Friday, September 23, 2011

Building a House of Spirit

Patience....once of those things that most of us struggle with and the topic of my abiding study today.  I always remember a friend's comment when it comes to praying for patience.  "If you pray for patience, God is going to give you something to teach you patience."  Thus, she never prays exactly to learn patience, due to the fact that patience is learned through experience.  Good thought.  But, God is going to teach us patience anyway, isn't He?

The fourth listed fruit of the spirit, patience is one I thought I had done pretty well at in life.  That was until my children showed up.  I have never had to pray harder for this 4th fruit in my life.  And pray I do.  Sometimes it is the only thing that gets me through some poop-on-the-floor-fell-over-the-toys-burned-the-lunch-because-I-had-to-clean-up-said-poop days (not that I have ever had this happen :). 

Hebrews 3:1-6 tells us to fix our thoughts on Jesus and that He is who builds us as well as everything.  Well, fixing my eyes on Jesus is often the only thing that keeps me from having an all out melt down where I scream at my children and lose all control.  Although I would be lying if I say this doesn't happen from time to time anyway, I know that it rarely happens when I am doing my part to fill my cup with His word and my heart with prayers and 'conversation' with Him.

So, for God to build me up and fill me with the patience most of my days require I have to remember to fill my cup with Him and His word.

What are some of the ways you do this?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Abiding in my Daily Decisions

Stopping to ask God, "Should I go down this path?" is not a strange question to most Christians.   I often ask myself this many times a year or even in a month, but how often to I stop to ask it every day?  This is the question the author of my little 'abiding' devotional posed for today. 

Yes, I am very devout in asking for God's guidance on the big things.  Wanting to abide in Him and His will for those things that will affect a long period of time or even the rest of my life.  But do I stop to ask His will for even the little things?  Is my general, 'Guide me in my day today, Lord.  Help me follow your will," type of prayer every morning cover enough for stopping to ask Him before making a daily decision?

For example, this morning I decided to make a quick trip up to Lincoln to do a little shopping.  Totally an unnecessary move, but I didn't have anything else pressing on my schedule (shock and awe, I know), so it was a whim I decided to go with. 

However, I knew it was going to be quick since I had to be back in time to pick up my middle daughter from preschool.  Had I really stopped to pray about it and ask God, I am not sure I would have gone.  It was just a 'lets find some cute fall clothes' type of trip because I got an email that one of my favorite kids' clothing stores was having a sale and I had a coupon for that store as well.  But, I was rushed, I didn't get to really enjoy my time and I got short with  my youngest when she wasn't cooperating when it was time to go.

Yep, not the greatest of decisions on my part.  Like I said, I probably should have thought to pray about it when the idea popped into my head.  But, honestly, I didn't and don't often stop to think, "What does God have to say about this quick little trip that will only affect my morning?" 

So, I am thankful for this little snippet of reading I had this afternoon to remind me that, yes, God wants me to follow in His will even in the little things as simple as a quick shopping trip. 

What else have I been missing?  It will be an adventure to find out.  I am going to try hard to remember to pray, and stop to wait (one of the big keys to seeking God's guidance) for where I believe He is leading me?

Do you have any good tips on remembering to do this and how you hear His 'answer'?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Changing it up, again.

Well, I got a good start in Hebrews, and I do plan to continue in there, but I also just started a little devotional book with my wonderful friend and mentor.  So, I may be changing it up depending on which I decide to blog on that day.

Yesterday, I didn't blog, but I really enjoyed what I read in my devotional book "Becoming a Woman Who Walks with God" by Cynthia Heald.  It is all on abiding in Christ... don't worry I looked up 'abide' in the dictionary.  It means to remain or stay with.

What a calling.  Remain with Christ.  If we all just remained in Him all day everyday.  Kept Him at the forefront of our thoughts, decisions, reactions and deeds each and everyday, how would that change our lives.  So often, 'abide' is another one of those 'Biblical' words that you just skip over.  One of those that you are supposed to know about, but never really stop to think much about how it really effects your life. 

Not so surprisingly, the first day devotion was titled "The Security of Abiding".   So true.  If you stay with Christ always, He provides security.  Life Insurance, if you please.  :)  She gave a great analogy of abiding in that a vine has to be attached to the branch to stay alive.  If it just exists next to the branch but not totally attached, it will gain nothing and will die.  Oh, how true this is.  We can go to church, do good things, live a good life, be next to all that great stuff, but if our lives aren't completely connected to it, if our hearts aren't totally sold out to Christ, completely attached to Him?  Toast.  Makes you stop and think, doesn't it?

Where are you abiding in Christ?  Next to Him?  Snuggled up close?  or Completely attached gaining all the wisdom, knowledge and nutrients needed to gain the everlasting 'life insurance'?

Today's devotion totally hit home after a couple of weeks ago totally feeling that funk.  "Choosing to Abide".  It starts with the story of Mary and Martha. Yep the one where Martha is working, feeling unhelped and unappreciated and Mary is sitting with Jesus, soaking it all in.

I am a Martha, definitely not Martha Stewart (who I think was appropriately named btw), but a doer.  I am all about hosting and entertaining and all that fun stuff.  But I will admit, my attitude can totally be like hers as well.  "Why isn't anyone helping me?"  "I hope they appreciate all the work I went through for this."  Rather than easily preparing for my guests and enjoying their company.  Oh, how I would have hated to be that way if I had been given the opportunity to be the hostess of Jesus. 

But I am given the chance every day, to host Him in my heart.  To host a small amount of my day for just Him and me.  To enjoy His company.  But, oh so often, I get busy.  Too many things on my "To Do" list and the quiet time with Him gets pushed to the side.  This chapter is such a great reminder to not "eat haphazardly from His table and only give Him the leftovers" but to make Him the main course guest of honor each and every day. 

I leave you with this quote she included for the day.  ""Mary has chosen which is better...." He brings His point gently home.  Fellowship with Him is a matter of priorities.  And a matter of choice.  It is the better part of the meal life has to offer.  In fact, it is the main course."  Ken Gire

Friday, September 9, 2011

Another Brother

I, again, read and re-read my section of scripture today for my quiet time.  Once again, upon finishing going "what the heck did that say?" in my head.  So, I got out another translation to see if that would help me out any more.  Sadly, not really. 

Ugh.  I hate days like this.  When you just feel too dumb to really understand what God is trying to tell you.  Like the Bible was written on a totally different level than where you are.  But I know that this is not what God intends at all.  He is a real and personal God and His Word is meant for all of us.  Why do I have to remind myself of that so often?

So, I stopped, again, prayed for some understanding, and read it over, again and again.  Actually, a total of five times and the subtext in my Study Bible before a light finally came on.

No huge revelations or anything very deep, but what I did gather from my reading today (Hebrews 2:10-13) were two simple things that I have kind of always known but never really thought about their significance all that much.

1) Christ's ability to identify with us was made perfect (or complete) in his suffering endured on the cross.  Christ lived a sinless life, but was not void of ridicule, hardships or sadness while on the earth.  He was able to identify with us on this level, but through His torture and death on the cross He became able to truly identify and empathize with us on a physical level I hope I never have to endure.  Oh, does that make me ever so thankful for the sacrifice He completely is.  Christ entirely understands it all because He lived it.  Amazing.

2) Through my cleansing of His blood, Christ is not ashamed to call me His sister.  What a compliment this is.  Heck, I know there are times where my own flesh and blood siblings would like to disown me as their sister (OK probably not seriously, but you know what I mean), but Christ, who lived a blameless life, is not ashamed of me.  And, frankly, He knows a heck of a lot more about me than my siblings.  What an honor it is to love the same Father and be His sister.

Phew, dumb moment gone.  Thank you, Holy Spirit, for speaking to me today and reminding me that God knows exactly what I need to hear and read and understand.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In Charge

Jeff and I just watched "The Adjustment Bureau" last night.  It is amazing how God's timing works.  If you have never seen this movie, it is about a politician and a dancer who meet briefly and have an immediate connection.  The rest of the movie is all about The Adjustment Bureau trying to keep them from ever seeing each other again.  For a while I kind of thought it was a movie with a message, but they were very careful not to make it direct. 

Anyway, the Bureau could be seen as angels and their "chairman" as God.  They made reference often to "The Plan" and the fact that humans have no control over it.  Anyway, the politician finds out about the Bureau and tries to find ways to alter "the plan" so that he can be with the dancer.  I won't ruin the movie for you, but at the end there is a voice-over of the politician saying we have more control over "the plan" than we think.  At that moment I heard a big crash in my head and the could-have-been-an-awesome-message-movie totally blew up in my face.  Still a decent and mostly clean flick.

Truth is, we have no control over God's plan for our life.  We are along for the ride, abiding in faith and trying to do His will, hopefully.  This is His plan.  Oh so often we get in the way and try to push our way to the forefront.  Only to find out that His plan is always best, even if it involves a little heartache or tears along the way.

So, what does this have to do with my quiet time today?  My reading today quoted Psalm 8:4-6, "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than angels, you crowned him with glory and honor, and put everything under his feet." 

What are we that He has to care for us?  He doesn't need us in any way, shape or form.  Yet, He loves us.  He has our best interest in His heart and His plan is the best thing for us.  It is so awesome that He does this for us.  Because, truthfully, He doesn't owe us anything.  How thankful are you that He is an awesome and loving God and we are so well taken care of by Him?

The other thing that kind of made the corner of my lips turn up about this reading was that everything else was under our feet.  We may not be in charge of our own plans, but God has given us a great responsibility in the care of everything else on this earth.  What a calling this verse is to take that responsibility to heart and make sure you are doing a good job. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gaining Momentum

Well, I haven't quite gotten to the point yet where I am just waiting for my quiet times to come everyday just yet, but I am getting there.  I am not avoiding them or just down right forgetting them.  I'm on an upward slide.  Yesterday I really was ready to sit down for my quiet time, but never got it due to a few screaming and crabby children.  So, today I am quite thankful for some peace and quiet.

I am having a good time in Hebrews.  Over the weekend I got in a couple readings and finished out the first chapter.  Reading about how Jesus is higher than the angels.

Today, I am heeded to "Pay Attention!"  I had to read the passage and do some praying for the Holy Spirit to really show me something about this one, but after this thought and prayer time it started to come together.

Vs. 2 and 3 say, "For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?"  How shall we escape?  We don't.  Simple as that.  If we do not pay attention to the message of salvation, to the blood on the cross, we must pay the punishment for our sins.

Have you ever stopped to think about what the punishment should be for your sins, each and every single one of them?  No?  Well, the Bible tells us it is death.  That keeps it pretty simple, doesn't it?  Big sins, little sins, sins other people know about, sins you keep to yourself.  Yep, all the same.  Death. 

Might seem a little steep to some, but when you really stop to think about it He has made it so simple for us to get out of it.  You must stop to pay attention to that simple little thing.  That selfless act of love given to us on the cross saves us from having to answer for every little slip of the tongue, every impure thought, every selfish indulgence, every prideful slip.  Every. Single. Sin.  That's it.  Plain and simple. 

So, please.  Pay Attention!  Listen to the message of the cross.  Your price has been paid, you just have to cash in on it!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Diving In

Well, since I finished the gratitude study, I must move on.  I could start back up with where I left off in Acts earlier, but just didn't feel God leading me that way.  So, as I thumbed through my Bible praying about where to stop and read I felt a little drawn towards Hebrews.

Why?  I am not quite sure, but I am guessing I am sure to find out!  Don't you just love that.  You can feel some kind of nudge to make a certain decision but have no clue why.  It will be a wonderful little adventure to see what God has in store for me in this book.  It is one I have never really looked at all that closely before so I am hoping to dive in and come up with a treasure.  After all, its God's Word.  How can I not find some jewels?!?!

So, I just dove in.  Reading vs. 1-4 of chapter one.  This little section is so poetically written, I can't wait to read on.  I love how it gives a beautiful picture of God's radiance, like that of the sun.  And the truth that Jesus, His Son, is one and the same with God's radiance is a brilliant capture as well. 

This first part of the chapter eludes to some great learning about the significance of Jesus being a part of God and higher than the angels.  I can't learn to dive in a little deeper.  For now, I am needing a bit of prayer time, thinking and basking in His radiance.  We'll see where I get tomorrow.