No greater thing

 

No greater thing

Salvation.
Clear air and water.
Shelter.
Belonging.
Peace.
Safety.
Purpose.
Work.
Grace.
Forgiveness.
Sleep.
These are some of the needs I have in common with other human beings.

I also have wants. Wants  that I sometimes mistakenly view as needs. And sometimes the list is long. Here are a few:
A bestselling book.
Life to be fair.
High end clothing and shoes at rock bottom clearance prices.
A luxury car that is fully paid for.
The news that a long lost relative left me a fortune.
To never have a bad hair day.
(Did you see any of yours on my list?)

Then I think of Moses.

And his plea to God, “… let me know Your ways so that I may know You [becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with You, recognizing and understanding Your ways more clearly] And that I may find grace and favor in Your sight…” (Exodus 33:13, AMP).

And I am reminded that everything I want pales in comparison to knowing Him intimately.

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Five Minute Friday: Intentional

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“Intentional” – done by intention or design. “Intention” – a determination to act in a certain way.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He spoke light into existence, separating the light from the darkness. Making day and night. He spoke a vault called sky into existence, separating water from water. Caused dry land to appear, creating land and seas.

He spoke to the land and it bore vegetation. He made two great lights, one to govern the day, the other to govern the night. And He spoke to the waters and living creatures sprung to life. And birds filled the skies.

Then He said, “Let us make mankind in our own image, in our likeness.” And He did so. And then there was intentional disobedience. And a promise made – “Her Seed will fatally bruise your head.” “A Child will be born and a Son will be given.” And a promise kept.

“We also were chosen to belong to him. God decided to choose us long ago in keeping with his plan. He works out everything to fit his plans and purpose” (Ephesians 1:11, NIRV). Our God is intentional.

 

I am participating in a weekly writing adventure with the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung. This week’s prompt is, “Intentional.” Scripture links were added after the five minute window closed. The definitions for “Intentional” and “Intent” are from http://www.merriam-webster.com.

FMF

 

 

 

When the evening comes

Let me be singing when the evening comes

The title of this post is from the song, “10, 000 reasons (Bless the Lord),”  written by Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin. I love the song and it has become an anthem for me in all seasons. When things are going well, it is a shout of jubilation. In challenging times, it becomes an instruction, a commitment, and a prayer.

I sang the song during my quiet time today and, conscious that 2018 is still in its infancy and much is unknown, the words below became a plea:

Whatever may pass
And whatever lies before me
Let me be singing
When the evening comes

“When the evening comes.” “When the evening comes,” not if.

Evening, as in painful seasons.

Evening, as in periods of distress and confusion.

Evening, as in periods of shattering loss  and aching grief.

As we can be certain that evening hours will come in the (approximately) 24 hours of each day, we can be certain that the evenings of life will come to each of us.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth,” said the psalmist-king David (Psalm 34:1, AMP). “All times,” including evenings, as defined earlier. What makes this form of consistent praise possible? Two sources come to mind:

  1. Consistent praise is possible when we base our praise to God on His character, not on our emotions or circumstances.  Our emotions and circumstances can change in seconds but our God is unchanging. When we praise Him because of who He is, we can praise Him, with the grace He gives, in all seasons.
  2. Consistent praise is possible when we make the decision to praise Him, regardless. Note, David said “I will bless the Lord at all times” (emphasis added). “Will” is defined, in part as, the power to decide or control emotions or actions, and, a particular person’s decision or choice (merriam-webster.com). David made the decision to praise God at all times. We can do the same. Praising Him at all times is one of “all things” we can do through Christ. 

“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” (Philippians 2:13, AMP)

Because of this truth, “Whatever may pass, And whatever lies before” us, we can be singing “when the evening comes.”

“O my soul, come, praise the Eternal with all that is in me—body, emotions, mind, and will—every part of who I am— praise His holy name” (Psalm 103:1, VOICE).

Five Minute Friday: Simplify

Simplify

Mark Zuckerberg and his crew give us 9 options for describing our relationship status on Facebook. One of them is, “It’s complicated.” Complicated. Yes. Relationships, life itself can feel very complicated. But there are these instructions in Ecclesiastes 12:14 that seem to simply life and relationships. “When all has been heard, the end of the matter is: fear God [worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is Almighty God] and keep His commandments, for this applies to every person” (AMP).

What are His commandments? The website, God’s Word First, states there are not 10 but 613 commandments in the Old Testament Law. Six hundred and thirteen! But Jesus simplifies it all for us by highlighting two. This is the summary: 1) “Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; and 2) “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-41). Later, in his final extended conversation with his disciples before His crucifixion, He said this, /“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another” (John 13:34, AMP).  

He did not only give this commandment, He made it possible for us to love as He loves by abundantly pouring out His love within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5, AMP). In addition, the qualities of love are spelled out for us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 (AMP):

4 Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. 5 It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. 6 It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. 7 Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].

8 Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]… 13 And now there remain: faith [abiding trust in God and His promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love.

Combined, the truths in Ecclesiastes 12:14, Matthew 22:26-41 and John 13:34,  paraphrased could read, “This is what is most important, fear God [worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is Almighty God] and keep His commandments; that is, “Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; and love others as Jesus loves you.” Life and relationships simplified./

FMF

I am participating in the Five Minute Friday community’s weekly writing adventure, hosted by Kate Motaung. This week’s prompt is “Simplify.” The content between the // was written after 5 minutes expired.

 

 

With you. For you: Do not fear

With you.For you

It came in the early hours between sleeps, the thought that this year could hold much to fear. But before it could take root, it was vanquished by words from a hymn I learned in childhood:

God will take care of you,
Through every day o’er all the way;
He will take care of you;
God will take care of you!

Later, I found the complete hymn, “Be not dismayed what’er betide.” It has several verses, all worthy of attention because of the comfort and assurance they provide.

Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you!
Beneath His wings of love abide,
God will take care of you!

God will take care of you,
Through every day o’er all the way;
He will take care of you;
God will take care of you!

Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
God will take care of you!
When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you!

All you may need He will provide,
God will take care of you!
Trust Him, and you will be satisfied,
God will take care of you!

Lonely and sad, from friends apart,
God will take care of you!
He will give peace to your aching heart,
God will take care of you!

 No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you!
Lean, weary one, upon His breast,
God will take care of you!

I also found comfort and assurance in verses such as Joshua 1:9 (AMP),

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, AMP).

“The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Omnipresent. Always present. Everywhere. With all that He is. With you and for you. Do not fear.

 

Five Minute Friday: Motivate

motivate

Motivate – to give (someone) a reason for doing something; to be a reason for (something). This week’s prompt encourages self-reflection. What motivates me? What is my reason for doing what I do? A clear instruction is given in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (NIV).

I read the verses and responded with, “What? Do you mean it is not enough that I do something without complaining? You mean I have to do everything with my whole heart? I am going to need help, Abba, but You know that and have given me the Holy Spirit.// Also, hidden in these verses is a key – when I do  what I do, as unto You, the One who became flesh for me because of love, I can do whatever You require of me, with my whole heart. A response to Your incomprehensible love. So it is not that I have to. It is a privilege to serve You with all I am.//

FMF

I am participating in the Five Minute Friday community’s weekly writing adventure, hosted by Kate Motaung. This week’s prompt is “Motivate.” The content between the // was written after 5 minutes expired.

Old and New and All Our Days

 

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December 31st is known as Old Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve, depending on which part of Adonai’s world you inhabit. Years ago, I realized that the name I give to the day can provide a different focus. Old Year’s Day can promote a focus on the current year with all that made it what it was; it can also promote an expression of gratitude as I recognize that God brought me through challenges and blessed me richly. New Year’s Eve can promote a focus on the coming year and the dreams, hopes, plans, and even uncertainties I may have about the future. I see value in calling the day both “Old Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve.” Doing so reminds me that He inhabits my past, present, and future. That, EmmanuelGod with us, is not solely a Christmas promise.  I have His promise to never leave me, never forsake me; He is with me whether or not I feel that He is present. The same is true for you. He is with you.

I recognize that dread of the new year can creep in when I see the new year only as 365 more days of the mundane. As holding at least 365 opportunities to make mistakes, etc. Focus matters. Without question, the new year will have challenges. That is life. As in previous years, there will be days, weeks, even months when I pray my way through every hour.  When I stumble more that I stride. But there will also be moments of joy, and wonder, and the satisfaction of tasks well done.  Moments when I have the privilege of being part of someone’s healing and having someone be part of mine. Moments of extending and receiving grace. Moments when hope seems futile and moments of restored hope. Moments of chaos and pain and moments of clarity and peace. Moments of bone weariness and moments of renewed strength. Moments of relational rupture and moments of restoration and deep connection. Moments of resting in sunshine, the warmth of the sun feeling like a soft kiss. Moments when all the world seems gray and wet. Moments when I receive forgiveness and am enabled to forgive.  Moments of learning more about my heavenly Father and, as a result, learning more about who I am in Him.

And all of these moments are in the hand of the Eternal One. The One who neither sleeps or slumbers. The One whose eyes are on the righteous and His ears open to our cry. The One who loves us with an everlasting love and draws us with lovingkindness. The One who is full of compassion and abundant in loyal love and truth. The One who is Almighty and omnipresent and invites us to come boldly to His throne of grace and find help in the time of need. The One who is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we can ask of think. Old Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve and all our days, EmmanuelMay you experience prosperity as He defines it, in every area of your life in 2018.