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Showing posts from May, 2018

Don't just pucker up!

If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.  (Proverbs 29:18)
"If life gives you lemons, make lemonade." This was Dale Carnegie's way of telling us to keep a positive focus on a whole lot of negative stuff that is happening to us in life - from business difficulties to personal ones. Have you ever noticed that after a while a steady diet of lemonade gets to taste pretty bitter! If your physical body can only handle so much "acidic" intake before it starts to rebel with changes internally that you may not fully recognize until they have created a state of imbalance that you cannot easily bounce back from, what about the 'rest of you'. Guess what - your spiritual state of "balance" can be equally as disturbed by a steady diet of "bitterness". The bitterness of life can present us with much difficulty in our physical, emotional, spiritual,…

Proof Positive

A gang of cynics can upset a whole city; a group of sages can calm everyone down.  (Proverbs 29:8)
Have yoiu ever noticed just how many cynical people there are in this world? I caught a commercial the other night in which it displayed one of those support groups that meet in circles. The 'members' of the group were those who were 'cynical' about all those promises made by those 'shopper programs'. The purpose was to show shopping with one particular online 'add on' would actually 'ay off'. Their cynicism only ended when she showed them the rebate check. There are times when it seems like there are a lot of cynical people trying to paint a picture of doom and gloom about the things that life deals us. It is easy to follow along with their perceptions of gloom, if we allow our minds to drift there, and if we never see proof otherwise. In order to counteract them, we need to become strategic in our thinking, understanding in our interpretation of …

Sour fruit

You can't whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.
(Proverbs 28:13)

Whitewash makes things look pretty - it has a way of fading over time, though. It was used by farmers to minimize the sun's effect on the trees in the cold months of winter when the trees were supposed to be dormant for a while. The sun could get to the trees easier since the leaves had fallen off or were thinner, and the warm sun would stir the trees into "false" growth if left without this protective coating. It wasn't permanent - but the purpose it served was directly related to the health of the tree. The base of the tree was coated until it gleamed white in an attempt to stay off the growth, allowing the time of dormancy in the trees in an otherwise 'unsuitable' climate. Since the roots are in cold ground and not much moisture was to be found in the winter, if growth was begun prematurely, the tree would be in a dehydrated condition and th…

Open invitation

God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list?  "Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. "Don't hurt your friend, don't blame your neighbor; despise the despicable. "Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe. "You'll never get blacklisted if you live like this." (Psalm 15)

David stands as a great example of how it is we are to communicate with God. He certainly doesn't seem to have a lot of preconceived pretense in his "discussions" with God. It isn't rehearsed or all that formal. He is conversant with God in a casual, relaxed manner - allowing God to reveal things to him as he just opened up his heart to God and then listened. David asks a question that I suppose many have asked over the years: How does someone get welcomed into God's presence? If anyone is ever curious about that truth, God isn't going to turn away, but he is going to respond to…

You want what?

1 God said to Moses, "Now you'll see what I'll do to Pharaoh: With a strong hand he'll send them out free; with a strong hand he'll drive them out of his land." (Ex. 6:1)

Try as we might, we cannot resist the powerful hand of God on our life.  Many have tried to escape his plans, but in the end all they do to escape is get deeper and deeper into bondage to something they didn't want or like either.  Even the hardest of hearts and the one who just demands there must be a different way can be tamed and softened under his mighty hand.  Moses was coming to realize that the God he served was the "El Shaddai" - the Lord Almighty - not just "one" of the run-of-the-mill gods of the land, but the mighty God of all - creator of all that exists. When we begin to come to a revelation of the one true God in our life, there is no denying his power or his ability.  God never forgets his covenant with his people. His truth will endure. It will make an …

What's that I see?

We justify our actions by appearances; God examines our motives. (Pr. 21:2)
I can honestly way that we sometimes spend far more time working to show ourselves as good, or as justified in what we do, than in trying to change what it is we are doing. We want to be free from blame or guilt that might be associated with our actions or thoughts, but really don't rise above the wrong ones as much as we'd like to. What is worse is that we look at the actions of another and we begin to form judgments about that individual based solely upon their actions. The problem: we are making evaluation of that individual by what we see on the outside. We evaluate the activities of man, thinking we know the motives based on the actions that we see revealed - but I think we can also be totally truthful here - it is almost impossible for us to know the motives of another.

It is pretty clear to me that actions do not always align with motives. This is why God looks closer at the motives of our he…

I don't have that piece!

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. (Psalm 139:13-14MSG)

Body and soul - marvelously made. Being a nurse, I understand much more about how the body's 'parts' interact - seeing the linked relationships between one system and the other. I studied hours upon hours to learn this stuff - because it helped me to understand the potential cause of my patient's symptoms. Yet, even with all my hours of study, I don't fully understand the human body. I went to Bible College and studi…

Muck and Mire

You can't find firm footing in a swamp, but life rooted in God stands firm. (Proverbs 12:3)
Swamps aren't exactly my idea of a good place to make a home. There are lots of critters who'd just as soon eat me than leave me alone. There are pesky bugs, and way too much moisture. The opportunity for dry ground just isn't all that frequent - not to mention the unpleasantness of all that humidity and 'foul-smell' of boggy places. In the swamp are many obstacles that impact our ability to be on the footing that allows for solid growth. There are some lessons in the swamp, though - - - a couple of common obstacles found in a swamp are kind of like some of the obstacles we face in our daily walk.

A swamp is made up of water, reeds, muddy bogs, and lots of pesky critters. The water of the swamp is not known for its clarity or purity. In fact, it is known for the extreme, almost impenetrable  murkiness. Within the murky waters are all kinds of insatiable "creatur…

Relearning those lessons?

If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it— how shortsighted to refuse correction! (Proverbs 12:1)
Once in a while, I take a little heat from my friends because I like to learn new things and relish a good 'how to' book or discovery while searching facts on the internet. I have a curious mind that is only satisfied when I have discovered a new fact - like taking something apart to see how it works, or discovering the name of a bug that crawls out of a hole in my back yard. The writer of Proverbs says that if we are the kind of people that love learning, then we will also love the discipline that goes with it. Most of us could say that we are open to learning new things, but does discipline REALLY have to be part of it? According to God, yes. According to me....uhm, no thanks!

The process of learning requires that we take in knowledge or a new skill through the process of being instructed or through some means of self-study. We go through a process of l…

SO very incredible....

It wasn't so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It's a wonder God didn't lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. (Ephesians 2:1-6)
The scripture sure knows how to "peg" us with the reality of our sinful nature - mired and stagnant, following the advice of someone who is just as unaware of the destructiveness of their path as we are! Look also at how simply he puts his amazement t…

Principles run deep

The integrity of the honest keeps them on track;the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin. (Proverbs 11:3)
We can so easily get off course - caught up in all the things that vie for our attention each and every day.  According to scripture, the integrity of an honest man or woman keeps them on track. Though we may veer off course, we are soon able to recognize, through the help of the Holy Spirit within, that we have drifted and then correct our course so that we are 'back on track'.  The soundness of our character (words, actions, and thoughts) and the intensity of our desire for an undivided heart are what God has in mind when he "pulls" us back a little. It isn't always that we 'want' to get back on course - it is that we somehow know it is really for our well-being that we do 'attend to the course'.


A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart, but a principled life can stand up to the worst. (Proverbs 11:4)
The habitual devotion to the …

Why isn't this working?

Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; God probes for what is good. (Proverbs 16:2)
Count them all up and you may just be surprised by how many times you "settle" for the first thing that comes along - something or someone appears to be whatever you think will fulfill your immediate need or emptiness of spirit and you just 'settle'. We definitely need to be a little more discriminating in our choices - as evidenced by some of our choices. God's greatest desire is that we would come to use the wisdom and direction of the Holy Spirit to move us toward what truly matters and away from what only holds value for the immediate moment.

We settle - God probes. God searches deep into a matter, investigating and understanding prior to taking action. Look at how many examples we are given in scripture of God's examining hearts, looking deep for ones who are committed to following him, really getting to understand the heart behind our actions, not just the ac…

S.O.S.

I came across this quote this morning and just had to share it with you: "It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way." (Rollo May, Psychologist) While I don't subscribe to many of the beliefs of existential psychology, this thought just captured my attention because of the simple observation May made about us 'running faster'. Those who have lost their way often are like little gerbils in the proverbial wheel - running, running, running. All the while, they are getting absolutely nowhere. It doesn't matter how fast we run - we are still lost! The more we run, the deeper into the place of 'being lost' we find ourselves. Sometimes the best thing we can do is just to sit down, admit we are lost, and prepare to be rescued!

God rescues good men from danger while letting the wicked fall into it. (Proverbs 11:8 NLB)
In situations of survival, one of the things they teach you is not to wander from where you find yourself at t…

Time to Tend

First plant your fields; then build your barn. (Proverbs 24:27)
A farmer has several things in mind as he is going about his daily chores of life - although I have never officially been a 'farmer', I have had many friends who have helped me understand some of these facts. He needs a plot of ground in order to plant for a harvest. He starts small - a garden is certainly not a farm, but it will yield fruit in time if tended well. It is in tending the garden that we can learn the skills to help us create a "farm". I can tell you for a fact that is tougher than it looks - even small gardens demand a lot of knowledge and attention! You cannot just go down to the local nursery, pick up some seeds, come home, drop them into unprepared soil and expect miraculous growth of beef steak tomatoes, gargantuan zucchini, and a mountain of chili peppers! There is preparation necessary and the crop that is yielded is a direct result of the quality of the preparation.

Accountabili…

Bathed, Clean, Freshly Dressed

It wasn't so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God's gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there's more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this. (Titus 3:3-8)

Hmmm...both stupid and stubborn...not exactly the way I would want to be described, but in truth that description isn't too far off!  In our sinful, self-absorbed life "before Christ", we are all both stupid and stubborn.  Stupid implies that we were lacking the ordinary quickness or 'soundness' of mind that we now possess w…

Most valuable

If you listen obediently to the Voice of GOD, you God, and heartily obey all his commandments that I command you today, GOD, your God, will place you on high, high above all the nations of the world. All these blessings will come down on you and spread out beyond you because you have responded to the Voice of GOD, your God: GOD’s blessing inside the city, GOD’s blessing in the country; GOD’s blessing on your children, the crops of your land, the young of your livestock, the calves of your herds, the lambs of your flocks. GOD’s blessing on your basket and bread bowl; GOD’s blessing in your coming in, GOD’s blessing in your going out. GOD will defeat your enemies who attack you. They’ll come at you on one road and run away on seven roads. GOD will order a blessing on your barns and workplaces; he’ll bless you in the land that GOD, your God, is giving you. GOD will form you as a people holy to him, just as he promised you, if you keep the commandments of GOD, your God, and live the way…

Passion is part of waiting

God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up.  They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!  I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.  It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God.  It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times.  When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence.  Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions.  Wait for hope to appear.  Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst.  Why? Because the Master won't ever walk out and fail to return.  If he works severely, he also works tenderly.  His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.  He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way.  (Lamentations 3:22-33 MSG)

The…

Exchange is possible

And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; they wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!  God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn—Zion! God in full view! (Psalm 84:5-7 MSG)

The psalmist declares that "happy" is the one in whom God "takes up residence" - the one that gives him right placement in their lives. As I read this passage again today, I asked myself the one question I like to ask myself from time to time: "Is my life marked by the footsteps and hand prints of God?" If God "passes through" my life on a frequent basis, my life should be marked well by his "tracks". If I spend time following him, the only footsteps that should be seen are his! If I find my hand securely in his, the only hand prints that should be molding my life are his - they are the ones that should be making the greatest and most lastin…

What's that I hear?

"Heaven's my throne, earth is my footstool.  What sort of house could you build for me?  What holiday spot reserve for me?  I made all this! I own all this!"   "But there is something I'm looking for: a person simple and plain, reverently responsive to what I say."  (Isaiah 66:1-2 MSG)

It is an encouragement to me to know that God is not looking for the eloquent or fancy to use for his purposes because I am neither. He is looking for the simple and plain to utilize as his instruments of grace and mercy to a hurting and hungry world. I spent some time a while back just looking at the various definitions of "simple" and "plain" found in Webster's dictionary. It is always a wonder to me to discover the "less than common" meanings of the various words we use in our English language. Know what I discovered? Simple isn't all that simple and plain isn't all that plain! For example, did you realize 'simple' means…

Called into account

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-4 MSG)

Our passage today refers to the process of our "faith-life" being forced into the open by the challenges we face in our daily walk. We don't always like it when our "faith-life" is brought into the open, though. Many times we try to compartmentalize our "faith-life" as something separate from the rest of our 'real life'. Pressure helps to produce evidence of our faith in Christ and brings evidence of Christ-like maturity in our choices - those 'real life' choices. I don't want you to miss the statement that "true colors" are revealed - these are often hidden or need something else to b…

Plans involve the margins

Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always. (Romans 12:12TLB)

Ever notice how well you can plan things when you are really motivated by the thing you are planning? I don't get much time away from the house, especially to just relax and fish, or hike. I am a caregiver to an elderly mom during all my 'off hours' and work a full-time job. That means the things I 'plan' are for my renewal and overall well-being. It means I plan pretty much all I can so as to really make the most of these times away. Even the best laid plans don't always go as they were designed because there are just some things we cannot plan - like the weather, the fish biting, or the mosquitoes leaving you alone. You have to trust God with the things 'not in your control', while you plan well what you can exercise control over. Know this - God is always planning on our behalf. His plans are bigger than our plans and he has a way of orchestrating …

Do a little gardening today!

7-9The revelation ofGodis wholeand pulls our lives together.The signposts ofGodare clearand point out the right road.The life-maps ofGodare right, showing the way to joy. The directions ofGodare plainand easy on the eyes.God's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,with a lifetime guarantee.The decisions ofGodare accurate down to the nth degree. (Psalm 19:7-9 MSG)

We all have those times when we just don't feel like God is getting through to us, or that we are getting through to him no matter how 'hard' we pray, make our requests known, or struggle to find his will in a matter.  Some of us may even feel that the attempts we make to draw closer through his Word or times of contemplation are so unrewarding that we have grown weary in trying.  As we examine this passage from the Psalms this morning, I want you to catch what our Psalmist is saying:  The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes! It doesn't imply they are quick to come, but that they are 'plain&…