Archive | March 2015

Do Not Disturb – Interrupted By Life

 “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”Do Not Disturb

                                                        Proverbs 16:9

 If your life is anything like mine, it’s pretty hectic at times and requires planning to accomplish all the things that are needful.  I have a calendar that reminds me of appointments, meetings, and other “to-do” items. Actually, I have three calendars – one on the kitchen wall, one on my desk and one on my phone.

Not only do I have multiple calendars, I am a fanatic list-maker. It is so satisfying at the end of the day to look at that list and see all that I have accomplished – or, so frustrating to look at the list at the end of the day and see how little I accomplished.  Frequently, regardless of my best laid plans, interruptions change my day – and those interruptions can be frustrating!

By definition interruptions are defined as things that hinder or stop by breaking in.  All of us have experienced them. They may be minor inconveniences such as a phone call, a knock at the door or a text message alert.  Or, they may be more poignant in nature such as a tragic accident, 911 or the death of a loved one. Some are short lived and others seem to go on forever.  Some are quickly forgotten; others are never forgotten.

The important thing about interruptions is not that our plans were hindered but our attitude about the interruption, how we handled it and what if anything we learned from it.

Jesus was the master of interruptions. Marcia Lebhar says “If you had slept in the same house or field with Jesus, awakened with him, eaten with him and helped him, what would you have observed?  One thing we always think of is that Jesus gave himself almost entirely to what we would consider interruptions.  Most of the teaching, healing and wonders we see in his life were responsive…seemingly unplanned.  He trusted that what the Father allowed to cross his path was exactly that…from the Father.”

Jesus always seemed willing for things to get messy.  Well acquainted with interruptions, He created some of the most moving scenes in Scripture while on the way to something else.  Someone reaches for his garment, the blind man begs to see, the father pleads for his daughter’s life, the little children want to be near Him and the lame man wanted to walk.

Not only was Jesus’ life filled with interruptions, in a sense He was and is an interruption – to Mary and Joseph, to the disciples that He called to follow Him, to the men on the road to Emmaus and to us as He calls us to be His children and learn from Him.  When Jesus is the interruption, lives are transformed.

So, what can we learn from Jesus’ example that will help us to handle life’s interruptions?

  • Jesus was never too busy to notice people in need – am I?
  • His time was God’s time – is mine?
  • He desired to do the will of His Father above all else – do I?
  • He viewed interruptions as opportunities – do I?

God allows or orchestrates interruptions in our lives for important reasons.

  • They may be personally designed appointments to help us to grow spiritually.
  • They may provide us an opportunity to be a reflection of Jesus’ love to those in need.
  • They may serve as a reminder of God’s presence in our day to day lives.
  • They may remind us that our time is not our own.

All too often we respond to the interruptions of our well-ordered lives with attitudes like frustration, irritation, fear, and doubt.  Instead, God’s surprises in our day are full of opportunities.  Let’s welcome them as a new “to-do list” from Him.

 Lord, if I’m feeling rushed today,

I need Your eyes to help me see

That when an interruption comes,

It is an opportunity. – Sper

 In the end, our highest goal should not be the flawless execution of our plans, but our relationship with God.  I have found that when I yield to God’s interruptions, I have more than enough time to accomplish the items on His “to-do list”.

Truth to Be Claimed:  Interruptions can be God’s appointments and should be embraced with expectation.

Application:  Submit your schedule to God; plan to depend on God, even in the ordinary things; reflect on the examples from Scripture to learn how others dealt with interruptions; develop an attitude of gratitude, even for interruptions.

 Solo Deo Gloria

 

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Assembly Required

SAR_ColorBlocks assembly required 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

There is nothing that strikes fear in the heart of a parent the night before Christmas or a Birthday Party than the phrase “Assembly Required”. You can be sure that if it says some assembly required…there are No “Quick Fixes”.  Translation:  “Unless you have the patience of a saint, the IQ of Einstein and more tools than Sears –  be prepared for FRUSTRATION!

At times, I think life is like that and should come with the warning “Some Assembly Required”.  Max Lucado, in his book Before Amen, says “Life is a gift, albeit unassembled.  It comes in pieces and sometimes it falls to pieces.”

I was a single mom with two teenage boys.  I had just lost my job and as a result I had no transportation because the car I had been driving was a company owned vehicle.  The pantry was empty and I had no money to buy groceries.  I had asked God for direction and provision but it seemed that He was silent. Thumbing through the mail on my way back from the mailbox one day I noted a letter from my insurance company.  I remember thinking, “Oh great, another bill that I can’t pay!  What am I going to do?”  Upon opening the envelope, I discovered a refund check for $250.00 that I had no idea was due me.  Some would say that it was a coincidence, but, I know that it was a “God thing”.  After all, His name is Jehovah-Jireh, the God who Provides.  He knew my need and was at work to provide for it  even though I could not see  Him at work.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, knew how to deal with life’s unexpected challenges.

John 2:1-11 records the Wedding at Cana where Jesus changes water to wine.  We can learn from her example what to do to assemble the pieces that life hands us.

  • We learn about attitude – Mary wasn’t bossy – she just stated the problem.
  • She didn’t try to fix the problem herself – she realized that she did not have the resources or skill to resolve the problem ..but instead she turned to the one who did.
  • She didn’t blame Jesus…if You are really in control this never would have happened.
  • She didn’t blame herself…it’s all my fault, I’m a failure as a friend.
  • She did everything she was supposed to do – identified the problem, brought it to Jesus, left it with him. She trusted him completely.
  • I think Jesus smiled – this wasn’t the manner or place He had planned to reveal His power, but, he wouldn’t turn His back on a genuine need.

The implications are clear.

  • Take our problems to Jesus – don’t whine, complain or argue. Just lay them at His feet.
  • Relinquish control – don’t try to solve it ourselves and then as a last resort take it to Jesus. We are to make Jesus our first resort.
  • Don’t play the blame game…against ourselves or others.
  • Leave the problem at the feet of Jesus..too often we bring a problem to Jesus and then pick it back up instead of trusting Him to handle it.

On the wall of my study there is a picture of Jesus that I love.  It shows Him looking up at the sky with a big smile on His face.  I can just imagine Him looking into the face of his Abba Father, raising His hand to give him a high five and saying, “Dad, Kay finally gets it.  She can trust Me to put the pieces of her life together!”

Truth to Claim:  God can be trusted to assemble or reassemble the pieces of my life when I relinquish control.

Application:  Practice taking your problems to Jesus first and leaving them there.

Solo Deo Gloria

 

 

 

 

Identity Theft

 Identity Theft

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  1 Peter 3:3-4

Identity theft has become a huge problem.  In fact, it is the fastest growing crime in the United States.  Recent statistics suggest that 10 million cases of identity theft occurred in the past year.  This rise in identity theft has produced a number of companies that seek to protect you from criminals that might steal your good name and credit rating.

Not only is identity theft a problem in our culture, it is a problem in the lives of Christians as well.  Any follower of Jesus has the potential to fall victim to Satan’s lies if they do not know their true identity in Jesus Christ.

We often allow our culture to define who we are instead of the truth of God’s Word.  Our culture says our worth is based on our skills, accomplishments, status, financial resources or our appearance.  As women we are particularly vulnerable to lies about our appearance which can result in obsessions with food, dieting, clothes, make-up and even plastic surgery.

As a teenager, I didn’t like my appearance very much.  In fact, I can remember standing in front of the mirror in my bathroom screaming at my self – “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!”  In my eyes (and the world’s) I did not measure up. I had a bad case of acne.   My hair was fine and straight.  I was out of proportion – big where I didn’t want to be and little where I thought I should have been bigger.  I wanted to look like those girls in Seventeen magazines.

Eventually, I came to realize that I was allowing culture to shape my values about my appearance instead of searching out God’s truth.  Searching out God’s truth takes time, effort and commitment.  In our culture where instant gratification is paramount, it is easier to spend our time checking our Facebook or Twitter accounts or watching American Idol than feasting on God’s Word.

Satan loves to taunt us with lies about our bodies.

Lie #1: Beautiful girls are worth more.

The truth is that God says we are valuable because we are His creation and He loves us.  He alone gives our lives value. So, in order to combat this lie we must redefine where worth comes from.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well”  Psalm 139:13-14

Even though we may have an occasional break-out or “bad hair” day or gain some unwanted pounds, God still considers us his masterpiece.  He crafted us and made us just as we are for a purpose.  We must not let our souls be defined by our shells.

Lie # 2: Your body is decorative – its purpose is to attract the attention of men and the envy of women.

The truth is that our bodies are useful.  God created them to accomplish His purpose in our lives and in His world.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10

Lie # 3: Your body is yours – you can do with it as you please.  You can neglect it, obsess over it, indulge it, punish it, pamper it, or alter it as you wish.

 The truth is that if you are a believer, your body is not yours.  You are its steward because you were bought with a price.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought with a price.  Therefore, honor God with your bodies.”  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

When we are contemplating actions toward our bodies we should always ask, “Will this action glorify God?”

Admittedly there are times I need a refresher course when I think of my body.  Recently, I saw a post on my Facebook page about my upcoming high school reunion.  Immediately I thought…I need to get busy and lose that 10 pounds I’ve put on, and I’ll need a new dress…and so forth and so on.

May we protect our identity in Jesus Christ. May we be good stewards of the bodies with which God has gifted us. May we see our bodies as God sees them. May we use our bodies to serve God so that His purpose might be fulfilled in us. When we know our true identity, we truly are beautiful!

Truths to claim:  My body is a masterpiece crafted by God, belongs to God and is useful to accomplish God’s purpose.

Application:  Learn to combat Satan’s lies about my body by memorizing scriptures that reveal God’s truths.

 Solo Deo Gloria

The Pop Quiz

“The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything.”pop quiz 2

2 Corinthians 2:9

Merriam-Webster defines pop quiz as “a short test that a teacher gives to students without warning”.

As a student, I hated pop quizzes.  When the teacher said the words “pop quiz” my mouth would become dry, my palms would begin to sweat, butterflies would take flight in my stomach, and my heart rate would accelerate.  I wanted to be in control and know the plan ahead of time. I didn’t like surprises.

Not only do teachers give pop quizzes but life does as well – the car accident, the unexpected diagnosis, the job loss, the financial setback – and the list could go on and on.

Pop quizzes may be a common occurrence in the classroom and in life in general but did you ever think about pop quizzes in you spiritual life?

I have discovered that when God reveals a new truth to me from His Word, it is often followed by a pop quiz!  I was participating in a Bible Study at my church and the topic the previous night had been obedience. The facilitator had emphasized that obedience was reflected not only in our words, but more importantly, in our actions.  I pondered those thoughts in my quiet time the next morning and then headed off to the mall to complete my Christmas shopping.  My ‘to do” list was a mile long.

As I approached the entrance to the mall I saw someone standing off to the side.  Coming closer I saw that it was one of the young women who worked at the nail spa where I occasionally went for a pedicure.  I could see that she was upset. In fact, I saw that she was sobbing and tears were streaming down her face.  As I hurried by I wondered what had happened to make her so upset.

All of a sudden, as I passed through the mall doors, it was as if I had run into a brick wall, and, although not audible, I could clearly hear God speaking to me. It went something like this.

God:   “Hold on Kay.  You prayed this morning that you would not miss My appointments for you to minister to others. This is your appointment.”

Me:  “But Lord, I am on a tight schedule! I have a million things to do.”

God:  “Kay, is your schedule more important than a broken heart?”  (Ouch!)

Me:  “But Lord, I don’t know what do.”

God:  “Show her that I love her.”

Me:  “But Lord, she might think I am weird!”

God:   “Kay, what is more important, taking the risk of being thought you are weird or being obedient?

I stood there a few more seconds, then turned around and went back through the double doors.  I walked over to the young woman and asked her if she was alright and if there was anything I could do.  She shook her head no.  I gave her a hug and walked away.

This pop quiz was about obedience and I almost failed.  I just wish I had said more about the God who prompted me to act.

Jesus is the ultimate example of obedience.

Jesus was totally obedient to his Father’s will.

  • Obedience was central to His life and thought – “My food”, said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:34
  • His obedience was costly – “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8
  • His obedience was necessary for salvation – “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19

Jesus demonstrated obedience in his relationships.

  • He was obedient to his parents – “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them…” Luke 2:51a
  • He was obedient to secular authorities – “…He said to them, ‘Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’” Luke 20:25

As believers we should follow Jesus’ example of obedience.

  • Obedience expresses our love for God – “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15
  • Obedience is a characteristic of a believer’s life that should be reflected in our actions – “The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything.” 2 Corinthians 2:9

Obedience is a Christian principle that all of us have struggled with at times and may require us to step out of our comfort zone but the results are worthwhile.  Greg Barber has said “Obedience doesn’t make God love you more, but it does show that you love God.

Truth to claim:  Obedience is a demonstration of our love for God.

Application:  Determine to be obedient to God whatever choice you face.

 Solo Deo Gloria

 

The Care Package

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”    1 Peter 5:7care-package-cardboard-box

 Care packages have their origin in CARE, an organization which was founded in 1945 to help restore nations battered by the Second World War.  CARE sent millions of packages to war-torn Europe with urgent supplies like food, clothing, and medications as well as books, toys and recreational items.  The goal was to make the recipient’s life a little more pleasant by providing both vital necessities and comfort, along with a kind word from home.

Our granddaughter recently decided that for her birthday instead of her friends bringing her birthday gifts, she would ask them to bring items to send in care packages for those serving in the military.  She received enough items to send several care packages and one of the soldiers who received one of those packages even paid her a personal visit to say thank you when he was home on leave.  Our grand-daughter is a sweet, compassionate, unselfish young girl who has a heart for the Lord and others. (Yes, grandmothers know no shame and will use any excuse to talk about their grandchildren!)

Care packages come in all sizes and shapes and may include an array of items.  They may be sent to a variety of recipients including the military, hospital patients, college students, the needy and even missionaries to name a few.

Have you ever been the recipient of a care package?  I have, and it changed by life!

It was a beautiful Spring day with blue skies and sunshine.  The birds were singing, but as I walked down the courthouse steps, the only sound I heard were the words ringing in my ears – the divorce is final.  As I approached my car the tears welled up in my eyes and by the time I closed the door they were running down my face.  As I sat sobbing, the world around me went on as usual.  I looked up at those blue skies and cried, “God, my world is falling apart.  Do you care?  Does anyone care?”

When there were no more tears, I tried to compose myself, fixed my makeup and returned to work.  That afternoon when I got home I stopped by the mailbox where I found a card with handwriting and a return address that I didn’t recognize.  I opened the card and this is what it said.  “Dear Kay, I don’t know you very well or what is going on in your life right now, but, I have been impressed to pray for you this week.  I just want you to know that God cares and so do I.  In Him – Jane.”

I was the recipient of a care package from God!  He knew what I would be facing on that specific day and what I would need to hear – that He cared.  Jane was sensitive to the Holy Spirit who impressed her to write exactly what I needed to hear in exactly the time frame that it needed to arrive.  It was a God thing!

I had read 1 Peter 5:7 many times and understood it on an intellectual level.  However, on that day those words moved from my head to my heart and I now had heart knowledge – the great God of the universe cared about me!

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition for care package states “A package of useful or enjoyable items that is sent or given as a gift to someone who is away from home.”  How appropriate!  This world is not our home – heaven is. God desires to send us care packages to encourage us on our journey.

Truth to Claim:  God cares for you.

Application:  Anticipate receiving care packages from God.  Allow God to use you to provide a care package for someone else.

 Solo Deo Gloria