Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Comparison Trap

Well, this will reveal a lot about me, but as I read the duties assigned to the divisions of the tribe of Levi, I wondered if any jealousy developed. In case you missed it, let me remind you.

"The duties of the Kohathites at the Tabernacle will relate to the most sacred objects." Numbers 4:4

"These Gershonite clans will be responsible for general service and carrying loads". Numbers 4:24

Finally, the Merarite clan, "Their only duty at the Tabernacle will be to carry loads". Numbers 4:31

Is it just me, or do you see a progression here from most important to lesser important duties? Going from descriptions of "most sacred", to "general service" to "only" speaks volumes concerning what people value. I wonder if any of the Levites got caught up in the deadly comparison trap. Sadly, I am not immune to this snare.

We tend to compare appearance, position, children, husbands, marriages. We compare homes, possessions, University degrees and salaries. I think, being a twin, I've always struggled with comparisons. All my life there has been an identical person with whom to compare myself. It is a constant battle not to allow this bait of Satan to lure my mind to thoughts that lead me to insecurity and feelings of worthlessness.

The Lord has created us each uniquely. He has a role that only you can fill. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Regardless if we feel our current position falls into the category of "most sacred", "general service" or "only", it is the one God has designed for us specifically. We need to carry out each request with the same passion and enthusiasm, regardless of its accompanying status.

If God has called you to any area of ministry, delight in serving Him.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Accept or Embrace

From the time our son was fairly young, my husband and I gave him certain responsibilities that were age appropriate. It started with simple little things, and then grew to more complicated requests as he matured. These were not chores that required financial reimbursement, but duties required as being part of our family. We wanted him to learn and enjoy the inner satisfaction of fulfilling his role in our home.

Today we read in Numbers how the different clans were given different responsibilities. Much of the description here sounded like 'housework' to me. We read of taking care of the Tabernacle, the coverings and curtains. Caring for the table, lampstands and "various articles". Looking after the structure of frames, pillars and bases. These were maintenance type jobs. Ongoing and unending.

As I pull out my laundry baskets today to clean my "coverings and curtains" am I doing it to please the Lord? As I dust my tables, lampstands and "various articles" am I finding pleasure in serving my family? As my husband and son cut the grass, shovel the snow, repair "frames, pillars and bases" to keep our home structurally sound, is there a joy in providing attention to these details? We have been blessed with so much, yet too often I complain about the responsibility the blessings bring.

What about the tasks I need to fulfill outside the home? How is my attitude toward those ministries? Do I teach the three year olds with enthusiasm? Do I facilitate the Bible studies with passion? Do I set the tables for fellowship time with a longing for those who attend to be blessed?

The Lord has given all of us responsibilities. No task is greater than another. Is there something you're not looking forward to doing today? Are you even hoping to avoid it if at all possible? Think of it as God's divine appointment and His high calling designed just for you. Don't just accept responsibility, but ask God to help you embrace it with delight.

"Rejoice before the LORD your God in everything you put your hand to". Deut. 12:18

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Clans and Families

With all the talk of "clans and families" in our reading today, I thought it might be nice to introduce you to mine:

This picture was taken two months ago at our Christmas dinner gathering. Seated around the table, starting on the left, my husband (with the mustache), my son (eating and not looking at the camera!), my nephew, my twin sister's husband, my twin sister, my aunt, my mom, my dad, my nephew, my nephew's wife, my nephew's daughter (you can't see her), my nephew's son, my other sister and her husband.

I'm so thankful for the family the Lord has given me. I have a godly heritage.

Today, I'm off to spend a day with my twin sister. Rather fitting with all this talk of 'family'. Two quick questions to ponder before I go.

Today we read of families numbering themselves to see how many would be prepared to go to war. Even though I trust many of you reading this are enjoying a time of peace, what preparations are you making to face an unplanned battle from the enemy of your soul?

Numbers 1:52 spoke of each Israelite tribe camping in a designated area with it's own family banner. What would your family banner depict? What symbol, what word would you like to see representing your 'clan'?

Something to think about as you go about your day.

Sweet blessings!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

To Live the Possible Dream

So much has drawn my attention in today's reading.

Part of me wants to focus on "Do not make idols or set up carved images..." Lev. 26:1

Then my heart felt the cool breeze accompanying the "seasonal rains", Lev. 26:3

However, three separate verses have written a story across my heart.

"You will live in such fear that the sound of a leaf driven by the wind will send you fleeing." Leviticus 26:36
"I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck..." Leviticus 26:13
" will be able to sleep with no cause for fear." Leviticus 26:6

You see, fear is my greatest struggle. It would be easier to list what doesn't frighten me, than what does. In the past I have been so agitated by "the sound of a leaf", the creak of a floor board, or the slightest whisper, real or imagined. I truly believe I was 'taught' to fear, as my Mom is an extremely nervous person. At a young age I watched her unplugging every electrical chord at the first clap of thunder; I felt her hand grasp me tighter when a dog would pass us on the street, pulling me away from impending danger; I was instructed to always lock and bolt the doors whenever we were home. The list goes on and on.

Yet, God's Word tells me I don't have to bear the burden of this fear. God says, "I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck". I no longer need to be held captive by fear, imprisoned in a self-imposed cell. Weakness and familiarity often hold me hostage. Too often I focus on what is instead of what can be. But, today again, He is holding out the keys for my release in nail-scarred hands. I hear the sound of shackles clanging to the ground.

God's promise remains. I will be able to sleep with NO cause for fear. NONE!

Just over a year ago now Lysa TerKeurst visited our church. She began one of her sessions by saying something like this: Imagine being able to wake up and say - 'I will not live in fear'. To be honest, that sounded like an impossible dream to me, not a possible reality.

Again today my heart has been challenged by truth. Knowing truth and living it can remain at opposite ends without the believing Truth and trusting Truth in between. God IS Truth.

The lyrics of "The Impossible Dream" talk about fighting the "unbeatable foe". In my own strength, I can not beat the evil one who planted this root of fear, but he is beatable. There is victory in Jesus. We are more than overcomers through Christ. Whatever your areas of struggle today, know that with God you already are a conqueror.

Acts 16:26 "Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose."

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Fragrance of Christ

**I know a couple of you will have read this over half a year ago on my other blog. I was reminded of it again today in my daily reading. May the Lord use it for His glory again.

"...a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the LORD." Leviticus 23:13,18

As a little girl my Mom would always pray with me before I left home for school. In fact, she would pray with ALL the friends that came to call on my sister and I to walk to school. At times our front hall would be filled with a dozen youngsters. I don't know that my sister and I were really that popular, but our home was known for refreshing cold drinks of water and candy, so it was a wonderful half-way mark for many making their journey to school each morning.

My Mom had another beautiful practice as well. On exam days she would spray a little perfume on my wrist and remind me that when I was writing the exam, and maybe a question appeared a little daunting, the aroma of the perfume would remind me that she was at home praying for me.

One day when I arrived at school I was talking with a girlfriend when suddenly she asked, "What smells so nice"?

I answered, "It's my Mother's prayers".

She replied, "They sure do smell nice".

God's Word tells us that our prayers should rise as a sweet smelling fragrance to Him.

Whenever you apply a little touch of your favourite scent, may the lovely aroma throughout the day remind you to take all your needs to Him in prayer. May they be " a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the LORD."

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Monday, February 23, 2009


Honour - to show respect; regard well, admire, esteem, give consideration, implying obedience. A tall order. An often difficult task requiring accompanying submission.

In today's passage we read, "Anyone who dishonors father or mother must be put to death. Such a person is guilty of a capital offense." An asterix beside the word "dishonors" further explained: "Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of". that speaking to anyone other than me?

I often find that the commandment to "honour your parents" is one of the hardest commandments to follow. It's not that I don't love my parents. I love them deeply and believe they are the best Mom and Dad in the world. I sometimes struggle with drawing the line between honouring them and their wishes when I don't always agree with their choices.

In Exodus 20:12 God wrote, "Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you." A commandment with a promise. Again, as in today's reading, honouring parents is connected to length of life. God truly desires for us to honour our parents and rewards us for doing so.

I read recently that we can honour our parents through L.O.V.E. We can Listen to them, "Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old", Proverbs 23:22; Obey them, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right, 'Honor your father and mother' - which is the first commandment with a promise - 'that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth" Ephesians 6:1-3; Volunteer to help them; and Enjoy being with them.

It's possible that someone reading this feels justified in ignoring this command because of treatment received, or not received, at the hands of your parents, however, it is still God's desire that we honour Mom and Dad. The Lord will one day deal with any abuse you may have received.

Honouring our parents must go beyond words. The Israelites were continually guilty of honouring God with their lips, while their actions made Him appear worthless, Isaiah 29:13. We can do the same in our relationship with our parents. We need to show them that we honour them in word and deed.

Honouring our parents is not always easy. It can be a daily struggle. A struggle that needs to be surrendered at the foot of the cross, but we can honour our parents as an act of worship to our Savior.

I think we have to remember our parents aren't perfect (neither are we!). We can be thankful for the good we have received while not allowing what they did, or failed to do, dictate our future.

The Lord has blessed me with incredible parents. They continue to shower me with love and I know that they pray for me daily. I live very close to them and see them often. (Dad has a great treadmill that I try to use five times a week.) At 83 years of age they are both experiencing challenges. As some of you know, Dad is scheduled for surgery a week tomorrow, March 3rd. Tonight I am attending a seminar at our church on Caring for Aging Parents. It's funny....I don't dare tell my Mom I'm going to this because, one, she doesn't see herself as "aging" and two, I'm sure they are convinced that they don't need care :o)

Writing this has reminded me of an old Chris Christian song. I couldn't find it on You Tube, but I hope you let these lyrics minister to your heart and love them while you can.

They tied our shoes, took us to school, patched our worn-out jeans
They soothed our tears and calmed our fears, and listened to our dreams
Somewhere along their golden years, their hair has lost its sheen
The notes to hymn one hundred ten crackle when they sing
And now they are alone, no children's voices fill their empty homes

We must love them while we can, we must love them while we can
For time just seems to hurry by, and the days slip into years
And the moments that we have will disappear
So love them while we can

The folks that taught us our first words, still have much to say
The silver secrets of the world, lie beneath those crowns of gray
As they approach the end, we change our role from children to best friend

We must love them while we can, we must love them while we can
For time just seems to hurry by, and the days slip into years
And the moments that we have will disappear
So love them while we can

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

My God

As a little girl, I grew up always knowing about the Lord. My Dad was a lay-preacher, filling the gap for ministers who were on holiday or ill. Fifty weeks a year we would find ourselves in different churches. This had it's pros and cons. It was fun travelling around as the "preacher's kids", often being invited out for lunch and widening our circle of friends. It also meant my sister and I being "special music" almost every Sunday, not making deep connections and often living more in an 'adult' world.

With no weekly consistancy, it also meant assumptions. Any Sunday School we visited always presumed my sister and I had obviously already confessed our sins and given our lives to the Lord. We were held as the example. The teachers expected more. I'll never forget the one day the class we were visiting was suppose to recite the "Ten Commandmants" order. For lack of volunteers the teacher turned and looked at my sister and I announcing that we would be able to do it. All eyes focused on us as we turned every shade of red possible. Unable to fulfill her wishes, I remember being so embarrassed.

It was quietly, on my own that I finally made a decision to follow Jesus. I was reading a book entitled, "Joy Sparten of Parsonage Hill". Joy's Dad was a parson, yet she came to a place of realization that she couldn't get to heaven because of her parents position or salvation. A personal decision had to be made. I still vividly recall kneeling beside my bed, with the sound of my sister practicing the piano in the background, and asking Jesus to forgive my sins and come live in me. I never really told anyone, as for years it had been assumed anyway. Now the assumption became reality. I no longer was covered by guilt. My life DID belong to Jesus.

In today's reading several times we read, "I am the LORD your God". A flood of memories have captured my heart. He is MY God. No more pretense. No more falsehood. He is MY God. A decision was made. Sins confessed. A heart surrendered.

So often I've met others who, growing up in Christian homes and always attending church, feel there has never been a time they haven't known Christ. Yes, they may have always known about Him, but knowing Him personally is different. Galatians 4 differentiates between knowing about God and being known by God. Romans 10:9 tells us that we must confess with our mouth and believe with our heart. There must be a point of decision. You might not know the date and time (I don't), but I remember the moment. The moment my heart surrendered and I became God's forever child.

Today do you truly know Him as the "LORD your God"? If you do, I would love to hear your salvation story. Please share briefly in the comments. If you haven't ever made that personal committment, today could be the day. Maybe you've lived your life under others assumptions. They won't help you for eternity.

I want to close with this story.

I met a girl years ago who had attended church since she was a child. Had gone through all the right "classes". Said all the right words. Participated in all activities whenever the church doors were opened. As she grew older she even began teaching Sunday School and leading in ministry areas.

One summer in the late '90's a Billy Graham crusade came within driving distance to her town. A large group from her church decided to attend. For the very first time she heard the message that she needed to confess her wrong doings and make a personal decision to receive and follow the Lord. When the invitation was given, although filled with anxiety amongst all of those who for years had felt she knew Christ personally, she stood up and walked to the front. Sadly, many thought she was crazy. They thought she was carrying this "knowing Jesus" thing a bit too far. She responded that night, but friendships became strained. Others didn't understand.

Only a few short weeks later my son started Kindergarten. I met this mom the very first day. I immediately recognized Christ in her. Within days I invited her over for tea. She shared with me the testimony above and how she had been praying for a Christian friend; someone who would understand the decision she had made. God answered when He directed my husband and I to enroll our son in the Public School system. That was not an easy decision and a post for another day, but confirmation came that very first day as the Lord had prepared the way for this friendship.

Again, I ask today, is He the "LORD your God"? He can be. That's the first step. Receive Him as "your God". Then, making Him "LORD" of your life is another. The life of a Christ-follower is far from dull. There is always a new point of surrender and a deeper following. Take whatever next step God is asking of you today.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sin, Savior and Sacrifice

Today we read of a slain goat and a scape-goat. A dying goat and a delivering goat. Christ became both our sacrifice and Savior.

Websters tells us that a scapegoat is "one who is punished for the errors of others; a goat that departs". There is something different about our Scapegoat, He is resurrected and returns.

There is only One who can take away our sins. Hebrews 10:3-4, "But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins".

Isaiah 53:6 tells us that the Lord has laid on Christ the iniquity of us all.

"How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:14)

To experience this cleansing, we must first acknowledge our sin, confess our sin, repent and then receive through faith. Romans 4:8 tells us that our sin will never be counted against us. We have been freed from a guilty conscience and freed to love, serve and follow Christ.

John 1:29, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Has He removed your sin? He can today. Today you can know His forgiveness.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

The Cleansing Touch

How my heart resonated with the lepers who sat with torn clothes, unkept hair, calling out "Unclean, Unclean", living in a place of isolation. I'm sure the stigma of being a social outcast evokes more pain than the disease. Separated from friends and family.If not for the sacrifice of Christ, I would be sitting right next to them. Shame would be my portion. The priest would declare me "ceremonially unclean".

Unclean heart. Unclean life. Unclean by sin. Unclean by birth. Unclean thoughts. Unclean motives. Unclean words. Unclean. Worthy of being cut off from fellowship with God. It's only by God's grace and mercy that I'm not living "outside the camp".

Jesus taught in Mark 7:20-23, "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' "

2 Corinthians 7:1 says, "let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God".

Job asks in Job 14:4, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?"

Touch or be touched by Jesus.

The hem of Christ's garment was touched by a hand of faith in Mark 5:22-34 and a woman, bleeding and unclean for twelve years received healing. Earlier in the same gospel, (Mark 1:40-45), we read of Jesus having compassion on a man with leprosy, and putting His hand on him, gave healing.

Today, do you need to receive the touch of Jesus? A healing touch. A liberating touch. A comforting touch. An enlightening touch. A guiding touch. You do not need to remain "unclean". Whatever your need, He has the cleansing touch.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Authentic Worship, Surrendered Posture

While working on Beth Moore's "Stepping Up" Bible study, she encouraged the participant to practice something I had only done on a few occasions in the past. Before we began our homework each day she suggested we take our places on our faces. Although I was very accustomed to kneeling when I pray, to lie down with my nose in the carpet had only occurred at rare times previously.

Today we read how the people saw God display His glory and holiness and their immediate response was that they "shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground". Joshua's reaction was the same when he encountered the commander of God's army in Joshua 5:14, he "fell, face to the ground, and worshiped". When Peter, James, John and Paul encountered Christ they did the one thing they had never done before, they fell face down to the ground.

The Israelites triumphed in the assurance that God was with them and then they humbly adored His majesty. It is a gracious fear that makes us bow before Him. We have truly seen Him when our response involves the lowest reverence.

I have to admit, when I started to do this, it felt awkward. It was just different. I usually waited until just after 6am in the morning. My husband had left for work and my son was still asleep. I would literally lay straight out on the floor and envision myself at His feet. It was uncomfortable at first, but that changed as the weeks went on. Something real and significant took place in my spirit. I can't describe it, yet I can't deny it.

Mark chapter 4 tells us how Jesus spent time sharing parables with the people, but when He was alone with His disciples He would explain everything. God not only draws us to our faces in awe of who He is, but to speak to us. I need this intimate, quiet, alone time with Him so that He can share with me the secrets of the kingdom of heaven. I need this soaking to hear Him speaking.

Christ Himself led by example. In the Garden of Gethsemane He sought the face of His Father in the most profound of all examples of worship, on His face, on the ground saying, "Not my will, by Your will be done". It's a posture of surrender.

If you've been sensing a lack of power in your walk with the Lord, get down on your face in worship. Lay and listen. Wait. He lay down His life for us, surely we can "lay down" at His feet and take our places on our faces.

1 Peter 5:6 is a beautiful reminder that when we humble ourselves under God's mighty hand, that He will lift us up in due time. The imprint of 'carpet lines' on our cheeks might best reflect His glory.

Wendy used this song with her post today and it fits so nicely with my writing as well. Let's worship Him together today.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Following Instructions

For any of you who don't know, I'm reading through a Chronological Bible this year, along with some other girls, under the leadership of Wendy Pope. This morning, in response to our reading in Leviticus she asked the following question: When you receive exact instructions from the Lord do you follow them to the last detail even if He asks you to do something you don't understand or doesn't make sense?

As I've spent some time thinking over direction the Lord has given me in the past, I'd have to say I think I'm pretty good at following "exact instruction" when the Lord speaks to me. Just to give a few examples, in the past I have specifically felt Him call me to pray for certain people; to send my son to Public School and trust Him; to move to a new church; to work in the kitchen and serve food at a Ladies conference; to teach Sunday School, facilitate a Ladies Bible Study and to send gifts of money to certain people or ministries. I have to admit, I find those times easy to follow because God's Word to me is so clear, there is no area for doubt and my heart just thrills to respond.

Where I struggle is more with the inclusive instructions, that we as Christ-followers are all called to obey. Loving my neighbour. Honouring my parents. Respecting my husband. The 'doing good', trusting completely, surrendering fear, releasing doubt, rejoicing always, pray without ceasing and the list just goes on and on.

The Bible, God's instruction Book, gives us direction for all areas of life including marriage, parenting, buisness, finance, aging, worship, and loving. We need to receive His guidance with the joy of the Psalmist who wrote, "I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word" Psalm 119:16.

I know it is a common joke to hear how men never use an instruction manual when assembling an item. Many think they can handle it on their own. God has provided the "instruction manual" for our heart, soul and mind, yet, from Sunday to Sunday many never open His Word for direction or encouragement. God's Word has wisdom and reason that guides us for our best interest, keeping us under His protection and love.

On our own, we cannot begin to follow His instructions 'exactly'. We need God's strength to enable us to obey. Living by God's instruction is a challenge. It can bring both trials and suffering as well as blessings. However it doesn't have to be guess work, but God's work as we allow Him to move our hearts in accordance with His will.

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105

"Take fast hold of instruction, let her not go: keep her, for she is thy life." Prov. 4:13

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Unintentional Sin

***Please see update below***

"Suppose you sin by violating one of the LORD's commands. Even if you are unaware of what you have done, you are guilty and will be punished for your sin."
Leviticus 5:17

Have you been there? At the time you were completely unaware and it wasn't done with intent, but suddenly you find youself asking forgiveness. In a moment of temptation you are caught off guard and yield to anger, lust or jealousy. You succomb in weakness and frustration. You hadn't planned to sin. You didn't spend days planning a scheme and cover-up, it just happened.

There is a vast difference between intentional and unintentional sin. One is wilful rebellion, the other accidental disobedience. Christ prayed from the cross to forgive those who crucified him, because they did not know what they did, Luke 23:34. Yet, whatever the qualifier, sin is still sin and must be confessed in order to be forgiven.

I frequently find myself praying from Psalm 139, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Father, show me where I have inadventently refused to follow Your commands.

When the Holy Spirit points out a sin, we are to immediately confess it, denounce it as unworthy of the Kingdom of God, renounce it and have nothing more to do with it, and call on the Lord for the strength to keep us from repeating it.

I find most often it is the unintentional sin that has me on my knees. A casual word has hurt a friend. A simple action offended. A decision made did not honour my parents. Too much time at some activity has made it an idol. I shared an answer based on my understanding, but it wasn't truth. A root of jealousy caused a reaction. I made a joke about something that didn't show respect for my husband. The list goes on and on.

I no longer need ceremonial offerings because of my sacrificial Lamb. The final price has been paid. With humble confession I can be restored to a right relationship with the Lord.

Thank You Father for the many times You have pardoned me from the punishment deserved. May the indwelling of Your Spirit quicken me to Your ways as I respond in love to You.

UPDATE: Well, I think the Lord wanted me to be able to share a personal example.

Before Christmas I had made some purchases on behalf of our Women's Ministry at the church. I submitted my receipt and was waiting to be reinbursed. The treasurer who looks after this is so efficient, I knew I would not wait long to have the funds returned. However, a couple of weeks went by and I couldn't remember receiving a cheque in payment for the purchases made. In speaking with this gal she felt she had already given me a cheque, but because I was so positive that I hadn't received any money she graciously agreed to issue me another one saying that when, or if, the original cheque showed up, to just return it to her. I honestly didn't think this would happen, as I strongly believed I hadn't received it.

I was cleaning out my purse. A little book in which I keep prayer requests had been tucked into my purse as I was going to be somewhere and I thought I would have some time to quietly pray for some needs. As I pulled it out of my purse, a larger envelope tucked inside caught my attention. Guess what it was? The original cheque.

Had I intentionally told this gal that I hadn't received it? No. Had I lied on purpose? No. This morning I went to her with the envelope in my hand, shared with her about my writing here today and told her I was coming home to update this post and leave this example.

Ladies, it can happen so easily!!!! After writing this earlier this morning I was thinking about other unintentional allowing Satan to make us discouraged or fearful...attitudes of the heart that might not necessarily be sinful, but can lead to sin. Oh how we need that shield of faith, breastplate of righteousness and helmet of salvation. Dressing in His full armor.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Listening in the Wilderness

"...the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness..." Numbers 9:1

"Rod Nash, wilderness historian, tells us that wilderness is a difficult word to define. While the word is a noun, it acts like an adjective. There is no specific material object that is 'wilderness'. There is no universal definition of wilderness. He believes that wilderness is so heavily weighed with meaning of a personal, symbolic, and changing kind that it is difficult to define."

The 'wilderness' can be a deserted place, disordered, confused and wild, yet it can also be a santuary, an escape, a place away from pressures. It's a place where you can feel lost or found.

Our reading today encourages that God speaks to us in our wilderness. Eugene Peterson writes that "Anybody who has anything to do with God spends time in the wilderness". Sometimes God chases us to the wilderness to get our attention. It's not a place, but a situation. God is into transformation and the wilderness is His classroom. It's often a time of testing where we settle the question, "Who is in control?"

In Hebrew, the word for wilderness is midbar. It is surely interesting that the root of midbar has the meaning of "speak" or "word." God truly does speak to us in the wilderness.

Hosea 2:14 says, "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her." Has God called you into the wilderness? Don't be frightened. Although uncertainties quite often accompany the wilderness, you are not alone. God desires to speak tenderly to you. The mighty, rushing wind of His Spirit is blowing. The true Vine wants us abiding in Him.

Listening in the be-wilderness.

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~ Sorry for the late post today. It is "Family Day" here in Ontario and both my husband and son are home. I've resolved that I will not be on the computer if they are home. They are currently out for a couple of hours of down-hill skiing! Thanks for your patience.

Quote from: Wilderness and the American Mind, Roderick Nash, Yale University Press, 1982

Sunday, February 15, 2009

God's Altar, My Surrender

"They each placed their gifts before the altar". Numbers 7:10b

This morning God is calling me to place my gifts before the altar. Too often I bring what is easy. God desires me to bring what is needed. Needed in order to draw closer to Him. Needed in order to walk this life fully His. As I invite Him to search my heart, what does He desire me to place before His presence? What necessary must be surrendered so that He can do a further work in me?

I sense He is calling me to something deeper. A releasing in order to receive. I'm struggling with the knowing and the letting go.

The gifts the leaders brought were "dedication gifts", evidence of complete and wholehearted loyalty and faithfulness.

Father, I bow before Your altar. My face on the ground. Lord, what is it You are requiring of me? Give me courage to relinquish whatever You ask, leave it at Your altar and walk away. Remove the desire that accompanies the tight grip. Break me Lord, so there is no need to pry it out of clenched fists. That's not an offering, that's a forceful taking. I'm too weary to fight. The holding on has exhausted. The greatest gift is that which is the toughest surrender. Consecrate my cherished and hold me gently. Fill the gap the giving exposes. Fill me with Yourself.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

In a Cloud

Last night I was answering one of those fun questionnaires that circulates through e-mail and Facebook. A question asked: One wish? My response: "to know I'm in the center of God's will".

How I envy the Israelites as they had such clear direction. No doubts. No guess work. Eleven times in today's passage alone we read, "just as the LORD had commanded". They were obedient to definite direction. Guidance continued as they not only knew what to do, but when to move.

Do you ever long for such clarity? Every day we face choices. If they were between good and bad the answers would be easier, but most often the decision lies between the good and the best. Neither option wrong, but only one can be taken. Regularly my head feels "in a cloud" instead of lead by one. I long to know the freedom from haze that settles over this 'tent'.


If you'd like to read more of a Valentine post, enjoy the following at my other blog: Not just a Fairytale

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Scarlet Thread

My patchwork heart needs the mending of a scarlet thread.

Yesterday it was bruised with the news of my Dad’s cancer.

A piece has broken and needs the gentle stitching of heavens Hands.

Decorate my life with the “beautiful embroidery” of “scarlet thread” (Ex. 38:18).

Blood that flowed and is familiar with suffering.

Entwine my heart with Yours.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

I Can Only Imagine

As the offertory starts to play and the ushers begin to walk to the front of the sanctuary, the Pastor jumps up and begins waving his arms frantically saying 'Stop, Stop'. The music ceases abruptly and he explains. The people have already given too much. The budget has been met. Supply cupboards are overflowing with material. Resources for the homeless, unwed mother's, missionaries in foreign lands and widows have all surpassed expectancy. Finances for outreach endeavours and seasonal concerts are extremely well endowed. Everything has not only been provided for, but the income has far exceeded expectation, and quite honestly nothing more is needed at this time. The Pastor decides they will forego taking up an offering until further notice.

Sounds pretty bizarre doesn't it! Yet, in today's reading that's exactly what happened. Exodus 36:3-7 reads, "But the people continued to bring additional gifts each morning. Finally the craftsmen who were working on the sanctuary left their work. They went to Moses and reported, 'The people have given more than enough materials to complete the job the LORD has commanded us to do!' So Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: 'Men and women, don't prepare any more gifts for the sanctuary offerings. We have enough!' So the people stopped bringing their sacred offerings. Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project."

Pretty amazing, isn't it! The people gave too much! What a wonderful problem to have in any situation. A plea is given and people respond with such generosity that an announcement must be made to stop the in pouring of gifts. Not only that, but we are told several times in the passage today that their hearts were stirred to respond and present these offerings. They had willing hearts. Hearts filled with so much love that they wanted to give all they had and do all they could to meet the need. These people were giving more than a tithe, they were giving their all.

In these times of economic crisis, the tendency is to hold on to the limited funds at hand. With each day bringing new uncertainty, we want to wisely invest and save our money. At the same time, the Psalmist says that he has never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread (Psalm 37:25). Finances is the only area in the Bible where God invites us to test Him. Malachi 3:10 says, "'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'"

Did you catch the other very important sentence in the Exodus passage? Listen again as I repeat it here. "'The people have given more than enough materials to complete the job the LORD has commanded us to do!'" Makes me wonder. Are the lack of funds in many churches today the result of man's programming and not God's? Are we throwing money into purposes and plans that the Lord never intended. We need to pray up before we pay up.

My heart also thrills with the honesty and faithfulness of the workers. They could have stolen or pocketed the extra funds and no-one, but God, might have been the wiser, yet they chose to serve the Lord with integrity and a pure heart.

I don't know that I'll ever hear my Pastor petitioning his congregation to stop giving, but I know I can do my part. I am only responsible for my response, my motives and my heart. There is one area already where I know I have more than enough, and I'll let this song invite you to see if you've had this overflowing filling.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Face to Face

It was actually just a simple gesture, but I have never forgotten it because it meant the world to me.

Sitting in the center of the table was a gorgeous candelabra. Absolutely exquisite. The candles were lit and the decor breathtaking. Yet, very quietly, she leaned over, and cupping each flame, she extinguished every candle one by one. She was now looking at me face to face, no obstruction blocking our view, and she spoke words that have remained forever etched on my heart, "I want to see you when I talk to you".

She was all about 'seeing'. Seeing past phrases, sentences, facial expressions, body language and into the very core of my heart. She knew the art of listening, and realized it involved so much more than just 'hearing'. I will always remember seeing my "Father's Eyes" that night.

Today we read of Moses opportunity in Exodus 33:11 to see God "face to face". The veil was removed so that nothing blocked their view as they communed together. Do you know what it awakens inside me when someone wants to see me that deeply? No surface acquaintance. No passing ‘hello’. Oh, the desire to be known. The longing for someone to care enough to look past the outer surface and journey to the depths. A casual greeting isn’t sufficient. An exchange of pleasantries doesn’t suffice.

That evening when someone took time to ‘see’ me there were ten of us seated around that table. Conversation continued to swirl and fill the room, yet for an instant the world hushed as in that intimate moment God spoke to my heart. A heart craving to be noticed and ‘seen’. For a solitary second, all pretence was stripped away and the Lord captured my attention. It was so much more than an kind gesture. It was God speaking to my heart.

“Joy, I see you. I will do whatever it takes to get close to you. I will knock down prison doors. I will destroy walls of strongholds. I will remove obstacles of character and emotion. It doesn’t matter what I see, I love you. To Me, you are absolutely beautiful. I want to heal each ache. I want My blood to flow into every area of your life that has become numb. I will replace your heart of stone.”

Suddenly, the fear of never being seen surpassed the fear of being seen.

Is there a ‘veil’ between you and God today? Is there something that you have kept as a safeguard of protection? Is God at arms length because you are keeping Him away? An obstacle is something immaterial that stands in the way and must be circumvented or surmounted. It impedes and holds up progress. It prevents you from receiving what you really need. It’s a barrier that limits and hinders God’s work in your life. I’m guessing, like me, your real “candelabra” is internal, but it still needs extinguishing so God can see you face to face. May the breath of God breathe on you today. May His Living Water quench flames of resistance and may the only burning be that of your heart longing for Him.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Sabbath Rest

When I was a little girl Sunday's were a very different day. With my Dad being a lay speaker and my sister and I being musical, fifty out of fifty-two weeks a year would find us ministering in a different church. We were often invited out for lunch by kind families in the church we were visiting and then we'd come home to a Sabbath rest.

Sunday afternoon's were quiet and held restrictions. We couldn't go out and play. Careful preparation was always given so that there would be no need to run to the corner store for necessities such as milk or bread. Back in those days, the option of 'shopping' never existed as Malls were closed on Sundays. Saturday night my Dad always made sure his car was filled with gas so a detour to the station wasn't required. My sister and I would most often change into our housecoats and spend the afternoon in our bedrooms quietly looking through the Sears catalogue or reading while our parents rested. Around 4pm, we would get up and ready as my older sister and her family would join us for dinner and then we'd all head off to church in the evening together. The odd time I felt the weight of the 'can'ts' with the restrictions my parents imposed, but most often I loved that Sunday's were special. They were different days, set apart.

Our reading today reminds us in Exodus 31:12-17 to be careful to keep the Lord's Sabbath. Verse 14 says, "You must keep the Sabbath day, for it is a holy day for you." I know I may tread on a few toes when I ask this next question, but other than attending church on Sunday, how do you keep His day holy? Is church attendance the only thing that sets it apart? Today Sabbath's are treated more like Saturday's with church thrown into the mix. One more thing 'to do' on a day commanded for rest.

Now, before I'm slammed for "living under the law" or accused of judging, hear me out. I realize that the New Testament does not reiterate the teaching on keeping the Sabbath, however the principles of rest are in both the Old and New Testament (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor.16:2). I also know and believe that God wants us resting in Him every day. However, for me, I also have found that having a day set apart as a personal spiritual discipline has strengthened my devotion to God and been a witness to others. I'm not convinced of this because of tradition, but by personal conviction. Nor will I ever speak negatively or condemn anyone who chooses to take part in activities on the Sabbath that I choose to refrain from doing, not because the freedom isn't there, but because I desire something to be different one day of the week. God lays a special claim on the Sabbath as holy. This was the first time anything was declared holy.

My focus is no longer that of a child. I don't see the 'can'ts' any longer. I see opportunity. Matthew 12:12 calls us to "do good on the Sabbath". I am freed to serve God. I am freed to practice mercy. I am freed to meet human need.

I rest, not necessarily from activity for John 5 reminds us that "My Father is always working...", but rest of achievement. Rest from routine to receive. A rest from restlessness.

Sabbath is a gift. I don't want to demean the first thing God called 'holy'. The Sabbath helps me reaffirm and readjust my affections. It helps to answer the question: Is my greatest pleasure God? It fills up my depleted soul. It reminds me of my dependency on God and reaffirms my identity in Christ. It's an opportunity to give witness to a world in denial. I have time to listen to what God is saying to me. This gift of time for the purpose of contemplation allows God to perform His work in me.

I pray I will never ignore the value of a Sabbath rest and that I will always see it as God sees it - a holy day.

The Sabbath is a day for worship. Worship eclipses the Sabbath. The most meaningful thing I can do on the Sabbath is give God my heart.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

A Heart's Stirring

I enjoy giving gifts. I take delight in doing things for others, especially if I can do it anonymously. Last year when God gave me my 'dream job' and I was employed at a Christian bookstore, my husband and I agreed that we would use my income to bless others. Each paycheck was an opportunity to be a blessing in someone elses life. I had so much fun. God always showed me a need, and He gave me the pleasure of meeting that need. What an absolute joy to be used by God in this way.

Exodus 25:2 says, "Accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them." God doesn't want giving from compulsion or 'have to', but love. He desires our hearts be moved to give. This doesn't necessarily mean financial giving. It could be giving of time. It might be writing a sweet note of encouragement. It could be preparing a meal for a busy mom or a sick neighbour. Maybe it's using our gifts in some areas of ministry. Whatever it is, it shouldn't just be to fill a need or meet an obligation. It's a giving in response to a heart's stirring.

When we give, we must give cheerfully, not grudgingly, for God loves a cheerful giver, 2Co 9:7. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving. If we respond reluctantly or because of pressure to fill a need, there is no joy accompanying our gift. It is being pried out of tight fists. I'm sure we've all experienced the unhappiness and discontent in that type of giving at one time or another. If not recently, think back to your childhood. Did you always want your sibling to have the largest piece of dessert or the last cookie? Did you want to give up your turn on the playground to welcome someone new? What about today? Do you graciously offer your turn in the check-out line to the person behind you? Are you content to work behind the scenes and let someone else receive all the accolades? What about when a phone call interrupts your day and someone shares an immediate need? What thoughts play through in your mind? Oh, your outward response might appear beautiful, but what attitude truly accompanies your words? It's hard sometimes to give without hidden motive or agenda, expecting absolutely nothing in return.

God's heart was moved by pure love to give the greatest Gift ever given. His heart was aroused with compassion for a lost and dying world. No cletched fists, His arms were stretched open, as He freely surrendered His life for our salvation. Does that alone not move your heart to give all that you have, all that you are and all that you'll ever be to Him? May He stir in all our hearts today, and every day, to respond to His prompting and give freely, because freely we have received.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Daily Dedication

I've struggled today with what the Lord is speaking to me from His Word. I'm going to share with you one of the verses I highlighted and the reason why it spoke to me.

"You must give me your firstborn sons." Exodus 22:29b

I only have one son. My firstborn is my one and only. I remember, as if it were yesterday, the Sunday of his dedication service at church. All our family and friends attended the early service that morning. My twin sister wrote a song and both my sisters shared in the ministry of music. As our Pastor held our infant son, my husband and I dedicated him to the Lord and promised to raise him in the strength and admonition of the Lord. We vowed to do all we could to train him and teach him about God, that early in his life he might come to a saving faith in Christ.

My mind often goes back to that day. It was a solemn and sacred occasion. Although it was a one-time event, it is a daily surrendering. As my little boy began to grow I had to recall my release of him into God's hands over and over again. The first day of preschool. Leaving him in the care of others. The September he started Kindergarten. Taking him to swimming lessons. Dropping him off at volleyball camp. Sleep-overs. Skiing - both downhill and on the water. Holding my breath as I waited anxiously outside piano examination rooms. Biking...on the road. All too soon it will be car keys in his hands, University at the door, and another young woman loving him.

As he continues to grow, I watch him making choices. Choices that have grown from a solid faith in Jesus Christ. Counsel given. Decisions made. I watch as my precious little chum becomes a young man. More responsibility. Wings unfurled. Skies to soar. The longing inside me to hold on, yet remembering that moment of dedication and knowing he lives best in God's Hands.

This song dissolves me to a bucket of tears, but it is my prayer for my son as I dedicate him again to the Lord today.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Person, Place or Thing

"I will appoint a place of refuge..." Exodus 21:13

Refuge - That which shelters or protects from danger, or from distress or calamity; a stronghold which protects by its strength, or a sanctuary which secures safety by its sacredness; a place inaccessible to an enemy (as defined by Websters).

As a little girl I found refuge in several different places. A building that offered protection from nature's elements. A classroom that shielded me from the cruelty of the playground. Under my covers. My bedroom. Behind a closed door. Beneath a guarded heart. I was finding refuge in places and things, when true refruge is only found in a Person.

Sometimes it takes a lot of running to find that perfect shelter. Refuge must be redefined from a place to a Person. God's Word says, "Blessed are those who take refuge in Him", Psalm 2:12. I am so glad I now say with the Psalmist, "Oh God You are my refuge" Psalm 142:5.

Is He your refuge today?

(This song is powerful, but for those of you with dial-up, I've included the lyrics below.)

Made Me Glad - Hillsong United

I will bless the Lord forever
I will trust Him at all times
He has delivered me from all fear
He has set my feet upon a rock
I will not be moved
And I'll say of the Lord

You are my shield, my strength
My portion, deliverer
My shelter, strong tower
My very present help in time of need

Whom have I in heaven but You
There's none I desire beside You
You have made me glad
And I'll say of the Lord

You are my shield, my strength
My portion, deliverer
My shelter, strong tower
My very present help in time of need

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Show and Tell

As a little girl I so enjoyed "Show and Tell" days at school. It was an opportunity to bring in a treasure and share it with the rest of the class. A story always surrounded the object on display and I would captivate my audience with an impromptu tale accompanying my coveted possession.

Today as I read Exodus 16:32, I think God was initiating "Show and Tell". No wonder I like it so much. "Show and Tell" is part of God's plan. Listen to what Moses said to the Israelites: "'This is what the LORD has commanded: Fill a two-quart container with manna to preserve it for your descendants. Then later generations will be able to see the food I gave you in the wilderness when I set you free from Egypt.'"

Does that not sound like glorified "Show and Tell" to you? The Lord was commanding them to preserve some manna so that all those who came after them would see God's provision and faithfulness. It's one thing to hear the stories passed down through previous generations, but quite another to see God's goodness.

I'm a visual learner. Because of this, I usually always include some "props" when I speak at Ladies events. I want women to "taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). I find I need the visuals to remind me of past truths that the Lord has impressed upon my heart. They represent lessons learned on my journey with the Lord, and markers on the path to see 'thus far the Lord has led me'.

Not only are they powerful reminders for me, but they also invite questions from family and friends giving opportunity to share what the Lord has done in my life. I think we need to ask ourselves, is there anything about our lives or in our homes that would give others something to ask about? 1 Peter 2:4-5 tells us that we are "living stones". We are walking, talking, breathing reminders to the world that Jesus was here. We are that "preserved manna" for this generation.

Just to give you an idea of some of my "show and tell", I thought I'd include a few pictures along with this post. Each item has an accompanying "God story". I wish I could share them all here now, but maybe these items will just prompt you to strategically place some visuals around your home that will prompt questions from others and give opportunity for you to share your faith in Him. We all need our containers of preserved manna.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stand Still

For those of you who have been faithful readers of my other blog, Ponderings, today's writing might sound familiar. I just felt it tied in so well with the verse that the Lord highlighted today for me as I read His Word. If you have read it previously, may God use it to speak to your heart again today.

"Don't be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today...The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm." Exodus 14:13-14

How are you when it comes to waiting? I’ve always prided myself in the fact that I can remain patient through many situations. I don’t mind waiting at the Doctor’s office. Getting delayed in traffic never seems to upset me. I gladly surrender my place in line at the grocery store when I see the lady behind me has fewer items in her shopping cart. To be honest, I enjoy the extra time of solitude waiting often affords. However, how do we react when we find ourselves in “God’s Waiting Room”?

Recently I have pulled up a chair alongside several friends who are waiting to see God act on their behalf. I’m sitting with a neighbour who is waiting to see the recovery of his father. Beside him sits a lady seeking health for her husband. Across the room, a friend sits in isolation, longing to know that God sees her situation and cares. In another chair, with head hanging low, sits a young lady whose shame has surrounded her and she wants to know if God will forgive her again. A young couple hold hands, a mixture of joy and wonder on their faces as they eagerly anticipate the nine-month wait to see the fulfillment of the gift of life that God has miraculously begun. A mother cries for the return of a prodigal daughter. A dear friend counts off another month on her calendar as the adoption of her baby girl appears no closer to reality. A family fills the remaining seats looking for guidance as a husband has lost his job due to restructuring. I complete their circle as one who is empty, crying out to God for direction and clarity. Do I find the waiting here easy? No. I want God to answer now. I want the receptionist to call my name and then provide me with a prescription that comes with the assurance of complete and lasting recovery and restoration.

Suddenly my eyes shift to a chair I hadn’t noticed before. There sits a Man of Sorrows who is well acquainted with grief. His eyes are full of love. You see, there is a major contrast between God’s Waiting Room and that of our family practitioner. The Great Physician Himself sits with us in the waiting room. He is very aware of each situation. He sees each concern. He knows each anxious longing. His arms hold each weary heart and troubled thought. His tears mingle with ours. He waits with us.

Today I offer no quick recovery, but I want to lift your eyes to the One who never leaves you or forsakes you, Deut 31:6. I heard it said once that our adversities are God’s universities. We want to avoid these times in our life, yet they are often where God does some of His most life-changing work in us. Draw near to God. Trust Him. Wait on Him – not on His answers. He will tenderly hold your heart as He accomplishes all that concerns you, Psalm 138:8

“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Power of One

I remember the first Ladies Event where I was Coordinator. The Lord had clearly called me to begin this ministry at our previous church. As I followed in obedience every detail fell into place, with absolutely no effort on my part. We planned the entire event in a couple of months and sold all our tickets. It was His day and everything went so smoothly.

As I arrived home that night exhausted, but so happy, my phone was ringing. I didn't even have my coat off yet, but I ran to answer it. It was a lady who had attended the day. Immediately I thought, 'Oh, she's called to just let me know what a wonderful time she had today'. How naive! No, she was calling with a complaint and some negative feedback. My heart sank. I had been so happy. I had rejoiced all day. I had seen God move in the hearts of many women. I had seen lives changed, but suddenly all I saw was defeat. All the positives diminished and my heart which had been overflowing with praise, needed to be scraped off the floor. The power of the criticism of one.

This morning in Exodus 11:3 I read the following verse which appears in brackets in the Bible, much like an aside, "(Now the LORD had caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the people of Israel. And Moses was considered a very great man in the land of Egypt, respected by Pharaoh's officials and the Egyptian people alike)". It sounds to me like now everyone but Pharaoh was getting along great with Moses and the Israelites, yet look how oppressed their lives were under his rule. Sometimes it doesn't take an army to burden us physically, mentally or emotionally. It can be one off-hand remark. It can be one sideways glance. It can be sudden silence between two friends when you approach. It can be the note not sent. It can be the invitation not extended. It can be a hurtful message among hundreds of positive, encouraging ones, that attacks our character. The power of one.

Before you lose heart, remember, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" 1 John 4:4. Oh, the power of One!

Although the Israelites faced cruelty at the hand of Pharaoh, this is not the end of their story, and it's not the end of your's either. Over and over again our text reads, "but the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart". The Lord had a purpose and a plan and Pharaoh was a step on the path to see God's goals accomplished. Throughout all the trials the Israelites faced, God had His hand on them and all was done for His power and renown. Pharaoh may have had some controlling influence as ruler of Egypt, but God is Ruler over Pharaoh. If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, than today you have the power of One inside you and He's truly all you need.

I wish I had time to go over some of the symbolism used in our text today eg. the Israelites eating with haste and being dressed and ready to depart at any moment symbolic of our readiness for Christ's re-appearing, the yeast symbolic of sin, the blood on the doorframe symbolic of the cross and how we must all come by way of the cross etc.... just so much 'meat' in our reading today. Praying the Lord is speaking to your heart as you are daily seeking Him.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Spared for a Purpose

"But I have spared you for a purpose - to show you my power and to spread my fame throughout the earth." Exodus 9:16

"Spared for a purpose" extends an invitation to look back as well as suggesting hope for the future. Other's may have perished, but God is sparing you for a reason.

If you are reading this today, God is sparing you for a purpose. The Lord has something more for me to do and you to do. Regardless of age, if God is giving you breath, He still has plans to use you to show His power and spread His fame. Share the stories of how God has brought you this far. Tell others how He has sustained you during difficult times. Show His mercy. Shower His love. Boldly proclaim His truth.

All my life I have known that I was spared for a purpose. When my Mom gave birth to my twin sister and I at 25 weeks, Doctors said there was no hope for either of our survival. Back almost 47 years ago now, technology wasn't what it is today, and two little one pound babies were left in the Hands of God.

He chose to spare my sister and I. I confess to taking this miracle for granted until May 20th 2005. On this day a sweet friend of mine gave birth to two little girls, born at 25 weeks weighing just a couple of pounds. They were delivered in a hospital designed to care for high risk births, yet hours after being born, both Hope and Desire went to be with the Lord.

Questions swirled for days. Why Lord? Why did You choose to take these precious little girls? This pregnancy had been such a cause for rejoicing as infertility had been such an enemy for years. The birth story had mirrored mine, except for the final outcome. Why was I spared and these little ones taken?

Suddenly my life took on new meaning. Was I fulfilling the purpose God has for me? I wanted to seize each moment. The air smelled sweeter. Each act of service a delight. Each awakening a new day to love and follow Him. A new passion was birthed in my soul. A passion to live in the center of His will, sharing His story and showing His glory.

Whether complications surround your birth or not, God has spared you until this very moment. How are you going to live for Him today? What purpose has He designed for you? Let's not waste a day. Live on purpose and then come back and share with me how Your life proclaimed His Name today.

(If you want to read the complete story of my birth and see pictures of my twin sister and I, click here.)

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Circumstantial Ear Plugs

"...they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery." Exodus 6:9

Hearing from God. Most of us long to hear His voice. We wish for that specific direction that clearly says, "This is the way; walk in it" Isaiah 30:21. We would even be happy with some scribbling in the sand, a talking donkey, a cloud by day or a pillar of fire by night. Some may even be asking, "Does God still speak?"

Dear friend, He does still speak, but maybe like the Israelites there are things that have muffled His voice and your heart isn't prepared to hear from Him.

First of all, we must know God. The basis for conversation is relationship. Have you come with simple, childlike faith to receive Him and then sit and listen at His feet?

Are you being obedient to His Word? As you study His Word, are their commands that you have read that you are not responding to right now? Maybe you need to position yourself in surrender to what you already know before He will give more guidance.

Is pride standing in the way? Do you truly believe God can and will speak to you? Do you have a reverent fear for the Lord? Is there any sin standing in the way of clear communication? Is your heart still in bondage and, like the Israelites, circumstances have clogged your ability to hear?

Did you see what that verse said? The people refused to listen. It wasn't that God wasn't speaking, they weren't listening. They had become too discouraged because of the pain of their situation. Their eyes were no longer on God, so their ears couldn't hear. Overwhelmed by the reality of life, their minds were distracted from their relationship with the Lord. The Message translates 2 Corinthians 7:1 by saying, "Make a clean break from everything that distracts you." The evil one may not be able to completely destroy us, but he certainly can distract us from hearing God's voice.

Thoughts of unjustice, fear, anger, depression etc... can have our minds so filled with negative, unhealthy thinking and so focused on self and situation that we can't begin to hear the whispers of God. The Israelites couldn't see the broader picture and often we can't either. Priscilla Shirer writes, "Rest assured that behind every challenge we will find God orchestrating the circumstances to build us up and bring Himself glory."

Today, I want to encourage you to look past your circumstances. I know, I'm not living in some of your homes, but God is. Let Him hold you and your situations that cloud your view of Him and silence His voice. Don't "refuse to listen". God is working out a grander plan.

May we respond to the Lord as David did, "My heart has heard you say, 'Come and talk with me.' And my heart responds, 'Lord, I am coming'" (Psalm 27:8).

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Holy Ground

knew palaces, inside,
(no wistful gazes from without)
Walked with kings
and gave commands,
tasted power
and cracked whips,
protected by his position.
It took a desert, stripped and barren,
instructions from One invisible,
loudly calling,
flames, searing but not consuming,
before he truly heard.

But I envy the clearness
of communication.
For I see no burning bush
blazing in my backyard.
No clear commands
invade my thoughts
cutting through common sense and staidness.
Lord, lead me out of Egypt,
from the protection of palace walls.
Lead me away
alone to unpeopled places.
Alone, I’ll take off my shoes.
Alone I’ll listen.
I’ll find You on Your holy ground.”
Joan Rae Mills

Holy ground. Sacred places. Breathing moments of glory and seeing Christ. This morning my heart was touched by such barefoot worship. Not evidenced in the perfect or the proud. Not in performance or platform. This morning God gave me the privilege of seeing several “burning bushes” with His fire flaming.

A young Mom who faithfully brings her children each week to church, yet longing and praying for her husband to embrace Christ, held her 6 year old daughter in her arms, smiling, swaying, raising their hands as they joined in song singing:
“We lift our hands in the sanctuary
We lift our hands to give You the glory
We lift our hands to give You the praise
And we will praise You for the rest of our days
Yes we will praise You for the rest of our days.”

Only a couple of rows ahead stood a young man who is a fairly new believer holding his infant daughter who just days before her first birthday was diagnosed with childhood leukemia. In sweet abandon, one hand too was raised in praise.

Two elderly saints on opposite sides of the church sat in worship, yet clearly their hearts were bowing in His presence. Unable to physically stand, their ‘sandals’ removed years ago, their feet now calloused from walking the holy ground for many years. Beautiful feet. Oh such beautiful feet.

In the choir two ladies captured and drew my attendance, not because they were seeking an audience. The very opposite. One, a single girl in her early 40’s whose life is lived out in rhythm to the beat of His drum. The other lady, a little older, a cancer survivor who heard the Lord speak through her own “burning bush” experience in the wilderness of her personal Mount Sinai. Both were oblivious to the presence of anyone, but God. My eyes felt they were witnessing divine beauty as I watched these souls dance before their King.

Tears streamed down my face as I felt I was witness to such intimacy. I saw God this morning in each one.

“Oh, praise the Lord!
‘This earth is crammed with heaven!’
Oh, praise the Lord!
And, Christian, look around!
For every bush you pass with fire is flaming,
And every spot you tread is holy ground.”

Thank you to those who prayed for our Ladies Day yesterday. The Lord blessed abundantly as we waited on Him. It was a precious day.

Celebrating Life with Lori Salierno, CEO "Celebrate Life International".

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