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Friday, November 14, 2014

Ruth

Ruth

1:1-5
The story of Ruth takes places during the time of the judges. This time period occurred after the death of Moses and before Saul was chosen as King. The judges ruled the people according to the Law of God that was given to Moses.
There was a famine in the land of Bethlehem which seems ironic since Bethlehem actually means, House of Bread.
Famines were fairly common and they often resulted from lack of rain, fields and crops being taken by enemies or by farmers not rotating their crops and depleting the nutrients from the ground.
Elimalech and Naomi moved their family to Moab. It is a land directly east, across the Jordan River. Almost as soon as they arrive Elimalech dies and tragedy comes upon the family. 
Both of Naomi's sons married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth.
After 10 years the men died and left the women childless.
Now Naomi's situation is really dire. A widow is always dependent on her family and now since her sons are dead, it releases the women to return to their families which would leave Naomi truly alone.

1:6-14
Naomi has heard that Yahweh is once again showing favor to the Israelites in their land so she decides to return home. After coming to Moab and losing her husband and two sons to death, she is convinced that God may not favor her. So she tries to persuade her two daughters in law (which she refers to as "daughters") to return to their own families for their welfare. (Widows without children had to depend on relatives for their welfare.) The relationship between Naomi, Ruth and Orpah must have been really close.
Orpah says her goodbyes and goes back to her family.
Although Naomi is bitter in her situation (and who wouldn't be) she truly is looking out for the best interests of the two younger women. Families generally tried to care for their relatives that were widows. She wanted these younger women to be in the care of someone.

1:15-18
"Look," Naomi says. "Your sister in law is going back to her family and her gods." 
Just previously Naomi had called Orpah daughter and now she is, "your sister in law." That is what is speaking to me in these few verses. 
Next Ruth makes her incredible promises, 
I will go where you go
I will stay where you stay
Your people will be my people
Your God will be my God
I will die where you die
And be buried there
Ruth is saying, I have spent 10 plus years with you. You are my mother. I am your daughter and not by law, but by love. I have seen your God take care of you and give you strength and comfort. He has not failed you and He won't fail us together. I am coming!
How wonderful it is to have those of your family also be your spiritual family. To me, my spiritual family is my true family and I will always turn to them. 
What a beautiful declaration Ruth makes to her mother in law. What a wonderful declaration she makes to God. It is no wonder He thought her a good choice for the bloodline of Jesus. God wants us to leave behind the things that this world deems important and cling to the only thing that matters, our faith in Him. 

Ruth 1:19-22
I remember as a child having a neighbor that we called Blind Betty. Not to be mean but because there were two ladies named Betty and we had to differentiate between them and she was blind.
In later years, during my work at a hospital cafeteria we often described patients by their ailments rather than names because it was easier to remember than their names.
Very often we know people by something that has befallen them.
Is that how you want to be known? How do you want others to know you?
I was having a pity party the other night and feeling especially lonely and craving the voice of someone other than my husband. And I said to him, I don't think anyone likes me. And he in his infinite wisdom and compassion said to me, "Go eat worms."
But it helped. It made me chuckle. I don't want to be bitter or down-hearted. I know I have friends and people that care for me.
How does God know us? What is it that He sees when He looks at us?
Well He sees us as we can be. He sees us complete and whole. 
Our circumstances are obstacles or challenges that sometimes get in the way, but we are meant to overcome them. How we deal with these things will shape us and build us or we can be bitter, give up and forever be described by what conquered us.
When Naomi returned to Bethlehem she no longer was a wife and mother of two sons. No, now she can back poor and destitute with a Moabite daughter in law. 
The women of the town asked, "Is this Naomi?" Naomi means pleasant.
"No." She said. "Don't call me Naomi, call me Mara." Mara means bitter. She felt like God had dealt unfairly with her. Self pity. 
Have you ever felt that God had dealt unfairly with you? That just goes to show that we sometimes forget that God has a bigger plan, on a grand scale, that will result in His blessing.
Embrace your challenges. And be a conqueror!

Ruth 2:1-16
Ruth tells Naomi that she is going to work the fields and gather left crops and grain that the harvesters leave behind. According to Jewish laws the workers were not to totally strip the fields but leave some for the widows and the poor. 
Naomi goes and follows behind the workers but only after asking permission to do so. 
As it turns out, she is in the field of Boaz, a wealthy relative of Naomi's dead husband.
Boaz questions his workers to find out the identity of the new young woman. 
He invites her to continue to work his fields and even goes so far as to instruct her to work only his fields. Then he instructs his harvesters to leave extra for her and to remove some that has already been harvested and leave for her.
Boaz takes the young woman under his wing and also invites her to eat with him. 
When Ruth asks why, he said it is because of her kindness toward Naomi.

I love the words, 'as it turns out'. Yep, just a coincidence that she turns up in Boaz's fields. No, I don't believe so. It is God at work. 
Ruth is not afraid to work long, hard hours to provide for herself and Naomi. What a beautiful character this woman displays. 

Ruth 2:17-23
After gleaning the fields from sunup to sundown, Ruth comes home with 5 gallons of barley. Wow, what an amount! This much could feed the two of them for weeks. Naomi then states that God has not withdrawn His kindness, but is blessing the living and the dead. In other words, by His care for Ruth and Naomi it brings honor to the dead men, in that no one would be burdened by having to feed these two mouths.
Naomi realizes that Ruth is being treated very well by the landowner so she again asks, whose fields she had worked. Upon finding out that it was Boaz she reminded Ruth that he is our close relative. He can redeem us from our hopeless state.
Ruth says that Boaz has not only given her continued permission to harvest his fields, but has instructed her to stay in his fields with the other women where she would be safe from harm that could come upon her if she went somewhere else.
Ruth is such a beautiful young woman. Not only has she shared in grief with Naomi, she then left the familiar homeland to be a daughter in a land where she is a foreigner. Her mother in law is a bitter, sad companion that feels that God has turned away from her. Ruth seeks work. She strives to make their situation better. Through her hard work, and her inner strength and beauty, God favors her. By God's will she ends up in the fields of a wealthy relative. He notices her. She stands out from the other women. Boaz is kind to her and she obediently obeys Naomi and keeps going back to Boaz's fields. Then she submits to his offer to come only to his fields and work alongside the other women. 
Ruth is a beautiful, caring, compassionate, hard-working, obedient, submissive, woman. 

Ruth 3:1-13
Naomi wants Ruth to be cared for and loved, yet at the same time she, too, will benefit if her plot works. 
First, she tells Ruth to wash and put on perfume. This is indicating that it is time to stop mourning their dead husbands. 
Then she tells Ruth to go to the threshing floor to Boaz.
He is here after the long harvest. Now he is crushing the grain to get the seed to release from the shaft and then it is tossed into the air (winnowing) to remove the chaff. 
It is a time of cheer and celebration. All the workers eat, drink and celebrate.
Naomi tells Ruth to wait until after Boaz eats and drinks and then goes to lay down. Once he is asleep she is to go to him and uncover his feet and lay down. And wait for him to tell her what to do.
Boaz eats and drinks, but probably isn't drunk, because he retires at an early hour, which indicates that he is likely to work again the next morning.
Uncovering his feet would no doubt wake him as the colder air hits his feet which then would make him aware of Naomi being there.
And this is exactly as it happens.
He awakes and is startled.
She asks him to cover her, this is an implication to marriage and being taken care of. 
Boaz tells her that he is honored and will definitely be her kinsman redeemer but there was one that is a closer relative. He should be considered first. But he asked her to stay the night out of concern for her safety and promises to redeem her if the other man does not.


Ruth 3:14-18
There are references in the scripture (Hosea) where women coming to the threshing room floor were prostitutes, women in search of the money that flows from celebration. So when Ruth woke up early, in the dark, and prepared to leave it was because neither she nor Boaz wanted anyone to think that way of her.
All through this book we see that it is her integrity, and high character that Boaz admires most about her.
He measures out six measures of barley and pours into her cloak, which was an outer garment, either for additional warmth or worn (like an apron) to protect the garments underneath. The grain was not a payment of any kind but yet another act of his generosity and kindness toward the women. And she returns to the city and back to Naomi.
Now, Naomi, the match maker, tells Ruth that she must wait on him to see how it turns out. 

These are the hard words. Clearly, Naomi wants and desires that Boaz will marry Ruth. It would greatly benefit them both. But it never states Ruth's desires in this matter, other than she was obedient to do what Naomi wants and expects. 
Surely she must have had feelings of her own, but that is left to our romantic imaginings.
In any case, she is anxious to know the outcome of her and Boaz.
It is hard to wait. Especially when, in our minds, we have the plan all figured out.
Soon and very soon, Ruth and Naomi will be lawfully redeemed, either by Boaz or this other relative. But Naomi and Ruth, both, have put themselves in a position to be redeemed by Boaz.

Have you acted accordingly? Have you done all that you can with all humbleness, placed yourself at the Redeemer's feet?
We don't have to wait on His acceptance and there is no other than can redeem us. Yet, sometimes we do find ourselves having to WAIT on Him and His timing. 

How hard is it for you to wait? Do you try desperately to lay the groundwork for your wants and desires?

Ruth 4:1-12
Boaz goes to the city gates, the social epicenter of the city. The markets are there. The prophets spoke there. Business was done there. And legal matters were dealt with there.
Boaz, after rounding up the town leaders,  speaks with the closer relative and inquires as to whether he is interested in redeeming the land of Naomi's dead husband. He says that he will buy it, until he hears of the stipulation. He must marry Ruth, the Moabite. 
He then says that he cannot because it might put strain on his own estate. 
So Boaz then states that he will marry Ruth and redeem the land and the women and it is agreed upon, using the sandal as their "handshake."
The leaders then pronounce a blessing upon Boaz in his decision.

Ruth 4:13-17
Boaz marries Ruth and she conceives and bears a son. After 10 years of marriage she had no children and now, just like that, she is a mother.
Why did God wait? Maybe life as a young widow and caretaker to Naomi, and working long hard hours in the grain fields would have been too much if she was also a mother at the time. Maybe if she had borne children to her first husband she would have chosen to stay behind in Moab with her family. We don't know. But God's timing is always right. 
Very often the sweetest blessings come after the most bitter of circumstances.

Ruth 4:18-22
There are a list of names. Boaz's name is on that list. Jesus' name is on that list. Would Jesus have been born if Boaz had not married Ruth?
Isn't it wonderful when you finally see a reason for God saying, wait? We may not always get to. There might come a time or two when God's designs do not seem to ever become clear to us. But we know and trust that He knows the outcome of everything.
We just need to pray, act, wait and trust, just like Ruth did.

Ruth 2:12
Do you think that God had designed for Ruth and Boaz to be together and bear a son? Do you think that it was His plan all along to place Ruth into the lineage of Jesus?
If so then it seems that much time, heartache, poverty, being in the right place at the right time, and overcoming had to be done to get her where He wanted her to be.
What were the unwritten details of her meeting and marrying her foreign husband? How many tears had she cried in the 10 years of no children? How much did it hurt when she lost her husband, brother in law and father in law? In what ways might the wrenching pulls of the decision to stay or go place on her? How do you think it felt to be living in a land as a hated foreigner? What burden did she bear as she went to work each day at dawn to gather leftover grain to feed her and Naomi? How tired do you think she was at the end of each day? What words do you think she might have prayed?
Through it all----God had a plan. 
It took every, single one of those minute details to get her where she needed to be to fulfill her place in God's design.
Imagine if she had refused or become disobedient? But she hadn't!!!! She endured. She was a scrapper. She was an overcomer. And she was blessed.
God is at work in the details of your life too. Every time you struggle and overcome, you grow. Keep going. I am praying for you.












Saturday, November 1, 2014

This is the Gospel

This is the Gospel

1 Corinthians 13:8-13
2 Timothy 1:8-10
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
The Gospel- it means, Good news. It is Jesus, His birth, life, death, and resurrection. 
What does all that mean to me?
My life is a mess, because of sin. I can never be good, no matter what I could ever do. So God gave His son, Jesus, to be the ultimate sacrifice for sin. 
Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me that. And for that reason there is hope for me and for you and for everyone.
The Gospel is simple, yet complex. The more you dig into it, the more you uncover. You will never stop learning, there is always something more. God is great.
I am excited to be exploring this with all of you.
Let's dig in.

Genesis 1:26-2:3
God has just created the earth and filled it with plants, animals and birds. Use the eyes of imagination and take a good look around. 
See the snow covered mountains we know as The Alps. See the big horned sheep and the mountain goats roving around?
Look at those amazing oceans, watch the waves rise and fall. Can you see the huge, magnificent sea creatures swimming around the deep? And then over there, can you see all the bright colored, little tropical fishes swimming around the coral reefs.
Can you see the wondrous water falls, one shaped like a horseshoe? Can you feel the power of all that water rushing over the edge? Can you hear it roar?
Look at all the different animals roaming around the plains on the African continent and now the South American jungles! 
Look at that vast canyon carved out right over there! Wow, that thing is Grand!
This place is good! Earth is good! But as yet unfinished. Now God says, "Let us make man in our image." Notice the plural pronouns? This is the plurality of the Godhead, God, the Father;  God, the Son; and God, the Holy Spirit. 
He creates the man and then the woman. And God, Himself pronounces that they are good. He gives the man authority over all the earth, the animals and the plants. He gives every kind of plant for food. And life is Good!!!!!
And then God rests. After 6 days of creating,  He stops to rest. Does God need to rest? Is He tired? All that making something out of nothing is just exhausting! 
God is setting up and demonstrating a plan for the man. Work 6 days and rest on the seventh. 
Isn't this a beautiful place that God has made? 
Let's keep these eyes of our imagination open, just for a little while longer. You might have to close your literal eyes. Just keep looking around at this place for awhile.

Genesis 2:15-3:24
Romans 3:23
Isaiah 64:6-7
Ephesians 2:1-3
Romans 1:18-32
Romans 6:23
Read it, Think on it. Pray for the wisdom in it. Then Share your findings with us.
Adam and Eve have been living in Paradise. It is amazing. It is wonderful. They walk with God in the garden. The only rule, the only restraint that God puts on them is, Do not eat from the the tree in the center of the garden.
And then the crafty serpent comes and asks Eve, "Did God really say....?" And "...... You will be like Him."
He plants doubt. I am sure Eve starts to think and then the thinking turns in sin. You see, that is how it works when we OVERTHINK things, it turns to sin almost every time.
So, she thinks, she looks, she justifies(it looks like it would taste good, maybe I didn't hear God correctly, maybe He didn't really say....., or maybe I misunderstood. Yes, I am sure I misunderstood.) and then she reaches, she plucks, she eats and then shares it with Adam.
And immediately, immediately, did you hear me? Immediately, the shame comes upon them. How quickly do you feel the shame of your sin?
And now they quickly try to cover it up, hide their sin and guilt. And when God comes, they blame. "It was her, YOU gave her to me." 
"It was the serpent."
And the serpent, well I imagine it like this: "It was so easy. I knew I could do it. Now your beautiful Paradise is ruined." This last part is not in scripture, but I think that might be what he said or thought.
Here is what  sin does - it lies. It tells us that everything will change for the better. It promises to be shiny and pleasureful, and excitement forever. IT PROMISES TO BE WORTH IT.  Sin tells us that God wants to keep the good stuff from us - that what we want matters more than what He has for us. (Genesis 3:4-5)
Sin wasn’t worth it. It never is. Romans 6:23 tells us the same thing God told Adam, “the wages of sin is death,” and Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Adam was guilty. Eve was guilty. You and I and your family and your neighbor and  your friend and your enemy - we are all guilty. We all deserve death.
BUT DON't get discouraged, don't lose hope. Remember, we are studying The Gospel (Good News.) we just needed to lay the foundation for our study. 

Ephesians 2: 1-10
John 3:18-18
John 1:12-13
Romans 6:23
Because of sin we were all dead. Dead refers to separation from God, and Paul uses the word to show that we are either alive (with God) or dead (apart from God.) there is no half dead, you either are or aren't. You either live in obedience or disobedience. 
But God made a way for us through Christ to be alive again. It is because of the grace of God in His love and mercy for us that He provides the way. It is nothing we can DO or WORK FOR or EARN! We can be reborn into life because of Christ.
We can be born again, born of God, He has made a way through Christ.
We no longer have to be dead in our sin. 
It is so hard to understand this concept of grace by faith. We  can be alive again and have eternal life only because we believe we can have it from God*. There is no way we can earn it. There is nothing we can do to deserve it. Nothing! 
It is free. It is grace.

*the gospel is good news and that is what we are studying. However, one can fall from grace.

1 Corinthians 15:12-22
John 19:20
Romans 3:21-26
Romans 5:6-8
1 John 2:1-2
Man sinned so God gave them laws and they would sacrifice animals to roll back their sin. The sacrifice required a life and blood atonement. So for years and years, centuries, many animals, much blood, and still more sinning, this covenant was replaced with the perfect sacrifice. Once and for all a sacrifice was made that required life and blood, the actual life and blood of God's Son in His human form. 
Because of His death, we can be saved from eternal death. He gave Himself to redeem us.
But Christ did not stay dead. He was buried in a tomb but He walked out of that tomb alive! He was victorious over death and we can be too because of a Him.
1 John 4:10

Romans 8:1-11
Mark 1:14-15
Psalm 51
Romans 6:23
Luke 15:10
These verses are so good, yet these are only some of the many many verses on being in Christ, abiding in God, living by the Spirit.
The more you dig into the scriptures, the more you study the Old Testament, the more the new Covenant will make sense. 
Remember on the first day we said that the gospel is simple, yet complex?
For some who truly wants to abide in God, they will always want to learn and grow. One will enjoy uncovering more and more of the gems hidden in His word.
One of the biggest ideas you can grasp from today's reading is in one of the smallest words, IN.
Is Christ IN you? Do you abide IN God? Do you walk IN the Spirit?

Romans 8:12-30
Revelation 20-21
1 Peter 1:3-4
We are dead to sin. We are not to live by our flesh any longer. In other words, all those past sins that made us dead inside ourselves are washed away through our cleansing baptism. Now we are Daughters of God. We are heirs with Christ. We are a new creation, living new, unchained lives.
We are now living with the guidance of God's Holy Spirit living in us. He is our comfort and help that Christ promised would be with us upon His return to the Father. 
Oh yes, we have a living hope. A hope that waits for the day when our fleshly bodies will be made whole and complete and live eternally with God in Heaven.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nehemiah

Nehemiah

Nehemiah 1:1-11
Nehemiah was one of the Jews carried into Babylonian exile and is working as cupbearer to the King. This is a pretty high position as the King had to place a lot of trust in him and he worked in the midst of the King's living chambers.
His brother brings him sad news of his homeland being destroyed and burned.
Nehemiah immediately goes into action. Although his homeland is very far away and he is living in the King's palace, he mourns heavily for his home.
He fasts and prays. He intercedes for the people of his homeland. He acknowledges God for His greatness. He asserts himself as a servant of God, (he understands very well the role of a servant.) He remembers the covenant God made with His people. He confesses the sins of himself and the people and prays to God for their restoration.
Questions to ask myself:
Does my position and/or circumstances in life keep me too busy to know of the cares and concerns of others?
When is the last time that I actually mourned over something?
When is the last time that I fasted and prayed for something?
Do I confess my sins against God to Him? 
Lord, I have failed You, myself and others by lack of prayer for them/us. We need you everyday. Lord, I want to be a prayer servant. I want to serve You and others through prayer. Maybe praying is all that I can do for others. If so, I want to do it with a faithful servants heart.
 Neh. 1:11-2:8
Nehemiah is in mourning. And he manages to go about his duties without allowing his sadness to be noticed by the King for over 4 months. But then, the King, who notices somehow, asks him about his mood. Nehemiah, first prays, then tells the King about his homeland.
The King asks what can he do for Nehemiah. Nehemiah asks for a leave of absence. The King grants it. Then Nehemiah asks for timber to rebuild the gates and for a letter of safe passage. The King grants those as well.
So many times in God's word we can see how God uses circumstances to put people right where they need to be to be used by Him for His purposes. People such as Joseph, Esther, Moses and others, including Nehemiah used their seemingly unfortunate circumstances to be in a position to be used by God.
Nehemiah waited, without being glum, for God to present an opportunity to him. When the opportunity came, in God's time, Nehemiah seized the opportunity and it was right.
Why do I find it so hard to be patient and wait for God's opportunities? What blessings do I steal from myself when I try to rush ahead of God?
Lord, please,  help me to wait on You. Help me not to mope as I wait. Then Lord, let me receive your blessings with eagerness.
Neh. 2:9-20
Nehemiah's journey would have taken at about 4 months. So by now, it is at least 8 months since he had gotten the bad news of his homeland. 
Apparently he traveled with an army that the King had sent along with the letters they would need to travel through the lands. Opposition may have been expected. 
Once Nehemiah arrived he rested in the city for several days before he made the inspections. Then he diligently inspected each area.
Nehemiah talked to and inspired the people. He reminded them of God and how a God is favoring this project. They agreed to rebuild.
They did have some opposition from the neighboring leaders, but Nehemiah told them about God's favor.
Very often we know what God wants us to do. And many times there are those that might try to discourage us or remind us of our weaknesses. We need to remain true to the path that God has for us.
Lord, help me to listen to Your voice and walk in Your way. 
Neh. 3
The word banah (“to build”) occurs seven times in this list while the term chazaq (“to repair”) occurs 34 times. In some places, the wall needed to be built from the ground up; in other places, repairs needed to be made to the existing wall.
But everyone had a role. And side by side they worked, each doing their own part.
It is wonderful when people work together. Things get done. 
Ephesians talks of us, the body parts, (Christ's body) working together, (by what every joint supplies) brings growth to the whole body. (The Church)
From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:16 NASB)
Lord, please close my mouth when I dare criticize someone who is working. Help me to be willing to do my part in building Your kingdom and keep me focused on my own part in the building.
There is much to be done for You.
 Neh. 4:1-14
This chapter takes us back to the opposition from chapter 2. We see here the mocking and can almost hear the sneers of Sanballat and the others. 
Although they think they are superior to the Jews, they are feeling threatened by them and their work. 
But Nehemiah, the encourager, motivates the people to keep working and then to defend what they worked so hard to rebuild. 
I wonder why, sometimes we just want to give up so easily on the building up of God's kingdom? If we hear one word of discouragement, we are ready to quit.
Lord, help me to have the backbone to continue what I start in Your name. Help me to work, agreeably with others, close my ears to those who would try to turn me from my task. Bring plenty of Nehemiahs into my life to motivate and stimulate me to keep pressing on.
 Neh. 8:10
It is already day 6 of our studies, and time to take a look back, a reflection. What do you see? Have you learned anything new about Nehemiah, Jerusalem or the tenacity of God's people? Have you learned anything new about yourself or others that you work near or with?
Our scripture today is a gem that we haven't yet uncovered in our reading but it's a look ahead at something good, something to look forward to.
Nehemiah is again encouraging, he is saying, Chin 
up, gain your strength from Him who is strong. Your joy is in His strength.
Maybe you need a little extra something today too. Well, keep your chin up, keep reading, keep meditating, keep praying and keep sharing. We are growing. We are getting richer in our knowledge. God's strength is our joy too.
Lord, keep me going when I feel like stopping. 
Neh. 4:15-23
Today's scripture
I am amazed at how the people forgot their own sorry circumstances and came together in this project. I mean, can you imagine the lives that some of them might have been living? The remnant, probably living in a broken, rubble of a city, each days existence a struggle. Even Nehemiah, while living in the palace, was probably homesick. He was a once noble man now a servant. He more than likely had been castrated so that he might not be a threat to the Queen.  He was tasting every food and drink before the King in case someone had poisoned it. 
 Yet, Now, they are working together and getting it done. 
But then the threats and attacks come, and they have to work and live with a weapon in their hands at all times.
I am sure that they might have wondered why. Why would they yet again have to face the problems? Especially while working so hard in the service of The Lord? 
I have been in that position. I have been down but learned to accept and adapt, then get excited about something only to have my hopes dashed. 
And Although I have never been physically attacked, I have felt emotionally and mentally attacked so that I felt that I needed to be constantly looking over my shoulder for the next onslaught. 
I also believe that the day is very near that we, Christians, will be brutally and physically attacked, right here in our own land, behind our own walls. We will need each other. We need each other now. 
Lord, I know that my strength comes from You and that means that I can have joy knowing that You can handle any situation.
 Aid me in seeking help and strength from my sisters and brothers in Christ. And use me to share my strengths with them. 
 Neh. 5
The people and families that are working on the rebuilding come to Nehemiah. They are feeling too burdened. They are working day and night, with weapons in hand on this project. But they also have personal lives. They each have their story. 
"My fields are overgrown and untended."
"I have had to sell my daughter to have funds to feed the rest of my family."
"I believe that the men that collect my taxes for the King are charging me too much."
"My wife is sick. The famine has taken it's toll. I have no one to look after her."
"I no longer have the heart for this mission."
Can you hear them? Can you hear each come in to give their account to Nehemiah?
Today, in our churches, we hear the reasons, we hear the stories of why so many give up the work. Sometimes we call it, making excuses. But often we forget that people have lives, we have jobs, we have families, we have illnesses, we have concerns. 
Nehemiah, was a champion. He took on the many jobs required of him to fulfill his personal mission of rebuilding. And by doing so, he took on the many challenges that came with the project, the obstacles that threatened. 
He must have been a very wise man. But one thing I know. One thing that is clear to me is, he never acts without pondering and praying. And then he takes action.
Lord, help me face ALL of my work, ALL of projects by first pondering and praying. And then after praying, to take the necessary course of action. Give my Your strength each day to accomplish what needs done. Give me wisdom that comes from You. Grant me boldness in my action and give me persistence to see the job completed.
Neh. 6:1-14
Finally, the walls are built, except for hanging the gates. The enemy leaders are really feeling threatened now. They send for Nehemiah. They want a "meeting" with him. They say that they hear that Judah has a new King and that Nehemiah is that King. So we should meet to discuss trade, strategies, etc.
Nehemiah refuses. He will not be bullied. He won't take his focus off the completion of his work. "No," he says, "I am carrying on a great work. I will not go down."
Over and over again they send him messages to come, each time he answers them in the same way. He consulted the Prophet who tried to convince him to hide out in the Temple. But Nehemiah recognized the ploy, the Prophet had been bought and told to give false counsel. Then he talks to God about his enemies. "Remember them, each one." He tells God. 
Nehemiah does not turn from his work in serving The Lord. Even when seemingly important people want to see him, even when his own spiritual leader gives him advice (that he recognizes as ungodly.) 
Lord, help me to be steadfast in my service and attention to You. When other things and/or people try to "bring me down" help me remember to say, "I am carrying on a great work. I will not go down."
Lord, too, help me to know You so that when even those who say they speak for You give me false information, that I will recognize it and turn from it.
And too, remember my enemies and oppositions. You deal with them so I can forget them and remain focused on my work for You.
 Neh. 6:15-7:72
Today's scripture reading
I love hearing your thoughts on what you read. It makes it so much more interesting for all us. Please share. 
The work is done, in quick time. 
Now Nehemiah gathered and counted the people. They are mentioned by name. And if you are like me, it is easy to just whiz right past these names as you read. I mean, who cares, right? Well, Nehemiah did care and so does God. Each individual contribution, no matter how small, helped to complete the task. So each was recognized.
But when you really notice the names, and their meanings you will see:
Yahweh is Salvation
Yahweh has helped
Compassionate
My comfort is Yahweh
Pure
Happy
Yahweh has strengthened
Fortress
Yahweh has seen
And many others.
Every person is valuable. 
In our gatherings, meetings, individual bodies/churches, everyone is needed. Don't think that you are unimportant. Don't think that you won't make a difference. Don't imagine that you are insignificant. ALL of us are important, valuable and needed.
Even in this little Bible study I have noticed that the more of you that comment and share, the richer the study becomes.
Neh. 7:73-8:18
The people all gathered. They gathered at the Water Gate. This is the one gate that everyone used and was familiar with. Everyone who could hear and understand was there.
Ezra, the scribe opened the Book of Law and read from it. He read from morning to midday. And while he read, the people stood. 
They understood the importance of reverence to the reading. They had a desire for instruction and were eager to do what was required of them by God, because they truly understood that IT WAS THEIR OWN SIN that had gotten them into bondage, and that ONLY OBEDIENCE TO GOD would free them. They got it. They understood.
They displayed their understanding by their willingness to humble themselves before The Lord. 
They lifted their hands to Him, they cried out to Him. They bowed with their faces to the ground to Him. They grieved. 
I love this example. 
Often in my sin I want to justify it somehow. I want to blame someone else. I want it to be the fault of my circumstances. 
I need to accept that it is MY SIN that separates me from God. I need to be willing to reach out to Him. To grieve because of my sin. I need to be willing to come humbly before God and be ashamed.
But wait, there is joy! There is hope.
Nehemiah told the people, "Don't grieve.  Go celebrate! Look what God is doing for you. His strength is your joy. Go, eat drink, and share with others. But don't grieve."
 There is hope for us too , when we humbly repent of our sin and acknowledge God in our obedience to His word, we have strength. We can go forward without the shame and blame of our past.
Neh. 9:1-37
Sometimes we need to humble ourselves and be reminded of all the love and mercy that God pours out on us. We often forget. And it doesn't take long to forget. Things start going smoothly in our lives and we lose our dependence on God. We forget to be thankful and we forget to talk to Him. 
 Neh. 9:17
How quickly people get discouraged and lose hope. Satan is here to steal, kill and destroy. He will steal our joy and our hope. He kills our trust and courage and he destroys anything that might hold on to. However, we can resist him. We are told to be alert and watching for him. 
Unless we remain focused and do not allow ourselves to become distracted, satan can grip us. 
Only be surrounding ourselves with strength of other Christians, hiding God's word in our hearts, keeping our eyes on Jesus, Trusting in God, obedience to Him, being steadfast and immovable, can we win in this life.
 Neh. 9:30-10:39
The people are guilty. They are ashamed. They have violated God's laws so entirely that God has given them over to foreigners, including their city, their animals, and their servitude. While living as foreigners they continued in their sinful state and even intermarried with them.
But they have come back. They are asking for yet another chance. 
They have heard and remembered all that God had done for them. They have reminded themselves of God's laws and once again DECIDE to commit to obedience. They even sign a petition! All of them sign, everyone that can understand.
But none of this will be easy. Following God's laws have been very difficult, impossible really, to follow completely. (That is why Christ came as a New Covenant) but following the Law of God would be even harder for them now because they are STILL SLAVES! They still must work and pay the foreign Kings that own them. 
And yet they are so repentant that they are willing to try.
There are 5 things that I have noticed here in these scriptures.
First:
Their regain their faith.
They are reminded of Who God is and what He has done for them in the past. And their faith in God is renewed.
Second:
They are repentant. 
They are very sorry for turning away from God. They recognize His graciousness and His love and His mercy and His compassion and KNOW that it is their own fault that they are outside of God's grace.
Third:
They recognize God.
They give God the glory for being faithful to them even in their wickedness.
Fourth:
They DECIDE to change.
They understand that to be where God wants them to be and where they, themselves, desire to be, that changes must be made. Repentance is not true and real without a change in behavior. You can be all the sorry you want but if you do not change, it is not repentance!
They asked to be cleansed of sin.
Fifth:
They commit to obedience.
They are so determined that they go so far as to have their commitment written up and they sign it. Wow!!! No handshake agreement, no head nod agreement, no, "I do" agreement. They write their signatures, everyone does. Everyone one of them that can understand.
Do you notice how their steps correspond with the New Testament Examples of conversion where there is:
Faith
Repentance
Confession
Baptism
Steadfast obedience
It is no coincidence.
Neh. 11:1-12:26
In these verses the city is being re inhabited. After all the hard work and effort you would think that they would be crawling over each other for their place in the city, but that was not the case. They actually cast lots. And the ones that Drew the "short straw" had to go live there.
The issues were, though the walls were built, the city was still in ruins. The Israelite people were hated by most everyone else and so they could expect trouble. 
But there were some volunteers and they were highly praised.
I imagine there are many people living today that might have that same struggle. For example, the families of the preacher. He dedicated his life and service for The Lord, they just got volunteered. And who, very often, are the most criticized in the church? Yep, the preachers wife and family.
Or maybe there are others. There are those that show up for the scripture reading and the praise and worship, but now "I'm going home. See ya next week. I can't possibly live like this." Yep, there are those.
Maybe there are some that are afraid of what their neighbors might think. "I can't live inside the walls my neighbors will think I'm a religious nut. No, thanks, I'll just come in one day a week."
Thank goodness we have those that are committed. I am very thankful for those that are so grateful to God that they will sacrifice their own desires to see His Kingdom succeed. 
These precious volunteers need our love, prayers and support.
Lord, I pray that I am willing to make sacrifices to build up Your Kingdom. I am no one without You. My life is a mess when I try to run it without you. I know that you paid a tremendous price for me. I want to show my gratitude by being willing to go live inside the walls in service for You. Help me to surrender whatever I think is more important than having Your grace and mercy.
 Neh. 12:27-47
Well, the walls are finished, the gates are hung, people are chosen to occupy the city. Priests, and leaders are designated and now comes The a Grand Celebration.
Their thankful celebration goes beyond a hearty, "Thank you, Lord." They are actually making this a big to-do. They chose the musicians, the priests, the leaders.  They go about the business of purifying themselves. (That alone, is a really big deal with a lot of perpetration.) they have not one, but two, choirs. And they have Nehemiah overseeing and directing. 
The people are truly grateful and want to honor The Lord for His blessing. 
Isn't that why we celebrate Thanksgiving? How much perpetration and planning do we put into Thanksgiving? 
Thanksgiving is coming. Let's do it up right. Let's honor God for His blessings. Let make this celebration ALL about how wonderful He is. Let's plan and prep and get all dressed up.
But today, too. Let's honor God today for today's blessings.
 Neh. 13
The walls are rebuilt. The city is re populated. Nehemiah is back in his position of cupbearer to the King and everything is grand. 
But wait. No, it's not.
The people have already forgotten their dedicated work. They have already forgotten the singing choirs. They have lost their commitments to following God's laws, the very ones that they signed their names to.
This last chapter of the book of Nehemiah ends on a bad note. 
The entire book told of inspiration, dedication, hard work, commitment, courage, and renewal. And now it is all gone and once again the Israelites are faltering in their faith and obedience. Why? Why do they do that? What is wrong with them?
Let's ask ourselves that question. Remember church camp? Remember that last revival meeting? Remember that awesome sermon from last week? Remember how inspired, dedicated, committed, full of courage and renewal that you were? Are you still?
Often, sadly, we are so very much like those Israelites. 
This is why God gives us community. This is why we need encourager sand we need to encourage others. Life is real. It is hard. Satan does not want us focused on God so he battles hard with us. All he has to do is keep us busy enough that we take our eyes off our savior and we let him.
I need your help. I need constant encouragement. I always need reminded of how wonderful God is. 
I thank Him so much for all of you. You will never know how important that all of you are to me.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Boxes



Last Sunday in Sunday school a young man explained how he believes that most people keep God in a box and only open that box on Sunday for an hour or two and then put Him back inside and stick it away until next Sunday.
What are your thoughts?
Is today the day that you let God out of the box?
Do we compartmentalize our faith? Is it a separate part of the rest of your life?
Can God truly be living in you then?
Can you say that you abide (live with) Him then?
Boxes are for old clothes and stuff we no longer want.

Scripture tells us to clothe ourselves with Christ, or Put on Christ. In other words, wrap ourselves with Him. Know that we are empty shells without Him.

Put the boxes away, but leave God out. Wrap yourself in Him. 

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Galatians 3:27 NASB)
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Romans 13:14 NASB)

God doesn't belong in a box! He is not just a mere part of your life. HE IS LIFE!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lukewarm, blah!



We all know someone who loved God and served Him and then turned away. 
I was chatting with someone yesterday who once was very inspirational to me. Someone that I respected and turned to when I needed guidance. This person admitted to me that they know longer care and won't discuss it at all.

It is hard for me to understand how someone can stop loving God.

I can understand losing trust in church people. I can understand being frustrated with decisions that involve the congregation. I can understand how missing a Sunday or two can lead to not going at all. I can see the reasoning behind most people's excuses for not attending worship. I really can. 

But I do not understand losing a relationship with the savior, willingly leaving the love of God. How does one person stop caring about what Jesus did, what He suffered, on our behalf?

God's church is made up of imperfect people, like me. It is governed, led by, imperfect people.  You are being preached at by an imperfect person too. In fact, there is not a perfect person there. But we all love God. And we love Him enough to want to be with the others that love Him like we do. We want to worship and praise God as a group. 

The main reason for church gatherings, according to the scriptures, is for encouragement of each other and to be equipped to teach others. Please come. If you aren't getting encouraged, then you be the encourager. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Shine on



Anyone who knows my husband can probably tell you right off that his favorite scripture verse is Matthew 5:16.
He is always telling people to let their light shine.
People should be able to see you and know that you are different. Your behavior, words and demeanor all should be godly, all the time.
It isn't easy to be a light in this dark world. Everyday circumstances will try to drag you down and suck you up.
Stay strong, stay bright. You will shine brighter too, if you are around other brightness. Choose your friends wisely and encourage each other to shine on.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NASB)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I pray that YOUR eyes are opened



Last weekend my husband was telling Starla about having to walk to school. "Yeah, uphill both ways." I joked.
Isn't it funny how when we describe our own trials that we often remember them as tougher than they were? Or when faced with obstacles they seem numerous and high?
Elisha and his servants were sent to deal with the evil Arameans. The servants became afraid when they realized the size of the army that they saw. 
Elisha told them not to fear, "our army is bigger," he said. Then he prayed that God would open their eyes to see. And God did.
The servants saw horses and soldiers in fiery chariots surrounding the hillsides. 
You can read this account in 2 Kings chapter 6.

You see, yesterday we spoke of spiritual battles. But we often forget that we too, have heavenly spiritual forces fighting for us and with us.
I pray that as you dress in your spiritual armor today that God will open your eyes to "see" that you are not fighting alone. You have a spiritual army on your side. Now, get out there and fight!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Prepare for Battle



Just before I went to bed last night, it was announced that America bombed Syria. This caused me all kinds of emotions. 
I have a grandson in active duty overseas and I worry about his safety. And the safety of all of our forces. 
I think of those that were brutally murdered by our enemies and the family members that grieve for them.
I am concerned for leaders of our country and whether they will make decisions based on wisdom. And leaders of other countries, will they be allies or turn away from our country?
I wonder if anyone fighting is perhaps someone that I have had contact with because of my job and I know that some of their gear, equipment, arms, ammunition, and other supplies could possibly have been on our truck at some point.
Isis is an enemy of our country. There is no doubt about that. But did you realize that God is not willing for them to perish in eternal damnation, although many people would prefer that. God gave the life of a His son for those scoundrels as well. 
Could they, will they be converted to the truth of God's love? Have they already had the opportunity and turned away? I do not know.
What I do know is, Satan is the real enemy. Our enemy is spiritual. We need to be ready to battle, if only on our knees.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12 NASB)

Get prepared. Put on the full armor of God as laid out in the rest of Ephesians chapter 6. 


Monday, September 22, 2014

Do something



I have a friend that never calls me and every time I call, I hear, "I was just thinking about you and was about to call." That statement was kind of hard to believe after about the third or fourth time hearing it.
Yesterday there was a very skinny, dirty, ragged, old man standing on a corner at a stoplight. He was holding a sign that said that he was hungry and homeless. We had no cash. We rarely carry cash. And at a stoplight I didn't have time to grab him some of our food. The light changed and, sadly, we drove on by. 
I hated that because we usually try to help people. I have learned that it is not my place to judge them or question their motives or intensions. 
In my job at the nursing home I met a lot of lonely people. Many didn't receive family or visitors, but all brightened when someone, anyone took the time to speak to them. And even if someone only spoke a few sentences to them, it seemed to make a big difference for them.

You understand it doesn't take much, not much effort, time, or money to make a big difference. But what it takes is, "the doing part." 
Thinking about doing something, or wishing you had done something, doesn't get it done. 
What can you do today to brighten up someone else? Be a flicker of brightness to somebody. Shine your light on another, even if it's only a small spark.
You, too, will receive a blessing.

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' (Matthew 25:35, 36 NASB)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

For the Birds



Yesterday while parked at a truckstop in Missouri, I watched this little sparrow. 

It was feasting on a pizza crust that someone had tossed out.

I kind of think that I could see the little bird's joy in finding such a huge meal.

I am sure that some days life for the bird is not as rewarding.


You know, it is the same with us. Some days we struggle to find our blessings and other days we seem to be abundantly blessed. But it is the same God that always provides. 

Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread. And if we do so, then we need to trust that God knows what He is doing on the days that we seem to be looking for a little more. 

He loves His creation, right down to the most insignificant of the birds. He loves you too. Hang on to your hope in Him. Maybe your pizza crust will be there tomorrow.


Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? (Matthew 6:26 NASB)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hot water bottle



"Mom, do you have a hot water bottle?"
"Yes."
"Where is it?"
"I have no idea, but I have one."


"Honey, Where is the hole saw bit for my drill?"
"I don't know."
"Could you help me find it? I know I have one."


"Rhonda, do you have a bobby pin?"
"No, I don't."
Later... From my young nephew, "Noni, what's a bobby pin?"


"Are you ready to go?"
"Yep, I have my purse, my keys and my phone."
"Then we are ready."


What is it that you consider important enough to "have" in your life? What is it that goes with you everywhere you go? 
And just because you think you have it, or once had it, or know what it is, DOES NOT mean that you have it.
If you "have" something, it is in your possession, it is on you, it is with you.
Again, what do you consider important enough to have in your life?

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:12 NIV)

Two into One



In marriage a man leaves his family home and he and his wife unite and become one flesh. They are joined together, bound, yoked together, until one of them dies.
That is the way it is.
Remember yesterday when We read in Proverbs 3:5 that God is absolute and it doesn't matter if we understand His ways or not, what is does and says is Truth? It is the same way with marriage. God sees "one," no longer two. And no matter if you change, if your relationship changes, if your circumstances changes, God still sees just one.
Marriage is not to be entered into lightly or on a whim. This is the person that, in God's eyes, will truly be your other half. Choose well. Choose wisely. Make it work.

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (Matthew 19:6 NASB)

Forgive



For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matthew 6:14 NASB)

Who among us does not sin? 
"Oh, but what I do is not nearly as bad as all that."
To God, sin is sin. Whether it is a small, little white lie or rape, homosexuality, and even, murder.
We all sin. None of us are righteous.
Our only hope, our only redemption from eternal death is the forgiveness of God which comes through Jesus.
Yet how can you want, no, expect forgiveness from God but not want to forgive what others do to you?
I'll admit that is is so very hard to forgive someone who is not sorry for their wrong against you. And some will continue to cause you hurt and pain. In this case understand that You will have to separate what they do from who they are. 
Forgive their actions and love their soul. But you may have to remove yourself from their presence and range of hurt.
Forgiveness is not easy because we want the other person to do what is right in our eyes. 

Is it I?



Have you ever said to yourself, "I sure hope that I didn't do or say something."? Statements like this are often made when it is evident that someone has been offended and no one understands or knows what happened. I believe it is human nature to reflect and consider whether you have made the offense.
We often don't intend to hurt another person, yet sometimes, perhaps unknowingly, we do.
When Jesus mentions that He knows that one of them has betrayed Him, they each say, "surely, it is not I?" Now this was not said as a statement but as a question. They were wondering, Have I unknowingly said or done something to hurt my Lord?
Judas knew his own actions yet for whatever reason he too asked the question but without calling Jesus Lord. He called Him Rabbi, or teacher. 
Jesus then said that it was the one that dipped in the bowl with Him. But all or most of them had done so. So still they are left wondering.
Eventually Judas left the room without his evil intentions being discovered. 

Questions for your thoughts or meditations:
1. Why did Jesus even mention this to those in the room?
2. Why did Jesus not point out Judas as the one?

And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself." (Matthew 26:25 NASB)

Man or God?



A woman asked me the other day why she is getting so many complaints for speaking about her faith on Facebook. She was hurt by the criticism and wondered if she should stop.
I told her that I couldn't tell her what she should do, but I asked her why she was doing it. Was she doing it to bring glory to herself or to Jesus? 

Why do we post our experiences with faith? 
We are to let our light shine before men. By doing so, we will bring honor to The Lord. But sometimes by doing so, you will not be popular and will be criticized.
Are you willing to do it anyway?

Paul says:
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 NASB)

Desire for more



Money IS NOT the root of evil. No, that is not what the Bible states. But, the LOVE OF MONEY is the root of evil.
To love money, to love the power of what money can accomplish, to love all the material things that money can buy, that is THE ROOT of evil.
Selfish desires have always been what brings us to sin. Remember the fruit in the garden? Eve didn't really want the fruit, she wanted to be like God knowing good and evil. She wanted more than what God already blessed her with.
How often do we desire to have more than what God blesses us with, whether it be material things, health, wealth, power, children? 
And often the desire for those things turn into yearnings, cravings. And perhaps our yearnings turn into sin as we covet and seek ways to bring our desires to reality.

We often wonder why Adam and Eve couldn't have left the temptation and been content with being so blessed already.
We often shake our heads at the stubborn selfishness of the wandering Israelites. How could they not just have enough faith and trust in God to give them exactly what they needed?

Look in the mirror. Do you see a person that is trusting God for your daily bread or do you want and desire to gather more for yourself?

 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10 NASB)


Friday, August 29, 2014

Attitude Adjustment by Pat Pennington

ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT

The work environment in some companies can be brutal.  Especially if you always have to deal with constant pressure from deadlines, difficult co-workers, difficult company policies and procedures. Constant pressures and problems at work can wear you down and beat you up mentally and over time you can develop a bad attitude. Of course you can also develop a bad attitude at home or at church for the same reasons.

But attitude is everything; it can lift you up or bring you down. It is also one of the keys to success.

Attitude is critical because it influences your course of action. If your attitude is negative, your words and behavior will be too. There is a difference in being a realist about negative circumstances, and living with a chronic bad attitude. You would be na├»ve if you ignore warning signs of trouble, and carry on oblivious to the problems that you must deal with. But still there are people in this world that are always unhappy with their job, always complaining about their job, always finding fault and criticizing their managers and co-workers. It seems as though you can never please them. They work and live with a chronic bad attitude. Don’t be them and don’t start becoming like them.
Do not allow another person's bad attitude to influence yours. Be the attitude influencer instead. Greet a frown with a smile, crush criticism with affirmation, and listen patiently but always respond with positive comments and/or solutions. A positive attitude will eventually outlast and overpower a negative one. Do not engage or debate with those who thrive on negativity. You will find that the people who thrive on negativity are usually broken with hurt, anger, guilt, worry and insecurity. So stay positive and encourage them but also if possible point them or lead them to an attitude adjustment.  Be the positive example for them to model.

But keep in mind that each day, your own attitude gets knocked around and abused by work and life. If left unattended, your attitude will drift into wrong thinking, harsh words, and bad behavior. Self-pity and anger can begin to replace your positive mind set. But with just a little bit of daily tweaking, your attitude can stay positive. And sometimes attitudes need to be adjusted moment by moment.

This is why you need a daily attitude alignment. I reinforce my attitude every morning before I start my work day by reading scripture. Find what would work for you.

Last thought, slow down and pray when you feel your attitude eroding. When you’re in the middle of a bad attitude, don’t make important decisions; the time isn’t right for that. You will regret every decision you make during a time of emotional upheaval. Be patient, and wait until your anger and depression is back under your control and your attitude is objective. Anyone can be negative; so don’t be anyone, be different.

Scripture tells us that we should have the same attitude as God—and that’s not a bad attitude to have.

Your attitude is rooted in who you are and how you think and positive attitudes lead to rich and robust relationships.
 An attitude molded by God is infectious and transforming. Allow Him to change yours. The Bible says in Philippians 2:5 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…” 
To be successful keep your attitude positive no matter what happens at work or in life.

<°)))><

Sunday, August 24, 2014

What do you "have?"



"Mom, do you have a hot water bottle?"
"Yes."
"Where is it?"
"I have no idea, but I have one."


"Honey, Where is the hole saw bit for my drill?"
"I don't know."
"Could you help me find it? I know I have one."


"Rhonda, do you have a bobby pin?"
"No, I don't."
Later... From my young nephew, "Noni, what's a bobby pin?"


"Are you ready to go?"
"Yep, I have my purse, my keys and my phone."
"Then we are ready."


What is it that you consider important enough to "have" in your life? What is it that goes with you everywhere you go? 
And just because you think you have it, or once had it, or know what it is, DOES NOT mean that you have it.
If you "have" something, it is in your possession, it is on you, it is with you.
Again, what do you consider important enough to have in your life?

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:12 NIV)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The mountain View



I love the mountains. They are so magnificent. 
My husband and I just had a few runs that kept us out west. We were in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. The Rocky Mountains are there; Although the mountains look different in Colorado than they do in New Mexico. But the majesty is there just the same.
From the bottom of the mountain you are in awe, the sheer size of it, rising up, out of nowhere. But when you are on top, awe doesn't seem like a big enough word. 
The height and vision seem to put the view into perspective. You see the layout of the land, you can see the road ahead. You see where you are going.
Once you start the drive down however, you only see part way. You can't see past the curves or over the knoll. The layout hasn't changed, but your perspective of it has.
Maybe I need to climb a spiritual mountain today. Maybe I need to see the vision, the plan, the path that God has laid out before me, in it's whole picture. 
Sometimes I forget that God does have a plan, a vision, a roadmap for my life. I am too busy trying to guess what's around the next curve or over the knoll. I worry about the potholes. I sometimes forget that there is a bigger perspective, a wonder of a view, that is my life.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Silent battle


With the suicide of Robin Williams The illness of Depression has been thrown into the spotlight. As one who suffers from this affliction I know firsthand how excruciatingly desperate one can feel.
Depression is a complete and total lack of Joy. 
When in the midst of depression there is not a speck of joy, not a speck of hope. Believe me, I have been there.
I still knew and remembered all my teaching and learning in my faith and yet, somehow,, someway, didn't grasp it.
Besides the medication that  helps with the very real chemical imbalance in the brain, you need people who won't judge, people who won't criticize, people who won't try to "fix" you. You just need one, quiet, loving person with you at ALL times. 
NEVER EVER EVER leave a severely depressed person alone. NEVER!!!! I cannot stress that enough. They feel alone already, even if in a crowded room. 
And even if they LOOK normal, and they mostly will, they aren't feeling normal inside.
Depression and anxiety cause illogical thoughts to become REAL in the mind of a person. They are actually CONVINCED that what they think is real. You WILL NOT be able to change their mind.
It is so very frightening for all involved. And yes, one person with true clinical depression and or anxiety will affect the entire family.
But it doesn't come on rapidly, no, it slowly, very slowly, builds up in the person and then escalates quickly.
If you know someone who suffers with this, pay attention to their behavior. Do not allow this person to become a recluse.do not allow them to isolate. Be an encourager to them. We need each other. 
I could speak volumes on this subject. I have been there standing on the edge. I have been there. 
I am not excusing the behavior and bad choices of depressed people, not in any way, I just understand the desperation. 
That is the message, the despair. That is the battle. We need to LISTEN to people. We need to be there for them and for each other.

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13 NASB)

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NASB)

Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25 NASB)

We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:14 NASB)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

10 things Jesus never said

10 things Jesus NEVER said

10. This is a cross you must bear alone.
      We all have burdens and most, if not all of us, have that one thing, that "thorn in the       flesh" that pricks at us constantly. We are told in Matthew 16:24 to Take up our cross and follow Him. But, we are also told in Galatians 6:2, to bear one another's burdens.
We are a community of believers. We are the church. You need not be alone.

9. I have given up on you.
     In this era of social media it is easy to just "delete" people that annoy us. And after dealing with difficult people we can just avoid being anywhere near them if we choose. But Jesus never said these words and He doesn't ever give up on us. In fact We are told in Hebrews 13:5 that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will not give up on us because He doesn't want any of us to perish.

8. You missed My will for your life.
     All through scripture we are instructed to walk in righteousness and to seek God's will, yet the choice is always ours. And we don't always choose wisely. Very often we may even string together many bad choices.
But God wants us to turn to Him. And when we do, He is waiting for us with outstretched, loving arms to embrace us.

7. You don't have to forgive someone who really hurt you.
     The whole entire concept of grace and mercy is treating others with the same love and tenderness as God treats us. Grace is giving us what we don't deserve and mercy is not giving us what we do deserve.
For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:14, 15 NASB)

6. It's all up to you.
    No, it is all about Jesus. We do have a choice and we can seek our ways and live for ourselves. But that will only make us a slave to our desires with no hope for a better future. Our hope is in The Lord. Jesus is the way.
    Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. (Matthew 16:24 NASB)
    But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 NASB)

5. Everyone should believe and act like you do.
      Jesus tells us Who and What to believe. "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. (John 14:1 NASB) and God makes it plain what He requires,
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? (Michah 6:8 NASB)
We are in no way perfect or even good. We are each created to bring honor to God. None of us will do that in the same exact manner.

4. It's ok to not love certain people.
If we are Christians, Christ like, then we must strive (painfully try) to love like He did. He loved the least loved as well as the easy to love. Do you?
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NASB)
 'Y ou shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:31 NASB)

3. This wouldn't be happening if you were a better Christian.
    All through the Scriptures we are given examples of the trials and sufferings of people. Yes, true some of that was because of their poor choices yet a lot is just the hard knocks of this life. We are told that it won't be easy. We are told to take up our cross. In other words, pick up and drag the very thing that will bring about our death. That cannot be an easy burden. Yet facing and overcoming our challenges will build and strengthen our characters. God is working on us and we will not be complete until He brings us home, so that means pruning, stretching and growing until then.

2. I'm so disappointed in you.
    Wow! Imagine hearing those words directed at you coming from Jesus! 
I am very sure that I do disappoint Him sometimes, probably quite often, if I am truthful. Yet, I am very glad that He doesn't say those words to me. 
Instead, he nudges me under the chin and says, "Try again, Do better this time."
Our relationship with Jesus is a growing process. We learn better and then we do better. If we love Him, we will try to be pleasing to Him.

1. You are too far gone to be saved.
     What on this earth does that mean? 
Jesus came, gave his life, resurrected, and now is preparing a place for us in Heaven. All of that for us sinners. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23 NASB) none of us are better than anyone else. 
All of us deserve to die because of our sin. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 NASB)
Yet God loved us enough to make a way of salvation for us.

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God, who came to redeem us from sin?
After hearing and believing what Jesus did on your behalf, are you truly sorry for your sin and want to turn from that and live a changed life?
Are you willing and wanting to tell others about how and why that change came about? Are you bold enough to proclaim Jesus to other people?
Would you be baptized under the water to wash away your sin and have the Holy Spirit come into you, to dwell in you from then on, as a comforter, guide, a convicter of sin, and sealer of your redemption? Romans 6:4-6 explains that our baptism is us dying to sin, being buried (under water) resurrecting (coming up out of the water) and rising to walk in a newness of life. Scripture is very clear that at this point is when and where and how our old self dies and our new life begins. It is also very clear that this is when the Holy Spirit comes to live in us and stay with us. Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38 NASB)
And then we must continue to walk in this new life every day. When faced with daily decisions we must choose to live according to God's plan and purpose for our life. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58 NASB)
It will not be an easy life. We must always strive to never return to the old person that we used to be. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Romans 13:14 NASB) Another version reads this way, Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (Romans 13:14 NIV)  Each  day when you get up, you must choose to put Him on as you would get dressed. Clothe yourself, wrap yourself with Christ. Keep Him close to you. 
He loves! He loves each of us and desires for us to live eternally with Him. Choose Him today and everyday.