Friday, September 26, 2008

Sowing and reaping

Good Morning,
I think this must be a record for me to blog in a week:)). Chuck's having his MRI done right now, so thought I'd take the time to share.
As many of you know, I love to garden. Since we've moved here, my gardening consists of pots. In a way it's worked okay, but I really miss the variety of vegies and herbs that I used to grow. What I don't miss is the watering, constantly; it wore me out. When I'd plant a small seed and watch God turn it into the plant yielding more than we needed so I could give away, I felt thoroughly blessed.
2 Cor. 9: 6-7 says: "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
Paul had been sharing with the Corinthian church that men were coming to collect the generous gift of money that had been collected to help them with the ministry. I would encourage you to read the chapter, but especially verses 6-15.
I know this passage is talking about money and it's important that when we give to the Lord we do it with a whole heart, generously. Notice that it doesn't say 10% or 20%, but what you decide in your heart. It isn't the amount that's important to God, but that you do it and with a generous heart.
I think this portion could also apply to our service for the Lord. Many people don't wish to find out what their spiritual gifts are, because then they'd have to use them! Or they use the gifts the Lord has given, but not as freely or generously as they should. Isn't it a matter of the heart, always, at least where God is concerned? 1 Samuel 16:7b tells us: "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
There are so many ways that we can please the Lord and the more we look for those ways, the more He will show us what pleases Him and He will delight our hearts.

Looking and serving,

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The heart of Titus

Good Morning,
I trust you are all seeing God's hand at work in your lives, challenging you to be the best for Him.
Chuck was able to have a Bible study and breakfast with guys from our church this morning and he came away really pleased at the experience. The Lord is blessing. Tomorrow he has his MRI and will find out the results on Monday. Thanks for your prayers.
2 Cor. 8:16-17 tells us: "I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative."
When we were off the field in Europe, but still missionaries, we took a trip back to Europe so that Chuck could work with some missionaries on problems and talk to nationals about having a new type of camp. We met up with the family that took our place in Czech during this time.
One of the questions that this family asked us was: What do you think we should be doing for our ministry here? They were having trouble connecting with the flock. We had noticed that they were somewhat critical of the nationals and that bothered us.
Our comment to them was: love the flock. Pray, and ask God to help you to love the flock. That's what we had started doing before we ever moved to the Czech Republic in 1993. And God poured love into our hearts for His flock and those who would be His to such a proportion that we still love them and miss our work there immensely.
In our scripture we see that Titus loved the flock. His heart was the same as Paul's and we see so many times through the Word, Paul's love for others, saved and lost.
He also had much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. Titus worked toward the goal of serving fully. He didn't have to led around by the hand, but planned and with the Lord's help, carried these plans out.
When I pray for missionaries, one of the things I pray about is that the Lord would be in their planning and carrying these plans out. Then, that they would see fruit from their labor so that they will be encouraged. God has answered that prayer more times then I can know, at least here on earth.
So, set your heart on serving God, plan and work for Him and He will bless you abundantly, with love for the flock.

Loving His own,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Give Thanks!

Good Morning,
Another beautiful day from the Lord. I trust the Lord is working in your lives and that you are striving to give thanks to Him, daily.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says: "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." The "in all circumstances" is probably the hardest part for all Christians. But, let's look at that verse and see what we can learn.
I feed Tucker twice a day with dog food and at lunch with 2 dog biscuits. Quite awhile ago she started to nudge me with her nose as I get her food from the container. At first I thought she was just sniffing me, but eventually I understood she was saying: thanks. She does this with a wagging tail and licking her lips in anticipation of her favorite thing in the world: food!
As I chose the scripture for today, I read verses 16-18 and found more to study, but today is thanksgiving. Is it hard to be thankful in ALL circumstances? I know sometimes it is for me. I find myself saying the words and waiting for my heart to follow. I'm just glad the Lord understands that I want to be thankful and that my words are not empty, just the feeling is possibly delayed.
Sometimes there are circumstances in our lives that are really hard to be thankful for and the Lord knows this. Personally I look at everything as a test to see if I'll be thankful, remain faithful or obedient in the midst of my struggles to remain firm in my faith. When I choose to remain firm, God is honored and my faith is strengthened. The feelings come last, and are far better then they would be at the beginning when emotions are so high.
If we aren't sure of what the Lord's will is for us, this verse tells us one thing. Food for thought.
So, do you get excited and show the Lord that you are thankful, or is it just duty and not joy? Verse 16 tells us to be joyful always.....

Finding thankfulness in Him,

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

2 Corinthians 7:1

Chuck's at the doctor for his knee, then therapy, so I'm taking the opportunity to write now. He's been on the computer looking for a job quite a bit, so my getting time here has been splotchy. Anyway, I trust you are all well. I received emails of encouragement from the one I sent about Chuck and was SOOOO glad to hear from you. I'll get personal emails off soon.
For today's scripture I've chosen 2 Cor. 7:1. I've been reading through 2 Cor. and today was chapter 7. This verse fit so well with yesterday's in 5:15, so thought I'd expand.
"Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." Don't you just love that verse?
First we have promises. What are they? Salvation through Christ. The Holy Spirit living in us. Freedom in Christ not to sin. His help for every second of every day, as we yield our will for His. The list goes on.
I like what is says about purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit. That's repentance! Turn away, forsake ungodliness, etc. In other words: get rid of anything that hinders our walk with the Lord.
Then: perfect holiness. My Bible's side note says: Holiness, as implied in the preceding verses, calls us to recognize that the false must be abandoned for the true; the old covenant must be given up for the new. We must purify-eliminate-anything from our lives that belongs to our old way of life. The motivation and grace for this process stem from a reverence for God, who will simply not allow any halfway efforts, any mixing of old and new.
Because of my illnesses, I have been drinking purified water for years; reverse osmosis to be exact. Filtered water has the contaminates taken out, thereby keeping the bad stuff from adding to my damaged body and causing more trouble. My system doesn't have to work as hard if it's not trying to eliminate the bad stuff from the water, along with all the bad stuff that a body normally has to deal with.
There's that word again: eliminate. God wants us to eliminate anything that would contaminate our body, soul, mind and heart. What in your life are those things? For me, it's watching t.v. and something that I don't want/shouldn't watch come before me. I have the control to switch the channel or turn the t.v. off. It's my option not to contaminate, but to eliminate the bad.
We are so desensitized to the bad in our world that we don't often see the bad, but just accept it, because it's "normal" in our day and age. But, when it's aligned with the Word, it falls drastically short.
So, filter your life and eliminate the bad so that you can do what the Word says:( end of verse 1) "perfect holiness out of reverence for God." And isn't that what shows the Lord how grateful we are for Him and all He's done for us?

Filtering and eliminating daily,

Monday, September 22, 2008

Live for Christ

Hey All,
A little Southern drawl implied....Hope your time with the Lord and His children blessed you greatly yesterday . Our pastor was gone, speaking at a conference so his son preached on Genesis 4, about Cain and Able.
It was interesting to revisit this passage and I noted that Cain was so arrogant to the Lord. Verse 9 God asks Cain where Able is. Cain's reply: "I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper?" This is God he's talking to and such disrespect!
But, God deals with Cain and tells him that he will be a wanderer for the rest of his life. Verse 13: "My punishment is more than I can bear. " He's upset because he's being driven from the garden of Eden and can't be a farmer any longer. Then, Cain thinks that someone will kill him. So God puts a mark on him for protection. Cain's life goes on, but it's never the same. He pays the price for not living for the Lord and being obedient to God.
2 Cor. 5:15 tells us:"And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again." Cain lived for himself. He didn't understand or didn't want obedience to God.
What I also see in the Genesis passage is God's grace, poured out on Cain's rebellious head. He pours out His grace on us daily, but are we living for Him, or for ourselves? I like to start my day by thanking the Lord for things. That way my mind and heart get focused on Him, not me.
It's hard to be obedient sometimes, especially if we allow circumstances or our own desires to rule us. By starting our day directing our attention to Him we have freedom in Christ, not to sin, but to be willingly obedient to Him.

Striving for obedience,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Acts 5:3

Good Afternoon,
This morning was filled with 'things' and a Bible study. At the Bible study one lady said that demons don't put thoughts into our minds. Well, you all know me; that had to be corrected :))).
I said that I disagreed and then explained what I meant. So I thought I'd cover this topic today.
Most of you know how I feel about warfare, but here's a refresher course because we sometimes forget about the demonic world that's there, but we can't see.
So, I thought just a few verses to help us understand better what that dark world wants to try and deceive us with. Keep in mind that negative things don't come from God. He builds up, and Satan tears down.
The first one is Acts 5:3: "Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you have received for the land?"
You all know the story, if not read about Ananias and Sapphira and join me.... If we put on our critical thinking hats, we ask questions like: how does Satan deceive us? By people telling us untruths? By him standing in front of us and telling us directly? By thoughts that include our fleshly desires?
Well, I've never seen him directly, but I've heard untruths, and my thoughts are sometimes not of my own making. I'm sure there are more ways and maybe you can think of them, but that's not my focus now.
2 Corinthians 2:11 is talking about forgiveness for the sinner and it says that we need to forgive and love, but 11 says: "in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. " Satan can't 'out wit us' without our minds being engaged. That means our thought life.
Don't get me wrong, our flesh can do damage all by itself. But thoughts that come sometimes by seeing or hearing something will trigger a memory and down that slippery slope we go. But, the demons know what buttons to push and they use what is in our history of desires to temp us. What we do with these thoughts turns it into sin if we run with the thought/action.
The last verse is 2 Cor. 11:14: "And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." Paul is talking about false apostles/teachers. They are so deceiving because what they teach is so subtle that if we don't know the truth, we fall for the lie. Again, the brain is engaged. That's where Satan gets some of his power, because we don't know truth from lies. We hand him the power by not knowing.....
Now, are all thoughts that are bad from Satan? No. Our flesh is a busy little bee if we allow it to be. But, as thoughts come in, filter them by the Word of God to see if they need to be active, or killed. 2 Cor. 10:5 tells us to take every thought captive. This takes self control, which is a fruit of the Spirit. If we don't have self control, we are missing some or all of the other fruit because they are a package deal. That's another blog....:)))).

Searching the Word,

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Are you a creationist?

Good Morning,
Isn't the weather perfect? I'm so glad that we are able to enjoy God's creation. In Europe they're testing the "Big Bang" underground. I think it's a hoot! Obviously these folks don't believe in God and creation. Think of the money spent on this that could have been spent on feeding and training the poor. That blows my mind. Such misguided people. I'm sure Satan is laughing his head off.
You've all read Genesis, especially the first few chapters about creation. The controversy even among believers is divided. In Psalms there's a verse about one day to the Lord is as a thousand years and people think that creation wasn't done in 6 days, but that its a metaphor for time.
I'm a literal person and when God says he rested on the 7th, I believe Him. Also, God didn't need to rest, it means that He stopped His creating because He was done. So, as we look at two verses, let's learn. Genesis 1:1-2 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."
In the beginning God; isn't that one of the most important verses in the Bible? Without Him we wouldn't be. We wouldn't get to enjoy the beauty He's provided. What I like to think about is even though it's beautiful here, heaven and the new earth with be even more beautiful. I'm not sure our finite minds can conceive such a thing. But, I can't wait to see it!
The colors will be more vivid and smells more intense. How do I know this? Because wherever God is, is perfect.
When I think of all the people who follow 'theories' I feel sorry for them. They don't have hope, knowledge, understanding or a future. Isn't that just sad?
What do you believe? As for me and my house, we believe the Lord.

Part of the creation,

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

1 Corinthians 6:17

Isn't our day a wonderful one with lots of sunshine? Cooler yes, but still so very nice. The sky was so blue with that particular shade that comes with fall.
Chuck saw the doctor and it looks like rest and rehab for at least 3 weeks. I'm not used to having him around, so it should be interesting to see how we adjust to this new schedule.
Today I want to look at verse 17. Yesterday we covered verse 11 of chapter 6. "But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit." Isn't that just the most wonderful verse? We are united with the Lord and made one.
Recently I had a conversation with my Sunday school teacher and we talked about being adopted into God's family. The Jews were chosen first and they were supposed to share the Lord with everyone else. As we saw, especially through Romans, they didn't do this and so the Lord brought Christ into the picture so that we (Gentiles) would be included in His plan of salvation.
This is adoption at it's finest. He, God, Elohim (plural of one entity) chose us to be one with Him in spirit through Christ. Does that make you feel special? It sure does me.
To complete this picture, read verses 19-20 also. If anyone doubts that the Holy Spirit lives in us after we trust Christ as Savior, they don't understand this verse. 20 completes the picture: "you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."
Christ paid the price for your freedom from sin, and adoption into His family. Then the statement about using your body for God, with honor to Him. In what ways don't you honor God with your body?
Not taking proper care of it is one way. Abusing what he's given us or not appreciating what he's given is another. How many people do you know (maybe you've said this) that say they hate something about their bodies? God made us. So, when we complain or abuse ourselves, we are not honoring Him. Take care of what He's given you and honor Him with all you are.

Working on the honoring,

Monday, September 8, 2008

1 Corinthians 6:11

Good Morning!
Today is a typical fall day, except that it's still summer. Chuck's knee is still bad and the company he works for is wrangling over what to do about getting him medical help; bureaucracy at its finest.
Lately I've felt that the Lord wants me to learn more about sanctification. He's brought this before me a few times and today's scripture talks about it and more.
1 Corinthians 6:11: "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." So, after you peruse the verses before this one to get the full context, come join me....
Reading the prior verses you find out that these folks that Paul is talking to were in trouble and Paul is lowering the boom on them. There had been lawsuits, bad witness before non believers. Then he gives a list of those who will not inherit the the kingdom of God; what a list it is.
So, when he says: and that is what some of you were, he's talking about their lives before they were saved. He implies that even though they were once lost and followed the worlds example, it was time for them to stop and follow God's example.
They were washed in the blood of Christ: saved. Then they were sanctified: to make holy. By Christ and the Spirit, we were made holy. Holy means: living a life of purity. Purity is be be free from moral guilt. Justification is: to declare to be free from the penalty of sin. Don't you love word searches?
So what's the summary? We are saved by the blood of Christ and in the process, Christ and the Spirit make us holy, pure; free from moral guilt and justified from the penalty of sin. Because of all these wonderful things that the Lord does for us when we surrender and are saved, we have freedom not to live in the past, cling to guilt from our sins and to live for God, serving Him freely, fully and wonderfully.
Our responsibility then is to study the Word, apply it and grow more like Christ so as to please our heavenly Father. He has qualifiers: be obedient and He will bless. So, search your heart and see if there is unconfessed sin, a need to study the Word, possibly more and spend time with Him in prayer, not just for yourself, but for others too. Then watch how He blesses your obedience. And watch how the evil world will try to stop you..... Cling to Him and He will hold you close.

In His arms,

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Judas Iscariot

Good wet morning,
Because we need rain and it's coming down so gently, it's nice. I'm a sunshine kinda girl, but this is ok. Tucker didn't appreciate her morning 'bath' though. A Lab that doesn't like water; go figure :).
As I was reading my Our Daily Bread at breakfast, I thought about Judas Iscariot. Matt. 27:1-5 tells us that Judas betrayed Christ, returned the 30 pieces of silver then went out and hanged himself.
I think the part that I want to concentrate on is verse 4: "I have sinned, he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood."
He recognized that he's a sinner. He also knew that Jesus wasn't guilty. He'd spent quite a bit of time with the Lord and I'm sure much of Christ's teaching sunk in. So, when the blinders came off, he saw what he'd done and confessed. Did this make him a believer, albeit at the 11th hour? Will we see him in heaven some day? I think that's the million dollar question.
Because only the Lord really knows the heart, He's the only one that knew the truth if conversion happened or not. When we get to heaven, we can find out.
Does it make you angry that Judas is possibly in heaven? That his confession meant that he might have gained salvation? Because I want all people saved, I surely hope that he is saved eternally. Hell, the Lake of Fire isn't somewhere that I want anyone to be, but because of the choice here on earth to accept or reject, we make that determination.
Saddam Hussein is in hell, just like Hitler, Stalin and others, waiting the final judgment. They belong there because they chose to be enemies of Christ. But, there's a part of me that wishes they had bowed to the Lord on earth. Philippians says that one day every knee will bow and tongue confess Christ as Lord and Savior. What they refused to do here, they will do some day and they won't have any choice, then the judgment.
How do you feel about Judas, Saddam and the others? Would you want that they should have confessed Jesus as Savior while on earth. What if they had, after they had done all those terrible things?
Keep in mind, that where God is concerned, sin is sin, whether it's a lie or murder......


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

re commit or re dedication?

Another warm summer day with rain in the forecast. Chuck was home briefly so got to say hi and feed him.
On Sunday our pastor was teaching in Romans 8:5-8 and he made a great comment. He said that we need to repent, not re commit or re dedicate to the Lord. If we're saved, and we've not remained close as we should, then we need to repent (to turn away from the sin that's between the Lord and us).
Many denominations get caught up on phrases that man has created to fit their idea of what should happen in the Christian's life when they haven't lived for the Lord (sinned), but for self, even if sometimes. He said it right when he said that the precept of re commitment or re dedication isn't in scripture, but repentance is.
I think that if all Christian's thought/taught repentance only, there would be less divisions in the church. Their might also be more people who would follow the Lord more closely..... food for thought.
Romans 8:5 "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what the nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." Non believer's contrasted to believer's. Sinful man: death. Spiritual man: life and peace.
How could anyone choose death over life and peace? It blows my mind, but many people do. They live life their way and choose death. Know the Word so you can share how they can have life and peace....

Choosing life and peace,

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dessert dilemna

It's been awhile since I've blogged. We went to my parents to visit, as many of you know. We had a good visit, but it was hard to see my dad suffering from the radiation he had 6 years ago for cancer. Also, he now has bone cancer and is having chemo every 3 weeks, supposedly to help with pain. My mom is his caretaker and I can see that it's taking its toll on her too.
We were able to see my two brothers and our sister-in-law and that was nice. My one brother is having more surgery soon because of damage from radiation he had a year ago. Why is it that the things that are supposed to help you get well hurt you so much? Another reason why I won't have radiation and/or chemo.
With so many hours in the car, I had lots of time to think about many things. One of the things was a time when we were baby Christians and we took a Sunday drive. We stopped at some friends house, Gaylord and Viola Schlitter. They were about 100 years old and still farming. Well, that's an exaggeration about their age, but they were well into their 80's and still going strong.
We really liked them and they were a fountain of God's truth and wisdom. So when we stopped, we had such a good visit and I learned a valuable lesson.
Viola had made a dessert (even though they didn't know we were coming) and while she was dishing it up, I took a small bite of mine. No one said anything, but then Gaylord said grace.
I wasn't raised with many table manners and we didn't say grace very often at our house, even when we were first Christians (learning curve time).
After Gaylord said the grace, I made a comment about having taken a bite by saying: I couldn't resist. They were gracious and didn't say anything, so the moment passed. But, it stuck in my mind and I've thought about it many times.
I say all this to share that what I did that day was so typical of sinners in need of grace. I saw, I liked, I ate. I didn't stop to consider anything except that I wanted the dessert. Whether a person is saved or not, when we don't put God first, but ourselves first, we sin.
How many times have you done something without thinking only later to realize what you did, and then you had to come before the Lord and confess? We have to be purposeful in our walk with Him. We can't just react, we have to act.
So, the next time you're faced with something so simple as saying grace, maybe in a restaurant, don't be afraid of what people will think, just do it. Be grateful for every thing, but especially the little things, daily. I think our loving heavenly Father likes to hear our voice and heart being grateful for His bounty.

Enjoying His dessert,