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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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The Beautiful Star

Beautiful Star of Bethlehem by Al Phipps

Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem.                                                                                                                                                                           Shinning far through shadows dimmed.                                                                                                                                                             Giving the life for those who long have gone on.                                                                                                                                           Guiding the wise men on their way.                                                                                                                                                                          Unto the place where Jesus lay.                                                                                                                                                                                 Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

Oh beautiful star the hope of light.                                                                                                                                                                       Guiding the pilgrims through the night.                                                                                                                                                                   Over the mountains ’till the break of dawn.                                                                                                                                                            Into the land of perfect day.                                                                                                                                                                                            It will give out a lovely ray.                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

Oh beautiful star (beautiful, beautiful star) of Bethlehem.                                                                                                                                 Star of Bethlehem.                                                                                                                                                                                                     Shine upon us until the glory dawn.                                                                                                                                                                        Give us a lamp to light the way.                                                                                                                                                                                  Unto the land of perfect day.                                                                                                                                                                                       Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

Oh beautiful star the hope, the grace.                                                                                                                                                                        For the redeem of good and blessed.                                                                                                                                                                      Yonder in glory when the crowd is one.                                                                                                                                                                    Jesus is now the star divine.                                                                                                                                                                                   Brighter and brighter he will shine.                                                                                                                                                                              Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

I love Christmas music. But this song is one of my favorites, no matter who sings it. It was our choir special yesterday. I really enjoy singing it. 

I think the reason that I like it so much is that it is a Christmas song but it isn’t. It reminds me that yes, the star that led the wise men to Jesus was important, but the Star that leds us now is even more important.

One thing, as a side note, about the star is that it shone for a long time. It appeared when Jesus was born and the wise men didn’t, technically, find Jesus until He was a toddler. That really bugs me that wise men are always shone at the manger scene when they weren’t there. Only the shepherds are recorded as seeing Him there that night. 

Ok, rant over. I’m off the soap box.

Anyway, this song brings me hope. It makes me smile. It reminds me that this isn’t all there is to it. It reminds me that I have the brightest, most beautiful Star lighting my path in this dark world. It reminds me that He has been here for those that have come before me and that He will be there for those after me, if He delays His coming. 

So today, as you listen to your music, listen to the words. The writer is trying to tell you something. That being said, you had better consider what and who it is you are listening to. Everything that goes into your brain affects you in some way, shape or form. 

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.

Rest

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

It’s finally Friday. Hallelujah! I got to do one of my most favorite activities of the week this morning – turn off the alarm for tomorrow. Now, I know that may sound trivial and small, but we haven’t had the opportunity to sleep-in in quite a while. I’m just hoping the sun cooperates and hides itself behind a cloud for a little while in the morning. 

We work and go all week. We are constantly moving and shaking. We need a time of rest. We need those moments to just breathe. We need those times to just sit and not really do a whole lot.

My kids are in desperate need of one of those weekends. They have been swamped by homework and projects and sports that they are about spent. I can see it in their eyes and hear it in their whining. But I don’t criticize them for it; I do the same thing.

In these verses in Matthew, Jesus reminds us that we have a place of rest. Now, does that mean we should just sit around when we accept Jesus as our Savior? No, but it does mean that our problems and challenges should not be what is weighing us down. Those things should be the very things that we are turning over to Him. We need to “yoke” ourself to Him. 

What does “yoke” mean? Well, you know the pictures you see of people plowing a field with an oxen of some sort and they have this double “u” looking thing draped over their necks? That “u” thing is a yoke. It brings two animals together to accomplish a common goal. One can’t do it effectively enough on their own. So two are brought in to ease the burden and complete the task. God wants us to “yoke” up with Him. He wants us to allow Him to share in the burden and get the task done. The sooner it’s done, the sooner you can rest. 

God knows that we need rest. He knows the pace we are trying to keep. He knows the obstacles we face in completing our to-do list. You know, I think that we have those obstacles in our path from time to time just to remind us to FROG – Fully Rely Upon God. When we do this, we find rest. We find rest for our soul. We find rest for our mind. We find rest for our body. 

So this weekend as you run and do and see how much you can get done in the span of 2 short days, rest. Rest in the Lord. Fully rely upon Him to give you what you need when you need it. Allow Him to guide your to-do list and find rest. 

There is a time…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

I don’t know about you, but I get impatient sometimes. I like for things to happen when I want them to happen. I want things and events to follow my schedule. And when they don’t, it frustrates me. I feel that I am so busy in my life that my calendar becomes the all controlling factor in my life. If it isn’t on my calendar, then it will not happen, or so I think. Rarely do I give myself the opportunity to be spontaneous. But every now and again, I will clear the day and let happen what may. Those days are fun.

In this passage, Solomon is trying to teach us that there is a time for every thing. And he doesn’t just state the fact and move on, no, he has to elaborate and leave no thought untouched. The items listed here pretty much sum up a life in general. A time for every thing. 

In my line of work, I have the opportunity to speak with people often about different chapters in their life. It is the only way I know to get across to them that it is okay to be scared and frustrated and mad. They are writing a new chapter of their life. They don’t know how to write it. They don’t understand why they have to write it. They don’t comprehend why their chapter had to change. And they don’t like where this chapter is leading. They don’t like that they are in a different time. 

But if I can ever get them to understand that it is okay to be mad and frustrated and confused about the why, I can help them to write this chapter beautifully. I can’t write it for them but I can show them how to write it more efficiently and more safely. A time for every thing.

I don’t know what chapter you are writing in your life. I have no idea what problems or issues or celebrations you have going on right now. But I can tell you this, you do not walk or write this chapter alone. Every event listed above is an opportunity to love and trust God. It is a time in your life to show others that He is the Author and Perfector of your faith. He is the One who brought you to it, and He is the One who will bring you through it. Happy Monday.

The Spider Web

Job 12:7-10 -“But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.”

I’m not too crazy about spiders. They don’t freak me out like they do some people, but I’m not in the habit of keeping them around and letting the big hairy ones live. 

But I do appreciate a well made spider web from time to time. Their intricately designed creation leaves me in awe. Now, walking through one gives me the willies and I don’t appreciate where they put them at times. But seeing them draped from a tree limb or power line with the morning dew glistening on the lines is truly a beautiful sight.

My mom was telling me about a beautiful spider web she had on her house. She said she had watched this little spider for days spin his web and create the intricate design. My brother encouraged her to take it down and get rid of it, which is not a bad idea. But my mom just couldn’t do it. She said that little spider had worked so hard that she didn’t have the heart to tear it down. A guy came to power wash her house this week. The little spider’s creation is gone. Mom is a bit sad.

Why do you think God created the spider to spin such an intricate and beautiful web? Couldn’t the little spider just throw some simple design up there and catch the same amount of food? Why are the webs usually so intricate, delicate and beautiful?

He has a job to do. Part of the reason that he creates his web is to glorify God. What do you think about that? Heaven declares the glory of God. The stars and the clouds and the crazy weather all give glory to God their Creator. Have you taken a look at the variety of animals lately? The other night when we were driving home from church, we saw frogs, raccoons and opposums. Everywhere you look you can see the beauty and variety in what God has created. When was the last time you stopped to appreciate the specific design of a grasshopper? When was the last time that the strength of an ant made you think? When was the last time that the dance of a lizard bobbing up and down made you smile? All of God’s creatures are amazing, even the ones we want killed – like snakes. I do not like snakes. But even snakes can give glory to God even if it is just in the way that they move!

What I want to get across here is that God is reaching out to us all the time through His creation. The animals have so much to teach us about Him. They are doing their very best to give glory to their Creator by living their life and doing what they do to show us that they were made with a specific job to do and they are going to do it beautifully. It is the same way that we should be living our life. We were put here on this earth with a specific job to do and we need to be consistently doing it. We need to do it to the best of our ability and show others around us the magnificent work of the Father in our life. 

So this weekend, take a few moments and look at His creation and see what He is trying to teach you. Find out what it is He wants you to learn about Him. And determine how you are going to let that knowledge impact your life. Happy Friday.

Just like me…

Romans 12:3 – “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

I’ve been struggling with this concept the last couple of days – What if everyone acted just like me – in regards to family, church, work and community?

It’s what we want, isn’t it? We wish that everyone around us was as smart as we are, made similar choices that we make, and were as dedicated as we are. We see ourself without flaw, without blemish. 

But deep down, we know that’s not true. We know that deep down we get upset when someone does something different that we think that they should. We get frustrated when we have a plan and someone steps in and changes that plan all together. We want to throw a fit and yell at someone when their decision to stay out of things is not the option we would have chosen. We get all flustered when people don’t perform like we know we would in that situation. 

Pride. It’s pride that makes us feel that way. You see, whether it is at work, church or at home, the devil is doing his best to drive a wedge in our heart between us and God. If he can get us to look more at ourself and see only the worst in people and their decisions instead of seeing the beauty of variety, then he can get us to walk further and further from our Savior. 

And it’s so easy to do. It is easy to get frustrated when we don’t understand what is going on. It is easy to get mad when things don’t go the way we think they should. It is easy to want to yell at someone when their choices are wrong in our eyes. 

But here is the thing – we can’t control others; we can only control ourself. We have to trust that God has whatever thing we are dealing with under control. Staying awake all night worrying about it won’t make a difference. Getting mad and yelling at someone will not help the cause of Christ. Not doing your best as a punishment to those who are making what you see as a bad decision will get nothing accomplished. 

Jesus has given us all different gifts and talents. I’m not responsible for my husband using his gifts. That is his can of worms. I need to be focused on whether I’m using my gifts. But I can’t let my focus shift from me doing my best for His glory to me doing my best because I know I’m right. 

It’s hard, but you can’t let people have power over your decision to do things for His glory. Focusing solely upon Jesus will have far different reaches that focusing solely on you and what you do. Pride is an ugly beast that too often rears its head in my life. Pride is what makes you think your way is the best way. Pride is what makes you fail to see your flaws. Pride is what makes us want everyone to act like just like us.