Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Unseen...

God reminded me today of a prayer I prayed a week before everything started going wrong around here. I am reading a book called Soul Shift by Steve DeNeff and David Drury for a growth group I signed up for at church. In the chapter due to be discussed this past week were these words: " Faith's work is not to ignore the stark reality of our enemies lying in wait surrounding us. Rather faith's work is to remind us of another reality even greater than that of the enemy. Faith sees that our enemies have surrounded us. But it also sees that our God has surrounded our enemies, that ' those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' (2 Kings 6: 16) Faith sees the unseen, but the unseen is no less real just because it requires faith to see it." After reading those words I prayed that God would help me to see the unseen. A week later it hit the fan!!

It began with water damage and a rotted wall and floor. Then there were the termites and carpenter ants. After that a power surge fried the control panel on my oven. Add all this to the wait for God to provide a job for my husband and you end up with one really frustrated person, me! So I took a ride in the car to do what seemed best, let off some steam and let God know how I felt with the end destination being the ice cream isle at the super market!

I have learned through the years that God is the best listener. He never interrupts and He never lies to me. I can talk to Him loudly, have anger in my voice, or tears pouring down my face and He doesn't turn me away even though I am a mess! I may not like what He has to say after I am done pouring out my heart to Him, but He is always right and I always feel better if I listen and obey.

So during my ride to the store in the quiet that followed the pouring out of my frustrations and hurts, I heard Him say " Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. " (Hebrews 11:1) and "So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:7)

This was His response to my prayer to be able to see the unseen. I couldn't see past the termites, oven, rotted wall, job situation, and financial cost during my feelings of frustration. I felt surrounded. So what was the unseen that I was missing? I failed to see that God was still there in the midst of it all and had already provided for it. I failed to see that I was being tested and I forgot for a moment that my God is bigger than my circumstances. Hopefully next time I will ace the test!

How about you? What circumstances do you find yourself in that you can't see past? What enemies are you surrounded by? Don't be like me, pass the test. Remember that your God is bigger than the circumstances you find yourself in . Ask Him to be able to see the unseen, to be able to see that you are surrounded by, provided for, and tenderly loved buy your God.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

God's Abundant Goodness...

I have been pondering a verse that I came across the other day. It is Psalm 145:7 "They shall eagerly utter the memory of your abundant goodness." I have been in need of some good news lately and so have many people that I have recently spent time with. Our world is full of bad news. Our lives at any given moment can be full of bad news. So what can encourage us? What can we share with each other that would help us to hang on? We can eagerly share the memories we have of God's abundant goodness.

My grandfather was very good at doing this. I honestly cannot remember a story he told us that did not have mention of God's goodness in it. From the time I was a little girl I heard about how faithful God was in providing for grandpa's needs. God provided food, jobs, shelter, and many other things. He did this many times and in many different ways. Even in my grandfather's old age God provided him with a car from a friend who was a mechanic. This friend also took care of any repairs and maintenance. When my grandfather had a stroke and could not see to read his Bible without a very expensive, special machine, God provided. When Grammy suffered through althzeimer's disease and should have forgotten who grandpa was, God provided Grammy with a miracle for Grandpa's sake. Grammy never forgot who grandpa was, not even once. Grandpa was always eager to share his memories of God's abundant goodness.

This week I was spending time with a friend and we ended up sharing special memories of our families with each other. We were talking about grandparents and laughing about funny things we remembered. But as I shared with her some of my memories of grandpa and the stories he told we both ended up crying. To this day the stories of God's goodness in grandpa's life and how they touched my life continue to encourage others.

As I have spent time thinking about this verse and what it has meant in my own life to hear about God's goodness, I find myself challenged. I am challenged not to allow myself to be weighed down by what troubles me but to choose to remember God's abundant goodness. I am also challenged to eagerly take any and every opportunity to share my memories of God's abundant goodness with others so that they too can be encouraged.

How about you? Are you bogged down with all of the things that are going wrong ? Is your heart heavy with the things that you want to change but are beyond your control? Is there someone you know who needs some hope? Why not take a trip down memory lane and recount God's many blessings in your life? While you're at it eagerly recount them out loud with someone else so they can be encouraged too!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's The Little Things...

This morning I was turning my room upside down searching for some papers. I searched the inside of my Bible, any books I was reading, my night stand, and the dresser drawers. I couldn't find them anywhere and it was really bothering me. They weren't just any papers. They were scripture prayers that I had typed up three years ago to pray for my children. Although I still pray for my children, I hadn't used these particular scripture prayers in a while and felt God tugging on my heart to revisit them. But they were no where to be found. I could easily print another copy from the computer file I had saved, but it wouldn't be the same. So I asked God to help me find my original copy and then went on to make breakfast for the kids.

After breakfast I started to clean my room and decided to clean out my husband's night stand drawer. It seems to be a catch all for all sorts of things. I found old birthday cards, fathers day cards, and anniversary cards that he had stuck in there and decided to sit and reread them. Then I collected them and went to put them in a special box where I save our favorite ones. I opened the box and what did I find? My scripture prayers!!!!

This may seem small to someone else, but I was amused by the detour that God took me on to find them. And I was touched that He cared about a seemingly little thing. He knew I could easily print another copy. But He also knew that the one I had was special to me. It was worn with lots of use, tear stained with smudged ink from the difficulties I was praying through. It had been through the war and back with me and we had seen victory together. He is the lover of my soul and He has always known that for me it's the little things that touch my heart. This got me thinking...

There are so many people I know of right now who are going through BIG things. It's easy to feel alone and like God doesn't care when you are going through the big things. But please don't doubt for a moment that He is right there with you and you are not alone. If He cares enough about the little things like my scripture prayers and answers my small request to find them, then how much more does He care about your big things? Not one of your prayers escapes His ears, not one tear you shed escapes His sight. He loves you and He will see you through the big things! You are not alone.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Generosity...

This week I have found myself struggling with a couple of things I had been told through the years. They are "Don't be a door mat and let people walk all over you" and "Don't let people take advantage of you". These sayings mean the same thing. Know when people are just using you and don't let them do it. My question has always been when do you reach that point? How do you know when you are being taken advantage of and when you are simply being gracious and going the extra mile? And when you do reach that point what do you do?


God has used a child to teach me that these sayings are wrong. They go against what God teaches us. I thought that I was being taken advantage of this week. I thought that this child's mom was taking advantage of me by constantly sending her child over here to play. When my girls would ask to go play at the other child's house the answer was always no with some excuse attached to it. So it lead me to believe, since the child was here from late morning until bed time, that I was being used. Even though this child is one of the best behaved most wonderful kids you'd ever want to know, it bothered me to think I was being used. But I couldn't bring myself to say no. It didn't feel right.

Today I found out that there has been turmoil in this child's home. Coming to play at our house was an escape from it. I learned a very humbling and hard lesson. I need to be willing to be taken advantage of. I need to give freely, of whatever I have, and in this case it was my peaceful home for a refuge. This lesson was hard and humbling for me because I normally have no problem giving or being hospitable. It broke my heart that I had missed what was right in front of me, a child who needed a peaceful place to be. I normally don't miss things like that but God wanted to answer my questions. There is no being taken advantage of if what you are giving is given freely because God has freely given to you.

I share all of this because those sayings I mentioned earlier have been lies I unknowingly believed for years. It saddens me and I am sure there are others who have believed them as well. But the truth is that because we have been loved in the most lavish way and have received the most extravagant gift of salvation, we are to give to others with the same abandon and without hesitation. Matthew 10:8 says, "Freely you have received; freely give."

Will you join with me as I choose to live out what God's Word says and freely give? There are times when it will be tiring and if we give like He does, it will be costly. But it will always be worth it. I know because today there is a child playing in my house without a care in the world, enjoying being an honorary member of our family. And as this child watches our family interact, pray before meals, and live life together God's love will be evident and hopefully that same child will want a relationship with Him.