Wednesday, May 19, 2010
My good friend tells me that I am bold in my prayer life. That I ask for things she would never think to ask. One of my recent prayer requests was that I become more like the woman from Proverbs 31. She has it together! Her house is in order, her husband praises her and her children call her blessed, she works to help her family and I bet she never ran out of milk or bread.
She is a godly woman. Verse 30 says, Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. I would like to know more about her. I would like to know what her prayer life was like. What did she pray for? How did she approach God? My guess is that she was bold. She was a go-getter! Buying property, planting a vineyard and then (I'm assuming) selling the grapes to make a profit. I don't know much about the other women of her time, but I am guessing they were more concerned about the affairs of the house than buying property. She was not the normal housewife.
She always knew what to say to others. Verse 26- She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Sometimes I say the most foolish things and there are times I don't know what to say. More times than I would like to count, however, I hold my tongue and don't speak. The subject is often faith. Why do I worry so much about offending others with talk of Jesus? I am comfortable with people that I know, but with people that I don't know, I censor myself.
One scripture that has always stood out to me is Matthew 7:21-23 - 21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' Jesus is talking about false prophets. People who say they are from God, but they are not. For a long time, this scripture did not make me uncomfortable. I figured that Jesus was talking about the people that claim to know God, but had nothing to back it up. Until I did a little more digging. The NIV study Bible references Romans 10:9-10 9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. I have confessed that Jesus is Lord and I believe it in my heart. I believe I have been saved.
Luke 12:8-9 8"I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. 9But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.
From the dictionary:
- acknowledge: 1. to admit 2. to show recognition of 3. to show appreciation for
- disown: to refuse to acknowledge as belonging to oneself
That makes me a little more uncomfortable! I have never outright disowned him, but there are times that I don't speak up about my love for him because it is "not the right time" or "it is not the right place" or "I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable". Is there much difference between disowning and remaining silent?
I want to be more bold in my relationship with him. I submitted my application for baptism yesterday. I filled out my paperwork almost a year ago and then I got nervous and didn't turn it in. I was baptized by sprinkling, but not immersed like every baptism in the Bible. It is a big, bold, public statement at our church. There is an auditorium filled with more than a thousand people and that scares me. I don't have to talk in front of anyone, but I have to walk out on the stage and get into the pool. I know that God has been leading me in this direction. And I want to be obedient.
- bold: 1. courageous and daring 2. vivid; prominent
Acts 4:29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
I firmly grasp the prayer of Paul:
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I recently returned from a retreat. There is a labyrinth on the grounds of the retreat center, that is similar to the one pictured above. We had a break in our sessions and a few of us decided to walk the labyrinth. I entered the path and began my journey. I had to keep reminding myself to focus on Jesus. My mind kept wandering to my loved ones, my to do list and at one point I wondered what was on the menu for dinner. The walk in, seemed long. When would I reach the center? There were so many twists and turns, back and forth. When I started one way, the path quickly turned and led me back in the direction from where I had come. It seemed like forever until I reached the center.
Once in the center, I tried to feel the presence of God. I paused for a few moments enjoying the quiet and the stillness. When I felt the urge to move, I did. I began walking and it was very different. I was calmer and I wasn't in a hurry to get out.
I began thinking about different things that I have been praying about. And then, I saw something amazing. There along the path, was a tiny forget-me-not beginning to bloom. They are so small, I must have missed it on my way in. I moved along and thought of another recent prayer request. There, along the path, was another forget-me-not. Huh, how did I miss that one too? Each time I began thinking about my prayer list, there was a tiny little blue flower along the path. The labyrinth was full of them! I had missed them all. Each time I thought of a prayer request or concern, I could sense God saying "forget-me-not. I am bigger than that problem." At one point I thought about one of my "big ones". One of the prayers that is always at the top of my list and at the front of my mind. "Did you forget who I am?" he whispered.
What about..? forget-me-not
What about...? forget-me-not
I could feel His presence so completely, that it seemed like we were walking together. With each step, I could hear his Spirit speaking to me. Do not forget who I am.
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children-
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the LORD, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.
Folklore and legend of the forget-me-not from Wikipedia. In a German legend, God named all the plants when a tiny unnamed one cried out, "Forget-me-not, O Lord!" God replied, "That shall be your name."In another legend, the little flower cried out, "Forget-me-not!" as Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden.
In yet another, the Christ Child was sitting on Mary's lap one day and said that he wished that future generations could see her eyes. He touched her eyes and then waved his hand over the ground and blue forget-me-nots appeared, hence the name forget-me-not.
I have been trying to grow forget-me-nots in my garden for several years, without success. I finally found a spot where they are happy and they are flourishing! When I got home from the retreat, my little angel was waiting in the flowers.
Monday, May 3, 2010
There are so many decisions to make. Some are life changing, while others barely deserve a second thought. It is so important to stay tuned in to God and his promptings, because even the slightest decision can have huge consequences.
I am really thinking about the big ones though. The decisions that change our life. It is so easy to go over and over a situation in our mind without seeking advice. I am very good at this!
A dear friend of mine has a check-list of sorts that she uses before making any big decisions. First, she checks her spirit. What feels right in your heart? What is your gut telling you? All believers have access to God through the Holy Spirit. Paying attention to (and obeying) this voice could keep us out of so many sticky situations and help us make wise decisions. Her second check is the Bible. What does God say about your decision? It may take some hunting, but again, follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and he will lead you to scripture that fits your situation. If you don't know where to start, there are some great sources on the internet to help you out. Break out your concordance, search biblegateway.com or biblestudytools.com. Google can even be a good source to get you started. But, I encourage you to check the scripture for yourself, in your own Bible. Lastly, she seeks wise counsel. Ask a pastor, or godly person whom you respect and trust. These three often echo the same answer. You will sense where God is leading you.
When we are not walking closely with God, it is easy to find someone who will tell us what we want to hear. If I am mad at my husband, I have a friend I can call, who will tell me "you are so right and he is so wrong". She will tell me that all men are rotten and that my husband is no better. That I have every right to be upset and that I should never expect anything better from him. Is this wise? No. It may make me feel better for a minute, but not in the long run. It is not always easy or painless to do the right thing. I have another friend who I can call who will be honest. She will listen, and tell me the truth. It may not be what I want to hear, but if I am being ridiculous about something, she is sure to tell me. This is part of growing up and following in the footsteps of Jesus.
This also makes me analyze the kind of friend that I am. When someone calls me for advice, do I take the easy way out and tell them what I know they want to hear or do I tell the more difficult truth? I know what God wants me to say. It is so hard sometimes, growing in our walk with Him. I risk losing friends that have been around for awhile, people who may not want to know God or his truth. But, then I ask, are these the friends that I really want around anyway?
We will always have big decisions to make. Following God does not mean that all of our questions go away. By seeking Him though, we can follow the path that He has prepared for us.
Lord, please guide my decisions today. I want to follow in your path. Help me to seek the truth and to be a truth teller.