and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Woodpecker Toothpick Picker

       We lived next door to my grandmother’s house when I was a kid.  I only have a few memories of her place, but the only possession of hers that I remember is her little woodpecker toothpick picker.  We loved to sit at the counter and have the little metal bird pick up toothpicks over and over again.

       About a decade ago, my aunt died and two of my sisters and I had to clean out her apartment.  First, all her nieces and nephews were welcome to come and take her possessions that they wanted.  We all walked around and wrote on our own page all the items we’d like, and then we went through the apartment together to make decisions. 

       Item after item got reserved for one person or another and eventually we got to the little toothpick picker.  Everybody had it on their list and it looked like it’d be a fight because we all wanted it.  My one observant cousin, however, noticed it was the only thing I’d asked for and said, “That’s the only thing you have written down, isn’t it?”  “Yes,” I said, “It’s the only thing I remember.”  Unanimously I got it.  It sits cherished in my curio cabinet as a memory of my Nana.

       When there’s only one thing we want it becomes the most important in our lives. It is our sole desire and focus.  Most of our effort and attention goes to that thing and we gain much pleasure from it.  It is much the same with the Lord.  When He is the one we want, our desire and focus, then most of our effort and attention goes to Him and we gain much pleasure from His presence in our life.  I cannot even explain the immense positive gains in my life due to Him… well, I could, but it’d take a lot of writing.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Mt. 6:33
seek those things which are aboveBe mindful of things above, not on things on the earth. Cl. 3:1,2
but they who are according to the Spirit (mind) the things of the Spirit. Rm. 8:5
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Lk. 12:34
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Php. 3:14

       These Scriptures show a focus and attention on God and His kingdom first.  For many years I thought I was putting God first but still maintained my own control and subconsciously delegated Him only to the parts of my life I wanted Him in, when I wanted Him there.  Most of that time I didn’t know true joy or peace.

       It was only when I began to make Him my priority, my focus, my first and most important one that I now live with that peace and joy even in the midst of troubles.  When I was willing to make Him the only ‘desire’ on ‘my page’, then the pleasure of His presence became my greatest treasure.  Life truly feels abundant (Jh. 10:10), exciting, and is full of His peace beyond understanding (Php. 4:7) and joy beyond measure (1Jh. 1:3,4).  It is the only way I choose to live now.  Come join me today!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fool or Wise?

       We all want to live.  Some people want to live forever.  There are people out there that would do anything to live in their mortal body, forever young and healthy, but that is not possible because the world is also dying.  I am more specific- I want to live forever in a perfectly healthy world and body.  I don't want to live in this mortal body that decays more every year and is destined to die?  To me, it is foolish to want to live forever in this dying world even if we are perfectly healthy.
       There are other things I think that are foolish: spending more money than you have, not listening to the advice of many counselors, thinking that man knows more than his Creator, etc.  If you want to know how to be wise, there are many Scriptures that can help with that and Proverbs is full of wisdom vs. foolishness and so is a great place to learn more about it.  Here is one prime example.
Forsake the foolish and live; and go in the way of understanding.
The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Pr. 9:6,10
       It is important to understand the logic in these two verses.  To live, you must forsake being foolish and must walk in understanding.  How do we live in understanding?  Fear God to start being wise, and have the knowledge, perception and discernment of the holy (meaning sacred, Holy One).  So, understanding is found in the knowledge of God.  The more we understand Him, the more we understand all things and the more wise we become.
       So basically we need to forsake the foolishness of man, and go in the way of God.  Seems easy enough to me.  God is our Creator and if we want to understand anything, He is the only one with all the answers- and we need to seek Him. 

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Prayer for Your People

       Father, I pray for revival.  I pray for revival in the hearts and minds of Your people.  I pray for revival in the local assemblies.  Let Your Spirit flow in Your people once again.  Open our hearts to Your Word and give us a renewed determination to spread Your gospel.  Lord, open the eyes of our spirit that we might see You for who You are, that we might see ourselves for who we are, and we might discern the enemy wherever he operates.
       Father, as a little spark sets a small area on fire, but then that fire receives oxygen and fuel that feeds it and causes it to grow consuming large areas, let Your Spirit ignite our hearts to passion for You and Your ways so that it grows to consume the world around us.  Let Your gifts flow in us again.  Help us desire to live holy lives in full dedication to Your service.  Lord, we want so much more of Your power displayed in our lives that all those around us know that You alone are the Almighty God and want You to be a part of their lives too.
Revive us, oh Lord, revive us in this land!

Will You not give us life again,
so that Your people may rejoice in You?
Ps 85:6

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

        There have been many times when I felt burned out from all the tasks I had to do, but the most difficult times came from parenting.  Remember never being able to sleep with a new baby?  How about colic?  Or getting off work after a midnight shift and going home to watch the kids?  Work, kids, household chores... oh, and God wants us to do what?  With what time?  And that's on top of devotions, prayer, Bible study and church?  No wonder many of us get burned out!
       If you take two same size jars, equally divided walnuts (in shell) and dry rice, and then fill the jars in specific ways, there is an interesting lesson.  The walnuts represent the things God wants us to do and the rice is our daily tasks.  Fill jar 1 with all the tasks (rice) you do every day first and then try to fit in what God wants you to do (nuts) and you can't fit them all in or close the lid.  Fill jar 2 with what God wants you to do (nuts) first and then pour the tasks (rice) in and watch as all the walnuts and the rice fit in.  See, when we put God first and what He wants, then the other things will eventually get done.
       A lot of times we get burned out because we are trying to fit everything in instead of doing what God wants first.  In His will, He helps us with our tasks.  Sometimes they may get done by others, by us at different times or they just don't seem important anymore.  Many good Christians with strong ministry callings have been burned out by doing too much- more than God wants them to do.  We should seek God first and see what He wants us to do.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Mt. 6:33
       Moses was well on the way to being burned out having to sit all day and be judge to the people as well as lead them, seek God's will, etc.  Who knows why God chose to use Jethro, but after seeing Moses overextending himself, Jethro advised Moses to set up righteous judges for smaller matters.  This was a sharing of the burden and gave Moses needed rest or time to focus more on God's will for His people.
And Moses' father-in-law said to him, The thing that you do is not good. You will surely wear away, both you and this people that is with you. For this thing is too heavy for you; you are not able to perform it alone. Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you. Ex. 18:17-19
       God will be with us where ever we go whether we are in His will or not.  God will bless us and give us His strength and help when we choose His will over our own.  It is NOT God's will for us to be burned out but to get the rest He knows we need in between doing His will.  Our candle should only be burning the way He wants it to.  He IS the Light after all...

Monday, January 06, 2014

Having a License

       My daughter has her G1, which means she is just learning how to drive.  Eventually she will graduate into her full G license at which point there will be no driving restrictions other than obeying the law.  She is learning through a friend that if you choose to break the law, you may be fined, and she knows that if you break the law severely enough, you may lose your license.
       Of course, the decision to follow the law is completely up to her.  She could decide that having her full license makes her free to drive however she wants to, but she would be wrong.  If she breaks the law, whether or not she gets caught, she is still breaking the law.  With that attitude, she will always be at risk of the consequences of her decision.  There isn't much difference between a law breaking driver and a Christian who thinks that God's forgiveness means they can continue to sin.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? Let it not be! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Rm. 6:1,2
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under Law, but under grace? Let it not be! Rm. 6:14,15
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, Hb. 10:26
       God doesn't give us permission to sin just because we are forgiven.  In fact, He wants us to be holy as He is holy (1Pt. 1:16).  He wants us to "Hate the evil, and love the good..." (Am. 5:15).  If we truly love Jehovah, then we will hate evil (Ps. 97:10), for God is love (1Jh. 4:8) and love should be without hypocrisy- abhorring that which is evil and cleaving to that which is good (Rm. 12:9 KJV).
       We are surely saved by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, and not by works.  But repentance is a part of turning to Christ and includes a change in heart and ways.  If we are truly repentant, then we will not want to sin and will try to live as dead to sin; we will try to live holy lives.  In fact, the way we live after salvation should show continual changes for the better in us.
       Some of the words involved in these changes are: sanctification, transformation, renewed, etc.  There are at least two ways the world knows we are Christians: by our love (Jh. 13:35) and by showing fruits in our lives (Mt. 7:16-20).  And just like a driver's license, if we choose to break the law (sin) then there will be consequences.  Perhaps it builds a wall between the Lord and us, or we have an unmarried pregnancy, lose a relationship, never break out of the devil's bondage, etc.  Whether or not we pay those consequences now or later, they will be paid for.
How we live is our decision!