But the Greatest of these is…LOVE

The Parable of the Lost Coin

Luke 15:8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

I recently lost a “silver coin”.  No, not a real coin; but something precious to me, just the same.  Our dog went missing.  He (Champ) is a Jack-a-bea (Jack Russell Terrier and Beagle mix) and I just love him to pieces!  He is such a sweetie!  But, being the mix that he is, he loves to get in the woods behind our house and chase rabbits, squirrels, and such.  One day he was off chasing things, and then he didn’t come back home.  I was worried the first day, but as the days stretched into almost a week, I was more than worried; I was really upset!  I had printed out flyers with his picture on them, and my sister and I tacked them up places.  But, we heard no word of Champ’s location.  My husband, son,and I were all taking turns going out in the neighborhood looking for him, calling for him, but, no luck.  My faith that I had held onto that Champ was ok began to wane, but, my love for him would not let me give up!  One day, when I was out looking for him, God brought to mind ICor. 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”  I think I understand why the Lord put it the way that He did.  If I had been relying only on faith or hope, I would have given up.  However, it was my LOVE for Champ that kept me looking; it kept my faith alive.  LOVE was the “third leg” of the three-legged stool of Faith, Hope, and Love.  LOVE propped up the other two components of Faith and Hope.  I thought of Christ, as He prayed in the garden “Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  Perhaps it was His LOVE for us, AND for the Father, that helped Him to be able to follow through with what He KNEW was going to be a very painful, humiliating, heart-breaking act.  Maybe his LOVE, not only for us, but for the Father, and Christ’s burning desire to please the Father, to always do His Will, strengthed His Faith that it would all be worth it, that it would all work out as it should.  I don’t know; but one day, when I get to Heaven, I hope to ask Him! 

As for Champ, I kept thinking of the passage Luke 15:8.  How the woman lost the silver coin, and lit the house, looking high and low for it.  All over.  Under everything.  She swept.  She called her friends and neighbors to help her look.  And when the coin was found, she called everyone together to help her rejoice!  She was so excited to find her coin!!!   We did the same thing.  We called our friends and neighbors to let them know Champ was missing.  I made flyers.  I put a post on my facebook page, and freinds added it to theirs, also.  And as for Champ…?

Well, one day, almost a week after he first left, we were told that a dog that looked alot like Champ was seen in a fenced in yard on the other side of the large wooded area where we live.  My husband went to check it out and, sure enough, it was Champ!  I was so excited to see him!!!  He was excited to see us, too!!  And, yes, we called and posted on facebook that we had found Champ!  And I thanked God, for pointing us in the right direction of our “lost coin”…

“Heavenly Father, help me to always remember how precious are the blessings you have granted to me.  Thank you for bringing Champ home safely.  And thank you for LOVE…the LOVE that you give to us, and the LOVE that propels you to always have our best interest in the center of Your Will.  Amen.”

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Soaring like eagles…

soaring eagle

Isaiah 40:28-31.

28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

This is one of my favorite passage in The Word; the other being John 16:33. It comforts me when I am seemingly uncomfortable, inconsolable. It strengthens me when I am at my weakest. Because, as the verse says, God DOES give strength to the weary; He DOES increase the power of the weak. It’s true, that when we hope on the LORD, when we put our TRUST in Him (not merely try to UNDERSTAND Him, but truly TRUST Him,) it renews our strength.

I have often wondered why this verse lists the actions in the order that it does: FIRST, soaring, THEN running, and THEN walking. I think, maybe, because that is how life happens. We are SOARING, strong, capable, carefree. Then life happens; sorrow, pain, sickness, whatever. We get knocked down a bit, and, instead of soaring, now we are running. But, still, we feel confident and strong; not as much as before, but still there to a great degree. Then comes along something worse; a lost job, a wayward child, maybe even a divorce. But still, God’s strength is with us. Then comes along something even worse; death of a parent, a spouse, a child. Diagnosis of a deadly disease. And we are knocked down more; but still we have His strength; strength to walk, when others wonder how we are still able to go on at all. When, sometimes, we ourselves wonder how we are able to even be standing upright. Still, God gives us strength. Not only to merely walk through the valley, but to come out on the other side….soaring!!

“Dear Lord; Help me remember that your strength is all that I need. To get me through whatever may come my way. And help me to remember that no matter what, you will give me the strength to not only walk, not only run, but to, once again, soar. Amen.”

No one knows me better…

Psalms 139;1-18, 23.

1 You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God

How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,

they would outnumber the grains of sand-

when I awake, I am still with you.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

No one knows me as God does. Not my son, not my husband, not my parents, or brothers, or sisters-not even my best friend! God knows me from before my creation; from before THE creation! He “created my inmost being,” and “knit me together in my mother’s womb.” I cannot hide from Him. He knows not only where I am, at all times, He knows my thoughts. No matter how deep or dark or depressing they are. He knows. He knows how I feel- no matter how hard I try to hide it from the world-God knows. I cannot flee from Him. He knows where I am going even before I go there! “Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord.” Verse 23 says “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Yes, he knows all of my thoughts; good, bad, happy, sad, worried, anxious- ALL of them. And yet…He loves me. Completely. Wholly. So much that he ONLY has what’s best for me in His Perfect Will. He is ALWAYS there, ready to listen, ready to show me the way. I only need to follow.

“Lord, please help me to remember that you know me, and love me, better than anyone else. You only want what’s best for me. And I only need to trust and follow you. Amen”

Focus!!

 

1 Corinthians 13:12 The Message (MSG)

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! Focus. This is something I sometimes have trouble doing. Ok, more than sometimes- quite often, in fact! I tend to have too much going on at one time to really focus on what needs my attention most. My mind is constantly on what I need to be doing next; or what I should have already done! As a result, things get done (IF they get done at all) haphazardly, and nothing gets done well. But, I find, if my focus is on God first, the other things in my life take shape a little better. It’s kind of like the difference between wearing my glasses, or NOT wearing them. Sure, I can see without them- but not well. But, when I put them on, suddenly, my vision changes- colors are sharper, images clearer. And so it is with God. When my focus is on Him, all the other things in my life become clearer. Maybe not crystal clear, but, less murky, at least! “Dear Lord, help me to always put you first-to make you the focus of my life- so I may see the things in my life clearer, and better do your will. Thank you, God, for showing me what to focus on – for being my ‘spiritual glassses’. Amen”

Forbidden Fruit…

Forbidden Fruit
Genesis 2, 8, 9 and 15-17.
8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Matthew26:41.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

We all want what we can’t have; whatever it is that we can’t have. Chocolate cake, when we are dieting. A new car, when ours is on its last leg, and we can’t afford another one. The attention of someone who we shouldn’t want attention from. It’s a tale as old as time itself. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, wanting the ONE FRUIT God said they couldn’t have. David and Bathsheba; well, really, is there any need to say any more? Example after example is given; not just throughout the Bible, but throughout history itself. It’s a basic flaw in us; we want what we can’t have. A friend recently told me that I am a “have your cake and eat it kind of girl”. Yes, I am, and it gets me in trouble. It’s why I am overweight now, and dieting; because I WANT to eat that cake, whether or not I NEED to. Whether of not I am actually hungry; I WANT it!! Wanting things we can’t, or shouldn’t have, though, can get us in trouble; over our heads. In waters that we are not accustomed to traveling. In areas we are not familiar with. This is how Satan works in my life. He shows me something I don’t have, something I want, and tempts me with it. And it is VERY difficult, at times, to not fall into temptation. For, as it says, not only in Matthew 26:41, but also Mark 14:38, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”. Yes, it is.

But, God gives us the formula for success. In the first part of both verses: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Watch. And Pray. Both. not just one or the other. BOTH. Sometimes I remember to do one, and not the other. I must do BOTH. Satan can use a nice thing; a wonderful thing, to our downfall. For, as Eve said, the fruit was “beautiful to look at”. God made it beautiful. God also made it unavailable. Sometimes, when God says “No” it means no forever. Sometimes, it only means, “not right now”. It’s not up to us to know whether God means no forever, or no right now; it’s only up to us to obey. Because regardless, no means no.

“Lord, help me to both WATCH and also to PRAY. Help me to have discernment about things that look good; things that can be tempting. Help me see that, whatever your plan is, it is right for me. Help me to follow that plan, and to remember that no means no. Thank you, Lord, for your many blessings in my life. Amen.”

Patience: Waiting on God

Image Detail

Waiting…. Is there anything more irritating? Waiting in line… Waiting for a traffic light to change to green, so we can hurry up and get on our way… Waiting for someone to finish talking so we can add in our own two cents. ..Waiting…It takes patience. Something that I do have…but could use more of. Usually, if I know I am going to be doing some waiting, I will bring something to fill the time; a book to read, a notebook to jot down ideas into, etc. However, sometimes there is nothing to do but…..wait. Such as when I am waiting on God.

 I tend to think that I know what’s best; I know what God’s plans are for me. When, in reality, I cannot possibly know His plans for me; only that they are good. Sometimes I try to rush God; try to hurry Him through the plans He has for me now, in order to get to what I feel is on the other side. But what I must remember, is that there is a REASON for the waiting. I don’t know what it is; I don’t know WHY I am going through the “tests and trials” that I am going through right now. I don’t know WHY I am having to wait…but maybe….just maybe…God is trying to teach me patience. To lean solely on Him. To trust solely in Him.

In John 11:1-43, we are relayed the story of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha. They lived in Bethany, and Jesus loved them dearly. Jesus stayed with them whenever He came through Bethany. I imagine Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were like family to Jesus. However, when Jesus and His disciples received word that Lazarus was sick, Jesus stayed where He was for 2 more days before beginning the journey to where Lazarus lived. Christ knew Lazarus would be dead when they got there. He told His disciples in verse 14: “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe…” When Christ and the disciples arrived, Martha met them, and told Jesus of her brother’s death. She also told Him,”Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She had faith, however, that no matter what Jesus said, it would be done. Did she think Jesus would raise her brother from the dead? I don’t know; perhaps. But she had faith in Christ, no matter what. Mary, when she found out Jesus had come, ran out to meet him, and also said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” It was then that He asked to be taken where Lazarus was. Lazarus was already entombed. His body had already been prepared for burial, wrapped, and placed in a cave, with a stone in place at the entrance (sound familiar?) However, this did not deter Christ; He knew that at the sound of His voice, Lazarus would live again. Christ had purposely delayed His trip to Bethany so that the people could see the power He (Christ) possessed; power to raise the dead. What would have happened if Martha or Mary could have hurried Jesus up? We would not have this stirring image of Jesus love, or the display of power over death and the grave, the He has. I need to remember that, no matter what I am going through, God’s love for me drives His will for me. And that, no matter what, His time is perfect time. If I try to “hurry it up” it only messes things up. There are lessons to be learned on this side of the miracle, that I may not understand until I get to the other side of it.

“Lord, please forgive me when I try to take Your will into my hands. When I try to hurry you up. Please remind me that, there are reasons you are having me wait; even though I may not know what they are, I know there is something you want me to learn. Maybe even patience…”

http://youtu.be/eLn0cRl-0GE

Brokenness:Strength in Weakness

Brokenness:Strength in weakness:
2 Corinthians 12; 9and 10, NIV
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
 
I love going to the beach.  Although I HATE the hot, humid weather,  I love the activity of the beach; the seagulls, sand pipers, dolphins, and such.  I also LOVE collecting sea shells, sand, and driftwood. I have a large, decorative jar in my bathroom that holds these treasures.  See, I only get to the beach once or twice a year, so, it is a special thing for me to be able to go.  Each time I go, whether it is a family trip with my son and husband, or a “girls only” trip with some of my best friends, it’s a special time, and I like to bring back something that ties into that trip.
 
This past Marti Gras, I went with some of “my girls” to the beach.  One morning, early, some of us went walking on the beach.  There were shells EVERYWHERE!  I went nuts, taking pictures, and sorting through the shells to bring some back home with me.  Many of them were very tiny; almost too tiny to see.  Many were broken.  Many were sort of plain-looking.  But, I don’t only like the large, pretty, unbroken ones.  I also love the ones that are tiny, or plain, or broken.  For one thing, it’s the broken ones that help make up the beautiful, sugar white sandy beaches down here on the Gulf of Mexico, that I love so well.  In its brokenness, beauty is derived; it’s God’s plan. 
 
I also wonder, if the different kinds of shells, starfish, and sand dollars could talk, what kind of stories could they tell us?  Some of them may spend their entire existence on the same beach, or in the same area.  Some, on the other hand, may start out  miles and miles and miles away from where they start their journey.  Some may have been tossed and turned by stormy seas, and endured untold difficulties in their journey.  Some may seem “plain”, or tiny, and therefore easily be overlooked by those looking for the pretty, or large, or impressive shells.  But, I have noticed, if you turn over some of the ones that are rather “ordinary” looking at first glance, they oftentimes turn out to be beautiful!  I also like the tiny ones, and the ones with small holes in them; they are cute to make jewelry out of!  And the broken ones; they are some of my favorites.  I wonder why they are broken; what hardships they have endured, yet still they are there! 
 
These seashells remind me of people; just like the shells, some are “pretty” and some are “plain”.  Some have great stories to tell about how they got where they are today, whether it is their spiritual journey, or their actual journey through life, in moves from place to place, or whatever.  Some spend their entire lives in the same place, while others have experienced vast travels.  And, some, just like the shells, look plain, or tiny, at first glance,  but upon further inspection, turn out to be beautiful; you may think someone has an ordinary life, then find out that they volunteer at a homeless shelter, or take meals to a shut in, or reads to those in the nursing home.  And the broken ones; well, just as with the shells, they are some of my favorite people.  It’s our brokenness that makes us more human, more approachable, more relatable. For, who of us, in our lives, haven’t at one time or another, been broken?  Maybe it was the loss of a job, or a child, or a marriage, or a spouse.  Maybe it was a downward spiral into a life of sin, that left us broken and used up.  Or maybe it was just life; maybe you are just burned out on all of the ‘”things” that you are called on to do, day after day after day.  But, it’s in our brokenness that God can often perform the greatest work.  Just as in our own life, our brokenness reveals God’s glory, His strength, and His perfection.  It’s as God’s Word tells us in 2 Corinthians 12; 9 and 10.  And although at our time of brokenness, it can be difficult to remember that His grace in sufficient for us, it IS just that.  Sufficient.  Enough.  Adequate.  Just what is needed.  God’s grace is sufficient.  For whatever we are going through.  And on the other end, is the promise that His power is made perfect in our weakness.  For when we are weak, but still come through strong, it can be nothing BUT God that brings us through.  And His Glory is revealed.  Even though at the time of our weakness, we may find it difficult to do, His Word says we should delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. Because it is then that when we are weak, we are made strong. 
 
Dear Lord, remind me that it’s okay to not be perfect.  To be overlooked, or ordinary, or even broken. That I only need to cling to you, lean on your strength, and know that, in the end, my brokenness will be made into something…beautiful.  God, remind me that your power is made perfect in my weakness, and that in that weakness, I am strong.  Thank you, Lord, for loving me through my weakness.  Amen.

Sand and Surf

Sand and Surf 

Sun shining on my face, sand between my toes

gentle breezes lift my hair there’s sunscreen on my nose.

The sound of waves as they kiss the shore and of the sea gulls cry

the feel of shells held in my hand, it makes me almost high.

I truly love this beach-y place of rest and relaxation

and get away as much as I can for even a small vacation.

And all too soon I know it will betime to go back home

and I will wonder once againjust where the time has flown.

But I’ll be back again, you see I cannot stay away

from sand and surf and gulf breezes where I love to come and play.

Shield of Faith

I take the shield of faith and I quench every fiery dart the enemy brings against me.
~ Ephesians 6:16
A friend of mine had this posted…and it made me think…The weapon used against the fiery darts of the enemy is the shield. It is almost always held in front of the heart…meaning that Satan is aiming at our heart…the things we love, the things we cherish, the things we hold deepest in our heart. Also, you must HOLD a shield…it isn’t something that you can just put around your neck and forget about it…you must HOLD ON TO YOUR FAITH…not “just wear it” around your neck or something….HOLD ONTO YOUR FAITH…for when the fiery darts come, you will need to hold on for certain! And, when in battle, the BEST PROTECTION is when the soldiers march side by side, their shields together; no darts can get through! I take this to mean that our faith is stronger when we are side by side with others that share our faith.  If we stumble, they are their, on either side, to help back us up.  To actually keep us from falling. We can lean on their strength when we are weak. 

Lord, help me remember to always hold on to my faith; not just lean on it when I need it, but hold on to it, daily, and use it, as a shield, against the fiery darts that the enemy aims my way.  Thank you, Lord, for the soldiers that march around me; my support system.  And thank you, Lord, for leading the charge; for I know that with you leading, that the battle is already won!  AMEN!

God provides


 God Will Provide!!

Philippians 4:19
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

The upcoming story took place almost a month ago:
Saturday was hectic; VERY hectic! My father-who has been widowed nearly a year- was to be married the next day (Sunday). To a wonderful, sweet woman. We all love her very much, and were very excited, looking forward to the wedding. Still, the days leading up to the wedding were stressful; deciding what to wear, making sure the car was cleaned out and ready to go, etc. So, Saturday morning, I let the dog outside to “do his business”- fully intending to be ready to take him to be boarded for the weekend, within the hour. But, he took off into the woods with a neighbor’s dog, and wouldn’t come back! I swear, that dog KNOWS when he is going to be boarded!! Finally, I left, went into town, and bought my shoes for the wedding. When I came back, still no Champ! I rode around looking for him, but finally gave up and came home to pack, but left the door open, in case he came back home. While I was packing, in he came; so I closed the door, grabbed the leash, and off we went; with only about an hour to spare, before the place we were boarding him at closed. On our way, Champ acted thirsty; so i took the lid off of my ice water, and let him drink some; yes, straight from my cup. I also didn’t put the lid back on; so I wouldn’t forget, and drink after him. About halfway there, I heard the sound no one ever wants to hear when driving; bump, bump, bump… I pulled off the road, looked, and, sure enough….a flat tire!!! ARUGHHH!!! So, I called my hubby, who was waiting to get his hair cut, and told him what happened. Being the man he is, he left the barber shop, (without getting his hair cut) and came to change my tire. I called the boarding place (Dog Days, in Alexandria; they are GREAT!) to let them know I would be running late. Then I started cleaning out my trunk, to get to the spare. In 100 degree heat. And kicking myself for not already having the trunk cleaned out…like my hubby had been after me to do for a while. Finally, the trunk was cleaned out, with the tire, jack, and tire tool by the car, waiting on hubby, and me in the car, with the air on full blast. Hubby showed up, began changing the tire, and the dog and I got into the other car and headed to Dog Days, calling to let them know I was on the way. I got to Dog Days in time, Gary got the tire changed and back home (did I mention it was 100 degrees?!?) so things were looking good. As I was walking from my car up to the house, Gary said, “Boy, I sure am glad you left your water in the car!” I froze in my tracks. Fighting back a grin, I asked him “Did you drink any of it?”
“Yeah-all of it!” he replied
“Did it taste ok?” I grinned.
“Yeah, it was great…why? he asked, suddenly wary. “Did the dog drink it?”
“Uh…yeah.” I said.
“Well, it was good-and I even ate the ice, too!”
You know, it may not always be the way we think it should be, but…God does provide!!
P.S….The wedding was wonderful!!! 🙂