Wednesday, July 29, 2020

My Treasured Possession

The Christmas of 1999, I received the best Christmas gift of my life.  It may not have been special to anyone else, but to me, it was and is my treasured possession.
This is the story leading up to the Christmas of 1999.  
My uncle was a missionary in Sri Lanka in the 1950s.  While he was there, he purchased a large yellow-colored jewel and gave it to my grandma as a gift on one of his trips back to the United States.  The jewel was unset and stored in a black velvet bag.  
My grandma tucked her cherished gift away in her dresser drawer, and there it stayed until 1973 when she died.
While sorting through my grandma's things following her death, my mother found the black velvet bag with the jewel.  She took it home and put it in her jewelry box.  I remember taking it out on a few occasions to hold it in my hand.  It was beautiful and felt good resting in the palm of my hand.   
Then in 1975, my mother died, I was 18.  When we went through her jewelry box, I saw that yellow-colored jewel, and I wanted it.  I was born in November, and it was the color of my birthstone and there were no objections to me having that stone.  I loved that it had been my grandma’s and my mother’s before me.
The jewel stayed with me for the next four years.  Then during some lean years early in our ministry, my husband and I decided to sell it.  We had a buyer lined up who was willing to pay $25 which would have been more than a week's worth of groceries for us at that time.
In passing, we mentioned to my in-laws that we were going to sell the jewel that had been my grandma’s and mother’s, and they quickly said, we'll buy it.  We sold it to my husband's parents, and I never thought of that stone again until the Christmas of 1999.   Over twenty years had passed.
The Christmas of 1999, my father-in-law was in the ICU.  He would never leave the hospital again.  He died in March of 2000.  Before he went into the hospital for surgery, he and my mother-in-law decided to have that jewel set into a neckless for me for Christmas.
That Christmas morning, neither of my in-laws were with me, when I opened that dear gift.  When I saw that jewel encased in gold with a chain of gold, I knew they had lovingly cared for my treasured possession all those years.  They redeemed that precious stone and then gifted it back to me.  
When I wear that neckless today, I know it has passed through the hands of so many people in my life, people that I loved dearly and who dearly loved me.  That stone was redeemed, protected, given purposes, and has become my treasured possession.
My treasured possession story sounds a bit like another.
In Malachi 3:16-18, there is another story about those who honor and fear the Lord.
Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. 

“On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him.


And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
YES!
There truly is a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. 

We have been chosen and set apart!
We were redeemed, but not with money.  We were purchased with the blood of Jesus! 
Our lives were complicated messes.  We weren't polished, kept in velvet bags, or set in gold.  
We were lumps of dirt and full of sin, yet He still looks at us and said, 
"My Treasured Possession.”  






Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Righteous Indignation


I have been known at times to have this little problem called righteous indignation.  It’s where you hear something and become enraged over the injustice another person has suffered unfairly.  
I have verbally railed again such things in the past.  I was quick to speak and slow to listen.  I shared the stories of others, who I felt had been treated incorrectly, to let anyone who would listen know, I felt this behavior was wrong.  
I’m sure at this point you may be thinking, and what’s wrong with that.  Sounds perfectly reasonable.  
Well, it does, and it is if you have all the facts correct.  I sometimes don’t get all the necessary information correct before I ranted, then later, I would find out I responded to quickly or incorrectly with the limited or wrong information I had received.  
The facts have a way of setting things straight.  We may not always like the facts, but facts never-the-less speak the truth.
Here are some interesting facts from Zechariah 7:8-10.
Then this message came to Zechariah from the Lord: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.

It’s not easy when our righteous indignation is flaming hot over a current event, but the facts are the facts.  God wants us ALL to judge fairly, show mercy to each other, show kindness to one another, don’t oppress people, and don’t scheme against each other.

Maybe you’re thinking, well who does she think she is to be telling me how I should feel and react to…blah, blah, blah...

You don’t have to listen to me, just listen to the facts.  Here are the verses that follow in Zechariah 7:11-12.

“Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them."

When the Lord of Heaven’s Armies gets upset with us—lookout, now you’re about to see some righteous indignation.

I guess we’d better stick to the facts and judge fairly, show mercy, show kindness to one another, don’t oppress people, and don’t scheme against each other.




Wednesday, July 15, 2020

An Unsatisfactory Outcome



Some people want to do everything for themselves.  They refuse help when it’s offered and whatever their motivation was, this usually results in an unsatisfactory outcome. 

I’ve had this happen to me before.  I offer my help.  I can see exactly what needs to be done, but I’ve had to step back and watch someone struggle unnecessarily.   

There are two verses in Haggai (1:5-6) that when I read these, I’m sure God must be standing back and saying if you would only let me help.   

Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: 
"GIVE CAREFUL THOUGHT TO YOUR WAYS. 
You have planted much but have harvested little. 
You eat, but never have enough. 
You drink, but never have your fill. 
You put on clothes but are not warm. 
You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."

In Matthew 14, there is a young boy who brings his lunch to the disciple called Andrew.  Andrew then takes the boy and the lunch to Jesus and you know the rest of the story.    

Had the young lad tried to handle the food shortage on his own by distributing his fish and bread without involving Jesus, he wouldn’t have gotten far.  But put that same lunch in the hands of Jesus and a multitude is fed with more food left than they started with.  

Doing what YOU THINK is the right thing without bringing God into partnership with you will produce an unsatisfactory outcome.  
  • Have you ever spoke your feelings to someone before praying about it resulting in another being hurt by your words?   
  • Have you ever pushed your agenda on someone before seeking the Lord first to see if this was what He wanted for them and you?
  • Have you ever said, ‘no-can-do’ to a ministry opportunity before asking the Lord if He wanted to use you to do that very thing?  Maybe He wanted to stretch and grow you.
Okay, enough about me.

Even when we seemly do everything correctly in our own eyes, in the end, we will not be satisfied with the outcome unless we move into partnership with God.  

The above scripture from Haggai tells us that the people of that day worked hard, yet without involving the Lord, they were spiritually and emotionally hungry, thirsty, naked, cold, and poor.  This is an unsatisfactory outcome.

God will take the fruit of our labors (big or small) and use them for His glory when our motives are right, and we put everything in His hands. 

When we partner with God, our outcome will be Excellent.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The Song Of Love


In the movies, it is common to see a scene where a mother will be singing over her child A Song Of Love to calm or to sing the child to sleep.

When I was a new mom, there were no classes available on godly childrearing.  There were some worldly books, but nothing other than the Bible for training up a child with Christian values.

I learned from what I could remember from my parents’ example and from watching other new moms at church who were months or years ahead of me in the process.  

There definitely wasn’t a class called Baby Singing 101, but in March of 1978 my motherly instinct kicked in, and I began to sing over my first-born son.  Sometimes I sang spiritual songs and other times lullabies.

I sang songs of love.  

whispered words of love in my baby’s ear, “You are special to me.” 

“You are a gift from God.”

“There is no one else like you.”

“My heart is happy and full because of you.”

"I love you.” 

The sound of my voice singing and speaking over my troubled child would bring comfort.  It would bring peace and sleep would follow.

I think that’s why I love Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT) so much.  I get to picture myself cradled in the arms of my Heavenly Father and Him lovingly singing over me.

  For the Lord, your God is living among you.

    He is a mighty savior.

He will take delight in you with gladness.

    With his love, he will calm all your fears. 
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”


At 63, my memory is still reasonably good, but one thing I can't remember is my mother holding me as a new baby in the night and singing over me—but without a doubt, I know she did.  It would have been her inborn nature to do something like that because she loved me.  She delighted in me.  She was proud beyond words of her child.  She would have protected me at all costs.

I, however, do have a vivid memory of the amazing experience of singing over each of my three children.  I remember taking delight in them.  I remember my back getting up when I thought they were in any way being treated unkindly.  Many times, in my life, the Mamma Bear spirit has risen up in the protection of my children.  

Just think how much more our Heavenly Father is doing all this for us.  
  • He delights in His children.
  • He protects His children.
  • He hates injustice.
  • He calms the fears of His children.
  • He's the giver of peace.
  • He sings joyful songs over us; the songs of love.

Maybe that’s why David the Psalmist said, In His presence, is fullness of joy.

Today, if you are very still in His presence, maybe you will hear a song of love being sung over you.






Wednesday, July 1, 2020

ULTIMATE TRUST!


My husband loves my name.  


Yes, I’m well aware that Beverly is an amazing name, and what’s not to love. 
Beverly was also my dear mother-in-law’s name.  I remember the first time my husband told me his mother’s name was Beverly, I thought, does he think this is a slick pick-up line…and of course, I didn’t believe him.  We were 15 and 16 years old.
But true enough, we had the same name and even the same middle initial.  
The reason I know my husband loves my name is that he ‘calls it out’ about 100 times a day.  
“Beverly, come here.”
“Beverly, I can’t find _______.”
“Beverly, do you know where my _________ is?

"Beverly, come help me."
“Beverly, where are you?”
…and when we are not in the same place, he’s calling me on the phone while I'm in the check-out line, at the doctor’s office, in the car, doing the laundry and other places I don't care to mention.
I think you get the picture.  It’s probably the same at your house too, if you insert your name for Beverly.
I'll be honest.  There have been times I didn’t answer him.  I heard his calls, but I ignored him.  (Insert mental picture of me with my chin touching my chest in shame.)
Over the years, (almost 45 years of marriage to be exact) I have gotten weary of him needing my help, tired of him not looking hard enough for something before he calls me, tired of being pulled from what I’m doing to look for a sock under the bed.  
So much for that whole “help-mate” thing.  (Again…insert mental picture of me with my head hanging in shame.)
Our nation has and is going through terrible things.  We have witnessed a pandemic, other sicknesses that just keep coming, injustice, death, and Christians being martyred all around the world.  
These are most defiantly extreme times we live in.  But we are NOT the first generation to experience these things.   
In the book of Habakkuk, devastating things were happening, and in verse 1:1-4 Habakkuk lists a few of these traumatic things.  These were times of violence, inequality, destruction of property, dissension, and fighting.  (Sound familiar?)
In Habakkuk 1:2, he even cries out to God, “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?”
Yes, Habakkuk questioned God, but the wonderful thing about this story (unlike my behavior), God did not criticize or find fault with Habakkuk’s cries.
Instead, God gives him hope in verse 1:5.  
“Look among the nations and watch—
Be utterly astounded!
For I will work a work in your days
Which you would not believe, though it were told you.

In the midst of wars, oppression, and death...God has a plan that is so amazing, if we heard it, we wouldn’t even be able to believe it.

I’ve questioned God before when I felt hopeless and helpless.  The good news is, he didn’t ignore me.  He didn’t say, “Oh, it’s her again.  Can’t she even do one small task on her own?  Can't she handle it without calling me?” 
Not my God!  
He would never!  
He cares.
He has a plan.  
He is working things out.  
Another passage in Habakkuk that thrills my soul to the core, and I pray, when difficult times arise in my life, these verses will be my ‘go-to’ place.  
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,    
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    
and the cattle barns are empty, 
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation
!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!    
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,    
able to tread upon the heights.
Habakkuk 3:17-19. (NLT)

My job:  ULTIMATE TRUST!

Gotta go, I hear my husband calling me.  



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