But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22 (NKJV)There is much argument in churches around the world regarding true salvation. Some say that faith is all you need. Others say you must have works. Still others say you must abide by the Ten Commandments. God's Word says the above. The problem we have is leaving out portions of Scripture, or twisting them to make them into what we want or feel we need, or simply refusing to see what it really says; a blindness if you will. When teaching this verse to children, we use a song, which works wonders. Children tend to learn things easily through music. If you know the melody, you will have it going through your head as you read the words:
Friday, June 27, 2014
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
“What are you going to do today?” This is the question my husband asks each morning. What he is really asking is, “Are you going anywhere today?” Why? Because he prays for my safety and is on the alert if something should happen where I need his help. There have been a few times he has had to come to my rescue while I was out running errands. This morning I thought a moment and then told him I didn't really know yet. That was the truth. I don't have anywhere I need to go, the house is clean, just needs a little straightening which will take all of maybe an hour to accomplish, so now the question is, “What do I want to do with my day?” Want...there's that word again. What do I want to do.
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man. Proverbs 24:33-34 (NKJV)
As I read these two verses this morning I was reminded that I could choose to do nothing to very little, (Which is something we all say we wish we could choose, but don't really want as it is BORING!!!!) or I could pray and ask God to guide me through the day and do the things He lays on my heart to accomplish. I can choose whichever of these I want. If I choose the first, I will sit around maybe reading a book, watching TV, playing a game, but accomplishing nothing of much import and at the end of the day I will feel dissatisfied. I know, because I have actually made this choice more than once before. Now, admittedly, if I made this choice day in and day out, I would not really know and understand the joy of accomplishment in hard work, so wouldn't recognize the dissatisfaction that comes from it, so would not know what I was missing. However, there was a time many years ago that I did a study on laziness and realized that I had allowed that evil companion to run my life. This made a rather drastic change inside me. I claimed that I wanted a clean house, wanted time to sew, wanted time to crochet, wanted time to study, etc., but during this study I dug deep inside and made an astonishing discovery. I will do whatever it is that I truly want to do according to what part of me I am listening to at the time. If I am listening to my flesh, I will want to do something I consider restful all the time. What I will accomplish from doing so is filthy clutter around my home, which will lead to arguments over things not being able to be found, gifts not being completed so having to go out and spend more money, weight gain because my body is not getting the exercise it needs, health problems, because I will be breathing in the dust and germs I refuse to get rid of, etc., not to mention the general crankiness that comes from always feeling tired from doing little to nothing.
If I choose to listen to my spirit, which is a worker created in God's image, I will work hard, play hard and truly enjoy life as it was meant to be enjoyed by the Creator. I will have a clean, but played in home, (so there may be a few toys and things out here and there) I will be healthier, striving against lost articles will cease and there will be more peace in my home. I will stop saying, “I want to take my family to church,” “I want to spend more time with my children,” “I want to have more money to give,” and so on, because I will realize that I can do whatever I really want to do if I will simply get up and get doing. As long as I keep saying “I want” I will never get to the point of saying and really meaning, “I will.”
My life has had many ups and downs. As I think back on the downs, I realize that many of them, not all, but many, were related to my making a choice to listen to my flesh. For instance, several years ago I was backing out of the garage at night. I was feeling irritated at my husband or kids at the time (I don't remember which) when one of them turned out the light in the garage. I allowed my temper to rule and floored the gas pedal. I misjudged and ended up shattering the side mirror. Cost over a hundred dollars to repair. You would laugh to see how cautiously I back out of there now.
When I started having children, I used them as an excuse to not have a clean house. Because of this, I experienced many an embarrassment of people coming to surprise visit to a very messy house. Once I was willing to admit that I was choosing to have a messy home, I had to blame myself instead. However, my house became clean, even though it was "busy" with toys, games and puzzles.
Let it be understood that it is my opinion that if a house with children living in it does not have toys laying around during the day, there is something wrong. Children need the freedom to use their imaginations, with their parents guidance. Without guidance, imaginations can get you into trouble. (Just ask any child from birth to 100 who can talk.) There is a huge difference between a messy house and a lived and loved in home. Our homes, both our body and building, need to be clean not only on the outside, but on the inside as well. Living and loving will cause bumps and bruises, and scattering of toys, but a little straightening fixes that so that we can begin the living and loving fresh every morning.
Father God, there have been many a time that I have said I want to do something, but have done nothing about it, which tells me I didn't really want to do it after all. Help me continue growing in this area to reach the place of asking You each morning what needs to be done and share with You the things I think I would like to do so that You can work in me to not only want, but to will to do them if they also be Your heart desire for me. If they are not in Your plans, then remove the want. Help me not to pass blame onto others that actually belongs to me for not meeting a particular goal. Remind me each day that I am the one making the choices, so I need to take responsibility for the results. Help me also remember that straightening my body and building houses needs to be a daily event. Letting things slide for a time only brings frustration and a heavier burden and makes it easier for laziness to take hold. Don't allow Your children to be lazy. Work in us to will and to do Your good purposes. (Philippians 2:13) In Jesus' precious name I ask it.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
I used to sit and ponder who I would marry. There was a good reason for this; my mom spoke of it often. She had four girls and only one boy so she would sit with us girls and tell us to pray about who we should marry. Her heart desire was for us to all marry strong Christian men whom she could trust to take care of her daughters. She did not say that, but as the mother of only one daughter and two sons, I know I prayed for my children to marry strong Christians, because I wanted them to be as happy and, if possible, even happier than their daddy and I. I believe this is every loving mother's dream for their children. Besides, she said as much.I remember well the thoughts I had regarding marriage: I want a man at least six feet tall, broad shoulders, black wavy hair, strong hands, hard worker, a Christian who is not afraid to show it, a non-smoker, a non-drinker of alcohol and who rarely, if ever, used curse words. For those of you who didn't know him, I was describing my daddy - except that he smoked off and on again. I hated it. It made me cough just to smell it, even though he didn't normally smoke in front of us. It was what I thought I really wanted and needed. I was correct in many areas. I needed to marry a Christian man who could and would control himself in all those areas, but what I didn't think about, but God knew, was I also needed a man whom I could trust in everything, who would never cheat, who would love me as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for it, a devoted workman, intelligent and with a great sense of humor. I could go on, but suffice it to say, God knew the perfect man for me. He does not have dark wavy hair - as a matter of fact it is quite the opposite, blond and straighter than straight, and he is just a tiny tad under six foot. However, he has the broad shoulders and strong hands and all the rest of my list. I am so glad God didn't just listen to my list and give me what I thought I wanted, but rather knew me so well that He gave me what I truly needed.
Peter and John stopped. They looked at the man and God moved their hearts on his behalf. Peter said, "Look at me!" He wanted the man's full attention.
Side note: The other day I had three of my grandchildren spending the day with me. I had been looking forward to this and had a blast, but one of them was way overly tired from staying up late the night before. He kept saying he wanted to do things, but really didn't know what it was he wanted to do, just something! We were playing games together, but he wanted to "do something" with the games before we played. I asked what it was he wanted to do, but he had no answer, he just wanted to do something. He dropped to the ground in a heap and started whining and crying. He knows that this is something I do not put up with, yet tried it anyway. I made him look at me so he could see I was completely serious and reminded him of the consequences, but he kept it up. I finally scooped him up and put him in bed. I then told him that if he got rested and felt he could control himself and stop feeling sorry for himself, that he could come back in and join us. He stayed in there for about a half hour, then came back and there were no more episodes for the rest of the day. As a matter of fact he was quite cheerful. He wanted to do something, but he needed rest. After resting he did lots of things.
Just as I had my grandson look at me so he could see how serious and determined I was, Peter desired for the man to look at him for the exact same reasons. He then said to the man, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” vs. 6, and the man jumped up and began leaping and shouting and praising God. God's Holy Spirit worked through Peter in the power of Jesus' name to give the man what he truly needed rather than only what he thought he wanted. Now the man would be able to work and earn a living rather than have to beg. He would be walking and have the money necessary for survival.Father, thank You for not simply creating us and sending us out on our own, but staying with us and looking deeply into our hearts in order to give us what we truly need rather than what we think we want. How amazing that You know what I need better than I, and even more so that You give it to me!! You could give me what I ask without looking forward to my need, but You never do!! You always do what is absolutely best for all Your children. We sometimes are a bit ungrateful, because we forget that You know us better than we do. For all those times I ask forgiveness and I want to express now my gratefulness for Your absolute generosity!! Help me be more like You in every way, especially in this area.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Generosity helps free us from the dangers of money. The antidote to materialism is generosity. Generosity leads us to greater dependence on God.Which of these three statements has the greatest meaning for you and which the least? Why?
One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed. Proverbs 19:17 (NASB)
He that follows Lord Jehovah shows mercy upon the poor and he is rewarded according to his works. Proverbs 19:17 (ABPE - Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
When I am generous, I am stating without words to the one receiving, "I believe God will meet all of my needs in this area, so don't worry about me."
I remember a time just under two years ago when a neighbor called and asked to borrow some pumpkin. Now I had PLENTY of pumpkin in my pantry as we like to keep it on hand. We have a family (minus one) who absolutely love pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin whatever, so when we heard there was a pumpkin shortage, we looked until we found some and bought twelve cans. When this precious neighbor called, you would think I would have cheerfully said, "Sure! I just bought a bunch of it!" However, I humbly and ashamedly admit that I said the opposite. I didn't lie, but what I said was, "Well, I have some, but I am reluctant to lend it as there is a pumpkin shortage and Thanksgiving is coming up." She immediately said she understood and would simply go to the store and look for some. I felt bad and then told her I guessed I could give her a can, but she assured me all would be well and hung up. I almost cried. I felt so horrid inside!! Talk about selfish! Here I had twelve cans, she had none and all she asked for was one! I will hopefully never forget that day as long as I am alive on this earth so that I never make that sinful error again! What I effectively said to that neighbor is, "I have to keep all this pumpkin because God may not provide me with what I need for Thanksgiving, so I have to do it myself." How prideful and arrogant! I sought and received forgiveness and asked God to gag me if I ever talked that way again!
I love the ABPE version of Proverbs. This may not be true for everyone, but it opens the verses to my spirit in new ways and helps me better understand what God is wanting to build up in me. "He that follows Lord Jehovah..." Have I made Him Lord of my wealth both materially and financially? If so, am I truly following Him in every area of generosity? He gives to me moment by moment. Each breath I take is a gift from Him. Each hug, each time of laughter, each word of love and encouragement, each hour of sleep and wakefulness and everything else that is of value in my life are all a gift from Him. If I truly want to be like Him and reveal His love to others, then I will open myself up to the vulnerability of generosity every moment of my life.Lord God, I know that I will never be able to match up to You, but I can strive to out of my love for You!! Continue to discipline me in this area, helping me to continue on through the growth pains so I can become as much like You as is possible in this frail human body I exist in. I thank You that one day this body will be perfected and serve You in ways I cannot fathom now, but will revel in then. Thank You for loving me now and forever regardless of how I am at this moment!!
Saturday, June 14, 2014
(John 3:16) For God so loved the world He gave......and He gave, and He gave and He is still giving. So why then, as His children, do we find it so hard to give generously?I am not just speaking financially. Money is the easy route. Someone's having a birthday? Give them money and your troubles are over. No need to find out what it is they really want or would enjoy. Money takes care of it all. Let them do the work of purchasing their own gift. Not that giving money is always a lazy way out. Sometimes it is just the right gift. Sometimes money is what is not only wanted, but needed. However, in that case, research must be done to discover the fact that it would be the best gift, so extra giving of self is still involved.
Self - a person's essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action. This is another part that makes it hard for us to be generous - introspection. When we look deep inside ourselves we see something ugly - we don't really want to give.
How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. Proverbs 16:16 (ESV)
Friday, June 13, 2014
Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight. Proverbs 11:1 (NKJV)Generosity - the quality of being kind, understanding and not selfish: the quality of being generous; willingness to give money and other valuable things to others. (Websters)
gen·er·os·i·ty[jen-uh-ros-i-tee] Show IPA
noun, plural gen·er·os·i·ties.
1.readiness or liberality in giving.
2.freedom from meanness or smallness of mind or character.
3.a generous act: We thanked him for his many generosities.
4.largeness or fullness; amplitude.
At the end of week one I was given some questions to ponder. (Quotations are my personal responses at the time.) The book asked what I thought of three statements: 1. God is the first and most generous giver: "Duh! Of course He is! He sent His Son to die in my place. There is nothing more generous than that. Not only that, but He just keeps giving and giving and giving, meeting not only me needs, but fulfilling heart desires that I sometimes don't realize I have until they are met!!" 2. When we give, the world takes notice: "I would like to think so, but in today's world it almost seems that, unless it is some really huge gift, it is ignored as insufficient and almost patronized. However, those we minister to personally notice and are grateful." 3. We are most like God when we give: (This is the one that God really got me on.) "I disagree. We are most like God when we love." God's immediate response (and I mean immediate, I almost didn't get to finish the thought. He knew what I was gonna think before I did, so He was more than ready with the answer) Ah, true, but true love automatically produces generosity. If generosity isn't present, then neither is true love complete. Ouch!! First wake up call.This morning I read week two day three and then watched the video "I like adoption." Tears came to my eyes as I watched the smiles on the faces of the nine children that had been rescued from certain death by one family. When it was over, I opened my Bible to Proverbs 11, because that is the chapter I was on, and the very first verse jumped out at me. I have printed it above. Unjust scales: God laid it on my heart that I have some unjust scales laid up in my heart. I don't even really know what they are yet, only that they are there. It grieves me to realize this, but at the same time excites me. Why? Because as I mulled over the fact and felt the grief begin to form, I received comfort from my ever-loving Father who had me look up those definitions of generosity. When I read the words "freedom from meanness or smallness of mind or character" I was ready to step away from the grief and begin anticipating the victory that is surely to come. Even though I am not completely free in this area yet, I know my God is so generous Himself, that He will never leave me or forsake me in this area anymore than He would in any other. I look forward to beginning to gain more freedom in the area of generosity as I learn just what unjust scales I have been weighing throughout my life.