Wednesday, April 25, 2018

How do you smell?


Young children have a way of speaking truth.  Life hasn't turned them callus or made them self-conscious.  They just let it fly.  Sometimes, parents can be mortified by the truth of a child's words, and other times, it can become a devotional like today.     

I recently took a trip to visit my grandchildren out of state.  The youngest one who just turned seven said some funny stuff while I was there.  One day, when I rode along in the car to pick this grandson up from school, he got in the car and closed the door behind him.  Then he blurted out, "It smells like Grandma in here."

I laughed and asked, "Is that a good smell or a bad smell?"

He replied, "It's a grandma smell."

My son quickly tried to smooth things over when he said, “I think he's talking about your perfume, Mom."

Humm?  I decided not to press the subject.  

The scripture says that our praise is like a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God, but when we rub-up against the Lord through worship something amazing happens.  We take on the aroma, smell of His presence.

The Song of Solomon, is an allegory of God's love for Israel and the love of the Lord for we, His Bride (The Church).  So, when we read the words spoken between the two lovers in this book, we can imagine that it is Christ and the Church speaking to one another.

The Bride (that's us) said this about the groom (that's Christ), There is a fragrances about You, the sound of Your name recalls it.  No woman could keep from loving You.  (Song of Solomon 1:3 GNT)  

In 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 it says, Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God… a life-giving perfume.  This verse tells us that when we come into His presence our lives are affected by His aroma.

When I think back to my grandson's statement, "It smells like Grandma in here."  I'm gonna take that as a compliment.  Spiritually speaking, wherever I go and whoever I meet, I hope I leave all around me that life-giving perfume of Christ.  

When we are in the presence of the Lord through worship, prayer and the Word--His sweet smell rubs off on us.  We pick up that sweet fragrance of Christ which is a life-giving perfume to others. 

So...How do you smell? 


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Territorial

I have tendencies towards being territorial.  It's a reality that requires my constant attention--always.  I laughed the first time I heard this saying, what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine.  Yet, in all seriousness, my heart thought...me likey! 

Most people are a bit territorial whether it's money, possessions, time, relationships, even opinions.    

A few years ago, two of my grandchildren spent a day with me. (actual photo) They were playing together in a very small sandbox in my backyard.  A few territorial disputes required my intervention during their playtime.  

Finally, this peacemaker had had enough, so I drew a line from one corner of the sand box to the other and gave them instructions not to crossover into the other person's territory.  (I love the expressions on their faces in the photo.  Priceless.)

At first, my sweet little grand-babies sat frozen on their separate sides of the sandbox.  They were mesmerized by the line that divided them.  Soon, they began to play again, but they were always mindful of the boundary line.  For the remainder of the playtime they did not cross the line.  

Sometimes a boundary line can be helpful--like in regards to sin are our need to stay far from it.  But other times a boundary line can keep us from things we need to get close to--like God.  When we decide to pull back from God or draw a line in the sand to keep other Christians far away, are we doing the right thing?  Is this territorial behavior pleasing to God?

We need to be mindful, as Believers, that we are meant to be in community not in isolation.  

Years ago, when I drew that line of separation in the sandbox, it was the easiest thing for me to do.  Divide the bickering by drawing a line in the sand that should not be crossed, but in the body of Christ, we are not meant to be separated one from another.  

Galatians 3:26-29 provides for us a great big eraser that wipes out every line that divides us one from another.


So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 
for all of you who were baptized into Christ 
have clothed yourselves with Christ. 
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, 
neither slave nor free, 
nor is there male and female, 
for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 
If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, 
and heirs according to the promise.

Believers may not always agree on everything, but we most always be in fellowship one with another.  No more territorial disputes, no lines in the sand...we are one.

  





Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Directions Are Not Suggestions


I am notorious for not following the directions.  I often look at a recipe more like a list of suggestions for my consideration.  I am always looking for short cuts and substitutions in all my cooking recipes.  And yes, there have been some disastrous cooking fails in my lifetime that have come from cutting the corners.  The one pictured is not one of mine, but it could have been.

In the past, I’ve said the following:

"I'm not stirring this pudding continually for twenty minutes.  Who does that?"

"I don't think the butter needs to be cold.  Who wants to work with cold butter?"  

"The dough needs to be chilled?  I don't think so..."

Usually, as I'm scrapping my epic fails into the garbage disposal, I wonder what might have happened if I'd just followed the directions step by step.  

Directions are meant to be followed, after all, someone who came before me perfected the recipe through trial and error. 

In Roman 5:2-5 in the NET Bible there is a sorta recipe that if we follow it step by step will produce something beautiful.  If we chose to take a short cut, it may not turn out as planned.

 "...we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. 
Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, 
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance, character, and character, hope. 
And hope does not disappoint, 
because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts 
through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

On occasion, God’s recipe for our lives may require a pinch of suffering but keep following the steps all the way to the end because I’m thinking this Bible verse isn’t just giving us suggestions, but rather it’s a recipe meant to be followed as written.  God doesn't do shortcuts! 

 Directions Are Not Suggestions



Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Watch What You Pray For


29-years ago, a church in Grand Blanc, Michigan prayed for a young missionary family in the Philippines.  The attached photo shows the front and back of the bulletin from New Life Christian Fellowship on April 2,1989.  On that date, my husband and I along with our three children were living on an island in the central part of the Philippines.  

We were that missionary couple that New Life prayed for all those years ago.  

It's almost humorous that when this congregation was praying for us, little did any of us know that those prayers were for their future pastor.  My husband's first Sunday serving the congregation of New Life in Grand Blanc, Michigan was July 8, 2000, nearly 18 years ago.

The burden to pray for someone at a certain time in a certain place is no coincidence.  When the Lord directs us to pray, we don't always know the full ramifications of our prayers.  We simply pray and invite the Lord to have His way.  

Many years ago, my husband and I began praying for the future mates of our children.  We now have two daughter-in-laws and a son-in-law who were covered in prayer and came into our family in different ways.  

Our eldest son met his wife at college--we prayed with him about what college he would choose.  I remember saying to him as a senior in high school, "You could meet your future wife at the college you choose so choose wisely."  He quickly replied, "As if I'm not under enough presser picking a college, now I'm thinking about my future wife too."  And...ta-da...he found her at that college and we've loved his choice from the day we met her.  

Our second son had no idea that his wife was practically under his nose his entire life.  She was the daughter of a close family friend.  They never expected to fall in love while she served as a ministry intern at our church--but they did.  She had been a part of our lives literally before she was born.  We had no idea that while we were praying for our son's future wife that this little girl we loved even before she breathed her first breath, would become our daughter-in-law.  

Our daughter was introduced to her future husband while he was visiting friends who attended our church.  We didn't know him, but God did.  The Lord laid his hand on our son-in-law and pushed him to the front of the line just for her.  It was our prayer that she would find a husband who loved God, loved her and was a great father and provider.  Our son-in-law is batting a hundred in each of these.  We love him and are thankful for him.  

As we all pray and ask the Lord to lead us, the path He takes us on may be fraught with difficulties and hardships, but when we look back at the crooked path behind us, it is easy to see God's hand at each bend in the road.  

I'm not sure where you are in your life's journey, but don't stop praying.  Don't stop asking the Lord to be completely involved in the everyday activities and concerns of your life.  

After all, you never know what you might be praying for.  


Now, my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open
and let Your ears be attentive 
to the prayer made in this place.

2 Chronicles 6:40

Amen!

It's all about the heart!

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