Friday, December 6, 2013

How To Cast

1 Peter 5:6-7
(KJV)

7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

You may notice that my scripture reference includes verse 6 but that the verse is not included in my opening.  If you continue to read this post, you will see why and understand. 

Having grown up "in church" I have heard this verse quoted and re-quoted, and repeated, and re-repeated.  I came to a point in my life where I really needed to cast my cares on God...and I realized, to my embarrassment and shame...I didn't know how.  

I didn't know how!!  I felt like I would "cast" them...and they would fall right back on me.  Obviously, I was missing something.

Thankfully, since I did grow up "in church", I remembered something my dad always used to say about when you don't understand something in scripture, to look at the previous scripture(s) to figure it out.  So, in my desperation, I read verse 6.  Here is what it says...

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Anyone who has read my blog all along, may know that God tends to speak to me in a sort of jumping out way.  This was another one of those times.

First of all, I noticed that there was a colon at the end of verse 6.  Now, I am not an English major or anything like that, but I do know that a colon means that a thought or concept is continued or explained.  In this instance, verse 7 was never meant to stand on its own!

As I read verse 6, and I let it flow into verse 7, the jumping out part happened.  One cannot cast care anywhere without first doing what verse 6 says to do.  In fact, as I humbled myself under God's mighty hand that very day, (i.e. His power over and in my life), I found that my cares sort of cast themselves on Him!  It was just a natural result of saying, God, I give my life to you, whatever You let me go through, whatever You put me through, I trust in Your power and Your timing.  That is how you do it!!

I cannot sit here today and write this without confessing to having days of un-humbling myself.  As a human with a finite perspective on things, it is a process that needs to be done regularly.  My natural inclination is to worry and stress.  But when I remember to take a minute to bow to His power and plan, I find the cares of life are lifted.  I will never again hear verse 7 quoted without remembering and knowing that verse 6 must be done in order to cast my cares on Him. That's when, and only when I will know and sense the care He has for me.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

No Man's Land

Romans 12:6-8
The Voice
 
Since our gifts vary depending on the grace poured out on each of us, it is important that we exercise the gifts we have been given. If prophecy is your gift, then speak as a prophet according to your proportion of faith. If service is your gift, then serve well. If teaching is your gift, then teach well. If you have been given a voice of encouragement, then use it often. If giving is your gift, then be generous. If leading, then be eager to get started. If sharing God’s mercy, then be cheerful in sharing it.

I have spent a lot of time worrying about not being able to live up to my own expectations.  Recently, I have been dealing with some disappointment and a feeling of being in "no man's land" and unable to be all I think I should be, so I decided to turn to the Word to find some encouragement.

I came across this passage and, of course as usual, the Word spoke to me and is helping me to regain my focus.  I may not live up to my own expectations of myself...or anyone else's, however; according to these scriptures it definitely seems clear to me that the focus should be on what I do have to give and whether or not I am willing to utilize the gifts that God did give me. 

My suspicion is that most of us look around us and see the gifts that others have and somehow think that we should be able to do the same things, and if not, we are lacking in some way.  This would naturally distract one from their own gift!  And as a result, one's own gift would suffer from inaction.  Another negative result is that our families, circle of friends, and churches would become sterile and stagnant.  We need each of these gifts to be operating within us and around us to fully fulfill the plan God has for them in the first place! 

Maybe you and I do not completely know what our gifts are, maybe we don't need to know...maybe God created within us a natural instinctive desire to reach out in these individual ways.  I'm thinking that less worry about what we can't do and more reaching out in the way God leads us to is really all we need to be concerned with.  That "no man's land" feeling could just simply be God's prompting to use the gifts He gave you - and me!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Country and Christ

1 Peter 2:13-17
The Voice

13 For the Lord’s sake, accept the decrees and laws of all the various human institutions, whether they come from the highest human ruler 14 or agents he sends to punish those who do wrong and to reward those who do well. 15 You see, it is God’s will that by doing what is right and good you should hush the gabbing ignorance of the foolish. 16 Live as those who are free and not as those who use their freedom as a pretext for evil, but live as God’s servants. 17 Respect everyone. Love the community of believers. Reverence God. Honor your ruler.

I feel compelled to voice some thoughts that have been rolling around in my head for a while now regarding our country, freedom...and being Christ-like. 

We boast of freedom and rights with pride, including me!  But with freedom and rights come responsibility.  This seems to be where everything sort of goes off track.  I notice that there is a general misconception regarding freedom...it really doesn't mean you can do whatever you want.  Okay, yes, you can do whatever you want...but there is a price - consequences.

I will try to explain this with a spiritual application, and let the reader sort out the earthly application for themselves.  As Christians, we rejoice in the freedom and liberty that is given when we are born again.  And rightly so.  However, this does not all of sudden open the door to a free for all type of attitude.  No, we submit to the Word, and with humility become a prisoner (Philemon 1:1) to Christ himself.

Which brings us to the Christ-like part of my thought.  I don't need to expound on what these scriptures mean.  I think that is pretty clear.  What seems to need expounding sometimes it the practical application of them.  As citizens of a free country, do we as Christians feel exempt from the scriptural admonition to respect and honor those with whom we do not agree?  Does our earthly freedom overrule our spiritual obligation?  I do not believe we are exempt, nor do I see that any earthly "right" trumps the inspired Word of God. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Take the Time

Psalm 40:5
Living Bible

O Lord, my God, many and many a time you have done great miracles for us, and we are ever in Your thoughts.  Who else can do such glorious things?  No one else can be compared with You.  There isn't time to tell of all Your wonderful deeds.

I thought it was time to stop and take the time to mention how awesome God is to me.  I feel so insignificant most of the time.  I can see my failures and struggles all too clearly - and I know He can, too!  At times I find myself wasting a lot of time worrying about this or that, or trying to figure out this life as we know it.

No one likes a hard time, a bad time, etc.  But aren't those times the exact times that we experience the miracles?  I would suggest that every day we experience miracles as a result of the thoughts and plans God has for us.  Are we too busy worrying and trying to negotiate life that we can't see them?  I can only assume so, because every time I take the time to look back at my life and where I've come from and what He has brought me through, I see so many things that can only be His handiwork.  What more could I see if I had His eyes?

With what I can see, there is certainly not enough time to tell about it all.  However, at this time, I am taking the time - He has been so good to me.  He has brought me through the good, the bad, and the ugly.  He has blessed me much more than I deserve.  And every day He takes the time to remind me of who He is and who I am to Him.



Monday, September 9, 2013

God's Feelings

Hebrews 4:15-16
Amplified Bible (AMP)

15 For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.
16 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].

Like most people, I have a sight problem.  If I can't see it, it is really hard to believe.  While there is most likely a natural inclination to do this, it can also be learned behavior.  For example, someone lets us down or disappoints us - have this happen one time too many and you will find yourself needing to see to believe.  This can be way to easy to transfer to God's character.  Am I the only one who has assigned human characteristics to Him?  And by doing so, also assign human flaws?

I have not always believed God is who He is as opposed to what and who I think He is.  Thankfully, He is who He is and has a lot of patience with me.  This scripture came to my mind the other day and it hit me - God has feelings, too.  Only He is God.  So, He is perfect.  No human flaws.  When we cry - I think He cries.  When we hurt - I think He hurts.  When we are depressed - I think He is depressed.   He is not just somewhere sitting on His throne looking down and tsk-tsk'ing at us.  He understands...sympathizes...shares the feelings, that makes me think and believe that He is never too far away from any one of us.

I don't always feel this, or see it.  In fact, I've wondered where He was in some of those times.  But, according to this scripture, He's been there, done that.  He really, truly feels our pain...without the flaws of human nature.  Our new learned behavior needs to be fearlessly, confidently and boldly reaching out to Him...and believing even when we don't see.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I Turn To You

John 6:67-68
New Living Translation

67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”
68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.

I heard this song that I have included in my post today, and after feeling a witness in my spirit, I thought of this question Peter had asked Jesus.  I ask the same question today.  I'm sure most of you who happen to read this are asking the same one.  Where would we go?  To whom would we turn?  I turn to you, Jesus!!

Please take a couple minutes and listen to this song and let the presence of the one and only God comfort, soothe and surround you.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJMyCMRfK4A

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Take Your Hands Off Your Ears

Psalm 16:8
The Voice

He is ever present with me; at all times He goes before me.  I will not live in fear or abandon my calling because He stands at my right hand.

No matter how loud the distractions of life are, He doesn't change.  Some days you do want to abandon where God has placed you because you feel like you think you cannot hear His voice anymore.  Those things that distract us - and they are different for each of us - can get so loud at times.  Spiritually, mentally and emotionally you feel like putting your hands over your ears and shutting it all out. 

In a lot of ways, it does come down to fear.  Fear of others, fear of a situation, fear of weakness...insert your own fear here.  According to this scripture, and I love this particular version of it, He is always present, He is going before us, He has called us and He is the power in our lives. 

Remember these things, take your hands off your ears and you'll find the distractions have dulled and faded to a whisper. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Get Over Yourself

Luke 18:9-14
(Easy to Read Version)

There were some people who thought they were very good and looked down on everyone else. Jesus used this story to teach them: 10 “One time there was a Pharisee and a tax collector. One day they both went to the Temple to pray. 11 The Pharisee stood alone, away from the tax collector. When the Pharisee prayed, he said, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not as bad as other people. I am not like men who steal, cheat, or commit adultery. I thank you that I am better than this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, and I give a tenth of everything I get!’
13 “The tax collector stood alone too. But when he prayed, he would not even look up to heaven. He felt very humble before God. He said, ‘O God, have mercy on me. I am a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, when this man finished his prayer and went home, he was right with God. But the Pharisee, who felt that he was better than others, was not right with God. People who make themselves important will be made humble. But those who make themselves humble will be made important.”

I think this passage is pretty self-explanatory, so I won't bore the reader with a long dissertation about it.  Now we all know that the Pharisee was not without sin - okay, maybe he didn't do the things he mentioned, but at the very least, he was guilty of a proud and haughty spirit.  There were most likely other things he was guilty of, but maybe only his wife and children knew about those things.  Maybe it was something he was even hiding from them...and only God knew.  Either which way, regardless of his own opinion about himself, he was a sinner just like the tax collector.

The problem, as I see it, is when you look around and observe people and start to make judgments or assumptions about them and where they are at with their relationship with God, you step into God's shoes.  Besides the fact that that is a really brave thing to attempt - have you seen the work of God in someones life?  Have you seen where He has already brought them from?  Do you know how much junk they had to crawl through just to touch the hem of His garment?  Have you read the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector?

Here's some advice, if you find yourself looking around and thinking or saying anything that smacks of judgment like you must know everything about someone - seriously, get over yourself.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Call Me Crazy

2 Corinthians 5:17


Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

17 Therefore, if anyone is united with the Messiah, he is a new creation — the old has passed; look, what has come is fresh and new!

No one wants to re-create or re-invent something that's already been done.  Well, unless they are just a little bit crazy.  Generally, though, we don't do that because we are already benefiting from the original creation.  And once something is invented or created pretty much all you can do is improve on it.  The proverbial wheel, for example.  At some point way back when, someone had a great idea and figured out that with a round shaped object, things move faster.  Today the wheel has been improved and upgraded to the point of being way faster than the original inventor, I'm sure, ever dreamed of.  But, it's never been re-invented.  In fact, if someone was to attempt to re-invent the wheel, they would probably end up in an asylum somewhere.  You can't do it, it's been done.  

Well, call me crazy.  I do believe in re-inventing, re-creating.  Only, not the physical, the emotional and spiritual.  So many of us feel the need to cope and trudge along in the things that overwhelm us.  You know, just find a way to improve ourselves or our situation and circumstance.  And there are plenty of self-help ways to attempt to do this.  And one might find themselves improving.  Awesome, right?  

That is, until you read this scripture.  I don't care how long you have been filled with the Spirit, I don't care if you grew up on a church pew, I don't care how many self-help books one has read, I don't even care how "improved" someone might be...it is not the same as being in unity with Christ.  While the words are not in this passage, this sounds like healing to me.  This sounds like something beautiful.  This sounds like something joyful!  

I'm not looking for or settling for an improved self...I am going to let the re-invention power of the Holy Spirit take over - and create a fresh and new me!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Throwback Thursday

Psalm 78:7
The Voice

7Tell them to put their confidence and hope in God, and never forget the wondrous things He has done...

If you are at all aware of social media trends, the title of this post will sound familiar.  Throwback Thursday's, a way to basically reminisce about a time that you remember with nostalgia.  Plus, everyone else gets to see a photo of how you looked back in the day!

Well, as I contemplated this little trend, it made me think of another way to "throwback" and "share".  Life seems to be so full of trials and tribulations.  If it isn't me dealing with something, someone I know is dealing with something.  Regardless of the reasons and whys, we all deal with life.

It is so easy to get caught up in the daily struggle.  When you're in the middle of something, it is hard to see the end of it.  And depending on how long the struggle lasts, sometimes it's hard to remember life before that struggle.  But, what if we all did a Throwback Thursday about the things that God has done in our life?  This scripture in Psalms just says it how I feel today.  And to rearrange the wording just a little...if I can remember  the wonderful things He has done, that puts hope and confidence in my heart for my current situation or struggle.

And what would happen if we used social media to promote confidence and hope in God?  Maybe this particular trend won't ever catch on, but to those reading this post, maybe the next time you think of Thursday, you will at the very least think of something wonderful that God has done in your life...which will put hope and confidence back into your heart!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Seasons

Ecclesiastes 3:1
(New Century Version)

1There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season.

If you continue to read this chapter, you will find that both the positive and negative aspects of life are mentioned.  Looking at it through this perspective makes life make a little more sense.  If not really easier sometimes.

Any of you who have read my blog from the beginning know that it started as a result of my oldest child turning 18 and leaving home for college and my angst and struggle with that transition.  Well, here we are, almost two years later.  Another child, my youngest child, is getting ready to head out into life on his own.  Another wrenching of my heart.  Another piece of it out there walking around bound to bump into hard times and all the things life tends to throw at us.

I find myself with the same worries as my baby graduates from high school and leaves for his military training as I did two years ago.  Who is going to gently wake him up in the mornings?  How will I be able to go to sleep at night not being able to make sure he's safely tucked into bed?  I know some (mostly the dads) will read that and raise an eyebrow, but some (all the moms) will know or imagine what these feelings are like.

Yes, I have to let go. Yes, I will.  And yes, I know it is an important season in both our lives.  But with this season there comes a little rain, too.  I remember the day this boy of mine was born.  Showing you to your big brother.  Having no idea that within a month colic would set in and I would have many, many sleepless nights.  But those were seasons, too.  Too many to mention in a short post about feelings.

So, for this next season of life, while hard and painful, it is with pride and love that I will let my last child go.  Mom's prayers will be going continually before God, son of mine, you are loved so much!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Original Love

1 John 4:19
The Message (MSG)

19We, though, are going to love--love and be loved.  First we were loved, now we love.  He loved us first.

I have been thinking about this concept the last couple of days and being unable to get it off my mind, I decided it must be put into words.  This is not my first mention of love in this blog, but I do feel like there is an important element of love, especially God's love, that we miss sometimes.

As mentioned in a previous post, some of us don't really even know what love is.  Society, for sure, has confused it with so many different things.  But, if you really want to get down to it, love originated with God.  He is love.  I don't know about you, but there have been times in my own life where my perception of God was a little skewed.  I pictured Him sitting up in the sky somewhere on a big throne...with a stick of some kind.  Yep!  I figured He would use that on me if I did something bad.

That picture, even at this moment, makes me grin a little sheepishly.  I realize that that concept of God and love is a bit backwards and turned around.  He loved me, you, first!!  He is not waiting for us to love Him.  He is not waiting for us to get our lives all straightened out.  He is not waiting until we feel worthy of His love.  He is not waiting for us to even know how to love.  He loved us first.  Already.  Before.  In spite of!!

If you feel unworthy, sinful, ugly, guilty, shameful and somehow you think that means you don't deserve or can't be loved by God.  It's too late!  He already loves you and me and proved it via the cross.  And all He wants in return is for us to love Him back with that same kind of love.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Power of Love

Romans 13:10
(New Century Version)

Love never hurts a neighbor, so loving is obeying all the law.

As my fingers try to articulate my thought today, I find it difficult to put into a few simple words the overwhelming sense I have of the power that love has.  The word love is thrown about carelessly so much of the time.  Some mistake other feelings for love.  Some think love hurts.  Some have no idea what love even looks like.

Notice I did not say what love feels like.  While the love Jesus has for us is perfect because He is perfect, I believe the love we have for each other is not perfect, we are not perfect...because feelings do get involved.

Thankfully, our imperfections to not preclude love.  When one obeys and fulfills the law...that is love.  That's when the power of love happens.



Friday, February 22, 2013

Where God Is

Psalm 34:18
(The Message)

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

Recently I was thinking about how resilient people are.  The human spirit has an amazing capacity to recover and move forward, sometimes against all odds.  I think we encounter these kinds of people everyday without even knowing it.  Whether it's a child or an adult.  That's the amazing part of it.  One can experience some sort of trauma or set back and then adjust and cope without most people even knowing about it. 

In contemplating all of this, I realized that resilience, while a natural coping mechanism that is created within us, is not actually how we should live.  If one is being resilient and/or coping, it must mean there is something there to be resilient from or some reason to be coping...which means there is a need for healing. 

Resilience is the opposite of broken.  But it is in the brokenness that God is there.  Not in the "strength" of resilience and coping.  There are so many other scriptures that I could include in this thought, but I think the point is clear.  We have to quit being so "strong" and let God in so He can get to the broken parts and heal.  And because of our "amazing human strength", that can be a hard thing to do sometimes. 

Instead of people feeling like they should be strong and get a grip, they should let themselves be weak and broken...because that's where God is!  His strength is perfect.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Reason Why

2 Corinthians 1:4
New Century Version (NCV)
He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us.

Ever notice how even scripture can sound so trite sometimes?  That is, until it speaks directly to you. Then you find out that there is nothing trite about the Voice of God.  

I have asked God "why" about things so many times I have lost count.  As is obvious throughout my blog, I am completely human (not perfect) and painfully aware of that fact.  Life happens.  Sometimes things happen that are beyond our understanding.  We wonder where God was or how could He have let circumstances arise...especially if they were out of our own control and not of our own fault.

I still wonder about that.  But I do know that God didn't create us as robots...or angels...and so there is some explanation of how...if not why.

Interestingly, the mere mortal human while capable of suffering and pain, feeling it and causing it, is also capable of being used as an instrument of God to bring peace and comfort to another human.  While the why question is lingering in my head today, I can also see that there is an answer to it in this scripture.  Even if it is just one other person who is comforted...maybe that's a good enough reason why.