For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. —Romans 15:4

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Weeding My Heart

Proverbs 24:30-34
I went past the field of a sluggard,

    past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
 thorns had come up everywhere,

    the ground was covered with weeds,
    and the stone wall was in ruins.
I applied my heart to what I observed
    and learned a lesson from what I saw:
A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
and poverty will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man.

On my route to work, I pass an empty house covered with vines and weeds. Just last year, I remember seeing porch furniture, flowers growing and lights on. Not anymore, neglect has allowed poison ivy, ragweed and other unfriendly plants to flourish. The greenery has grown up over the porch roof, across windows and up walls.

When I planted my flower garden, one volunteer plant grew that I didn’t recognize. I let it go for a few weeks and then realized it must be a weed. I pulled that invader out and am vigilant about removing any new ones that crop up. But more important than my flower bed, God wants me to dig the weeds—laziness, greed, selfishness, immorality, jealousy, basically sin— out of my heart. Neglected weeds choke out flowers and eventually take over. Sin steals peace and salvation and eventually destroys the heart. I guard my heart by reading the Bible, praying and surrounding myself with family and friends who pray for me. With God’s help I can keep my heart weeded and let his flowers bloom.  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Worth the Wait

Isaiah 40:31
But those who wait on the
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

When we moved to our new home five years ago, I transplanted a tiger lily that produces a double bloom.  Every year I look forward to this beautiful flowers arrival. This spring I watched the plant grow and wondered if I’d see a bloom. The long green leaves stood for months without a single spike to hold the flowers. Along the road and in the neighbors’ yards I saw bright orange lilies wave in the breeze. But where were mine? One morning as I walked to my car, I glanced at the flowerbed – several spikes shot up overnight. Within weeks I had beautiful double orange blossoms to enjoy. Once the flower blooms it only lasts a day. But, I’ve enjoyed everyone one.

I don’t know anyone who enjoys waiting, especially on an answer to prayer. I recently read that God gives us three answers when we pray: No, Not yet, or I have something better in mind. When I pray, I hope that the answer will arrive sooner than later, but many times I have to wait. That doesn’t mean I sit and twiddle my thumbs, I move forward with life and follow God’s lead. Eventually, I understand his answer. Waiting on the Lord may not be fun, but the journey is worth more than gold. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Everything Will be Okay

Philemon 1:7
Your love has given me great joy and encouragement,
 because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

A few years ago my daughter snapped a photo of my granddaughter sitting on the ground beside my great-niece. They were probably about 3 and 4 years old, my niece’s head is down and my granddaughter’s hand is resting on her arm. I imagine her saying, “Everything will be okay, I love you.” No questions asked, just a show of comfort and support.

Isn’t that how God calls me to live my life? To encourage rather than make fun of, to lift up not put down people who need help or assurance. Recently, I’ve run into situations that I find disturbing. I have to ask myself why people think that it is okay to throw others under the bus (figuratively speaking) or lash out when all the person needs may be an explanation or some direction. Paul thanks Philemon for refreshing his heart. I want to be the person who restores others and offers assistance. I am fortunate to have many people in my world who love and lift me up. This week join me in sharing the joy of Jesus and refresh others’ hearts.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Balanced by Grace

Ephesians 2:8-10
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
 not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

At work, I purchase books, DVDs, and other items for the library collection. Along with buying the items, I am responsible for keeping the budget in check. That means recording the buying price, reconciling the numbers and monitoring all the activity in the spreadsheets (yes, there’s more than one). Then at home, Tim and I pay bills, assess the checkbook, and on it goes. My point, I am in a cycle of checks and balances.

Praise the Lord that my salvation does not depend on balance. Because God sent Jesus to earth to die for sinners and then raised him back to life, I am saved by God’s grace. Now that doesn’t mean that I should accept Jesus and go on my merry way. With acceptance comes responsibility. God has good works for me to do and I want to do them. I’m just thankful that my works don’t determine my salvation. I’d never do enough good in the world to equal the sacrifice Jesus gave for me. Praise God for grace. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sunshine and Cool Breezes

Lamentations 3:22-26
Because of the
 Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

Some mornings when I get out of bed, I drag myself to the shower and dread even stepping outside. I want to crawl back into my comfortable cocoon and let the day drift by.  Thank goodness, today was different. This morning I took my dog, Olive, outside for a short walk. When I opened the door, sunshine and a cool breeze greeted me good morning. It was like the Lord said, “Hello, it’s good to see you. I’m so glad that I made you. Let’s have a great day.”

That’s the kind of reminder that I need to show me that God loves me. He’s with me on the days that I drag and he’s with me on the days that are beautiful. I love that the author of Lamentations reminds me that the Lord’s compassion for me is new every morning. He never gets tired of me. He wants me to pursue him every day and keep my hope in him. Praise God for his continuous love.