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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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Letting God…

‭‭James‬ ‭1:1-8‬ ‭KJV – “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

I know, I know. So many verses. But as we were reading this the other day in worship service, all I could see were the “let”s. And I have been thinking about what it means to “let” since then.

I looked up the meaning of the word in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary (gotta love that website!). It said this – “Followed by the third person, it implies permission or a command addressed to an inferior.” It can also mean “to permit or allow”. Either way, each definition points to basically the same thing – permission to do something.

We are in revival this week at my church. We have been encouraged and challenged so much in the last two days, that I have not wanted to stop listening. I wanted to “let” the preacher go on preaching until he ran out of words!

We are being challenged to be salty. (That’s a whole other blog post.) But the question I want to pose today is this – Are we letting God do what He needs to do to make us into the person He wants us to be? Are we letting God challenge us enough to grow His kingdom? Are we letting God show us our sin in our life? Are we letting God lead us away from the things and situations that impair our growth?

You see, here is the deal – we can pray all day long for God to change us and mold us into who He wants us to be, but sometimes, we are the thing standing in the way of that change. We aren’t willing to “let” God do what He wants to do. I know I have this problem in my own life. Right now I have a book on my countertop that I say that I want to read. But if I’m honest, I’m afraid to read it because I’m afraid of the changes God might convict me to make in my life. I’m afraid to “LET” God change me. There, I said it. I have been asking God to show me my sin and my life and right here, right now, He just did. I’m afraid to “LET” God.

I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to tell you. This is a burden and an issue that I have just acknowledged and now is the time to step forward. I don’t know what God is going to do with me now, but I am grateful that God has been on me to write this blog post. I’m glad He never backs down. Happy Wednesday.

Balm for my soul

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭122:1‬ ‭KJV – “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

Yesterday was a tough day for me. I was tired from traveling all weekend. I had lots of work to do. But also, yesterday was the one year anniversary of the home-going of my grandpa. It was also the day that we had a funeral at our church for a local family whose 2 year old daughter drowned last week. My heart was super heavy.

Yet, we had Ladies’ Meeting last night. I brought a lesson on Hannah. We shared some laughs while getting God’s work done. It was good.

As I was sitting there listening to the wrap up of the meeting, my heart was just overwhelmed at God’s love toward me. He knew that I was tired. In fact, we were all tired. The majority of the ladies there had served at the church all day long trying to provide a meal for the huge amount of people who attended the funeral. God knew that we were all spend – physically and emotionally. Yet, He brought us all together to give balm to our souls.

Some people have the misconception that church is boring and doesn’t do anything but tell you all the ways that you are wrong. Well, that’s not true. Church is a “called out body of believers”. Church is a place where your additional family abides. Church is a place to be lifted up and encouraged. It is a place to share your burdens with others and receive comfort in knowing that someone is praying with you and for you. Church is a place to develop eternal relationships – with God and His people. And sometimes, church is the place where God brings us to remind us where we have gone wrong but at the same time to provide us with the opportunity to make things right.

You see, I have found that when I am obedient to His Word and attend a service of some sort whenever it is offered, I am blessed in one way or another. Even when things are tough or down-cast or joyful or bewildering, I am brought closer to Him when I am with His people in our local New Testament church. And that makes me want to say – “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

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. 

Training

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

My son is preparing to make a presentation to the church tonight in regards to his trip to Haiti. While preparing for it, we came across the concept of a local, New Testament church sending out missionaries. It was a great opportunity to explain to him the why behind this concept. We were training him on how to properly go about being a missionary, which is what he will be doing in Haiti.

It made me stop and think about children and how we teach them and why they leave. 

I have been going to church my whole life, literally before I was even born. I have been at church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and any other night in between that my family could get to. My parents taught me commitment by bringing me to church every time the door was opened. My parents made sure that I had my Sunday school lesson prepared on Saturday night (back in those days you prepared the lesson the night before). My extended family, both by the blood of man and the blood of Christ, made certain that I understood the concepts in the Bible and why I should believe them. I wasn’t spoon fed God’s word. I didn’t memorize it just to make someone else happy. No, I was trained up in it. I was trained to see how much God loves me. I was trained to use His Word, the Bible, to learn how to live my life. I was trained to be committed to Him because that shows obedience in my life. 

Some may call me a trained animal, and that’s okay. I would rather be a trained individual for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ than an individual who thinks that I don’t need His training and spend my eternity in Hell. No, training is good. Training is what gets me closer to my Savior. I’m good with that.

Now then, let’s get real. 

Are we just allowing our children to memorize concepts in the Bible or are we training them in it? There is a difference, you know. I “learned” a lot in my 3 years of Spanish class. I memorized words and phrases and could decently write in Spanish. But can I do that today? Nope. I can ask where the bathroom is but when they tell me how to get there, I have no idea. I have departed from my knowledge of Spanish. As wonderful as my teacher was, I never developed a passion or saw the necessity for it in my life. I was more concerned about getting a good grade and keeping my average up rather than seeing the importance of being trained in another language. 

How often do we, as teachers and parents, allow our children to learn just enough to keep us happy and make us look like we are doing a fair job in raising our children yet all the while we are failing to train them on how to rely upon the Lord? It hurts to think that this is going on, but when I see young people go off on their own, too often they leave God just where they found Him, at church. And that makes me sad. I don’t blame anyone. I don’t point fingers. I have 3 pointing back at me. 

I bring this up because we, as followers of Christ, have a problem. 

I have the opportunity right now to train my children. I will never get this opportunity again. I have the opportunity to train them to rely upon God. I have the opportunity to train them in commitment and respect and love for God. I have the opportunity to train them to absorb God’s word and apply it to their every day life. When my children leave my house, I want God to be so real to them and be such a part of their life that leaving Him at church would make them feel naked. 

I don’t know that I expect anything profound from this blog today. I was just thinking about this last night as my husband sat at the dinner table with my son and was explaining missions work to him in a way that he could understand and appreciate. My son had heard it before, but when you live it, you learn it better. It really was special, watching my husband train my son. I am truly, truly blessed.

Baby Believer

1 Peter 2:2 – “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

My daughter has a good friend that accepted Jesus as her Savior this school year. Since that time, she and my daughter have been reading and discussing the Bible together. It’s really cute, if one forgets to read a chapter, they have to give the other one a dollar.  If they neglect to read more than one chapter, they have to buy a spirit ribbon on Friday and the other one gets to decide where they wear it, like on their forehead. Not something I would do, but it is the way they hold one another accountable.

Last night, they were face timing and discussing what they had read the night before. My daughter’s friend had made a list of questions to talk to her about. She is a new Believer who is hungry and thirsty for the Word. She has been taught so many different things from so many different people that she just wants to know what Jesus says about everything. And what better place to find it than the Bible.

When was the last time you and some close friend of yours had that sort of discussion? When was the last time you were hungry for the Word of God? When was the last time you made a list of questions to discuss with someone about what you read in the Bible?

Heart pricking, isn’t it?

The older we get, the less likely we are to ask questions. We don’t want to look foolish. But this young lady doesn’t care what she looks like to others. She wants to know God more and more. And her questions are thought provoking. They make you stop and consider what was going on, who Jesus was talking to and why. It’s a great way to learn. 

I also think that we ebb and flow when it comes to reading God’s word. We have times when we are really diligent about it and other times when “stuff” gets in the way. Maybe we all need some sort of accountability partner to keep us reading. I think it would be good for us. Maybe it would get us to sincerely desire the Word of God in a whole new way. 

So this week, I want to challenge you to read His Word diligently. Let His words so seep into you that you are contemplating long after you close the Book. And ask questions. Teachers always tell their students at the beginning of the year that there is no such thing as a stupid question. And it is so true. More than likely, someone else is thinking the same thing. Go, learn and grow.

Write your story

Psalm 143:8 – “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”

I evaluated a new client this week. When I evaluate someone, I always like to ask them about their past. I think it helps me to better understand their present. This man was a fashion designer in Paris after World War II. Crazy! And what was even crazier was that when he was 60, he took a class at a community college and learned oil painting. Now, his apartment is filled with these giant, museum-quality paintings that are absolutely stunning!

As I was sharing this story with the staff in our office, one of the staff said, “Man, I need to start living! When I’m old, I won’t have any cool stories to tell anyone.”

And that caused me to think, how am I writing my story? What adventures am I having? What beauty am I seeing? What kind of an impact am I making on the world around me?

A friend of ours lost his sister this week. She was in her early 40s and had 3 children ages 4-12. It is heartbreaking. Her story was way too short.

We never know if we will live a novel or a short story. We never know when it will be time to go home. But what I do know is that each and every day is an opportunity to write my story. Each day is an opportunity to weave the love of Christ into the fabric of my life. Each day is an opportunity to see His beauty all around me in the people I meet, the scenery I see and the incredible creations of man. Each day is an opportunity to show the world around me more and more of Jesus – whether it be through my life, in my speech, through my blog or teaching my children to know Him better. 

We have a choice every morning of whether or not we are going to listen to God on that day. We have a choice to accept His loving kindness. We have a choice to trust Him. And when we do, we learn to see His hand guiding our path and showing where He wants us to go. This gives us the opportunity to lift up our heart and soul to Him. We desire and find the need to praise His name when we choose to be obedient.

So this weekend, write your story. Write your story while you spend time with your family. Write your story while you worship Him with your brothers and sisters at church. Write your story while you work around the house. Write your story while you pay your bills. Write your story while you sit outside and enjoy the beauty around you. Happy Friday.