Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Monday, August 29, 2022
My daughter and I were praying together this morning and I heard the following words come from my mouth, quite obviously of the Lord and not me: "We need not to rehearse past injuries as being present truth. When we have cried out to God, we can trust that He has been at work on our behalf, and that He is able to change hearts and circumstances according to His will."
We can trust God's good, pleasing and perfect will.
Later in the morning I remembered the before and after photo of our little yellow house above, with the photo on the left taken the year we were married, and the more recent photo snapped in 2020. I no longer have to live with a ladder entrance to our front door, and the double hung windows that allowed insects and the occasional reptile to gain entrance have been replaced. Project after project over the years have brought steady improvement to the comfort and attractiveness of our home. To speak of my beautiful little house now as though it were still in the condition we found it when we began renovations nearly 50 years ago would be silly and inaccurate.
The Lord hears our prayers. That is why it is safe to release past injuries into His hands. His love and power have intervened in response to our prayers, and he is able to renovate not only homes, but hearts.
Lord we release our memories and past injuries to You, and purpose to live with confidence and anticipation of Your blessing and provision in the circumstances You have engineered for us today. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
Sunday, August 28, 2022
I will bless Zion with an endless supply of all she needs...
Psalm 132:15a The Voice
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Most of us have lost sleep out of fear of something that did not happen. When we experience God's provision in matters that have cost us worry, we are humbled by the realization that entertaining fears exhibits a lack of wisdom and faith. As Matthew Henry says of those who rest in God's protection, "Wisdom shall keep them from being unduly afraid, and faith shall keep them from being afraid without cause."*
God is with us (Immanuel). God will provide for us (Jehovah-Jireh). Blessed be His Name.
*Matthew Henry Concise Commentary on Psalm 91, Public Domain.
Saturday, August 27, 2022
When I was a child, my mom loved music. Our elegant console 33 and 1/3 rpm player was rarely silent, filling the air with an eclectic mix ranging from light classical to popular music. I grew up with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, Rogers and Hammerstein, Perry Como, Mitch Miller and his singers, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and many others.
One of the albums that played often was a selection of hymns by Ernie Ford that included the song, "Others." The hymn is associated with Tennessee Ernie to this day; I found the lyrics on a page that mentioned him.
This song is a prayer that we might follow the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in considering the needs of others ahead of our own. Father make us more like Jesus as we work to value others ahead of ourselves.
Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for—Others.
Others, Lord, yes others,
Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee.
Help me in all the work I do
To ever be sincere and true
And know that all I’d do for You
Must needs be done for—Others.
Let "Self" be crucified and slain
And buried deep: and all in vain
May efforts be to rise again,
Unless to live for—Others.
And when my work on earth is done,
And my new work in Heav’n’s begun,
May I forget the crown I’ve won,
While thinking still of—Others.
Thursday, August 25, 2022
We aren't going to attain perfection here and now, but Jesus asks us to travel the perfection path that will ultimately lead us to Heaven and home. It is very important to keep trying. *This "trying" doesn't look like any other goal-seeking effort we carry out in the flesh; it is a falling back rather than a striving forward, a release more than anything to grasp.
Dear Lord, show me how to obey when I am in pain. Show me how to obey when I am in grief. Show me how to obey when I feel tired and weak, and show me how to be free of the willfulness that rebels against pushing through obstacles in order to be obedient. Please forgive me for the ways my disobedience has caused harm to Your heart and to Your children; please heal the wounds I've caused and allow me the privilege of being a part of the healing process. I trust You, help me to trust You more. Grant me the joy of obedience, in Jesus' Name I pray.
* Italicized portions are quotes from my book, 100 Days to Freedom: Release from the Self-condemnation of Overweight.
Sunday, August 21, 2022
In Alzheimer's, my mom had a cute habit of reverting to pithy sayings learned long ago in order to comment upon whatever situation she was facing. One of her oft-used axioms was, "It ain't easy, Breezy."
She used this observation to state her feelings about everything from being asked to go for a daily walk to putting up with my sometimes inept efforts to help her groom.
I thought of this saying today as I pondered the difficulty of praying for those who have hurt us. Jesus clearly states that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Vengeance belongs to the Lord* and our job goes beyond just staying silent and bearing with the upset we feel in response to being poorly treated (or, as Mom would have said, "Put up and shut up").
The Lord asks us to love. Loving requires more than just enduring mistreatment without telling others what we really think. In fact, love might require us to risk further mistreatment by speaking the truth (Ephesians 4:15).
In our own strength, we clearly are not able to respond with love, so we cry out to the Lord: Father, heal our hurting hearts, protect us from further harm, and help us to pray for those who have hurt us. We forgive them because You have forgiven us. We love them because we have been loved by You. Please bless them and help them, in Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
*Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19
Friday, August 19, 2022
It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
When we are discouraged, Psalm 18 provides comfort along with affirmations of God's sovereign authority over circumstances that confound us. As Hannah Whitall Smith says, "Our part is to trust, God's part is to act." When we cry out to our Heavenly Father for help, we can be certain He will come to our aide with strengthening power, and that He will act in ways we can't see to keep His children's way secure.
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Years ago I had a vivid dream of two scorpions. The larger was on the back of my right hand, and was labeled "resentment." The smaller one was on the back of my left hand, and was labeled, "anger." When I woke up I had arthritic pain in both hands, and that is how my years of joint and muscle pain began.
Now, I know that we sometimes dream according to what our bodies are feeling; if we are thirsty, we may dream of being in a desert, or if we are hungry, we might dream of a banquet we can't quite reach. Of course I'm not saying that all arthritic pain has its roots in anger and resentment. I think I dreamed about those scorpions because my hands were hurting, but the labels they wore sure seems characteristic of the way the Lord sometimes speaks to us. And, at that time I did have a body of anger and resentment that needed confession and cleansing.
My years of recurrent arthritic pain were probably due to fibromyalgia. It is interesting that, at this writing, I haven't had a severe flare of this kind of pain for a couple of years. We don't expect any kind of physical ailment to improve with age, but for me, at this time, I have less arthritic pain than I suffered when I was younger.
Resentment and anger are poisonous emotions not only because they cause damage to our own hearts and minds, but because they effectively blind us to God's comfort and guidance.
Physical infirmities come to us from many sources, for many reasons of which only God is aware. We can never judge another person's illness or our own, saying, this happened because of sin; remember Jesus said of the blind man, "Neither this man or his parents sinned (John 9:3)."
The Lord used my physical infirmity to point out a spiritual ill. I repented almost immediately but suffered over 20 years of frequent bouts of pain and physical exhaustion that I don't believe were sin-related.
God is merciful. He uses the suffering we encounter in this world to our ultimate blessing. We can't understand the "whys," but we can trust that He will work out everything according to His good and perfect will. The Lord hears us when we cry out, is with us in suffering, and is merciful. We can always trust in His love.
Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Monday, August 8, 2022
Sunday, August 7, 2022
Saturday, August 6, 2022
I've noticed that it is when my day spirals out of my control that I tend to overeat. Well, a lot of things cause me to overeat but, losing control of my schedule is a dependable trigger for me.
An unexpected assignment that makes me leave a project undone will end up with me hiding behind the open refrigerator door, grabbing whatever looks appealing, or at least edible, and stuffing it into my mouth. It's as though I'm saying, "I can't do what I want with my time today, but I will by golly eat what I want."
The ability to switch gracefully from my plans to the Lord's is a skill I need to gain. I know this is difficult for every human being because we are all sinful and we all want to do what we want when we want, but it seems especially difficult for me. I am linear in my thinking and as I get older this trait is more pronounced. I need to establish a plan and stick to it because if I'm removed from my scheduled activities too abruptly I tend to wander in unfruitful circles, unable to focus and concentrate. I am not great at multitasking; I become flustered and stressed when too much is going on at once. A sudden change of plans elicits the same response.
God knows me through and through. He knows the things that are difficult for me. He stands ready to help at every unexpected bump or twist in my daily path, the one that I would like to proceed in an orderly and predictable manner.
Father, forgive me for clinging to my own way. Make me malleable in Your hands. Grant me energy, focus, and wisdom to follow Your plans and not my own, even when my day does not unfold as I thought it would. In Jesus' Name I pray, amen.
Thursday, August 4, 2022
As I write these words I'm tired and stressed by the ordinary circumstances of my ordinary day.
My stomach hurts because I drank orange juice. I can drink 4 ounces of orange juice, maybe even 6 ounces, but more than that, and I get sick. I've been this way for a long time.
This morning I drank 8 ounces -- maybe more--of orange juice.
Why? Why do I do things I know I should not, even something so innocuous as drinking a full cup of orange juice, when I know it has made me sick in the past to do so?
For the sake of this discussion let's rule out sheer stupidity, although I really think that might be a factor for me. That leaves sin. I don't like to be told what I can or cannot do, even when I am the one who is telling myself "You'd better not have that second serving..." And that, my friends, is sin.
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 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 a slave to the law of sin" (Romans 7:14-25)
Throughout our lives here on earth there will be this ebb and flow of obedience punctuated by episodes of shameful disobedience. It is very important not to give up, not to continue in sin just because we know God's grace will cover us; we must keep trying. But when we fail--and we will fail--we have a Savior who, in this age of grace, cleanses us of our sin just for the asking.
I do ask.
Prayer: Lord forgive me my failure to abide and obey. Forgive me for not filling my mind and heart with Scripture so that I leave myself vulnerable to sin's power. Thank You for covering my sins by Your grace and by Your Blood. I praise Your Name. Help me to do better. I will to do better. Amen.
P.S. Let me assure you that I am not suffering all this remorse over orange juice. The orange juice was only the one of my many sins that I'm willing to share in a blog post!!
Check out the Gaither video below; we are greatly blessed, highly favored, imperfect, but forgiven!
Monday, August 1, 2022
A friend posted Genesis 41:52 on her Facebook timeline today, and I immediately thought of my years of caregiving for my mom, who had Alzheimer's. Mama wasn't always an easy patient. She turned hateful toward me the last few years of her life, and although her anger was interspersed with times of loving expressions of gratitude and kindness, the anger took its toll on my heart.
God was with us. And amazingly, I was indeed fruitful during those 16 years of caregiving, fruitful in ways other than the caregiving which, most days, represented work enough.
The background of the meme above is a photo taken in my garden this morning. A lens effect created a rainbow, and I immediately knew the Lord was speaking to me; His promises to me have, are, and will come true.
The year I quit my teaching job to take care of my mom, I found a drawing of a little old lady wearing a straw hat with a flower seed packet stuck in the band. She is poring over seed catalogs and she looks very happy. All these years later that's me. I have not just one but a half dozen straw hats--and I do love my flowers. My mom is safe at home with the Lord, and He has provided me a peaceful, healing place.
Weary caregivers, think of the ways God has made you fruitful in the land of your suffering. Know that He has a plan for your future that includes healing for injuries you've received. May the Lord bless and strengthen you, and make you fruitful.