Shattered!

Standard

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

I had been out all morning and returned home to complete a few things before picking up the kids from school. When I walked into the dining room (which doubles as an office) I noticed two pictures had fallen off the wall. The picture above another had fallen and taken out the one below it on the way down. There was glass everywhere. It had shattered and scattered. My afternoon was spent cleaning up instead of accomplishing the tasks I had planned on.

That has happened with events in my life too. How about you? I’m on a path. Things are looking up, going smoothly and I’m on a steady course when BAM!  I’m sideswiped with bad or discouraging news or events. My plans are shattered and I have to redirect and start picking up the pieces. It usually happens when we are least expecting it because thankfully, many of us aren’t sitting around waiting for the bad stuff to happen. The betrayals, deaths, discouragement, fear, anger or when sin simply gets the better of us aren’t on our “to do” lists ~ they just happen. Sometimes we are receiver and sometimes we are the giver.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

The question is, what will we do when things fall apart ~ when our lives are shattered? Will we run? Pretend it isn’t happening? Buckle under the pressures of the world and follow the path most taken?

Or will we praise God for the opportunity to show others His strength, peace and blessings? The things only He can offer in the midst of our darkest hour.

What will we do with those times?

The answer lies deep within each of our hearts.  It might even be something we don’t know the answer to until we are faced with the situation. Either way, I pray when it does we will all enter through the presence of our Heavenly Father and trust Him to lead us, guide us and help us pick up the pieces. It reminds me of verse four from The Dessert Song by Hillsong that says, “This is my prayer in the harvest, When favor and providence flow, I know I’m filled to be emptied again, The seed I’ve recieved I will sow.”

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:2

 

 

Gold Mining

Standard

My son came home from school with a frown on his face. It took him a while to talk about it after my inquiry, but when he was ready he shared that he had made a mistake when answering a math question and the teacher got a little angry with him. This wasn’t his normal teacher and I think maybe somehow she thought he was just guessing or fooling around and not paying attention. Either way, because my son takes things very seriously it hurt his feelings so much he didn’t even want to go to school the next day.

This situation reminded me of these verses.

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men  nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

In this situation both the teacher and my son made a mistake. He was hard on himself for getting the answer wrong and I have no doubt the teacher would be hard on herself had she known how much her response hurt my son.  We all make mistakes. We sin. We disappoint others. We fail. BUT look closely at the three words in verse 11 above. We are washed, sanctified and justified. What does that mean exactly. Those words sound good, but have you ever really thought about their meaning?

 Washed – “cleansed by water, to remove dirt, the action of using water to separate valuable material.”

Love this! God washes us free from all the dirt, sin and yuck we get ourselves into everyday. He pans the dirt for gold! The gold that He knows exist in our hearts because He created us and dwells within us.

Sanctified – “set apart for a sacred purpose, free from sin”

Well, we all know that we aren’t free from sin on our own. We have been bought with the blood of Christ and set apart from others when we believe in Him. You have a sacred purpose! Does that give you goose bumps?!

 Justified: “to prove or show to be just, right, reasonable. To judge or treat as worthy of salvation, to space the lines of text when typing so the lines come out even.”

Ever thought about that? We don’t type all over the place when we write or send e-mails. We right or left justify so that all the lines of text are in line with each other.

That is what being justified in Christ is – bringing all our wacky out of line, sinful, messed up behavior back in line with Him.

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (1 Cor. 1 :30)

We can’t wash, sanctify or justify ourselves and no one can do it for us except for Christ. When we believe in Christ and all He did for us and continues to do we are given these gifts that we don’t deserve and can’t earn. It’s just a gift. The greatest gift one will ever receive, but a gift. Have you opened the package? Allow Christ in today to do a little mining. It might feel like there is nothing good left in your heart, but Christ is always able to wash away the dirt and find the gold!

 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)

How do you like your eggs?

Standard

It’s funny, God used to teach me so much through my children and He still does, but they are in school everyday now so we don’t have as much time together. So now, He is teaching me through my chickens. I know! Don’t worry, I won’t judge you for thinking I’m crazy. Now that our chickens are finally laying eggs, we have had a difficult time getting them to lay in their nesting boxes. Instead, they have made a nest under our deck and prefer to lay them there. So we’ve researched how to make their nesting boxes more desirable for laying eggs and are hoping for the desired results!

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature slave to the law of sin. Romans 7:24-25 (NIV)

I was thinking about how often we get headed in the wrong direction: We start a habit that isn’t Godly and it’s difficult to break or we aren’t in God’s word enough to know what direction is even the best way to go.  We start making our own decisions, our own plans and we don’t consider the laws God provided for us out of love and for our protection.  We don’t seek His council or wisdom through prayer and His written word.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. Romans 7:24-25 (MSG)

Thankfully, like us (the chicken farmers), our God continues to pursue us. His word teaches, rebukes, corrects and trains us in His ways and with His help, His love, His grace and His mercy the desired outcome is reached. No, there won’t ever be perfection on our own ~ only through Christ, but when we continually seek Him He will fill us so that our every word, deed and thought is for His glory.

How do you like your eggs? I like mine in the nesting box where I can find them and the wild critters can’t eat them! And I like my heart, my actions and my words a lot more when I’m in the word of God!  Join me?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of Godmay be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

Hands Up!

Standard

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. Exodus 17:8-13 (ESV)

This is a passage I have read many times, but really stood out when I came across it recently. Notice what happened when Moses grew weary ~ Aaron and Hur put a stone under him so he could sit and each one held up one of his hands so the Israelites would continue to win the battle.

When I have the opportunity to share Christ with a group of women I always encourage them to get to know Christ on a deeper level by studying His word and seeing Him at work in their daily lives. One of the most important ways to make this happen is to find a group of women that are: like-minded, can meet regularly, willing to hold you accountable, be in prayer for each other and study God’s word together. God has provided me with an amazing group of Christian women and mentors that have come along side me and hold up my hands when I’m weary. They stand in the gap (with prayer) for me when my mind is overwhelmed and even when I’m not. They check in on me and hold me accountable for keeping Christ in the center. I trust them to put my bottom on a rock (my strong foundation) and hold up my hands to give God glory even when praising Him seems like the most unlikely thing to do.

The greatest part about these women is that they allow me to do it for them too ~ when they are weary, when they feel defeated, when the world is trying to overcome them, when they are seeking Christ above all else and need His wisdom . . . they have allowed me into their lives and let me lift them up when they are tired.

I pray you have women in your life like this and that you are a woman like this for someone else. If you do, I encourage you to write them a letter and tell them how much they mean to you. If you don’t, I urge you to look for a small group or Bible study to join at your local church. Pray for God to lead you to the right group of women. Maybe He is even nudging you to be the leader of a group of church family, friends or neighbors.

I pray we all adopt more of a “You lead, I’ll follow, Lord!” approach to our lives so as He stretches out His hand we are in the place we need to be to receive His blessing.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. Matthew 7:25 (NIV)

Lost it?!

Standard

Keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 1 Kings 2:3 (ESV)

“You didn’t tell me not to do it today”, my son argued. “Son, I didn’t think I had to tell you the same rule (don’t wear your socks in the yard without shoes on) everyday. When I tell you once ~ that stands for everyday!”, I reinforced with a not so happy tone in my voice. Repeating the same thing over and over again is part of a mom’s life! It can be so frustrating to ask my kids not to do something one day only to have them  “forget” the next day. How can they just lose all I’ve taught them after one night of sleep?

This all came to mind as I was revisiting the story of King Josiah. You know, he was only 8-years old when he became king. That’s right between the ages of my two children. He reigned Jerusalem for 31 years. Who says the Bible doesn’t have some good stories?!

And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 2 Kings 22:8 (ESV)

Here’s the crazy thing that stood out to me as I revisited this story. Notice what 2 Kings 22:8 (above) says. “I found the Book of Law.” Apparently, the Book of Law (God’s directions & laws for his people) has been either hidden or misplaced for some time. At least since Josiah had taken over as king. This is hard to comprehend when we live in a world where I alone probably have 20 different types of Bibles in my house alone, but it’s true. They had lost it and where living this way and that way under no ones law, but their own. I’m sure there were some people who were still alive that remembered what the laws where, but it had been so long since anyone taught them they had decided to live the way others (priests, kings and prophets) were telling them to live instead of the way the Lord had called them to live.

When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” 2 Kings 22:11-13 (ESV)

So when The Book of Law was found and King Josiah heard the words from it he “tore his clothes.” Can you imagine discovering something that gave you every key and insight into how you needed to live for God and recognizing you had been doing the opposite in most cases? That is why Josiah tore at his clothes. He was beside himself with despair, anguish and regret. He had been getting it all wrong.

We go through times like this in our own lives. We live like God’s word has been lost. We live as if we don’t remember His ways, His truths and His commandments. Then, by the grace of God we find it again and hopefully tear at our clothes, mourn our sin and begin to live according to His ways again.

You may have lost it for a while, but God has never given up on you. You may have lost it for a while, but God still loves you. You may have lost it for a while, but God can still turn your failures into His triumphs. Return to Him today. We may let go of Him, but He never let’s go of us! With God there is always hope!

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)