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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.

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2 Kings 5 – Day 2

2 Kings 5:2-4 – “And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy. And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.”

My daughter had the opportunity to go to a birthday party this weekend at a very crowded shopping establishment for a scavenger hunt. My son had participated in one at this same place last year, in the daytime, and he had to interact with all kinds of people he didn’t know. So, when I found out that this scavenger hunt was taking place on a Saturday night, my mommy alarms went off. There are too many crazies out there and my daughter is young and pretty – the perfect candidate for human trafficking. Nope, not happening if I can keep it from happening.

So, what does this have to do with today’s lesson?

The Syrians had gone over to Israel and brought back some people, particularly a young girl. This girl was taken from her family and brought back to Syria and was now serving Naaman’s wife. I’m guessing that she was treated fairly well, just based on the information given here. But still, she was taken. My heart goes out to her parents.

But this young girl was extraordinary. When she saw the need of Naaman and his condition, she didn’t hesitate to speak up and offer a solution. She was there serving in his house. She was no longer under her parents’ roof and following their rules and yet, she did the right thing. God knew her heart. He knew that she was the right person for the job. He knew what could happen in Naaman’s life if he just listened to this young girl. 

The circumstances were rare. I’m sure that a slave speaking up to her master in regards to her master’s husband’s condition was rare. Slaves were just that, slaves. Their thoughts and opinions rarely mattered. However, God had prepared the way – both in the life of Naaman and his household and in the young girl’s life.

You see, her parents had to have raised her to love and respect God. She had listened to the stories and maybe even experienced some of the wonders that Elisha had performed. She knew that Elisha was a man of God. She knew that if her master would go to him that he would ask God to heal him. The only way she could have known this was if she had been taught or had personal experience of it. God had been working in her short life.

So, despite the sad circumstances and the tragedy of losing a child, God was able to use this situation for good and for His honor and glory. 

There are times when we have to turn it over to God. We can’t worry about it. We can’t really try and do anything about it. We just have to trust that God has a plan in all of it. 

But He also gave us mommy alarms to keep our little bundles of joy from potentially harmful situations. We have to listen to those as well.

Today, you have read a portion of God’s word. You have seen how God worked in a terrible situation by providing Naaman with the opportunity to reach out to Him. God is always working in our life. He is constantly creating ways to show Himself to you and to bring you closer to Him. Use whatever circumstances you find your self in today to draw closer to Him. He will use you in ways you can’t even dream if you will just be ready and willing to serve. 

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.  

Revisit :Make some noise, cheerleader

Tonight is the first football game of the year. A new school year has started. For those of us with children, it is an opportunity to begin again – a fresh slate toward the end of the calendar year. This is an opportunity to do things different and to live life louder. I hope you enjoy this revisit. Happy Friday.

Acts 18:9-10 – “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.”

I find comfort in knowing that Bible “greats”, such as Paul, got a little scared sometimes about spreading the Gospel. I don’t think that we truly appreciate the danger these guys would sometimes find themselves in. There are missionaries around the world that put their life on the line each and every day to tell someone about Jesus Christ. And I get nervous talking to someone at the gas pump. Not my best moment.

Yet, here we find Jesus speaking to Paul in a vision saying, “Be not afraid”. Paul was afraid. He was afraid of rejection. But this rejection from the ones he was telling could very well lead to the end of his life. My fear of rejection is just that – rejection. Chances are that no one is going to kill me because I tell them about Jesus at the grocery store. I don’t like to think that people are mad at me, even if I don’t know them. I like to be liked. But I don’t like to be afraid.

Moses wanted us to learn to number our days (Psalm 90:12). In that learning, we understand that we really don’t have that much time. And for someone like me who is a stickler for time management, I do a pretty crummy job when it comes to managing my spiritual time for the Lord and telling others about Him. I am the BIGGEST procrastinator EVER in regards to that! And I hate that. And it’s due mostly to fear. I need to “Be not afraid”.

I’m not a shy person. I can talk to pretty much anyone about anything when it comes to my work. For lands sake, I go in on a first meeting and ask that person about their ability to go to the bathroom by themself. And yet I can’t talk to someone about Jesus.

I have this Light inside of me that needs to be let out. I need to plug in and let it go!

My daughter is a cheerleader. It is her job at football games to encourage the crowd to encourage the team. She is the one down by the field shouting and waving and jumping around trying to get the crowd’s attention and the football players motivated to score a touchdown. She can’t do it for them, but she can encourage everyone else, and them, to make some noise and get the job done.

That’s what we need to do. That’s what God was telling Paul to do here. We need to make some noise. We can’t save the people. But we can encourage them to seek out the One who can. And we need to encourage the crowd. We need to reach out to those around us and encourage them to share with others. We need to make some noise. We have to get over being afraid.

Being a cheerleader requires a lack of fear. You can’t be afraid of what others think about your cheering. You can’t be afraid to complete some of the stunts they do to get everyone’s attention. You can’t be afraid to do the cheer wrong. You can’t be afraid to make some noise.

Now, I’m not saying we should all grab some pompoms and go down the nearest corner and cheer for Jesus. No, that might  be a bit weird, but we can apply the same principles to our life.

Don’t be afraid of what others may think. Chances are your life isn’t in danger. Don’t be afraid to do what God asks you to do. He will give you what you need. Don’t be afraid about doing it wrong. God’s word never returns void. Don’t be afraid to make some noise. God is ready to stir things up – He just needs us to be the spoon.

Gray head

Proverbs 20:29 – “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.”

Yesterday, I had a patient that was a young teenager in Munich during World War II. I had a million questions to ask her, but since it was our initial meeting, I kept them to a minimum. 

As I was laying in bed last night thinking and praying about my day, many of the people I have treated in the past came back to my memory. I saw their faces. I remembered their story. I remembered our story. It made me smile. 

I have been so blessed to have had so many truly amazing and history filled people in my life. I treated a man who survived the beaches of Normandy. I have treated people who have overcome significant medical incidents. I have treated many completely ordinary people with extraordinary personalities – beautiful souls with hearts to share. I have treated people who have challenged me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have cried in the bathroom because they passed away. I have listened to them cry and have laughed profusely with them. I have been there when they did something they never thought they could do. 

So as I was thinking about all of this, this verse came to my mind. The thing that I have right here and right now is my strength. Oh, I’m not ready to compete in any competitions but I can hold my own, so to speak. But I try to be strong emotionally and spiritually too. Sometimes people need that just as much as they need my physical strength. I do this because one day, I will be the gray head. I will be the one telling stories and crying with some poor soul that has to try and teach me how to get in and out of bed. Truly, I hope the Lord comes back before then. But if He delays, I know He will send me someone like me to laugh and cry with. 

My point is this, our aging population is vitally important. They have so much to offer. We can’t neglect or forget about them. They need love and compassion and respect. God has them here to teach us and nurture us and love us in a way that we don’t yet comprehend. So reach out to that person that is struggling to get their groceries in the car. Reach out to that neighbor who can’t easily bring in their garbage cans. Take some time to listen to their stories and hear the desires of their heart. God has them here for you. Love them. Happy Friday. 

Family Devotions

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

One of the things we have been doing every night since we have been on vacation is have family devotions. Each night, one of us has done a devotion, including the kids. 

And let me tell you, hearing my children read from the Word and expound upon what they have read and tell everyone of us what it means to them, well, my heart is full. 

The insight they have floors me. They have done such a good job at bringing in what we have seen and done with the verses God has laid on their heart. 

It has been a bit of a challenge for them. They have never done anything like that before. They have never really spoken in this manner. But it is good for them. They are learning to share God in a whole new way. 

It is my prayer that they will remember not only the beauty they have seen and the laughs we have shared, but that these family devotions will be a part of the treasures that they have stored up in their hearts. And it is also my prayer that they continue to fight the good fight and that Christ will always be their Leader. Happy Monday. 

The never-ending sausage

Matthew 14:15-20 – “And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.”

My niece (1st grade) and two nephews ( 3rd & 4th grade) were visiting us yesterday. And as we sat at the table having lunch, somehow the discussion turned to a never ending piece of sausage. Yes, I promise, we were talking about a never-ending sausage link. 

And that opened the door for me to say something about Jesus feeding the 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. My one nephew said, “I always thought He just gave them a tiny little bite,” as he held his fingers super close together. And I reminded him, “Nope. The Bible tells us that they were all filled up AND had 12 baskets of food leftover!” He had never really stopped to think about that before. 

These are Bible stories that we have heard all of our life and sometimes we fail to appreciate the magnificence in them. Jesus showed Himself as God that day. Nothing could contain His power. Nothing could stop His provision in these people’s life. 

And the cool thing is, He is still wanting to do that very thing in our life – He wants to provide and love and care for us. We just have to let Him. 

So the next time the discussion at the dinner table turns to a never-ending piece of sausage, remember – there’s a Bible story for that too! Always look for any and all opportunities to teach someone about Who He is!