Wednesday, January 29, 2020

No Place I'd Rather Be


As a child, there was no place I'd rather be than... Camping!  Yup.  It's one of my fondest young memories.   

As a child, I loved everything about camping from the pre-trip packing to setting up the campsite.  

I couldn't wait to go swimming in the lake or have dinner on paper plates at the picnic table.  Sleeping in a sleeping bag and singing around the campfire were wonderful.  The best thing about camping was being with my family.

As great as camping was there is one thing that surpasses that experience by far. 

As a young adult, I put Psalm 27:4 to memory because this verse tells best my favorite place to be.     

One thing I ask from the Lord,   
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord    
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord    
and to seek him in his temple.

There are distractions around every corner of our lives.  Things that pull our focus from the importance of gathering together as Believers.  Things like sporting events, weariness, work opportunities, and kid's school or sporting activities.  

With all the allures of the world, there's still No Place I'd Rather Be than worshiping the Lord with God's people together at church.  



I hope I never forget the fond memories of camping as a child, but far better than those memories is the priority my parents placed on teaching me the value of coming together in a place of worship with God's people.   

My parents created an appetite for the things of the Lord early in my life.  Camping holds great memories, but camping happened only one week each year.   Whereas, being with God’s people was year around and multiple times each week.  Coming together as Believers, cultivated in me a desire to dwell in the house of the Lord.  

Now that I’m in my 60’s, there is No Place I’d Rather Be than...to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.









Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A Scent of Water

There are certain smells that bring good memories like springtime. 

I have good memories of opening the door on that first warm morning after a long cold winter and breathing in the warm morning air of spring.  The smell of dirt is in the air.  

I don't know why this makes me remember my childhood fondly, but it does.  The ground after a fresh rain mingled with the warm air is a sweet aroma, maybe I like it best because it's the announcement that winter is over and something new is coming.   

The smell of homemade bread baking is another great memory from my childhood.  After a long hard day of third grade, my grandma would have homemade bread baking, and when I opened the door that awesome smell would greet me.  All the trials of third grade would be left behind.  My favorite part was the heel (end piece) dripping with butter.  The smell would fill the house with its goodness.  

Or what about the smell of flowers.  The fragrant aroma seems to come from nowhere and you breathe it in deeply and sigh.  I don't believe that I've ever received a rose, and didn't immediately lift that flower to my nose and breathe in the aroma.

Yes, smells bring good feelings and good memories, but they can also do so much more according to God's Word.
In Job 14:9, in the GW translation, it says, merely a scent of water will make it sprout and grow branches like a plant.

What is that “scent of water” that awakens you spiritually causing dried and dying branches to sprout and grow? 

For me, it can be as simple as:

  • ·      Hearing someone pray with power and authority
  • ·      The truth of God's Word spoken and rightly divided 
  • ·      The phrase of a song sung at a time of need 
  • ·      The touch of someone who comes alongside you in your distress 
All of these are like the “scent of water” to the spiritually wounded. 

Take a deep breath and breathe in all that God has for you.  I can smell the “scent of water."

Can you?  

This "scent of water" brings life to the dying.





Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Take My Hand


Over the past 20 years, I have been the wedding planner for our church.  My main job as the wedding planner is to get everyone in the wedding party from Point A to Point B in a seamless flow.  This is what I hope will happen, but that's not what always does happen. 
For example, my worst nightmare--the aisle runner.   I really hate those things.  I'm praying the whole time the poor person chosen to pull that tangled mess down the aisle, doesn't end up with a disaster. 
During the procession, I've seen bridesmaids who have tripped on their dresses, dropped their flowers, and stood in the wrong place at the altar.
And let's not forget about the fainting groomsman.  That's always a crowd-pleaser. 
What about the children in the wedding party?  They are always the wildcard.   You never know what’s going to happen when they start their journey down the aisle.  I’ve seen children drop to the floor in a pool of tears and have to be carried away in a heap, while others have bolted down the aisle like contenders for the Olympics.
All of these distractions quickly vanish when the bride enters.  All eyes are on her as she is escorted in by her father or someone of significance in her life.  While everyone's eyes gaze on her, my favorite place to look is directly at the face of the groom.  

When he sees his future wife enter, his expression reveals the emotion in his heart and that joy is priceless.
The bride's entrance is a pronouncement that she is choosing him.  Her movement towards him says I trust you.  I come willingly.  I love you.  
In reply, his face is saying, I accept you.  I'm here for you.  I love you.

The book of Esther is the story of a brave queen.  There are so many aspects of this story worthy of mention, but there is one above all others that speaks to me of courage, love, and acceptance.

Esther is confronted with a difficult decision that could put her own life in danger.  Her choice to go into the King uninvited could very well mean her death as is clearly stated in Esther 4:16.

“I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” 

Esther's willingness to die to save her endangered people shows her strength of character to stand against the tide.  There are occasions in life when we must take a stand, even when that stand is unpopular. 

In the next chapter, Esther 5:2 (TLB) says this:

 And when he saw Queen Esther 

standing there in the inner court, He welcomed her, 

Holding out the golden scepter to her.  

So, Esther approached and touched its tip.

This has always been one of my favorite verses in the book of Esther.  There is a slight similarity between Esther coming into the King and the wedding ceremony of today.  It is a beautiful act of acceptance as the husband extends his hand to his bride and she puts her hand in his.  This simple gesture is a show to all who are watching that he accepts her.

The difference between a wedding today and Esther presenting herself uninvited to the King was that Esther knew if the King did not raise his scepter to her, she would be put to death for coming into his presence uninvited.

This story causes another King to come to mind--another Husband whose laws are vastly different than the King of Esther's time.  

This other King has no restrictions about those who come into His presence.  With Him, that royal scepter is always extended to whosoever will.  This King's joy overflows at the sight of His bride.

This Husband-King is Jesus and He's saying to us now and forever...

"Take My Hand."

Therefore, let us confidently approach the throne of grace

to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.
Hebrews 4:16 (NET Bible)



 
 





Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Focus! Focus!

I’m a person who has to work extra hard to stay focused especially when there are distractions.  

In my childhood, there were many occasions in elementary school while taking a spelling test that I became distracted.  

One of those crazy spelling words would send me into an amazing daydream.  It would go something like this.

Teacher: “Number four-spell pool.  I like to swim in the pool. Spell pool.”

Everyone else would hurriedly write down the spelling word, but not me!  

Me: Pool, I wish I had a pool.  I like to swim.  If I had a pool in my backyard, I’d swim all day long.  I’d have my friends over, and we’d dive into the water.  The temperature would be perfect in my pool—never too cold or too hot.

Then I’d hear the teacher say: “Number ten-jump.  Jump up and down for joy.  Spell Jump.”

Me:  Panic set in as my body became all hot and prickly.  I had daydreamed through five spelling words.  This scene played out over and over all through my elementary school years.

I admire a person who can remain on task during a bombardment of distractions.  In the Bible, Nehemiah is that kind of man.  

He is trying to rebuild the wall and get the doors in place, he is continually being distracted, but unlike me, he stays the course.

In Nehemiah 6:2-4 (TLB) it says this;
…they sent me a message asking me to meet them in one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But I realized they were plotting to kill me, so I replied by sending back this message to them: “I am doing a great work! Why should I stop to come and visit with you?”
Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply.

Here are a few things we can learn from these verses and apply to our lives. 

First, when we are about God’s business, there will always be opposition to what we are doing.  Be faithful to what you know God has called you to do in the face of naysayers.  

Second, don’t allow distractions to pull your focus from the task at hand.  

At any time in the process, Nehemiah could have stopped to deal with any of the numerous distractions that were constantly coming up, but he stayed the course.  He kept his focus on the things that mattered.

What is pulling your attention away from the important task of all Believers--the great commission?

Start this year with a plan to be an intentional witness for the Lord then...

Focus!  Focus!


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A Person of Influence

Today is the beginning of 2020.  It's a brand new year and the perfect time to make some changes! 


Throughout my life, people have influenced me both negatively and positively and for this very reason, when my children were young, I tried to control who spoke into their lives.


As much as I could, I wanted them to spend time with those who would influence them to live a life of integrity.  I wanted people in their lives who would influence them to seek the Lord and who desired to live for Him.   

 

As much as I tried to control things, a few friends always crept in who had a negative influence.  These were the friends who encouraged my children to lie about where they were going or what they would be doing.  Like engaging in non-mom approved activities.     


Even though there were youthful blunders, I'm thankful that all my children chose to follow the Lord.  

...And now it's payback time for them.  It's their turn to hope and pray that each of their children will be influenced by people in positive ways. 

 

In the Old Testament, Ezra was a man of influence in his community.   I love what Ezra 7:10 says. 

“For Ezra had devoted himself to 
the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, 
and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.”

 

 Ezra was a great leader of God's people because his life and heart were devoted to the Word of God.

Ezra not only studied God's law, but he also did what was written there.   It was his personal mission to know and to obey God’s Word.  Ezra's life displayed the power of one dependent upon the hand of God.

Another thing we can learn from Ezra's life was that he had influence with the King of his time.  In Ezra, it says, “For the hand of the Lord his God was on him.”  

Because of this, the King granted Ezra whatever he asked.  

When I examine my life, I am well aware of the times I've fallen short in being a person of positive influence on those around me.  But this is a new year, and it's time to once again take inventory.    

Here are a few questions I'm asking me at the beginning of 2020, and if you would like to take inventory of your life, ask yourself these questions.   

Am I devoted to the Word of God?  It's a new year.  Even if you don't read the whole Bible through in 2020, make a decision to read a portion of God's Word every day.

Am I dependent on God?  Don't try and figure everything out all on your own.  Ask God for direction.  Then be quiet and see what God speaks to your heart.  He will do that when we're quiet before Him.  

Can others see God's hand on me?  Be a godly example in word and deed to those around you.  It may take time, but eventually, you will move from being a negative influence to becoming a person of influence, one that the hand of the Lord is on.

Do you desire to be a Person of Influence?

If so, here's a great place to start; Bible reading, dependence on God, and living a life that displays to others God's love and mercy.  

Happy New Year and welcome to 2020!



The Favor of the Lord

I love it when I'm the favorite, but not so much when someone else is shown favor at my expense.   In my life, I have known what i...