Embrace ~ A FMF Post

Friday is the day that many other precious bloggers join to together to write about one word – for five minutes.  Despite the fact that I’ve not joined in this exercise in a long time, it is one of my favorite kinds of posts to write.  The link-up is hosted by Kate Motaung.   If you’d like to know more about it, click here.

Today’s word hit me as something that I definitely needed to consider.  So here goes…

I love to look up the meaning of words so, of course, I had to see just what the word EMBRACE really means.  Here are a few of the meaning that I found on dictionary.com:

hug…to take or receive gladlyaccept willingly…to encircle…surround…enclose…to include

I like those meanings.  Especially the last five.  It reminds me of the church and how we are directed by God’s Word to treat others.  You know in good times and in hard times.

Thinking about God’s Word, I did a little digging to see if the word EMBRACE is found in scripture.  It is. Sixteen times in the English Standard Version.   Most of the verses that include EMBRACE speak of friends and family embracing, or hugging.  But one passage jumped off the page.  It’s one that I have considered many times as we have navigated our ministry journey.  The entire passage is Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8.  Right now, I’d like to focus on a portion of the last part of verse 5.  It says:

a time to embrace,…

You may wonder how that phrase relates to ministry?  For our family, as God has called us to new ministry opportunities, we had leave people we love dearly.  That’s where the “hug” (EMBRACE) comes in.  We’ve had to look at what God was calling us to do and “accept willingly” (EMBRACE), stepping out in faith and to do what He is asking of us.  We’ve had to go to the new places and people and “include”(EMBRACE) them.  But that’s not just in ministry.   I believe that as followers of Christ, we are all called to EMBRACE others.  We are called to “receive gladly” (EMBRACE) what the Lord asks us to take on or go through.  We are called to “encircle” (EMBRACE) the people that God allows to cross our paths, even if it’s only for a short period of time.

My time is up………but, of course, I find that 5 minutes just isn’t enough. {smile}

Let me say that I, in no way, think that our call – or our family – is anymore special than the call God has placed on others.  We are all called to minister to those around us.  I am keenly aware that God has a purpose for all of us.  The one for our family happens to have included being in three wonderful congregations.  It’s a bonus for me as now I have more people to EMBRACE (hug).

I have no idea what – or who – the Lord is allowing in your life that He is asking you to EMBRACE.  Whatever…whoever….it is, know that it is the Lord’s time for that in your life.  EMBRACE it!

Joy to You!

This post is linked up with Kate Motaung.  Please hop over and read what others are saying about the word “EMBRACE.”

Unabated Vigor ~ Not Your Typical Valentine’s Post

During my morning quiet time with the Lord, for a few months now, I’ve been camping out in the Old Testament.   First I was in Deuteronomy and now I am in Joshua.  These two books are full of the confirmation that we have a promise keeping God.  I love Deuteronomy 37 where Moses goes “from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, …opposite Jericho.” (Deut. 34:1) and the Lord shows him all the land that He had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

In verse 4, the Lord tells Moses that he will not enter this promised land.  And in verse 5, Moses died.  I wish I could remember the first time I learned that Moses didn’t make it to the promised land.  I imagine that I probably felt disappointment for him.  I mean, he’s the one that led the people for all. those. years.  He’s the one that faced Pharaoh.   He’s the one that was chosen to write the 10 Commandments on tablets of stone.  To me, Moses is pretty special.  So I wonder, was he disappointed that he wouldn’t reap the benefit of his efforts?

Verse 7 actually gives a little clue to how Moses reacted to not making it to the promised land:

deut34_7

Being the word nerd that I am, I wanted to be sure that I understood the meaning of “unabated.”   According to dictionary.com, it means:

with undiminished force, power, or vigor

That led me to being double sure I knew what “vigor” means.  Again, according to dictionary.com, vigor is:

active strength or force…healthy physical or mental energy or power; vitality…energetic activity; energy; intensity

So here I am, reading about Moses not reaping the benefits of his proverbial sowing.  AND THEN God’s Word tells us that Moses died with power, active strength, force, vitality, intensity.  He died knowing that he had received his inheritance.  And I personally think he was probably very satisfied.

This has me wondering if I would be?  My human, and sinful, nature desires a reward when I’ve worked hard.  I’m not one for fanfare but a subtle pat on the back goes along way with me.  I venture to say that there’s a little of that feeling in all of us.

Anyway, what does all this have to do with Valentine’s Day?  Hang with me – please – I promise I’m getting there.

As I have been studying Joshua, I have marveled (my word of the year) at the keeping of God’s promises.  He is ever faithful!  He was to His children as the crossed the Red Sea, the dessert, took Jericho, and more.  And He is faithful to us today.  Once we get to Joshua 22, the land that God promised to Abraham has been divided among the tribes – the promise fulfilled – and the people were settling in.  Challenges still arose and that’s not really that surprising considering all the grumbling in the desert.

One of the verses I underlined in chapter 22 is verse 5.  Joshua gives these instructions to the Israelite’s as they settle in:

joshua22_5

Joshua could’ve just said, “be like Moses.”  But he spelled it out.  He reminded them of the commandments.  He reminded them to walk…and keep…and cling…and serve….with ALL their heart and soul.  These qualities – to me are a beautiful explanation of the “unabated vigor” that Moses had.

I often cruise along in my Christian walk.  I wax and wane in my Bible reading and prayer time.  But this!  This is how I want to be.

So as Valentine’s Day comes to a close, I am just plain blessed.  God gave me the most wonderful man to be my husband.  We’re into our 23rd year of Valentine’s days (22 of those married).  And we have 2 beautiful children.  The stores are full of cards and flowers and balloons.  Facebook and Instagram are full of Valentine wishes and dates and gifts.  In our house, every day is full of love that is just plain special.  Some years we pull out all the stops for Valentine’s Day.  Some years we don’t.  This year, we chose to celebrate as a family.  And I’m really good with that.  But I began Valentine’s Day reading Joshua 22:5.  I began my day reminded of the love that I am to have for my Heavenly Father and the promises that He still keeps today for me.

So this isn’t a typical train of thought for Valentine’s Day but it’s what the Lord laid on my heart.

I hope that you had a wonderful day with your special someone. And I pray that every day you love the Lord with “unbated vigor.”

Joy to You!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Would He MARVEL at me? (and my word for 2017)

It never ceases to amaze me when I find something in Scripture that I have never seen before.  At some point in my 40 something years, I have read the passage three, four, five + times, but this time…the words hit me differently.  I am just finishing up a study in Luke and that’s exactly what happened when I got to chapter 7.  The passage that got my attention is found in Luke 7:1-10.  It’s the story of Jesus healing a Centurion’s servant.

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

I’m a bit of a word nerd so when I a particular word catches my attention, even if I think I know what it means, I look it up.

MARVEL ~ to be filled with wonder, admiration, or astonishment, as at something surprising or extraordinary

Which definition of MARVEL do you think best describes Jesus in this passage?  Was He astonished at the faith of this man?  Maybe He was filled with wonder at the simple faith shown by the Centurion!  It’s on my list of things to ask Him when I get to heaven. {smile}  Reading this made me wonder if Jesus is ever filled with wonder because of my actions, words, or attitudes?  Or maybe He is astonished…even saddened by my display of selfishness and lack of faith?

2016 is officially over.  It was a hard year.  I would not be truthful if I said that I am glad for the difficulty, however, in all honesty I can say that I know that God never left me.  He was with me and my family every step of the way.  In the midst of the hard stuff, I put a piece of paper on our refrigerator.  I explained to my family that we needed to fill this paper with things and people that we are thankful for.  thankful

I cannot tell you what this simple exercise did for our family.  Of course, if you have ever read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp you are familiar with the concept of counting the gifts in life.  Sometimes those gifts are hard.  As I have been considering the past year, I kept thinking of the Centurion and Jesus.  I kept thinking of what it would be like to have Jesus MARVEL at me.  But I also began to realize that not only do I need to practice an attitude of thankfulness for ALL things, I need to MARVEL at the world around me.  We moved to KY in April and I have never seen such beautiful skies.  Almost every day, I have the opportunity to MARVEL at what the Lord is doing.

marvel-word2017

So in 2017, I am going to work hard to find things that fill me with wonder…things that astonish me (in a good way)…things that I can truly admire.  I have a page in my planner dedicated to the word MARVEL.  As I find these things, I am going to make a list.  I’ll most likely add them to our 2017 Thankful board too.

I’d love to hear in the comments if you have a word for 2017.

Happy New Year! and Joy to You!!


 

 

He’s In Our Midst

My 31 Days of Encouragement from the Lord series is over.  And I’ve had a little break.  I’m ready to see what the Lord would have me share here in my little corner of the internet.  A few years back, I did what I affectionately called “Monday Meditations”.  These were lessons I learned during the sermon on Sunday, verses the Lord had brought me to during my quiet time, or simply things I had on my heart.  I’m giving them a go again.  I’d love to hear what the Lord has taught you on Sunday or the previous week.

Mon_meditations_revdI’ve been working my way through Psalms for some time now.  My process is to read the passage, list attributes of God that are mentioned, write down verses that stand out, and then I pray those verses back to the Lord.  One morning last week, I was in Psalm 74.  The Psalmist is asking the Lord to remember His people and then he describes destruction of God’s sanctuary.  He speaks of the people of God being treated badly.  He pleads for God to destroy the enemy that is reeking havoc on the temple.  Then in verse 12, he says:

Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.

I had to read that one again.  I’m burdened by so much that goes on in our world today.  I don’t want to list events or details but the bottom line is that there is much to be concerned about.  And I certainly don’t want to go down the political road, but our nation needs prayer right now for the election tomorrow.  Psalm 74:12 gave me comfort.  A reminder that He is still on His throne…in control.  He calls us to Him.  We just have to answer.  He compels us to pray.  We just have to obey.

A few weeks ago, one of the high schools in our town held a “Fields of Faith” event.  It was sponsored by the school’s FCA group.  They held it on a Wednesday night and invited all churches to bring their youth there for service that night.  There were over 250 kids, and a handful of adults, on the field that night.  I listened to high school students lead worship and share their testimony about who God is in their life.  It was very encouraging.  I felt the presence of the Lord on the field that night.  I left there wondering what would happen if these kids really stood up for their faith.  What difference would it make in our city, county, state?

Later that day, I saw a video come across Facebook.  I love the song “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman.  This video is Matt and his band playing in Times Square.  I was brought to tears watching thousands of people worship the Lord.  I can only imagine that the presence of the Lord was felt right there, in the middle of Times Square.

As I’ve thought about both scenes for a few days, I’ve considered that I don’t give enough consideration to Him being in my midst all the time.  Not just in the walls of the church.  Not just at a concert.  Not just on a football field when teenagers are praising the Lord.  And not even in Times Square.  He’s with me all the time.  I want everything in my life to be based on being in the presence of the Lord.

How about you?  I’d love to hear how you have experienced the presence of the Lord in your life?

In the mean time…

Joy to You!


 

Upside Down Hearts ~ A 31 Day Post (days 30 & 31)

31encouragment

For 31 days – okay, really only 22 because I missed a few – I’ve shared my heart and I’ve learned more about myself.  I’ve also learned more about my Heavenly Father.  I have more to share but don’t we all.  As we walk and with the Lord, we grow and we are commanded to share His love, grace, and mercy with others.  In this, my final post, I wanted to share a few more verses and quotes that have been key to me when I needed encouragement.

I have a wise and dear friend who always says just the right thing at just the right time.  Over the past year, as we were seeking the Lord for what He had next for us, I naturally felt a bit unsettled.  I’ve shared that I felt a mix of emotions about leaving a place and a people that were dear to our hearts.  At a point when I felt at my lowest, my friend said these words to me:

upside-down-hearts

This resonated with me.  It’s how I felt.  Like my heart was “upside down.”  Once again God had provided a word of encouragement for me that would make a difference in my life.  Of course, that’s not surprising!  He’s in the business of making a difference in the lives of His children.

I think of what the Lord said to the Israelites through Isaiah when they needed reminding that He was still in control.

Fear not, for I am with you.  Be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.      ~ Isaiah 41:10 ~ 

Psalm 94:19 says, “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”  Isn’t that comforting?  My paraphrase of this is that “when our hearts are upside down, His joy (and peace) heals me soul.”  Thinking back over losing dear loved ones to illness, times of uncertainty with finances or job or school, I can confidently say that God had my heart in His hands.  I can also confidently admit that I didn’t always respond well to the pressure that came with those hard times.  I’m so thankful for grace!!!

As I wrap up this series, I just have to share something that my 17 year old said to me one day.  At this particular time, we had just been made aware of something very difficult that good friends were dealing with.  The wife of the family felt like there was no light at the end of the preverbal tunnel.

“Remember, even when the road seems darkest, when the tunnel we’re in never seems to end, and when hope and comfort are far from our hearts, God is still good.”  

He’s pretty wise, that boy of mine.

I pray that you have received encouragement through the words that God has laid on my heart to share this month.  Thanks again for joining me and I do hope that you will visit often.

Joy to You!


Contentment ~ A 31 Day Post (day 27)

31encouragment

Back on Day 16 of this series, I quoted missionary Jim Elliot.  It’s my favorite quote in relation to ministry because it reminds me that I need to be 100% present wherever God has me.  I ran across another quote by Mr. Elliot that hit me hard.   It reminded me of an exercise that a dear friend and his wife challenged my husband and I to do just after graduating from seminary.

longing-slay-living

After my husband graduated, we were wondering what God would do with us next.  He was serving at a small church at the time.  We loved…and I do mean LOVED…the people there.  We really didn’t want to leave but wanted to be sure that we were in God’s will.  And, I can admit now that I wondered about full time ministry.  Surely God didn’t take us 7-1/2 hours from family for the previous 4 years to only serve part time.  I had to repent on that one.  And I did.  But I still had a longing to be closer to our immediate family.

Back to our friends.  He was and still is a pastor in a nearby city to where we were living.  He and his wife are precious friends that listened and counseled us on ministry, parenting, and more.  We were discussing our “what’s next?” with them and he challenged us to really search and study what God has to say about contentment.  I didn’t really want to do this because, well, I didn’t want to find out that my heart’s attitude was just flat out wrong.

But you see, as I studied, I learned that my longing even just to search for what might be next was definitely slaying my appetite to live life to the fullest.  I was missing out on things and people that God had right in front of me.

Paul has a little bit to say about being content in the New Testament.  In Philippians 4:11, he says:  “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

We were not in need.  We lived in a perfectly lovely house, were serving a wonderful congregation of people, had awesome friends,…you get the idea.  Our situation was good.  And yet, I was not content.  Timothy says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain,  for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”  ~ 1 Timothy 6:6 – 8 

I had food and clothing, and the things I listed above.  When studying this verse on contentment, I had to really look at my personal walk with the Lord.  I had to evaluate if my attitudes were in fact godly.  And I had to consider how my attitudes (and actions) were perceived by and/or effected others.

Y’all, it’s hard to take that look at yourself.  But I did it!  And you know what, the Lord allowed me to see all the reasons He had given me to be perfectly content exactly where I was.

Even though this didn’t apply to that time in my life, I would be amiss if I didn’t share Paul’s writing in Corinthians on contentment.  2 Corinthians 12:10 says, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Paul is such an amazing example of being content.  He understood that our life, changed by Christ, didn’t always mean we would walk an easy path.  I’m beginning to feel like a broken record during this series but then again, I feel like I can’t be reminded enough that God will never leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5 ~ another contentment verse.)

Life happens!  We can’t avoid it.  Not the bad.  And not the good ~ of course, we don’t want to avoid the good.  Times are tough.  I could run a tangent on the state of our country but I vowed to never walk the political road here so I won’t.  But there are issues that can cause any of us to loose sleep.  Here’s the thing:  God loves us and calls us to Himself.  He asks us to follow Him in obedience.  Sometimes He asks us to do hard things.  He always asks us to trust Him and to be content in Him and His plan.

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!


“His Constant Support” ~ A 31 Day Post (day 26)

31encouragment

I’ve spent the past 25 days talking a lot about God being present in tough times.  That He walks with us through sickness, financial strain, job issues, marriage issues,…the list is endless.  Today, I don’t want to focus on times of trouble.  I want to focus on the fact that He truly is always with us.  A favorite quote  says this:

his-constant-support

Think of it.  He doesn’t even leave us when we are in the midst of praise and worship time during Sunday service.  Or during our personal quiet time each day.  In fact, He is right with us.

I don’t want to live my life just “making do.”  I have a ways to go.  I’ve learned over the past 26 days that I am not as strong as I thought I was.  But I’ve also learned that I just simply need to rest in His open, loving arms.  That I need to be aware of His presence during worship and prayer as much as I seek His presence when times are tough.

I’m thankful for His “constant support.”

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!