March 28, 2011

Peace Has A Job

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. Philippians 4:7 (NASB)

Have you ever had one of those days where every little thing sends you nuclear? I regret to say that I have. In fact, sometimes the smaller things bother me more than the bigger ones. When this happens, boy do I need to seek the face of God! I need His peace.

The wonderful thing is that He encourages me to come to Him every single time – no matter how repetitious the apology. The Father would rather me face Him every time than to walk away in self-loathing. I just love that about my Abba Daddy! I am glad He believes in me more than I believe in myself.

Then I have days where I am basking in His presence so personally and wonderfully, that it seems nothing could knock over my applecart. I bet you’ve felt like that too! Haven’t you? I was asked to read Philippians 4:4 in my private reading time. It says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Excellent verses and words for the day, but then I read even further. You can never go wrong reading more in the Scripture!

I have read Philippians 4:7 numerous times but today I discovered something “new.” This verse speaks about the peace of God. It’s the kind of peace that no one can explain. It’s the kind of peace that comes from someplace (actually some One) far greater than us. It explains why nothing bothers me when I am walking directly in His personal presence. It’s because peace has a job.

According to this verse, His peace will “guard your hearts and your minds” in Christ. I can’t think of anyone better qualified to guard my heart and my mind than my Savior! When I allow His peace to flood my soul and I give Him access to guard my mind and my heart – which controls my thoughts and my actions – nothing the world or Satan or even traffic can throw at me will put a dent in my day. On the days when everything seems to go wrong, if I seek His face, His peace will flow regardless of my circumstances.

Every day brings us closer to His return. I know that the world is going further down the path of madness every day. The only way I can survive as a believer is to put my trust and faith into Almighty God and Christ who saved me, saves me and will continue to save me. Then I can truly rejoice always in the Lord because His peace is guarding me. I rejoice in praise and thanksgiving when I let peace to do its job.

Another thought just occurred to me while writing this: no ones really guards worthless stuff. So what does that say about God’s feeling toward us? Bless His Holy name!!

His peace be with you!
Barbara

March 21, 2011

Busyness versus Business

"And he [Jesus] said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?” Luke 2:49 (KJV)

What’s on your “to-do list” today? Do you have more than one list? Is your list longer than your arm? Can you even find your list? Does it seem like one endless thing to do after another? Are you depressed yet? If so, then I have news for you!

I’ve had to do some serious looking at all my to-do’s. I am learning to love my to-do’s. How did I manage that? Well, I started by developing a smarter relationship with my to-do’s and the One I am “to-doing” them for!

Now this wasn’t easy because I love my rest as well. I love my down time. But what I discovered is I am prone to over-indulging in it. Alas what is a body to do?

After much reflection upon the subject of busy and rest, I have come to several conclusions. But first let me bring out my soapbox to stand on! Okay this will probably get me hate mail but here goes. For starters, we need to take a long look at rest, busyness and business.

I’ve complained so much about all my busyness and needing rest, that I overlooked one little thing. God has a plan and a purpose for me which includes some work. This work involves an attitude called commitment on my part and commitments have a tendency to keep me busy. Apparently, God thinks this is normal. Maybe I should too!

Over time, I started to view commitment as the enemy against time. I began to think of every commitment as an over-commitment. This led me to feel too busy. But then a light came on! I’d been mistaking His business for busyness. All this time, I thought I was overloaded when all along it was about me being about His business.

From this new thought I have drawn several conclusions about myself which I shall share and then you can decide if anything applies to you or not:

1. With every ounce of my being, I know we must rest! It’s in the Bible. We are commanded to take care of our temple bodies and take time to be still and know God. Jesus did so should you and me. In fact, I believe it so much that next week I will be on vacation.

2. Sometimes I have used the “body needs a rest” theory to over-rest and pass up commitments I should have made. I wonder as believers in general, are we so overly active in other areas of life that we use the “I need a break” excuse to avoid committing to the Lord and His work? Maybe we’ve learn to “just say no” too much. It’s just a question.

3. After I reviewed each of my activities I truly believe the Lord led me to each one. Perhaps they became busy instead of business because I’ve tried to do them in my own strength – big mistake.

4. When I decided that I can’t do anything apart from Him and His strength is indeed perfected in my weakness, things take on a new and improved look.

5. Yes, I get tired. But who said being tired was a bad thing? Being tired makes one sleep better. Now if you become tired to the point of being harmful – refer to #1.

Jesus rested, but Jesus worked. He honored He holy commitment to God and never complained about being too busy. To Him, it was all about His Father’s business! Because He tasked involved dying for all humanity – I can see where He pushed through a little harder than you and I might but His example is worthy.

My advice to you this week: Sleep at night when you are supposed too. Nap when needed. In the morning MAKE/TAKE time to pray and read God’s word. Eat right. Exercise – you can do it! Take a walk, take the stairs at work. Replace busyness for business. Yes, this might mean cutting out some stuff because sometimes we actually do take on too much. But it also might mean adding some stuff, the right stuff to your schedule. Trust God for direction and strength. Don’t worry if you get tired. We all do.

While I am still a work in progress – this has already made a difference in my life. Thanks for letting me share it with you! Have a good week full of God’s grace and riches!

Being about His business!
Barbara

March 14, 2011

If You Want to Bear Fruit – Tap into the Root!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law.” Gal. 6:22-23 (NASB)

Once again, I am thrilled to report a worthy church sign sighting! It’s awesome how they make such delightful spiritual truths come to life! It’s amazing the theological and Biblical principles that can be imparted but a cute little ditty like: If You Want to Bear Fruit – Tap into the Root!

I saw this sign last week, while driving to Homosassa Springs and quickly made note of it. Not too many days later, one of my devotional readings covered Galatians 6:22-23. It was not a mistake or coincidence either. I believe God had a point for me to uncover and a point to rediscover. Allow me share both with you this morning.

Point #1 – If you are going to produce fruit – you’d better be part of the fruit tree!

The Scripture is quite clear in John 15:5: “I [Jesus] am the vine, you are branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
If I want to produce fruit, I can’t do it if I am not connected to the source of the fruit. Therefore simply saying I am a Christian with no real connection to Christ – isn’t going to cut it! Certainly, you can try and might even produce some well-disguised fruit for moment or two. However in the long run, your lack of connection with the Vine will tell on you!

You see, hanging off the branches of a tree does not qualify you as part of the living plant itself. You must be graphed in, with your soul searching out to wrap itself around the very heart, the ROOT, of the plant as to intertwine yourself with it, until you are an inseparable part of the tree! It abides, or dwells in you and you abide in it.

Jesus said it plainly: apart from Him, we can’t do anything. Obviously this is a point my Father was trying to get me to rediscover. Abba Father, I do appreciate the reminder! I needed it.

Point #2 – The fruit we bear is not our own.

I love to uncover new treasures in His Word. It’s not that they are really new; after all, the Word was and is right there all along! But sometimes you read a verse and you focus on one aspect of the passage. Most likely, it is because it meets a need you have at that particular moment. Then you read it again later and something seemingly new just pops right out and smacks you between the eyes! Smack! Wow! Never saw that one before!

That is what happened to me. It was that proverbial brick on the head I keep asking for! I guess I’d better be careful what I ask for in the future! I likely assumed (and we all know what happens when we assume!) that as a believer, having the Spirit living within, I would naturally produce all this wonderful fruit. My problem is that I have been trying to take ownership of the fruit! And I can’t for the life of me figure out why! Any fruit I might produce o my own, would likely be akin to the strawberries we just bought.

They were supposed to be cream of the crop sweet home grown berries. Now I have lived in Plant City FL – winter strawberry capital of the world. I know how a good berry should taste. The ones we bought did not. Slightly close – but no cigar! Anything I try to produce on my mine – isn’t going to be anything like the real thing!

Why? It’s because the fruit I might bear is not of me! I have no part in it. The fruit is of the Spirit. It’s God’s fruit and His alone. I confused being a vessel for the fruit with ownership of the fruit itself.

The moral of the story is this: If I am tapped into the Root – I will bear fruit but not of my one accord, only of the Spirit. Then as a living, breathing, functional branch of the tree, I should be reaching to others offering the fruit to them, so that they too, would desire to become part of the Tree of Life!

I leave you with Ephesians 3:17-19:

”So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Love the Root and He’ll send you the Fruit!
Barbara

March 07, 2011

A Right-Handed God

“For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:7-8 (NASB)

I am right handed. Now in light of today’s Scripture, this doesn’t mean I am equating myself with God. Far from it! But the fact remains that I am right handed. It’s the hand I use the most. My dad, on the other hand – pardon the pun, is left-handed. Why? I don’t know. It’s just the way it is and I accept that.

The Bible frequently refers to God’s hands. In several passages it refers to God’s right hand or His mighty right hand. I wonder, is it because His left hand is weaker? Does He even have a left hand? Are His hands so mighty, He only needs His right to guide us? Well, whatever the reason, right or left, I am forever grateful to be upheld in His hand.

I bet you are wondering how all this hand-jive got started? Glad you asked! This morning, I woke up to a daily devotional reading from Sarah Young’s, Jesus Calling. Today’s Scripture and thoughts are from page 70. She writes as if Christ was speaking to you directly and personally. For March 7, she penned these opening lines:

“LET ME HELP YOU through this day. The challenges you face are far too great for you to handle alone.”

Great statement. I need God’s help through the day. The older I get, the more increasingly aware I become of my own human frailty and the fact that I truly cannot do anything on my own. Left to my own devices I mess up every time.

But “far too great challenges” today? Not a chance. Okay, I know it’s Monday but I think I have a handle on today. It’s all simple stuff really. I woke up, I walked and now I write. Next, I’ll spend a few moments with job-related business. Then I’ll prepare myself to jump in the car and travel to the west coast of Florida. Tomorrow, I have the honor of sharing my testimony at a breakfast and then a lunch. Nothing too hard. Right?

Boy that was a close call! I almost let myself get away with thinking this was a day I could handle in my own strength. Sometimes, I think God uses His right hand to give a head-slap, just hard enough to knock the sense back into me! Thank you Father!

Well my sense returned and I started to meditate on what Sarah Young wrote. I re-read Psalm 63:7-8 coupled with James 1:2-3. (Look it up for yourself, it’s good stuff!) Then I had to ask myself to define challenge. Mostly I think of a challenge as an obstacle or problem to be solved. It’s a mountain to move or attempt to move around. It’s something that pops up unexpectedly than causes a wrinkle in my day. Hmm…. Right now I am thinking my definition is too small.

Let me now propose that living through a good day could be as much of a challenge as living through the bad ones. On a good day, I am still presented with choices that could alter the path of my day.

Am I going it on my own? Do I stop to praise God for the day? Do I ask His help in keeping me on task and on time? Am I listening for those moments where I need to stop and look around so a God-moment doesn’t escape my notice? Do I walk through the good day acknowledging the same right-hand holding me up as I do when the day goes sour? The challenge of a good day is letting God work in my life to keep it a good day. Then with the same mind, knowing if the day becomes a truly “bad day,” God is still ready, willing and able – with the same right hand to uphold me through it!

Does this make any sense to anyone? I hope it does. Well, I guess that is all I wanted to share for today, but I leave you with one last thought. Whether you are left-handed, right-handed or tight-handed, God’s hands are the best! Take is from Moses who wrote in Exodus 15:6 (NASB):

"Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power,
Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.”

Holding hands with God!
Barbara