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Making Assumptions

Matthew 1:1-6a – “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas (Judah) and his brethren; And Judas (Judah) begat Phares (Pharez) and Zara of Thamar (Tamar); and Phares (Pharez) begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz (Boaz) of Rachab (Rahab); and Booz (Boaz) begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king…”

(Note: The names that are in parenthesis are the names found elsewhere in the Bible spelled differently. I didn’t want any confusion.)

I was reading in Genesis 38 today about Judah and Tamar. Judah had lost his two sons and his wife. He was sad. He had no grandchildren because two of his sons had died before having children. He had promised his daughter-in-law, Tamar, that she could marry his other son when he came of age. However, for whatever reason, that hadn’t happened yet when he saw Tamar on the side of the road and thought she was a harlot. 

Now, Tamar was dressed like a harlot when she is supposed to be waiting for the son to grow up. But you need to remember, dressing like a harlot in this time meant she had her head covered. Judah didn’t know it was his daughter-in-law. That doesn’t excuse the fact that Judah slept with someone who wasn’t his wife. 

Yet, God used this situation and onto the scene comes Pharez.

What I want to emphasize here is judging others. When you look at the shortened version of the lineage of Christ that I have posted here, you see Tamar and Rahab and Ruth. These three women each displayed different character traits but they all had this in common – they were outsiders. They were different. They each married a man from the tribe of Judah. But Tamar was a Canaanite woman. Rahab was a harlot living in Jericho. Ruth was a Moabite woman. None of these women were in a favorable situation. Tamar got pregnant by her father-in-law. Rahab, well, we don’t know how or why she became a harlot but that is how the Bible describes her. Ruth was childless and seemingly doomed to widowhood and living with her mother-in-law in a foreign country. Yet God used each woman in each situation to bring about His will.

We see people all the time at the stoplight, in the store and even at church. And we automatically make an assumption about them. We judge their clothing, their manorism, their speech and many other details about them. I know that I do it without even thinking about it. But that is wrong. I should not judge. 

I know that in my own life and situation, I don’t want people to look at me and judge me by what they see on the outside. I want people to know me. I want them to see God’s hand at work in my life. And you can’t necessarily see that from the outside all the time. 

I want to encourage you, and myself, not to make assumptions about people. I want us to be more open to what God can and will do in someone’s life. No one in Jericho would have ever guessed that Rahab would one day bear a child that would be found in the lineage of the Savior of the world. Tamar never would have thought that this child she was bearing through this circumstance would be in the lineage of the King. And Ruth probably never dreamed that her great-grandson would be the king of Israel. You see, we never know how God is going to work in our life or in the lives of the people around us. 

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Be an Angel

Luke 2:9-14 – “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

I was listening to Christmas music again the other day and I heard a song proclaiming that we should be more like the angels. Hmm, be more like the angels. Be good? Be singing all the time? Be observing and stepping in to help others? Be dressed in bright clothes? 

How should I be more like an angel?

Praising and proclaiming. That’s what I need to do more of – praising and proclaiming. These Heavenly beings have the tremendous duty to praise God, all the time, no matter the circumstances, regardless of the weather or time of day.  I can look all through the Bible and find instances of angels making an appearance and helping someone see God more clearly. Isn’t that what I am supposed to do? Isn’t it my responsibility to help people see God more clearly? Be an angel.

Sometimes I see angels protecting people from bad decisions. Remember Balaam and the talking donkey? There was an angel ready to destroy Balaam before allowing him to make a bad decision. The angel meant business. Sometimes I have to be the one stepping in and calling someone out. That’s a tough place to be but it’s a necessary place to be. We all need that person in our life that isn’t afraid to call us out. Be an angel.

In these verses of Scripture, I see the angels praising God. Here was the event they had been waiting for – the birth of the Savior. It was finally time! God took on flesh and was ready to dwell among men. What a glorious time this would be! Everyone needed to hear about it! Break out the chorus and bring on the praises! I have so much to be grateful for in my life. I have blessings upon blessings that I could name for days and days. Yet, how often do I break out the chorus and bring on the praises? Oh, in my heart I may be praising God, but I need to let my heart overflow. I need to proclaim His praises more often and more boldly. Be an angel.

Being an angel isn’t about the clothes you wear or how good you are or anything like that. Being an angel is really just fulfilling the instructions of Ecclesiastes 12:13 – “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”  That’s it. That is what it means to be an angel – fear God and keep His commandments. Fear is obedience. Keeping His commandments includes telling others about Him, praising Him, glorifying Him and being kind and compassionate to others. Now, this isn’t an exclusive list – no, it’s more like the tip of the iceberg. 

So this weekend as you wrap gifts, bake cookies, attend Christmas parties and do whatever else you have to do this weekend, be an angel. Happy Friday.

Cookie Swap

Acts 2:41-47 – “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

I’m baking Christmas cookies this afternoon. I’m very excited about it, actually. I enjoy cooking and it has been a long time since I took the time to bake Christmas cookies. 

The reason for the baking is that the ladies at my church are having a cookie swap for our Christmas party this year. We are going to turn the air conditioner way up to make it really cold in the building, wear our Christmas sweaters and exchange cookies while drinking cocoa, coffee and milk. I think it sounds fun, different and completely yummy!

So what do these verse have to do with cookies…

We are having a cookie swap. That means that everyone is supposed to bring 1-2 batches of their favorite cookies to exchange with the other attendees. The cookies will all be common. We will all share. 

Can you imagine for a moment what it was like in Jerusalem after the Day of Pentecost where people were getting saved left and right and crowds of people were stacking up on one another just to hear God’s word spoken by one of His apostles? Crazy. Never in my life have I experienced such. Oh, I’ve been involved in some very good and moving revival services, but never have I seen people stopping what they are doing to crowd into a small space and hear the Word of God. That would have been amazing!

Many of these people in Jerusalem, at the time, had been there for a festival. They had stayed a bit longer than they anticipated because of the effects of the Day of Pentecost. They were running short on supplies but God was supplying all their needs. He stirred the hearts of the people to share anything and everything they had. They needed to be fed spiritually just as much as they needed to be fed physically. 

Now, this cookie swap is in no way, shape or form going to be anything like what the people at Jerusalem experienced. No, we are there for fellowship and fun. They were there for life changing information. But I guess that we could have the same type of thing happen. Someone could realize the blessing behind fellowshipping with our ladies and it could, possibly, change her life. 

Fellowshipping together is necessary. We all need that time with the girls to refresh and rejuvenate. (And boys, yes, you need that time too – with other boys, of course! 🙂 

God has put something very special into the heart of a woman. We need that time of bonding and giggling and sharing (goods and stories). We need to know that other women are going through and have gone through the same thing we are. We need the support of a girlfriend to hold our hand and lend a shoulder to cry on. We need to study the Word of God together. I’m sorry to offend, but girls see Scripture in a different light, at least I know I see things differently than my husband at times. It’s just the way God wired us. 

So as you read this Scripture and think about what it means, apply it to today. I don’t think that God necessarily wants us to go and sell everything we have and tent up together and be completely away from the rest of the world. I think that He wants us to share what we have, what we are dealing with and what we have experienced with others. He wants us to have fellowship with our sisters (and brothers) in Christ. He wants us to make the sacrifice to be with the people He has put into our lives. Happy Friday.

Thanksgiving week

1 Chronicles 16:8,9 – “Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.”

It is the week of Thanksgiving. I agree with the statement that we should be thankful more often than once a year. I try very hard to live a life of thankfulness. As you can see here, I wear a bracelet to remind me to be grateful and thankful.

What does it mean to give thanks? 

I think that being thankful can take many forms. 

Prayer – Reaching out to God in prayer just to tell Him how appreciative you are for Him being active in your life.                    Songs – Singing praises to God with a heart in a position of humbleness and gratitude.                                                         Conversation – Have you ever taken the opportunity to turn the spotlight off yourself and turn it on God? Giving Him the glory for an achievement in your life is a great way to show thankfulness. All too often, we are so focused on ourself that we take away the opportunity to praise Him and give Him glory.                                                                                                                                      Giving –  I think that when we take the time to give to someone else out of the abundance that we have, we are, in a way, giving thanks. When we give with the heart of humbleness and the desire to help someone else along, we are telling God thank you for supplying my needs and giving me the opportunity to help someone else.

Just like anything else, all of these acts of thankfulness can be corrupted by our heart-itude. If our heart is focused on ourself, if our motive is promoting self, then each act is torn to pieces in front of the throne of Christ. Our acts of thankfulness becomes acts of pride and selfishness, neither of which is honoring or glorifying to God. 

So, as you enter this week of busyness – planning, traveling, buying, cooking, cleaning, preparing and all the other craziness that I know goes on at my house – check your heart. Make sure that you determine in your spirit that you will choose to plan, travel, buy, cook, clean and prepare with thankfulness in your heart because all of these actions require prayer, singing (to keep from going crazy), talking with others and giving of yourself and what you have out of your abundance. Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks. Make sure THAT is your primary priority.

Listening for the What

Philippians 4:19 – “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

We have been a shoebox packing church these last few weeks. It all started when we had a youth rally and invited other churches in the area to bring items that we could collectively use to pack shoeboxes for children in foreign countries (or possibly our own country). It is called Operation Christmas Child. It was a great time and a huge blessing. We were able to pack 100 shoeboxes on that day. 100! That’s a lot for a group of little congregations! 

However, the cost for shipping each box is $9. That’s $900! How in the world could we possibly gather that much money?! We shouldn’t have even let that thought cross our mind. We asked the people to give and did they ever! We were able to gather enough money to ship those boxes, plus some!

That brings us to yesterday. 

My son is going on a mission trip to Haiti in January. His school is collecting a little bit different type of shoebox for that trip. We took our youth group (and young adults 😉 yesterday and filled shoeboxes for this cause as well. We invaded the local Dollar Tree after a pizza lunch and packed until our boxes overflowed. It was so much fun! And the super thing about it is that my son may have the opportunity to hand out some of the very boxes that we packed. Some little child will be able to play and appreciate what we chose to pack into that plain brown box. Those boxes cost $7 to ship. And you know what, that is covered already – before we even packed the boxes.

My point is this – God is ready to supply all we need and more each and every time we choose to serve Him with our words, thoughts and actions. All He is asking us to do is go. Go and do. Go and try. Just Go! We don’t need to worry about the why or the how. We just need to listen for the what that He wants us to do.  

Back to the grocery store

Hebrews 10:23-25 – “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is ; but exhorting one another : and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

It is my goal to only go to the grocery store one time a week. That rarely happens. Despite my diligence in making out a grocery list, checking to see who needs what and then following that list to the “t”, I usually end up back at the grocery store for something during the week. Right now, my fridge is empty and my teenage son is starting to panic. The apple juice is gone. The milk is gone. Life might just end if the child doesn’t have apple juice and milk! 

But going back the the grocery store isn’t such a bad thing – it means that I sufficient funds available to supply the needs of my family in a spontaneous moment. It means that all the good stuff that I have purchased has been gobbled up by 2 growing teenagers. Good stuff in, good stuff out.

So, I know you have to be wondering what in the world going to the grocery store has to do with going to church. Hold on and see how my crazy brain works.

The assembling of ourselves together was not meant to be a one time a week event. We need the support and love and encouragement of one another often. When I don’t see my church family more than one time a week, I feel left out and sad and empty inside. I love vacations, but I miss being with my brothers and sisters at church. I need to share life with them. I need to hear their encouraging words. I need to laugh with them. I need to cry with them. I need to serve with them. I can’t do that one time a week. 

This life is challenging. We all face hurdles that have to be jumped. We all face knots that need to be untied. We all face obstacles that have to be figured out. How can we do all that alone? We can’t. We need help. We need words of encouragement and guidance. What better place to find all that than among people who love the Lord. 

Wrapping all this up, if I can’t make it through the week with only one trip to the grocery store, how do I think that I can make it through the week with only one interaction with my church family? God used the writer of Hebrews to encourage us to go and be with our church family frequently. He doesn’t want us to feel alone. He doesn’t want us to feel weak and neglected. He wants us around people who love Him so that we can grow and help one another out. Things that the grocery store have to offer us are life sustaining and needful. The things that our church family and serving God have to offer us are life sustaining and needful. So, get out there. Get involved in your church. See what you have really been missing by staying home when the church doors are open.

Return to “Normal”

Psalm 116:5-7 -“Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.”

We made it back home and now “normal” begins. School begins today for my kids, 2 days late. Work is back to a more normal rate. My husband is back into the swing of his job. Soccer and cheer both have practice today. Life is a bit more normal.

These last 2 weeks have been challenging to say the least. They have been wrought with travel. They have been doused with love and compassion. They have been full of all kinds of emotion. They have been quite tiring. But they have been surrounded by God. 

He has been my firm place through it all. He has provided for me in ways I can’t explain. He has comforted me with His word and through His people.

And now, as we get back to “normal”, I know that He will be with me through that as well. 

I’m not so sure about the “return to rest” part. But I guess that the insanity of my normal is, in it’s own way, restful. When busyness surrounds me, I find peace in it. There is a serenity in having things planned out and kinda knowing what is coming up next. I find joy in knowing that my kids are busy and happy and in the process of being successful. I take comfort in knowing that God is with all of us and that He will provide all that we need.