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Posts Tagged ‘devotional’

Psalm 145:18-19

18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.

These are getting harder. I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve done so many of these or if I’m starting to feel that I’m entirely out of my element. As I’m writing these I’m thinking, “I don’t have any expertise in this! Who in their right mind should follow my spiritual teachings.”

He has risen

He has risen

Lord, I can’t even count correctly. Lent is supposed to be 46 days. Or 40 if you don’t count Sundays. I thought I was writing one a day and several times when I counted, I thought I was up to date. At one point, I think I was even ahead. But now I’m either two days ahead or 4 days behind.

I often wonder if God is near. I know in “theory” he is–but I’m a practical kind of girl and really wonder if God has any tolerance for the more mundane aspects of my life. But David is telling us in this passage that the Lord is near to all who call on Him.

I struggle with the fear aspect of the second verse. I don’t know if I fear God in the classic sense. Fearing God seems very Old Testament. It is more a sense of fear of disappointing Him. I feel that God has given me (and you) so many gifts and talents and to abuse them through apathy, or frustration, or whatever, I’m doing a disservice to God. The Boy is a fabulous comic book writer/artist. When he was younger, he’d made a few comic books that we’d made color copies of and had given out to friends and family. He was fortunate enough in middle school to have been picked to do a comic strip for the school paper. I thought it was fabulous! I would have LOVED an opportunity to have my talents recognized in middle school. Him? Nah. Didn’t want to do it. He said it was stupid and “gay” and he declined. I was so disappointed.

Now I know I’m not God by ANY stretch but comparing God to parenting is the only thing I can wrap my head around. Here was my wonderful, talented son being recognized and given a fabulous opportunity and he WAS TURNING IT DOWN!!!

I worry when I don’t write that God is feeling just like I did. He’s up there thinking, “I gave her all this talent and she’s just wasting it!” That’s the fear that I have for God.

But I can rejoice (and you can too) in that God hears our cries and saves us. He wraps His arms around us and comforts us. Verse 17 confirms His love:

17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and loving toward all he has made.

As our time of Lent comes to a close and we get to rejoice in the coming Easter, remember all that God has given us. He has sacrificed His most precious Son that we might have a relationship with Him.

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Hebrews 4:15

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.

After yesterday’s Leviticus I was praying for a nice, easy scripture verse for today. Let’s face it–that scripture was a bear!

So, back to Hebrews and our good friend Paul. This chapter starts with Paul telling the Hebrews about the rest and comfort that God offers which is good to hear after reading Leviticus.

Jesus understands our weaknesses. He faced every temptation that we did. Even on my worst day, having the worst luck, being the worst parent and wife, managing to flub up everything at my job (not my NEW job–I’m perfect at that. No, I  mean flubbing on the OLD job). Even when I’m not doing anything right and sinning with every step–Jesus faced those same things. And he did not sin.

Now I know that Jesus didn’t have my job, life, marriage or children–but he faced the same temptations. He faced the same struggles. Yet while I fall on my face, Jesus managed to turn away–sinless.

It brings me comfort to know that Jesus walked in my shoes. I expect him to be without sin, but I guess in the back of my mind, I was imagining that it was easy for him to avoid sin–he was the son of God after all. But he was man, too. And as a man, faced human temptations.

When I was in college, my friends and I left our Baptist College and headed into Knoxville (home of the 1982 Worlds’ Fair). We’d decided we were going to see the controversial film, “The Last Temptation of Christ.” At the time, being in the South, the movie was causing HUGE protests throughout the city (and in my mind, likely the entire world.) Now when I talk about it up North, no one even knows what I’m talking about. I guess the Baptists just had a much bigger problem with it than anyone else.

Willem Dafoe played Jesus (he was good– no Henry Ian Cusick, mind you, but good nonetheless. Harvey Keitel played Judas– which looking back now, IS a stretch (I probably didn’t really know him back then). In the movie, while Christ is on the cross, he is given the opportunity to come down from the cross and live a human life. He is able to marry, have children and grow old. It is only on his deathbed that it is revealed to him that he WAS supposed to die and he calls to God to allow him to make the sacrifice.

I don’t find this hard to believe. Jesus was human. He loved, he longed, he desired–and yet he managed to remain perfect.

I cannot fathom the perfect part–that just isn’t a word that it part of my world. Whenever it is used, it typically refers to OKPs–Other Kids’ Parents– as in, “I love CiCi’s mom. She’s just perfect.” Just the fact that Jesus knows what I’m going through–that He totally gets my bad days, my bad moods and my bad actions. He gets it–he understands it– and he loves me anyway.

This chapter ends with verse 16:

16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Indeed, we can approach the throne, knowing that God will be merciful and will give us comfort.

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Psalm 9:7-8

7 But the Lord reigns forever,
executing judgment from his throne.
8 He will judge the world with justice
and rule the nations with fairness.

Justice and fairness. Aren’t they wonderful words. Well, actually, most people only like them when they apply to themselves. We want justice for our people and we want to be treated fairly. But sometimes, we don’t mind so much if others receive unfair treatment. Or if others don’t receive justice.

I’ve blogged about this before with the whole “fair” and “even” that my kids are always so concerned with. I tell them that they do not want even–they want fair.

The internet defines justice as: judgment involved in the determination of rights and the assignment of rewards and punishments and fairness as: the ability to make judgments free from discrimination or dishonesty. Obviously, you can now see the irony in this image.

It is hard being fir to the kids all the time. Some days, despite my best efforts, I’m not fair. I simply am not strong enough. I don’t have all the facts. I didn’t see what the kids had been doing 5 seconds before my son hit my daughter. Or maybe she was kicking him. It’s so hard to be sure.

But God can always be certain. He is the ultimate when it comes to rights, rewards and punishment.

This should make me feel relieved. God’s telling us that we don’t have to be the ones in charge. He’s on the thrown. He’s in control. Let him execute his judgement, in His time. That I think is the hard part. We want to be “fixer” and think (fess up now!) it would probably be a little bit quicker if perhaps we stepped in and offered God a hand.

We don’t have to worry about being fair and  showing justice–NOT that we shouldn’t attempt it and honor it. I mean, when you fall short, oh and trust me, you will, you need to remember to give it to God. He will take care of it.

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Psalm 30:5

For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

Once again, I fell behind. I could give you all sorts of reasons, and some of them would be quite sufficient, but my biggest concern is that I missed several days. I feel terrible. Not because I didn’t do my Lenten entries, but because I missed writing the entries. Okay, that made no sense. It isn’t that I feel bad that I missed doing them–I missed writing them. I really did. And the longer I went not writing, the harder it was to restart. So much of me was saying, “Oh, why bother…I’m so far behind. What’s the point?”

But I dusted my whiny self off and applied my butt to my chair (ABC writing). Ah, but waiting/procrastinating/whatever you call it, comes with consequence. The longer I go without writing, the harder it is. Really, it’s the same as any activity: exercise, sports, learning and/or excelling in a task. The key to expertise is frequency. The less you I do it, or the longer the span of time is between doing the activity, the harder it is to do.

So this is a struggle.

This verse shows me that I am like God. Or that God is like me. Don’t go moving away from me. You can’t get electrocuted through a computer. Well, okay, I guess you could. The point is–God gets angry. This is an interesting concept to consider–God is perfect yet the Bible tells us He can be a jealous, angry God. I have a couple of those traits too. And doesn’t the fact that God gets angry prove that anger isn’t a sin? Actually, I don’t believe that any emotion is a sin–an emotion is an emotion. It is how we react because of those emotion that makes it a sin.

God gets angry at us. But His anger lasts only a moment. In the grand scheme of all of eternity, His joy, His pleasure lasts a lifetime.

Weeping may last through the night–our time here may not be easy. But in the morning, when we are reborn in His image,  there is joy. Every day gives us a new opportunity to rejoice in all the God has given us.

I did it. Mentally I feel like a runner who went a few too many days between runs. I finished, but my lungs are tight and I know my legs are going to be really sore in the morning. But I’ll just stretch, put on my shoes and hit the road again.

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1 Corinthians 13:7-8

7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!

Sometimes the verses we hear all the time are the ones that are the hardest to actually define. I had this as a counted cross stitch picture on my wall at school. I made one for my mother. It was probably read at my wedding ceremony and it is terrible that I actually can’t remember it, but it was 16 years ago.

Perhaps it is the simple ones that do deserve a second look. Sorta like the idea that we fail to see things that are right in front of our face.

One of several kitchen/office renovations

Or in our house–we are working on renovating my office. And by renovating I mean putting down butcher block for a desk and reinstalling the door that’s been stored in the basement for the last 15 years. Yeah, it’s pretty. But we’ve lived in our house for so long that I don’t see the fact that there STILL isn’t quarter round on some of our baseboard. There is STILL a hole (covered with plywood) in the old kitchen ceiling (or new office ceiling) where a sky light was supposed to be. It takes someone coming over to the house and saying, “Wow, that’s an interesting ceiling effect. Would you mind telling me what your overall goal was when you put a piece of plywood up there?” And then I think, “Hmm, I really have a piece of plywood up there and don’t even notice.” Then I think, “I really need to get friends who either can’t speak English that well, or have terrible vision.”

I have to ask myself how often I show theses actions to the people I love–never gives up? I know I want to give up on some loved ones who are refusing to do ___________ (insert your choice:  homework, laundry, watch The Baby, answer the phone, hang up the phone, hand me the phone, stop hitting/kicking/biting/pinching) no matter how many times I _______ (insert your choice: ask, plead, bribe, cajole, yell, threaten.) Seriously, it is either give up on them, or give up on being sober.

I do lose faith in those I love. They–like me–are fallible. Luckily, they are also forgiving–or forgetful–whichever it is, it keeps us sane.

But we do endure. In our own quirky way, we endure and thrive. We enjoy doing things together because we can cause more damage more quickly when done as a family unit. For the most part, I think we do quite well, despite my bloggings to the contrary. It isn’t that we have a lot of problems, it’s just we have a lot of little problems that are usually quite good fodder for blogging. It is actually verse 8, as I read it this time that tells me that Paul must have been a family man.

8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!

I have been telling my family for years that certain things were going to happen–

“If you don’t do well in school, you’ll end up working at McDonalds for forever.”

“If you make the face it will freeze that way.”

“I brought you into this world and I can take you out.”

“You’re going to regret that.”

“Put on a coat or you’ll be cold.”

None of my PROPHESYING has worked. And the children DO have an unknown language full of eye rolls, gestures, text messages, shrugs and grunts. But in the end, it will all be useless.

Love will last forever!

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Isaiah 43:2

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.

Yeah, I am NOT this perky at 8am. My group is just glad I'm actually dressed.

On Saturday mornings, I host a small bible study/devotional meeting. We use the ancient and reviving method called Lectio Divina for studying our scripture. There is an article on Beliefnet explaining more about the process, but for the purposes of this entry, here are the basics.

A scripture verse is read slowly three times by all the members in our group.

  1. The first time, we simply read the verse and privately meditate on how it is relevant to us and what God is placing on our hearts.
  2. The second time, each person states one word that they feel speaks to them. It is said without comment or discussion.
  3. The third time, we each offer what we feel the particular word means for us or what we feel God is saying to us with the scripture or word.

Finally, we open up the room up for discussion and dialog.

I’m always amazed at the varied feedback I get from the ladies in the group. Typically, around six of us get together every week and even when some of us select the same word, it never means the same thing to two of us. Sometimes one of us will change our minds based on what other people have said. It is amazing that one verse can hold so much meaning. I use a verses each week from Max Lucado’s online devotional and have been tempted in the past to “pick” verses that seem more interesting. Every so often I think, “this verse is boring, we won’t have anything to say about it.” And every time I think it, I am wrong.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2

This is the long-winded way of saying, for me, the word that stands out in today’s bible verse is “when.”

This scripture isn’t saying that as a Christian I won’t face troubles–it isn’t saying that as a Christian if I face troubles God will be with me. This scripture is assuring me that when I face troubles, God is there.

Water always wins

It is interesting that it speaks of both water and fire–the yin and yang. Falling back on my Dr. Who background, I remember one recent episode where an alien is essentially water. The Doctor’s group is in an airtight room and the leader says, “It’s okay, we are sealed up and airtight.” (because they are on Mars) to which The Doctor replies (probably while waving his little sonic screwdriver), “Water always wins.” We only have to look as far as the Grand Canyon to see an example on this side of the pond.

Just recently, our area has seen the results of excessive amounts of water and can speak to the exhaustion one feels when overwhelmed by it. It can be suffocating–literally. And yet, God will not allow it to overwhelm me.

While water seems to overwhelm everything, fire destroys. Huge swaths of land are destroyed every year by wild fires. It, like water, is indiscriminate and absolute. It leaves nothing behind in its wake. Yet God is there. He is with me. And He will not allow me to be consumed.

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Romans 8:26

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

We had this scripture verse in my Saturday Sanctuary morning devotional. I really like this verse. It really gives me peace. Again, I go back to the role of God (and Spirit) as parent which is something I can easily relate to. I hate to see my children suffer unnecessarily. There are many times they deserve to suffer, indeed have brought the suffering upon themselves–these are called teachable moments. But the moments where they don’t really deserve to suffer–those are when my heart aches for them. Often, in their frustration, they do not know what they need. They are just angry and frustrated and are lashing out at whoever is closest–which is typically me.

I consider it to be a great accomplishment as a parent when I recognize their frustration and help them in their weakness. I don’t mean a hand out–I mean a hand up. Even if it is just telling them that they need to take a break and comeback to fight the battle another day. I know what they need even if they cannot verbalize it and I try to intercede (through comforting, not helicopter parenting) while my heart aches for them.

I feel that Paul gets very personal in this chapter of Romans. He compares heaven waiting for us as equal to experiencing the pains of childbirth. And let me tell you–it smarts a bit.

2We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Childbirth is both ultimately painful and rewarding–the ultimate two sides of a coin. It is amazing that something that can bring forth such joy can also cause such pain. I guess it is God giving us a preview of how parenting is going to be for the rest of our lives. Ultimate pain and ultimate grace.

The Scream

This is how God feels about us. He hears our cries that we are unable to verbalize. The ones that shake us to our core. A medical scare, a job loss, the loss of a parent, spouse, child or friend. The moments when we are certain that we are alone in the world. We cannot even utter prayers our grief is so great. But the Spirit intercedes. It prays the words we are unable to offer. It cries out with groanings too deep for words.

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