Saturday, March 17, 2018

When God Wants You to Open Your Fist and Let Go

"Why can't you just do what I ask?", I wailed. As the words came pouring out of my mouth I could hear the desire to control in them. I winced. Once again I wanted to have things done my way. I want control, not because I want to be all powerful or be "the boss."  I want control because being out of control makes me lose the feeling of safety and orderliness. Being in control means everything is right with the world and there is peace in my soul.

But God didn't call me to a life of being in control. Everything that I do in following Him is about relinquishing my desire to be in charge of my life.  "Let go, be still and know that I am God." is what He says. That may mean the things that I deem safe and reliable are the things that I need to let go. 

Letting go means that I may lose something. Relinquishing my hold may mean that God has a different plan for my life than I have. It may mean that God is working in someone else and my holding tightly or trying to control is preventing God's work in their life. 

My daughter was in a minor car accident on Thursday morning. She was a passenger in the car and as they were turning left across a lane of traffic, a car coming the opposite direction hit the right bumper on the passenger side.  She has some bumps and bruises from the airbag, but is okay. But I was reminded once again that I have no control over anything. I can do everything I can to keep my family safe, but a random driver and crumpled steel can do damage in a second.

I was reminded that just the day before I had prayed that He would work in my children's lives, and that He would do whatever necessary to keep them grounded in Him. Perhaps that fender bender is part of His plan? If I hold too tightly, I can prevent even God from working.

So as I open my hands and let go of those things I tightly clutch, I do feel a bit of panic. But I also know that when I open my fist and let God take my insecurities, my gifts, my desires, my children, my friends and family that He will always replace them with good, good gifts. Gifts for my benefit. Gifts that will help me grow in Him. Gifts that will draw me closer to Him.

I know that I have no control over the wind, waves or seasons. But unlike what I believe at times, I also have no control over anything in my life. The bit of control I think I do have is just an illusion. But when the Lord sees that I'm willing to give up even that false control, it allows Him to work in my life. 

Psalm 46:10-11 (NASB) ~

Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Being Pruned

It seems as if I go through many stages in my life of being stretched and pulled and pruned. As much as it pains me to say, God is not finished with me yet and I have so much growth that needs to happen in my life.  I wrote the following a few years ago, but it's applicable to my situation today so I thought I'd remind myself again.

John 15:1-8 (NIV) ~
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Pruning is necessary to produce fruit in my life and yet, it hurts.  I don't like the trimming away of dead wood and leaves.  I want to shout, "Leave me alone!"  But the Lord knows what is good for me.  He sees the branches that need trimming. 
Another branch falls to the ground and another bad habit or attitude is trimmed away.  "Lord, I don't like this."  "Why must there always be something that has to be cut?"  And he reminds me that he wants me to bear fruit and not just some fruit but MUCH fruit.
Which is why I must be pruned.  As much as it hurts, it is necessary for my good.  I feel stretched and pulled outside my comfort zone and I truly want to climb back in my box.  I want to go back to my safety zone where it's familiar.
But He continues to trim and chop away at the dead foliage.  He carefully cuts back the branches so that I will grow and produce and be fruitful.  It's hard and it hurts.  It is not a pleasant process but the end result is so sweet.  If I just allow him to prune, I will ripen and mature.
My ripening glorifies the Father.  When I show fruit in my life, it points to Him.  Bearing fruit is a responsibility of all believers but that will only happen through the careful pruning of the vineyard keeper.  I will only grow when I allow the Lord to work in my life and reveal and cut away those rotting branches and leaves.  It's hard but worth it in the end.
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wednesday Words of Encouragement: Tipping the Scales

John 5:41-44 ~

I do not accept glory from men but I know you--that you have no love for God within you. I have come in My Father's name, yet you don't accept Me. If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe? While accepting glory from one another, you don't seek the glory that comes from the only God."

The Greek word, doxa (glory), that is used in this passage when used in relation to God's glory means God has infinite, intrinsic worth. His very character and essence are worthy of honor and highest esteem. There is nothing trivial about Him. God has weight and is greater in magnitude in wisdom, authority, power, grandeur and desirability than all else. He has earned our good opinion of Him. 

The Pharisees were so intent on achieving their own self-righteousness and importance that they missed the very one they said they were seeking. The Messiah was standing right before them, but they missed Him because they were focusing on themselves. They were trying to receive the honor and high esteem that can only be attributed to God. They were looking to men to stroke their egos instead of focusing on what the Lord desired of them.

How often do we fall into that trap? We look to people for our affirmation. We want others to recognize our good works. We feel slighted when we are overlooked or ignored or what we do goes unnoticed. Yet, the only opinion we should be seeking is what God thinks about us. 

Our scales are weighted down on the wrong side. We place man's opinion as heavier than God's and yet, He carries the greater weight. We measure ourselves against what others think rather than seeking out God's glory.

Let's tip the scales back to their proper place. Whatever you do, make sure you are doing it to bring God the glory and not yourself. When we are doing it with the right motive, it is a sweet, sweet thing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Son is Still Shining

It snowed over night and there is a winter storm warning with amounts ranging from 10-18".  I had to laugh at our church sign this morning.If this keeps up, it won't be hard to find brightly colored Easter eggs!

At this point I am so ready for spring and it feels like it will never come. However, I saw little shoots springing up in my garden bed the other day and some song birds have made their way back north.  So regardless of how I feel, spring will get here.

That is so true in our spiritual lives too. So often as we face a daunting trial and hard times it feels as if we will never come through it.  We get bogged down emotionally, mentally, spiritually and sometimes, physically. The skies are gray and it seems as if the sun will never shine again. But the thing that we need to remember is that the SON is always shining. God is there and walking through the valley with us.  When we keep our eyes on Him, we will find our way through and come out the other side.  

I'm not sure what storm you are going through today, but I felt led to share that truth. Keep your eyes on Jesus, keep moving forward and remember that He has power over the waves that are crashing over your head. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Multitude Monday

This beautiful site outside my door, despite the fact that it's 35 degrees and still snow on the ground. Spring is on the way!
Last week was such a crazy week and given the fact that I slept until almost 8 o'clock this morning showed how much it wiped me out.  But it was a good week of ministry and a week of praying and trusting God for healing for not only my mother-in-law but friends who have various serious health needs going on. 

I'm thankful for so many things and here are just a few of the blessings I experienced this week in pictures.

#3,221 - Wonderful helpers for my children's program.  This week we employed a "divide and conquier" strategy and it worked very well.  I wouldn't be able to do that if I didn't have help.

#3,222 - Little ones that make me smile.

3,223 - Beautiful loaves of bread, fresh from the oven that smell amazing.

3,224 - Beautiful colors put together in a table runner.

3,225 -  A good day at the market on Saturday.  I sold 13 loaves of bread, 12 jars of jam, a set of napkins, and a couple of smaller craft items.  Plus it was just fun!

3,226 - Flowers to brighten my house.

3,227 - Our first youth group last night. They had so much fun.

3,228 - Teens getting along and enjoying conversation.

3, 229 - Laughter and silliness.

and finally...

3,230 ~ Despite the fact that I lost two days going to see my mother-in-law at the beginning of the week, and two days at the end of the week between baking and the farmer's market, I still was able to get 95% of my list done.

In the interest of time, I'm just going to type up a list this week without the categories:

✔ TAXES - MUST FINISH! (It feels like I'm never going to get these off to our accountant)
✔ Call hotel for my retreat and sort out a problem
✔ Call keynote speaker and go over program
✔ Work on retreat items
✔ Put together Bible study for tonight (Monday)
✔ Put together lesson and project for 3D Kids on Thursday
✔ Consecration reading and studying
✔ Check on supplies for Easter egg hunt on the 31st and order what is needed
✔ Order soap supplies

✔ Monthly report written for next week's board meeting
✔ Clean bathrooms
✔ Vacuum house
✔ Fill out application for farmer's market
✔ Sew
✔ Church bulletins
✔ Call to schedule doctor and dentist
✔ Gym 3 days - 1 day done

Meetings this week: Bible study (Mon.); Deaconess Meeting (Tues.); 3D Kids (Thurs.)

Okay, another busy week so I'm off to get started!  Have a wonderful week!