Wait…and Listen

Insight for Living publishes a Daily Devotional. The following is their devotional for Sunday, March 22, 2012, yesterday. It touched me deeply so I wanted to share it with you. They also have a large Broadcast Library from which you can choose from Hundreds of broadcasts.

During the three days of waiting, there is a “white space” when nothing is happening—at least nothing visible. You could easily tell yourself at the time, “I’m waiting in vain. Nothing’s going to change.” That’s what the adversary wants you to think: “Waiting’s a waste.” Don’t you believe it! When the enemy’s message roams into your mind, you need to kick it out. Reject it. Look at another verse in Isaiah, just a few verses after the “eagle” verse.

Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand,
Who says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:1013)

It’s those kinds of thoughts that surely strengthened Esther while she was waiting, praying, and fasting for those three days. Mordecai did the same, as Esther had commanded. But now their roles were reversed. He was no longer in charge; she was. Or, better still, the Lord was. And as the Lord gripped her heart, she became unafraid of what she faced.

This may be one of those “white spaces” in your own life. Maybe it’s time for you to pray and fast and to call upon a few close friends to fast and pray with you. Maybe it’s time for you to say, “I’m not going to rush into this unpredictable and unprecedented situation. I can’t find the path to walk. So I’m going to wait. In the meantime, I’m going to give it to God. I’m going to listen with a sensitive ear and watch the Lord’s leading with a sensitive eye.”

God counsels us with His eye. The eye makes no sound when it moves. It requires a sensitive, earthly eye to watch the movement of the eye of God—God’s directions. All He may do is turn your attention in another direction. But that may be all you need. As you wait, listen. Pore over a favorite passage in His Word. Quietly give attention to His presence, and He gives you direction.”

The website is: https://www.insight.org/resources/daily-devotional/individual/wait-.-.-.-and-listen1

6 Reasons to be Grateful for COVID-19

Our world is currently experiencing an enormous challenge in the shape of this quickly spreading virus. Some people have become extremely fearful. Often this fear takes the form of lashing out in anger or hoarding items they perceive to be essential.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Rather than give in to these things, I entered my prayer closet and sat with God awhile. When I came out, I realized that I could be grateful for even this. Here are six reasons that I am grateful the COVID-19 virus came along.

  1. It makes me humble. I am not as strong as I like to believe. The world tells us that we are strong and powerful, that we can do anything. It also tells us that we deserve everything, so we should go out and get it. Reality is, I am not powerful at all. I am weak and I am afraid. Yet God is All Powerful.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9
  2. It makes me remember God. The most important things in life are not buying a new shiny car, or going to the next big party. The most important things in life are God, people and showing love in tangible ways.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37
  3. It gives me an opportunity to stand up and encourage other people. The Oxford dictionary defines to encourage as to give support, confidence, and/or hope to another. Some synonyms are to uplift, inspire and motivate. A community or society of people can withstand and accomplish SO much, if they strive to encourage one another daily.     “Encourage one another daily.” Hebrews 3:13
  4. It gives me an opportunity to show grace to others. People are scared and not acting like themselves, but they are doing the best they can. Neighbors, companies and corporations are made up of people who are doing the best they can. The customer service person on the other end of the line has probably had a harder day than I have. A gentle and patient voice can go a long way to helping others make it through their day. Rather than lashing out in anger or suing people for not being perfect: take a deep breath, smile and tell them ‘Thank You’. I want to be known as a person who made it better, rather than a person who made it worse.
  5. It gives me time for concentrated Bible Study and Prayer. Instead of running to more meetings and meeting friends for drinks, I now have time to find a quiet place where I can open my Bible and search the scriptures. I can now sit at the feet of the Almighty God of the Universe and praise Him for his Power and Love. I can ask Him for His will and for direction in my life. If you draw close to Him, He will draw close to you. He is only waiting for you to open the door, then He will come in and meet with you. (Rev. 3:20)
  1. It gives me time to read a great book. There are so many out there!
    1. https://www.kingsenglish.com/newsletter This is a fantastic independent bookstore that has a newsletter (Inkslinger) with reviews of some wonderful books. Check it out!
    1. https://www.nytimes.com/books/best-sellers/ Even more books to view here!
    1. https://www.christianbook.com/page/christian-books?navcat=Books This site has so many books available, it would take years of secret little viruses to get through them all.
    1. https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/264.Books_That_Everyone_Should_Read_At_Least_Once  This list of classics is full of high-quality literature that will never go out of demand.

“Social Distancing” will not always be with us – but for now, let’s focus on, and enjoy, what we CAN do, not bemoan what we cannot.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

No matter where we are or what we are doing – we can always spend more time with God!

“Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1Cor 1:3

Please share a suggestion or a story to tell about a positive way someone is spending their days.

Beauty

On December 22, 2019, we had a beautiful wedding in our family.

Matt and Eriko

The bride was beautiful – and her dress! The groom was handsome. The church was all decorated up for Christmas, and was the perfect beautiful setting for such an event.

Wedding music, glowing candles, fresh flowers, beaming faces, magnificent dresses, and happy tears. The indescribable joy fills everyone’s heart.

Yet, True beauty is even deeper; “…the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:4

Both of these young people are truly beautiful. They are considerate and thoughtful to their families as well as gracious, kindhearted and helpful to one another. Our entire family is bursting with pride for this young couple and we are excited to see where God will take them.

May God greatly bless you both in the coming year, and in the future as you reach out to teach and love those around you.

Christ, the Nearness of God

(The devotional Teach Me To Pray is full of wonderful words from Andrew Murray that encourage us in our spiritual lives. Here is one of my favorites.)

Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. James 4:8

It has been said that the holiness of God is the union of God’s infinite distance from sinful man with God’s infinite nearness in His redeeming grace. Faith must always seek to realize both the distance and the nearness.

In Christ, God has come very near to man. Now the command comes: If you want God to come still nearer, you must draw nearer to Him. The promised nearness of Christ Jesus expressed in the promise, “And be sure of this: I am with you always” (Matt 28:20), can only be experienced as we draw near to Him.

This mean that at the beginning of each new day, we must yield ourselves to His holy presence. It means a voluntary, intentional, and whole-hearted turning away from the world to wait on God to make Himself known to our souls. It means making time to allow him to reveal Himself. It is impossible to expect the abiding presence of Christ with us through the day without the daily exercise of strong desire and child-like trust in His word.

As you pray, let these words come to you with new meaning each morning: “Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.” Wait patiently and He will speak in divine power: “I am with you always.”

Remember – Part II

God is Never Late by Billy Graham

The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. Psalm 121:5

In order for a tree or any plant to grow and bear fruit, its seed must first be planted in the ground and die. In order for spiritual fruit to appear in our lives, we must first be planted in the Word of God and then die to self. In the face of chastening, adversity, discipline, and affliction, God’s Word nourishes our lives and fruit begins to appear. But it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and patience.

Joseph would never have been of use to God had he not been sold into slavery by brothers who hated him, and then wrongly accused by Potiphar, who put him in prison. Even after he had told Pharaoh’s cupbearer he would be restored to the kings’ court and asked him to tell Pharaoh of his unjust imprisonment, Joseph had to wait two more years for release from prison.

As we wait upon the Lord, He may sometimes seem slow in coming to help us, but He never comes too late. His timing is always perfect.

Are you in a season of waiting? Don’t let it be a wasted season. Study God’s Word so that your roots grow deep, and spend time in prayer so that you recognize His voice when it’s time to move.

Written by Billy Graham

The Choice

What I’m commanding you today is not too hard for you. It isn’t beyond your reach. It isn’t up in heaven. So you don’t have to ask, “Who will go up into heaven to get it? Who will announce it to us so we can obey it?” And it isn’t beyond the ocean. So you don’t have to ask, “Who will go across the ocean to get it? Who will announce it to us so we can obey it?” No, the message isn’t far away at all. In fact, it’s really near you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart so that you can obey it.

Today I’m giving you a choice. You can have life and success. Or you can have death and harm. I’m commanding you today to love the Lord your God. I’m commanding you to live exactly as he wants you to live. You must obey his commands, rules and laws. Then you will live. There will be many of you. The Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to take as your own.

Don’t let your hearts turn away from the Lord. Instead, obey him. Don’t let yourselves be drawn away to other gods. And don’t bow down to them and worship them. If you do, I announce to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You are about to go across the Jordan River and take over the land. But you won’t live there very long.

I’m calling for the heavens and the earth to be witnesses against you this very day. I’m offering you the choice of life or death. You can choose either blessings or curses. But I want you to choose life. Then you and your children will live. And you will love the Lord your God. You will obey him. You will remain true to him. The Lord is your very life.

Deuteronomy 30:11-20 NIrV

The choice is not between a list of do this and don’t do that on one hand and freedom on the other hand. The unbelieving world often sees it that way. The truth is; it is a choice between choosing love (life) on one hand and separation from God (death) on the other hand. God is waiting to shower blessings on you and your family. He is waiting for you to make your choice. Talk to Him – He is listening. Listen to Him – He has much to tell you. The Lord is your very life.

John Adams

I have just finished reading John Adams by David McCullough.

What an amazing read!

Though I do enjoy history, I do not care for politics. David McCullough did a masterful job of weaving Adams’ biography with the detailed politics of the early United States. It was a compelling narrative that kept me engaged to the very end.  

The author leads us through John Adams’ studies to become a lawyer, his early law practice, both the Continental Congress sessions, his time oversees as an ambassador, his vice-presidency, his presidency and his retirement. Adams’ personal diary and his thousands of letters give us great insight into not only what he did, but how he thought and how he felt. It was fascinating!

John Adams was a major player in the building of our nation. He was incredibly intelligent while still maintaining his personal integrity. His thorough understanding of world politics, philosophy and human nature were paramount in his adamant stand for America’s independence and continued strength. He worked tirelessly to build the ground work for our nation.

“I fear that in every elected office, members will obtain an influence by noise not sense. By meanness, not greatness. By ignorance, not learning. By contracted hearts, not large souls… There must be decency and respect.” John Adams

“He who loves the Workman and His work, and does what he can to preserve and improve it, shall be accepted of Him.” John Adams

 “The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…. Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.” John Adams

John Adams – we need you today!

Heal Our Land

Texas. Ohio. Nevada. Florida. Georgia. Colorado. North Carolina. Arkansas. Alabama. Virginia. Connecticut. California. Oklahoma. New York. District of Columbia. Missouri. Maryland. Indiana. Tennessee. Rhode Island. Kentucky. Mississippi. Michigan. Oregon. Wisconsin. Pennsylvania. Washington. Louisiana. Michigan. Iowa. South Carolina. New Mexico. Massachusetts. Hawaii. Nebraska. West Virginia. Vermont. Minnesota. New Jersey.

A Very Sad Face…

We are a nation in mourning. The senseless killing continues. We Must do something.

2 Chronicles 7:14

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 

God’s promise is an If, Then promise. If people do this, Then God will do that. Our step comes first.

  • Be Humble
  • Pray
  • Seek His Face
  • Turn from Wicked Ways

Micah 6:8

“He has shown you, O man, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Pray, Read the Bible, Ask God what he wants in your heart and in your life.

Then Listen. Please, Stop and Listen.

Psalm 95:1-2

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” 

Created for Relationship

When God created the world, He did so with Relationship at its core. Humanity was created in order to be in Relationship with God, and in Relationship with one another.

If either one of these Relationship Dynamics is off track, then our emotional, mental and spiritual health is out of balance. We begin to try to fill the holes with many other things: money, sex, material possessions, power over others … the list goes on.

If both of these Relationship Dynamics are in good working order, then we are able to grow into mature Christians, who are in turn able to give to others who are in need.

Those are the simply basics of how life works.

When God created Adam and Eve, there was perfect union with both God and with each other. The two people walked with God in the garden, talking with Him and being open and honest with each other. Genesis 2:25 says, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” This is not only about no clothes. This is two people being completely intimate physically, but also emotionally. They were in harmony. They were vulnerable with each other, not hiding anything. They “knew” each other completely. There was no shame.

We were created to be in that kind of Relationship with both God and others. To be open and honest. To be intimate. To be accepted.

Someone once asked Jesus what the greatest commandment in the world is. Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37-39

Everything in life comes down to these two Relationships.

We must be reconciled to God. We must ask His forgiveness and we must cultivate a daily relationship with Him.

We must reconnect with others. We must care for each other, forgive each other, reach out in love and support for each other.

Photo courtesy of Fairfax.gov

So how do we do this? Jesus gives us this very important directive in living our lives. “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  John 14:13   

James tells us, “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

We know what God wants for us and what we need – Intimate and Honest Relationship.

We know the first step in getting those Relationships. Prayer. Talk to God. Admit that you need Relationship and ask Him to help you restore them.

That is asking in Jesus’ Name and He will do it.

Is there a Relationship in your life that needs restoring? Start working on it today.

Shame/Fear/Self-Doubt

“You can’t do it.”

“Half the people will laugh at you; the other half will be disgusted at your incompetence.”

Image from: lifehack.org

These voices -and many others just like them – shoot through my thoughts time and again. Every time I hear them, the knot in my stomach gives a lurch and pulls tighter.

I am working on a large project that affects many people throughout my small community. I have spear-headed this project before and it was quite successful. So why do those feelings return?

What exactly am I feeling?

Shame? Self-doubt? Fear? Timidity? Yes, I think so.

Shame = a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior (either real or perceived)

Self-doubt = lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities.

Fear = of disgrace, embarrassment, degradation, being demeaned.

Timidity = a lack of courage or confidence, fearful, apprehensive, frightened, scared, faint-hearted.

Image from: https://dailybreadforlife.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/shame.jpg?w=798&h=600&crop=1

I push the thoughts back into the recess of my mind. Don’t let them out! The knot in my stomach grows again.

Where do these thoughts come from?

My mother was very much this way. So, did it come to me by way of DNA? Or maybe learned behavior? My father often seemed to take delight in pointing out, quite loudly, where I had failed. Our self-image formed in childhood is quite powerful – for good or for bad.

Yet – I am an adult now. I have not lived with my parents for over 30 years. Certainly, I cannot blame them any longer for my thought patterns that I have this week.

Insight for Living has a devotional video that I have watched several times that is titled Our Weaknesses.

With a big, hearty smile, Chuck Swindoll talks about how great it is when we admit our weaknesses.

Really? What a relief it would be!

Instead of pushing back those thoughts, it is now time for me to bring them into the light. Stare them in the face. Examine them carefully. Talk about them.

Yes, it is true. I am not perfect. Never have been, never will be.

I will do my best. I will ask for help.

I will take everything to God in prayer! I will let the Holy Spirit flow through me!

Now! Time to get back to work on this project. It will be great!