Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Come see .... through my eyes .... the mountain path....
the wild flowers......
the wooden stairs......
and the view of the valley through the trees.
It was cool when we started and so I took my favorite light jacket. I soon took it off and Vic carried it tucked into the back of his back pack.
It was only after we got home and I wanted to hang up my jacket that we realized it was gone - it must have slipped out of the backpack strap and fallen onto the path. Although my husband immediately backtracked our hike and went back again the next day ... it was no where to be found.
It was strange , since we had not seen a single other person on the mountain. We knew the last place we had seen it - he moved it to get at his camera.
Maybe an animal took it home to their nest or den?
I was sorry to lose my jacket but it was just a jacket.
Yesterday I was talking to a lady from our complex and in our conversation she told me about her close friend who had lost her dog. This friend had never had children and she loved her dog. One day it was accidently killed by a passing car. She was devestated and declared her life was over! She fell apart and sought the care of a psychologist. It took her 15 long years to get over the loss of her dog.
I was thinking about the loss of my jacket , this woman's loss of her dog and I thought about how people prioritize the events of their lives. I thought about some people we knew who were recently enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon. Their teenage son went out to ride his dirt bike and he never came home. He was accidentally hit and killed by a passing vehicle.
We have all heard the catch phrase "don't sweat the small stuff". Did you ever consider that that phrase is really non-sensical in itself ?
What constitutes 'small stuff' ? What is small stuff to one person may be life or death to another. I once had a friend who could magnify the smallest problem into a major catastrophe !
Without a standard of measurement, the importance or triviality of our experiences are relevant to what extent we react emotionally. Someone may say, "As long as my family is together nothing else is important." or "As long as I have enough money I am OK."
Is that good enough? or is there a better way to measure and evaluate our experiences ?
I was reminded of Paul and the standard he lived by.
1Co 2:2 "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."
Paul's standard of measurement was ... "How does it compare to what I have in Christ? How will it affect eternity ? "
I often ask myself the question when something goes contrary to my expectations.... "Will it matter a year from now ? a month from now? "
A better question would be "How will this affect eternity ? Will it matter? What will I feel like 10 or 50 years from now when I stand on the other side of life? Will I be filled with joy or will I regret my standard of measure? "
It is sooo easy to be caught up in the things of this life, but we have another life waiting for us .. and if we belong to the family of God ... the best is yet to come !!
How much time do you spend getting ready ? How much energy or emotion is wasted on packing trivial daily 'stuff' that you will never need or value in eternity ?
Mat 6:19 -21 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Saturday, June 21, 2008
But this HUGE blooming bush seemed unaware that soon a bull dozer would ruthlessly destroy it . It was blooming within every inch of itself, even though no one was there to enjoy it , and it is probably the last summer of its life.. Ohh ! would that we were so faithful and so oblivious to the threats around us !! Just to keep blooming as long as we have life !
.... I was thinking ...... WHY did God make flowers?? They really have no practical purpose for life.....we can't eat them.
Psalm 86:12 says,
"I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And I will glorify Your name forevermore."
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
My favourite sun glasses ARE rose tinted .. and you know !! The world DOES look prettier through them. So I love to wear my sun glasses and enjoy the rose-enhanced beauty around me.
I was thinking about this today since it was a ‘sun-glasses’ kind of day !
And I thought about how differently people view their world… some people look for the clouds, the rain, the dismal skies… while others seem to always find a cheery outlook, able to see ‘liquid sunshine’ in the raindrops.
Sometimes it is simply the temperament they were born with, sometimes it may be a conscious choice about how they perceive their day’s contents… but for the Christian, I believe, there is a higher road in the spiritual Kingdom.
The bible encourages us to wear ‘rose-colored’ glasses …. They are called Thankfulness lenses.
Stop and think… how hard is it to be glum or disappointed or angry or disgruntled when you are feeling thankful !
Which comes first … the thing for which you are thankful ? or the choice you make to find it ?
No matter how bad things look… no matter how easy it would be to just tumble into Gloomville….. is there not always something that fills your heart with thankfulness if you just let your thoughts focus on it ?
Whether it is little annoying things that are messing up your day or whether it is bigger problems that threaten to overwhelm you … thankfulness can lift the weight of the burden and shrink it down to something you can barely feel on your shoulders.
There is an interesting passage --- or path --- laid out in Romans 1.
The destination this path leads to is described in verses 29,30 – “ filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness, they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God , violent , proud, boasters, inventors of evil things , disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful…”
WOW! who would EVER chose to take one step along a path leading to that place??
Work back to the beginning of the path in verse 21 and you will see that the very first step is unthankfulness which is linked to not glorifying God !
Once this step has been taken the others follow step after step… unthankfulness leads to futile thinking … which leads to … foolish hearts that become dark…. And in the dark it is hard to see where one is going !!!
How often we are tempted to be unthankful. If we find our foot poised to take this first step …. let us consider where the path ultimately leads….and quickly turn our feet back to reflect on the many things in our life we can be so thankful for and let us lift our voices to God in praise!!
And let us also encourage others around us toward thankfulness !
Psa 100:4 “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”
Friday, June 13, 2008
The bible is like that . We can look at the Word ‘with its skin’ on’ … seeing the obvious. But if we peal back the layers we see much more. The hidden layers reveal types, and shadows and prophecies – all making scripture infinitely fascinating.
I looked at one passage this week. The story of Abraham and Abimelech.
The ‘skin’ layer of the story we are all familiar with as it is told in Gen. 20.
Abraham, in obedience to God’s command to leave his homeland journeys to a far off land. He comes to Gerar and settles there. Gerar was a Philistine city ruled over by a king named Abimelech.
Abraham, not trusting this king, told Sarah to say that she was his sister. While Sarah was indeed Abraham’s half-sister, it was not the whole truth as Sarah was also Abraham’s wife.
Abraham’s fears were not unfounded, as we find out when Abimelech , taking one look at Sarah, desires her and takes her !
But God warnes Abimelech in a dream that if he touches Sarah he is a dead man…because Sarah belongs to Abraham.
Abimilech arises in the morning a very troubled man and immediately calls Abraham to inquire of him why he had deceived him. He blames Abraham for bringing upon him and his country a great sin !
Abraham finally tells the truth … and the story ends with Abimelech giving Abraham gifts and in return Abraham prays for Abimelech and God restores fertility to Abimelech’s household.
We can look at this story in another way - looking a little deeper and seeing another layer of meaning come into focus.
Abraham represents ‘faith’. In Gal. 3:7 we read “…know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.”
Abimelech is a Philistine. A Philistine represents carnal knowledge. A Philistine appears to be attractive, powerful and in authority , but a Philistine never thinks like God. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” (Rom. 8:7)
Faith …. is the only way to know God, to be related to God, to enjoy the things of God.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6)
Carnal knowledge cannot understand the things of God.. nor can it attain to Him, nor can it grasp at or take the things that belong to Faith.
Rom 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Rom.8:6)
Abraham feared Abimelech because he represented all that is appealing to the natural man as well as the human desire to please man.
Are we not often like Abraham in our view of the wisdom that is of this world?
How often do we compromise our faith by accepting the thinking of this world ?
However, we need to remember ! - the mind set of this world can never possess the things that belong to faith !
Even though Abimelech tried to take what belonged to Abraham , God prevented him.
God will never allow man , through his carnal intelligence, to find a way to possess the things that belong to ‘faith’, the things of God.
Mar 4:12 “That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”
And yet…by preventing Abimelech from carnally taking Sarah… God was being gracious to him by reproving him through a dream.
Does that not reveal the tender heart of God ? God is always willing to seek those who are lost… and is ever willing to save.
He sends His Holy Spirit into the world to .. “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8) because it is the desire of His heart that none “should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9)
This sin of Abraham is a sad blotch on his record. Not only did it affect him, but his sin affected Abimelech and his people ( who represent the non-faith community) .
In verse 9 Abimelech accuses Abraham “What have you done to us? How have I offended you that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done.”
Abimelech was right to accuse Abraham. We see this accusation echoed in Romans 2:24. “ For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.”
When we do not live out our faith .. when we are not faith-ful in our expression of God's truth, we are held accountable for the unsaved not knowing the truth .. and in that we become responsible for their sin !
Abimelech was under God’s curse… there was only one way to be free !
Through faith !
Abraham prayed to God for Abimelech and God answered his prayer.
God has given the keys of His kingdom to Abraham’s children .. the children of faith.
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt.16:19)
It is also interesting to note that after Abraham spoke the truth … then Abimelech gave gifts to Abraham. Even though ‘knowledge’ itself can never possess the things of faith, when faith is true - then knowledge can strengthen and encourage faith.
Knowledge must always be submissive to the things of faith. How often do we see science have to bow its head because what it proclaimed as truth at one time is discovered to be in error.
God’s Truth and our Faith in Him will never fail us - let us be FAITHFUL !!
Monday, June 9, 2008
I love words… I love how they LOOK as well as what they mean and sometimes what a word has to say to us is lost in familiarity of usage.
Like the word I was thinking of this morning .
The word starts with an H… the letter itself looks like a protective covering doesn’t it ?
H begins such words as house, home, haven, hut, hovel, habitation, hammock, hat, helmet, hood, hearth, hiding place, hive, hotel .
H points to things that protect, keep us safe, or where we 'live'.
Note the ‘H’s’ in the phrase .. “Home is where I Hang my Hat.”
The word Heart ends with a ‘t’ … looks like a tree… doesn’t it ? And a tree reminds us of a cross… a place of sacrifice …..demanding a price ( such as taxes… tears,… or test)
In between the H and the t in our little word Heart are three little letters than spell ‘ear’. The ear has but one function – that is to hear ! and how interesting that this little word should sit in the middle of the word heart.
Heart… where we live…. Relating to those we love. In our relationships, what is more important than to hear ? to listen?
If we do not listen we do not understand.....
if we do not understand, how can we truly love?
If we love with understanding how easy it is to sacrifice our own wants and desires choosing instead to ‘sacrifice’ ourselves for the sake of others.
I was thinking too of God’s first commandment….. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart..!” (Deut.6:5)
With all our heart…. From the core of our being… where we live… ‘where we hang our hat’. Our physical body cannot live without its heart organ …. It gives life to everything else.
So also what we love with our heart affects everything else we think or do.
What we 'shelter', what we 'love' in our heart determines WHO we are.
We are also called to sacrifice ourselves for Him.. to lay down our life for Him, for others.
Jesus says in Matt. 10:21 ”Take up the cross, and follow Me."
In loving God and taking up our cross to follow Him what is more important than anything else?
To ‘hear’ Him… Jesus cried out …. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matt. 11:15)
Unless we listen - we will not hear His voice , if we do not hear His voice - we will not understand Him and if we do not understand Him - we will not be able to follow Him.
Interesting, isn’t it ? how LOOKING at a word can preach its own sermon ??
Have a ‘h-ear-t’ day today , my dear friends, filled with love for God and the ones He placed in your life !
I LOVE you !
Friday, June 6, 2008
Success in the Eternal Kingdom is measured by a very different rule than success in the Earthly Kingdom.
Because the Eternal Kingdom and the Earthly Kingdom share a common language , how easily the Earthly meaning of a word is transferred to take on the same meaning in the Eternal Kingdom.
Sometimes it is a good thing to take an about turn, and go back to square one! Clear the mind’s table and take a fresh look at a word and its meaning !
The word to be examined ?
What DOES God say about success? How does it look when its meaning is lifted directly off the pages of God’s written Word?
Taking the original Hebrew and Greek word meanings for the words that are translated into our English scripture as synonyms for the word SUCCESS , I paraphrased them - thereby finding a way to clarify my understanding of the word in God’s terms. ( I have included Strong's ref. numbers in brackets)
According to God………
* Success cannot be attained without effort and the effort given must be powered by a will to reach the desired end – which is ‘to do rightly’. No thought of failure can be entertained.
* Success shines with the beauty, the joy, the very sweetness of whole-hearted righteousness. (H319)
* Success defines the borders of possessing an ordered place, a place gained by the right of inheritance. (H3423)
* Success demands a high standard. It is found on a highway paved with righteousness itself.
* Success is a worthy goal- obtain it, get it, establish it, make it solid and proclaim it publicly when you attain it ! (H6329, 6965)
* Success is measured by wisdom – the getting of it, the teaching of it, the learning of it. Having an understanding of God’s Word that works itself into the lived-out life , its behaviour and speech and deeds.
* Success evidences itself in a life-style of peace, of a happy, cheerful countenance born out of a place of security and safety.
* Success does also encompass financial blessings, but as a by-product only. Along the life-journey in pursuit of success there may be ‘help along the way’, in the form of monetary blessings to enable you to serve others.
* In the pursuit of success there is the temptation to turn aside – reaching for what has the appearance of substance…but alas the end result will be vanity… empty of all expected gain!
* In the pursuit of true success there is God’s promise to spur the traveller on !! Victory ! The goal reached! Success achieved ! Reward waiting !!
Do the following two verses not clearly reflect God's intended path for us to follow to find 'success' ?
Mat 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Jos 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. “
I think I always knew what I discovered in the above study, but it is really helpful to go over even familiar territory. Re-examining something usually reveals something previously overlooked.
I love how God is clear on what He deems ‘success’ to be. It is seeking righteousness and doing rightly according to His ways.
I really loved this part of ‘success’ ….. Success shines with the beauty, the joy, the very sweetness of whole-hearted righteousness.
I was also surprised by the fact that in God’s definition of ‘success’ , material wealth was a ‘by product’ of the pursuit of success. Isn’t that just like Satan to take what God intended as a by product and make it the main focus ?
Viewing ‘success’ through God’s eyes… the pursuit and attainment of righteousness….. puts us all on a level playing field. We are all in the same starting line, with the same opportunities and abilities to reach our goal of being successful and reaping the eternal rewards that we all desire, along with the praise of God !
Maybe the conclusion of my study is aptly summarized by Paul in II Cor. 10:17 “But He who glories, let him glory in the Lord”.
This is a quote from my favourite passage in Jer. 9:23,24
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in this migh, nor let the rich man glory in his riches, but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth, For in these I delight, says the Lord.”
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I have two plants that make me smile because they picture for me this characteristic .
One is a little pansy plant that I planted last spring. It didn’t really do very well… but I let it struggle along… All the other plants in my planter did their winter thing.. either dying as annuals or going dormant until spring.
All except this little pansy, it held to life and bloom covered in snow , drenched under days-on-end rain, endured the freezing cold.
Then, when spring finally came it exploded with the life it had clung to through difficult times . When I look at it , I have to smile !
I see faithfulness mirrored in each tiny, pansy face.
I admired a older friend’s plant and she , pleased that I liked a plant her daughters hated , gave me two little cuttings she had started in pots. She has since gone to be with the Lord, but I still have the plants she gave me and I love them reminding me of her !
They also remind me of faithfulness. This fern is amazing. I do NOT have a green thumb so if plants thrive under my care .. it is IN SPITE of me and not BECAUSE of me.
At times I have forgotten to water this fern to the point of it having no fronds on it at all.. It really looks completely dead ! But I , feeling guilt ridden , water it anyway and it always comes back.. bigger and more beautiful than before !! How faithful to its God-given life!
I was thinking about the word ‘faithful’ the other day .... and my thoughts formed an acrostic of the word expressing the whys of why 'faithful' is so important to me.
1. It has a quality of ‘Forever’. If faithful is temporary then it is no longer faithful. I love things that are solid and trustworthy and ‘without end’. Faithful is that to me… be it in marriage relationships, friendships, or family. And how wonderful that our God calls Himself the Faithful One.
Deu 7:9 "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations"
2. I love the word ‘Abiding’ connected to faithful. Here we have the picture of something ever-present. Isn’t that what Jesus is to us ?
Joh 15:10 "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."
3. Faithful encompasses ‘Intimacy’. Faithful means committed to – as in knowing- being compassionately heart-connected !
Heb 5:2 "Who (Jesus) can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity."
4. For something/someone to be faithful, it has to be built on something solid, something that can be Trusted. How sweet to know that we can trust in the ‘character’, the Name of Jesus.
Mat 12:21 "And in his name shall the Gentiles trust."
5. Have you ever thought that for faithful to be true it must be Humble? Think of it…. would not the slightest hint of pride not tempt the faithful one to turn away from the one he was faithful to and toward himself?
Jesus came as the humble servant of man to show us the way we should live .. and He leaves us His promise.
Jas 4:10 "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
6. The beauty of faithful is such that it is ‘Faultless’. Have you ever seen a bird sitting on the road beside its fallen mate? Does your heart not wrench in sorrowful compassion for the faithful bird so reluctant to desert its mate even in death? Could you find fault with the bird ? I don’t know how you could…. Faithful encompasses a quality of faultless, because faithful is so directly focused on that to which it is faithful !
If we are faithful to Jesus and to His Word, shall we not also stand faultless before Him ?
Jud 1:24 "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy"
7. Faithful is tenacious.. it is ‘Undeterred’. No evil may tempt it, no pleasure deceive it, no changing circumstances alter it . It is forever true ! Our God will not change.. He is forever the same .. and His Words are forever faithful and true !!!!
Rev 22:6 "And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true"
8. What good would faithful be if it were not the expression of Love ? Faithful expresses the proof of love .. expresses the depth of love … expresses the security of love.
1Co 13:4 "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails" It is faithful !
Have you checked the level of your faithfulness lately?
Is it the forever kind? The kind built on love?
Can your loved ones – spouse, friends, family count on you to be faithful? Can God?