so excited. The lady began to give her the water out of the cup and oh my goodness….the child was elated! She was squealing with delight. She laughed. She smiled at everyone. Her little arms were going everywhere and her little feet were pumping. She was happy all over – because of a cup of water.

When was the last time you were that joyful over a cup of water?

When was the last time you were that joyful about anything? Let alone anything simple.

We get excited over big things. Things like an upcoming vacation or a nice gift or a good grade achieved on a hard test. But rarely, if ever, do we get excited about a cup of water. Why is that? Why are we so mature that we don’t show our enthusiasm? Why are we not serving with gladness?

We have so much to be joyful about. We have so many blessings to be thankful for. We should be ridiculously glad. It is easy to let our day to day life seem mundane and boring.
We were having some fun the other day at work. A coworker of mine is trying to stop drinking soda. She had had a really challenging morning after a great day the day before and she was ready to head to the comfort of her cola. We had such fun laughing and talking about releasing her from the hold of the devil that he had through her soda. Great fun and laughter yet spiritual truths were being discussed.

Princess, I want to encourage you to live gladly. Take joy in the little things. Choose to be happy. Life is too short for ordinary and mundane. Now, I’m not encouraging you to go crazy over a cup of water but maybe be thankful you have clean water that is refreshing and healthy. And I pray that in amongst your day, you laugh and be joyful. God has given us so much that we should let everyone know where our joy comes from – Jesus.