An Offering of Thanks

Offer : (verb) present or proffer (something) for (someone) to accept or reject as so desired; (noun) an expression of readiness to do or give something if desired

There is nothing like being offered a hot cup of coffee in the morning, or help with the dishes after a meal, or a gift just because. It makes your day, doesn’t it? And I wonder if God feels this way when we willingly present a thankful heart to Him. It has been a frustrating few weeks for me and I will admit, it has been difficult to maintain a thankful heart. Traffic is starting to back up due to holiday shopping and I do not enjoy crowded places. Black Friday? Forget about it. After being in Walmart yesterday in the late afternoon, I realize that if I need to run any errands with some semblance of sanity, I need to do it in the morning hours. It can be easy lose the joy of the season when I focus on what is wrong with people ((seriously…we need traffic lanes in the grocery store)). Instead, I need to shift my focus on what is right in my world. Tonight, I will offer thanks that we have food in our pantry, a comfortable place to call home, and that my little family and I are all safe and together.

At the End of the Day

I am a list maker. If I do not have ‘it’ written down, I will forget. Even…to remember to evaluate the day. Sometimes, the days go by so fast, I really have no idea what happened or if I actually accomplished anything. How do I evaluate how a day went, though? What questions do I ask? At the end of the day, how do I ‘decompress’ and process the day’s events? Here is guideline of four things to consider:

#1) What happened today that caused me to feel G R A C E F U L?

Traffic was a bear today. There was a big accident on the way to taking my son to the community college. The right lane was blocked due to an overturned truck and emergency vehicles. While trying to get around the accident and into the left lane, someone kindly let me get over so I could keep moving. It’s not every day that traffic runs smoothly when there are roadblocks. I did roll down my window and wave a big ‘Thank you!’. It is a good reminder to be kind to someone else who is looking to get around an accident as well.

#2) What happened today that caused me to feel G R U M P Y?

Well, traffic. My dad and I went grocery shopping and stores were busy. I do not enjoy crowds (you will not see me participating in Black Friday)…I could have stopped to breathe and focus on the task and not get frustrated. I could have also packed a healthy snack so I would not feel so depleted at the end of the day. (I need to write that down somewhere —pack a snack!)

#3) What happened today that caused me to feel G I V I N G?

I noticed my Dad’s hands this morning. They were swollen and tight and I could tell by the look on his face that he was not feeling well. I offered to drive on our errands even though I knew there was a lot of traffic.

#4) What happened today that caused me to feel G O D in my life?

My dad bought me flowers today for going with him on all the errands. It was also through the giving of my husband. He has had a long week, he has a migraine due to the wind, and yet he offered to heat up soup for me because I was feeling tired.  Kindness  brings us to notice God’s work in others as they seek to be a blessing.

Four things to consider when ‘processing’ the day: What happened today that caused me to feel Graceful, Grumpy, Giving, and God? It might be a good conversation to have with family around the dinner table.

“Very Good”

We serve an amazing God, don’t we? He is the Creator of the universe and all that is in it. His attention to detail is astounding and I love noticing things that bring me to notice Him. A black and white photo challenge is going around Facebook and people are posting one black and white photo a day for one week. I really like working with photos and the black and white ones have been super fun. I have enjoyed it so much, I think I will continue. I have been working with different angles to bring out the detail of the object I’m am photographing. I am just so amazed at what I find when I look at the ‘subject’ up close and personal. God called His creation “very good” in Genesis 1:31 and He was not exaggerating.  Since spreading beauty on social media is something I am passionate about, I will continue to share photos like this as I do think it causes one to pause and notice the “very good” God we have.

Psalm 104:24, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.”

I have made the photos I will share in the coming weeks the size of a desktop background ‘wallpaper’. Not all of them are black and white. I photographed this sunflower at Walmart in the deli section where the flowers are placed for sale. Inspiration is everywhere! I hope that you can just ‘right click’ and ‘save picture as’ the photo for your own use. I have tried each one on my own laptop and they are STUNNING on a bigger screen. Stay tuned for more photos!

 

 

When Grace Moves In

Practical, impulsive, short-tempered. That’s me. Like Martha in the book of Luke when Jesus was visiting in the home, I’d be the one up and down making sure all ‘needs’ were met and chores were done. I read that she has been compared to the disciple Peter who felt the need to ‘scold’ Christ (gasp!) when He was trying to show them who He was and what He was about to do. What nerve! But how many times do I find myself ‘scolding’ either myself for not ‘getting it right’ or others for ‘not getting it right’? Yikes. My heart hurts and I am convicted. Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” ~Thomas à Kempis

 

This week’s resolution with God post was on the study of choosing peace over perfection. It is not an easy concept to come face to face with your faults and realize that some changes need to be made. I am not perfect and I mess up daily, but this study was helpful and the thoughts I shared on Facebook throughout the week gave me a lot to think about. I hope my thoughts don’t sound disjointed but I’ll just go ahead and share them anyway and hope God will use it. On Monday, I introduced the topic of study and here are the daily notes I wrote this past week.

Tuesday: When I expect perfection out of myself or from others, it always ends in disappointment. When I lose control over my spirt (and my tongue!) in an effort to ‘be heard’ before searching out a matter fully, progress in spiritual growth is hindered. I’m working on letting God rule my sprit (and tongue!) and not my own judgements. It is not being a ‘doormat’, but is the absolute strength from possessing Christ-like humility. Not an easy thing when the habit is to be quick with words and the need is to be understood. In order to have the peace of God rule in my heart, I need to realize that it is not about wanting to change others into my image or what I think is right, but praying for God to change all to His image – starting with me. In a world where “expression” is everything these days, it feels like swimming upstream and against the current. When I come face to face with a situation where I want to ‘lash out’ and ‘express myself’, I need to ask, “At what cost?” And, “Will my words, attitude, and actions cause me to be conformed to His image or will it hinder?”.

Proverbs 25:28, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls”

Wednesday: I could live guilty for things I have said in haste, even after asking  forgiveness. I could ‘beat myself up’ for not getting it right. Continual self-condemnation surely will hinder. I resolve to put a priority on grace.

“When grace moves in, guilt moves out.” -Max Lucado

Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”

Thursday: I have heard Dr. Phil say, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge”. I admit that sometimes I have no filter between my brain and my tongue.

James 3:13-18, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”

“Lie not against the truth” (vs 14). Owning your burdens is half the battle. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, but we are not left without hope. When I pause to pray first, there is a greater opportunity for wisdom to prevail. My plea is for grace to cross my heart and lips and that blessings do not come out from one side of my mouth and cursings from the other. Daily, God gives more grace when I humble myself and acknowledge that I need His help in changing me to His peace rather than my view of perfection. Lord, help me to be full of mercy.

Friday: 

Resentment: bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly
Resilience: (1) the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
(2) the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity

The word ‘resentment’ came to mind in this day’s study. Expecting perfection from myself and from others always leads to disappointment and if we stay disappointed long enough, it can change into bitter resentment. In the Bible, James uses the illustration of a fountain. It cannot send sweet and bitter water at the same time. If I judge myself unfairly, it leads to resentment. If I judge others unfairly or feel judged the same, it leads to resentment.

So how do I replace the bitter with the better? How do I keep thoughts (and words) captive and live wisely? How do I give up habits of expecting perfection for habits of Godly peace? What is brittle, breaks. Brittle words break relationships. Brittle thoughts break the spirit. And brittle actions never help anything or anyone, they hinder.

When Grace is my filter, I live resilient. When Grace is my filter, I recover more quickly from difficulties. When Grace is my filter, I am able to spring back into a right heart attitude and am awake and alive to that which is good. Lord, let Your Grace be my filter for all I say and do. 

I. Thessalonians 5: 21b, “…hold fast that which is good.”

Saturday: 

-Grace will always be greater than striving for perfection.
-Grace will always be greater than my judgment of others or myself.
-Grace will always be greater than guilt.
-Grace will always be greater than the battle.

Two concepts stood out to me the most this week. Number one is that I have a choice between living resentful or learning to be resilient. In relationships, in life, in work, in ministry, I have a choice when things do not go as well as I would like. Resentment can be a bitter root. And if not pulled early, it will choke out the ability to see all that is good and right in the world.

Number two is that when I look through the eyes or filter of Grace, my view of life looks a whole lot better.

When Grace moves in, I no longer seek for perfection out of myself or others.

When Grace moves in, I am no longer rooted to resentment, but am reminded to be resilient.

When Grace moves in, I no longer serve self, but I serve the Savior.

“Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?”

 

Satisfied

“Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well lived.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

Last week, I mentioned my thought process as of late concerning resolutions. With the end of the year approaching, I wondered if I had accomplished nearly everything I had set out to do back in January. That can be frustrating because life gets busy, family members get sick, company comes and disrupts the ‘flow’ of every day living. There are resolutions that can be kept no matter what is going on. The first resolution was mentioned last week. God has a timing for everything and I will trust Him, not rush Him.

Resolution With God #1: I will not hurry through my journey.

This week’s resolution was about contentment, being satisfied with God’s provisions of grace daily, and not letting the restlessness and hurry of the world (even other Christians! yikes) manipulate me into thinking that what I have or who I am isn’t enough. Every thing God gives me is enough for the task at hand that He has for me. I want to look forward to each day with peace and ease knowing that God is aware of my needs and my need for Him. The Bible verse that caught my eye in the beginning of the week was 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”
‘All sufficiency in all things’…I love that.

Resolution With God #2: I will live satisfied with God’s provisions in the here and now.

In my ‘meditations’ and studies on this topic, I began thinking that maybe living life well is a key to contentment. A phrase in Philippians 4:12 grabbed my attention in light of  being resolved to be content. “I know how to abound”. Wow. Paul learned to be content (and yes, it’s still a learning process to this day) in all situations, no matter what God allowed in his life. And he knew how to abound (thrive, advance, be alive!) by doing everything through Christ which gave him the strength and grace to live life well. Paul was a good steward with what he’d been given both in flourishing times and in times of need.

Another thought I had was that a lack of contentment is linked to a lack of confidence. I am getting better about not worrying over what I don’t have (in comparison to others) and being more confident that, really, what God gives today is enough and that it is good. Sure, it’s okay to dream about having more things when financially able, but contentment stems from being a good steward with what I already have–living life well. What the world says I need to possess or who I need to be doesn’t line up with what God measures out to me and who He made me to be. So the next time I start comparing and feeling discontent, I will remember that it’s not who I am that holds me back, it’s who I think I’m not. I read somewhere that discontentment with God is like poking Him in the eye. How’s that for a visual? Psalm 118:8, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

Living satisfied with God’s provisions in the here and now is a spiritual lesson in faith. It is to be able to ultimately pray in all situations, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10) –to be confident that He is all wise and does work all things out for our good and for His glory.

“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.” -Elisabeth Elliot

I may not understand where God has me right now. I may not grasp why God has allowed different things to happen in life. I may not know why God created me a certain way. But I do know that when I take my eyes off Him and look to self for answers, I lack wisdom.

James 1:5-7, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”

God gives wisdom generously and without scolding when we ask for it in full faith. But when I go back and forth between trusting and uncertainty, He knows that I am like a wave in the sea moved easily by winds of doubt. And God does not reward a double minded mindset. Faith in God still has questions. Lots of them. But true faith is confident to take those questions to the throne of Grace and leave them there.

“Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them. ”
-Elisabeth Elliot

Living satisfied with God’s provision is an act of faith. A test of self-will. And Satan uses dissatisfaction in life as a distraction from God working out His purpose in us. Satan is always challenging God by using Christians as test subjects. Am I failing or flourishing in with what God measures out to me? Do I live life well with what I’ve been given no matter what I have? This week’s resolution has me thinking about ‘abounding’ like Paul.

When “Thy will be done” becomes my heart’s desire, it is then that my mind is stable and satisfied with what God is doing and providing in my life.

 

A Resolution With God

I don’t know about you, but I always feel rushed when this season rolls around. Before you know it, Valentine’s Day stuff will be out for sale and I feel a sense of (mild) apprehension that those winter boots I’ve been looking at online (and do actually need) will be gone before I have a chance to go buy them.

I think about resolutions made at the beginning of the year. I try not to make many anymore because, well, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” and I don’t like for the year to end up in disappointment over things that didn’t ‘get accomplished’ while I was living life – the good, the bad, and the ugly. As in unforeseen illness, doctor’s appointments, two guys in college and their schedules, unexpected home projects….

There are godly resolutions, however, that I should always purpose to keep no matter which way the wind blows. Things like resolving to be content, resolving to honor femininity in a world where the desirability of it has been diminished. Things like valuing myself and the gifts that God gave me- and being faithful to let God define my worth and not others. Resolutions with God.

Resolution: the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose

Seeing resolutions and the hard work it takes to get them to fruition takes time. In a world that (especially now) is rushing through entire seasons to get to the next, I want to stop the clock. I want to savor. Our journey with God is not on the fast track. In fact He tells us that to know Him, we need to be still. How can I be resolved in the right things if I don’t know what He wants me to do? Where He wants me to go? Or maybe I do know, but I’m too busy trying to ‘keep up’ that I have forgotten to pay attention. If I allow myself to be pulled along with society and rush from one day to another, I will have missed the joy in the journey.

I’m thinking of doing a series of posts on the topic of godly resolutions with each concept having to do with a resolution with God – a reminder of what’s important. Concept number one being,
“I am resolved: I will not hurry through my journey.” 

There is no disappointment in making any resolution with God when I remember that His timeline isn’t mine. He is always working in me. He is patient and not in a hurry. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6 

He began a good work in me the moment of salvation. And He has been working on me, and will be working on me until the end. So even though the world may be rushing through from one season to the next, any spiritual season I am in needs time. It can’t be forced or rushed. Because God isn’t the author of confusion, He knows where I am and what I need and where I need to go from here.

“I am resolved, and who will go with me?
Come, friends, without delay,
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,
We’ll walk the heav’nly way.” 

 

The Only Way Out

The only way out of Egypt was through God’s leadership. The only way out of the flood was through it by obedience. The only way out of the den of lions was to believe on God to change a king’s heart. The only way out of the belly of the fish was through repentance. Countless examples in the Bible are recorded of hardships. And the only way out of them was through. And the ultimate example: The only way out of death on the cross for salvation of sins was through it.

I Corinthians 15:57-58–“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

The believers of old? Their labor of trust, obedience, sacrifice, and faith was not in vain because their victory was through God and Him only. And because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He still honors trust. He still blesses obedience and sacrifice. And He always proves our faith in Him is worth every mile. That doesn’t mean things are going to turn out the way we want. Personally, our family is waiting on news to see if my husband has cancer. A big chunk of skin was cut out from his back last week and was sent out for analysis. And if the answer comes back that more testing needs to be done, are we still going to be steadfast? Unmovable in the belief that God is not lost or confused as to where we are? Going through trials in life can keep us humble in realizing that we don’t have control over many things. We cannot by sheer will make everything ‘go right’ in life. But faith knows that even when our ‘situation’ changes, God’s doesn’t.

Because God does give victory, our labor of trust, obedience, sacrifice, and faith are not in vain. Whether or not we see the victory here or in Heaven, God is faithful to His word. He doesn’t work by our calendar, clock, or time-line. His promises were from the beginning until always. Extending beyond life on this earth. His name “Emmanuel” means in itself, “God with us”.  No matter what we’re going on in our lives, He isn’t the light at the end of the tunnel; He’s the Light that gets us through it.

 

 

 

 

 

Out of the Wells

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD
JE-HO-VAH is my strength and my song: he also is become my salvation. Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things; this is known in all the earth.” Isaiah 12: 2,3, & 5.

God is our salvation, shelter, strength, and source of supply. How often do I try to do things in my own strength? How often do I run out of joy? How often am I empty of song? When the answer is ,”Usually”, I’m not doing myself any favors. My husband recently commented that I go into things headlong and with full force. He was concerned that I may have too many ‘irons in the fire’ and was gently advising me to SLOW DOWN…or at least limit how much I’m doing at one time. He is all too aware of how tired I can become when I don’t have a good balance.

A phrase in Isaiah 12:3 jumped out at me one day during my Bible reading; “with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Wells of salvation. Now I know there is a historical context here, but sometimes something strikes you differently with a new meaning. One meaning of the word well in noun form is, “a plentiful source or supply”. Supply of what? In Philippians 4: 13, it is written, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Many times, though, I feel that God isn’t meeting my need and that maybe He’s not supplying wells of deliverance fast enough. “What’s the hold up?”, I sometimes want to ask.

I was looking on the Internet for a basic explanation and possible historical context of the phrase, ‘wells of salvation’ and found some things that will hinder us from ‘drawing from the wells with joy’. God is the supplier of life-giving water. In fact, there are references to Christ being and giving living water and has said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” John 7:37b.

Anyone who knows anything about wells, knows there is a bucket at the bottom that is attached to a rope. When you need water, all you need to do is pull up on the rope and draw water from the well. When we feel limited in joy, when we feel that maybe God has quit providing, we may need to do some evaluation and figure out what’s holding up the supply. Here are some things to consider:

1) Fear and Worry → It’s as putting a ‘lid on the bucket’ indicating that our fear is bigger than our faith.

2) Burdens → Burdens are heavy as rocks, aren’t they? They are difficult and we tell God that it’s too hard to draw from His well of redemption and rest. In Matthew 11:30, Jesus says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Rest unto your souls…refreshment from the Life-Giver.

3) Bitterness → When you fill your life with bitterness, it just makes everything taste like vinegar. And God’s blessings can even taste sour.

4) Doubt → It keeps us from drawing from His supply in the first place.

5) Impatience → We don’t allow God time to work and in doing so, we never feel ‘filled’. We don’t feel as if God is listening or that He cares.

6) Hate → Hate is like tar; it doesn’t take much to spoil the water and it sticks to everyone who touches it.

7) Ignorance → When we trust in ourselves to make it through, when we don’t look in His word for answers, we don’t know the blessings that are available and we miss out.

8) Lust and Greed → Both are as messy as mud and certainly the weight of it all will not cause us to draw life-giving water from the Source.

9) Hurt and Unforgiveness → They keep us tied up in knots and keep the rope/ lifeline/prayerline to Christ tied up as well.

10) Jealousy and Anger → They make us want to strike out and keep others from drawing from His supply..and in doing so, we hurt not only them, but also ourselves.

11) Pride → Pride says, “I don’t need any help”. And will leave you dry and alone.

12) Business → When we become too busy for God, too busy to draw daily out of His Word, we become too tired to draw from His supply of strength.

So how do we ‘draw water’ out of the wells of salvation that God freely gives?
• We need to thirst after the living water and realize that only He can supply all our need.
• It takes faith to believe that He will do for us what is best. And that what He gives us is what we need for this moment, for this day.
• Sometimes, letting our guard down, letting go of control, letting the ‘bucket’ go all the way down in the well means hardship. That’s where the water is deep and is at it’s most refreshing.

When I feel I’m having ‘trust issues’ with God, when I become afraid, when I have lost my strength, when I have no song and no joy, I can go through the “12 Step Program” above and do some self examination to figure out what’s holding up the ‘bucket of blessings’.

Because God is my Salvation, my Confidant, my Comforter, my Strength, my Song…with joy in Who He is, I will draw life giving blessing. Wells of salvation…God never runs out, He has more than enough for all who call
on Him.

Out of the wells of salvation:
→ I have the Savior.
→ I have a Confidant who can be trusted.
→ I have the Deliverer of fear and the Provider of comfort.
→ I have His perfect strength when my strength is gone.
→ I have a song to sing and a story to tell. His story of “the excellent things that is known in all the earth.” (Isaiah 12:5) I want to be a part of the ‘excellent things’ which can only be found out of the wells of His salvation.

The Habit That I Wear

 

“A nail is driven out by another nail. Habit is overcome by habit”. -Erasmus

Habit: Synonyms: addiction, custom, groove, manner, mode, nature, pattern, set, style Definitions: an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary; customary practice or use; a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality

When I was growing up, my parents worked to instill in the 3 of us kids good habits. We made our bed every day (yes, even on Saturdays). Every day, we were to shower, comb our hair, and get dressed. Every day, we each had chores that needed to be completed by the end of the day. It was to teach us discipline and responsibility and they are habits I instilled in raising and training my son Jonathan. This post isn’t about these types of habits, however, but of spiritual ones.  One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, mentions habits in one of her journal entries.

“A habit is what we wear. A habit is the way we wear our days.”

In light of ‘spiritual habits’, which ones should I ‘wear’?  I looked up the definitions for the word ‘wear’. Here are a few; to carry or to have on the body or about the person as a covering, equipment, ornament, or the like ; to bear or have in one’s aspect or appearance.

What am I carrying lately? What is ‘covering’ me? What is my equipment?? Stress, worry, doubts, perfectionism? Usually, yesKing Solomon in Proverbs 1:9 wrote about instruction and wisdom that they “shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.” Stress, worry, doubts, perfectionism are not wise habits to wear, especially if I believe that God is faithful to carry me through any situation.

Over the last year, I have been on a ‘minimalist’ kick. I haven’t nearly arrived at sorting through everything, but I did start with my closet. I donated bags of clothes that just didn’t suit me anymore. I stick to basic color schemes now that I know I feel comfortable in and that most everything matches most everything. I have a difficult time making (and sticking to!) decisions and having my closet cleaned out and simplified makes getting dressed much easier. Now that I have the basics I’m happy with, I rarely say, “I have nothing to wear”. I know what I like, I know what is comfortable, and I know everything ‘goes’ together.

I can compare that to a ‘spiritual’ closet and I know which thoughts are not comfortable..stress, worry, obsession over things I cannot change. I can choose to clean those out in favor of what is good. Stress, worry, doubt is really not supposed ‘to go together’ in the Christian outfit, anyway.

‘Put on’ bowels (depths) of mercies, kindness, humbleness, meekness, longsuffering.’ Colossians 3:12

In Ephesians chapter six, Paul writes about taking the whole armour of God; truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation, word of God… No stress, worry, or doubt mentioned here.

I can choose to decide that I don’t want to wear discontentment and doubt.  “Strength and honour are her clothing;”-Proverbs 31:25. I find that if I ‘take’ (mentally) the habits of stress, worry, doubts, obsessiveness over things I can’t control and put them away (far, far away), I find things I haven’t worn in awhile; mercy, kindness, longsuffering, faith, trust, the word of God. And if all that seems overwhelming, I can ‘try on’ one or two of them. I can work on kindness today instead of impatience. I can show mercy instead of an unforgiving spirit. I can let go of perfectionism in favor of a happier home.

‘Putting on’ habits is a choice. Driving out bad habits can be done by driving in a good one in its place. Difficult at times, sure. Painful, even. The natural tendency is to grip tightly to control, to discontent, and the right to feel this way. Which habits do I need to retire and which ones do I need to take on in order to be a better Christian, wife, and mom?  How do I wear my days? If I’m ever in doubt and am not quite sure how to drive out the bad habit rearing it’s ugly head, I can put on the one good one that never fails- charity/love.

“And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Colossians 3:14,15

Above mercy, kindness, humbleness, meekness, longsuffering. Above forbearing and forgiving, charity is the way to wear my days because if I don’t have charity, I am nothing and there is no profit to any other good deed I could do (I Corinthians 13:2,3). Is my covering, equipment, or ornament charity these days? Something to think about each morning as I decide what I want to wear and how I want to wear the day.

 

 

Enabling Grace

When God has a plan, He has already made provisions for the outcome, and has given me the power to overcome any obstacles that come my way.

When Caleb, Joshua, and ten other spies were sent out to observe the land the Israelites were to overtake, the men did not all agree that God would do what He said would do and just give it to them. All twelve men saw the grapes big enough to feed giants. All twelve men saw the pomegranates and the figs of the land. They all saw that the land was overflowing with cows, and goats, and bees. The land was fertile and all that occupied it. And of course, they all saw that the people in Canaan were strong, and that there were giants, and that the cities were walled. Caleb said, “We can take ’em”…in a manner of speaking. “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” -Numbers 13:30. (At once!, he raved.) He was excited and ready to go. This was what they had been hoping for. A promise that was @ six hundred years in the making.

The phrase struck me while this message was being preached by my dad: “We are well able”, Caleb reported…And after declaring Canaan to be conquerable, there were others who grew weak kneed and intimidated.

•They saw the people there were strong.

•They saw the cities were walled and were very great.

•And they saw the sons of Anak, ‘which come of the giants’ (Numbers 13:33

What the 10 spies (doubters) did not see that Caleb and Joshua did,
was the almighty hand of God.

When the two “good spies” said, “We spy.. GREATNESS!”, the other ten said, “We spy.. TROUBLE!” – and a riot ensued. They protested, so much so that the children of Israel ‘got on the bandwagon’ and said it would have been better if they had died back in Egypt or in the wilderness. “They lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night”- Numbers 14:1. Good grief. Get a hold of yourself! Such drama. And what of the great Exodus? And the parting of the Red Sea? And the cloud by day and fire by night? And the manna? And and and…..on and on God was showing them that He would provide, yet they forgot. Or were just plain ungrateful. We can see just around the corner because it’s recorded how it all works out that they were —just within reach— of gaining the promised land. So close in proximity, yet so far apart from God’s mindset. They despised the promise. Maybe it seemed too hard. Maybe they didn’t want to have to ‘work for it’ when in reality, God was going to do the work and all were to receive the promise. They knew what work was. They had been slaves, after all, before God delivered them from Egypt and her taskmasters. Yet, because of their rebellion and fight against God’s will, they missed out on entering the most incredible sights they ever would know. Joshua and Caleb are hailed as heroes for their trust in God’s way. And the ten trouble making spies? They are named as well (Numbers 13) and are forever etched in Scripture for all to see their lack of judgment. In Numbers 13:3, it even says that their little ones would know the land that their elders despised.

Not much has changed since then. God still has a plan and it’s to live by faith, to trust Him in any given situation. And there will always be those who say it’s impossible to live by faith and not by sight– ‘God simply can’t have something bigger out there’. Like Caleb and Joshua, I need to stand firm that blessings will come when I simply trust that God’s way is better. Big faith = big blessings. What God says about Caleb is incredible in Number 14: 24 -“But my servant, Caleb, because he had another spirit in him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land…” Another spirit…not a spirit of scorn like the whole murmuring lot, but one of humility and obedience. And Caleb followed God fully. Fully! Not half-way, not half-hearted, but he was “all in” for the long haul. No tears. No weeping and gnashing of teeth. No drama. In vs 38, it is said of Joshua and Caleb that they “LIVED STILL” when the unbelieving and unrepentant breached God’s promise and slandered the land (vs 34 & 36). The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years and died ‘by the plague before the LORD’ (vs 37). The doubters got what they wished for…to die in the wilderness (those twenty years old and up). Such profound sadness. It didn’t have to be that way.

To live STILL – when fear wants to take over. To live STILL – when I’m tempted to doubt that God will take care of me. To live STILL – when those around me are far apart from God’s mindset… Faith brings life and I am ‘well able’ to overcome anything that will test my faith in His plan…giants larger than life, walls higher than high, mean people, whatever -because He is the Enabler.

God doesn’t give me life and a plan to serve Him without making provisions. He always extends the necessary power and grace to overcome obstacles and to exceed expectations.

May I have the confidence and faith to say, “I am well able to overcome….”