Monday, April 24, 2017

Devotional: Grieve But Not As Those Who Have No Hope

1 Thessalonians 4:13(NASB)
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.

We often try to avoid grieving.  It's uncomfortable.  We don't want others to see our tears.  We want life to just go on as it has and put uncomfortable things behind us.  But when we lose a loved one, sometimes the tears just come when we least expect it.  Sometimes we feel like we are weak if we succumb to them and find ourselves feeling depressed and missing our loved ones.

But the Bible says that grieving is okay.  The verse above assumes that we will grieve when we lose a loved one. We are not weak if we grieve the loss of our loved ones who have died.  No, we are NORMAL if we grieve.  It would be abnormal to not grieve. 

So, we grieve, but not like those who have no hope.  We have hope that if they were believers, we will see them again one day.  We have hope, if they were believers, that their suffering is done and they are in the presence of their Lord.  So we grieve because we miss them, but it's grief that looks forward to the future.

So how can we get through grief?  Just be with it.  When it comes, let the tears roll. Don't stuff them down. You have to feel in order to heal. God designed tears to be cleansing.  So let them come and miss your loved one with the hope that only God can give.

Marsha's Musings: His Heart Was in the Right Place

1 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (NASB)

 For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.

I wrote a question by verse 4 in my Journible.  Verse 4 says, "...not as pleasing men, but God, who examines our hearts."

Here is the question: If you compromise to please men, can your heart be right?  Can you do the wrong thing and still have your heart right before God?  

This has serious implications.  We often hear the statement, "Well, his heart was in the right place."  Can this be said of the preacher who compromises the Word of God or waters down the doctrines of Scripture in order to please the people and make them more comfortable in the church?  Is his heart in the right place?

I think of seeker friendly churches, where many times the Gospel is watered down to make it more palatable.  Concepts like sin,  judgment, and repentance are left out of the message and God's love is emphasized.  This is only half a Gospel.  Can the hearts of these church leaders be considered in the right place or pleasing to God?  What does God think?

Do you ever ponder these things?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Devotional: God is Faithful

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NASB)

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

I have trouble staying in the "peace zone".  The worries of life crowd out the peace and I find myself often not sleeping at night because I get to thinking about all the what-if's, especially concerning my children and their futures.

I was very encouraged with these verses this week:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB)
16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
The key words/phrases are always, without ceasing, in everything. When we find things to rejoice about all the time, pray without ceasing, bringing our worries to Him and give thanks in everything, peace will reign in our hearts.

Verse 23 calls God the God of peace.  His sanctification takes place in the crucible of trials, but since He is called the God of peace, it means He will give us peace in the middle of our trials as we are sanctified through the activities above in 1 Thess. 5:16-17.

I think the most wonderful thing about this passage is that God promises to preserve us, spirit, soul and body complete without blame for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is faithful and He will do it.  Yes, our bodies may decay and die, but God will raise them up again on the last day and they will be complete.  Our spirit and soul will be without blame on that day because Christ took all the blame for us on the cross.

So while I may fail at rejoicing always, praying without ceasing and giving thanks in everything at times, I need to remember that it is God who sanctifies and so I must do these things in His strength, not my own.  When I fail to do them, it's because I'm trying to do it by myself.  I need to go back to God in humble repentance and hang onto His faithfulness, then the peace comes.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Devotional: Open Season on the Messenger

Luke 3:19 But when Herod the tetrarch was reprimanded by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the wicked things which Herod had done, 20 Herod also added this to them all: he locked John up in prison.

We have all seen it.  Some of us have experienced it.  You see where someone is in doctrinal error and you try to point it out to them and the next thing you know you are attacked for it.  

This is exactly what happened to John the Baptist.  Apparently, Herod was having an illicit affair with his brother's wife, Herodias along with all the other wicked things he was doing.  John reproved him for his wickedness and Herod locked him up in prison for it.

Herod did not want his sin exposed.  He knew he was wicked, but he didn't want anyone telling him about it because he wanted to do what he wanted to do regardless of how wrong or wicked it was.  So the easiest thing for him to do was to attack the messenger to shut him up.

How often have you had the experience of speaking truth to someone about some issue about the claims of Christ, or in correction of some doctrinal error only to have the tables turned on you in a vicious personal attack?  Instead of attacking the message, they attack you, the messenger. Why?  Because they want to shut you up.  They don't want to hear what you have to say or have to consider it because they have a set of beliefs they have subscribed to, or as the case may be, have invented for themselves that they don't want to be exposed as false by the light of the truth.

The Apostle Paul talks about this problem in Galatians 4:16.
So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
It is so easy to get hot under the collar when we are attacked like this. I know I have gotten steamed at times. People are much quicker to attack us on social media than in person and the converse is also is much too easy to respond in kind when we are not standing in front of the person and know we may never be face to face with them. So what are we to do?

1. Don't be afraid to speak the truth, but do it with respect and kindness.
2. Answer questions and responses to what you say slowly, respectfully and with kindness.
3. Back off if the other person is showing an unwillingness to listen and only wants to argue or attack you.  Give God time and space to work in their hearts with the seed you have planted.  He may give you an opportunity to plant more seeds later.
4. Pray, pray and pray some more.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

April 8, 2017 9:32 pm

Well, I woke up late this morning, then spent a good two hours watching a video on 9/11.  I figured my day was pretty well going to be shot.

I had a set of new glass storage containers sitting on my counter that I needed to find a place for in my cupboard, so I began on that.  Before I knew it, everything was out of the cupboard and I ended up getting rid of several items and organizing the whole cupboard.

One thing led to another. Some of the containers I was going to get rid of, I ended up repurposing in my spice/baking cupboard.  Well, of course, that cupboard was such a disaster, I had to remove everything from it too. I discovered I had duplicate bottles of spices and everything was a big mess.  So I completely reorganized the cupboard.  Now I have extra space left in there, where before stuff was falling our when I opened it!  I feel so accomplished today!  I'm going to bed with a good feeling.

I have a mess on the cedar chest to put away, but it will wait until tomorrow.  I'm ready to get my pajamas on and go to bed now.

I probably won't go to sleep though, until Sarah is home from roller skating.  Moms always have trouble sleeping when their kids are out at doesn't matter how old they are.  A mom is always a mom.  

Thursday, April 06, 2017

April 6, 2017 10:00 pm

My heart sank tonight when I heard the news that Trump authorized bombing in Syria. I think it was the wrong move right now. It makes no sense that Assad would gas his own people right when he was doing so well politically and ISIS was getting knocked down in his country. I honestly think Trump was given false information. I do believe people could have been gassed and died, but I don't think Assad did it. I think it was planned to by someone else to blame on Assad to draw us into war. We have so many Democrats that want war and there are so many in areas of our government that don't answer to anyone. I think Trump was hoodwinked on this one. But now it's too late. He should have waited to find out the real scoop, because it doesn't make sense Assad would do this.

So much for my opinion and political thoughts....

Rick and Sarah worked today. Nathaniel had the day off and went to men's book study this evening at our pastor's home.

This was not a very productive day for me. I woke up at an ungodly hour, rolled around in bed for well over an hour even after taking part of a sleep aid. But of course the sleep aid always ruins me....I just can't get myself going after that. So it wasn't the best day for getting my list done. Oh, well.

Part of what took a lot of time, however, was my menu planning. I usually just grab a template that is already made up. I have four menu plans I rotate through. Well, I'm bored of the same food all the time, so I decided to find some new menus. That took a lot of time. But I finally got my menus set up for the week. In the morning I need to run through my cupboards and knock things off my automatically generated shopping list that I don't really need and then go shopping.

Well, I ordered blinds from Home Depot and put them up yesterday. The order says I ordered 58 inches wide, but they are too short. I measured the blinds and they shorted me half an inch. They are going to reorder them for me. Whew!

Rick has started watching a lot of Netflix stuff in the evenings. He is making good use of the $8.60 per month that we spend on it. Since he has started doing that, it's hard for me to read or concentrate on anything else, so I have picked up the adult coloring book my sister got me for Christmas last year and have started coloring the pictures in it. I'm finding it quite relaxing and enjoyable.

I failed to get my Bible reading/coping done in Luke today. I feel bad about that. Maybe that's partly why my day was so unproductive. When I miss that piece of my day, it's just not the same. My Bible study and green tea....two parts of my day that if one or both is missing, my day just doesn't go as well.

Good night!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

April 5, 2017 10:30am

I woke up at the ridiculous hour of 4:30 am today.  I didn't want to take a sleep aid to go back to sleep.  Those cause me to have bad nosebleeds and make me so groggy I can't get going in the morning.  So I skipped it and laid awake for about an hour and a half.  Finally fell back to sleep around 6 am.

Rick made it to work this morning!  I hope he has a decent day.

Sarah has the day off.  She had yesterday off too.

Last night I had starred the items I wanted to do today on my list.  I even took the extra time to add them to my calendar for specific times.  It has helped motivate me to get up and get going.  I have done my PT exercises for my shoulder, walked the treadmill, cleaned my desk off, cleaned the computer table off, cleaned up a spilled waste basket, dumped some trash, shredded papers, thawed meat for lunch, fed the dog, checked on the laundry, the dishwasher and now I am taking a break.

When my break is over I will make chicken and rice casserole.

This afternoon I plan to go play Skip-bo with my 95-year-old friend and another friend from church.

I hope this evening to put up new blinds in Nathaniel's room.  I am holding my breath that they will fit properly because there are no returns allowed on these.

I read and copied Luke 3:15-17
15 Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were [a]wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was [b]the Christ, 16 John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you [c]with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

The phrase that stands out to me is "He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

It reminds of these verses in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15
10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, [d]precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test [e]the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

9:50 pm
I enjoyed Skip-bo this afternoon with my lady friends, Helen and Esther.

This evening we ate left overs. I did the dishes, played some Upwords with my iPad Mini and then enjoyed a video concert for about an hour by Wintergatan.  It's a composer, and music instrument builder who also does concerts.  He uses interesting instruments in his concerts, like a typewriter, a homemade music box, some kind of homemade electronic instrument that has all kinds of wires coming out of it and others. Very unique.  He plays everything from soft relaxing music to hard rock.

Now I am heading for bed....I'm tired.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

April 4, 2017 3:54pm

Today has not been quite as productive as yesterday.  Seems like it goes that way.  When I have a really active productive day, the next day is recovery mode...sore muscles etc.

I have restarted all my PT exercises that helped me avoid shoulder surgery last year.  That is taking quite a chunk of my time now.  I'm trying very hard to not let my shoulder get worse.  So far it only hurts if I pull down my pants, my shirt in the back or pull my pants up and any behind my back activity.  I am hoping with the exercises and my curcumin and MSM, I can avoid a doctor's visit and out-patient PT at an office.

Rick stayed home from work again for the second day in a row.  He has not been sleeping.  He said he woke up every hour last night.  Bummer.

Sarah took a trip with a friend today.  It's a perfect day, weather-wise for some fun, although it's only around 40 degrees there and it's 69 degrees here. I'll take the 69 degrees, thank you very much.

Nathaniel had an appointment today and I noticed a place called Guardian Angel Homes behind the office.  I looked it up online and they have independent living apartments for 55+.  I was hoping to find out the cost, but their website doesn't say.  I wrote to them to ask.  I'm thinking something like this would be a good option for Rick and me when he retires if we can afford it.  We need a place without yard upkeep and house maintenance when he gets to retirement age.  Truth be known, we need it now.

I've been trying to get back into my Flylady Zones.  It's been hit or miss.  I got my front porch swept and cobwebs knocked down yesterday.  Today I have not done anything in my zone.  But there is still some time.

The blinds came that I ordered for Nathaniel's room.  I might pick them up tonight.  I sure hope they fit because they are non-refundable.  I'm kind of holding my breath on that.

I'm trying hard to learn to not worry about my kids when they are gone.  It's good practice for when Sarah leaves home in November.  It's sure is hard, though.  I wake up in the night and get to thinking about what it will be like for Sarah to live in a strange city on her own and all the horrible scenarios start running through my mind.  It's a real effort to give these things over to the Lord for Him to worry about.  I guess it goes with the mom territory, but I would sure like to eliminate that part of the mom territory.

Devotional: John the Baptist's Call to Repentance

I've been reading and copying the book of Luke.  Our pastor is doing a sermon series on Luke.  Yesterday I was in the passage pasted below.
It was a puzzling passage to me.  It almost appeared that John was advocating a works salvation.  So I started doing some digging and read some commentaries on the subject.
The religious climate of the day consisted of ritual and ceremonies and a lot of religious rules and regulations.  It was easy for people to go to religious meetings and follow a bunch of rules to feel quite righteous.  In fact, they often felt so righteous, they looked down their bony noses at others who had not achieved the same level of "righteousness".
Repentance was not existent. Repentance required humility. Working to achieve your own righteousness by keeping the religious rules and participating in the rituals and ceremonies didn't require humility toward God or man.
So John was telling them to repent and to show the fruits of that repentance in their humility toward God and others. John was preaching a message that required inward change that would result in outward change.  They had it backward.  They thought doing religious works equated to righteousness.  It never occurred to them that inward change (repentance toward God) was required first and the good fruit would follow.
How often do we forget this?  How often do we attend church services, go through the motions and leave feeling like we have done what needs to be done to be righteous?  How often do we look down on others who in our eyes have not achieved the level of righteousness we have?  It's all too easy to fall into this trap.  I have on many occasions.  Repentance and humility toward God is needed in order to have a right attitude toward others that is not self-righteous. 
Luke 3:7-14
So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say [c]to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?” 11 And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” 12 And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “[d]Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.” 14 Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.”

Monday, April 03, 2017

April 3, 2017 9:56pm

This has been a very productive day.  I sprayed weeds in the driveway, raked up leaves from under the Japanese Maple, and set up the soaker hoses for the shrubs on the front bank. 

I need to call the sprinkler company and get them out to repair the broken pipe before the hot weather comes and we need the system up and running.

Rick stayed home from work today. He didn't sleep good again last night.

Sarah worked today and Nathaniel worked tonight.

Had a few fun instant messages from my mom. She is enjoying her new iPad.😁

I was too busy to get my weekly devotional written and posted.  I will do that in the morning.

Reading in Luke 3 where John tells the people coming out for baptism that they need to produce the fruits of repentance. They were so steeped in their ceremonial religion that they thought they were righteous by virtue of their religion. It never occurred to them that God requires repentance, and repentance produces good fruit in the life. It's so much easier to go to church, go through the motions and go home feeling self-righteous.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

April 2, 2017. 3:00pm

Sunday here.  This morning I overslept.  I was trying out a new alarm clock that lights up the room with a soft light half an hour before the alarm and it gradually gets brighter until the alarm goes off.  I thought I had it set correctly.  Well, I woke up at 4:30 am to use the bathroom.  Went back to bed and was almost asleep when the light came on.  I turned it off.  Was almost asleep again and the radio come on.  I was frustrated and not thinking straight so I put the clock out in the basement.  Was just dozing off again when the radio blaring on at high volume.  By this time I was considering a sledgehammer as an option.  I got up and shut it off.  Went back to bed and then woke up too late to make it to first hour of church.

Last night as I was preparing for bed, I went to pull the back of my shirt down and my left rotator cuff gave way sending sharp pain down my left arm.  It has bothered me off and on since when I do certain things.  This doesn't thrill me.  I escaped the surgeon's knife last year on that shoulder with physical therapy and exercises.

My right knee has been giving me trouble too.  Night before last, I turned wrong in bed and send a pain through my knee.  It has bothered me off and on with certain movements yesterday and today.  I think I am falling apart!

Well, I will start the stretches and the exercise for my shoulder again, and see if I can improve my situation without medical intervention.  As for my knee, I will keep an eye on that.  I don't have problems on stairs for which I am thankful, since we have stairs here.  I do have a knee brace and will use it if necessary.

I love this time of year!  Everything is green!  The trees are blooming.  Spring is my favorite time of year because our valley just burts with a symphony of color and birds singing.

So maybe my day didn't quite start off on the right foot, I did make it to second service and I did come away with encouragement from the sermon.

This is going to be a good week regardless of the rough start!

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Russian Visitors

I've been amused to see that this week I have had 149 pageviews from Russia and only 79 from the US.  I'm curious to know what parts of Russia my pageviews are coming from.  If you could post in the comments where in Russia you are located, and maybe how you found my blog, I would like that.  Thanks in advance!

April 1, 2017 4:22pm

I was wide awake again at 4:30 am this morning.  I rolled around in bed until around 6 am and then fell back to sleep until 7:45 am.  It kind of takes the starch out of me when I do that.  I'm never quite sure what I should do.  I have taken sleep aids in the past, but those have the unwanted side effect of nosebleeds.  So I quit taking them.

I don't know if I should just get up when I wake up at 4:30 am and stay up and putter around and start on my day and then go back to bed when I'm too tired to pop or what.  I have been falling back to sleep around 6 am, but then I feel wiped out the rest of the day and sometimes have headaches as a result.  It's frustrating.

At any rate, in spite of my exhaustion today, I have accomplished a few things that I wanted to do today.  I spent a while outside, planting my pansies and transplanting some succulents from one place where they were misbehaving to other places where I hope they will thrive.

I also helped Nathaniel get his taxes done for the first time ever.  We used TurboTax free.  Next year, I guess we will have to pay.

Rick and I watched the fourth installment of The History of the United States by Oliver Stone.  It's very depressing but very informative.  There is nothing new under the sun.  We have not learned from history and we are repeating it.  It is very sad to realize this, but it is true.  I am shocked at the all of the atrocities our government has done to other countries and spin they have used to justify it.

My devotions this morning was in Luke 3:8-9  where John the Baptist says that every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.  Pretty serious words there.  I'll write a devotional on that soon.

It's been a cool Saturday, a good day for being lazy, however, I am happy that I got things done today anyway.  It's far too easy to be lazy.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 29, 2017 at 09:17AM

This morning it is raining again. Last night the windshield wipers quit working on the car Nathaniel drives to work, so today I need to figure out what to do about that. Until then I guess I will be playing taxi again for him.

Last night I did not feel very good. This morning I feel better, but still not sure if I am fighting something off. I will decide later if I should go play Skip-bo with my elderly lady friend or not. Wouldn't want to make her sick if I feel like I'm getting something. We'll see. Also, a lot depends on what happens with the car issue. 

I've been reading Luke and copying down each verse as I go. I am now in chapter 3. I'm just staying ahead of our pastor who is preaching through Luke. I love this method of Bible reading/copying because it slows me down so I really have to look at what I am reading and think about it. 

I've been mulling over the story of Korah from Sunday School in Walla Walla this past Sunday. I never thought about the fact that his family was not swallowed up in the earth for rebellion, but families of the others who rebelled against Moses were. Later the sons of Korah went on to write a number of the Psalms.

Korah' rebellion involved not being content with the job God had given him...that of being a doorkeeper for the house of God. He wanted to be a priest and led a rebellion among the doorkeepers, which didn't end well. Those who rebelled were swallowed up by the earth. 

Korah' sons apparently did not rebel, because they lived and wrote some Psalms. Psalm 84:10 is one of them. "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked." It certainly gives more meaning to that verse, knowing that their dad led a rebellion because he didn't like being a doorkeeper. 

It makes me think about what God has given me to do as a housewife and mom. How often do I grumble about things that irritate me about my position? Discontentment is a sin against God. It's the same sin Korah committed. That's serious. The "court" God has put me in to keep is God's doing. I should rather be a "doorkeeper" in this court than dwelling in the tents of the wicked (discontented). I hope God will bring this to my memory the next I am grumbling in my heart about things I have to do in my God-given position.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Devotional: Listening and Asking Questions

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

1 Peter 3:15

I love how God confirms and reminds me of the truth of His Word. This last Sunday I was in Walla Walla and visited Trinity Baptist Church with my mother. The sermon was part of a series on sharing our faith with others.  The verse above was the springboard for the sermon.  

The pastor emphasized how that we need to deal with unbelievers with gentleness and respect if we expect to be able to make an impact on their lives for Christ.  He went on to talk about what that looks like.  

One way that we can show gentleness and respect (reverence) is to really listen to them. We need to listen and ask thoughtful questions and listen some more. He said that jumping in to correct every little bit of wrong theology in their thinking is not treating them with gentleness and respect and will only shut them down so they won't want to listen to anything we have to say.  

So this morning I am reading in Luke 2 and I'm at the part where Jesus' parents have lost him and they went back to search for him in Jerusalem. He was found at the temple among the teachers.

Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. Luke 2:46-47

What was Jesus doing? In verse 45 he is both listening and asking questions. Jesus spent three days listening and asking questions, not correcting their theology, but listening and asking questions.

 What was the result? When it came time for Him to answer them on their questions and perhaps correct some theology, they were amazed at His understanding and His answers. They stuck around long enough to hear Him out most likely because He took the time to listen to them and ask questions.

Of course, we know that later, these teachers were not happy with Jesus' teaching as his ministry developed, but that is a risk we take when we share the Gospel with people. My main point is that He started out showing them gentleness and respect by listening and asking questions, gaining enough trust that they were willing to hear Him out at that point.

It amazes me how many times I will hear a sermon on the radio, read something in a book, hear a sermon at church and read my daily Bible reading and find confirmation of the truth  of what I had heard or read elsewhere.  Many times, on the way to church, the radio preacher will say something and then that very thing is confirmed to us in the sermon. It's uncanny how that works. God is always amazing me. I think He knows I need to hear it from two or three sources in order for it to really sink in.

Listen....really listen. Ask questions. Listen some more. Ask more questions. Listen again...then when the time is right, talk about the claims of Jesus Christ.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Devotional: Praying for Strangers

Ephesians 6:18

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

She sat on the couch in the breakfast room of the motel coloring in one of those adult coloring books as she waited for her husband's meeting to end.  

A  woman walked in talking on a cell phone and took a seat at a corner table. She was talking, with urgency, about her husband who had had some health episodes of recent and telling the person on the other end how it has changed his personality.  He wouldn't go near his motorcycle, he was filled with anxiety, he had episodes of imbalance, he had lost 40 lbs and the list went on and on.  She described how he had had an MRI but it showed nothing.  They were clearly at wits end to know where to turn and what to do next.  Then she went on to talk about the emotional toll it was taking on her and how it was beginning to affect his pastoral ministry.

The woman on the couch continued to color in her adult coloring book, but listened to the conversation of the woman in the corner.  She silently began to pray for her and the situation she was in.  She prayed for her to find guidance and comfort in her difficulties and for her husband to also find comfort and healing.

It was time for the woman on the couch to put her things away and leave, but before she did, she got out a small piece of paper and scribbled a message to the woman on the phone.  She wrote, "I just prayed for you." and she signed her name.  She walked over and set the paper on the table in front of the woman and turned to leave.  As she looked back, the woman was smiling at her with misty eyes as it had encouraged her to know that someone whom she had never met was praying for her.

The above story is a true story.  It illustrates how we can be a blessing to hurting people we don't even know.  It only requires that we be alert to the conversations and things going on around us, so we know how to pray for the people involved.  I would like to challenge you when you are out and about to notice who is around you.  Pray for them.  If God leads you to write a quick note like the woman in the story above, do so.  You never know how it might encourage them.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March 13, 2017

I was surprised by this in my reading today:
“"Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:14‬ ‭NASB‬‬
I had always heard it "...and on earth peace, good will toward men." I never understood it because as far as I can see, there will never be peace on this earth. And Jesus said He didn't come to bring peace, but a sword.
When I saw this, I'm thinking, "Whoa! What's this?" So I went to the Greek interlinear and there it was.
This puts a whole new meaning to this and makes so much more sense. It's peace among those who God is pleased with. In other words, peace among His chosen ones.

Devotional: Asking the Obvious

"Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?""
‭‭Luke‬ ‭1:34‬ ‭NASB‬‬

When the angel said that Mary would be with child, she asked the obvious. "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"  The angel didn't reprimand her for asking a question about something that was obvious  to her. He just explained how it would be, and she believed Him.

I've often heard it said that we shouldn't question God.  But Mary questions God.  Mary asks what is obvious to her.  After all, how could she be found with child when she isn't married and not promiscuous? She wasn't asking in a scoffing, unbelieving way, but rather in curious innocence as to how this would happen. The angel explained it to her and she accepted it.  It's all in how we question that makes questioning God right or wrong.

How often do we go to God's Word and read something that speaks directly to our situation and instead of being like Mary, asking the obvious in innocence, and accepting what God has said, we think, "Yeah right. How is that ever going to work out?"

Here is an example I'm dealing with.  My daughter has some big changes coming in her life  come July, and in November or December, will be moving to her assigned apprenticeship. We do not know where this will be or how far she will have to move.  She has never lived on her own, is small for her age and I worry about her safety.  But God says,

 And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?  If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?                  Luke 12:25- 26 
Basically, God tells me that I can't change a thing with my worrying, and yet I lay awake at night brooding over what might happen to her in the big city all alone in the winter.  I am asking the obvious.  "How can You send her to a strange, potentially unsafe place and keep her safe?"  God has showed me many times in His Word that I am not supposed to worry.  But my questions of Him aren't so much in innocence but in unbelief.  This is where I need to be more like Mary and just bow to His Word and accept it.  He knows how to protect her if that is His will, and if something else is in His plan, He will use it for His glory.  My worrying and laying awake at night won't keep her any safer then if I just simply trusted God.  All it does is rob last night my sleep and steal today's joy.

So how do you question God about the obvious?  Is it in humble curiosity, trusting God's answer, or do you question in unbelief, not truly trusting Him?  Questioning God is not wrong, it's all in how we ask the questions that make it right or wrong.