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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23.

I think self-control is the most challenging of these, as it is for many people. And it is self-control that we ought to express in our thoughts, our actions and our words. I use to have very little self-control, to the point I had become passive aggressive with my words and in my actions, especially over social media, spewing my anger and frustration into the abyss of the internet silently hoping just one person would sympathize with me. And when that one person did, instantly I felt justified, vindicated; my love tank was filled.

I knew I was bound by passive aggressive behavior, a behavior learned very early as a child that grew up in a home where my mom, a wonderfully loving and caring mom, but one who was so disillusioned by the way her life had turned out, yelled day in and day out, mostly at my dad, but my brothers and I were not exempt from her abusive behavior.

One morning, many years ago, during a prayer time I asked God to begin healing me of this behavior. It wasn’t easy, it took a lot of self reflection and the courage to want to let go of the things that I held onto like a security blanket so that God could begin his healing and restoration. A process that still continues to this day, praise God!

One of the habits that became very important to me and still is, is to rise early and spend time in God’s word. It is here that I began to see the difference between my reality and the truth of what God says in his word. I have come to see that situations are situations but there is always a truth in God’s word that covers any situation. The importance of this is when we are going through a challenging time, if we have spent sufficient and consistent time in God’s word he will bring to mind the Scripture(s) that covers any reality and it is these truths that we ought to meditate on not the frustrating or aggravating situation.

Precious One, I get it, I really do, how some situations can be so frustrating and seem so hopeless, but before you hit the send button and potentially embarrass yourself, PLEASE, check in with God and allow his peace,that goes beyond all understanding, to cover you. And when you do I believe you will be less likely to hit the enter button and extremely thankful that God loves you so much he gives you the courage not to.

Prayer, It is a powerful thing. Commit to pray, especially during those frustrating times and watch the power of God move in your life. After all, we are ambassadors for Christ to the kingdom of God. One of our deepest desires ought to be that others see the love and grace of God in our actions and our words and want what we have, a relationship with Christ and the hope of eternity spent with him.

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24.

Shalom!

Night Sounds

As I sit on my porch enjoying the last of a beautiful day, I hear barking dogs in the distant and feel the gentle breeze of unseasonably cool weather. The stars are shining in a bright and cloudless sky. Unfortunately, I can also hear the cars on the bypass, which is quite a distance from our house, but the sound echoes back into our neighborhood. And even though we have had cooler weather, I also hear the song of the crickets, loud and clear and uninterrupted. They know internally the season we are in, God created them to know. And they praise him with the song God created within them.

All creatures on earth, you obey his commands, so come praise the Lord! Psalm 148:7

Worthy is the Lamb.

Shalom!

It’s The Law!

book

A few months ago I was having breakfast with one of my dearest friends. She was telling me about her current area of study, the book of Joshua, and the application God is showing her for current time. I was intrigued, as in fascinated, as I always am, when my friend and I have church together, and, Joshua is one of my favorite books. Days later I was still pondering our conversation when I felt Holy Spirit’s leading to begin a cross reference study of Joshua. 

This morning I came across Joshua 1:8:

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from you mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

There are a few things going on in this verse, and being the black and white thinker and rule follower that I am, the first thing that stands out at me is the word law. Law in its original context here is the word torah (to-raw’) and means instruction and it is from another Hebrew word yarah (yaw-raw’), which means to teach.

As believers in Christ we are now covered under the covenant of grace and no longer bound by the Law because we no longer need the Law to convict us it is by the grace of Christ whose Spirit lives within in us that convicts us. However, this does not mean that we ought to disregard the Scriptures on the Law, we still have plenty to learn about ourselves and our relationship with Christ because of the Law.

Wouldn’t it have been easier for the writer of Joshua to have said something like, “Do not let these teachings and instructions depart from your mouth”? I think, and in my humble opinion, we can let our ‘theology’ of the Law cause us to step into legalism. I speak from experience. And, perhaps, this was God’s intention to begin with, not that we would step into legalism but to cause us to question why the word Law is used in many passages throughout the Old Testament.

The next portion of this verse is to meditate on it day and night. Perhaps these struggles with the way God’s word is written is so that we will do just that. Meditate on Him and discover more and more of Who he Is. Day. And. Night. As we do we become more careful to keep His instructions for our life because we become more attune to Holy Spirit guiding us. Here is the phenomenon, we meditate on God and we delight in doing His will even though we maintain free moral will. Somehow, and it can only be by the supernatural grace of God, we let go of our rebellion and our will and want to do God’s will simply because he is good and worthy, because we revere him, because He is God.

The last part of this verse gives us a promise – you will be prosperous and successful. Which really means that we will make intelligent and expert decisions with understanding and wisdom and we will guide others wittingly; being fully aware of what we are saying and doing for the benefit of others and we will behave ourselves.

Precious One, the Law is really God’s great and unending love for you. Won’t you start today and discover more of this for yourself?

Live long and prosper.

Shalom!

 

Faithful Listener

MC-03292016-animals-Black-face-sheep-7.jpgAs our children have gotten older, especially our young adult children, it is nice to hear and watch them encourage others with the encouragement or advice my husband and I have inspired them with particularly in their earlier years. You may wonder, if you have children of your own, “Are they paying attention, do they hear what I’m saying?” I can tell you, that yes, all these years, they’ve been listening! As they have wandered, looking for their purpose in this world, it is such a blessing to watch them walk back and maintain the values of the foundation they’ve been raised on.

A few days ago I came across some verses in the OT that excited me. Yes, the OT, which I love as much as the NT, especially those verses and passages that make me wrestle and dig deep as to how they ought to be applied to my life in present time. If I believe, which I do, that God’s word is inerrant, then what was true then is also true now in the light of his marvelous love and amazing grace.

The nugget I found is found in Deuteronomy 28:2-7

 All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock – the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

We read that when we obey God not only will his blessings come upon us they will accompany us! The word obey in its original context in this passage means to listen; listen closely, listen carefully, listen obediently. And, we know we hear God’s voice because he tells us in John 10:27 that we do, its part of our identity in Christ; to hear his voice. When we do we have a choice, we can listen and do what he asks of us or we can ignore his voice. Ignoring him is disobedience because we aren’t listening carefully or closely to what he is saying to us. I often say, “Our choice didn’t end when we first chose Jesus.” Everyday we make a choice to continue to follow him and listen to his voice and do what he asks.

Just as our children have been listening to us it is our responsibility to listen to God. To be faithful listeners to the One Who gave it all so we could hear His voice. When you do the seven blessings in Deuteronomy 28:2-7 will follow you wherever you go.

At this moment it isn’t too late. Start today to listen carefully and closely to the voice of God and be blessed.

Shalom!

A Time To Reflect

Screenshot_2014-07-08-17-56-11-1I believe there is a misconception about the life of believers in Christ, that we somehow have no struggles in life, that we live a life of the proverbial ‘bed of roses.’ I also believe this care-free persona, may be, in part, because of the joy of the Lord that resides, as our inheritance in Christ, in our hearts.

As believers in Christ we struggle through life the same as those who are yet to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

2015 was a difficult year for my family, but not many of you know this. Oh, we didn’t struggle alone. God in his infinite and demonstrative love for us has provided us with an intimate inner circle of friends who pray with and for us and carry our burdens with us as we do for them.

As I was studying this morning I was led to Philippians 3:10.

I want to know Christ-yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Philippians 3:10.

I want this for my life in 2016 and every year after, that my sweet and precious Savior allows me to remain on earth, to know the power of his resurrection, which lives in every believer. This also means that I must participate in his sufferings, which are the struggles and challenges of life, becoming like him in his death. How was Jesus in his death? One word. Victorious!

Precious One we don’t know what tomorrow holds but we do know Who holds all our tomorrows.

So, on this first day of the new year choose to live victoriously, today and everyday, in the midst of your challenges and struggles, knowing it is a gift to learn to depend on and trust God more.

Shalom!

Love In Action

a-heart-made-of-words-i-love-you-in-many-languages_f1tFaY_O“I love you.” Three simple words that carry so much weight and implication. What does it mean to love someone? And, how do we truly love apart from God?

If you believe the truth of Scripture then you know we are only capable of love because He first loved us and sacrificed his one and only Son for us because of His deep love for us.

And this love is not romantic love or brotherly love, although love for the brethren comes from this love of God, this love is pure, this love overlooks offenses, this love never fails. This love loves those who may be not act like you, may not dress like you, may not talk like you, may not believe like you. This love goes beyond, way beyond your sphere of influence. This love flows to other country’s so that ALL the world may have the opportunity to hear the good news of the gospel of Christ.

This love comes from having an abiding relationship with God.

Dear children let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18.

Precious One it isn’t about you but it is about others. It is about Christ.

Shalom!

Talk About It

The word LOVE highlited in the dictionary. Shallow focusWhen I was little I use to love to talk – a lot. Okay, maybe talking is just what I like to do even now as an adult. I grew up in the free love and peace of the seventies, that would be the 1970’s. And, as decades go the 70’s was not one of my favorites. None the less, during this time many parents still practiced ‘children are to be seen and not heard.’ At least mine did to some extent, greater than less.

My paternal grandmother was a little, itty, bitty, stern Italian woman who immigrated to her new Country from the Old Country  with her husband to start their new life and family. She use to love to say in Italian that she didn’t understand English, which is funny because in English she would call me a talking machine!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in our Country and we were invited to celebrate with an amazingly gracious family. They were loud, there was laughter and most of all there was love. There was one other thing, they love to talk! All of this reminded me of our family get togethers when I was younger.

As I was having individual conversations throughout the night I sensed it wasn’t my time to talk but to simply listen. Sometimes we talkers are not good listeners, something Holy Spirit and I are working on! I realized something I have known and that made the shift from my head to my heart; everyone has a story and everyone wants to be heard.

As I reflect on these thoughts this morning I am reminded of James 1:19,20.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

These verses are some good food for thought as we make our way through leftovers for the next several days.

Precious One what would the world look like if we practiced being quick to listen and slow to speak? Perhaps there would be less anger and more love.

Shalom!

 

Red Cups, Coffee, Jesus and Markers

Oh, he is a crafty one isn’t he? He comes slithering in all covert and be like, “I am going to stir up some trouble to mix in with their hot salted caramel mocha” “Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas didn’t turn out to well.” “Let’s see if this simple plain plan will work!”

Plain, that’s how the enemy is he has no original idea’s he simply recycles and repackages and many times we fall hook, line and sinker.

As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes I am late to the party! It took me a few days to figure out what all the hoopla was about concerning red cups and a popular coffee joint. As I’ve watched people debate this for a few days, I sit back and giggle just a little bit.

Now, I mean no disrespect to those of you who are offended by the fact that these popular seasonal red cups are void of any decorated theme this year. If you are offended then I pose these questions: How big is your God? Do you think Jesus is offended by a simple plain red cup? Where do you place your hope? Are you praying about it as much as you are talking about it?

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8.

What exactly would Jesus do in this situation? Here’s what I think he would do; bring out his most colorful Sharpies and start decorating his cup however he wanted! He is after all the Creator of creativity and if you are a Believer in Christ creativity is part of your identity in Him and I would venture to say a part of your inheritance in Him!

Precious One, as one of my best friends always says, “Holy Spirit does His job really well!” Let Him; let Holy Spirit take on any offense of the enemy, and whether you choose to drink your hot beverages from a red cup or not, you place your focus on and your hope in Jesus.

Let’s remember the reason not only for the holiday season but for every season; a Savior who died so we could live for all who believe. A Savior whose love and grace is for all His creation.

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. Psalm 39:7.

Shalom!