D.O.G. – Depend on God

My devotion time was led by Hyzer this morning…our 18 oz. grand-dog who spent the night. Opening my prayer time with a plea for God to speak and untangle the chaos in my heart and mind, I immediately heard the waking whines of Hyzer. And here’s what I heard from my Father.

Want to hear from me? Listen for the whimpers of need.

Meet that need.

Show them how to get the ‘trash’ out and put the nasty stuff where it belongs.

Move around, get some exercise.

Explore with joy.

Learn something new.

Share your food.

Chew on the word.

Search for jewels.

And when you do those things, you will be with me…watching me work, for that is what I do for you.

 

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He’s Coming!

Anticipating the arrival of a loved one is a joyful time, isn’t it?  A Christian’s heart has the possibility of that joy every moment of every day…and at ‘Christmas time’ we have an open door to discuss that joy!  Are you ready to grab the moments that come your way?While we’ve never been part of a church that liturgically celebrated Advent, it is our family tradition to prepare our hearts in the days prior to Christmas. I wanted to share some of that with others this year.

We live in a world that has so secularized Christmas that its original intent is often obscured.  We must not let that happen to our own celebrations.  While the reality is that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th anyway, the world gives us an open door with its Christmas celebrations.  Even the secular world turns its eyes to God in this season.  Let us use the world’s preparations to proclaim the love, grace & mercy of Jesus Christ that more might be won to the Kingdom.

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When we fix our hearts and eyes on Truth, it flows into our days…and people see the Word in our walk.  That is how it ought to be.  When we celebrate richly, others will take note.  Today begins the Advent Season for this year.  In the midst of busy-ness, consider how young Mary welcomed God’s interruption of her life plans.  A young woman, betrothed to a man….and told by God she would soon be carrying the Messiah in her womb.  That was an ‘interruption’ that was likely to cost her impending marriage–and quite possibly her life.  But Mary’s response was “Be it unto me according to thy word.”

“Mary’s faith is a wonderful example for us.  Rather than resentfully looking at her pregnancy as unfair and embarrassing, she understood that she had been uniquely blessed by God.  John MacArthur, Jr.

Throughout the week, pause each day to refocus on the blessed truths of the One who is coming…

Monday          Luke 1:35-38               Heart Focus:  Obedient Submission to the will of God

Tuesday          Jeremiah 29:11-13     Heart Focus:  Trust in the plans of God

Wednesday    Proverbs 16:3,9          Heart Focus:  Enjoy the story God is writing for you

Thursday        James 4:13-15             Heart Focus:   Let God give you the details as He wills

Friday             Psalm 37:4-7                Heart Focus:  Be rooted & joyful in the love of God

Saturday         Luke 1:39-41                Heart Focus:  Loving others is loving God

As we celebrate this season, may we keep in the front of our minds that Jesus is coming again!  He will not be coming as a vulnerable baby–but as the conquering King.  Let us do all we can to encourage others to prepare Him room.  See you next Sunday!

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Thank you for the Candle  Best Animations !

Winning in Life!

Ever fight a war with an enemy caused by an enemy you cannot see?  We all have—and do.  My current battle is a minor but aggravating one:  chigger bites.  Creatures so tiny, the head of a pin can hold two or three but their poison so vile it literally dissolves skin tissue.  At first, they aren’t too noticeable but within a day or so, the itch is impossible to ignore.  Prevention is the wisest course.

My recent encounter did not catch me unaware.  I went to the woods prepared.  Long pants, boots and my favorite non-chemical bug oil (Avon Skin-so-Soft!).  My preparations kept every bug at bay except the chigger.  Tree Oil has been my battle partner for the last couple days.  Preparations that put trust in an ineffective solution do not accomplish much.  The rest of the crew who trooped into the forest used a traditional bug spray and left the adventure without chigger bites.  Trusting in myself has brought me to more battles than I can count.  Can you relate?     

As believers in Christ, we have all of the provisions we need to live well in this world.  We have every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1); Christ came that we would have abundant lives (John 10) and He provides all we need for life & godliness (2 Peter 1).  Too often, we trust in ourselves, our plans or our perspective to produce what God has already provided. 

white sheep on farm

Photo by kailash kumar on Pexels.com

Psalm 23 offers us a natural world look at how the Good Shepherd cares for us!  The entire Psalm is abeautiful picture of resting in the care of the Shepherd but one line has captivated my thoughts as I apply healing oil to my chigger battle wounds.

“…You anoint my head with oil.”

I’ve always read that as blessings given from God, and while that’s not wrong, it’s not the whole story!  In the sheep field, there are flies that attack the sheep.  They enter the ears, lay their eggs and even burrow into the brain.  On their own, the sheep cannot rid themselves of the flies—nor can they heal the damage the flies do.  In fact, the flies create such discomfort, the sheep become frantic; they damage their own selves as trying to fix the problem.  Prevention is what the shepherd focuses on; shepherds ‘anoint’ their sheep with oil!

The Good Shepherd longs to do the same for us.  There are many destructive pestilences in this world—some we can see, some we are aware of, some we can manage—but only some.  Relying on ourselves is a losing proposition in the eternal economy.  We need the Good Shepherd.  He wants us to live abundant, peaceful, healthy lives.  He provides all we need to do just that.  The choice is ours. 

Will we receive what He longs to give?

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Photo by Magnus Martinsen on Pexels.com

 

Let’s Look Like Jesus: Humility

The perpetual prayer list to aid us in transformation begins with a character quality that is treasured by God but rare in humanity:  HUMILITY.  Let’s look at Christ and gaze on the beauty of humility He exhibits.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Philippians 2:5-8

Throughout Christ’s life, He evidenced humble surrender to the will of the Father.  Jesus told the disciples that the meat He ate was obedience to the Father!  His very sustenance came from doing what God desired.

The essence of humility is surrender to the Heavenly Father. 

Faith and humble obedience look an awful lot alike.  Any time spent looking at how Christ lived will reveal new aspects of humility:  his entrance to Jerusalem was on a donkey; He lived as a homeless servant; His own will was never His driving force.

The opposite of Christ’s humility is humanity’s self-serving, self-centered demands for consideration.  A focus on ‘my rights’ draws me from His humble presence.  Pride rears its head in subtle, diverse ways. We are often unaware of pride’s presence in our hearts until we fall flat on our face. Anytime we trust in ourselves–our strength, our knowledge, our experience, our efforts–instead of God, lethal pride is lurking. Humble awareness of the need for divine intervention ushers in victory. Prideful perseverance in the face of need guarantees a fall.

Humility matters so much to God, that all of life

functions as a classroom for pride and humility lessons.

Consider the ‘classrooms’ discussed below and ask the Spirit to reveal areas in your life where pride is lurking and threatening a fall.  Seek to see where foolish pride is obscuring the glory of God.  Rejoice at the victory of humility!

• Relationships are a priority to God.  Perhaps that is why relationships offer university-level instruction on humility. Without Christ, meeting our own needs and securing our ‘rights’ drives every relationship. Unity demands humility; without it, marriages disintegrate, parents and children fight, churches split and friendships end. Humility trusts God to meet our needs and direct our interactions.

• The workplace, too, teaches humility. As employees become sacrifices on the altar of greed, profit-driven administrations shred pride in preparation and performance. Humility trusts that God orchestrates both the present and the future. Humility gives victory over unpleasant working conditions and even unemployment.

• Working for the Lord is especially fraught with pitfalls of pride. God calls us only to the work of faith. The service we do is simply scaffolding on which to observe the work of God. Pride confuses our efforts with His work and interferes with eternal fruit. Humility rejoices at God’s handiwork and the immense privilege of working for the King of Kings!

• Trust in our physical bodies begins in childhood but wanes in aging. The human body is a marvelous machine; yet its design includes wearing out! Even those who exercise and eat right experience illness, disease and ultimately death. Humble acceptance of the aging process exhibits trust in God to work within our limits; prideful resistance hampers His work and dampens our spirit.

Personal tragedies and natural disasters provide brutal lessons in humility. Mistakes, carelessness, the unavoidable presence of evil in the world and even accidents devastate our prideful assumption of control. Humility frees us from the need to be perfect. It acknowledges that God is greater than our mistakes and greater than the evil that is in the world. God trusts God can and will bring good from the most horrid events. Humility accepts a loss of control to receive total security from Christ.

Recognizing need is the key that opens the door to humility and its faithful companions: joy and contentment. When needs confront us, let us reject our natural, prideful responses of whining demands or childish independence and humbly, jubilantly praise God for His powerful promises of provision! In fact, let’s learn to look at needs as invitations to know God more and humbly accept the invitation.

What Power Source Do You Rely On?

The electric went out this morning…and all of us were immediately aware of its absence.  The computer screen went blank; the fish filter went silent.  We took notice.  Can you imagine if our spiritual walk was that tuned in?

As believers, the Holy Spirit is our power source.  We can do nothing without Him:

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

Yet, the honest truth is that we don’t always notice when He has withdrawn.  How can that be?

Without the computer, my writing, research and communication options were greatly curtailed, so I opted for a walk with my dog.  He doesn’t rely on electricity–he relies on me.  But more on that later.  The impact of the electric outage was evident everywhere.  Business people stood in groups chatting, obviously waiting for power to return.  The post office customers headed for their cars.  Traffic moved cautiously at the intersection.   Life went on…with slightly altered priorities and a bit more effort.

Even though everyone likely took the presence of electricity for granted in the moments before it shut off, its absence was immediately noticed.  What we rely on isn’t always recognized in the day-to-day…but when we rely on something, its lack pulls us up short.  In the spiritual realm, this is truly a matter of life and death.  We don’t want to wait until the Spirit is absent–because the Spirit IS life.  We are to take that Life into this broken world; we can’t do that if we aren’t connected!

‘Get ‘er done’ is a way of life that disguises truth…and it can be deadly.  Humanly speaking, we can accomplish some pretty impressive things.  Human beings are amazing creatures…God’s favorite creation according to His account.  The problem is that we tend to rely on ourselves and don’t even notice what we are doing.

It isn’t until we are feeling under the weather, that we recognize how much we rely on our health.  Not until we need to move a heavy object, do we notice our muscles (or the lack thereof).  Our minds have incredible power and potential as well:  electricity is one magnificent result of intellectual ability.  Medical science is another.  Truly great things come out of pure human ability.

But in the matter of life and death, we come face-to-face with our limitations–and the reality that all we have comes from God, the Giver of Life:

“…He (God) Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things…” Acts 17:25b

We have plans, programs and projects that we use to measure our success.  That is not God’s plan.

He designed us to be God-directed, Spirit-controlled.  Failing to live that way creates dis-unity, ill-health and ultimately death.  His Spirit desires to speak into our spirit.

I am to rely on that communication channel like my dog relies on me! 

Deliberately trusting in the Holy Spirit is a necessity that requires the investment of our time:  attentiveness dies on the altar of busy-ness.  The beauty of disruptions to daily life is that they cause us to notice where our trust really lies.   I rejoice that this disruption today refocused my eyes on trusting the Spirit for direction!  My prayer is that it does the same for you!

Our body, mind and emotions are simply antennae that help us hear the world.  Our decisions are not to come from those things.  Sapphire Dream PhotographyIt is our spirit tuned into His Spirit that provides direction!  In the midst of the noise of life is the quiet voice of the Lord…the Prince of Peace.

He does direct those who listen to Him…He shows which way He desires us to go.  Our challenge is to receive His wisdom with quiet confidence in His goodness.

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.  James 3:17

That really shouldn’t be that big of a challenge except for this truth: we are more accustomed to trusting in ourselves than in the King of Kings.  Stated openly, the foolishness is obvious. With the truth unveiled, let’s decide to choose the Living Truth, Life Himself!

 

We cannot give what we will not receive.

Every good and perfect gift comes from our Father in heaven.  Those who long to serve the Father must receive from Him.  That doesn’t sound like a difficult aspect of servanthood, does it? In reality, it is very difficult and demands great faith!

By this time in Moses’ life, he already had learned some high-level truths.  Evil and injustice happens.  Good—even ‘right’—desires not submitted to God bring disaster.  Serving God requires leaving your comfort zone and entering holy ground.  Appreciating your design (with its limitations) and putting it all in God’s hands creates wild results.  Learning to receive from God expands servant training!

Let’s look at how this instruction in growth came to Moses:

And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. (Exodus 4:6-7)

Leprosy in Bible times meant shame, ostracization and ultimately death.  While God had not yet given the Law, the reality of the disease surely struck fear in Moses’ heart when he saw his hand.  Highly contagious, leprosy literally eats away at the flesh.  Then, as now, no cure existed.  Pause with Moses and look at his hand.  Feel the emotions of deep dread, hopelessness and grief.  That is the place of healing servants must be willing to face.

Ah, but JOY comes with obedience. ‘Put your hand near your heart again…’ and feel the blessed wholeness of healing.  That which is close to the heart of the servant belongs to God as well.  Our health, our reputations, our loved ones…everything is His to work with—to afflict, and glory to Him, to heal!  He is trustworthy.  Hear Jesus’ words in John 6:

 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

The Father and the Son will take care of all the servant entrusts to them…far better care than we take on our own.  It is a servant lesson we need not rush; as the Loved One often says in the Song of Solomon, ‘Awaken not love before its time.’  We need not make sacrifices to prove our love; we only need to receive the gift of faith that fills us with courage.

The emphasis cannot be overstated:  we receive faith.  We neither earn nor create faith.  Furthermore, the necessity of faith cannot be overstated.  Without faith there is no pleasing God; working from our flesh never pleases Him!  Faith received is ours to exercise.  Servants learn to allow God to work in heart-rending ways.  Where is God calling you to receive greater faith?  Will you trust Him to bring healing and wholeness?