Waves of life

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He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.  Deuteronomy 32:4

As I enjoyed a quiet walk on the beach, a beautiful shell caught my eye. Just as I reached down to pick it up a wave came by and I knew it had been washed away. However, as the wave receded back into the ocean the shell remained and I picked it up. It wasn’t perfect or complete, but just the remains of a shell, the twists, turns and soft edges gave away the wear and tear it had endured. It was beautiful to me.  I held it in my hand and continued my walk. A few minutes later my eye caught another shell. This one completely different. It was complete, perfect and shiny. It almost looked like a piece of glass it was so beautiful. Again, as I stooped down to pick it up a wave rolled in, but this time the shell was gone when the wave had receded.

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. Matthew 7:13 (The Message)

Like many people, I feel very close to God when I am on the water – especially at the beach. So, as I was walking my mind was on Him and, of course, as the GodChick I saw His lesson for me in these two shells.  It was a tangible way of God reminding me that life will always take twists and turns. There will be many things I will endure, but He will use them to make me beautiful in my own way – In HIS way. And unlike the shiny things of this world that vie for my attention every minute – He alone is my “everlasting to everlasting” – all the worldly things will simply melt away.They are only here for an instant and He lasts an eternity.

“Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. ” “Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. Nehemiah 9:5

God really is all around us teaching through His word, our lives, those around us and in our conversations with Him. I pray as you follow The Whisper of God you are beginning to notice God more and more in your everyday life.

Warped

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42

This week as my son defended himself, after pushing his sister, with a very warped statement. He said, “Well, Mommy. God always says treat others the way you want to be treated. She pushed me first, so I guess she wanted to me to push her.”  I’m sure you can imagine the look on my face as those words came out of his mouth. “Whoa! You are responsible for your actions – not the actions of others and God also says turn the other check!”, I declared before sending him to his room for a few minutes to think about things.

This statement reminded me of how often we take what we want from God’s word and use it to defend or excuse our actions. We take His word and twist it to our liking. We warp His laws for our own purposes and we leave a wake of destruction in our path. We warp His holy word and we don’t even take the time to know it for ourselves. We think that statements like, “cleanliness is next to Godliness”, “money is the root of all evil”, and “God helps those who help themselves” are actually in the Bible because we haven’t spent time reading the Bible, but instead have just listened to what others tell us it says.

This is one of the main missions of my ministry. I want to encourage ALL women to see God in the ordinary, to seek him and know Him on a personal and intimate level by diving into His word. If you are trying to find another way it will only lead you to a dead-end.

When people tell you, “Try out the fortunetellers. Consult the spiritualists. Why not tap into the spirit-world, get in touch with the dead?” Tell them, “No, we’re going to study the Scriptures.” People who try the other ways get nowhere—a dead end! Frustrated and famished, they try one thing after another. When nothing works out they get angry, cursing first this god and then that one, Looking this way and that, up, down, and sideways—and seeing nothing, A blank wall, an empty hole. They end up in the dark with nothing. Isaiah 8:19 (The Message)

When we read the Bible we find that God is love, compassion, joy, grace, peace and so much more, but, above all else, LOVE. In Deuteronomy 15:7 (The Message) it says, When you happen on someone who’s in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don’t look the other way pretending you don’t see him. Don’t keep a tight grip on your purse. No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs. Don’t count the cost.

He continues in Deuteronomy 22 and says that even if you see a wandering or injured sheep or ox, don’t look the other way, but return it. God desires for us to care for and show compassion to the sheep and oxen – how much more does He want us to show compassion for our neighbor and brother or sister in Christ? In short, treat them the way we would like to be treated. Taking time to read and understand God’s word fills us with the knowledge we need to go out into this world and do just that.

Sound the Alarm

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As my husband and I were showering and dressing one morning, the kids were busy running in and out of the house. I keep the chime feature activated on our alarm system so I’m alerted when a door opens. This particular morning the “alarm lady” was very busy saying, “sliding door” in her calm beautiful British accent every few minutes. I don’t know what the kids were doing, but they were in and out so much it quickly became a joke. My husband said, “Do you think she ever gets tired of saying that?” “No, she never even gets angry or raises her voice” I responded.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 1:11

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, Exodus 34:6

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Psalm 145:8

Praise the Lord we have a patient God. Let’s be honest, if He wasn’t we would all be in a heap of trouble. I have days when I struggle with worldly desires all day long and I just have to ask forgiveness and hand it over multiple times in one day – sometimes hourly! I’m sure God feels like the “alarm lady” most days. I open the door to sin & ask forgiveness – He replies “you are forgiven”. I’m so thankful He never tires or grows weary of my desire to come to Him, seek Him for forgiveness and His power and courage to get out there and do a better job the next time.

However, like the child who knows how to manipulate their parents and talk them out of punishment, we must be careful not to take God’s patience, grace and forgiveness for granted. God is “great in power” and holds us accountable for our actions! Notice the Bible says, “He is slow to anger”. It doesn’t say He never gets angry. The old saying about not asking permission, but asking for forgiveness doesn’t get us very far when trying to lead a Christian life. If we truly believe in Jesus and the Word of God our hearts and minds begin to change in ways we would never have imagined. Please understand, I’m not saying once we believe in God we will never sin again, or be tempted by sin or mess up BIG TIME. We are human after all and always have that potential. What I am saying, is that when we seek God with an earnest plea for forgiveness He will forgive, but when we use His forgiveness as an excuse to sin it’s time to sound the alarm and check our hearts.

The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. Nahum 1:3

To go deeper this week, Read Paul and Timothy’s prayer in its entirety in Colossians 1:3-4.

Back Against the Wall – More from Ezra

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You know the moments in life when turning it over to God is the only option because if He doesn’t show up your goose is totally cooked?  We don’t even try to take control of the situation we just take it straight to God in prayer because we know it is completely out of our hands.

It would be nice it we instantly handed EVERYTHING over to God, ALL the time, but we are human. As humans, it is our nature to try and control our circumstances so they work out according to our own plan. We want to trust, but we hold on to things sometimes believing God doesn’t care about the small stuff  or simply think we can handle it faster or better. Oh, how I have gotten  into trouble, so many times, in my life by falling into this illusion of control.

It always makes me feel better when I see my flaws in the people of the Bible and as I continued studying Ezra this week I saw how he also fell pray to this lack of trust problem.

It was time for Ezra to return to his homeland so he gathered up a great group of men. They had a long and difficult journey ahead of them.

I proclaimed a fast there beside the Ahava Canal, a fast to humble ourselves before our God and pray for wise guidance for our journey—all our people and possessions. I was embarrassed to ask the king for a cavalry bodyguard to protect us from bandits on the road. We had just told the king, “Our God lovingly looks after all those who seek him, but turns away in disgust from those who leave him.”So we fasted and prayed about these concerns. And he listened. Ezra 8:21-23 (The Message)

Did you catch it? Isn’t it amazing how much meaning just a couple of verses can hold? Here is Ezra, proclaiming about how our God protects and looks after those who seek Him, but at the same time, fearful of the dangers that lie ahead of them on their long journey. Sound familiar? To embarrassed to ask the King for help after all His proclamations about our good and faithful God he had no other option but to turn to fasting and prayer while hoping God answered – and verse 23 tells us “he (God) listened”. Ezra was just as human as we are.

We say we trust our loving Father. We say He protects and shields those who seek Him. We say we love Him above all else. Do we only say those words or do we live them? Do we only believe them when there is nothing left for us to control?

I’m not going to sugar coat this! We will struggle for the rest of our days with this deception from Satan, but I pray God opens our eyes to it and continues to tug at our hearts so we draw closer to Him and rest in Him more fervently everyday. TRUST in Him!

A Grip on Hope

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It seems that every time I talk to a friend, receive an e-mail, prayer request or see the news there is another new story of death, despair and heartache. It’s overwhelming.  In fact, when I think about friends facing the terminal illness of a child, a loved one going to jail or the financial pressures and job loss this economy has brought on so many I wonder how they bear it.

So when I read Lamentations 3 (The Message Translation) this week it seemed fitting for so many around me. The first three verses hit hard.

I’m the man who has seen trouble, trouble coming from the lash of God’s anger. He took me by the hand and walked me into pitch-black darkness. Yes, he’s given me the back of his hand over and over and over again. Lamentations 3:1-3

It doesn’t stop there. Jeremiah continues and says, Even when I cry out and plead for help, he locks up my prayers and throws away the key (v.8), He’s a prowling bear tracking me down, a lion in hiding ready to pounce, He knocked me from the path and ripped me to pieces. When he finished, there was nothing left of me (v.10-11) and finally he says, “He ground my face into the gravel. He pounded me into the mud. I gave up on life altogether. I’ve forgotten what the good life is like. I said to myself, “This is it. I’m finished. God is a lost cause.” (v. 16-18).

Have you ever felt like crying out to the Lord with some of these same thoughts or feelings? Ever felt like you finally got your footing, just crawled (or clawed) up from your knees and took a breath just to be knocked down by another blow? I have been there and if you have too – you are not alone. So what’s the good news?

Jeremiah continues . . . . please read this slowly and soak in every word.  Even in the darkness . . . .

 19-21I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
   the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
   the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
   and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

 22-24God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
   his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
   How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
   He’s all I’ve got left.

 25-27God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
   to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
   quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
   to stick it out through the hard times.

 28-30When life is heavy and hard to take,
   go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
   Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
   The “worst” is never the worst.

 31-33Why? Because the Master won’t ever
   walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
   His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
   in throwing roadblocks in the way:

There are some amazing truths in these verses: keep a grip on hope, God’s love and mercy never runs out, His mercies are new every morning, pray, wait for hope and the Master never leaves our side. What other truths and characteristics of God stood out to you? I encourage you to read Lamentations 3 in its entirety and pray God reveals something new to your heart and soothes your soul with the healing balm of His word.