Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Look What You Did!

Have you ever said this to someone?

"Look What You Did!" 

Depending on your voice inflection, the meaning of this statement could be either affirming or disparaging.    

If I used a tone that expressed a 'shame on you' then the "Look What You Did!" phrase would show that somebody did something that upset me.  

But, if i used a tone that expresses pride in an accomplishment the meaning would be much different even though the words remain the same.

In the story of the healing at the Gate Beautiful, a similar expression is used.  When the crowd saw the healing of the crippled man, they said with awe and wonder, (paraphrasing here) "Hey, Everybody!  Look What Peter and John Did!"  

Then later in Acts 3:11-21, Peter sets the record straight by giving Christ the credit, but not before he takes a jab at the same people who crucified Christ.  Peter gave them a "Look What You Did!" with a tone of shame on you.

This Easter season, we all have an opportunity to express our gratitude, awe and wonder when we say to Jesus, "Look What You Did!" 

In 1 John 3:1 (CEV) it says, "Think how much the Father loves us.  He loves us so much that he lets us be called his children, as we truly are..."

Because of what Christ has done for us, death has been defeated.  His act of love was for us.  We have been set free from the sin that had us bound.  This is the kind of love that the Father has given us.

With much gratitude and awe, I say to Jesus again, "Look What You Did...for me!"

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Worth It

Our son tapped one of the maple trees in our yard a few weeks ago.  He was able to collect about three gallons of sap in a matter of hours.

The whole process was labor intencive.  First, he collected the sap, then he boiled it for a long time on an open fire in the back yard.   (He's old school.  No indoor, electric stove cooking for him.)  Then he filtered the liquid.

The longest part of the process was boiling the sap over the open fire to refine it.  After the fire process, the maple syrup was still dark and cloudy from the open fire, but once the sticky substance dripped through the filter, out came an amber colored syrup that was pure and clear.

All the debris and impurities were gone.  The only thing left was pure, sweet, maple syrup.

In the spring, nature tells the maple tree to release its sap.  If someone takes the time to tap the tree, and put in the labor, the return will be great.   Our life'a journey is a little bit like this.

The Lord wants to refine each of us--if we let Him.  He's willing to put the time in on each one of us, if we're willing to go through the refining process.

Here we are, bursting with potential and possibilities, but we must submit to a spiritual refining just like the sap from the maple tree.   Endurance, fire, and filtering must all take place in our lives to produce the best product.

As we surrender our lives to the refining fire of God and the filtering of the Spirit, the necessary purging of all impurities will make us refined like silver.

Psalm 66:10 in the NET Bible says, For you, O God, tested us; you purified us like refined silver.

Our son was pretty proud of that syrup, and I saw all the work he put into making it.  The weather was cold and the fire needed wood and the sap needed to be stirred.  And he was steadfast as he patiently put in the effort for the finished product.

Why?  Because it was worth it!

This is how God looks at us even during the refining process, his eyes of love are always on us.

For you are a people holy to the LORD you're GOD.
He has chosen you to be His people,
prized above all others on the face of the earth.
Deuteronomy 14:2 (NET BIBLE) 

Whatever stage of the refining process you're in today, hang in there, because you're Worth It!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Missing Pieces

A few weeks ago, my granddaughter who is 7 yrs old was trying her best to communicate with me but we had come to an impasse.

What I saw and heard was disrespectful behavior.  So, I did what any good grandma would do...I tattled on her.  I felt the behavior needed to be dealt with by a parent.  That's the beauty of being the grandma--we don't have to do the disciplining anymore!

The mom stepped in and punishment was doled out for the offense.

A bit later, her father sat down with her to follow up on what had happened.  Enough time had passed to give my granddaughter the ability to tell the whole story and that's when her mom and I got the missing pieces in the story.

My granddaughter had been warned by her mother that there was an area in her brother's bedroom that was dangerous.  (a fireplace from 1883) When her younger brother was getting too close to the area of concern, my granddaughter attempted to protect him by repeatedly hitting him.  (It seemed logical to her.  After all, she was saving his life.)

And that's when grandma stepped into the situation.  I saw only one part of the picture, and when I asked her to stop hitting her brother, she yelled at me, "NO!" multiple times.  When I asked her to leave the room, she again responded, "NO!" more than once.

That's when the tattling took place and the punishment was given.

When her father spoke with her a bit later, he helped my granddaughter understand how she could have handled the situation without being disrespectful to her grandma or hurtful to her brother.

The punishment was adjusted once all the pieces were in place.

This experience with my granddaughter caused me to think how easily a person can react wrongly...when they don't have all the information.  (Oh, how I've...been there and done that!)

Proverbs 18:13 (NET) gives us all a great reminder.

The one who gives an answer before he listens--that is his folly and his shame.

Okay,  I'm not the only guilty party in this story.  Let's just say, we were all a bit at fault...well...except the father.


That's so like our Heavenly Father.  He is quick to listen, and with Him there are no Missing Pieces.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

In like a lion and out like a lamb.

In a few more days, March will be history for another year.  I have heard this saying about the month of March all my life, "In like a lion and out like a lamb."

March can be pretty fickle when it comes to weather.  It can be 70 degrees and sunny one day and a foot of snow the next. (At least here in Michigan.)  One proven fact about a Michigan March is that it doesn't matter if one day is sun and another is snow...eventually spring is coming and with it the promise of more pleasant days than unpleasant ones.

Life can be a bit like the month of March.  We have to remember that when difficulties come our way that it is only for a season.  

It's a proven fact that eventually spring is coming and winter is ending.  

Ecclesiastes 3 reminders us that no matter what season we presently are in-- change will come.

For everything there is an appointed time,
and an appropriate time for every activity on earth:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was 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 throw away stones, and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to search, and a time to give something up as lost;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to rip, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

In this scripture, you may have identified the season of life you are in right now, but don't dwell on the cold and negative days of winter because a season change is coming. 

Just as March turns to April and April turns to May...get ready...because what came into your life like a lion is about to go out like a lamb.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Where's the mirror?

A few weeks ago, I visited my daughter, son-in-law and four amazing grandkids in Indiana.  I was excited to see all of them, but I was also anxious to scope out their new home built in 1883.  Well, not actually new, but new to them!

They haven't been living there very long, and during my visit I noticed an important (to me) missing piece.  

The empty wall in front of the bathroom sink was clearly missing something.  With wet hair and no make-up, I asked my daughter, "Where's the mirror?"     

As I gazed at the non-reflective bathroom wall, the lack of a mirror reminded me that I was about to go out in public without doing any self-examination.  

In James 1:22-25 (NIV) the Bible tells us that the Word is like a mirror that tells us the truth about ourselves.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

When I looked at that empty bathroom wall hoping to see my refection, all I could think was, Where's the mirror?  I needed it.  I wanted it.  I knew without it things weren't going to be as they should.  I didn't want to leave the house with messed up hair, a smudge on my face or messy make-up.

The same is true with our spiritual appearance.  We need to take a fresh look in the mirror of His Word daily to do some much needed self-examination before we mix with other people.  

So, Where is your mirror? Have you looked in it lately?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Wages

"Are you paying me?"

I've heard this phrase a hundred times in my life, and I too, have asked this question.

"Are you going to pay me?"

This question has become a favorite from two of the grandchildren who are temporarily living with us.

This question usually follows this question from me, "Do you wanna help me in the yard?"

The grandkids have learned that their labor is worth something because I've paid them before.  If I need sticks picked up or leaves raked, it's going to cost me.  Their past payment for yard work has been a few dollars, a trip to the thrift store or the best wage of all...a grandma hug.

However, they never pick the hug.  I may be doling those out a bit too freely.

When it comes to yard work, I have one worker who usually works a bit harder than the other.  I won't name names, but it's the girl.  She really has the whole "workman is worthy of his hire" thing all figured out.

If she works for it, she expects to be paid for it.  She is very mindful of the concept; how hard you work should equal how much you are paid.  She may have lived more of her life overseas than in America, but she's a capitalist at heart.

In the Bible, we are reminded of this principle of wages being paid for services.  Nope, I'm not going to tell you the parable of the laborer, but that's a good one.

In Roman 6:23 we read about another promise of wages.  "For the wages of sin is death..."

This is payment that all of us would like to reject, but that's not how the wages of sin works.  You do the sin--you're gonna get paid with death which equals eternal separation from God!

The great news of Roman 6:23 is found in the second part of the verse.  This part gives us a reprieve, a renegotiation of the pervious set wages.

"...but the gift of God is eternal life 
through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Now that's a wage that no one should argue with, yet many still walk away from the negotiation table leaving that gift unopened.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Who are you talking to?

At the grocery story,  I saw a woman carrying on a full blown one-sided conversation with a box of cereal.   As I watched from a safe distance, her conversation became animated and one hand began gesturing.

From my place of safety about half a row behind her, I wondered if I should proceed with caution or backup-on-outa there.

I waited for a few seconds and then decided to push my cart forward, as far as I could around her, passing on the left.  I glanced back over my shoulder as the woman continued her one sided conversation.

She seemed so absorbed with the cereal box that I thought I was totally oblivious to her.

Then, ever so slightly, the woman turned her head and pointed at her ear.

That's when I realized I was a gawker, and she was on a bluetooth ear piece talking to someone on the phone.

Well, that was embarrassing!  Yet, it did cause me to ask this question...

Whose voice are you listening too and whose counsel are you taking?

In the Bible, Psalm 1 is an excellent chapter to put to memory.  It gives us a step by step warning about the slow progression into bad counsel.  First you walk, then stand, then sit and once you take a seat, you've made a comfortable place for the ungodly, the sinners and the scornful to whisper into your ear.
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
When taking counsel from others, remember these things.

Look for people...
  • with a proven track record of integrity
  • of like faith
  • who share your vision
  • who know how to keep a confidence
These types of advisers will give you the best chance of success.

And most importantly, seek the Lord on your own account.

In Isaiah 30:21 it says, "whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

At the grocery store that day, I watched the woman talking to the cereal box, I believed one thing but in reality what I saw was not true.

In this life, we need to be sure we know who we are talking to, and who we are listening to!

Look What You Did!

Have you ever said this to someone? "Look What You Did!"  Depending on your voice inflection, the meaning of this statement...