Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Give UP

      These paintings were inspired by Eph 5:18b, "Be filled with the Spirit" for a painting project at a women's retreat.

     At first glance theses sample paintings might not appear as any great work of art. Simple and maybe even childish, but that is the beauty of them.

     So often I hear people say they are not artistic. In whose eyes? What is artistic? Art can be very subjective and many people who once enjoyed creating have stopped due to a comment made by someone trying to box in this person's interpretation of what they see. Did Picasso and Rembrandt interpret a bowl of fruit the same way? Was one of them wrong?

     As in the journey of life, the joy of painting is the process not always the outcome. The relaxing feeling of leading a brush over a canvass. The beauty of color as different hues are mixed together and the design of lines, thick or thin varying by the twist of the hand. Doesn't that make you think of God's palette?  Variations of colors blended together along with different lines and textures bring about the beauty of oneness of His people, the family of God.  No two anything are exactly the same yet He uses our differences to enhance each other.  Romans chapter 12 says, "for just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us."

    The special talents that make up you are exactly what God knows you need for those opportunities He has planned for you to be His hands and feet.  Like tools in a tool box, God has equipped you.

     Being filled with the Spirit is using the talents and strengths God has given you for His glory. Remember Romans 12:4-6 when Satan wants to make you feel inferior. Don't compare your actions or outcomes to anyone else. Instead, thank God for the special gifts that by His grace only you have been given.  Then use those gifts freely and completely.  Give them up as a fragrant offering.

God loves the cheerful giver of time and talent and when you use your gifts in this way, whatever you do is a masterpiece to Him.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

MY Valentine

This may seem after the fact, but read on....

We all know what Valentines Day is or is expected to be.  Hallmark does a good job of creating the "mood".  The mood of expectations almost to the point of demands.  It can truly set the poor, committed yet unaware lover up for disaster if he happens to forget this one day of the year.  

What were your expectations last Sunday?  Did you give or receive thoughtful gifts or set time aside to be with a special person?     Perhaps you are in a strained relationship and Valentine's Day came and went like any other, dashing your hopes to the ground. For some, it is "single's awareness day" making one feel like a second class citizen if they are not sitting in a romantic restaurant with a starry eyed member of the opposite sex.

This day that retailers have created to be quite profitable by laying guilt on those who don't lavish their loved one with flowers and chocolate and shiny things have completely lost touch with the true essence of Valentine.  Yes, he was a real person.  A Christian martyr, in fact.  The story goes he befriended a blind girl and as he was headed toward the arena of hungry lions, tore a piece of paper into a heart shape so she would be reminded of how much Jesus loved her.

There it is, a True Valentine, so full of commitment that he gave up his life for the One he loved.  Sounds like someone else we know, right?  JESUS IS the TRUE VALENTINE.  He loves through thick and thin and will NEVER LEAVE you.  No matter how awful you and I behave, he will never get tired of us.  He completely understands us.  Everything He did while here on earth was out of love for us and for His Father to the point of being tortured, hanging on a humiliating cross for the whole world to see and finally dying.  All for undeserving me and undeserving you.  Do you realize that even if you were the only person in the world, Jesus would have still died for YOU?  That's how much JESUS LOVES YOU.

So what will you give your Valentine?  Does your heart overflow for Him and yearn to be with Him above all else?  How will you show Jesus how much you love him?  Relationships are a two way, contact sport.  God longs to have your attention and love.  Spend time with Him and listen closely to what He says in His word.  Love others more than you love yourself because by showing love to others you show your love for God.  Like a deer pants for water, desire your LORD.

February 14 is just another day on the calendar.  True LOVE is shown every day and doesn't need Hallmark to dictate how. As my pastor ended his sermon on Sunday, Feb 14.  Hear God saying, "I love YOU!"  Then, no matter your circumstances in life, you can love the unlovable and know you are not alone because you are filled with the true love of your Valentine. (JH)


A litter of kittens being

Have you ever watched a mama cat begin to wean her kittens? At first, she will just get up and move away. As the process continues, that mama cat will do a low growl, use her paw to bat away or even nip at the little ones who simply want to nurse and be filled. The mama cat knows the exact timing to urge her kittens from depending solely on her to feeding themselves. Horses do this same thing. Cows do it too. In fact, all of God’s creatures eventually become self-feeders. They learn to feed themselves. They must or they will die.

Sensory and cognitive

Somewhere during that first and second year of life, human babies desire to feed themselves. First, it is with their fingers  and then with the toddler sized spoon. They miss their mouth, food ends up in their hair, up their nose, on the floor (ceiling, wall, etc). Learning to feed themselves, is time consuming, messy process. It might be easier and less messy if parents just kept spoon feeding that child their nourishment. Then as adults, they could go to their own home and make the mess that come with learning to feed themselves. Pretty silly, right? So, somewhere along the way, self-feeding becomes easy, automatic and can be neatly, and quickly accomplished.

Are you a self-feeder? Oh, most of us are very capable of indulging ourselves with food. Sometimes too much too often. But how about with God’s word? Has church sliced, diced and pureed God’s word into a smoothie that is full of nourishment, but easy to take in and then scamper through the day? Has Pastor cut up and spoonfed the meat of the bible, with all its amazing lessons and messages, that you are now intimidated to try to feed yourself?

Now don’t get me wrong. I love church. Our pastors are amazing servants of God and speak his word in truth and purity in the way I can savor and truly appreciate.  I thoroughly enjoy being in fellowship with other believers. In fact, I need to be with other believers and hear the Pastor’s message. But just being fed whatever scripture lesson our church calendar says or digesting the universal message pastor thinks the congregation needs, simply may not be enough to nourish my soul.

Like that toddler learning to eat, when we attempt  to read, understand and digest bible verses or stories, at first it can feel like a time consumingly slow, messy process where sometimes we can get egg all over our faces.

In Romans 15:4 it says,For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

Scripture was written to teach us. Attending church and hearing Pastor’s message certainly can teach us. But we are also encouraged to get into God’s word for form that personal relationship with God and learn from the people contained within those pages. They’re not just stories. They are experiences God put in there to encourage and give us hope.  When we open the pages of the bible, we can dig into God’s word and let the sweetness of his words be honey on our lips, so we can experience God on a more personal level.

But becoming a self feeder and forming a personal relationship with God may feel intimidating. We think that we won’t understand, or that it will be too challenging, too hard, or too strange or too time consuming. In Isaiah  chapter 55:14, God says that his word will never return empty. Through our daily reading of the bible, the time when we fill our soul with God’s message, he gives us insight on how we can face our individual daily challenges with his peace and assurance that, no matter the circumstance, he is with us. Yep. It might be messy and make us uncomfortable, but God has a message just for you in those pages, one to give you hope and encouragement. We just need to dig in.

Original (1800 × 2710) The bible is full of  stories to take in, savor, mull around, sniff out the meaning, and digest the message God has for YOU! Don’t be intimidated, nervous or apprehensive. Become a self-feeder. Get messy. Ask questions and keep asking. Dig in like you would dig into a hot fudge sundae with whip cream and cherries on top and taste the blessings, promises, and reassurance straight from the hand of God.  (rs)

For your consideration today:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Ephesians 1:17

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Deuteronomy 8:3

Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. Deuteronomy 32:2

So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11
***Lysa TerKeurst has a youtube that was originally used to promote the release of her newest book at the time -2009. In it she relates her experience of cutting up a pineapple and the sweet fruit inside to digging into God’s word. The illustrated picture message will be one that stick with you and may help if you are ready to dig into God’s word for yourself. You can find it here:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Don't Stop Talking

Face it, ladies, we like to talk. We talk about, well… everything… and to the utmost detail.   Agreed?  

Have you ever got the feeling while talking to someone that perhaps they stopped listening before you were finished speaking? 
God says, “talk to me.” Matthew 11:28 Not only will He never stop listening, but He is always interested!  He won’t get bored and tune you out, He is attentive.  Psalm 34:15.

Talking to God is so awesome.  The God who keeps the seasons in order, who paints beautiful sunsets, who turns on the stars at night and rises the sun each morning, who watches over our daily activities and protects the tiniest living thing is our Father.  This all powerful God is ready, willing and able to listen anytime, any place.  We call it prayer, but it is simply talking to our “Abba” dear Father. 

Would you be with a friend or husband or child and not talk with them? God is always with you.  He longs to be included in your day. 
The Old Testament priests had the Holy of Holies inner sanctuary, the publican crouched in the corner of the altar.  Where is your special place with Jesus? A certain chair? A garden bench?  At the kitchen table before the house wakes up?

Of course it is good to have that special time and place where you have intentional, focused prayer, but remember God is always with you. He’s riding in the car with you, beside you as you do your daily chores, sitting with you at the bedside of a loved one.  He will never leave you or forsake you.  Deut. 31:6  

The power of prayer is your greatest weapon against the trials of this world.  Be a prayer warrior.  Pray without stopping.  Nothing is too insignificant to talk with God about.  He is with you waiting to listen. Then be sure to give Him time to “talk”.  Listen to what He has to say by reading His word.  Conversation is a two way street.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Give It and Leave It

Do you ever feel like your strength is dried up?  We fight against time, weight loss/gain, disappointments, unkind people, our own weaknesses and we could go on.  Don’t you just get weary of it all? 
Jesus spoke to His disciples and promised. “In this world you will have trouble.”  John 16:33 Trouble, yes, we expect some, but sometimes if feels like life is a continuous battle?  What does your battlefield look like?  What are your weapons…anger, impatience, harsh words?   It’s how you approach this battle that counts.  Do you stand tall in the face of trials with all of Your might or do you fall on your knees and gather your Strength?
 Jesus not only offers us to cast our cares on Him Psalm 55:22 but He impresses cast all your cares on Me 1 Peter 5:7.  How do we transfer this weight?  Pray and pray continuously.
 Prayer is the most powerful weapon in your arsenal!  We are quick to share our thoughts with friends or sometimes anyone who will listen.  Why is it we are not as quick to tell our Brother, the one who can and longs to actually help?  To pray is to talk with our God,  the One who has all things under His control and knows all things.  With His voice, not even a shout, he can calm the raging storm.  Certainly your “storm” is on His radar.
Oh, dear weary traveler, fall down and leave your heavy load at Jesus’ feet.  He asks for it.  “Come to me you weary, I will give you rest” Matthew11:28.  No matter how heavy your heart, the shoulders that carried the weight of the sins of the whole world surely won’t buckle under the pressure of your problems. 
Drop those worries and cares as if you are standing at the side of a cavern.  Feel the weight slide off your shoulders as those rocks fall deeper,  farther into the abyss and let God’s peace fill your soul.  Too often we “give” our cares to God like a yo-yo.   Give them, take them back.  Give them, take them back.
Kneel at Jesus’ feet and lay your burden down, not to be picked up again then dance away rejoicing.  Yes, Jesus promises trouble John 16:33 but read on, He continues… “ But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

(This is a part of a series on prayer.  More to come)