Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Heart of Thankfulness

"Give thanks to the LORD Almighty,
for the LORD is good;
his love endures forever." Jeremiah 33:11

What are you thankful for?
All the normal things come to mind: family friends, home, job…

But Jeremiah’s words draw us back to the heart of thankfulness.

Give thanks for the Lord’s goodness. 

His goodness doesn’t lie in the blessings He showers on us.

His goodness lies totally in His Son.
His grace was and is lived out through Jesus as He walked among men.
His goodness is expressed in the tenderness of His presence.

He is a good Father.

Give thanks for His enduring love. 

His love endured the pain of the cross. 
His enduring love causes Him to smile and reach down to pick us up, even when we stumble over and over again.
Most of all, His enduring love stretches into eternity, His heart’s desire is to be with us forever.

He is a loving Father.

Set aside the other blessings aside for a moment and thank Him for who He is.
Thank Him that you are His.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Are You Satisfied?

 They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. Psalm 36:8 (New King James Version)

It’s Thanksgiving, a time when we look around and see the blessings God has poured out on us. 

But what about 2 months ago? Or 2 months from now?

Will we still be thankful or will our minds fill with the things we want – the things others have?

The Psalmist says that those who belong to God will be abundantly satisfied with the fullness of His house. Not just content…not even satisfied, but abundantly satisfied.

What a beautiful phrase; I love the certainly of it. We are satisfied – not we will be satisfied or we could be satisfied. We are satisfied.

The question is: Do we recognize it?

Do our hearts sing about the fullness in His house? The fullness that saturates our lives.

For some reason, it’s easier to count our needs (needs is loosely defined, of course) rather than our blessings. Even when we do acknowledge them, we only see the big things: family, friends, God’s provision.

God’s fullness often comes in soft whispers; we’ll miss them if we don’t look for them. A child’s smile in line at the grocery store. A mockingbird on a telephone line. Something on TV that makes us laugh.

Do something new today. Begin to look for abundance in the small things. Make a note when you see one.

On a difficult day, remember those things.

It’s a choice to dwell in the fullness of His house, to wade in His river. But beware, once you begin to do it, it becomes addictive.

Take a sip from His river of pleasures and rejoice.

How does God’s abundance fill your life? 

Friday, November 22, 2013

As for Me...

But as for me and my household, we will
serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

Many of us have this verse in our homes – plaques, pictures, so many other ways.

Until today, I hadn’t thought of this as a personal message to me from the Lord.
Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that
God's Spirit lives in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16
We are the temples of the Holy Spirit; we are His home.

Have I given my home to serving the Lord?

Am I obedient?

Do I listen?

Most of you know I’m an author. You might know how difficult this is for me. It’s not my choice…it’s my calling for this season.

Recently, I’ve buried myself in blogs and Facebook posts, even trying my hand at Pintrest.
God quietly asked, “Are any of these your calling?" No, my calling is to write.

I’ve listened to the voices around me who tell me that I can’t sell my book without doing these things.

Again, God asked, "Is selling your calling?"
No, my calling is to write.

I ask myself: Am I using these things to avoid the hard thing he’s asked me to do?

So, as much as I enjoy writing blog posts, I need to cut back. They have dominated my writing time and that’s not what God wants.

From now on, I will do two blog posts a week, Monday and Thursday.

Me and my house – my personal temple - will serve the Lord.
God used Mary Scro to reveal this truth to me. Thank you, Mary. 

How are you dedicating your temple to God’s service?

Is He asking you to do the hard thing?



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Where's Waldo?

Waldo’s a fun little character.

We’re supposed to find him in a picture of a crowd or a chaotic scene.

Maybe he’s in a crowd at the State Fair.

Maybe he’s hiding in a bunch of dogs at the dog park.

It’s game to see who can spot him first.

He’s always got that kooky grin on his face. You can’t help but smile.

What if Waldo were hiding in your life? Where would he be? Amongst the toys as you play with the kids? Lost in the overwhelming pile of papers on your desk? Covered up by mountains of laundry?

Sometimes Waldo hides in our emotional turmoil. He can get lost in our tears and our fears. Not only does he hide there, but we bury God’s peace and joy there, too.

We stop looking for anything that might make us smile. We no longer search for the little day-by-day blessings God pours into our lives.

We let the storm drown out God’s promises. We’re blinded by the lightning strikes that stab our hearts so we miss the light of His love.

Only God’s Word can calm us. Snatches of it might come into your mind. A friend might say something that reminds you of your favorite scripture.

I keep a list written inside the front cover of my Bible. I don’t have to search through the pages to find the truth I need – I just open it and begin to read.

Here are a few of my favorites:

The storm cannot overwhelm Him:
“The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4b)

He will fill you with peace:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

He's all-powerful:
“The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” (Isaiah 40:28)

He's always near you:
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.” (1 Peter 3:12)

He's your guard: 
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

He's your deliverer:
“He guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 97:10b)

He's your strength:
"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." (Psalm 28:7)

How does God encourage you during the storm?
Do you have a favorite verse that calms you when life is tough?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Where's the Light at the End of the Tunnel?

We’ve all heard this phrase, "I can see the light at the end of the tunnel." 

You’ve probably heard it’s corollary: "I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s a train!

 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen
is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Light? Momentary? When did you struggle with a “light and momentary” problem? We’re being buffeted around all the time. (Doesn’t Paul say something about that somewhere?)

Paul has one up on me! I often lose sight of the eternal glory. I focus on the problems facing me. I find it hard to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus’ promise of eternal life.

In an email exchange, one of my very fav authors, Ann Tatlock, said something that has stuck with me: "I've tried to give up on faith and hope so many times but ultimately I don't only because of that "love that will not let me go."

God WON’T let go! He holds on tight, whether we like it or not. 

We might lose sight of our eternal destination; He never loses sight of us.
We might lose our grip on His promises; He never loosens His grip on us. 

When the day is overwhelming, we can close our eyes and picture His hand, holding us tight. 

Walk – or crawl – in the unshakable knowledge that He never lets go. 

How has the “love that will not let me go” encouraged you?
How does the picture of His hand around you give you peace in the middle of a storm?

BTW – Ann Tatlock won the 2013 Christy Award for her book Promises to Keep. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.


Friday, November 15, 2013

15 Amazing Verbs

I wasn't going to blog today. I finished the 8 Colors of God's Grace and hadn't decided what to do next. Then I read Isaiah 53:3-7

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;

and the LORD has laid on
him the iniquity of us all. 

I read the verbs in these verses and they affected me like never before.

Despised                         Rejected                       Man of Sorrows

Suffered                          Ignored                         Dishonored

Took my infirmities      Carried my sins           

Smitten                           Afflicted                       Pierced

Crushed                          Punished                      Wounded

These are just any old verbs. They describe the horror that Jesus endured for me - for you!

And the most astonishing thing of all is the last part of verse 7. Look at it again and let the words soak in:

And the LORD has laid on
him the iniquity of us all.   

The LORD - the great I AM - allowed this suffering.! In fact, He planned it. It was His sovereign will. Why??

His love for us was greater than saving the life of His Son. 

Does that fact astound you?
How does it give you total assurance of His love?