Thursday, June 27, 2013

Expect God - 1:32

We had been going downtown to our favorite coffee shop and found a parking spot (an answer to prayer in and of itself) but it was a metered spot.  It was then we realized we had not brought any change with us for the meters.

"It will only take three minutes to walk down to the coffee shop and back with some change," Glen said. "Maybe there will be at least three minutes on the meter."

Our downtown area is known for the voracity at which parking tickets are issued, so having enough change for the meter is a requirement of parking downtown during business hours.  We got out of the car and my husband just started laughing as he looked at the meter.

There wasn't three minutes on the meter.  There wasn't thirty minutes on the meter.  There was an hour and thirty-two minutes on the meter.  Enough for us to walk to the coffee shop, enjoy our soup for lunch and our coffee and walk back.

Expect God and you will see Him.  Look for His provision and you will find it.

Matthew 7:7,8
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:  
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; 
and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Modern Day Hebrews 11

Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina (Photo credit: earthhopper)
In Hebrews 11 we find a listing of Bible saints who made the choice to respond by faith in the Lord in trying and difficult circumstances.  The passage stands as a source of inspiration and encouragement to us all.

In our lives right now, we have some modern-day Hebrews 11 saints to serve as encouragement and inspiration to us.  As we face the challenges of this plumbing project which seems to have no end, and which seems to have many tangents and side roads, we have others who have walked roads before us as a "cloud of witnesses."

Mr. Jordan, Larry & Jane and Karen are all dear friends of ours who live in Biloxi, Mississippi and who lost their homes during Hurricane Katrina.  Their testimonies of faith and endurance stand today to encourage me.  Their words echo in my ears as inspiration.  Their faithfulness stand as altars to the Lord they serve and are signposts and maps along the way to follow on my own path.

Mr. & Mrs. Jordan lost their beautiful estate on the water and went on, despite physical trials, praising God the entire way, to rebuild a new home and a greater testimony of God's faithfulness in times of great distress.

Larry & Jane, who also lost their home to the floods and winds of Katrina, frequently gave the testimony that the "outer man perisheth but the inner man is at peace."  The trials of rebuilding in an area which could not receive or replenish supplies was frequently experienced by Larry & Jane, but their song in the night was one of faith and joy and peace.

Karen's home, also destroyed, was rebuilt by volunteers from Wisconsin.  These missionary volunteers came to rebuild her home and she in turn has gone with them to other places to give back what she has received.  Along the way she trusted the Lord when supplies appeared lacking only to see His hand work wonder after wonder.  Her beautiful new home stands as a testimony to His faithfulness and her faith.

When I see our studs exposed, our plumping fixtures removed, our yard torn up. . .I think of these dear ones.  I remember their faith, their confessions that the Lord would take care of them in their adversity. I remember their stories of how wonderfully their needs were supplied, how they experienced peace in turmoil and I know that He "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen," (Ephesians 3:20, 21.)
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Monday, June 24, 2013

Expect God -- the Box

In our lives, we should "expect God."

We should expect to see Him move in the small things in our lives and the big things as well.  If we aren't looking, if we aren't expecting, then we aren't likely to see Him in many of the ways He moves in our lives.

We are in the midst of a major plumbing project at our house.  Walls have been torn apart, pipes refitted, the yard to the street torn up.  Along the way there have been the inevitable "surprises."  One was when the plumbers reached the main water connection at the street.  The concrete box which had protected the water main for who knows how many years was all busted apart.

"You'll need a new box, Mr. Davis," our plumber told us.  He recommended we contact the water company the next morning, since it was late in the afternoon, to see if they could possibly supply one.  That night, my husband awoke in the middle of the night thinking of the box which needed to be replaced.  Unknown to him, I was also awake thinking of the broken box.

The next morning, my husband went outside to speak to the plumbers (who have been with us so long now, they seem like part of the family.)

"Are you feeling the love this morning, Mr. Davis?"  he asked my husband.

"What do you mean?" my husband replied.

It seems it was the very morning the water service had scheduled an employee to come through our neighborhood inspecting water main boxes to see which ones needed to be replaced.  We didn't even need to make a phone call.  

We had a need and the supply had been scheduled before we even knew we had a need.  That in a nutshell is the definition of prevenience.  But this one is better:

"And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."

The Lord knows our needs, He knows our situation.  Not a sparrow falls to the ground that He is not aware of it.  Let us set our gaze toward Him and be expectant that He will "supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Fruit, Tomato

 (Photo credit: burgundavia)
According to Wikipedia, a tomato is "the edible, often red fruit from the plant Solanum lycopersicum, commonly known as a tomato plant."

Did you notice that definition begins with "A tomato is the edible. . .fruit?"

It reminds me of a card I saw in the store yesterday:

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

There are many who have knowledge, who have great knowledge and yet lack wisdom.  I have often heard that wisdom is having knowledge and knowing what to do with it.   True wisdom begins with a right belief in and relationship with the Lord.

Psalm 111:10
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom:  a good understanding have all they that do His commandments:  His praise endureth for ever."

Perhaps the most important thing about a truly wise person is that they realize their wisdom is not in and of themselves.  The Apostle Paul on multiple occasions refers to the Lord as "God only wise" or "only God wise."  It is evident he believed that any wisdom we have is imparted to us from God.  In fact, the Old Testament is full of instances where this is clearly stated.  In the New Testament, the Apostle James tells us, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all med liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him," (James 1:5.)

Our God, God only wise, is the source of all wisdom.  If we are to be truly wise, we must first acknowledge this and recognize that wisdom is never in and of ourselves.  Then we must ask the Lord to impart His wisdom to us that we may use it for His glory and the eternal purpose of Christ Jesus through us.

Proverbs 3:7

"Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil."

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

For a Season

We often like to park downtown close to the Peanut Shoppe, grab some cashews and 
A&M Peanut Shoppe
(Photo credit: alwright1)
perhaps fresh roasted peanuts or popcorn, and walk the four blocks or so to one of our favorite coffee shops.  It is a pleasant walk down and back and we enjoy the nuts as we go.

Yesterday, however, our walk was diverted because the new Nicolas Cage movie, Tokarev, is being filmed in our city.  The streets close to the coffee shop were blocked off for the filming of a car chase scene.  

We are quite familiar with the streets of downtown, so we quickly formulated an alternate route.  It took us past a favorite restaurant which features incredible paninis.  In fact, as we walked by, the aroma of some great concoction wafted out from their kitchen.  I was quick to imagine it was my favorite, their Muffaletta Panino. 

As we continued walking, we passed by the back of the building, by the garbage and the collection vats for used grease.  The smell then was not so pleasant.  It was the same restaurant, just a different viewpoint.  It reminded me of this verse speaking of Moses:

 "Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;" (Hebrews 11:25.)

Sin, when in the midst of it, can seem pleasurable.  If often pleases so many of the senses. But when it has brought forth it's inevitable consequences  it will be bitter to us indeed.  That which seemed sweet in the beginning, will be as refuse and garbage.  Regardless of what our particular temptation is, the pleasure of sin will only be "for a season," and then we will experience the built in results.  

Jeremiah 2:9
"Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that My fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts."

The Scriptures tell us "the wages of sin is death," so that, even as Christians, who know our sins are forgiven, sin works in us a death.  There is a death to our ability to work out the eternal purpose in Christ Jesus in that moment, a death to follow His will, a death to live as "alive unto God."

We do well to "walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;" (Colossians 1:10,) and to avoid the sin in the first place.

James 1:12
"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation:  for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him."

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

To Pull Down

The Lord told the prophet Jeremiah that He had set him over the nations and kingdoms for six purposes:

"See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant."
Only two of the purposes were positive, edifying purposes.  The other four were corrective
and they came first.  We are experiencing much of that in our own lives this week.  

A leak in a hot water pipe under our slab has necessitated the refit of all our plumbing.  To accomplish this there has needed to be much pulling down, some destroying, a little throwing down, before there can be any building and planting.

Specifically, portions of walls have had to be removed,  mirrors taken down,  and parts of our front yard dug up.  Later today new pipes will be routed through our walls and attic and finally attached to the main line at the street.    The damaged portion of pipe will totally be bypassed in the process.

In our lives as Christians, the Lord often must do some pulling down, some rooting out, before He begins His work of building and planting.  Sometimes there are wrong assumptions, wrong thought processes, wrong perceptions which must be corrected before He can build in us that which He desires to accomplish.  If He were to build upon a false foundation, it would crumble when the winds and storms of this word begin to blow.  If He were to plant in a foul field, the plants would surely die in the heat of the day.  So He first applies the work pulling down and rooting out.
Our part in this job is the same as my walls, my wallpaper and my yard. . .to submit.  We submit ourselves to His will believing that although there were things which He has needed to remove, He will build us into something even better for His purpose.    We must always realize that even when we can't understand His hand, we can always trust His heart.  His working in our lives is to always finish the job He has begun.

"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:"

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dog Hair. . .The Perfect Fashion Accessory

I have had it happen more than once.

I have spent a great deal of time and effort getting ready to go out. . .shower, shampoo, clean clothes, fresh makeup.  I've used a razor, a blow dryer, a hair straightener . . .beauty implements of all sorts.  Conditioner, hair spray, lotion, perfume have all been applied.  Jewelry is  correctly in place.  The perfect dress and shoes have been chosen.  Finally, everything is finished and should be perfect.

Then, usually when sitting in the car on the way to where ever we are going, I notice them.  

Sparrow's hairs.  

It may only be one or two, but they are always there.  Always.  No matter how hard I try, I am unable to completely eradicate them from my ensemble.  Instead I chose to adopt the attitude I saw on a sign once: "Dog hair. . .the perfect fashion accessory."

In a spiritual sense, we can never make ourselves totally perfect either.  There will always be at least some tiny little dog hair there that will escape our ability to remove it.  Most likely it will be pride over all our other "perfections."  

We can never make ourselves perfect enough to please God because His standard is absolute perfection; His standard is the absolute perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"There is none righteous, no, not one:" (Romans 3:10.)  Our best, our very best is "as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; (Isaiah 64:6.)  If we are under the delusion, and be very sure it is a delusion, that we can somehow clean ourselves up well enough to please God, we are sorely mistaken.

If we are under the sad misconception that we must first clean ourselves up to come to God for redemption, we are wasting precious time.  He is in the cleaning business and is infinitely better at it than we can ever be.  We are like Lady Macbeth, unable to wash the spots out of our hands, and yet He has provided the free salvation through His Son which washes us whiter than snow.

He only desires that we come to Him with an honest heart, just as we are.  After all, He knows us as we are anyway, dog hair and all.

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: 
though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; 
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Code

Neon Numbers
(Photo credit: Lee Carson)
All the doors to our unit at work have a security code.  This is to protect our mother's privacy and our babies' security.  No one can enter the unit who does not have the access code, or whom we do not allow to enter by unlocking the door for them.

As we become familiar with the family from each patient, and they approach our main doors, we can see them on the security camera.  We often recognize their faces and have our fingers on the lock-button before they ever pick up the phone to ask for entry.  We have come to know them and they gain access, not based on who they are but based on their relationship to the mother.

There is no way we can ever access God in and of ourselves.  "And He said, Thou canst not see My face: for there shall no man see Me, and live," (Exodus 33:20.)  To access God, we must have a mediator.  We need someone to go between us and God.

Thankfully, God has provided such a mediator for us, the Man-Christ Jesus.  We are accepted by God based not upon who we are, or what we have done, but solely based upon our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  His character, His righteousness, His merits alone gain us access "through the door" unto God.

1 Timothy 2: 3-6

"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men,  
the man Christ Jesus; 
Who gave Himself a ransom for all,"

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Different Perpective

Four pieces of cutlery.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Our daughter's boyfriend is British.  This often presents differing perspectives between the English and Americans.  

The other day, they were discussing the "proper" use of eating utensils.  Apparently in England one uses forks and spoons in a totally different manner than we are accustomed to in America.  

Just as Emmie and Sheldon have different perspectives on how to use a fork, based upon their citizenship, so do we, as Christians, have different perspectives.  We look at the world, and the things that happen to us in this world, in a different way.  Our difference in perspective is because we see ourselves not primarily as citizens of this universe, but as citizens of those "heavenly places" where our citizenship currently resides.

The Apostle Paul described this perspective the best, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong," (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10.)

This perspective, more importantly this choice, to "glory in my infirmities", to "take pleasure in. . .reproaches, in necessities,"  is not the natural human response.  I would venture to say it is not the average Christian response, either.  No, this is a choice made by the person who willingly seeks God's will in their lives rather than their own.  This is the choice of one who truly believes that no matter what happens, no matter what comes, the Lord will work all things together "for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose," (Romans 8:28.)

And just what is "His purpose"?  

It isn't that we will feel good.  It isn't that we will feel happy, although if we truly believe His Word and trust His heart, we will know His joy.  It isn't that we won't feel loneliness,  although we know we are never alone.  It isn't that we will never have need, although we will experience His abundant supply through Christ Jesus.

His purpose is this one thing: for us ". . .to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren," (Romans 8:29.)  We cannot cling to the promise of Romans 8:28 without taking with it the purpoe of Romans 8:29.  His purpose is that we are to be conformed to the image of Christ.  We are to be made in the image of His meekness, His lowliness, His love, His sacrifice, His compassion, His mercy, His grace and His obedience and submission to His Father.  When we have done that; when we have done that which we have been called to do, we will know "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding;" "the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge;" and "joy unspeakable and full of glory."    

Then our perspective will be correct and as a utensil, whether we be a fork or a spoon, we can be sure we are being used in the right way.

"If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us."

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Do You Know CPR?

The father of a dear friend of ours had a fatal heart attack last week.  Family members, one of them a nurse, attempted to resuscitate him using CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) but it was not successful.  It seems, having stepped into Glory, he was not going to be recalled to this life.

When I hear of this type of occurrence, I usually have the thought, "What if this were to happen in this room right now, how many people know CPR to try to resuscitate someone?"

Thankfully, even an untrained bystander can provide help with CPR simply by giving "Hands-Only CPR".  By placing their hands in the center of the victim's chest and pushing hard and fast (the American Heart Association recommends using the disco tune of "Staying Alive" to give the rhythm) a bystander can more than double a victim's chances of survival.

But as important as knowing the American Heart Association's CPR can be, I wonder, do you know the other CPR? It can't be learned in a class, you can't watch a video to get it.  There is only one way to know this CPR, and it is eternally essential that everyone do so.

CPR, Christ's Perfect Righteousness.  The only way we can know this is by grace through faith in Christ Jesus Himself.  When we accept the Lord as our Savior, we are given the gift of His righteousness.  There is no other way to obtain it.  We can never be good enough to meet His standard by ourselves.

"Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.  For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous," (Romans 5: 18,19.)

So, it's good to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but make sure -- make very sure -- you know the most important CPR.  As our friend's father has shown us, life is uncertain.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Drop of Blood

Blood is an interesting thing.  It only takes a tiny bit to seem like a whole bunch, especially when we are looking at our own blood.

Being a Labor & Delivery nurse, I happen to work in a pretty bloody business.  We are always on the watch for visitors and family members to possible pass out.  Occasionally this will happen when we are drawing admission lab work on our patients, even though we are only taking about 1/2 ounce of blood.  That small amount (that's small in our line of work) is enough to make the biggest man hit the floor sometimes.

Just a drop of blood can color a whole container of fluid or stain a cloth.  It is powerful stuff.  Especially when it has flowed from the veins of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

"But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;  From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.  For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified," (Hebrews 10:12-14.)

We should never forget the sacrifice that the Lord made for the redemption of our sins.  

The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power
by Andrea Crouch

The blood that Jesus shed for me,
way back on Calvary;
the blood that gives me strength
from day to day,
it will never lose its power.

It reaches to the highest mountain,
it flows to the lowest valley;
the blood that gives me strength
from day to day,
it will never lose its power.

It soothes my doubts and calms my fears,
and it dries all my tears;
the blood that gives me strength
from day to day,
it will never lose its power.

It reaches to the highest mountain,
it flows to the lowest valley;
the blood that gives me strength
from day to day,
it will never lose its power.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Ready to Forgive

I had an interesting experience a couple weeks ago.  

I was very angry at someone who had disappointed and hurt the feelings of someone I love dearly.  Being mad kept me all stirred up the entire 12 hour shift I worked.  It ruined my attitude and even made my stomach physically hurt.

Finally -- much later than it should have been, I am afraid to say -- when I decided to forgive that person, everything felt so much sweeter.  It was as if a coat of bitterness had been taken off of me.  The strange thing about it was that the person never even had any knowledge that I was mad at them, much less that I had forgiven them.  Everything occurred within me, everything affected me.  They just went along with their lives.

Had I decided early on in the experience to forgive this person, I would have forgone a great deal of distress, both emotional and physical.  It was what the Lord wanted for me and I was so much happier when I finally made that decision.

You see, there is always forgiveness with the Lord.  He wants to forgive us more than we want to be forgiven.  He "delighteth in mercy."  He is our example for forgiveness and mercy.  Let us be ready to shed forth forgiveness and mercy to those around us as our Lord is ready to forgive and shed His mercy to us.

"For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; 
and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee."
 Ephesians 4:31,32