Monday, October 31, 2011

My Morning Dose of Conviction

Psalm 78:39 For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

Psalm 78 is a concise history of Israel. It rehearses the story of the Israelites as they left Egypt and traveled toward the promised land. During their journey, they complain over and over. They turn back on God over and over. Yet, over and over the Lord delivers them and provides for them.

You know, I've been catching myself complaining lately. I grumble and mumble, mostly under my breath, but it shows on my countenance that I am not content! I was just smitten by the Holy Spirit about it yesterday. Now, today, I read about the children of Israel and how they griped - and I didn't read it in Exodus, oh no! I read it in Psalms! I think the Lord is trying to tell me something. And it is this: stop complaining. I need to just take God at His Word with confidence that He will keep His promises! I know He will, I've seen Him do it over and over! So, this is not a stretch for me to believe. In fact, it should be automatic. But, I am just flesh. I fail. I often make the same mistakes over and over. I grow weary of being in this trial....when will it end?! When I feel panicky, I must turn to God, He will help me. I must guard my mouth for it will not!

I'm so grateful for this verse! I'm so happy that God remembers I'm flesh, that my life is just a breeze that will not come again. So is this trial. Contrary to popular belief, it will not last forever. He will see me through it. I'm thankful for God's mercy and forgiveness!

Well, now that I've been thoroughly convicted of my sin, I think I'll go on with my day. But not in my flesh, in His strength.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blossoms in the Desert

Is. 35:1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

This verse captured my imagination today! The wilderness and desert shall rejoice? There will be roses blossoming in the desert? I know that there is a really deep truth to this passage. It's referring to the gathering of Israel. Isaiah is a prophet for the people of Israel, his words refer directly to them.

But think about this! Isn't it true that God takes our desert moments, our wilderness experiences, and turns them into something beautiful? God did that for the children of Israel when they were leaving Egypt. They were not in a pretty place, they were not in fun circumstances, yet over and over, God provided in amazing ways! He sent them blessings that they would not have seen anywhere else!

I can say that God has done that for me, too. Because of suffering with PPD not once, but twice, I saw the Lord work in my life in ways others have missed out on. Because of losing my Dad suddenly when I was 26 years old, I've seen God work miracles in my life. I've received blessings from His hand that I would not have gotten if Dad were still here. Do I wish the Lord could have left him here longer? Oh yes! That will never change. But if I have to go through hard times, I'm so thankful I have the Lord to go with me. He sends blossoms in the desert to make the journey easier, and that is a great blessing.

Are you in a personal wilderness today? Is your desert hot and dry? You are not alone! Cry out to your Heavenly Father and request a few roses! He will send them, and even better, He will see you through to the other side. If you don't know the Lord as your Savior, then go HERE for more information, or write me using the contact page above. He's waiting with open arms for you, to see you through and to send you some blossoms in the desert.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Prayer

Psalm 71:18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed they strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.

I grew up in a Baptist church where the pastor was bold, and told it like it was! No sugar-coating or treading lightly. He often told us young people that most of us would not stay in church as adults, because we were only coming because our parents made us. It wasn't in our own hearts to be there, in fact, some of us were rebelling inside about being at church. Ouch! I really liked church as a kid, but, in the spirit of being "real", the main reason I liked it was because my friends were there. I loved to talk! :) I remember thinking about his words about church in the car on the way home one night. I wondered to myself  if I would stay in church, or fall out? I wasn't sure.

I have good news for my pastor and all of you! I stayed in church! And, I love going to church! Not because I get to talk to people, either. I really love the preaching of God's Word. The difference in my feelings now compared to as an eight year old girl, is that I'm saved! I wasn't even born again way back when. Another difference is maturity. I didn't understand a lot of the verses and sermons that I heard as a child, but I do now! Well...most of them. ;)

My prayer now, as an adult, is that I would stay faithful to the Lord in all areas of my life: my Bible time, prayer time, church attendance, witnessing, serving in some area, until I die. I pray that I cling to the promises of God's Word until I've shown God's power to my children and the generation to come after me. 1 Cor. 10:12 reminds us that we should never assume we are standing strong in the faith. Just as soon as I think, "I'll be faithful till the end, no problem!" I'll find myself away from God, doing my own thing. Why? Because of pride! I want to stay faithful to the Lord, that's my goal, but I know I can only do it with His help.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Screams of Love

Psalm 69:20 Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.

I've spent my entire life around Christian people. The ones I was closest to, my family, were genuine. They battled the flesh, turned to God's Word, got victory, grew, and then battled the flesh in some other area and the process repeated itself. While growing up, I noticed there were other Christians who never seemed to battle anything. If you talked to them, they were strong in faith, always upbeat, positive and victorious in their Christian lives. Then, a few years went by, and they left church completely for some unknown reason, or they fell into sin and didn't want to get up again. That was that. So much for the constant grin they once had! I try just to be real - let folks know that yes, I struggle. Likewise, I try tell folks that yes, I know where to go for help - the Bible and my Heavenly Father!

When my Dad died suddenly seven years ago, I cannot begin to tell you some of the stupid comments people made to me at the funeral. They meant well, but man! Did they ever hurt an already breaking heart! When I was in the throws of PPD (but didn't know it) a preacher that I believed I could trust blew me off completely. It wasn't long after that the thought of just going on to Heaven was in my mind. I came very close to taking God's most precious gift to me, my life. I didn't know I had a medical condition that could be corrected. I just knew I was hurting, and that I needed someone to care. I didn't dare tell anyone else about my problem after that, because I couldn't bare someone else ignoring my cries for help.

David understands what I'm talking about. In the verse today, he is hurting. He looks for comforters and finds none. No one cares, no one understands. Yes, we as believers have the Lord, but we need each other, too. Sometimes, I just need to "vent". Sometimes, I need to weep. Sometimes, I need someone to listen without judging me.

The Lord has proven to me that He is enough, He's also given me a wonderful listener in my husband and mother and sister. They don't judge me or criticize me, they just care about me. They put up with my ups and downs without keeping track of my failures. That speaks, no screams, "I LOVE YOU!"

This verse today reminded me that there are many hurting, struggling people out there. I want to be sure that I'm a listener and not a critic the next time someone needs to feel loved. In fact, I think I'll look for someone to scream love to. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

But If Not

Dan. 3:17-18 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

It was probably the hardest trial I'd faced in my 26 years of living. I was driving down a main thoroughfare in Lawrence, Kansas, and my car started huffing and puffing, like it was about to die. It had been doing this for weeks. We had two children, lived in a ghetto, and barely made ends meet from week to week. My Dad died suddenly and our car was too iffy to drive the eight hours to the funeral. Our pastor loaned us his vehicle so we could go home and bury my Dad. Right after that, the knock on the door was the landlord, telling us that if we didn't pay our month overdue rent soon, he'd have to evict us.Our car was a  frustrating problem that angered me. In that frustration, I said to the Lord when I was alone, "We're not quitting! It doesn't matter what happens, we're not quitting!" Tears streamed down my face. The truth is, I wanted to quit. I wanted to give up, go back to Arkansas, live in a little house with a white picket fence and try to grow flowers. I was tried of the ghetto, tired of the faulty car, tired of being broke. We worked in the jail ministry, Sunday School, soul winning, choir, and volunteered wherever we were needed. And all of this while my husband was on thirds at work. It felt like the least the Lord could do is keep a roof over our heads and our car running!

That day, I had a choice to make: would I serve the Lord even if He took the roof from over my head? Would I keep serving even if I broke down (right across from KU of all places!) and I had to walk home? Would I serve the Lord if He left me in the ghetto forever? I decided yes. Yes, I would.

I'm not in the ghetto anymore. I haven't been that close to eviction since that day in Lawrence. But, I'm in a trial. I'm weary, I want to quit. I feel forsaken, forgotten, and fruitless. I have a choice to make: will I keep serving the Lord, even if I never see His hand in my life (in a tangible way) again? If I remain alone forever, will I stay faithful to Him? The tears stream down my cheeks, I can't stop them. My heart is heavy with a desire to do more for His cause and tired of fighting Satan who is hindering every tiny effort I make. I'm very tired.

The three Hebrew boys were ready to take God's promises to the bank in the verse above. They said "Our God can take care of this fiery furnace, no problem!" Then, they had to face this stark possibility: what if He didn't? What if they died? We know the ending, but they didn't. And yet, they boldly declare "BUT IF NOT,...we will NOT serve thy gods nor worship thy golden image..." That's courage. That's faith. That's what I want! Everyone wants to serve God when He's allowing souls to be saved in church, or when He's sending us a check in the mail everyday, or when He's answering every prayer we pray.

But, what about when He seems to have moved away? What about the times He says "No". What if He says, "I'm giving you opposition" or "I'm not going to meet that need"? What then? Can we say "I'm serving You, no matter what, Lord!" or will we quit?

By the way, the Lord sent us the money to catch up on our rent through an amazing source. He also sent the money to us to get our car repaired. And, three months after my Dad went to Heaven, the Lord allowed us to move to Texas, out of the ghetto.

Are you ready to give up? Are you so sad today, you can barely stop the tears for a moment? Me too. Let's not give up, okay? Let's keep going! Let's say with faith that God CAN take care of these problems, but let's go ahead and add, "But if not, I'm serving You anyway!"

And then, let's wait for the miracle!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back to Reality

Psalm 63:1-2 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 

Well, as some of you may know, I just returned from a whirlwind trip to the windy city, Chicago! Thank you to those of you that prayed for me. I cannot begin to explain how wonderful it was to be at that conference. The people there said I was a blessing to them, but I know for a fact that they ministered to me far more than I did to them. Their friendliness bowled me over, I haven't been made to feel that wanted in all of my life! The music was so beautiful, their smiles radiant, and their laughter contagious. My dry, parched soul soaked it up and wanted more!

It was wonderful to wrap my arms around my sweet babies yesterday afternoon, and of course, get a smooch from the man. ;-) But, I wasn't home long before the dirty laundry, messy floors, and needs of the children (combined with my extreme fatigue) overwhelmed me. I wanted to go back to my Chicago friends, sing songs, laugh and visit. But, I'd take the kids with me this time!. :)

I'm sitting here, amid the clutter that collects when mom is away, reading my Bible, wishing to go back, wishing to feel that "soaking" of joy and love again. But, my Best Friend came to meet with me today. He knew that I'd feel a bit sad and lonely to have left such wonderful people so far away. He knows I'm thirsting for Him in this dry land. He knows I'm longing to see His hand work miracles! Here are some words He said to me today:

Psalm 61:2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 62:8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.

Psalm 63: 8 My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.

I cry out to Him today, I pour my heart out before Him now, I follow hard after Him during these melancholy moments. He gives me strength, He restores my joy, and renews my spirit. He very good to me.

If anyone from First Baptist Church of Sauk Village, IL, is reading, thank you so much for all you did for me at the conference. God used you to help a very weary sister (me). Thank you!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where to Take Broken Toys

Ps. 59:17 Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.

The excitement and nerves surrounding this trip to Chicago has been a blessed diversion from the fact that daily, I'm in a battle. Problems, temptations and enemies are all around me. When this excitement is over, I will still have these battles to face. What will I do, then? Will I sit down and wallow in it? Will I mope? Pout? I hope not!

This verse today was an encouragement to me. It reminds me that GOD is my strength! HE is my defense and HE will take care of me. I don't run to him often enough, though. I first try to fix things myself, sometimes many times, before I hand the situation to the Lord as a child hands a broken toy to their parents. One thing about children, though, is that they don't try to fix a broken toy, they immediately bring it to their parents! I suppose they realize their lack of ability to repair it, so they take it to the person they love and trust the most, hoping they have the answer.

That's what I need to do. I need to immediately run to the Lord, the one whom I love and trust the most,  for help. I am too inadequate, I can't do anything without Him. I want to be a blessing to the ladies today, but guess what! I'm too inadequate! I'm just flesh and blood, sinful and not smart! I need the Lord to use me, to work through me, to fix me up so I can do this work.

What might it be for you today? Caring for a sick child or parent? More month at the end of the money? Illness yourself? Job loss? Criticism from those whom you though loved you? Loneliness? Whatever it is, take your "broken toy" to the Lord, and let Him fix it. Run to Him for strength and protection. He is only a prayer away.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fear of...Everything!

Psalm 56:3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

David knew about fear. Saul, the King of Israel, was out to get him. This means that the armies of Saul were after him, and anyone loyal to Saul. That's something to fear!

When I became a mother for the first time on August 27, 1999, I began the amazing journey of motherhood. Everything about it was fearful to me. What if she caught some terrible disease and I didn't know what to do? What if I didn't feed her enough? What if the house caught fire and I couldn't get her out? What if we had a car accident and I couldn't get her out of her car seat? On and on. Yes, this was exacerbated by terrible case of PPD, but I've felt fear regarding my children since then, too. I fear flying, driving long distances, tornadoes, and so on.

Regarding my own safety, I often think, "Why would God protect me? I'm not doing enough for Him! I'm not worth His protecting!" But that's where I'm wrong. God loves me...that's so hard for me to understand. You see, I know me! I'm flying today to Chicago. I will be away for three days! I haven't been away from my entire family in a lo--- ever! I'm nervous about how they will do while I'm gone. I want to be here to care for them, yet my husband and I feel that this opportunity is from the Lord, so I need to go.

I'll be speaking at a ladies conference during my trip. I'm looking forward to meeting new people, hearing the other speakers, laughing at the skits, and visiting with believers. But, along with that excitement also comes fear: What if something happens on the flight? What if I totally make a fool of myself? And on and on.

What a joy to read today this wonderful verse of comfort! Instructions from the Lord on how to handle fear! Boy, do I need that today! This is proof He loves me, that he cares for me. My fears are not the same as David's, but fear is a powerful force regardless of what we're fearing. It could be fear of the future, fear of financial reversal, fear of sickness or fear of everything!

I'm consciously handing my fears over to the Lord today. I'm trusting Him for strength, and I know He won't let me down.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Clean Heart

Psalm 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

It wasn't too long ago that one of my children came to me in tears to confess a sin. This child had taken some candy and eaten it, without asking the person who owned it - they had stolen! My husband and I would have never known had this child not come to confess. Punishment had to be given, and of course, restitution of the stolen candy had to be made out of their own cash reserves.

I know it sounds strange, but I was so happy that this whole thing happened. I wasn't glad my child had stolen, but I was so glad that they confessed! They could have buried this sin deep within their heart, and no one would have been the wiser, but they didn't. They came, in tears no less, and made things right. Joy was immediately restored to this child's heart. They had confessed, apologized and made things right. It was over and all was well.

That's how I feel when I do wrong. The Lord sees all of the sins I commit, even the ones that are only in my heart. He doesn't require that I make things right but I'm miserable until my sin is confessed and forsaken. After I talk to the Lord about it, joy is immediately restored. It's almost like a physical burden is lifted! Life never looks as wonderful as it does after I've experienced forgiveness.

Recently, I sat in church, feeling horrible. I knew what it was sin! I had sin in my heart - no one knew about it but me and the Lord - but it felt as if everyone could see. I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to lay that sin down, but on top of the sin in my heart, I also had the sin of pride! Isn't that how it works with sin? We start off when one, then it seems to multiply! I didn't want to admit that I was wrong. I stayed unhappy most of the day. Finally, I acknowledged my sin. I asked the Lord to forgive me and immediately felt relief.

The Lord had forgiven me, but I was concerned that I'd slip back into this sin again. I can relate to Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me. I felt as though I needed to be "renewed". I needed a clean heart, free from the guilt of the past. I need to pray each morning asking God for a clean heart.Why? Because sins of the heart are very easy to fall back into. They require no outside activity. You can have a bitter spirit, bad attitude or angry heart without anyone knowing or seeing.

I'm so grateful that the Lord not only has power to forgive me and cleanse me of sin, but He also has the power to help me to stop committing sin. For me, crying out to God daily (or hourly) is the best way to stay clean.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Formula for Peace

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

10 Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, will be exalted in the earth.

I'm a homeschooling mom of five kids and a pastor's wife. This means I live in a fishbowl. Everyone watches me, and most criticize me. No, not to my face. But do I look stupid? Wait. Don't answer that. Forget I asked that, okay? :) I know what people gets back around eventually. It may not be, and probably isn't, their exact words. But it gets around. It gets distressing. Oh, and guilt! Wow! Do I know about guilt! I often think, "Why don't I do that?" "I'm such a bad mom because I don't do that!" "Oh, wow, I blew it there!" And so the guilt mounts.

Criticism + fatigue + guilt = a very distressed me.

These verses today reminded me that when the criticisms come, when the storms of life are raging, He is my refuge and strength. I run to Him! How? By praying and studying His Word!

Then, I get still. This is the hardest part for me. I want to fix the problem. I want to do something. But He wants me to relax and rest in Him. He will handle the critics. He will give me rest. He takes away the guilt by reminding me that I must not compare myself to others. I must do what HE wants ME to do.


I have a lot to do today: Groceries, house work, budgeting, homeschooling...oh and I have to go to the doctor for my horrible asthma. I usually have to wait a long time at the doctor's office, which stresses me. But, I won't let it bother me today! I'm planning to just be still, to wait, to rest.

These verses reminded me of a song with wonderful words. I hope you like them, too.

When the storms of life are raging,
Stand by me (stand by me);
When the storms of life are raging,
Stand by me (stand by me);
When the world is tossing me
Like a ship upon the sea
Thou Who rulest wind and water,Stand by me (stand by me).

Are you in a storm today? Is your life rocking you to and fro, up and down? The One upon whom we call is the One who said this:

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. - Mark 4:39

Monday, October 17, 2011


Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me and heard my cry.

This verse gives me hope. Hope that if I keep waiting for the Lord, as David did, I will receive answers to my heart cries. My dad would often say to me the old adage, "It's always darkest just before dawn." Surely our dawn is nigh, though I do wonder. We are saying goodbye to an answer to prayer this week. A family with five children joined our church almost a year and half ago. God sent them just for us! Their children are the same ages as our children. Their oldest daughter was our babysitter! They are a sweet, dedicated family. Then, his job relocated him! We heard they were moving about a year ago now. He works for the post office, and they move slowly. When they told me the news, it was like a punch in the stomach. I walked home, telling the Lord all about it. "Lord, why? Why must they go? They were the answer to prayer that You gave us!" I knew in my heart that God will do that which He sees fit and He knows best. It was as though He said, "Valerie, will you trust me? When things are confusing, will you just trust that I know best?"

Yes, Lord, I will trust you.

I can't begin to describe the pain of the last three years, especially the last few months. I tried typing it all out, but it just seemed too painful to re-live, so I deleted it. The bottom line is that things have been bad, and then worse. But things were bad for David, too. He faced some of the same situations we have. He cried out to the Lord over and over. Finally, we see in Psalm 40 that the Lord heard his cry! Praise the Lord! Help came! He was delivered! That gives me hope. One day, I will be delivered, too. It may be when He takes me home to Heaven. But I think I'll be delivered here, from these problems. I have hope, from the Lord, and that's really all I need.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Misunderstood Verse

Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Part of my reading today was Psalm 35, 36, and 37. The above verse jumped out at me. I first heard this verse misused by a prominent lady in Independent Baptist circles. I was only about 16 at the time, and didn't even realize it was being misused. Since then, I've heard about a half dozen preachers misuse it, as well as several ladies. They didn't mean to misuse it at all! In fact, the way they used it made perfect sense to me!

In the years that have come and gone, I've tried to learn more about God's Word and theology in general. I'm certainly not up to par with my husband, who can seem to wrap his brain around truths that just leave me scratching my head. But, I'm learning, bit by bit, little by little, more about God's Word and His lessons therein for my life.

This verse was often interpreted to me to be saying, "If you delight yourself in the things of the Lord, He will give you those things which your heart desires." If you want a new car, He will bless you with one! If you want a friend, BAM! You got it! Want a new ______ (fill in the blank)? Then you will get it, if you're delighting in the things of the Lord. The inverse was also said to be true: if you aren't getting the desires of your heart, you are not delighting yourself in the Lord.

However, this verse isn't talking about my desires. My desires are fleshly, carnal. That doesn't mean they are bad, necessarily, but they stem from my sinful nature. After a bit of studying, we can see that this verse is saying "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires that you should have in your heart." He will show you what you should desire. He will give you a desire to know more about God's Word. He will make a part of you want to pray. He will prompt you to witness to that friend at work. He will make us want what He wants. Does that mean if you're wanting a new dress, and you faithfully serve the Lord and pray for one, that He won't give you that because it's a fleshly thing? No, I'm not saying that at all. God frequently blesses His children in very special ways with things that are not necessities of life. In fact, He often gives me tangible blessings even when I'm not faithfully serving and living for Him; even when I fail Him, He blesses me!

The ultimate blessing that a child of God can receive is a relationship with the Lord of hosts, the Creator of the universe! Think about it: He doesn't just save us, He wants to be our very best friend. He wants to talk to us and have us talk to Him. He wants to lead us, comfort us, protect us, and yes, even chasten us. He wants to give us joy, peace, love, and on and on I could go! No carnal blessing can come close to matching that!

To think that God cares about me and wants to show me what I should desire! It's better than a new car! I am of all people most unworthy. I fail Him everyday, yet I long to do better. I let Him down, I know I do, and yet He loves me and forgives me. He helps me get up and try again for Him. Why do I want to do better? Because He wants me to. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to walk with Him. I pray the Lord will help me to walk closer everyday.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Willing Heart

Ex. 35:21 And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation and for all his service, and for the holy garments.

This verse stood out to me today. The word "willing" is used six times in this chapter in reference to people bringing their gifts or offering their service to the Lord as they built the Tabernacle. The phrases "wise hearted"  and "whose heart stirred him up" are used twice. I'm thinking there is a lot to be said for a "willing heart", and our hearts are powerful if they can "stir us up". Everyone has a willing heart for something. People who are good at their jobs are that way because they are simply "willing" to do a good job, and it shows! Kids who do well in school, do so because they are "willing" to give their best and study. People who are great at playing the piano were willing to spend hours sitting at one, practicing. Their willingness to sacrifice their time is the reason they can make it look so easy.

Have you noticed that people do what they want to do? I recently received a lovely necklace with matching earrings from my sister-in-law. She made them herself! I absolutely love the gift, and I admire her skill! She used her talent for me because she wanted to. I didn't ask her to. I didn't expect her to. She was willing to do it and I'm so blessed because of it.

It's true in our Christian life, too. We read our Bible every day because we want to. We submit to our husbands because we want to. We go to church, serve in some capacity, witness, and on and on only because we want to. No one can (nor should they have to) make us live for the Lord. We should be willing to do it. Christ died for me, the least I can do is live for Him. Am I where I want to be in my walk with God? No way. But I'm working to become better, because I want to.

I'm not sure how many folks in Israel were unwilling to bring an offering or do some service for the tabernacle. Moses doesn't mention them. If we want to make our life count, if we want to be remembered, then we must give and serve willingly.

"Willingness" is the only difference between a cold, lukewarm, or hot Christian. I'm doing a "willing heart" checkup on myself today. How 'bout you?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More from Psalms

I felt compelled to begin reading Psalms. About a week ago, that's what I did. I'm also reading Matthew, Isaiah and Exodus. I usually don't begin a new book until I've finished one, but my soul yearned for the comfort of Psalms so I gave in. I have enjoyed it so much. David has ups and downs, struggles and victories. He pours his heart out to the Lord time and time again, and always comes away changed. Terry and I often discuss our "Davidic moments". In our family, that phrase refers to when we start out our quiet time or our day heavy-hearted, ready to quit, questioning God's plan but end up joyful, encouraged, and with increased faith. How does this change take place? GOD! As we read His word and, like David, pour out our hearts before Him, He changes us. Not our circumstances, but us.

If you don't already have a quiet time scheduled in your day to read God's Word and pray, I encourage you begin now. It doesn't have to take a long time, 15 minutes or more, if you have it. Something is better than nothing. :)

Here are some verses that blessed me today.

Psalm 30:5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Oh how I needed to be reminded that joy will come!)

Psalm 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. (Hallelujah! I need "strengthening"!)

Psalm 32:7 Thou art my hiding place; thous shalt preserve me from trouble; thous shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. (I'm running to my "Hiding Place" today.)

Psalm 32:10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. (I need mercy...desperately.)

I'm so thankful for His Word!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Psalm 27:11,13-14

Ps. 27:11 Teach my thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Today's verses encouraged me so much. I just want to dissect them a bit, and share how they blessed me.

"lead me in a plain path" - I've always loved this verse. David asks God for a plain, or clear, path. Not an easy path, not a fun path or a path to wealth and fame, but clear. David doesn't want to have any doubt that he's headed in the direction in which God wants him to go. That is my prayer, also. I hate "ambiguous". I like "obvious". :)

"I had fainted, unless I believed" - Sometimes, our faith and belief that God is working is all we have. We can't see Him working. Sometimes, I wonder if He even hears my prayers or knows I'm still alive. Then, the Holy Spirit inside me reminds me that feelings can be wrong. I must trust Him, even when I can't see evidence that He is here.Because He is.

"to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living." - I often feel encouraged that one day, when I die, I'll be in heaven! Hallelujah! I'll be with the Lord forever and ever! No pain, no sorrow, no tears, no goodbyes, no sin!! But, David says he believed that the he'd see God's goodness in the land of the living. That means, on earth, while he's still alive. I believe I'll see God's blessings now. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. As long as I'm alive, I must believe I'll see the Lord's goodness. I know I will after I die. It's nice to know it while I'm still breathing, too.

"Wait on the LORD" - Waiting is very hard to do for me. I'm an instant gratification kind of girl. But waiting is good for me, and, it's necessary. Not waiting would mean not following God's plan. Bleck.

"be of good courage, and he will strengthen thine heart" - It sounds pie in the sky, doesn't it? Like something I'd say to my four year old to stall her. But, it's true. Just recently I've discovered that if I wait on the Lord and boldly face situations where it would be easier just to run, I get strength. Not enough to last all month or all week, but enough to last all day. Then, the next day, I get more, and so on. Before I know it, I've made it, not just a week, but a month or more.

"wait, I say, on the LORD." - Repetition. Because I'm hard headed and stubborn.

God is good, even when life is bad.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Strength

Is. 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

I've heard this verse quoted and even sung most of my life. I'd say it's right up there with Psalm 23 and Romans 8:28 in the popularity department. But, most of my life, I really didn't know what it meant.I used to think, "Of course you have strength when you're just waiting! Who's doing anything when they're waiting?" I pictured someone sitting on the sidelines of a ball game, waiting.

But, in the Christian life, there is no such thing as just sitting on the sidelines. Or, there shouldn't be. All Christians are to be busy while we wait upon the Lord's return. A Christian should be busy praying, reading and studying God's Word, caring for our families and teaching our children the Bible, witnessing to friends and family, helping others, and serving in our churches just to name a few. This can get exhausting! Especially when you're waiting on the Lord to send a blessing; to make your efforts bring forth fruit. Because, only God can save someone or help someone to grow in knowledge of Him.

Tick tock, tick tock...when? When will He send His blessings? I've been waiting on the Lord for some time now. I have had so many lonely days when my spirit was restless and I was ready to give up. Then, just recently, I realized that I hadn't given up. In fact, I seem to have more enthusiasm, not less. I have some hope, even if it's not much. I feel like I have my "second wind"; I feel good! Have circumstances improved? Not really. Has God sent that blessing I'm waiting for? Well, not yet, but I think He will soon! Then, I remembered this verse, and I realized that, like all of God's Word, this part is true, too. If I wait, if I stay busy for Him, He will renew my strength and help to keep running, to keep walking, to keep going, for Him.

Thank you, Lord, for the trials. Thank you for the strength to carry on. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Beginning Again

Psalm 19:12-14 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the mediation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.

As I read this Psalm this morning, my heart cried out in agreement with David's words! Oh how I want to cleansed from "secret faults" or sins that I am unaware that I'm committing. In fact, I want the Lord to make me aware of them. I want to cease all sin, if it is possible to do so.

I also do not want to give in to the presumptuous sins, the ones I know I'm committing. There are times each month when it is easy for me justify a bad temper or ill nature. I don't ever want to justify sin. I can also justify harsh words sometimes, by saying "I was provoked! It's so-and-so's fault!" But the truth is, it is my fault when that happens. I control my tongue, not so-and-so.

Psalm 19:14 is my husband's life verse and it should be mine, also. 99.9% of the sin I commit is either thinking bad thoughts or saying hurtful words. I want to defeat that sin, but I can only do so with the Lord's help. May all the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart to be acceptable to the Lord. What is it they say? "The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step"?

I begin -again - today.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Encouragement from the Lord

Is. 40:29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Ps. 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in the presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

What a blessing to be reminded today that the Lord is with me, and He will increase my strength just when I need it. He will direct me on this road of life. I have not felt well for several days. My allergies and asthma are really giving me fits. When I do feel well, I also feel "drugged" from the cold medicine I'm taking. I am thankful that the Lord will increase my strength when I'm faint, both physically and spiritually. When I feel ill physically, it's hard to concentrate on His Word and glean what I need from it. I'm so thankful that when I'm weak, when I'm weary, He will uphold me and keep me going.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

Psalm 13:1 How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?

I admit, that I've felt this way lately. I've wondered where the Lord is, how long must I be in difficult situations, forever? I was eager to read this chapter, which is only 6 verses long, to see the answer that David got. David basically pours his heart out to the Lord for four verses and then stops. Just like that.

Verses 5-6 say: But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. David totally changes perspective. He remembers the mercy that God gave him, and that God is extending that same mercy to others who equally don't deserve it. He remembers that God has blessed him, so he can no longer complain to the Lord, but rather, praise Him, for truly, God has "dealt bountifully with him".

You know, it's true for me, too. I have problems and enemies. Yet, God freely gives His mercy. I know, because I receive it every day. So, I say with David, He has dealt bountifully with me, and I will trust Him. It really is just a matter of perspective.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Refuge

Psalm 9:9-10 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

These verses were such a blessing to me today! I just wanted to share them. What a blessing that those of us who know the name of the Lord will trust in him. Why? Because, as verse ten says, he "hast not forsaken us". I'll be honest, sometimes I feel like waving toward heaven and saying "Yoohoo! I'm down here!", because I feel invisible to the Lord. But feelings, as we all know, are not facts. The facts are found in God's Word, and He says He is my refuge and that He has not forsaken me, nor will He ever forsake me.

Isn't that wonderful news?! I've been oppressed lately from various angles. I'm weary, I feel beaten up. These are truly troublesome times. What a comfort to know where to go in times like these - to the feet of my Lord in prayer; to the pages of His Word. My Lord is my refuge and I run to Him today. Would you like to come, too? There's room for all.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dust and Sin

James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Dusting is always the chore that I put off until last. I only dust when it's bad enough to write your name in it! At least then I can see the difference after I dust! It looks shining and beautiful. I dust our ceiling fans once a year, and the blinds...well, about once a year. Periodically, I dust my kitchen cabinets and the corners of the ceilings in all the rooms where cobwebs like to gather. I never thought about the walls, until one day, the door to our school room was open and the light from those windows shone perfectly on the wall of our darkened entry room, where I was standing. The light revealed a layer of dust and even cobwebs clinging in lines across the wall! I was shocked! How could a wall get so dusty? How could I let it get so dirty?

It immediately made me think about how I feel whenever I look into the perfect law of liberty, God's Word, or hear a sermon and the light is shone on my sin. I'm shocked! How could I let that sin in my life? Perhaps it's envy or anger or bitterness, sins that only I know about.

I'm thankful for the light of God's Word that reveals the things I need to "clean out" of my life. I'll be cleaning the dust off the walls and the sins from my heart.