“If you … know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”(Matt.7:10-12).
The past few weeks have been very interesting to say the least. I rent my home, and the oven in our home went completely out. My landlady, sad to say, doesn’t get in a big hurry to respond when it comes to spending money on this house. I was without an oven for a few weeks, as she looked for a cheap alternative to my dilemma.
I wish I could report that I took this situation without getting upset. Well, that was not the case. But as this ordeal went on, the Lord began to expose my heart and attitude. This is not a comfortable place to be. Let’s face it, apart from Christ our hearts are deceitful “and desperately wicked”. I am well aware of this as this saga unfolds.
The saga continued with the arrival of a $35 stove bought on Craig’s List delivered to my house by her maintenance man(which I think came over on the Mayflower). Can you figure out where this is going? No, it never worked properly, so this trial continued on for days.
My husband and I knew something else had to happen. Charles challenged me in our prayers together to pray for our landlady to do the right thing before we made the leap to buy a new stove. That week all of this drama in my life and seeming discomfort was truly put into perspective. The Lord loves to do this in my life! My son is leading a mission team of young people in Ecuador. There is a website I can visit to keep up, along with pictures of those they are ministering to. I am scanning the pictures, and my heart is truly smashed. Seeing the poverty and conditions of life for these children made me so ashamed of how I viewed my apparent horrible situation with my stove. These children and adults are so joyful even in difficult life situations.
My Heavenly Father has given me a gift of living in a very blessed nation, even though I do not deserve it. The greatest gift is my salvation through Jesus Christ. He holds my life, my heart, and yes my stove, and my future in His hands.
There came a knock on my door. I answered the door, and my landlady’s maintenance man said these very words… “I have a gift for you.” I looked, and there was a brand new stove sitting at my door. I asked, and my Heavenly Father gave me a gift.
The stove was the right thing, but the lessons I learned along the way was the true gift from my Heavenly Father Who cares for me.
As I was putting on a sweater, there was a rustling sound in the pocket. I reached in and retrieved a ticket stub from the recent December showing of the “Star Wars” movie “The Force Awakens”. A smile came across my face, and a flood of memories rushed in. It is hard to believe that I was a young woman in the ’70s when this “Star Wars” phenomenon hit the screen. The most amazing thought to me is how many generations have been impacted by this movie. It has crossed so many generations, and “the beat goes on”. I have watched many people in my life embrace it, and they are now passing it on to their children. It is interesting to observe the profound influence it has had on movie making and music.
When the new movie came out, everywhere I went adults were saying they could not wait for their children to see it. I confess I was excited to see it as well and attended the showing with my own sons who are now adults.
Let’s carry this thought over into the Scriptural realm, Psalm 145:4: “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” It is urgent that we are as diligent in our spiritual lives as we are in our casual living. 1Peter 2:9 tells us, “But we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of His own, that you should show forth the praises of Him Who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
It is obvious that there is a lot of darkness around us. Look……pay attention to the world around you. The responsibility of the redeemed is to shine the light. As stewards of this light, we must impart it to the next generation so that they will be wiser than we are in Biblical matters. “So each of us should consider the components of a productive Christian life and prayerfully set goals. There is the dimension of personal relationships – with God, family, neighbors, friends”(Charles E. Hummel; Tyranny of the Urgent). What dimensions of my life am I using to impact the next generation for the Gospel: setting spiritual goals, deciding what is important,constantly evaluating my spiritual life? May I continue the effort. May this be the awakening force in my life.
The ticket in my pocket was a great find. I might just keep it on my desk as a constant reminder that I am called to proclaim the force of truth, the power of the Gospel, the cross; to awaken this generation and the next for His glory.
I awoke this morning facing the new year. Oddly enough my thoughts were not on making New Year’s resolutions. My mind was transported back to my childhood. I was remembering the retro toy called Viewmaster. This was a contraption that you put a thin cardboard disk containing a 3D color photograph into so you could view the picture. Some showed travel attractions; others cartoons or TV shows. I vividly remember putting the slide in wrong many times. Of course I could not see clearly or figure out what was before my eyes. I twisted and turned the slide until it fit correctly. I am sure directions were written on the disk, but it was so easy not to follow them or pay attention. Life sometimes seems like this cardboard disk: twist, turns, and being upside down. So the new year rings in, and we all determine to make those resolutions either to do something or to not do something. Resolutions can be profitable, but we usually do not keep them.
I guess the closest thing to the retro Viewmaster in this century might be virtual reality headsets. Let’s view life through the lens of the Word of God. The spiritual lens of this “viewmaster” will be the test for showing me what I need to do this year or what I should leave off. The only reality our lives need is clearly seen in Scripture. 2 Peter 1:3-4 sums up perfectly what my spiritual “viewmaster” disk should look like. “According as His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him Who has called us to glory and virtue; Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” When viewing this disk, what should be my spiritual response?
And beside all this, giving all diligence add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge self-control; and to self-control patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are in you and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he who lacks these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. (vv.5-9)
So this new year I open my eyes and see that it is not about making a New Year’s resolution but giving diligence to the Word of God; by His grace making my calling in the Lord sure; and knowing by His promises I shall never fall. “Open Thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Your Law.” (Psalm 119:18).
Open my eyes, that I may see Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hand the wonderful key, That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready my God Thy will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!
-Clara H. Scott-
Hi, I am Pamela Sue. I like…
- old windows
- a screened in porch
- chalk boards
- snail mail
- talking on the phone with friends from the past
- anything that smacks of pumpkin, especially Circleville, OH pumpkin donuts
- making my own greeting cards
- using mismatched Christmas plates
- burning real candles
- old black and white Classic movies
- putting that special touch on gift wrap
- laughing out loud ’till it hurts
- shopping on Black Friday with family
- practicing hospitality in my home
- hanging around young adults
- watching my family grow
- singing praises to the Lord
- serving others
Being distinct is the act of making or keeping distinct – differentiation between or among things. It separates things. When you say someone’s name, there is always something about that person that distinctly comes to mind.
As a Christian in today’s world, what should stand out about us as marks of distinction? Do people around us see marks of distinction in our lives? The marks are not always something we wear on our sleeves or plaster and debate on Facebook every other day. It is not what we don’t do. It is what the Holy Spirit and grace are doing to mark our lives for Christ.
The first priority, of course, is salvation in Christ: evidence of God’s reality in our lives – “And you He has made alive, who were dead in trespasses and in sins.” (Ephesians 2:1) Is forgiveness part of the distinction? “…and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) Marks of distinction: faithfulness of God’s promises, our personal lives being lived out in the power of His truth, peace when our hearts are anxious, finding the pleasure of Christ’s company and presence in our lives. We have to prepare more than ever before in the history of our society not to be an island unto ourselves but to be prepared to have an answer.
And that answer lies in the truth of God’s Word, not what is written on a coffee cup. We do not stumble around in the darkness as one with no hope. “But now, in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off are made near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13) “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also shall rest in hope.” (Psalm 16:9)
Monograms are classic, and when stamped on fabric note the designer. They reveal the initials of the owner. They are marks of distinction. “Who has also sealed us and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (2 Corinthians 1:22) “In Whom you also trusted, after you heard the Word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation; in Whom also, after that you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13) The Lord has sealed and put His monogram on your hearts, and that makes us belong to Him: a mark of spiritual distinction. This truth separates us from others.
This is the challenge before us: to bear the marks of Christ; to be distinctly Christian.
“I see the turning of a leaf dancing in the autumn sun, And brilliant shades of crimson glowing when the day is done.” – Hazelmarie Mattie Elliot
As I drive down highways or walk down my driveway, I am beginning to see the evidences of autumn. We have shortened the name of this special season to fall. This is a season with much to see. It seems to come in gradually but then leave so quickly. There is so much to see and ponder of what God has provided for us in this season.
We rush around in our busy lives and sometimes do not take the time to see and understand this glorious God, our Creator, and all He has given us to behold. “Oh LORD, how manifest are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your riches.” (Psalm 104:24) It seems to me that when we walk down the paths of our lives, we are looking and seeing things before us. But do we (I include myself) really “see” Who God is? Do we know this Creator Who has created all of this autumn for us to glorify Him? We must realize there are different ways to see; and not just with our eyes.
In John 20:1-10, we are given a scene just after Jesus has been crucified and laid in the tomb. Mary Magdalene comes early and sees that the stone covering the tomb is rolled away. She runs to Peter and the other disciple (whom we believe to be John). She is all excited wondering where her Savior’s body has been taken. Peter and John run together to the tomb. John outruns Peter, and, when he arrives, he stoops down looking into the tomb. He saw the linen clothes lying there (no Jesus). John simply “saw” with his eyes: he noticed. He did not go in. Peter was following him and entered the tomb. When he entered, he “saw” the linen clothes lying there and no Jesus. The word used in the original means he looked and starred. Our English word “theater” is derived from this word. Then in verse 8: “Then went in the other disciple (John) who came first to the tomb, and he saw and believed.” The second time John saw, the lights came on, and he believed that Christ had risen from the tomb. This man they had followed had died on the cross for their sins. Oh to go from noticing, starring, observing to understanding is the glorious power of Jesus Christ.
You know what I see? I see a world around us starring and noticing but not understanding the God of the universe. It’s not Mother Nature. It’s not a Big Bang theory. It is Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If we understand the Gospel and Who God is, we have the glorious privilege of understanding Who this Creator is. Every leaf changing color, every cool breeze, every beautiful changing autumn sun is, by the grace of God, a time to see with understanding and glorify the Lord in it. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.”
“Oh say – can you see”?
In my early childhood, I could never compose poetry for classroom assignments. I really struggled in this area. I have a confession to make. My Mom wrote my poetry for me. This was so wrong. Kids, don’t follow this example.
But I love to read poetry. Years ago a dear friend in my church youth group gave me a big beautiful book of poems. I so cherished this book of poetry. The fact that someone can write from one’s heart and soul and transfer those thoughts to paper is amazing to me.
A few Sunday’s ago, my Pastor made this statement. “Our lives as Christians should be like a poem.” This statement has some powerful implications. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship.” (Greek poiema)
The English word poem is derived from this word. And Paul attaches God’s workmanship in our lives to His work of grace in verses 8 & 9. “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”
I married a very gifted man who has written many poems to me over the years. My sons have written poems to me expressing how they feel about their mother. And I have come to realize that although I cannot write poetry, by God’s grace, I can strive to live in order to be a poem for others to read. I can be the Mother my sons write about and the godly wife my husband conveys so well in his poems: to be faithful to put the Word of God into my life and live it out for His glory. It is a beautiful thought that I belong to Christ, and He has created me to be a poem for His glory. And in reality, my soul is all I have of any worth.
I am resolved I will not be
The dupe of things I touch and see;
These figured totals lie to me-
My soul is all I have.
Illusive cheats are goods and gold;
These chattels that I have and hold
Are preys of moth, and rust, and mold;
My soul is all I have.
A builder, I, but not with stone;
The self I am, nor flesh nor bone:
My house will ‘dure when stars are gone;
My soul is all I have.
For me to traffic with my soul
Would make me brother to the mole;
The whole world’s wealth were but a dole;
My soul is all I have.
I must take care I do not lean
T’ward what is sordid, false, or mean;
I must not touch the thing unclean;
My soul is all I have.
Oh, Keeper of the souls of men,
Keep mine for me from hurt or stain,
For, should it slip my hand – what then?
My soul is all I have!
I have been collecting china teacups for years. I have accumulated quite a collection; many antique, some just special because given to me by dear friends. I have had the joy of sharing these teacups in many ministry activities.
This weekend I was helping my niece put together a surprise birthday celebration for her sister. It was to be a “Downton Abbey” tea party theme. I store my teacups and saucers in a cellar under the house. I was sorting each one and placing them in a box. I guess the box was not on a secure place. I turned around, and the box, with about 20 sets of teacups, toppled over. I thought, “Oh, a few are broken!” As I started picking the pieces up, I realized nothing was salvageable. They were broken into many pieces.
I took a deep breath and decided to walk away from it. I climbed the stairs and was walking across our lawn to share with my husband what took place. All of a sudden my mind and heart started thinking about the story of a young 13 year old Nigerian boy named Danjuma. My Elder at church had preached a message and told his story.
He was attacked for his Christian faith by insurgents. They took a machete to his body and slashed his face. While his attackers stole so much from him, they could not take his joy. It is amazing grace. If you could only see the joy on his face after this ordeal… I brought a picture of him home from church that day to remind me of what serving Christ really cost. He was quoted as saying; “The joy comes from the Lord!”
Suddenly those broken teacups didn’t matter. Oh, if I could treat life situations with this kind of grace everyday! But I am grateful for how the Lord ministered to my heart that day. “The grass withers, and the flower fades away; but the Word of the Lord stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
Peoples’ lives are so broken around us. We are so caught up in our own little world. We don’t stop to realize how they are hurting.
Folks: after breaking all those teacups, I am reminded that the only thing we never lose is our standing in Christ. This should impact our lives for His glory, for this will go with us to the end. “In Whom you also trusted, after you heard the Word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation; in Whom also, after you believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:14)
“What shall separate us from the love of Christ: shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No; in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37)
My son just returned from a mission trip to Ecuador ministering to broken people: orphans with HIV who are neglected. The needs go on and on. Upon his return, he posted a quote that challenges my heart and I hope yours as well today.
I am wired by nature to love the same toys that the world loves. I start to fit in. I start to love what others love. I start to call earth “home”. Before you know it, I am calling luxuries “needs” and using my money just the way unbelievers do. I begin to forget the war. I don’t think much about people perishing. Missions and unreached people drop out of my mind. I stop dreaming about triumphs of grace. I sink into a secular mind-set that looks first to what man can do. It is a terrible sickness, and I thank God for those who have forced me again and again toward a war-time mind-set.
– John Piper
The battle rages, so please Lord, never stop forcing me to always turn to You for triumphs of grace.
I remember my old neighborhood where I grew up: staying out late at night on Sullivan Street hill, laughing and hanging out with neighborhood friends. We didn’t even lock our doors until time to go to bed. We lived knowing we could trust our neighbors with whom we shared our lives.
We have come a long way. There is the sense that we cannot trust anyone: government, neighbors. And in many facets of our lives, we are using devices to protect us. Social media invades our personal lives so much. People we look up to fail. People in positions fall. Honesty seems to have lost its way.
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever is just, lovely, pure, whatever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” In this day in which we live and walk, we must walk honestly. We must “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”.
I went to my local grocery store a few weeks ago. They had let some Boston Ferns get bad, so they marked them down from $10 to $3.99. I knew I could Miracle Grow and nurture these plants back to health.
I hung one on the side of my cart and handed the bar code of the other plant to the cashier and told her I had two plants. She rang up my groceries then leaned over and whispered something to me. I really could not understand her, so I dismissed this awkward situation.
When I got home, I went over my ticket, as I always do, just to check. I realized the cashier had only charged me for one fern. It hit me that the cashier was whispering to me that she didn’t charge me for the second fern, as if we would overlook this and let it go.
Now I know that my own heart could excuse this whole incident. “Well, it was her fault. It’s only $3.99, etc., etc.”, but I knew what I must do. I returned to the store a few days later and approached a different cashier. I had kept the bar code ticket, so I showed it to the cashier and explained the whole story. Then I told her that I needed to pay for the other fern.
What happened next really surprised me. The cashier kept looking at me like she couldn’t believe I came back. I told her the second fern didn’t belong to me if I didn’t pay for it. Have you ever been somewhere and you just feel someone glaring at you? I turned to the women next to me in line. The look on her face was as though I looked like an alien from another planet. Then the cashier kept thanking me over and over.
I walked away thinking this should not be that big of a deal, that uncommon. I also realized, sadly, that it is not common for this kind of honesty to show up. When I think of the audience I had, 1 Thessalonians 4:12 comes to mind. “That you may walk honestly toward those who are outside (without), that you may have lack of nothing.” This is our response; our proper testimony to the unsaved, a world that needs to see and know true honesty in life.
Lest I leave you with the impression that I am this wonderful person, I could have only carried this out because the Lord has planted His grace in my heart. His saving grace is responsible for me doing the right thing. 2 Corinthians 8:21 says, “Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”
Yes, in the seemingly small uninteresting day to day activity of a housewife, honesty is the best policy.
The dictionary defines blessing as follows: “1. The act of prayer of one who blesses; 2. A grace said before or after eating; 3. The gift of Divine favor; 4. Good wishes or approval; 5. Anything that gives happiness or prevents misfortune; special benefit or favor…” I think we sometimes believe blessings have to be grandiose.
A. I. Bryant asks; “Do we take the blessings that the common days bring to us?” The truth is that blessings can come in all sizes and shapes. Today I had a simple blessing occur in my daily living; a gift from The Lord. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights.”(James 1:17)
I was running errands, and I get this thought to stop by the thrift store. This is not unusual for me, because I am a thrift store queen. 🙂 I lost my caregiving job recently, because the man I was helping was put in a nursing home. So this gal is on a tight budget. And that is okay for a thrift store queen. I also have an amazing God Who loves to take the seemingly little things in my life to bring me much joy.
I recently put together a wreath for my front porch using some really nice silk flowers handed down to me by a friend. The colors in the flowers were light green and an unusual coral. I have a couple of pillows on the bench, but I wanted just a small pillow with that coral color to tie in with the wreath and make the bench pop!
I also have been redoing my son’s room since he got married and turning it into a guest room. I bought a lamp at the thrift store (of course), but it needed a lamp shade that was white. It needed to be the kind that clips on to the bulb, since the other kind would not work.
The Lord is always taking the little things, and they become huge to encourage my heart. I believe The Lord loves to make our hearts sing! I walked into the thrift store, and they had a bin full of throw pillows. The sign said; “Four pillows for $.99.” My heart began to sing. Yes, there in the bin were two small pillows the exact coral color I needed to match my wreath. I am sure the people in the thrift store thought I was crazy — and they would be right, because I got so excited.
Then I wondered around the store, and there sitting on a box was a brand new lamp shade – white, and it was $.99. Was this an accident or some random thing? Absolutely not! My blessing from The Lord that day was waiting for me to pop in and snatch it up!
It amazes me how The Lord is so interested and involved in our daily lives. It blows me away every time it happens. I will never stop being awed at God’s goodness to me. Yep – $2.10 fits my budget, and as I am driving home I can’t keep from smiling and praising The Lord. I guess you could say my heart was singing!
I was reading Psalm 87 in my devotions the other morning. This Psalm speaks of the Davidic Covenant the Lord made with David. It speaks of the Lord’s faithfulness, His lovingkindness, His will. The will of God is truth and faithfulness. Verse 37 really leaped off the page at me… “It shall be established forever like the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven.”
Sometimes I awaken at night and get up in my bedroom. I love to glance out my window to look for the moon. It’s just a thing with me! Sometimes it is so bright it lights up the whole ground area. Sometimes it is very small in the sky. Sometimes it is only partially visible. But the moon is always there in some capacity.
God’s will comes in different shapes and forms in our daily lives, but like the moon, it is always there. The Lord is always performing His will in our lives. Just like I never get tired of looking at the moon, I never stop being amazed at the will of God in my life. Through recent events in my life, I have seen God’s will perfectly, faithfully lived out in every day situations.
Do you remember those Tupperware toys from years ago called “Shape O Ball”? My children had one. You had to match the right shape into the corresponding place, or it would not fit and go inside the ball. I remember watching my young children take a shape and try to make it fit in the wrong hole in the ball: hitting and trying desperately to make it work. It never worked.
Even as adults, we try to do the same thing in our lives regarding the will of God. We desperately pound away trying to make something fit that doesn’t come close to the will of God. The answer is always God’s Word. If it does not line up with God’s Word, then it is not the will of God. We must stop desperately trying to fit our lives, plans, etc. into a space or shape they will not fit.
The Lord is ever coordinating and shaping our lives to fit His will. He puts in motion His perfect plan for our lives.
“There are enough changes we cannot stop which are the essence of this life and are meant to be. They are meant to drive us to God.”
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
“The best kind of beginning, when we are wanting to know the will of God, is to concentrate first on God Himself.”
(Elizabeth Elliot, from the book “Faith that Does Not Falter”)
This truth does fit into the shape of our lives.