VICTIM OR VICTOR?

Read: Philippians 1:12-19

One of the thoughts from this passage was like a shot of adrenalin to my faith:  God overrules in men’s motives. Men tried to squelch Paul’s effective ministry by imprisonment and chains, but the Gospel not only survived it prospered! Just as in the case of Joseph, men intended evil against Paul but God used it for good.  I needed to be reminded of this after one of my husband’s partners bragged about putting the “squeeze” on him and taking advantage of our current financial situation.

In verses 12 and 19, Paul refers to “what has happened to me,” but not as one who is a helpless victim. He speaks as one who is celebrating victory because the Gospel has been advanced and he believes God will use his circumstances for his deliverance. Eugene Peterson says it this way in The Message: “And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done” (v.18).

There are always things “happening to us,” yet we can be grateful for Paul’s example and more importantly, God’s promises.

“For I know the plans I have for you,  declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

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Published in: on November 11, 2011 at 8:47 am  Leave a Comment  

THINKING OUTSIDE THE…

Read: Philippians 1:3-14; 2 Timothy 2:9-10

How would you finish the title of this post? Most of us would probably think, “Box.” I have a dear friend who has had her share of boxes over the past year and a half as she has waited for a place to call her own. One day she shared how weary she was of staring at boxes, moving boxes, packing up more boxes. She literally needed to think and see outside the box to focus on what God wanted her see and think about that would bring her peace and joy and gratefulness.

For many of us our “boxes” are figurative and they represent a place or situation that is confining, confusing, challenging, and able to cause great concern and anguish.  The apostle Paul was imprisoned, in chains, with guards breathing down his neck. Yet, as he wrote to Timothy, “…I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure…”  (2 Tim.2:9-10).

Because God’s word was unchained and powerful – even from a prison cell – prison guards were hearing the Gospel and the believers outside of the prison were becoming more bold, all because of Paul’s example.

Is there something in your life that feels like it is restricting you from moving ahead and doing what you really want to do? Are you questioning why God is allowing it? Is it easier to succumb to concern and worry rather than asking God to help you to accept the challenge to use the resources He has given you that are not chained? Rejoicing in God’s love for you and His word, in the power of prayer and thanksgiving, will enable you to not only think outside your particular box but to live truly free no matter what.

Published in: on November 8, 2011 at 8:06 am  Comments (1)  

A MONTH OF MIRACLES

Read: 1 Chronicles 16:8-12

It was well over a week ago that I wrote my last post entitled, Barrenness. My blog has been silent but God has not. He has been adjusting my focus like the lens of a camera. When I look at me, what I am doing or not doing…thinking my thoughts about the passing of time…things become blurry and I am  unsettled trying to make sense of it all. The Lord has to remind me that it isn’t about me – duh! – but it is about Him. Always has been and always will be, about Him. I look through the lens, again, and He comes into focus – larger than life and all the things that trouble me. And instead of worrying whether I am producing fruit I worship the One Who is Lord of the Harvest. The One before Whom I could never bring sufficient fruit or remnants of service. And I realize, once again, that all He wants is the fruit of my heart in love and worship ..the fruit of my lips in a song of praise. He wants me to be less mindful about seeing signs of what I consider “fruit” and more thoughtful about sowing seeds of gratitude.

So I have decided to call this November a month of miracles, and write them down, day by day. Some may be big ones – like the birth of Eve Leavitt, born to my nephew and his wife (another miracle in how God brought them home from the Ukraine). Other miracles may seem small in comparison but none-the-less worthy of great praise…like each day my 87 year-old mother enjoys independent living; watching my grandchildren at sports; a sermon that speaks to my need.

We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to “give thanks in all circumstances,” so I am not exempt because of anything going on in my life or how I am feeling at the moment. I confess that it is easier for me to lean toward melancholy rather than merry, but I am going to make a conscious effort this month. I invite you to join me and begin to look for your own miracles every day throughout the month. Then let’s share them with each other here so the seeds of gratitude may spill over from one life to another.

Published in: on November 4, 2011 at 9:06 am  Comments (3)  

BARREN

John 15:1-8

The word “barren” came to my mind a week ago and seemed an apt description of how I was feeling. I decided to read John 15 where Jesus talks about fruitfulness and see if I could find an answer to what I was feeling. I honestly thought that I was abiding in Jesus, the Vine, so the only other explanation was that He was pruning me. The purpose of pruning is so that there will be more fruit, and yet the promise of future fruit gives me little consolation right now, today, when I see time passing so quickly and I feel so unproductive.

I don’t believe in coincidences. Between last Monday and today, I picked up a book that was given to me months’ ago about the grace of God. I had started to read it at the time and then laid it aside to read some other books. I opened it and began, again, at the beginning. Today I came to the part where the author writes about God’s choice of Abram to start a nation. God not only chose an old man in his seventies, but a man whose wife had not given him any children. The next words jumped out at me: “She was barren.” The author adds, “Not the most ideal couple with which to launch a nation!” * Besides that, they waited over 20 years’ for God to begin to answer His promise.

Wow! Does the verse, “God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways” come to your mind as it did mine? Or the truth that God is God and He can do whatever He wants, through whomever He wants, whenever He wants?

Well, that’s all for today. I have a lot to think about right now and maybe you do, too.

*Stanley, Andy, The GRACE of GOD, Thomas Nelson 2010, p.22

Published in: on October 24, 2011 at 11:19 am  Comments (2)  

SPIRITUAL GPS

Read: Acts 8:26-40

The fact that Philip was directed by an angel of the Lord to travel a certain road for the sole purpose of ministering to one man may have grabbed your attention as it did mine. After explaining a passage of Scripture to the Ethiopian and baptizing him, Philip was suddenly “spirited away”  to another town.

Philip didn’t have any expectations when he set out that morning in obedience to God. Otherwise, he might have been looking for a crowd to preach to like Peter did and missed the lone Ethiopian needing what he had to offer.

I’ve been doing a lot of second-guessing lately on where I am in life.  Maybe that is common for those of us who see more road in the rear view mirror than stretching out in front of them.  I feel more pressure to make every mile count.  Yet, I find encouragement from the way God directed Philip and he followed – the GPS system in my car came to mind.

At first, God’s direction was very general – Go South  (v.25), and Philip started out. I’ve always liked the expression, “It is easier to steer a moving car than a parked one.” Too many times I set my gear shift to “Idle” while waiting for something more specific from God.  I need to make sure I’m in “Drive” and ready to obey.

So Philip started out and while he was going, God said, “Go to that chariot” (v.29).  My problem is that in-between my starting out and the next direction, I begin to doubt the path I’m on or compare it to where others are traveling – both of which are dead ends! In John 21:22, Peter questioned Jesus about what was ahead for John and Jesus replied, “What is that to you? You must follow Me.”

Finally, and this actually happened before Philip began his journey, he was filled or fueled by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enabled him to make himself  available as a vehicle for God to steer as he moved in obedience every day.

 I want to entrust myself to Gods Positioning System today. He knows exactly where I am at all times. He is able to direct me to the place and purpose He has for me -every day- as I yield my heart and my plans to Him.

Published in: on October 6, 2011 at 7:02 am  Comments (1)