Good Student

Bible PicAre children the only ones who need to be learning? One might think it a silly question as we are always learning throughout life, though not always in a formal classroom setting. Our learning doesn’t just include what we need to know to live in the physical world, but also the spiritual one – 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) tells us “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” said with exasperation and dramatic flair while flopping onto the bed or back in the chair. This is a statement from my grandson now that schooling has transitioned to home;  where he would rather be playing video games or with his dog. So, anyone ever tell the Lord you want to be a good student and ask for help with tendencies to be distracted by other things? If so you’re not alone, the prayer just happened to be mine as I began daily devotions. I have such good intentions to study or be in prayer when I am suddenly bombarded from various angles. The cat wants attention, the phone rings, the birds are chirping, thoughts pop in of things to be done or remembering this and that.  Yikes! Where does it all come from? Does it lurk in corners like dust bunnies just waiting for opportunity?

Back to topic, after asking for help in this area I go to read; what do you think the first scripture my eyes see is… Hebrew 12:11 ESV, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hmm, is this my day for instruction? Discipline seems painful…but it yields…to those who have been trained. So do I discipline the lurking dust bunnies (distractions) or myself in how to deal with them?

I think there may be wisdom in going into a closet (figuratively speaking) to pray (Mathew 6:6), besides private prayer time, a closet also blocks distractions, it shuts the world out. When time for schoolwork it makes my grandson unhappy when I put the dog out of the room and close the door. He likes the dog with him but he’s a big distraction; running in and out, barking at anything that moves outside the window, chewing on toys, or nuzzling in for attention.

The only way for undistracted study (or prayer) is, for a time – to be separated from distractions.  “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Nope…perhaps it’s another reason we are admonished to – be still and know that He is God. When we are quieted before Him, is it not easier to hear and learn?

Lord, I want to be a good student of yours, help with my tendencies to be distracted. I want to be disciplined that I might know the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Amen

Clearing Focus

The stars, clear and bright, twinkling in the night sky as I gaze through the window; what a delight. To put things into perspective, I live in city, though small, the lights and some pollution do not give the best of views. I have become accustomed to the way I normally see the night sky so having a clearer view is a delight. I see more stars than normal with a blacker backdrop for them with the absence of haze.

   Having this time of rest (aka quarantine) can allow us down time for reflection and refocus. How often do we get caught up in the busyness of life or the journey we are on, rushing here and there – for this or that, that we do not see other things around us as clearly as we ought?

   I was thinking of the Wise Men following the star, we read in Matthew 2 where they stopped in Jerusalem to ask “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East”? After hearing from King Herod “they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.” Why did they stop in Jerusalem, did they lose sight of the star they originally saw in the midst of their journey? Why after a time of rest in Jerusalem, while waiting for the answer, did they once again see the star which took them where they wanted to go?

   I don’t want to suggest anything into the Wise Men’s story beyond what is intended, just comparing it to some of my own journeys where I started with focus only to lose sight of it along the way, then needed down time to gain proper focus again. Some of those times were not of my choosing, caused extra frustration in the beginning, none the less it was needed and the Lord worked it out for my good.

   I’m certain during this time in our history we are all – all over the place, from time home alone, to being extra busy with children out of school, to a wide range of emotions, missing normal socialization, birthday and celebration gatherings. A question to consider – Lord, what do you want me know, to learn, in this time? Who do You want to be to me, or for me to know You as, in this situation.

   Like the night sky which is clearer and stars more visible, possibly due to decreased vehicle traffic, are we able during this time with decreased activities also see more clearly what is before us? Is this a good time to evaluate life, family dynamics, relationship with the Lord, activities, what we can live with or without, where are we headed from here; what do we want to change? How are we letting the Lord use this time for our good?

Daily Strength

Bible PicThe Lord will be our daily strength as we draw on Him.

Exciting Times

Rita - church top  Is this not exciting times? Who would have thought Facebook would be a place you would see an abundance of gospel messages. I rarely looked through facebook streams because of the post content.  Now I see scriptures and encouraging words posted all over, you could almost do a daily devotion from them.  When contemplating this article I chuckled thinking – I could just use facebook posts.

      All of our lives have been affected in some manner by the coronavirus, COVID-19. We as people who follow Jesus have the opportunity to shine, to not let COVID-19 be a bushel over our light.  To walk in peace with calm assurance in our Savior and not give into panic, fear, and irrational decisions; to not consider just our needs and hoard everything for ourselves, instead to reach out to others in their need. It reminds me of the early church, where they were, from their own resources, meeting the needs of each other. It’s an exciting time for the church to be the church outside the church walls.  To demonstrate what we see in the Bible; to not just read it – but to do it. Hmm, have an extra role of toilet paper or bag of rice – drop it on the front porch of someone that doesn’t have any.

   The phones not dead; let’s celebrate its invention and brighten someone’s day with a call. It’s great we don’t have to lose contact with our family, friends, or neighbors. Perhaps it’s time to reach out to those we’ve lost contact with to reconnect. We can let others know they’re being thought of and prayed for; leave them with encouraging words to ponder. Perhaps our own day will be brightened and gloomy clouds dispersed.

   The Lord told us He works things for good; just look at all the churches that are now streaming services online for their congregates, and the world, to watch while staying home.  The internet is being flooded with the Good News, which is going around the world. Is that not exciting! My church had talked about streaming our services but never got there, well…we are now. Adversity is a good motivator to propel us forward into doing things.

   Then there is the prayer. Everyone is calling for us to pray, from the President down. What a time for us to humble ourselves, pray, and seek God.

   As we rise above the negativity, kicking doubt and fear to the curb, we’ll be able to hear God speak more clearly and view things in a better light. This time shall pass, let’s make the best of the opportunities we have.

The Lord bless you and watch, guard, and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you; The Lord lift up His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace (tranquility of heart and life continually). Numbers 6:24-26 AMPC

I Hear Your Prayers

I love you much, I hear your prayers, they do not fall on deaf ears. There is a perfect timing for all things. I am opening the doors before you from long ago prayers and some current ones. As you prepare yourself and are dependent on Me, you are now entering a place where you can operate in those areas without them being too much for you to handle.  I don’t want to give you what will cause you to fall because of not being ready to carry it or walk effectively as you and I desire. Your trainings and preparation time have not been in vain; nor are you through with all you need to learn – it is a lifelong process. Continue searching to know and understand Me, My ways, My heart, and the answer to those puzzling and mysterious questions. Continue with a hungry heart, open ears and yielded spirit. Be careful of being too busy to have time with Me or in My word. You are a delight, I take delight in you.

Will You Be Mine

rose after rain-online  Have you noticed some dating couples are content with a casual relationship? They spend more time with their individual friends and separate interests than with each other? Then other couples desire to be around each other frequently, pursuing similar interests and common friends. Someday, they will fully commit to each and marry. Other individuals know after the first or second date that this is the person they will spend the rest of their life devoted to; the relationship is full of passion and devotion. The woman anticipates the day her beloved asks “will you be mine?”

   Do you see these types or relationships playout in the spiritual realm? Some accept Jesus Christ as savior, have their “fire insurance” so to speak; they are safe from hell but only spend time with Jesus once a week; they are content with a casual relationship, not wanting to fully give up all their old ways. Then others upon accepting Jesus pursues a deeper relationship, you begin to see lifestyle changes as they grow in faith, they enjoy being with Jesus and other believers; yet the ways of world still has some draw. While other individuals leave no doubt when they say yes to Jesus; having heard Him ask “will you be mine?” they are completely sold out, head over heels in love, fully committed with radical life changes. They strip off all the old garments abandoning their former lifestyle in pursuit of the One who loves them the most and set them free.

   I marvel at married couples move in sync with each other like a well-oiled machine, gracefully flowing together in a beautiful dance of life. They sense what each other is feeling or thinking without a word spoken; always being attentive to each other, wanting good for them.  I marvel even more when I see individuals flow in sync with the Lord, dancing the dance of life together. They carry the beautiful presence of Jesus; the fragrance of heaven is on them. They are tuned into what the Lord is doing and strive to do likewise. They seem to embody the oneness Jesus speaks of in John 17:21.

   When you take inventory of your spiritual life, where do you fall? Casual, sold out, or somewhere in between? Do you hear Jesus asking “will you be mine?” Jesus the Groom is already committed to us; the question is where are we in our commitment to him. He doesn’t want, and I might add He doesn’t deserve, a casual relationship with us. He desires a bride who will be committed to Him, forsaking all other pursuers.

   Have you? Will you? Say yes… whole heartedly?

I Know

Dove and featherI have not forsaken you. I know your plight. Continue trusting in Me and you will see My glory manifested in you.

Why Fret

Lizard BuddiesWhy do you fret? Am I not trustworthy? Leave it in My hands, I know your desires; remember how much better My ways are.

Tune In

Bengal Cat in the SunAs you stay tuned into Me, walking close by My side, guided by Holy Spirit, you will know the way to go. The decision will be yours on what you choose to do. I have much before you, things your heart desires of. You are my beloved; I want the best for you.

Ready, Set, Live

Margie - Burney Falls #1   I heard of a gentleman who worked in the library of a newspaper agency where files were kept on people. People were divided on shelves between the living and the dead. One day as he was looking through the ‘dead people’ section spotting a file on Jesus Christ, with no one looking he moved the file into the ’living people’ section.

   As we go into the New Year where do we have Jesus filed? Is he in ancient history, gone the way of the dodo bird, or is He alive in our lives?  Yes, He is the Ancient of Days; yes He died, but His story didn’t end there and neither does ours. There is no tombstone bearing the inscription “Jesus Christ, Son of God…He lived, He died, He will be missed”. Jesus rose from the dead, is alive today, as is his promises.

   Some people are just here; they exist but don’t really live.  In John 10:10 Jesus states “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”. Abundantly means exceedingly, beyond measure, great plenty, amply supplied. What an offer He has for us! With all offers we have a choice to make, do we accept it by coming into agreement with what the Word says is for us, instead of aligning with the gloom and dread with no hope of something better, that we often hear around us.  I for one lived in that world of no hope for too long, I have no desire to return to it; let’s choose the abundant life as we forward.

    Before we start thinking gold, silver, yachts, expensive mansions, and more money than we know what to do with, I think Jesus’ perspective on abundance is not material possessions. Many people have great wealth and vast possession yet are hopeless and depressed. Jesus is not against money or possessions – after all Psalm 50:10 says “For every beast of the forest is mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills”. Money is a source to meet our needs and a way to be a blessing to others, not the source of our life’s purpose. There are things of greater value than money can buy such as: an abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, true friendships, salvation and eternal life, plus an intimate relationship with the God of the universe.

   This abundance is available through relationship with Jesus, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”. Paul instructs us to “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God”. Is your life hidden in Christ? If not it can be, refer to “Finding Freedom in God’s Perfect Peace”, in this paper.

   Are you ready for the New Year? Are your eyes set on things above? Are you ready to live, really live?