Making It Work

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” – Proverbs 16:24 NASB

Relationships take work. A lot of work. A wise person once told me that if my relationship was 50-50, it was doomed. It takes 110% from each party to truly be successful. We have to be intentional, investing our whole selves, including our time. I’m not saying you have to be together 100% of the time. In fact, relationships need time apart so that we don’t lose who we are as individuals, but we do need to be conscious of the time we invest. I’m sure it’s especially difficult for parents of small children to have that time investment in each other, but since I haven’t experienced it, I can only say to do what you can. Look for a great mentor couple! For me, it’s the little things that are so important. A random “I love you” text, or a hug, just because. The gentlemanly things like opening a door or holding my chair – those are worth major points! Telling me thank you, for the little things. Listening to me, letting me vent, without trying to fix it (although offering to is nice!). Apologizing when wrong. Forgiving when I am wronged! (A lot of these things go both ways, and it’s critical for me to remember that.) I have to keep my complaining and sarcasm in check, too.

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” – Colossians 3:12‭-‬15 NASB

“For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ” you shall love your neighbor as yourself .” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” – Galatians 5:14‭-‬16 NASB

Someday, I want that relationship. Who knows? Perhaps God will grant that desire. Until that time, I must rest in the LORD.

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Give Me the Sense to Follow Your Commands

“You don’t have the sense that God gave a goose!”

Have you ever heard that? It’s an old country saying – and I hope no one has ever said it about you! It’s far from a compliment; geese are not known for their intelligence. The psalmist may have heard it or something similiar, because for whatever reason, he prays that the LORD GOD will give him the sense to follow His Commands instead of his human ideas. We should probably all start our days with these words being the first ones out of our mouths when we wake up:

“You made me; You created me. Now give me the sense to follow Your Commands.” Psalms 119:73 NLT

I think most of our prayers usually go more like this: “God, I need [fill in the blank], and I want [fill in the blank]. Would You please [fill in the blank]. And, oh, thank You for Your Son, Amen.” We are so selfish and self-centered! I’m speaking to myself, here. I want, I need, my desires…. right now. Maybe – probably – God has other plans for me for the right now. My plans don’t take into account the big picture that the God of the Universe is looking at. All I can see is this one teeny tiny bit that is right around me, and yet:

He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which GOD has done from the beginning even to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NASB

Instead of worrying and trying to manipulate the circumstances and situations around me, it wold be more prudent for me to remember Who is really in control. I still desire the relationship, but the reality, the actuality of it, is out of my hands. It will serve me better to remember these scriptures, and to spend my time Praising rather than pouting that I haven’t gotten my way. (I know what I should do; now to put it into action!)

Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples! For His Lovingkindness is great toward us, And the Truth of the LORD is Everlasting. Praise the LORD! Psalms 117:1‭-‬2 NASB

I Can’t Even THINK!!

“Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.” – Psalms 139:4‭-‬6 NASB

I don’t get it. The psalmist nailed it when he said “such knowledge is too wonderful for me…” The KING has laid His Hand on me; He knows what I’m going to think before I think it. That’s a scary thought….. My thoughts aren’t fit for a king. They are filled with my wants and my desires. How often do you think they line up with what GOD wants? Probably not very often. My mind tends toward obsessiveness. Once I focus on something, it’s difficult to bend that focus. Thoughts of ‘it’ swirl through my mind, waking or sleeping. I tell myself to stop. I read. I study. I work on projects. I even do housework (that’s when you know it’s bad!!).

He Knows by Jeremy Camp says “Every time you feel forsaken, every time that you feel alone, He is near to the brokenhearted, every tear….” Isn’t that beautiful? He knows. He knows every time we feel left out, or left behind. He knows every time we feel alone. He knows when we are brokenhearted, and He knows every tear – and I believe He cries with us. He knows. Humbled, the forsaken and the brokenhearted, are in an enviable position with the LORD. He feels every tear that is shed, and He will exalt them in His time.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time…” – 1 Peter 5:6 NASB

Be careful what you think – GOD already knows it! And be careful what you wish for, because He might just give it to you.

Beat the Heat!

It’s hot. HOT. 103°F with a million degrees of humidity. I’m kidding (a little!) on the humidity, but it is really high and it kicks the heat index up. Every winter, when I can’t seem to get warm, I say I can’t wait until summer and the heat…. now I’m ready for some cool weather!

Isn’t this typical of us? Never content.

There’s a new song out by the group Unspoken. It’s called Reason, and starts like this:

This year’s felt like four seasons of winter
And you’d give anything you think to feel the sun
Always reaching always climbing
Always second guessing the timing
But God has a plan a purpose in this
You are His child so don’t you forget

When you feel like giving up
When you feel like giving in
His love is the reason
To keep on believing

Look up the lyrics, or even better, listen to them sing it. I feel like giving up more often that I think I should. Whether it’s because of the heat from the sun or the heat (and wintry chills) of the stresses of life, I second guess my actions and wonder what I’m doing. Remember the hymn Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus? I know that as long as my eyes and my focus are on Jesus, life can’t hurt me. It can knock me down, and events can run run me over, but as long as my eyes are on Jesus, it – life, the enemy – can’t beat me. God has a purpose and a plan, even when (especially when) we can’t see it.

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 NASB

When we belong to Him, His incredible, undefinable, unfathomable LOVE will keep us going. His LOVE is the Reason to keep on believing….

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6 NASB

This summer heat we are experiencing is just an example of the heat, the difficulties, we experience in our spiritual lives when we don’t trust in the LORD. When you feel like giving up, when the coldest chill of winter and the hottest blast of summer roar over your soul, turn your eyes upon Jesus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His Wonderful Face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the Light of His Glory and Grace

Grace, Compassion, and Justice equal Blessings

“Therefore the LORD longs to be Gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have Compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of Justice; How Blessed are all those who long for Him.” – Isaiah 30:18 NASB

GOD waits on me. He waits on you.

Did you understand that statement? GOD waits on you. He is waiting on me.

Reading the scriptures, the Words of the Living GOD never fail to amaze me. The Truths that are written so matter-of-factly. The miracles. The history. The Almighty Creator put these words into the hands and the mouths of men who put them on paper, so that thousands of years later the words would be here for us to see. Depending on the source you use, some 35-40 actual men put words on paper (or clay or papyrus or parchment) over a period spanning as much as 3400 years. From the very beginning of time, we know there is a Triune God Who loves His creation, and Who made us, humanity, to be with Him. We also know that He gave us the ability through the gift of free will to choose whether we want to be with Him, or without Him. Even when we choose to go our own way, He patiently waits on us.

Who do we think we are that we make the CREATOR wait on us?

What arrogance. What conceit! And yet, He still waits; He even longs for us. Do you remember falling in love? That giddiness you felt in their presence; the longing to be with that person? Just to hear their voice, or to get a note or text? Multiply that a thousand times, and we might get close to knowing how much our LORD longs for us. I’m impatient. I don’t like waiting. I want my love to be here now. I don’t want to wait, and I’m not inclined to be gracious or compassionate about the wait. Isn’t that just like us, though? We want what we want now…… while our GOD waits patiently, graciously, and compassionately for us.

He offers us the shelter of His Mighty wings. His angel army watches over us. The more we learn about the LORD, the more protection we gain from the enemy. How Blessed we are to call Him LORD!!

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” – Psalms 91:1 NASB

Image from Pinterest.com.

To Every Season

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven- A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace. ….He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1‭-‬8, 11 NASB

In the late 1950’s, songwriter Pete Seeger created the song Turn, Turn, Turn as an almost word-for-word rendition of verses 1-8 of this scripture passage. It has been recorded and re-recorded, and it is an amazing, beautiful platform for King Solomon’s words. But keep reading…. “He has made everything appropriate in its time.” We don’t understand God (how can we??), or why things happen the way they do, or even what we are supposed to do with our circumstances, but He does.

I’d like to know my appointed times. Well, sometimes I think I would. Other times, I don’t want to know! What would be the point in luving life, if we already knew everything that was going to happen, and when it would happen? Where would the adventure be? Anticipation? Excitement? Life would be dull. Monotonous. There wouldn’t be a reason to make any decisions. Even though I wouldn’t mind skipping the ugly parts of life, how could we possibly know just how good the good times are if there weren’t something to compare them to?

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the Will of the LORD is.” – Ephesians 5:15‭-‬17 NASB

God gave us free will. It’s up to us to make the most of it. Grab that moment of happiness, that ray of sunshine through the clouds. Hold on to the good. Spend time with the LORD, determining the best next step. Pray. Praise. Determine to let the Love of the LORD shine on you, no matter how tattered and confused you feel today. Dwell in Him.

I Hate Myself

“I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man’s actions but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner. …I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life — namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Ulike Lewis, I didn’t love myself. I didn’t love what I was doing, either. Sometimes, I still don’t. Okay, I don’t really hate myself, at least not anymore, but there are plenty of times I don’t like myself. That’s why I sit in awe as I read this passage from the Psalms.

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. ……Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” – Psalms 139:1‭-‬12‭, ‬16 NASB

I’ve said this before, and I am sure to repeat it many more times: The GOD Who created everything, sun, moon, stars, planets, galaxies, and the very atoms and neutrons that compose them, knows me. He KNOWS me – and even knowing me, He LOVES me anyway….. AND He never leaves me!

That just blows my mind.

Back to C.S. Lewis’s statement about loving himself. I admire that. Think about it a minute. If GOD loves me, in spite of me being me, where do I get off not loving myself? It’s important that we distinguish our actions from our being. If The Great I Am loves me, there really isn’t any excuse for me not to love myself. That goes for you, too. Love yourself. Hate what you are doing, perhaps, but keep in mind that GOD created you and He loves you. He loves us so much that He came to earth, God incarnate, and sacrificed Himself so that we can spend eternity with Him if we choose. Our choice.

Think about how much He LOVES you.