Limitations

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After having lived in New Orleans for 8 years, I am really enjoying the distinct seasons here in Chicagoland.  In this picture you can see the maple trees in our back yard were just starting to turn.  I love the vibrant colors.  God sure does paint beauty all around us if we will stop to notice!  Lately I haven’t been noticing much beauty out of doors.  I have been trying so hard to keep up with homeschool, housework, Bible study, and Church activities that going outdoors has been the last thing on my mind.  I have found out that I can’t keep up.  I just have to decide what is important to me and do that.  Everything else will still be there later. Continue reading

Great Are You Lord

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An acquaintance of mine shared this verse today, and it really encouraged me.  Psalm 16:11 says:

You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

It is wonderful to experience the joy God gives us through Jesus Christ.  Sometimes I have a hard time getting a glimpse of that joy because so many other things are filling my thoughts.  Our joy is really found in being aware of God’s presence with us no matter what we face.  We need to remind ourselves of the hope we have in Him – this world is not our destination.  We will be delivered from the life of sin and decay that we groan over.  When we place our faith in Jesus we have the promise of a better life with Him for all eternity.  John 14:6 says:

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.’

1 Corinthians 2:9 says:

But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’

Let’s be encouraged and keep our focus on the future that God has for us!  Don’t let this crazy life get you down!!!

Listen to “Great Are You Lord”

 

Then vs Now

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When was the last time you went to an old fashioned prayer meeting?  You know the kind: the preacher takes prayer requests, and everyone divides into groups to pray over each request.  These meetings aren’t as common today as they were when I was a child.  I remember going to prayer meetings at Stepptown Baptist Church with Mawmaw and Grandaddy.  They would write down a huge list of prayer requests and then the men and women would divide into separate rooms to pray.  It seemed to me that we prayed for many hours.  These were heartfelt prayers shared by people who loved one another and were committed to lifting each other up in prayer consistently.   Continue reading

Remain in Love

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I have been reading Beth Moore’s book Believing God Day by Day: Growing Your Faith All Year Long.  It has been such an encouragement to me this year.  I have shared many of her devotionals with others in an attempt to encourage them as well.  It has been such a help for me to read about believing God during a season that I have moved across the country in a step of faith.  It’s hard to keep your eyes on the Lord when there are so many unknowns in the future.  God has been my strength through this season and has lifted me up when I was ready to give up. Continue reading

Appearance

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Friday night I was thinking about why we are sometimes opposed to things that are not described as wrong in the Bible.  Immediately I thought about 1 Thessalonians 5:22.  In the King James Version of the Bible it is translated “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”  I was thinking about the phrase “appearance of evil” and began to think about Jesus’s life.  He repeatedly did things that appeared wrong.  One example I thought of is when He ate with tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2:13-17).  Another example is when the woman “washed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair” (Luke 7:36-50).  The Pharisees were constantly watching Jesus, picking apart everything He did, trying to find sin in Him.  He didn’t change His ways just because they thought He was doing something wrong.

I was curious as to how we are supposed to follow Jesus, who did things that made Him look like He was involved in evil, and also abstain from all appearance of evil at the same time.  I looked up 1 Thessalonians 5:22 in the ESV, and is says:

Abstain from every form of evil.

I looked at Meyer’s NT Commentary that gives the original Greek words and then explains them.  The word translated “appearance”in the KJV is Εἶδος (now don’t ask me how to say that, that’s a question for Kevin).  Εἶδος means kind, like a species.  It was translated “form” in the ESV.  The commentary brought out some good points.  You cannot control how other people see your actions.  You may be doing something good and someone else looks at it from a different perspective and thinks what you are doing is bad.  People do this to God all the time, so you know they are going to do it to Christians as well. The other point the commentary brought out is that we cannot abstain from evil without the help of God!  1 Thessalonians 5:23 says:

Now may the God of peace of himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.

We have to keep the verses in context.  The verses before 1 Thessalonians 5:22 talk about doing good, and the verse after it talk about God keeping you blameless.  We cannot go through life always worried about what people think of our actions.  We must follow God with humility and love.

After learning all of this, I was wondering what that means for me.  Do I throw all caution to the wind?  How do I live in light of this knowledge?  It is a relief to me that I don’t have to live in a system of legalism so that I don’t appear evil.  I have freedom to talk to anyone without second guessing myself.  It doesn’t matter if those I associate with make me appear evil.  God knows my heart and He will put people in my path who need to hear about and experience the love of God through me.  I am also challenged not to be so quick in judging the actions of others.  Just because something appears to be wrong does not mean that it is.

Distractions

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I haven’t been blogging much lately, and I realized that I was letting other good things distract me from this one good thing that I know God wants me to do.  I have been doing a lot of reading for personal growth (no guilt over that).  I have been doing reading with my kids (no problem there either).  My problem comes from Facebook and Whatsapp.  One thing helps me stay connected with family and friends who are far away; the other has a Bible discussion group from Church.  Both of these things are good.  The problem comes when I let them distract me from the things that God has called me to do: Minister to my husband and kids, Study for my own personal growth, Write the blog, and be an encouragement to others I come in contact with.   Continue reading

Parables

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Have you ever read part of the Bible and thought, “now, wait a minute, that’s not fair!”?  In Matthew 13:10-17, Jesus says that He spoke in parables so that the people would not understand.  This got me to thinking about how easy it is for us to misunderstand the Bible.  I kept on reading, and in Matthew 13:18 Jesus tells the disciples the explaination for one of the parables that He told.  Later, in verse 36 the disciples ask Jesus to explain the parable of the weeds to them, so He does. It seems to me that the disciples didn’t understand the parables either.  Jesus had to explain the meaning later.   Continue reading

Ezekiel’s Vision of God

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I don’t know about you, but many times throughout my life I have tried to picture what heaven and God would look like.  It kind-of blows my mind to think about eternity for very long.  It is beyond my comprehension that we will worship God and live with Him in perfection without end!  Of course, Ezekiel wasn’t seeing a vision of God in heaven.  His vision was God coming to earth to meet him and send him to deliver God’s message to the people of Israel.  Ezekiel chapters one, two, and three give the account of his vision.

The vision starts with a stormy wind, a great cloud, and brightness with fire flashing, and gleaming metal.  The next part, with the 4 living creatures is difficult.  They had 4 faces, wings, and wheels.  They are described as sparkling like burnished bronze (Ezekiel 1:7), and as burning torches darting about like lightening.  I have heard these creatures described  to be the servants of God carrying His “sedan chair.” I’m not going to spend too much time trying to imagine them, because the most exciting and beautiful picture comes next.  Ezekiel 1:22-28

Over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of an expanse, shining like awe-inspiring crystal, spread out above their heads.  And under the expanse their wings were stretched out straight, one toward another.  And each creature had two wings covering its body.  And when they went, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of many waters, like the sound of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army.  When they stood still, they let down their wings.  And there came a voice from above the expanse over thier heads.  When they stood still, they let down their wings.

And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, lin appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance.  And upward from what had gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around.  And downward from what had the appearance of His waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him.  Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.

Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.  And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

I wanted to know what all the things described in this passage looked like, so I did a little searching to figure out what jewels and metals were being described.  The first one is “awe-inspiring crystal” Click here to see what it may have looked like.  I’m sure it was even more impressive than what I can find on the internet . . . combine that picture with the sound of rushing water. After this part of the vision, Ezekiel heard God speak, and then he saw the throne of God.  He describes it as being carried by the 4 creatures who looked like beryl.  Then he describes the actual throne as lapis lazuligleaming metal, fire,  and a rainbow surrounding Him.  After seeing all of this, Ezekiel fell on his face.

I am amazed at the next part of the vision (chapter 2).  God picked Ezekiel up and set him back on his feet.  Then he told him that he would be a prophet to rebellious people.  God tells Ezekiel not to be afraid.  I think after seeing and hearing something so spectacular as God coming down from heaven, Ezekiel wouldn’t be more afraid of anything else he saw or heard.  Knowing that he was sent as a messenger of God and remembering this vision must have been a big encouragement to him as he followed God’s directions in prophecying to Israel.

Ezekiel was called upon to do some hard things in his ministry.  He had to symbolize the seige of Israel by lying on his side for 390 days eating a prescribed type of cake cooked over dung.  He also shaved off his hair and beard and scattered it as a picture of the destruction and captivity of Jerusalem.  While the people watched, he had to dig through the wall of Jerusalem with his baggage as a picture of the exile.  When his wife died, he had to put on his turban and shoes and not mourn as a picture of how Israel would respond when they lost everything that they loved.  There were other things God told Ezekiel to do.  I’m sure the people watching thought he was crazy, but he had seen and heard God, and because of this, he didn’t let what others thought of him stop him from being obedient. In Ezekiel 2:5-6, 8 God said:

And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.  And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions.

But you, son of man, hear what I say to you.  Be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.

I am amazed at how God chooses certain people to go against the norm in order to proclaim His Word to those around them.  Each of us, if we are believers, have a part to play in the display of God’s message of coming judgment, and the offer of loving forgiveness for restored relationship with God.  Hopefully we won’t be called upon to eat cakes cooked over dung, but there will be hard things in life as we obey God.  May He help me to keep my eyes on the vision of His beauty, power, and goodness so that I will not be rebellious when the going gets tough.

 

Steadfast Love

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I’ve been reading the book of Jeremiah lately.  Last night I was amazed by the Love of God towards Israel even in the midst of their rebellion.  He offered them chance after chance to repent of their sin and turn back to Him.  The land of Israel was full of idol worship, greed, and false prophets.  The people heard Jeremiah’s messages from the Lord and became angry with him.  They accused him of lying and refused to believe that the Lord had sent him.  In the midst of all of this turmoil, God gives Jeremiah prophecies about the Messiah He will one day send.   Continue reading