Lessons from the Spirit

June 30
The summer pace has been hectic and I have really missed the discipline of a regular Bible Study. The aftermath of Monday's storm had me outside for 5 hours today engaging in the tedious work of picking up twigs, limbs and branches and complaining to God about the work most of that time.
At one point with my back aching and my knees begging me to not squat down one more time, I pleaded with God to send someone to help. I kid you not, a robin hopped out in front of me and flew off with a twig. LOL Well, I guess that was answered prayer and one twig gone! Shortly after this encounter I heard myself say to God, "I can't do this anymore." He was quick to answer, "Oh, yes you can and you need this alone time with the Spirit to learn some lessons."
Evaluating the five acre situation I recognized how obvious the improvement appears when the huge fallen trees are removed, but the scattered limbs, branches and leaves still result in a less than perfect look across the lawn and they take longer to eliminate from the surface. Contemplating that idea drew my mind to think about our sinfulness.
Chopping down our pride and self-sufficiency and admitting our sinfulness and need for Christ is a huge clean up effort! The restoration process doesn't stop then though. We may become convicted and turn from our most wicked ways, but debris still remains and it takes a life time of continually asking Christ to come in and clean us up. Just as the weather changes, so does the intensity of our walk with the Lord. Lightning can still strike and cause catastrophic situations which catch us off guard and forgetting who is in control. It is those times we need to stay close and say, "Our God is faithful and mighty to save. He loves me and will be my guide."
Our yard is no where near cleaned up, but neither is my life! :)
Let's Pray:
Lord, may we allow ourselves the luxury of going off to a quiet place with You and being still before You. Will You build us up and send Your Spirit to teach us life lessons that make us more useful to You? May our encounter with the Spirit rejuvenate our souls and have more impact on us than the greatest cup of coffee with a super caffeine kick. Take the twigs in our life and mulch them up in a way that is an enhancement of who we are in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Sheer Madness

June 29
Adrian Rogers' radio message had my attention as I headed out for a day on the road.
His question was..."What is your joy found in?" "If it is your house; what happens when you come home and you have been robbed or worse yet, your house has burned down to a pile of ashes? Your joy must be in the Lord."

Having just dropped my friend off at her house, after a precious day with her at Duke for a radiation treatment, I scurried to my car sensing an impending storm. Moments earlier we had passed fires along the highway, obviously a result from the extreme heat our area had been experiencing. The car thermometer had read 97 degrees most of the day, but as I pulled back onto the highway and the raindrops began to bang against my windshield I did a double take...it now read 73 degrees. The fire fighters had to feel their prayers had been answered by the deluge, but now my prayers and those of other drivers had to be going up as our vision was blinded by the torrents of water coming from the sky. Then the winds began to whip. I actually said, "This is it, isn't it Lord, a tornado is going to take me up!" Twelve miles of this along the highway and then I exited to a side road. The mountain views, which are usually breath taking were not the focus...it was the bolts of lightning hitting on both sides of the road which had my attention. Nearing the last 4 miles of my journey, my phone rang and my husband told me trees were down on the street near our house and I would not be able to get through that way. He rerouted me. Rushing down our private drive I swerved left and right avoiding large limbs and branches in my path. Reaching the top of our property my heart sank as it looked like a war zone. My husband had just drug enough of a beautiful old tree which holds our "Shiloh" sign to the side so our cars could get to the house. We both rushed inside and ran window, to window to see all the damage. When the rains subsided I stepped out on our deck and my heart was crushed. All my plants along our rail had blown off and smashed on the patio below. The ones remaining on the floor of the deck were either decapitated or demolished. Adrian Rogers' message echoed back in my mind. "Is your joy in this property Boo, or is it in Me?"

Our doorbell rang at 7AM. I had over slept and was supposed to walk with a friend. Quickly I dressed and headed out with her leaving my husband and his chain saw making attempts at what will be a massive clean up. She confirmed that there had either been a small tornado or what is called a "wind sheer" last night and proceeded to drive my along the path it had taken which appeared to have begun on our property. Envy set in as I looked at yard after yard with not so much as a leaf in them. I said to my girl friend, "I can't take this any more. We are too old to take care of this place and can't afford to pay the help we need. I really want God to send someone to buy this place." In my mind I was whining..."I want an easier life Lord."

Coming back to the house, I settled down and opened Streams in the Desert.
I am going to type this whole entry up as it may minister to some of you, but it will definitely blow you away as to how God adjusts my attitude. Also, I need to implant the lesson in my heart and typing it will help me! It is lengthy and will buy me a little more time before I begin my stick pick up! :)

June 29 There we saw the giants. (Numbers 13:33)
Yes, the Israeli spies saw giants, but Joshua and Caleb saw God! Those who doubt still say today, "We can't attack...;they are stronger than we are" (v.31). Yet, those who believe say, "We should go up and take possession...for we can certainly do it." (v30).
Giants represent great difficulties, and they stalk us everywhere. They are in our families, our churches, our social life, and even our own hearts. We must overcome them or they will devour us, just as the ancient Israelites, fearing those in Canann, said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw the are of great size" (v.32). We should exhibit faith as did Joshua and Caleb, who said, "Do not be afraid...because we will swallow them up" (Numbers 14:9). n effect, they told the others, "We will be stronger by overcoming them than if there had been no giants to defeat."
In fact, unless we have overcoming faith, we will be swallowed up-consumed by the giants who block our path. "With that same spirit of faith" (2 Corinthians 4:13) that Joshua and Caleb had, let us look to God, and He will take care of the difficulties.
We encounter giants only when we are serving God and following Him. It was when Israel was going forward that the giants appeared, for when they turned back into the wilderness, they found none. Many people believe that the power of God in a person's life should keep him from all trials and conflicts. However, the power of God actually brings conflict and struggles. You would think that Paul, during his great missionary journey to Rome, would have been kept by God's sovereignty from the power of violent storms and of his enemies. Yet just the opposite was true. he endured one long, difficult struggle with the Jews who were persecuting him. He faced fierce winds, poisonous snakes, and all the powers of earth and of hell. And finally, he narrowly escaped drowning, by swimming to shore at Malta after shipwreck nearly sent him to a watery grave.
Does this sound like a God of infinite power? Yes, it is just like Him. And that is why Paul told us that once he took the Lord Jesus Christ as his life in his body, a severe conflict immediately arose. In fact, the conflict never ended. The pressure on Paul was persistent, but from the conflict he always emerged victorious through the strength of Jesus Christ.
Paul described this in quite vivid language: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body" (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

What a ceaseless and strenuous struggle he related! It is nearly impossible to express in English the impact of the original language. Paul gives us five different images in succession. In the first, he has us picture enemies completely surrounding and pressuring but not crushing him, because the heavenly "police" have protected him and cleared a path just wide enough for him to escape. The literal meaning is, "We are crowded from all sides, but not defeated."
The second image is that of someone whose way is completely blocked or thwarted by the enemy. Yet, he has persevered, for there is just enough light for him to see the next step. Paul said, "Perplexed, but not in despair," or as one literal translation put it, "Without a road, but not without a side road of escape."
The third picture, "Persecuted, but not abandoned," is one of the enemy in hot pursuit of him while the divine Defender stands nearby. He is pursued, but not left alone.
The fourth is even more vivid and dramatic. The enemy had overtaken him, struck him, and knocked him down. But it is not a fatal blow-he is able to rise again. He has been "struck down, but not destroyed," or literally, "overthrown, but not overcome."
In the fifth and final image, Paul advances the thought still further, giving us a picture that appears to be one of death itself: "We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus." Yet, he does not die, for "the life of Jesus" comes to his aid, and he lives through Christ's life until his lifework is complete.

The reason so many people fail to experience this divine principle is that they expect to receive it all without a struggle. When conflict comes and the battle rages on, they become discouraged and surrender. God has nothing worth having that is easily gained, for there are no cheap goods on the heavenly market. The cost of redemption was everything God had to give, and anything worth having is expensive. Difficult times and places are our schools of faith and character. If we are ever to rise above mere human strength, and experience the power of the life of Christ in our mortal bodies, it will be through the process of conflict that could very well be called the "labor pains" of the new life. It is like the story of Moses, who "saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up" (Exodus 3:2); although Satan's demons tried to extinguish the flame in Moses' life by continually pouring water on his plans, they could not, because God's angels were ever vigilant, pouring oil on the flame to keep it burning brightly.
Dear child of God, you may be suffering, but you cannot fail if you will only dare to believe, stand firm, and refuse to be overcome."

Whew, what a great message! Let's all shout hallelujah and keep on keeping on with Christ!

Longings

June 28
This past weekend was full of joy as we celebrated our daughter's 30th birthday. As parents it was so much fun to sit back and watch our adult children, who now live miles apart, enjoy one an other's fellowship.

The word longings came to me Sunday morning. Each of us is longing for something....an educational experience, financial security, a spot on a team, a spouse, a baby, a career advancement, or maybe a physical or emotional healing. God wants to give us the desires of our heart, but He also wants us to realize those longings will not be satisfied by anything but relationship with Him.

I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

Lord, please listen to our longings as we look to You. Help us to hold onto You as we step back and watch You work your many wonders in the toughest of times. Strengthen us when we are weak, making us bill boards for the faith. In Jesus' name, Amen

No Grumbling

June 24
Continue our New Testament walk, we are in 1 Peter today and I find myself laughing out loud over 1 Peter 4:9 Offer hospitality without grumbling.
We have between 26-30 coming in to celebrate our daughter's 30th birthday starting today. The weather forecast is for temperatures around 95 degrees! Our water system is a well for a family of six. Weekends like this are only possible with lake baths and porta potties or the boys using the woods! :)

Last week my husband's administrative assistant told me he had shared that all our children were coming in. She quietly said, "Be sure to take a family picture." "OK," I replied. Then she continued, "The last time our family was together my daughter asked me to get a family picture and I didn't. I wish I had that picture." Her teen aged son died tragically. June 21st would have been my brother's 66th birthday. He drown on July 5th, 23 years ago. The most recent picture I have of him, sits in my dressing room. We need to cherish each day and live expectantly as if Christ were coming back for us any second.

Peter knew whom he believed, for he had seen Jesus walk on water. Believing meant trusting in His words which spoke of an earthly return. It is with this kind of faith that Peter writes the following advice to us in chapters 4 and 5:
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins. Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Heavenly Father, planner of a perfect place, we humbly bow before You with all our inadequacies. Please forgive us for the times we have disappointed you and those we love. Change our hearts by removing any hardness and move us to a submissiveness which is governed by the Spirit who can show us how to love others deeply. May we open not only our hearts to others, but also our homes (whether they be a tent or a castle) by extending the welcome of hospitality (and maybe a glass of tea or lemonade on a day like today)! In Jesus' name these things are possible, Amen

Any neighbors reading this...the girls staying here would love to come to your house and experience the hospitality of a shower. They'd look a lot cuter for the family pictures Friday and Saturday night!

Visine PM

June 23
Aren't dreams a hoot? It is always fun to try to figure out what influenced them. Cleaning my husband's bathroom the other day, I had to wipe under all of his allergy combatants. Nasal sprays and Visine eye drops. Several nights ago I had considered taking a Tylenol PM to alleviate my tossing and turning. Those meds combined for a dream about Visine PM! Ah, eye drops to keep your eyes closed!
While we are supposed to be in 1 Peter today, I want to stray a bit to verses about our eyes.1 Peter 3:12 does have one:
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and
his ears are attentive to their prayer.


No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9

I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right of the left, keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:25-27

Lord, how did you ever come up with the eyeball? Whew, amazing! You have created so many things which thrill our hearts when we look upon them. Likewise, we see things which cause our hearts to erupt with just the opposite emotions and those sights will never leave our minds. Help us to follow the Holy Spirit and fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Also, keep our eyes connected to our conscience and move us into action for Your cause! In Jesus Name, Amen

Recognize His Voice

June 22
Enter into James.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Two friends have been sharing with me about studies they have recently attended concerning spiritual warfare. One had been learning how to recognize the voice of the enemy. I spent the night on our pontoon boat Friday night and the sounds of the night can awaken you to the realization of the battle around us. It was a beautiful starry night and the fish were jumping. An entirely different collection of Audubon choral exchanges takes place in the middle of the night, than in the morning. At dawn I heard a bird caw which truly had an evil hiss. Startled by this sound, I thought for certain there was a person on the dock. Then a battle broke out in our woods between two creatures and I know not who the victor was. A hawk flew by and lost his grip on the meal he was carrying in his claws and it plunged from the sky into the lake to its demise. Creation was in full motion and a new day had begun and it wasn't joyful for all involved.
Bemoaning my own heartache from a season of trials I am facing I cried out to the Lord and along came my yellow butterfly which has become for me a symbol of God's presence. Then immediately two young blue heron emerged side by side from a branch on the bank and they soared together only inches above the water. My own partner was snuggled beside me under a blanket and for that I gave thanks. Then across the mist of morning came a very small pontoon boat with four loud fishermen who were surprised to see us cuddled up!
While the enemy whispered the phrase to me "You are utterly useless", although I recognized his voice, I struggled to lift the Sword of the Spirit and he had me stifled and stunned. It was Sunday before I gained the strength to go study my Bible. I looked back in Streams in the Dessert to June 19th, the time when the battle had become the most fierce. I read:
"Many of us cannot be used as food for the world's hunger, because we have yet to be broken in Christ's hands. Grain must be ground to make bread. Isaiah 28:28
and being a blessing of His often requires sorrow on our part. Yet even sorrow is not too high a price to pay for the privilege of touching other lives with Christ's blessings. The things that are most precious to us today have come to us through tears and pain." J.R. Miller
"Combat comes before victory. If God has chosen special trials for you to endure, be assured He has kept a very special place in His heart just for you. A badly bruised soul is one who is chosen. The most prominent characters of the Bible were broken, threshed, and ground into bread for the hungry. To burn brightly our lives must first experience the flame. In other words, we cease to bless others when we cease to bleed."
We have Sunday morning services in our yard during the summer and being weary from the battle I really didn't want to stand and face the crowd. Holding my husband's hand we made it through the praise time, but I skipped my usual time of sharing. As I looked out to the faces of the women in attendance, not one was a stranger, but instead, some of the most godly, compassionate women I know were there. My spirit was strengthen as God whispered, "I hand picked them for you today". :)
I recognized that voice and praised Him for his sustaining power in the trials of life.
There are giants facing most of you. I pray today, in the name of Jesus, who knows all of our needs, that you do not grow weary, but you cast your burdens upon Him, so you have the strength to lift your weapons high.
Pour the Word of the Lord into your hearts and minds today, so it is always available. And do not believe the lies of the enemy!
Love, Boo

Spider Rush

June 19-21

Only a mother or grandmother would vacuum to the extent I did today. Our grandson is coming this week and I was on a spider hunt, getting into all those corners and crevices which are sometimes overlook in a regular vacuuming. Probaby 25 spiders experienced a real rush today when the center vac sucked them up and pulled them through the piping in the house to the grand canister. I wonder if that is what it will feel like when the trumpet sounds and we are sucked up to heaven!
If those spiders survived the journey they are probably pretty excited to be in the giant caniter, dining on dead stink bugs and kitchen crumbs. The disappointment will come when they realized there is no way out of the canister.

There will be no disappointment for us when we reach heaven!

1 Corinthians 15:51-52
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed

Sinking Spell

June 18

We were laughing the other day about how foreign some phrases we older folks use are to the younger generation. My husband came in from work and said I was A sight for sore eyes and yesterday I heard him ask someone what the distance was from their home to another place as the crow flies. This morning I chuckled as I thought to myself...."I am having a sinking spell".

When sinking spells in life arise we could use the encouragement of a crowd to spur us on. History may not reveal the author or authors of the book of Hebrews but there is a lot of meat in the message on which to meditate. There are many Old Testament references in this book. It actually reads like a sequel to the book of Leviticus, which may be helpful to know as some passages about priestly systems, covenants, sacrifices, feasts, etc. can be unfamiliar.

Let's camp out in chapter 12 and first decipher to whom "a great cloud of witnesses" would be referring. One reference describes them as "the roll call of the faithful just given in Hebrews 11". You know, all those mighty giants of the faith who have gone before us. Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Rahab, Moses, Samuel, David, Paul,etc. Now add your own modern day saints...faithful grandmothers, pastors, missionaries, your Sunday school teachers and prayer partners who have passed away.
OK, now that we have them in our minds, let's picture a stadium...pick your sport. Football, soccer, baseball, marathons. All these Christians, who have walked the walk, persevered through persecution, and lifted their voices on high, are sitting in the stadium of heaven. Whew! Imagine how enormous that place would have to be.
What are they doing there? They are cheering us on to cross the finish line!

Hebrews 12:1-3 should have us shouting as well.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Lord, lift us up! You are seated above all things and You go before all things. There is no pulling the wool over your eyes Father, You see it all. When we turn our eyes upon You, surmountable sinking spells cease and our Spirits are revived! We can be cool as a cucumber knowing we are in Your loving care and that You will make our path straight! In Jesus' name, Amen

A Quickie Packing a Punch

June 17

Only 25 verses in the whole New Testament Book of Philemon and it gets mighty sticky.
It is one thing to forgive and forget (forget that person every existed and don't deal with them anymore)! Paul's letter from prison, to his wealthy friend Philemon, steps it up ten notches! In prison Paul has met Onesimus, a runaway slave of Philemon. Paul is writing to his friend asking him to take his slave back and treat him even better than before; treat him like family or as he would if Paul was coming to visit. Paul even offers to pay if Onesimus has stolen anything from Philemon.

Paul packs a powerful punch in verse 21. Confident of your obedience, I write to your, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.

Paul uses such a great psychological technique, like the college co-ed who calls home and says she is pregnant, making her parents gasp. Then she says she is just kidding, she only needs $5,000. The parent gladly gives the money due to sheer relief she is not pregnant.
Paul makes a tough request, but finishes up with the confident (hmm, maybe cocky) comment, "knowing you will do even more than I ask".

Let's think of that person we do not want to forgive. ___________________
You know you have a name for the blank. I carried one around for 20 years before I was able to lay it down. God could ask us to invite that person to go on summer vacation with us. He could ask us to have them to dinner, but for our own good, our health and for an unhindered path to our prayer life He asks us to begin by forgiving them in our hearts. Now be prepared for a test run...running into that person today! :)

Father, the depth and magnitude of Your forgiveness is incomprehensible for our minds. It hurts to think of how we disappoint You, yet You welcome us back into Your arms again and again. Who are we that we think we have the right to hold grudges, but in the same breathe receive Your mercy? Whew. You search us and see it all without x-ray machines or fancy unforgiveness detectors. Help heal us of our hurts today and realize there are voids in the lives of our offenders that break Your heart. Give us compassion for You as the grandest parent of all and keep us on our knees praying for Your children. Fill us with attitudes which give us grace to walk beside those who can be downright unpleasant, remembering they most likely see us in the same light! :) Thank You for the potential You see in us Lord. Thank You for the purpose You created for us, help us unravel any snags keeping us from that purpose today. May we pack a powerful punch on the enemy through our prayers and perseverance for the cause of Christ. In His name we pray, Amen

A Look Back

June 16

Walking with a friend this morning I expressed how interesting the various seasons of life are. She replied, reflecting on life in her late 50's, "I don't want this season to end!"
Our faith has seasons as well. Some of us are just beginning to explore what it means to trust in the Lord. Others have been consciously "working on a walk" with the Lord for decades and we still slip on the path!
Paul' purposeful passion for pastors is palpable.. Ah, we should be as faithful as Paul was to write and encourage young pastors! Old ones too! He is writing to Titus who is serving the church on the island of Crete. Paul shares a realistic reminder with Titus in 3:3-5, one which we too should take into account when we look at others.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.

Lord, Your eyes are upon us all. Mighty is Your power. How quickly we forget where we have come from and the grace that has been extended to us through Your Son. May our eye sight be keen today Lord, Keenly aware of those who need to know their Daddy and the love He is waiting to share. Make us willing vessels to pour out Your love.
In Jesus' name, Amen

A Fresh Wind

June 15

The heat has been stifling the past few days. Truly oppressive. Sunday I was fearful it would be too hot to hold church outside, but the most pleasant breeze swirled all around us the entire service. Definitely a God thing!

I laughed this AM as I awakened with the thought of a God sending a refreshing wind.
Wishful thinking! Then my mind drifted to some mighty winds in the Bible. One whipped up quite a storm for the disciples in a boat and Jesus revealed his power and their lack of faith in the process of calming the storm.

Another windy tale is told in Acts chapter 2:1-2 when the Holy Spirit appears!When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.

Now that is the wind we should be praying for to show up in our lives today for when under His control we will see some abundant living in our lives!

So... Please come Holy Spirit come, blow us away today by controlling our thoughts and actions in the most Christlike of ways! In Jesus' name, Amen

Longings

June 14
As we jump into 2 Timothy, Paul, who is still imprisoned, is longing to see his young pastor friend Timothy. If you have ever moved away or experienced a close friend moving away, you can relate to this kind of longing. Paul's is intensified due to sensing his impending death. For many of us we have family or friends who are battling life threatening diseases, living in their 80's or 90's, or serving in our military and there is often a pondering each time we are with them if this will be the last earthly encounter. What incentive to make the most of the moments we have together.
Paul, once again is wanting to pour into Timothy knowledge and encouragement. The year is around A.D. 66 and being a Christian under the rule of Emperor Nero is not a popular platform!
Paul's love for Timothy is evident as he refers to him as "my son". He knows the road ahead for Timothy will be tough to travel so he whispers through his pen and paper in verse 2:3, probably praying Timothy can imagine Paul placing his arm around his shoulder,
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
Two other nuggets of wisdom in this book which we can cherish and learn from ourselves are:
2:22-23 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.
3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Lord, how endless is Your love. Thank You for the day before us and the opportunity to feast upon Your Word and feel Your love beat down upon us like the warmth of the sun. Father, as Paul writes to Timothy with a sense of urgency help us to order our days in a similar way. Teach us to be moved by the Spirit and be obedient to the longings and promptings You place in front of us. Make today count for Your kingdom. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Richness

June 12-13

The richness of buttermilk makes baking better! Fresh buttermilk, from The Homestead Creamery near us in Burnt Chimney, VA, makes baked products flat out amazing! Their ice cream leaves you rolling your eyes back in your head with pure, ecstatic, satisfaction. If you live in the surrounding areas, even Roanoke, a milkman will deliver your products right to your door. Whole Foods Markets send trucks to the creamery to transport these amazing products to their stores. Check out this video on the Whole Foods Site.
www.blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2008/11/homestead-creamery

Last night as we were devouring some delicious desserts with this buttermilk base the word for today's devotional came to me...richness. Life lead by the Holy Spirit has a unique richness. Recognizing the voice of God and the depth of his love is a rich experience.

Heading out for my quiet time this morning I was once again blown away by how God is at work revealing Himself to me over and over again in the simplest of ways. I opened a devotional book and there staring at me, causing my mouth to fall open was... 1 Corinthians 1:5
For in him you have been enriched in every way.

Praising the Lord for another godincident I decided to celebrate by having a piece of blueberry pound cake made with fresh buttermilk for breakfast! :)

I can't even remember where we were to be today in our New Testament journey, but let's pause here with Paul in 1 Corinthians.
For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

I must confess, those words hold within them a richness that even Homestead Creamery products can't touch.
Be watching in the weeks to come for these amazing recipes.
Fresh Lemon Cake and Blueberry Pound Cake

Mouth

June 11

All morning the same word has stuck in my mind...mouth. One of my favorite uses of the mouth is its ability to kiss. Whether a wet smooch from Moses, a passionate kiss from my man, or the precious pucker from a wee one, kisses are an awesome expression of an emotional connection. Go God! Great creation with that one!
Hmm, am I to construe the message being sent to me through this word concerns its verb or noun form. We have dinner guests coming and I do hope to have fabulous things to put in their mouths. A tooth problem in my mouth needs attention. Nah, it is probably more the verb form and God urging me to allow the Holy Spirit to control my mouthing off!
Moving on in the New Testament to First Timothy, Paul is found using his mouth to form words of encouragement and specific instruction to a much younger disciple (Timothy). Oh, how we each need a Paul in our lives. God sent one right up to my car yesterday to get me back on track in an area where I thought God could use my help!This friend, gently reminded me to lay my burden down and watch God work it out!

Now I won't ruin the day of some of my girlfriends or get their skirts ruffled by Paul's words in 1 Timothy 2:9-15. Paul and the Holy Spirit can handle that themselves. What I want to do is go to God's Word and have us meditate today on some mouth verses.

Whoa...mouth is found 308 times in the NIV Bible according to Biblegateway.

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Psalm 141:3

Just to spice up your day. :)
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— for your love is more delightful than wine. Song of Solomon 1:2

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

Lord, Your Word speaks truth over all the nations and declares Your goodness and Your love. Forgive us when we have been tempted and falter and used our mouths to hurt, harm and discourage others, often those we love the most. As we exercise to keep our hearts healthy, our abs tight and our under arms from sagging, may we remember to exercise restraint in the use of our mouths. May our kisses be appropriate and our cusses be constrained. May our mouths produce encouragement, instruction and praises that please You all day long! In Jesus' Name, Amen

One Step at a Time

June 10
Numerous decisions are sitting before my family. Obstacles have popped up in very diverse aspects of our lives and I think I dreamed about each one of them last night and awakened overwhelmed. The first words I heard the Lord say this morning were:
"One step at a time". I need to start by simply getting my husband's breakfast made and start a load of wash!
As I made my way out to walk yesterday,the cyst in the bottom of my foot competed with the one in my leg and my aching knees for "top pain of the day in an older body". I got my gait going and rounded the bend to see an older gentleman, who obviously was a stroke victim, dragging his right side along as he pushed himself in his rehab efforts. With cheerfulness in his voice, he called out, "Get those miles in!" What an attitude!
I am heading off in a few minutes to meet my friend, who has been in a ferocious six year battle with numerous types of cancer, as she makes her way to Duke to be informed of the next attack she will launch against this vicious disease. I would have quit long ago, but she takes one day at a time and trust in the Lord along every turn.
WOW, think about Jesus and the depth at which He saw on earth and still sees today the hurt and needs of others. OK, so He is God and can probably take more than one step at a time, but on earth He steadily persevered. He even got to Lazarus a few steps behind death and that turned out OK.
Paul found it necessary to write a quick second letter to the Thessalonians. While they had taken the first step and accepted Christ, evidently they took Christ's return as imminent and were content to sit back and watch the sky for his return.
Paul exhorts them to not be idle. If a man will not work, he shall not eat.
Verse 3:10
So however bad the diagnosis sounds, however high the mountain is in front of us, or however thick the oil spill in the Gulf, we must face today knowing heaven is coming and thank God for his love and the Christian comrades we have to walk, step by step, along with us on this pilgrimage.

Start today with the song lyrics...Step by step He leads me and I will follow Him all of my days!

Congratulations to our daughter in law's father, Scott Rigell, who won his congressional primary in the 2nd District. Step by step may God fearing men and women come forward to lead this county.

Sold Out

June 9

Are we grasping that whether in prison or on foot, Paul is sold out for his faith? If he was wandering around today we would probably give him a t-shirt which read: Encourager.
In chapter 5 he reminds me of a caring mother, who is dropping her freshman off at college and wondering if she has given that child all of life's important sustaining lessons! Change your sheets once a week, do not get caught alone with strangers, go to class and sit up front, eat fruits and vegetables...
Paul has walked both ways...with Christ and against him. He is willing to be imprisoned for the opportunity to share the truth with others.
Some of Paul's suggestions:
1) Avoid sexual immorality
2) Love each other
3) Be self-controlled
4) Encourage one another and build each other up.
5) Live in peace with each other
6) Warn those who are idle
7) Encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone
8) Make sure nobody pays back wrong for wrong
9) Do not put out the Spirit's fire, test everything, avoid every kind of evil
10)Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.

Paul recognizes these believers are the future of the faith. He knows how quickly the tempter can snatch them away, so he wants to see the seeds of their faith take root and become securely planted. Ringing true still is the reality that God intended for the fellowship of believers to encourage one another. Who needs a lift from us today?

Vulnerable

June 8
Vulnerable:From the Latin vulnerare to wound. Webster defines vulnerable as being capable of being physically or emotionally wounded; open to attack or damage.

Five weeks ago a repairman had come to look at our ice maker. He said it was working fine, but no sooner had he left than we had to call and say it stopped working. We've waited patiently, but had to call again to inquire when he could get by. My husband called me to say he has spoken with him and he would be coming right over. Hearing his van approach I opened the door and cheerfully told Moses to show him his bone. This is a routine we go through and normally people respond with a kind word and Moses is happy. Instead this man's reply was, "I don't care about any dog's old bone." I laughingly said, "Oh, I thought it might be nice so he doesn't bike your ankles." He gruffly replied, as he pushed his way past me in the doorway, "He comes near me and I will kick him in the head! I am here to see an ice maker."
Shell shocked and feeling very vulnerable about this man and his tool box, I was frozen in my steps. Timidly.as he was heading down the steps to the basement, I inquired..."Is there a problem?" "I had to leave my daughter's school program and come straight here!" he barked at me, appearing to be an attack dog himself. "Was my husband angry with you when he called?" I asked. Never stopping in his stride he spoke back, "No, this isn't your problem, it is mine." Softly I called to Moses persuading him to join me upstairs. We retreated to the screen porch off my bedroom, hoping this fellow would fix what was necessary and be gone. I called my husband, told him what had happened and where we were hiding out. Opening my Bible I began to pray for peace. No, sooner had I picked up my Bible than the door to the porch opened. I jumped realizing this man had made his way upstairs and through my bedroom to find me. I realized how vulnerable I was alone in this house. Even if someone heard me scream, no one could get here in time to help me.
He apologized for scaring me and said he had been calling to me. He informed me he had what he needed and would get back to us. I sat motionless with Moses at my feet and waited to hear his van pull away. Heading to the front door, I locked it and wiped the tears of fear from my face.
Last week, one of my children shared with me a fearful situation they were encountering and explained how God has used these words in Mark 4 to speak:
"Why are you so afraid? Do you still have not faith?"
Those words rang out to me in my situation.
"Why had I allowed fear to enter in?"
Today's verse in Streams in the Desert is: 1 John 5:4
Everyone born of God overcomes the world.
This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

Around every corner joy robbers await!
We are instructed in God's Word to be on the alert for these situations.
The older I get the more recognizable the battle becomes, but am often slow to remember who the Victor is.

Lord, You are the Ultimate Authority, You have the last word. How blessed we are to call You our Omnipotent Defender and Omnipresent Protector. Forgive us when we waiver in Your armor and tremble at the devil's schemes. Bring to recall in our minds that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the world for which You have a pit awaiting. When our vulnerability exercises its reign in our lives, have scripture flow from our mouths and cover our minds with the mighty power which is found therein and raise us up to walk with confidence, because we know to whom we belong. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Gold Star Chart

June 7

Are gold stars even given out anymore? As a child at my church, you were given one to put on the Sunday school attendance chart when you arrived. My favorite gold star was a big one given to me by my gynecologist at my final surgery follow up appointment. About fifteen years ago I had been very sick and suffering from acute anemia due to a problem in my uterus which required a hysterectomy.(Just what you wanted to read about today). This precious surgeon, who was battling health issues himself, was and still is the most encouraging, compassionate physician I have ever met. That star remained in my wallet for at least ten years and brought me joy each time I saw it. It must have attached itself to a dollar bill and been given away accidentally.

Flipping ahead in our Bibles to the New Testament book of Colossians (which is only 4 chapters and worth putting down our summer novels and reading the whole thing today) we could easily read chapter 1:10-12 and get the feeling God has a chart with four categories and is scoring us in each one to see if we please Him.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

Whew, in addition to doing the wash, cleaning the house, weeding the yard, cooking, caring for the kids and going to work what if we had to wonder if we did enough fruit bearing, knowledge growing, bell ringing endurance, patience and joyful thanks giving. Hmm, actually all those God pleasing areas have the opportunity to be exhibited each day don't they?

The only way we can please God is through a personal relationship with his Son and that requires faith. Hebrews 11:6 says:
It is impossible to please God without faith.
The measuring stick for our faith is found in our hearts and while it is evident to the world, its true depth is known only by God. It only takes a tiny bit, as much as a mustard seed, to move a mountain and live a life pleasing to God. Faith is much easier to grow than any plant in your garden. The Word of God, watered with listening prayer causes it to flourish and receive gold stars!

Lord, You came up with an amazing plan for our lives. Forgive us when we do not follow directions and we miss out on Your best for us. Give us a desire to increase our faith today and feed upon Your Word. May we surrender to the Holy Spirit and let Him have his way with us today and when we put our heads down tonight, may we say..."Wow, the Lord was with me today and we joyfully and patiently endured all the obstacles which came flying at us. Seeds were planted and I know fruit will come. Thank You Lord for the knowledge I gained from You this day." In Jesus Name, Amen

W.A.I.T.

June 4-6
There are many of us who have been in a waiting pattern lately. This morning while reflecting upon the acronym W.A.I.T.
Willingly Accepting Interrupted Timetables came to mind.

Plugging ahead in our New Testament journey we join Paul in prison, from where he is addressing the Philippians in a letter. He had no choice but to wait! Check out his attitude.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.
Philippians 4:12

Waiting plays a huge part in contentment!

Lord, help us learn the lessons You have for us today. In Jesus Name, Amen

Mouth Wash

June 3
A couple weeks ago we were in a hotel and I was in the bathroom without my glasses on. On the sink was an array of those "free" little toiletry bottles. Picking up the blue one I assumed it was mouth wash and instead found myself rapidly spitting out body wash!
God has taken me away from the house for a few fabulous days...I've not been raptured, don't fret, but I am enjoying a bit of a reprieve and am soaking in some good time with the Lord. The past twelve hours God has heard my prayer asking Him to work in my life in a way which finds only words which are uplifting and encouraging flying out!

Check out the three powerful scriptures God had pop up in miscellaneous places to spur me on and remind me He hears my prayers.

On Biblegateway today:
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 15:1

From my girl friend's mouth:
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

The key verse in the Bible study I am doing:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5


Jesus is the ultimate teacher. Very few teachers turn you away when you are seeking knowlege. They love to pass it on! I praise God for how He did that for me today!
Hooray!

Ephesians

June 2

Visiting a fabulous restaurant in a new city can present a challenge when deciding which dish to order. For me, choosing just one passage in Ephesians to highlight is equally as challenging, so take time to sample all six chapters on your own!

Realize there is armor to be worn, God's workmanship (us) to check out, a call to obey our parents,and challenges to live as children of light and be imitators of God.

This may be selfish,but I am at a point in my life where I only give away gifts I would want to receive. For example, looking over a bridal registry, I pick a gift which is attractive to me. I've used that philosophy with the passage from Ephesians which I have selected to pray over each of you readers and ask that you "boo"merang that prayer right back at me. Paul showed great depth of wisdom in this heartfelt prayer.

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Ephesians 1:15-19

Life Can Stink

June 1
Today would have been my mother's 87th birthday, but she went to party in heaven 10 years ago. I can only imagine the celebration going on up there.
Life doesn't always turn out the way we would like. Sometimes it stinks. I was just emailing a friend who is battling ferocious cancer. When I was at her house last week, her dog passed some knock you off your feet gas. We sat on the couch with a can of Glade air freshener ready for the battle. The stink arises in life, but eventually the air clears and God is still on his throne and when we look back we are richer for the battle. (I know have a memory I will treasure forever of battling with a can of Glade...actually, I misfired one time and got my friend's aunt!)

Getting back to our New Testament walk we join Paul in Galatians. While I am naturally pulled to chapter 5 and the Fruit of the Spirit (as I sit here with a bowl of strawberries and blueberries, God is pulling me up the page to 5:7-8.
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

So when life stinks, persevere until the air clears!

I can't shake the word stretch from my mind this morning. I awakened knowing this old body needed to stretch. Reflecting on the Galatians verse we have been drawn to, we need to stretch ourselves in our spiritual walks.

Wherever our journey takes us today, may we find peace in knowing who has stretched out His hand before us!

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me.

Psalm 138:7