Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rejecting A Blessing - Dinner #58

     We say it aloud during tearful farewells and  joyful occasions . . . We write it at the end of letters . . . “God Bless!”  How DOES the Lord bless us? With provisions, with safety, with good health, with children . . . When we pray, “Lord, please bless our marriage!” or “Lord, please bless our family!”, do we really mean it?  Is it possible that God might WANT to bless us, but that we are in some way REJECTING the blessing?!  
    For about the first six months of married life, my husband and I paid our bills, bought our groceries and our gas, and then gave to the church “as we were able”.  Things didn’t work out so well that way, and again and again, we felt guilty.  There just wasn’t enough “left over” for the Lord!  We both knew what the Bible teaches about giving by faith, but it can be very hard to do when you’re first starting out, and just trying to keep a roof over your heads! A new year came around, and we determined that we would give FIRST, and trust the Lord to take care of us.  Do you know what we saw happen? We saw God stretch our groceries further than ever before! We saw God give enough gas every week to keep us from running out!  We saw God provide insurance coverage that paid for the delivery of our baby girl! And the list goes on and on . . . Malachi 3:10 “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”  The Lord truly keeps His Word!  He was more than ready to bless us - we just needed to trust Him more!  Are you forgoing tithing, and missing out on a blessing?
     Our Heavenly Father does not only bless financially.  He also blesses with babies! Psalm 127:3 “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Do you know what the sad thing is? This, perhaps more than any other blessing, is one that Christians say they'd, "rather not have."  God says, “I want to reward and bless your marriage, by giving you children.”  God’s people say, “We’re going to do all we can, with whatever the world has to offer, to ensure that doesn’t happen.”  God says, “But I have plans for your family. Plans to use you in a mighty way.” God’s people say, “We have our own plans.  Only so many children, spaced only so many years apart. No more, no less.  We can’t handle more than that.”  God doesn’t bless where He will not provide! Don’t you know that He will take care of you? That He will strengthen you? That He will enable you? Proverbs 10:22 “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” Children are not a mixed curse-blessing! It is the world that has caused us to view them that way!  God’s description of a blessed man is one who has a growing family! Psalm 128:3-4 “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house; thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.”  When Job was being doubly blessed by God, at the end of all his trials, God gave him more children! Job 42:12-13 “So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning . . . He had also seven sons and three daughters.”  Are children a blessing you are currently rejecting?
     God’s special will for us is a path that is blessed!  In Matthew 23:37, the Lord Jesus laments, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Is there some way that God wishes to bless you, but you aren’t obeying His voice? Isaiah 48:17-18 “. . . I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” What tremendous blessing could YOU be missing out on?
     Who is to say that one blessing is greater than someone else’s? ALL blessings from God are heavenly blessings!  There are some whom God desires to bless with more financial security than others . . . There are some whom God desires to bless with more children than others . . . There are some whom God desires to bless with more good health than others . . . But God lovingly desires to bless EACH AND EVERY ONE of His children! Are you a Christian lady who likes to “pick and choose” your own blessings? Or does your heart anxiously desire every single blessing that THE LORD desires to send your way? Please do not reject God’s blessings to you!  May you have a heart that is ready to RECEIVE them! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Personal and Spiritual Growth - Dinner #57

     Brandon and I smile and laugh, when we replay camcorder footage of our little girl.  At the point where our latest “Home DVD” begins, she couldn’t even sit up by herself, yet.  She hadn’t learned to crawl forward.  She was just getting the hang of eating pureed baby food. Now her 1-year birthday is only four weeks away! She has grown, and developed, and changed SO MUCH since that night we first held her in our arms! As I think about this, I have to ask myself, how much growing have I done, as a woman, during that same amount of time? Am I any stronger spiritually, wiser mentally, or happier emotionally, for having lived this past year?  Are you?  Having a weekly “goal chart” has helped me IMMENSELY, this year! I’m getting to feel as though I’m DOING SOMETHING with my life! Nevertheless, despite a lot of checkmarks in a lot of boxes, I know that I cannot do any TRUE growing AT ALL without the LORD’S help!  Not any spiritual growing, and not any personal growing, either!  
     The year 2012 is already nearly half over.  Are you seeking to grow in ALL areas of your life? Are you, perhaps, trying to exercise, prepare healthy meals, read good books, or share the Bible with others, more?  In Colossians 1:10, Paul declares that one of his prayers for the believers in Colosse was that they, “ . . . might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” God wants us to grow in EVERY GOOD WAY!  As Christians, we should constantly be moving FORWARD!  
     Does growth of any kind just happen overnight? No! It occurs over TIME! One hour at a time, one day at a time, one month at a time.  I have SO enjoyed being able to do some gardening, this past week! In addition to some pretty flowerbox blooms, we ended up using a few packets of seeds near the back porch, as well.  Those seeds just went in the ground a day or two ago, but I’m already finding myself impatiently looking out the window, waiting for signs of little sprouts!   It’s going to take some time! The Bible often refers to our growth as Christians, in terms of plants.  Psalm 92:12-13 tells us that, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.” If you plant yourself in God’s house, hearing the preaching of God’s Word, you can grow, spiritually!  But that isn’t the end! In Mark 4:20, Jesus says, “And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.”  They DO something with what they have received!  They hear God’s Word, receive it, and then BRING FORTH FRUIT! Can they do all this growing on their own? In John 15:4-5, the Son of God declares, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” 
     Has 2012 marked a year of “growing” for you, thus far?  Spiritual growing is definitely more important than any personal growing we may do, but we must realize, Ladies, that NO GROWING occurs without the LORD’S HELP!  II Corinthians 10:17 “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”  You cannot read your Bible every day without God’s help! You cannot improve your marriage without God’s help! You cannot find good bargains and save money on groceries, unless the Lord enables you to do so!  If you do any growing in good things, it is all to the glory of God! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thoughts On Mother's Day - Dinner #25 Re-Posted

I wanted to re-post this particular "Dinner's In The Oven" devotional from last year, in honor of Mother's Day . . . I remember well the thoughts of my heart, as I carried Brooklyn in my womb, last May! What a blessing to be taking her to church with me, this Mother's Day! SMILE! A special blessing to all my mommy friends - those with grown children, those with young children, and those whose babies are in Heaven, tonight . . . Happy Mother's Day!

      If we believe from the Bible that life begins at conception, then so does mommyhood! Perhaps you were never able to hold your little one, and you think that Mother’s Day is not for you.  I believe that it is!  Some babies are taken straight from the womb to the arms of Jesus, but any lady who has ever had a child growing inside her womb is truly a mother! Maybe your baby is still growing inside of you, and you think you have to wait another year to celebrate this tender holiday – but you don’t!  That baby within your womb is not motherless!  As you daily share your tummy, your warmth, your food, with that little life that God has created, you alone are its mom!  
     In Psalm 139:13, David tells the Lord, “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.”  God is the Creator of life, and yet in the body of a mother, He chooses to form and nurture another human being. Isaiah 44:2 “Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb . . .”  Children are so very dear to God that He knows them BEFORE they are even formed in the womb, and has a particular purpose for each of their lives!  Jeremiah 1:5 declares, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; andbefore thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee . . .”  If you too, are an expectant mother this Mother’s Day, you are no doubt marveling anew at what God has brought about in your life.  Someone dear to God – a person that He loved before time began – a soul that He sent His only Son to die for – is being “made in secret, and curiously wrought” (Psalm 139:15) within your womb.  What a truly amazing and incredible thing!
     Psalm 139:16 declares, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”  DNA . . . genes . . . every feature is already determined at the moment of conception.  God knows that child’s future hair color, eye color, growth potential . . . And yet there are some of these precious little lives that, for reasons we may not fully understand, God chooses to take quite early to His Kingdom.  Is there comfort for the hurting mamas who are left behind?  There is the comfort that their baby is in a perfectbeautiful, and safe place. There is also the comfort that comes from that “peace of God, which passeth all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)  Some who have gone through great sorrow on earth, perhaps even losing multiple babies, have such glad reunions to look forward to on Heaven’s shore!  But while here below, do not think for a minute that earth’s celebration of motherhood is not for you!  No matter how long or how short a time you carried a baby within your womb, God used you and your spouse, and the wonderful love that you have for each other, to create a new life - you ARE a mom!  And heaven is only richer for the little one who left your womb for its glory. 
     With the writing of these thoughts, I want to send out a "Happy Mother's Day" to all my friends who are expectant moms along with me, as well as those whose little ones are being babysat by the angels in heaven for a while! If you are a mommy who can embrace your children in person this weekend, or hear their voices over the telephone, a special "Happy Mother's Day" to you, as well!  May the Lord bless you, each and every one!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Heavenly Parenting - Dinner #56

     I had the joy of experiencing some fellowship with other ladies, this past week, and it never fails – when moms get together, they talk about their children!! SMILE! “Does yours sleep through the night?”. . . “Do you let yours crawl into bed with you?” . . . “Do you give your child Tylenol?” . . . “Mine was walking by the time they were 8 months old!” . . . And on it goes . . . It feels good to share from your own experiences and to gain from the experiences of others, doesn’t it?! How vitally important that we draw wisdom from our HEAVENLY FATHER’S parenting example! As a Christian parent, you are your child’s first glimpse of what GOD is like!  Are you and your husband striving to be like Christ, as you raise your family?
     More than any other quality, God shows His children LOVE. Jeremiah 31:3 “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” No child should be afraid that Mommy and Daddy will love them one day and despise them the next. Does this love sometimes require correction and discipline? Yes.  Proverbs 3:11-12 shows a father saying, “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” Parents must lovingly correct and chasten, but they must also follow the Heavenly Father’s pattern for FORGIVENESS.  I John 1:9 tells us that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Once God forgives us, He does not bring up our past wrongs over and over again, and neither should we, with OUR children. True forgiveness is final! Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
     Our Lord carefully INSTRUCTS His children.  Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go . . .” He doesn’t leave us wondering what we should do, or pondering how to obey Him! James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” As parents, we should be ready with instruction and wise counsel! We should be willing to take the time to teach and to train our children!
     Hourly, daily, yearly, our Heavenly Father PROVIDES for His own.  Matthew 7:11 “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” As parents, we must prayerfully work and save, and do our very best, to meet the needs of those in our care.  Matthew 6:26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?”  Matthew 6:30 “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” God lovingly takes care of each and every one of us!
     Little girls and boys should be able to rest in the fact that their parents will seek to PROTECT them from harm!  Will there be times when your child will fall down and hurt themselves? Will there often be circumstances beyond your control? Yes! But just as our Heavenly Father is there to protect His children, we must strive to be there for our little ones! Psalm 36:7 “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under  the shadow of thy wings.” Children should know that when they are with Mom and Dad, they are SAFE! Psalm 91:1 “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Do Mommies sometimes have to give up precious sleep during a thunderstorm? Do they often have to put their arms around someone small, when the wind is howling outside? That is what our Lord so often does for us! Psalm 91:5 “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.” Time and time again, our Heavenly Father gives us the peaceful reassurance that He will keep us SAFE!
     What should we do when our children are crying? We should do what our Lord would do! Psalm 147:3 “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Mommies need to be ready with hugs, with kisses, and with Band-Aids! That is what Jesus does for our hearts!  Perhaps no other book of the Bible speaks of the COMFORT of God, like the book of Psalms.  In Psalm 57:1-2, David prays, “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.” David knew that he could find shelter in God until the terrors surrounding him were over.  Shouldn’t our babies be able to trust that Mommy and Daddy will have open arms for them, whenever things “go bump in the night”? Whenever they are afraid? I hear a lot of mothers say things like, “They have to learn to comfort themselves to sleep.” To a certain extent, God says to His children, “encourage thyself”, but He also says, “I will not leave you comfortless”!  (I Samuel 30:6 + John 14:18) Aren’t we thankful that God hears us WHENEVER we cry out to Him?! Psalm 55:17 “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”
     You may be saying, “I don’t know how to be a proper parent! Do you have any good books you could recommend?” There is no better book on parenting than the Bible! There is no better example of parenthood than our loving Heavenly Father! Day in and day out, God loves, forgives, instructs, provides, protects, and comforts His children.  May each godly mother and father strive to do the same!