Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year Upon Us - Dinner #42

     Another year with new uncertainties . . . 2012 is a year in which my husband and I find ourselves  needing direction and guidance for our little family more than ever before.  Are we meant to stay where we are, and continue to further our education?  Should Brandon try to find a second job, in order to start saving money for missionary deputation? Would God have us move back to Virginia or to Georgia, to serve in one of our home churches for a season? 
     Proverbs 27:1 warns us, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”  The truth of the matter is, anything may change in an instant for ANY ONE of us, and only God knows the outcome.  In Proverbs 3, Solomon tells his son to, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” God says it is better to trust in the Lord WITH all your heart, then to follow the leading OF your own heart!  Psalm 37:5 declares, “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”  Let GOD be in control of your path! Let HIM guide your footsteps! 
     This New Year’s Eve, as I began to question and wonder what lies ahead for us, the Lord lovingly reminded me of Isaiah 41:10 - a verse I once claimed as my “life verse”.  In it, the Lord declares, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”  Joshua 1:9, a similar verse, tells us to, “ . . . Be strong and of a good courage: be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”  It doesn’t matter where we are in 2012 – it doesn’t matter what city, or what state, or what COUNTRY even!  God has promised to be with us WHEREVER we are!  He has promised to strengthen us and to hold us up with His loving hand! 
     In Isaiah 41:9, God says, “. . . Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.”  Despite what I may think or feel at any given moment, God has a special plan for me!  A plan that does not change!  Proverbs 4:26-27 “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.  Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”  God says to walk with PURPOSE and walk with BLINDERS ON.  Don’t be distracted by the things of this world!  Do what God has called you to do!
     Do you remember the parable of the soils?  In Matthew 13:22, Jesus explains to His disciples, “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.”  When we are trying to find the right path for our lives, worries and cares, and what the world has to offer, can “choke” what God desires to show us from His Word. We may not even be able to receive His direction for our lives, if the soil of our heart has become too thorny!  In Psalm 119:105, David says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  The path ahead may seem a bit fuzzy, as we stand on the brink of a brand new year, and yet God’s Word is always clear.  Is the soil of your heart soft enough to receive it?
     Have you stepped off the right path, in 2011? Have you strayed a little from God’s plan for your life?  Paul declares in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  Have you made mistakes innumerable, just as I have? Forget them and PRESS FORWARD!  This is a brand new year for brand new beginnings in Christ Jesus!  Listen to God’s voice, know what HE wants you to do, and “do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)!  God Bless & Happy New Year 2012!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Blessing - Dinner #41

     After more than a week of feeling nauseous and dizzy, and needing extra sleep, this month, I was pretty positive I was expecting a baby, again.  Things eventually proved otherwise, however, and my excitement of being able to announce to family at Christmas that we were having another baby, came to an abrupt end.    Do you know what happened in my heart, through all of that, though?  The temporary tears of disappointment only made me want to love on our Baby Brooklyn all the more!  It made me want to treasure being her mother, and thank God for blessing us with her, all over again.  We did not know if I would be able to have any children, but God gave her to us!  Psalm 113:9 “He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children . . .” Becoming a mother is a joyful, happy thing!  Brooklyn’s smiles, her giggles, her little chirps and gurgles brighten our days with such joy!  What sunshine, those ladies who desire no children, deny themselves!  Psalm 127:3 “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”
      The best present of all, that very first Christmas in Bethlehem, was Jesus Christ, God’s Son – the promised Messiah!  Have you ever stopped to think what would have happened if Mary had said she and Joseph were too poor to raise children?  What if she had said she was just too scared to become a mother?  What if she had told God she didn’t want to have any babies?   ALL babies are blessings from heaven, but this One most of all!  Matthew 1:21 “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”  Mary had a willing spirit to carry a very special Baby within her womb.  She rejoiced to be given such a task! Luke 1:46-49 “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.  For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.”
     Jesus could have come to earth as a full-grown man, but that wasn’t God’s plan.  He allowed Mary to conceive the Messiah without ever having been intimate with any man.  He allowed her to feel His Holy Son kicking and moving within her womb.  He let her watch Jesus eat His first solid food and take His first baby steps.  This was something very special!  Mary was allowed to be Jesus’ mother!  She was not holy or perfect.  She, herself, needed a Savior!  But she “found favour with God.” (Luke 1:30)
     Will any other woman on earth have that same blessing? No.  None of us will ever give birth to the perfect Son of God.  Jesus came to this earth just once as a little baby.  When He returns, He will be coming in power and glory, as He Who died and rose again.  Only Mary will ever be known as the “mother of Jesus”.  He was truly her little “Christmas Blessing”.  If we are mothers, we each have “little blessings” of our own, however!  I, and no one else, have the blessing of being Brooklyn Elizabeth’s mommy.  You are blessed to be the mother of YOUR children. 
     How precious it is, if we are able to have our children and grandchildren gathered around us, this Christmas!  As December 25th quickly approaches, I want to encourage you Mommies to hold dear the child blessings in your life!  Family should mean more to us than any present we could ever receive.  And, above all, cherish the birth of the Father’s Only Son, - the Emmanuel of all mankind!  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Patience - Dinner #40

     Christmas is a WHOLE SEASON requiring PATIENCE!  If you have pets, you no doubt need patience as they try to climb the tree or tear into the presents, right now.  If your little ones are stuck inside the house, you need patience with their pent-up energy.  If your husband is working over-time, because of the holidays, you need patience with his busy schedule.  And if your baby girl is nearly 6- months-old and teething, like mine is right now, you need patience with her great amount of fussiness! SMILE!  LOVE is patient! I Corinthians 13:4,7 “Charity suffereth long, and is kind . . .  Beareth all things . . . endureth all things.” 
     Have you stood in a long line at WALMART, this month, or dealt with rude customers where you work?  Sometimes it takes an EXTRA MEASURE of patience and self-control to get along with others.  In Ephesians 4:1-2, Paul commands God’s children to, “. . . walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love . . .” God also wants us to have patience when people make mistakes or don’t do things exactly the way we want them to.  Colossians 3:12-13 declares, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Time and time again, in the Scriptures, we see that OUR GOD is patient and forgiving.  Psalm 86:15 “But thou, O LORD, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” How very grateful we can be that God is patient with US! Should we not, therefore, strive to be patient with others?!
     For some people, the month of December places life in a sort of “holding pattern”, before January 1st rolls around.  It can be a difficult time of hoping for answers.  Are you, perhaps, waiting to see if you will have enough money to return to college, next semester?  Are you prayerfully seeking the Lord about a missions opportunity, in the near future?  Sometimes we have to patiently wait for God’s will to be fulfilled in our lives.  Romans 8:25,28 “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it . . . And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
     As a teacher, and later as a daycare worker, I was often told, “You must have a lot of patience to work with preschoolers!”   Patience in one area of life does not necessarily denote patience in other areas, however! LOL!  I will look out the window some dozen or more times, when I know my husband is expected home.  I check for email or Facebook replies, FREQUENTLY.  I tend to become quite irritable, if I’m waiting for someone, any more than 10 minutes past the time agreed upon.  Patience is not something that is learned and then “marked off a list” of desirable character traits.  It is a CONTINUAL struggle.  James 1:4 “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”  Patience takes time! And what better time to work on developing it, than this busy holiday season! SMILE!  Take a deep breath, wait for God’s answers, be patient with loved ones as well as strangers, and have a very Merry Christmas! SMILE!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Finding Faults - Dinner #39

     It disgusts me when I see it in others, and yet I know I’m often guilty of it, myself .  What is it? A downward spiral of finding fault with others.  What does that “finding fault with others” look like?  “Wait! You’re not doing that right!” . . . “Your dad left the trashcan open AGAIN, after I just asked him not to!” . . . “Are you EVER going to learn to wipe your feet at the door?!” . . . “You can’t give her the bottle that way! She’ll spill it all over herself!” . . . and so on.  We rebuke, we chide, we pick at little errors, and we find fault with every single thing that others are doing around us.  Luke 6:36-37 says, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.  Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”
     When we get in this mode of finding fault with others, do you know what is at the heart of it? PRIDE – pure and simple!  We find fault, because we have this notion that WE could do it much better!  If it were US with that job, we wouldn’t be late for supper!  If it were US doing the laundry, we wouldn’t let the clothes sit in the dryer until they were all wrinkled!  WE always do everything to perfection! Or do we? . . . There have been a few times in our marriage when Brandon has finally had to say to me, “I just can’t do anything right anymore, can I?!” Then I sadly realize that I have, once again, stepped onto that downward spiral of finding fault with others.  More often than not, when we step back and take a look, we find that WE are the ones who are truly at fault! Matthew 7:3 “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”  WE are the ones with sin in our lives and things that need correcting!
     Romans 14:4 says, “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth . . .”  GOD is that other person’s Master!  He alone knows whether or not that person is truly standing or falling.  Do you know everything that other person has gone through? Do you know where they are  in their spiritual journey? No, you do not!  In I Samuel 16:7, God declares, “ . . . for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”  Do YOU understand that person’s motives, when they do something a certain way? Do YOU know whether or not they honestly forgot to do what you asked of them?
     The Bible teaches that we had better be wary of judging other people a certain way. Matthew 7:1-2 commands, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Do you realize that when you pick at others and constantly find fault with them, someone may one day do the same to you?  Would you like someone looking at YOUR work and never being satisfied? Would you like someone judging YOUR motives wrongly?  James 2:12 reminds us, “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.”  We will one day be judged by GOD! How will WE measure up?  God says we had much better examine our OWN hearts and lives, instead of looking for faults in those around us.
     I think that sometimes we do not even stop to realize how detrimental and hurtful our judging comments can be.  We do not think about how much damage we can do to the heart of a spouse or a child.  As a Christian, shouldn’t we be trying to ENCOURAGE instead of DISCOURAGE?  I guarantee, we would be much happier people, if we worried more about correcting what is WRONG in our own heart, and looking for what is RIGHT in the hearts of others!  Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”