Energized, Refreshed and Revitalized

Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning (Lament 3:23).

 I really enjoy when I read or hear a maxim or saying that is applicable to my life. It is usually from scripture where the words seem to jump off the page and land in my heart. There are also very wise truisms that aren’t verbatim from scripture, but if they are really true and right, their source is always God’s word.

I recently read this one by Paul Arden—“The problem with hoarding is that you end up living off your reserves. Eventually, you’ll become stale. If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish . . . somehow the more you give away, the more comes back to you.” 

The first account that popped into my mind was the story of the Israelites who were told to eat as much manna as they wanted, but not to keep any. Those who horded it found that the next morning it was full of maggots and began to smell.

I sometimes ask myself why I keep some things that are no longer useful. Often the answer is nothing more than nostalgia. They were once cherished, but now cause us to look back instead of to the present or future. God’s word says that He has plans for us to give us a future and a hope.” Fortunately, this scripture does not have an age limit or an expiration date—ever.

Our old clutter (even the stuff in our heads) can weigh us down and make us feel less adequate or less effective now than the person we used to be! What a horrible trick of the enemy!

Scripture tell us that looking back while plowing messes up the furrows (Luke 9:62). We certainly can hold on to the lessons that we’ve learned in the past, but all the experiences of the past has prepared us for what God has planned for us today and in our future.

And if we believe and trust God’s word, we can look forward to a lot more future than past.

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A Tribute to My Dad

 

Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness (Heb 12:10).

I usually don’t write syrupy things, but as Fathers’ Day approaches, I am feeling a bit nostalgic and missing my dad. This year he would be 100 years old. As my mother, who had been known to have blonde moments once said, “If he was alive, he would probably be dead by now.” The scary part is that I understood what she was saying!

Dad loved kids. He really enjoyed doing things for his children and grandchildren. One of his favorite lines to mom was, “We don’t need a new___, save the money for the kids.” And he loved surprising the grandkids with candy credit when they went to the corner drug store.

I really wish he could have known his great grandchildren. The two oldest are thoughtful and kind, the middle two are so personable, and the youngest two are smile magnets.

I love this verse, because as I was growing up, I always negatively compared my parents to others. But as a parent, I know that all I did (and continue to do as a parent of adult children) was what I thought best.

Each day I am grateful that I have the word of the Heavenly Father to look to for guidance, and that I had the example of an earthly father who always did what he thought was best for us.

Why

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ (Col 2:8).

While attending various universities and teaching at some, I have met some truly brilliant people. I have also encountered some while at the grocery store, at church, in books, or on TV. I have come to the conclusion that a brilliant mind can be a blessing or a curse.

I remember hearing about a philosophy professor whose final exam consisted of one question, “Why?”

Many of the world’s most amazing thinkers would answer that question with high-sounding nonsense.

Even people like DaVinci, Einstein or Hawking would all fall short if their only knowledge and resources came from the spiritual powers of the world. Human or worldly thinking at its best is still empty philosophies; the power is not only limited, but also deceitful.

God’s ways (keep in mind that He’s the creator) do not align with the ways of the world. If a person answered by saying, “to have, do, and try everything this world has to offer,” he would find himself responding like Solomon who actually did have, do and try everything—“It is all in vain, as senseless as chasing the wind.”

Answering our own “Why?” is so important because it serves as a filter for making choices. God’s word tells us that the only thing that will ultimately satisfy our souls is being in a relationship with Him—to know Him personally and intimately. Our “why” must begin with God.

I’d like to end with Ravi Zacharias’s “why” clearly extracted from scripture. “My longings, my hopes, my dreams, and my every effort have been to live for Him who rescued me, to study for Him who gave me this mind, to serve Him who fashioned my will, and to speak for Him who gave me a voice.”

 (1 John 4:9, 2 Tim 2:15, Josh 24:14, Acts1:8)

Good vs Best

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5).

I recently read a devotional by Oswald Chambers and, with one word, he really challenged my thinking and fine-tuned my understanding concerning this familiar scripture. He said, “…lean not on your own ‘righteous’ understanding.” Well, we know that worldly thinking is sometimes unscriptural, and we know this applies to carnal perceptions for sure. But have you ever considered that our understanding could be upright and scriptural, but still not be what God had planned at that moment?

This may be a simplistic example, but it helped me to grasp the concept. Once, while preparing for company (you know what that’s like), I asked one of my children to empty the dishwasher. When I came home, the dishwasher was still full, but the house was picked-up. Well, that was a very good and much appreciated help, but my immediate need required full use of the kitchen. Likewise, our service, even if it is righteous and scriptural, may not further God’s plan.

And sometimes the good gets in the way of the best. We may choose a direction to go or a service to do that may be really worthwhile. We may even pray for God to bless our efforts, when in fact, He may have an even better plan. That’s why we’re told to seek His righteousness, and in all our ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct our paths.

Be Courageous

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Deut 31:8).

 The above verse was Moses’s charge to Joshua as he entered the Promised Land. Many of the Israelites were heading into an unknown territory; and for some who had spied there, it was a land of giants who weren’t going to give up their land without a fight.

God often sends believers into unknown or unfamiliar territory. It may not be to face a physical fight, but rather to talk to someone, do something, or take a step of faith outside of our comfort zone.

But if we are following God’s will—His urging—we will experience His faithfulness time, and time again.

Not only will He be with us, but He will have gone before us clearing the path, softening hearts, doing whatever needs to be done so that our His mission will be successful.

Why should we be afraid or discouraged? What we consider set-backs or obstacles may just be there to keep us within the borders of His perfect timing. Through it all, we can be assured that He will never, ever abandon us.

 

Good and Perfect

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).

 I don’t know where today’s entry is going to go. I had an idea and wanted to meditate on the first part of this verse, but when I looked it up to correctly quote it, the second part jumped off the page— the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows.

Many people had an unstable parent whose behavior was so unpredictable that the same behavior would be praised one day and cruelly punished the next. They lived in a constant state of caution, apprehension and insecurity, never knowing what to expect. And many had (or are) a parent who tries to be consistent and follow biblical principles, but very often falls short.

But God IS consistent, consistently good. Consistent in kindness, mercy, grace, patience, justice…and love. We can be comfortable in knowing that what is pleasing to Him today won’t bring about a chastisement tomorrow. We can be assured in knowing that when He disciplines us, that it is 100% out of love to mold and teach, not to punish.

Well, I guess I never got to discuss those “good and perfect gifts.” Our focus shouldn’t be there anyway, but rather on the One who does not change like shifting shadows, the Good and Perfect Giver.

No Place for Envy

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have… You are jealous of what others have (James 4:1-2).

Theodore Roosevelt once said that comparison is the thief of joy. When we think through about envy, it really makes no sense. We may just be comparing our situation with the attractive parts of someone else’s, not even considering their problems or challenges. If we looked at their whole picture, we may not be quite so quick to be jealous or envious.

Envy has no place in the life of a believer. The word says that it replaces the spirit of God within us! God, in His grace and wisdom, gave each believer gifts and talents. When we use them with His help, to do His will, we are the best us. To desire what another has or does replaces God’s best with a counterfeit.

We may not be the perfect spouse, parent, housekeeper, student or friend. We may not have the best or latest. But God provides and equips us with just what we need for the purpose that He has especially for us.