Monday, March 28, 2016

Whatever Forever
On March 19th our church family had our Easter Eggstravaganza. We went to our four satellite churches and the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home and had a giant celebration with them. These are considered underprivileged families and children, so we enjoy sharing with them food, fun and fellowship.
We have done this for two years and are already planning for next year. This verse is what helped me get out of bed on a very chilly 34 degree morning during what was still considered winter to go play outside for five hours. It warmed into the forties by the time we closed shop, but the wind was still nippy. However, I was privileged to teach the Bible lesson to the little children up through second grade, so needless to say, I was ecstatic.
I love doing these kinds of events. I enjoy playing and speaking with the children mostly, as that is where God has called and placed me, but this year something happened. I was in the middle of reading a fictitious book called Quaker Summer. I had only read a couple of chapters by the time “EGG” came around, so had yet to see what God was in the process of teaching me in those moments. After all was said and done, I delved into the book to finish before I had to return it to the library.
The story is about a middle aged woman who is in a spiritual crisis and doesn’t understand what it is God is trying to tell her. She comes upon a mission for the homeless and/or drug addicts, etc. quite by accident and fears for her and her husband’s lives, yet somehow feels drawn to return. A nun is running the mission and she is quite the personality, to say the least, but you can’t help but fall in love with the woman’s character. Our heroine returns one day and has a talk with the sister running it and is told (to make a fairly long story short) that she needs to look at people as being Jesus. (Matthew 25:40)
My spiritual eyes did a double take at this point. My thoughts: Okay God, You are getting ready to lay something on my heart. I need to be prepared. What is it?
After a couple more chapters I knew where I had gone wrong in the past. I tend to only see the positive side of things, so it was quite an eye opener for me. When I do good things for people, like “EGG,” I am doing them to Jesus, BUT (and this to me was a REALLY huge but) when I do something like gossip about someone, say something in anger to someone, call someone stupid or lazy, and all the other negative things a person might do to others, I am doing them to Jesus as well. This is something I knew, but hadn’t taken to heart. Now I have and pray it pops into my head every time I start to become angry out of having my feelings hurt.
Whatever is a very strong word, much like forever. Our actions and words have eternal effects either for the positive or the negative. Lord, make mine for the positive!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Servant or SERVANT?

"Absorb this", my soul says.  "God says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant ... I will also make You a light of the nations, so that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.'" Isaiah 49:6
As I read this, I realize that God is speaking to Jesus before His incarnation, yet Jesus asked the Father to make us one with Himself and the Father through His Spirit.  (John 17) He also calls us the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14), so He is in effect speaking to all His children and says "too small a thing!!!"
Not too long ago, just a couple of weeks ago, as a matter of fact, our pastor spoke about the fact that we should net be "settlers."  We should keep striving to be the best we can be for God's glory.  It was a very simple and basic message that sort of spoke to me, but didn't really hit the mark....until today when I read this passage. (I still find it sadly amusing that so many Christians think the Old Testament is no longer relevant and should be used as a reference for the New.  Yes, it should be a reference, but there is such an extreme amount of information in it to learn which makes it MUCH MUCH more than simply a reference.  Man's writings today are a reference, but the whole of God's Word is our textbook.)
Some verses are harder to digest than others and this may be one of them.  To think that being God's servant is not enough is hard to comprehend.  We teach our children from birth practically that being God's servant is the all in all, yet here He says it is not enough!!  What does that mean?
As a parent and grandparent I can digest enough to understand that being His child (or servant) is lovely and we are greatly loved because of it, but if we do not return that love it hurts Him desperately.  All parents can relate (and some of us grandparents) to hearing a child say those dreaded words of "I hate you!" Most children say this at one time or another, and I would venture to guess that all have probably thought it at one time or another when they didn't get their way.  When we love people enough to discipline them, knowing they will become angry with us for doing so, we are going to have a moment of dislike and even hatred from them.  I know I have.  It was a bit easier to take from my children, but I have had two grandchildren speak those words to me and it cut through me much deeper than when my children said it.  Grandparents are supposed to be adored.  We are supposed to be spoilers of grandchildren.  I disagree.  If I spoil them, I am ruining their lives, so I love them deeply, do my best to bring them joy, but discipline them when they deliberately step out of the boundaries set before them.  So, yes, I have been told I am hated, but then the next moment I am hugged, asked for forgiveness and loved once again, so it's worth it! 
So I understand this in part.  God is going to discipline (disciple) us to be MORE than just His children.  Just as I want more for my children and grandchildren than to be claimed as their (grand)parent, He wants more for us than to be simply called His children.  If my family goes around telling people they belong to me and then act like the devil, I am going to be ashamed of their behavior and of myself for not having shared with them how they should behave.  God is saying the same here, "Calling me Father and Master is not enough.  You must show the world Who I am!"  Therefore, He is going to reveal to US Who He is.  I reveal to my family who I am by telling them what I desire of them and living it in front of them.  He does the same for us.  Listening and sometimes obeying when no discomfort is involved says we are His servants and are grateful for our future reward, but tuning our heart to  obey regardless of the cost in this life, that says we are His dedicated and trustworthy servant, He is truly are Master and we are His to command.  A child can be rebellious, disobedient, angry, lazy and disrespectful and we still love them.  When they are obedient, gracious, honest, respectful and obedient we are bursting at the seams with joy over them! 
This is my prayer...that I will make God burst at the seams in joy over my dedication to Him.  It is not enough to be called His servant.  Father, make me truly mean that!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Our Daddy's Hands

When I was a little girl, I marveled at my daddy's hands.  He had really large hands and that is not simply from a little girl's perspective.  When they were to be married, my momma bought the largest ring and had it sized up for him.  Yes, he had really large hands, especially for a six foot tall man.  Those hands made every one of his five children feel safe for the majority of the time.  There were, however, times when we knew we deserved discipline and those same hands would be what gave it.  I am not certain how my siblings felt, but they probably felt pretty much as I, that I would rather have five or more swats from Momma than one from Daddy's hand. 
I remember a time when I was five or six years old.  I had done something that greatly displeased Daddy and he called me to himself.  My bottom ached just at the thought.  He was changing a tire, I believe, so was sitting on the ground.  He pulled me over his lap and swatted me once.  That's all it took too!  The tears welled up and I walked away vowing I would never do "that" (I can't remember what it was) ever again.  My Daddy didn't like to spank though.  Many times he would tell me that I was going to receive a spanking when I got home, but when he looked into my tear filled  eyes, he would forgive me instead and cry with me.  Funny thing is, those times made me just as, if not more, determined to never do whatever I had done again than an actual spanking.  I couldn't stand it that I had made my daddy cry!!
Then we all "grew up."  As teenagers we were no longer quite so intimidated by those hands.  They didn't seem as big as before.  This is a necessary part of becoming an adult in the physical world.  Once we are, we must come to the place where our earthly father's hands are let go and we take hold of the hand of our spouse instead.  We are still his child, we just depend on our spouse to be our helper in life. What we don't stop to think about until and unless we become parents and are blessed with watching our own children grow and mature into their own families, is that our daddy will always be there until the day he goes home.  If we have a problem, he is there for advice, or to help financially, or even to fix a broken something - even to the point of holding us when our heart is broken for whatever reason.
As a Christian, I have come to realize that God's hands are not smaller than I originally thought, but larger......MUCH larger.  As a matter of fact, it is almost impossible for me to begin to visualize in my mind's eye how large they must be: "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained..." (Psalm 8:3 NKJV) 
"The sea is His, for it was He who made it, and His hands formed the dry land." (Psalm 95:5 NKJV)
"Surely My hand founded the earth, and My right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand together." (Isaiah 48:13 NKJV)
And these are but a few of the verses that describe all He holds in His hands, our life being just one of them.  If God can hold all of creation in the palms of His hands, then why in the world should I fear going anywhere He lays on my heart to go, or stay anywhere He bids me stay?  Should I fear the condemnation of man, simply because I am called to do something other than he fills he would call me to do?  Should I fear nature and what it might do, or even the evil one and his plots against me?  More and more I begin to understand "But Yeshua said to them, 'Let the children come to me and do not forbid them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.'" (Aramaic Translation)
Not only are His hands more than big enough to protect me from any weapon formed against me, they are big enough to discipline me, hold and comfort me and fight for me.  He even made us a promise time after time to remind us of this fact. Joshua 1:5-6, Isaiah 41:10, Phil. 4:6-7, John 14:27, I John 4:18 and many, many more verses tell us time and again that we don't need to fear anything.  God will lead us, protect us and get us to the other side safely.  All we need do is believe and trust Him.  The rest is in His hands.