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In the way

Haggai 1:2-5 – “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built. Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?’Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.”
This was our message on Sunday night. And my, oh my, did it hit home.
Let me set this situation up here. The children of Israel had been released from captivity to come home and rebuild the Temple. They had remade the Alter, but that is as far as they had gotten. They had been too focused on building their homes and all the other stuff that comes along with a home in that time that they had neglected to build the Temple. And in walks Haggai. Being used by God, he reminds the people of what they had neglected – Him. And it was time to check themselves.
I don’t know about you, but I am abundantly blessed. I have a warm, safe home to live in. I have a family that dearly loves me regardless of the mood I am in. I have a good job that pays well and allows me flexibility in my schedule. I have food in my fridge and the ability to cook it whenever and however I want. I have a car that looks good and drives well. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! I am blessed.
But how often do I allow these blessings to get in the way of doing what God wants me to do? Too often, I tell you, too often. I have been thinking about writing this blog for 3 days now and every time I decide I am going to do it, one of my blessings steps in and needs attention.
Oh, I can’t do it this morning because I have to get laundry done and the lunches ready. Then I have to come home and get the floors swept and the sheets changed before I head off to work.
Oh, I can’t do it this morning because I have to go here and do that before I head off to work. Otherwise, I will have no time to do it.
Sound familiar? It is so very easy to get caught up in our blessings that we neglect to do what God has laid on our hearts to do. Hey, I get it. These things needed to be done for one reason or another. But how much more important is it to be obedient to the God of Heaven who sent His One and Only Son to die on the cross for my sins so that I could have the opportunity to have a home with Him in Heaven? Yep, that’s been in my head for 3 whole days!
God has given us so much. He loves us so much that He wants to give us good things and to love us with His love that passes all understanding. But He also expects us to follow Him and do His will. We can’t neglect His work to tend to our blessings. You notice that I said “neglect”. I think this is a purposeful decision that we make to be disobedient. I know in my own life that too often it is because I’m not listening that I don’t do what He is telling me to do. But I rarely neglect my blessings.
So today, I want to encourage you to appreciate your blessings but not to the point of neglecting God’s work that He has just for you. Blessings are sweet but they are so much more sweet when we experience them after a hard day’s work in the Lord.
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Don’t see the stain

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ‭KJV – “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. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

My husband went to a meeting last week and came home with a new saying (thank you Greg!).

“Don’t see the stain.”

I know I have written over and over again about perspective but this saying brought the importance of perspective to my mind again.

It is so easy to get caught up in the negative. We are going through our hunky, dory day and wham! Problem – in come the negative thoughts and opportunity to see the stain. It is a choice that you have to make to not see the stain. For example, I was having a good day yesterday when a problem arose at work of a lost item that I need for a patient. Now, I didn’t lose the item – someone delivered it to the wrong patient. I had two choices: 1) I could get mad and lose my ever-loving mind or 2) I could calmly call the representative and request kindly that they do their job and locate the item. Praise God, I chose #2. I am still trying to not see the stain in this situation. I am trying so hard to have a good attitude while I “patiently” wait for it to be located.

It is about choosing to think on other things. It is about deciding on a perspective that sees the opportunity and not the negativity of the situation. It is hard. Don’t get me wrong. So many times I feel like it would be easier to just blow up and deal with the aftermath. But that’s not how Christ wants us to behave and think. He gave us the good things in life to keep our perspective in line with His.

So today, when life comes at you hard and ugly, remember the things that are honest and pure and just and lovely and are of a good report. Think on these things. Don’t see the stain.

All of me

‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:30‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”
We were challenged this weekend to love God with all that we are. Easy concept, right? Umm, no. Not so much. Not when you really take a good hard look at yourself. And that, my friend, is no fun. 

The challenge began with “Who is #1 in your life?” Well, I’m at church, on a Sunday night. The Sunday school answer is “God”, right? But when the question was asked again at the end of the challenge…the answer wasn’t God, if I was being honest with myself. And that is tough stuff right there. 

Love God with all my heart. What does that mean? As I have thought about it, I see it as loving God with all my emotion. Our heart is the center of our emotional state. When I love God with all my emotion, I make everything about Him. I choose to see His hand at work in my life. I allow Him to change and mold my attitude. Now, does that mean that I go around gushing and acting all cheesy? No. I believe that you can love God with all your heart by acknowledging Him every opportunity you get. You are deferring your emotion to Him. You are choosing to allow Him to guard and guide how you feel and respond. Loving God with all my heart.

Love God with all my soul. I think about this in this way – loving God with my eternity. My soul is something I can’t see; I can’t touch; but it is something I can give. I can give my soul back to it’s Creator by choosing Jesus as my Savior. I can allow God to have control over my eternity. Loving God with all my soul.

Love God with all my mind. Some days, I do okay with this and others days, it’s just plain ugly. In my way of thinking, this is loving God with thoughts. This is allowing God to control my thoughts. This is choosing to see things in the scope of eternity. “What would Jesus do?” It’s not wearing your heart on your shirt sleeve but rather seeing all things in the light of the love of Christ. Letting Jesus control my thoughts. Loving God with all my mind.

Love God with all my strength. To me, this is my actions. These are the things that I do or don’t do on a daily basis. This is reading my Bible. This is going to church when the doors are open. This is preparing for VBS. This is the physical action of the group. This is loving God with all my strength.

There are times when I get parts of this challenge spot on and there are times when I fail miserably. But you know what, God wants me to try my hardest. He wants me to make the choices to do things right and to seek Him daily. He knows when I am doing the best I can and when I am doing just enough to get by. This is where grace and mercy come into play. This is where I really need grace and mercy. And praise God, they never run out.

So this week, ask yourself “Who is #1 in my life?” And don’t just give the Sunday school answer. Really look hard at yourself. Ponder where your priorities really are. Happy Tuesday. 

Nuggets

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭14:7-8‬ ‭KJV – “Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge. The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.”‬‬

I’ve been reading in Proverbs lately. There are so many little nuggets in this book that it is hard to pin one down. There are so many that I read and totally get and then there are some that I just don’t understand because they are period related. But that is on me. I need to study more. 

But as I was reading this morning, I came across these two. 

We have all met them – people who think they are all that and a bag of chips, that person that knows everything and they are not afraid to tell you exactly what they think they know. They are the kind of person that I inwardly roll my eyes at. The older I get, the more advantageous I find it to just be quiet. Listening is a great art that many fail to learn. Some people feel that a multitude of words makes them smarter and better and more desirable to be around. But nope, that is so not the case. 

The word “prudent” means “acting with or showing care and thought for the future”. It means that you don’t just think about yourself and how you are presented in the here and now, but you consider the effects on the future. A person that is considered a fool just rambles on with no thought to the future.  

So what does that mean to me? It means that I want to be a person that others want to be around. I want to be known for my ability to listen and offer sound advice. I want others to see that I allow Christ to lead and guide my life, not me. Now, sometimes I am able to show this spot on. And then there are other times that I am the fool, babbling on like a brook.

I ebb and flo just like that brook. I just pray that my ebb and flowing is more in line with the footsteps of Jesus rather than those of the world. Happy Tuesday. 

Gifts

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:10-11‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
This last weekend, my daughter was in a school performance of “The Little Mermaid”. There were so many talents displayed – song, dance, prop prep, costumes, sound management, makeup, acting – just to name a few.

And these kids had worked hard. They had been practicing for weeks and weeks to prepare for these few nights in April. They had long rehersals, extra time at home and an occasional Saturday meeting. There were lines to memorize. Dances to learn. Props to prepare. Costumes to fit to people. Seriously…hard work.

They presented this hard work beautifully. These young people are incredibly talented. They are hard working and dedicated to the task at hand. I have seen this over and over again in the last 3 years that my daughter has participated in the spring play. There may have been a year that they weren’t too excited to present the play, but they still gave it their all and didn’t quit until the curtain went down on the last night. 

They were all using their gifts. 

When we think of gifts, we think of big things like presenting God’s Word or teaching or being a missionary or singing in services. But our gifts can come in many shapes and sizes. Some are obvious while others are inconspicuous. But regardless of the attention they receive (or don’t receive), they are important. And we must use them – daily. 

For example – I am a planner and an organizer. I like to know what is coming, when it will get here and how I will handle it. I plan out lunch and dinner every day. I have the menu listed in my kitchen for everyone to see. I do this to serve my family and to provide a sense of stability to our day – things may be crazy today but at least I know what is for dinner. Crazy, I know, but this is how my brain works. Not everyone can plan things. For me, this is a gift. 

You see, I think that we overlook little details like planning and chalk them up to just being able to do things like that. But I choose to see it as a gift that I can give my family. Occasionally, I will let that gift seep over into other areas of my life. I have been known to plan events at church. I create treatment plans for my patients all the time. I help plan vacations for the family.  I organize the house on (what seems like) a daily basis. 

But in all these instances, I am serving someone. That’s the part I think we miss – the reason behind what we are doing. Yes, I do it to make my life feel easier but the main purpose is serving. And in serving, I am helping the people around me. I am showing them Christ in my life. 

I don’t know what gift(s) God has given you. I don’t know if they are flashy or private, obvious or inconspicuous but I do know that your gift(s) are important and God means for you to use them to bring Him honor and glory. I know that He is disappointed when you don’t use them. I know that He gave them to you for a reason. And I do know that you and I both need to get out there and use them more and more. You never know when His gift He has bestowed upon you might lead someone to the greatest Gift anyone could receive – salvation through Jesus Christ. 

Going to the water

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭32:8-9‬ ‭KJV- “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.”‬‬

You know, learning is a choice. You can’t make a child learn something. Sometime, somewhere in that little brain of theirs, they have to decide that they want to learn something before they can actually learn it. I can remember helping my kids learn their memory verses for school. (They have always gone to a Christian school.) There were times when I thought they were just going to have to take a poor grade on it because they just couldn’t get it into their little heads. But alas, somehow, they would recall it. They would remember all that we had gone over and the little tips and cues that I had used to help them remember what they were trying to learn. It was definitely a process.

Many people have pets. They work and work to teach them to do tricks or not go to the bathroom on the floor or roll over. They want them to be able to accomplish something on command. Some are successful. Some…..not so much. 

The old adage “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” sometimes stands out loud and clear for some of us. We see it in the lives of the people around us and, sometimes, we see it in our own life. 

How many times do God attempt to teach us a lesson and over and over again we fail? I don’t know about you, but I can look into my own life and see that over and over and over again. I sometimes feel like I am the horse and God keeps leading me to this beautiful, cool, abundant stream and I am just standing there like, “nope, not gonna happen.” It makes you shake your head when you see people like that. And then, when you realize that person is you….it makes you shake your head again. 

God has left a stream of abundance somewhere around you – the Bible. He has preserved His Word for all these years just so that you would have this instruction, this comfort, this Life giving opportunity. It is not hard to get your hands on, at least in America it’s not. You can get it on your phone or in book form. So many options. Yet, there are still people that will hold this glorious opportunity in their hands and look at like “nope, not gonna happen”. 

And from time to time, I am one of those people. 

So I want to encourage you today to see value, see worth, see the need for the Word of God in your life. He is leading you to this amazing opportunity to get to know Him better, to make your life more meaningful, to encourage you to keep going. Don’t just stand there and look at like “nope, not gonna happen”. Get in there and make it happen. Let Him do what He does best – making you the best version of you that there could possibly be. 

Faith

‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”


How does the verse and this saying work together?

We tend to think of faith as something that we strive for. It is something that Hebrews 11 goes into great detail about. It isn’t something that you go and get a refill of every time the church doors are open. 

To me, faith is more of a decision or choice that you are going to trust God no matter what. It is a firm belief that God has every thing under control. It is a reassurance that in the good times and the tough times that God will see you through and bring about His good and perfect will. 

This was a tough week for our little family. We found out about 2 deaths and lost a really important soccer game. The deaths were very sad and sudden. The soccer game, well, in the scope of eternity, our attitude matters more than the win or the loss. 

But, nonetheless, it all required faith. In the case of the deaths, I believe that God is in control. I don’t understand it, but I believe it. With the soccer game, I prayed that His will be done – that whatever outcome He had chosen, that I would have what I need to get through it. And I believed with all my heart that that is exactly what would happen. 

Faith is something that you have to practice every single day. It is trusting God to lead you in the path of righteousness when righteousness is tough to find. It is allowing God to have control of every aspect of your life from the simplest decisions to the life changing ones. It is desiring Him in and through it all.

Decide that you are going to practice faith today. You are going to allow God to do something amazing in your life and you are going to praise Him through it all. Decide that faith is not just something for the people listed in Hebrews 11. No, those people were just like you and me – followers of Christ just trying to make it through the day.