Saturday, August 26, 2017

There Is A Fountain

One of my favorite things to do whenever I visit my local garden center is to go to the section where they sell water features such as backyard pond kits, bird baths and garden fountains. There is just something sooooo soothing about listening to running water. It's probably the same calming effect that my own shower affords me. Just the sound of the running water blocks out all distractions and soothes the soul. On my most recent visit to one of my favorite garden centers, I walked past a small boy who was standing with his mom beside a trickling fountain just about the same size as he was. He stared and stared at the fountain trying his best to keep his hands in his pockets but temptation finally got the best of him and he blurted out his question quite rapidly to his mom.. . . . . . "Can I put my finger in it?"  His mom replied, " No you may not!" With that, he began to pout, but trying to be obedient, he followed his mother as she walked away. I couldn't help but snicker as I watched him walk away because as he did so he made his finger wave through the air as if he were running it through the water. Maybe that was his little way of "envisioning" what it may have been like. Funny thing is. . . . . I myself can never resist the temptation to put my finger in any trickling fountain or any cement ball that has water flowing out of the top hole and covering the ball! Nope! I just can't do it! The temptation to feel the cool soothing water is too great. It makes me smile! Do you resist it? If you do resist, well. . . . You should let the kid in you come out to play just once more. You won't be disappointed. When I see the fountains I always think of the line in the old hymn, There Is A River. It says, " Come to the fountain. . . . There is a vast supply. . . . There is a river that never shall run dry". That cooling, relaxing and soothing that is found in touching the water in the fountain can also be found in Jesus! HE is our fountain, and. . . . Aren't you glad that there won't be anyone standing beside you saying, "No, you may not!" So, touch him today. I know you'll be refreshed.

Insight Insert: There are lots of times I'm sure when the kid in us all would like to come out. So, what's holding you back? Are you afraid of looking or feeling foolish? Life is way too short to not be lived to its fullest. A good exercise in stretching those childlike wings is to go and serve some amazing ministry time in your local church nursery. If that's not possible, go somewhere where there are multiple families with children and just sit and observe! Watch what the children do with no inhabitions and then using them as a pattern, do something this week with the freedom of those children. Swing on the playground, take your shoes off and put your feet in that creek or sing a song as you walk through the store! Ha! That last one is amazing! I do that on occasion and have actually had people join in along with me. Jesus never did intend for the starch in our collars to get so stiff!

Scripture:  Isaiah 46:4.  Even to your old age and gray hair I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

                    Galations 5:1.  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. . . 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Dependence Day

One of my very favorite flowers is the morning glory. With the dawn of each summer morning comes I can count on my morning glories along my fence to be smiling at me when I open my back door. They always make me smile back! Their beauty speaks to my heart in many ways; the delicate way the vines twist and spiral up to find where the next area is to cling to; the lush leaves that give a beautiful backdrop to the blossoms; and last but certainly not least, the blooms of color that peek from each nook and cranny to bear witness of Gods wondrous hand in their creation. I tried once to pull a bloom off to take inside so that I could enjoy it for a while longer but sadly when the blooms are picked their delicate beauty fades very quickly. So, I never pick them, I just allow them to abide right there on the vine and enjoy them for the short part of the day  when they sing their song! Each blossom only sings its song once though. When it appears each morning and then fades by mid-day, that blossom has done what it was meant to do and then it withers. A whole new set of blooms will be in place the next morning. This certainly does give us a beautiful picture of the scripture that says, "His mercies are new every morning". Just like my morning glories, I cannot thrive long at all apart from my Jesus. I am not an independent woman! I am very dependent on Him! Apart from him I cannot exist, I fade and die. He is the vine and we are the branches. That is the way He designed it. If we abide in Him, He will cover us just like the morning glory vine and He will send tendrils of His care and protection to cover every nook and cranny of our lives. And, when our relationship with Him begins to mature, we will blossom. Like the flowers, little bits of color will dot our landscape and the glory of God will "sing" through us. How could anyone doubt the existence of our Creator when they look at something as beautiful as a morning glory. And, how can anyone doubt "whose" we are if we are covered by the vine? So, sing this morning and every morning of His infinite greatness to us "dependent" creatures! 
Insight insert:  There are many beautiful examples of how we are connected to the Father and how we connect with others around us in the faith. Take this week to thank God for those who he has "connected" you with in your walk of faith. Take the opportunity to thank them for any positive effects that they have had on your life and assure them that you will commit to being as faithful a friend in Christ as they have been to you. God knows exactly what he's doing when he intertwines our lives with others. Together, we draw strength from Him and strength from each other.

Scripture: I Thessalonians 5:14. And we urge you brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

I Thessalonians 5:11  Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.   

Friday, August 18, 2017

Heavenly Habit

Perhaps you used to pray when you were a small child or you started to pray as a young Christian but now  for whatever reason, whether it be frustration because of unanswered prayer or just prayerlessness, you may have ceased to pray altogether.
The one who is best qualified to teach us about prayer is Jesus himself. We've read of him often spending the night in prayer. Even on the night before his crucifixtion we find him praying. This may have been one of the reasons His disciples asked Him, "Lord, teach us to pray". His response was in the form of what we've come to know as the Lord's Prayer.
But Jesus also said in Luke18 that "Men always ought to pray and not to lose heart". Paul also wrote that we are to 'pray without ceasing, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you". ( I Thess 5:17-18)
Prayer simply defined is: a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an earnest hope or wish spoken to God.
I believe that when we come together to pray it is our solemn petitions and requests that are being placed at our Father Gods feet. He hears our cry for help and responds. Too often prayer warriors and their vital roles have been downplayed or thought to have been like the scribes or Pharisees, just having a form of godliness, trying to appear more Holy. Whatever falsehoods have been propagated in order to keep the body of Christ from falling on their knees in prayer need to be illuminated with the light of the truth. The truth comes from the very one who is truth and that is Jesus. Why would he give us exact instructions on how to do something if we were not intended to do it? 
Prayer is essential in our relationship with our Father God. Prayer was also never intended as something we use to bend the will of God to our will but it is so that we can get our will in line with His. 
Jesus also gave us an incredible promise concerning prayer. He said, " if you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you". (Jn 15:7)
So, don't lose heart if you've found that you've fallen into a lifestyle of prayerlessness, there is love, grace and another day to begin afresh. Always remember that " the earnest, fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much", which means your prayers and petitions sent up to God as requests mean so very much.
We have a so many beautiful opportunities to gather together to make a difference as we raise voices and petitions for help from our Father. We have his ear always. 

Insight Insert: I challenge you to call or communicate with another person this week and together spend a few minutes of time with your hearts and voices joined in prayer to your Heavenly Father. It may just be the beginning of a beautiful habit.

Scripture: I John 5:14 "This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." 

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Dirty Cup

There are days when it feels like I move in robotic fashion doing the mundane things that are mindless but necessary. Unloading the dishwasher is one of them. You see my morning routine as soon as my feet hit the floor seems to be this: use the bathroom, wash my hands, go to the kitchen, turn on the coffee pot, while it's warming up unload the dishwasher. I could do it with my eyes closed I think. And in unloading said dishwasher if there is one thing that makes me growl its finding a cup as I'm just about to put it in the cupboard, with "stuff" still hard and dirty inside. I know, the dishwasher is not perfect and I always pre- rinse so. . . . . Yeah!  I growl under my breath and say, (sometimes out loud to no one at all,)"is it too much to ask that the dirt, heaven forbid, actually gets washed off of the cups when I put them inside something called a DISHWASHER?" Ugh! Why do I allow life's little bits of grunge to spoil a perfectly good morning before my coffee is even dripped? Well, I think those little pieces of " dirt or grunge" matter! You see, I would not drink out of that cup with that stuff in there. Would you? Don't think so! Now, here's where my life's little moments of introspection start dripping as fast as my coffee that's  now running through my Kuerig does. Question arises: "Is there anything in me that's dirty God that would make others not want to be around me, ask me to help them or just wanna do life with me because of my grunge?" So, you ask, you get answers. Here's what I heard. The Lord quietly said to me, " you know Jean, I may just have allowed your dishwasher to miss that cup so that you would notice how often you grumble and growl under your breath when things aren't perfect in your eyes." Ok, not somethingI wanted to hear. What did it matter, no one was around to hear me? I try not to grumble in front of people so that they wouldn't think poorly of me. My husband is still asleep so he can't hear me. So, what's the big deal with that anyway Lord? " I hear you" he softly said. "I gave you a house with a dishwasher because you went most of your life NOT having one. I knew that you would be grateful and blessed by it. Now when you grumble it appears that my gift to you was not good enough and that you are not grateful or thankful". I felt very very sorry at that point and immediately asked the Lord of my life who is good and cares for me endlessly to forgive my grumbling and my ungrateful attitude. This little life moment brought up all kinds of moments of self examination for me. I began to see that my cup was not too clean exactly like the cup that I had just grumbled about. Im here to tell you that I am very very grateful that I have a good good heavenly Father who loves me and shows me lovingly where I am getting it wrong. He doesn't ever do it to be mean or uncaring or just to beat me over the head with my wrong doings but He does it in a loving way that fathers should do if they love their children. I'm reminded here of the verse in Proverbs 3:12 that says, " For whom the Lord LOVES He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom He delights". My Heavenly Father delights in me and wants the best for me and desires that I truly " get it right" because if He didn't care He would just let me go my "grungy way" and never say anything. Then, I'm here to tell you, not many people would want to drink from my cup if that were the case. So, this morning, I'm thankful for that dirty cup. Yes, a dirty cup that no one wants to drink from taught me a very important lesson straight from the heart of someone who cares. 

Insight Insert: Take some time this week or even today to ask the Lord what things that may be in your life that are causing you to be dirty or grungy and undesirable to be around. Ask Him to show you specifically and I know, if you're a good listener, that He will show you. Taking time to "rewash" ourselves whenever we can will always assure that we stay in a state of cleanliness and Godliness that will make others desire to drink from our cups. 

Scripture: I Peter 1:14-16 "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy". 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Golden Day

This morning was golden! As I opened my eyes from sleep I could see the golden yellow rays of the morning sun through my window shades. I smiled as I pulled myself up to greet my day. I knew in my heart that today was going to be a treasure filled with memorable moments like no other day. It was going to be another Saturday that would come and go, to be sure, but THIS day I looked forward to because I knew exactly what it held in store for me. You see, my love is art, gardening, creating and people! All of those things were going to flood my day and I looked forward to being caught in the wave! I have learned to embrace even the dreaded things that come along with the good but it certainly wasn't always that way. In days past I would allow the troubles, problems and glasses of spilled milk to block out the light of my golden moments so I would hardly notice the wonderful memories that were playing out right in front of me.  Whenever one of my children would drop something and break it for instance, I would get angry and fuss at them and send them to their room while grumbling under my breath and sweeping up the pieces. I had missed my golden moment to wrap my arms around them and flood their little hearts with forgiveness and love. I had allowed my golden moment to be lost in my own self-made world. Too many times i miss those moments because i have allowed people or circumstances to stand in my way, blocking out the light of the moment. I needed some light to be shed on my dark, pathetic state! That's when the "son" broke through my clouds! The "son", the "light of the world" ripped the veil of darkness from my heart and eyes and allowed me to see what I was missing. I am a bit sad to say that it took way too long for me to see the treasures that God had given to me in my children and now that I have grandchildren I can see just how many golden moments that I did miss. If I can leave you with any final thoughts of where you are and how you view your life challenges, I would say "stop", "look" and "listen"! In the middle of your stress filled moments, "stop" and take time to think about what The Lord would have you to do, "look" at the person or situation and try to see it through Gods eyes and finally "listen" to what God has to say to you about what's really important in that moment. Don't miss your "golden" moments when they come and they WILL come. They will be what defines you at the end of the day when the sun goes down. Will your sunsets be as golden as your sunrises? They can be! Let the "son" be the light that floods over your face in the morning and let him continue to shine in and through you for the remainder of your day! Your moments will be golden for it! 

Insight Insert: This week I challenge you to "make a golden moment happen"! If there is something that stands "looming" over you like a little black cloud then let's make a golden moment out of it where the light of God shines on it and God is glorified in you because of it! What does that look like you say? Well, if there has ever been a "spilled milk" moment in your life like I described above then take this week and make that moment into a golden one. Go to that person and say " I'm so sorry for my reaction, will you forgive me?" and then watch and see what The Lord will do. You may have been short with someone at work, angry at your spouse or best friend or wretched to your children because you had a stressful week. What ever the reason, take your dark moment and make it golden! The sun will come out and oh how glorious it will shine! 

Scripture: Romans 12:21. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good".

Friday, August 11, 2017

Making Change

Wow, there is a whole group of our populace out there who really don't like change! Change is never easy, especially if you've become a creature of habit. Most of us do plod along on the paths of our daily grinds and are perfectly content to have that path be the same day in and day out but the moment the path changes, look out world. It kind of reminds me of the scene in the movie, "A Bugs Life" when the seed fell in the path of the ant and he was totally lost! Remember that one? He absolutely freaked out because it was different and he didn't think that he could find his way. With a little coaxing he was finally able to take a different path for a bit, which led him right back to the old one and "voila" he was again right on his way. We just don't like any kind of disruption to our routine do we? But just think of that ant, if he hadn't taken the alternate path, he would have held up the whole works and the job at hand would never have been completed. Change is sometimes a distasteful thing in our mouths but it is ultimately what is needed in order for us to go further. Who among us parents absolutely "loved" potty training their children? If you answered, " oh I did!" then I really would be hard pressed to believe you because that particular phase was not fun at all. But, if you hadn't taught and trained them to independently use the facilities, well it is a ridiculously ugly thought to picture a 16 year old in diapers isn't it! Change is necessary and it always comes with a price! Our relationships with our spouses change over the years and they either get wonderful or seemingly irreparable! The process always comes with a cost that we usually don't love but for change to take place, change is necessary! I would never want to live my life in the same old "rut" day in and day out just because it was easy for me and didn't "inconvenience" me in any way. I would never grow! I for one want to learn and grow so that I can mature into the person that God desires me to become! I think a lot about Jesus as he was in the Garden of Gethsemane just before his crucifixion. He "knew" change was coming for us all, himself included, and he agonized over it to the point of sweating blood. But, if he had not gone forward and done what he did, then what hope would we have? The one who suffered the ultimate change for us had to change in order for us to get to the place that God has destined for us to go! Final note; I'm soooo glad that I'm not typing this note on my old manual typewriter without "auto correct"! We have progressed to the lovely little IPad and for that change, I am truly thankful! So the next time that something in our daily routine changes, take a deep breath and say to yourself, "change is good, I need change"! It will not be easy, but then, change usually never is!  

Insight Insert:  My challenge to you this week is to "shake up your routine" a bit! In your daily comings and goings try and make some changes. (Note to self. . . This will not be easy) Ex: If you get up at 7:00 am, then try and get up at 6:00 for just this week. Use your extra hour to do something like a load of wash etc. so that the extra time doing laundry later can be spent with family. If you use a bit too much sugar on a daily basis then try to cut sugar from your diet this week and see how you feel at the end of the week. See, I can already hear your thoughts!!! Change isn't easy but it always leads to growing experiences that may just be what the doctor ordered. 

Scripture:  Romans 12: 2.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Paintbrush Of Prayer

A very good friend and elder at my church gave the sermon this Sunday in church. He spoke from Ephesians chapter 6 and verse 18 in particular. It reads: Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints. (Gods consecrated people). He spoke of having the whole armor of God on and of most particular importance in the body of Christ is PRAYER!  As we go into battle we must be prepared and ready but somehow a lot of us have seemingly forgotten. We may have adopted the impression that prayer is necessary but not such a vital thing. We were shown a picture on the overhead screen of a magnificent tree that was in black and white except for one end section that was in brilliant color. The tree in all of its glory was spectacular but the section that was in color went far beyond words. If only the whole tree was in color so we could get a full picture of the idea of what it's glory looked like. THAT was the point. Walking out the life that the Lord intends for us is in itself a spectacular thing but if "prayer" was our paintbrush then we would see this life in all of it's glorious color as it was meant to be seen. We can't minimize the power of what prayer can do! We must never look at it as just a small part of what it means to walk in Gods plans and purposes. The word says to pray at all times and stay alert and  persevere in your prayers. That doesn't sound like we should take prayer casually at all! At the end of his wonderful message he had the entire church come forward to the altar area and he prayed for our eyes to be opened to see more clearly the importance of prayer and he prayed that we would become warriors of prayer. As he was praying for all of us, God showed me a beautiful and moving picture in my spirit. I saw Jesus walking across the altar area during that prayer time and he was handing everyone a paintbrush. Most, gladly accepted it but some said as he handed them the brush, "oh Lord, but I'm not an artist and I don't know how to paint"! Jesus just smiled and spoke kindly and said, "I'm the creator of color and all you have to do is use this paintbrush as your tool (prayer) and I will give life to what you are painting!" "Just move your brush (prayer) and my glory will come"! What a beautiful picture that was for me. As a creative person I want to paint and paint and paint and never stop painting. I could envision all kinds of glorious pictures that my brush could give color to. Pray! What are you waiting for. The brush is in your hand! Paint often and persevere. . .  . Your picture will soon turn from black and white to glorious color.

Insight Insert:  Your Father is the Creator of the Universe and you are his child. I don't know about you but I do know that children tend to inherit the traits of their parents. So, if you will allow the Lord to use you and be obedient to what he asks of you then you will be able to "create" some amazing things because of him working through you. This week use your paintbrush, which is prayer, and begin to fashion your painting. Your studio (your prayer corner wherever that is) will soon fill with paintings that will be glorious to behold and ones that will make the heart of your Father proud. Pick up your brush and begin. . . .with just two strokes ( praise and petition) your masterpiece will take form!

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 7:15. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to prayer in this place. AMP

Friday, August 4, 2017

Be Expectant

There may have been times that you've experienced a long series of disappointing things and you've gotten into the very bad habit of just expecting more of what you've already had. Your troubles have been many and you've found yourself simply waiting for more to arrive on the scene. Many of us can relate to feeling like this but you need to know that it's not how God wants you to live.
Fear of troubles coming your way is NOT something we want to wait for and expect. It says in Proverbs 15:15 " all the days of the desponding (hopeless) and afflicted (troubled) are made evil (by anxious thoughts and forebodings), but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast".
Expecting troubles will affect you in a very negative way. They can open the 
windows of our hearts to the evil plans of the enemy. The truth is GOD is GOOD! Everything He does is good and wonderful and everything God offers is greater than what the enemy of our soul has to offer. God desires to do something amazing and wonderful in your life every moment of every day. We have to be ready and expecting it to happen. 
Isaiah 30:18 says, " Therefore the Lord (earnestly) waits (expecting, looking and longing) to be gracious to you, and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving kindness to you. Blessed (happy, fortunate) are all those who (earnestly) wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him". 

God is longing and looking for someone who's waiting for Him to be good to them. We have to be expecting Him to move in our lives. And, whether you see it or feel it or not, keep praying and expecting because He is longing to be gracious and good to you. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Make Me A Featherduster

Ok, ok, I have thought this thing through fully and I am convinced with everything in me that I want to be a Featherduster. Laugh if you must but it's true. I have given much thought to it and it's my final answer! When asked what I wanna be. . . . .i will reply, "A Featherduster"! Now, I shall explain. . . .you see a Featherduster is an instrument that you can always rely on to get the hardest dusting jobs done. It can, if made with a long handle, reach the dust in the places that nothing else can. A Featherduster has a sort of "natural magnetic attraction" quality to it that seemingly sucks the dust into itself and holds it there until you shake it out. Ahhhhh but when you take it outside and shake it, then you can see the amazing job that the Featherduster has done. It attracts, holds and at just the given time, releases the dust to the wind to do its work on something else. Yeah, I wanna be a Featherduster! 
You see my heart belongs to Christ and in saying that I tell you that my heart desires what Christ desires. You see in John 6 it says, "no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them". You see, when Christ is in us we are automatically given a sort of magnetic attraction to the Father and the things of God that are evident but hard to explain. It can, when used as a tool of Christ, draw men into and unto the things of God. I want my life, because of Christ, to draw people and attract them by modeling the love of Christ. I want to desperately hold onto them and be in relationship with them while mentoring them in the things of God. Then, at the appropriate and given time, I want to be like that mother bird who puts things in the nest that says to the babies, "it's time to fly!" Then I want to shake them to release them to fly out into the world to land where they were intended to land to once again start the process themselves. Yep, I wanna be a Featherduster, drawing, holding and then releasing. It says in Phillipians 3. . . . "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus".

Now THAT'S the magnetic and drawing and holding and sending out power that I want to have. Lord, make me a Featherduster!