Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Meditations of my Heart

Psalm 121:2
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.


Here it is!  Daily Devotion #365!  A whole year!  I've made it!

Thanks to all the help that has come from the Lord.

But, now the time has come for a new direction in my blogging and here is why.

After many failed attempts to get my book published in the traditional way, I have decided to self-publish.  That will take some research, dedication, and time.

Lots of time.

I have already conferred with my editor and am currently making the revisions necessary to improve my novel.  That's the fun part!

What I'm dreading are the nuts and bolts of navigating the uncharted waters of self-publication.  But, do so, I must, if I wish this to be a successful venture.

With that being said, I cannot maintain the pace of composing daily devotions.

However . . .

I will be posting two devotion per week, one on Tuesdays and one on Fridays, under the new heading, "Meditations of my Heart".

And, good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, I'll have a new look for the blog, too.

Will you begin this new journey with me?

I can't wait to be with you all this coming Friday for the debut of "Meditations"!

And, may the God of all grace and goodness bless you and keep you, my dear friends, this day and forevermore!

Amen!

Readings
Psalms (120), 121, 122, 123 or 124, 125, 126, (127)
Ezekiel 33:21-33
1 John 2:1-11
Matthew 9:35-10:4 

Monday, May 28, 2012

" . . .And Let Your Arrow Fly . . ."

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.


When I am eleven, my parents send me to a girls-only, two-week camp nestled in the North Georgia mountains.  Although I am terribly homesick the first day or so, I soon make friends and plunge myself head-long into all the many and varied activities offered.

And, I excel in all the sports we play.

Except one.

Archery.

No matter how carefully I pull back the arrow in its bow, take aim, and let fly, I almost never hit the target.

And, you can forget the bulls-eye . . .

Why am I so lousy at archery?

Because, I am woefully nearsighted and need to be wearing my glasses.

Glasses I hate.  I think they make me look ugly.  Dorky.

So, because of pride and vanity, I continue to miss the mark.

Pastor Wallace tells us that the Greek word for "sin" literally means "missing the mark".  No matter whether our sin arrows elude the target completely or miss the bulls-eye by a hair, we've missed.

Completely.  Entirely.

Just as we have to collect our shot arrows at camp, we need to bundle up our sins and confess them to God.

Only He can forgive us.

Purify us from all unrighteousness.

Give us the glasses we need to wear to see sin for what it is.

And, to clearly see the mark He wants us to make.

Not miss.
~
Do you wear glasses or contacts on a daily basis?

Will you join me in prayer?
When we fall into sin, Father, and miss the mark, let us come running to You in confession and ask for forgiveness.  Don't let our pride or ego become a blinding stumbling block.  Open the eyes of our heart to see the mark You would have us make.  Amen.

Readings
Psalms 106:1-18 or 106:19-48
Ezekiel 33:1-11
1 John 1:1-10
Matthew 9:27-34 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

" . . . The Night You Told me Those Little White Lies . . ."

John 4:23
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

When my children are growing up, I stress the importance of being truthful.

"One lie always leads to another," I admonish.  "It's a bad habit that's hard to break once you start."

"Even a little lie?" they ask.

"Yes, even a little one.  Lies are nothing but trouble.  I always expect the truth from both of you."

But, no matter how much I preach it, nothing drives this point home to them better than when we watch the movie, "The Sound of Music", together.

The Von Trapp children have just returned home from an attempted visit with Maria, their governess, who has retreated to the abbey.  When their father, Captain Von Trapp, questions where they have been and what they've been up to, they do not want to tell him the truth.  Afraid he will be angry with them.

If memory serves, the scene plays out like this:

"We went berry picking," Kurt announces.

"Berry picking?  Well, where are they?" the Captain asks.  "Show me the berries."

"Uh, we don't have them . . ."

"Don't have them?"

"Because, we ate them all!"

Oh, I see, you ate every one?  What kind of berries were they?"

"Blueberries, sir," Friedrich says.

"Blueberries?  Isn't it a bit early in the year for blueberries?"

"They were strawberries!  It's been so cold lately, they turned blue!"

Says the knowing Captain, "Well, since you've stuffed yourselves with delicious berries, you must be full.  I'll simply ask Cook to cancel your dinners."

Much to their chagrin and dismay.

If they had only told the truth in the first place, they wouldn't be in this predicament.

I pause the film and address my children.

"Now, what do you think about telling lies?"

"Bad idea," Daniel says with utmost seriousness.

"Very bad," Sarah agrees.

"You can expect us to tell the truth, Mom.  Right, Sarah?"

"Right!"
~
Has telling a lie ever gotten you in hot water?

Will you pray with me?
We are so thankful, Father, to be able to worship You in Spirit and in truth.  When we are tempted to tell a lie, even a "white" one, stop us before we speak.  Help us to always be truthful with You, with ourselves, and with others.  Amen.

Readings
Psalms 118 or 145
Deuteronomy 16:9-12
Acts 4:18-21, 23-33
John 4:19-26  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z!

Matthew 9:24a
He said, "Go away.  The girl is not dead but asleep."

Ah, sleep!  Those blissful hours of slumber.  Undisturbed by the cares of the world.

Restful.  Healing.  Restorative.

To wake to a morning feeling renewed.  Eager to greet the day.

I covet my sleep.  All eight hours.

Yes, that is what I need to spend in repose if I am to properly meet the challenges of the day.  To face them head on.  Conquer them.

Because, when I don't get enough rest, no amount of caffeine can cure me.  Get me firing on all six cylinders.

I'm a spluttering engine.  Puttering through my foggy thoughts.  Unable to make good decisions.  Any decisions.

Worst of all, unable to write.

Sleep-walking through a wasted day.

And, grouchy?  I'm a mama-bear-and-you're-messing-with-my-cubs grouchy!

So, when it's time to hit the hay.  To call it quits.  Escape from thoughts and enter dreams.

Do.  Not.  Disturb.

And, that includes you, dear cat, who thinks it's time to eat at 3:00 a.m.

Meowing me from deepest slumber.

Waking the sleeping giant.

Who now can't get back to sleep.

Okay!  Okay!  I'm up!  I'm up!

And, praying there is a nap in my future . . .
~
How many hours of sleep do you need each night?

Will you pray with me?
Thank You, Father, for the gift of sleep, the time when the cares of the day are dispelled and our minds and bodies rejuvenated.  I pray today for my friends who suffer with insomnia - please cure them so that they, too, can enjoy a full night's rest.  May all our slumbers be peaceful.  Amen.

Readings
Psalms 107:33-43 or 108:1-6 (7-13)
Ezekiel 36:22-27
Ephesians 6:10-24
Matthew 9:18-26  

Friday, May 25, 2012

"Somehow I Know I'll Jump Up and Go if Ever He Calls my Name . . ."

Matthew 9:9
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth.  "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.


It is my planning time late in the afternoon at school when I get the call.

"Mom!"  My daughter, Sarah, is on the line, sobbing hysterically.  "I just had an accident!  Please, please come get me.  Come get me!"

"Dear Lord!  Are you hurt?  Where are you?"

Sarah tells me she's alright.  Just shaken up.  Gives me her location.

"I'll be right there!"

I drop everything.  Rush out of the school with barely a word to the office.

This is an emergency.  This can't wait.

My baby is in trouble!

If you are a parent, you would do the same thing, wouldn't you?  Stop everything you are doing and run to your child's aid.  Or, if your spouse calls needing your help, wouldn't you have a similar reaction?

These behaviors are natural for us when we are in close relationship with someone.  We'll go to any and all lengths necessary to heed their call.  To meet their needs.

But, would you drop everything to answer the call of a perfect stranger?

Probably not.

That's why I think Matthew knows who Jesus is.  Has heard His teachings.  Maybe, since he is a tax collector despised by the Jews, hovering only on the periphery of the crowds.  Trying hard not to be noticed.

And, wishing with all his might that the Lord would notice him.  Invite him to join the disciples.  Even though he is so unworthy . . .

So, when Jesus passes by the tax booth and tells him to follow, Matthew reacts instantly.

Can this really be happening?  Is this Jesus calling me?  He is!  He IS!

Matthew drops everything!

Jumps up and follows the Lord.
~
Are you answering God's call to you?  Are you following the Lord?

Will you join me in prayer?
Help us, Father, to hear Your voice calling to our hearts each day.  Let our prayers always be to follow You, to walk in Your will and Your ways, to Your honor and glory.  May others see You in us.  Amen.

Readings
Psalms 102 or 107:1-32
Jeremiah 31:27-34
Ephesians 5:1-20
Matthew 9:9-17  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"It's Because I'm Forgiven. It's Because I am Free . . ."



Matthew 9:2
Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat.  When Jesus say their faith, he said to the man, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."

In a recent sermon, Pastor Wallace's focus is on the forgiveness of sin.

He recounts the story of a young woman in one of his former churches who comes to his office one day.

"Pastor, can I talk to you?"

"Of course, you can.  Here, have a seat.  What's on your mind?"

She hands her head shamefully and begins to confess to Wallace a sin she has committed which is laying heavily on her heart.

He listens.  Attentively.  Without comment until she finishes her story.

"Can Jesus for give me for this?"  She asks, her voice trembling, tears streaming.

"The Lord is all about forgiveness," Wallace assures her.  "Let's pray right now for Him to forgive you this sin."

After the prayer, the woman is all smiles.  She leaves his office with a buoyant bounce in her step.

It is five years later and Wallace is now shepherding a different church.  Imagine his surprise when he looks up one day to see this same woman at his office door.

"Pastor, I know you have another church now, but could I still talk to you?"

"Sure thing!  It's wonderful to see you again.  What can I do for you?"

Without a moment's hesitation, the woman's words spill out.  She is confessing the same sin she confessed five years previously!  Wallace raises his hand and interrupts.

"Wait, wait, hold on just a moment," he tells her.  "You told me all about this before, remember?"

"Yes, but, I . . ."

"Have you committed this sin again?"

"Oh, no, Pastor, I haven't!"

"Then, you don't need to be forgiven.  Jesus took care of this the first time around.  He's wiped your slate clean.  You have, indeed, been forgiven.  But, my dear, you need to believe it."
~
Is the memory of a sin for which you asked forgiveness paralyzing you from moving forward in your life?

Will you pray with me?
We thank You, Father, for Your precious Son, Jesus.  Through Him, all our sins are forgiven.  Help us to accept His forgiveness and forgive ourselves for our transgressions so we can go forward in our walk with You.  Amen.

Readings
Psalms 105:1-22 or 105:23-45
Zechariah 4:1-14
Ephesians 4:17-32
Matthew 9:1-8  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"He's Got the Whole World in His Hands . . ."

Psalm 109:27
Let them know that it is your hand, that you, Lord, have done it.


One summer, I decide it's time.  High time.

No excuses.  No stalling.  No doubts.

The novel which has rolled around in my head for years begs to be written.

Now!

I begin.  Stick with it.  Do not entertain the notion of writer's block.  No way!

And, as the blank pages fill with words and more words, I am elated.  Encouraged.  Determined to keep on going.

Because, I know, one short week into the writing process, I'm not going it alone.

I begin to notice . . .

Where did that word come from?  This idea?  What an unexpected twist in plot!  In characters!  This is so much better than I ever imagined . . .

And, I realize these never before thought of inspirations are coming from God through His Holy Spirit.

So much so, that before I begin each writing day, I sit in silence then ask in prayer, "What would You have me write today, Lord?"

A moment's pause.  And, we're off to the races!

From time to time, I share the progress of the novel on Facebook.  One exchange goes like this:

Me:  Chapter 25 in the can!

Friend:  Wow!  You're making progress!

Me:  God is so inspiring me.  It's all His doing.

Other Friend:  Give yourself some credit.

She doesn't understand . . .

The only thing I can take credit for is saying "yes" to His call to write.  "Yes" to telling the story He wants me to tell.

And, thank Him for the gifts with which He has seen fit to grace me.

All is in His hands.

He has done it.
~
When have you felt God has inspired your creativity?

Please join me in prayer:
Thank You, Father, for creating us in Your image and for giving us the gift of creativity.  May we always remember that every good gift comes from You.  Let us use our talents to Your honor and glory.  Amen.

Readings
Psalms 101, 109:1-4 (5-19) 20-30 or 119:121-144
Isaiah 4:2-6
Ephesians 4:1-16
Matthew 8:28-34  

 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Stormy Weather . . ."

Matthew 8:26
He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?"  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves and it was completely calm.

I have several friends going through turbulent storms in their lives.  The winds are raging.  The thunder roars.

And, fearsome waves crash against their fragile boats of sanity.  Of normalcy.  Of peace.

Pounding them relentlessly.  Swamping them with worries and cares and strife.

On the verge of drowning . . . 

Clinging.  Clawing.  Clutching.

Holding on for dear life.

Holding out for love . . .

Pastor Wallace often reminds us that there are times when Jesus will calm the storms in and around us.  Other times, He takes us by the hand and rides it out with us.

Never are we alone.

Even when we feel alone.

And, overwhelmed.

And, afraid . . .

The names of these precious friends are written down in an open notebook which stays by my computer.  Throughout the day, I lift each one up in prayer.

Again.

And, again.

And, again . . .

That God's comfort and peace may rest within them.

Provide safe harbor in the tempest.

A port of love in the storm.
~
Are you in the midst of a storm today?

Will you join me in prayer?
Today, Father, we lift up prayers for all those whose lives are in turmoil.  May they feel the warmth and security of Your loving arms around them.  May the find Your peace in the midst of fears and trials and know in their hearts by faith that You will ride out the storm with them.  Amen.

Readings
Psalms 97, 99 (100) or 94 (95)
1 Samuel 16:1-13a
Ephesians 3:14-21
Matthew 8:18-27  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ahh! Ahh! Ahh-Choo!

Matthew 8:13
Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go!  Let it be done just as you believed it would."  And his servant was healed at that moment.

One thing I could always count on when I teach is getting sick.  At least twice, if not three times, a year.

Exposed to hundreds of children carrying millions of germs.  Sneezing and coughing without covering their mouths.  Touching me to get my attention.

There isn't enough hand sanitizer in the world to stave off the onslaught.

And, here comes the cold.  The sore throat.  The congestion.  The coughing.

The misery . . . 

Where minutes turn into long, tedious, lethargic hours.

No energy.  No appetite.  No pill does the trick.

Suffering . . .

With the Kleenex box as my constant companion.

Grumpy.  Growling.  Groaning.

I stagger through my illness.  Hoping.  Praying.

That at any time.  At any moment.

I'll start to turn the corner.

Begin to feel just a tidbit better.  Experience a tad of relief.

To assure me I'm on the mend.

And, give me hope that soon.  Very soon . . .

I will be healed.
~
When you get sick, what kind of patient are you?

Will you join me in prayer?
When we fall ill, Father, help us to remember that You are there to hold us through the struggle.  May we recall the many healing miracles performed by Jesus and trust that we, too, will heal in time.  Give us the strength to persevere and the courage to endure.  Amen.

Readings
Psalms 89:1-18 or 89:19-52
Joshua 1:1-9
Ephesians 3:1-13
Matthew 8:5-17  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"You'll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid!"

Luke 10:17
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name."

 

 In the now classic movie, "A Christmas Story", young Ralphie and his buddies are constantly harassed by the obnoxious bully, Farkus, and his sniveling toady, Grover Dill.  These two take sadistic pleasure in terrorizing and physically hurting these boys.

No walk home from school is safe from these demons!

One day, when Ralphie is walking alone, an angry snowball comes out of the blue.  Hits him hard in the face.  Splatters all over his glasses.

The cackling, mocking laughter confirms the source.

Farkus rears his ugly head.  Confronts Ralphie who is desperately fighting back tears.

"What are you going to do?  Cry?"  He taunts.  "C'mon, crybaby, cry!  Cry!"

But, this time for Ralphie is different from the others.  The narrator tells us a "red hot flame" begins to burn within him.

He snaps!

With a warrior's roar and a rush of rage, Ralphie hurls himself at Farkus, tackling him to the ground.  And, he gives this bully a thrashing he will never forget.

Nor, will any of the school children looking on.

In one outburst of crazy courage, Ralphie destroys Farkus' reputation as a tough guy and demolishes his power to intimidate.

The demon is vanquished for good.
~
Are there demons in your life that are bullying you?  Telling you you're not pretty enough?  Smart enough?  Strong enough?  Thin enough?

Persuading you that you can't succeed, so why try?  Feeding on your weaknesses and perceived short-comings like buzzards on a carcass?

Let Jesus be your "Ralphie".

He'll beat the bullies up.  Set things to right.  Remind you all the while how much He loves you.  

Just.  As.  You.  Are.

Because, you are first and foremost a child of God.

With a right to live a full, abundant life according to His promise.
~
Will you allow Jesus to be your "Ralphie" today?

Will you join me in prayer?
Help us to remember, Father, that in trying to cast out our demons on our own, we'll probably "shoot our eyes out".  Let us, instead, turn to Jesus, our Savior, our Mediator, our Advocate, and ask Him to come to our aid.  Thank You for loving us as Your children.  Amen.

Readings
Psalms 66, 67 or 19, 46
Exodus 3:1-12
Hebrews 12:18-29
Luke 10:17-24 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Give Them a Hand!

Psalm 90:17
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands.


Arts and crafts are not my forte.  Sure, I've toyed with sketching and painting.  I even learn to crochet and create quite a collection of afghans over the years.

But, nothing sticks.  I simply don't feel competent enough to produce anything of lasting value or beauty.  At least, with my hands.

I so admire people who can paint a portrait.  Carve figures from blocks of wood.  Sew an evening gown.  Build furniture.  Decorate cakes.  Create one-of-a-kind floral arrangements.

And, I cherish the objects I own which are made by hand.  Made with love.

Embroidery done by my great-grandmother and my mother-in-law.  Gorgeous painting created by my sister-in-law, a family friend, and my aunt (her watercolor is featured above).  Sweaters knitted by this same aunt for my children when they are small.

Gifts I will always treasure.  Not just because they are beautiful, but because of the beautiful people responsible for each one.

Thankful that God has established such talent in the works of their hands.

And, so grateful to Him that He shows me its alright not to be talented in these areas.

To discover where He wishes to establish my hands.

To show favor.

Fingers flying upon the keyboard almost faster than my thoughts can come.

Writing!
~
Are you gifted in arts and crafts?

Will you pray with me?
You have given talents to all of us, Father.  Don't let us "sit on our hands" when we should be using them to Your honor and glory.  May Your favor ever rest on us.  Amen.

Readings
Psalms 87, 90 or 136
Numbers 11:16-17, 24-29
Ephesians 2:11-22
Matthew 7:28-8:4  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Rock On!

Matthew 7:24
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock."

My granddaughter, Virginia Rose, is fascinated by rocks.  Not long ago, she discovers the pebbles in our gas-log fireplace (pictured above).  Oh, what fun she has grabbing a handful, dribbling them on the hearth, and putting them back in place only to start all over again.

There's only one problem.

Her Papa (Danny) isn't keen on Virginia messing with the little stones.  Too many of the end up in a crevice of the grate and have to be fished out.  An irritating task for large hands!

So, when we are traveling home from Cherokee two weeks ago, Danny has an idea.  He stops the car at a small picnic area alongside the Nantahala River and walk down to its shore.

"See there," he says, pointing to the thousands of smoothly rounded pebbles and stones strewn along the bank.  "Let's pick some up for Virginia.  Maybe it will distract her from the fireplace."

 "Great idea!"  I say, and help him gather them until we have a small collection.

We stash the beautifully shaped and colored stones into a baggie and we're ready to go.

Wondering . . .

Will they do the trick?

Sure enough.  On Virginia's next trip to our house, she makes a beeline for the fireplace.

From which she is gently, but firmly, removed.

And shown the new rocks we have for her to play with.

Silky smooth.  Polished by eons of river flow.  Cool to the touch.








One happy, happy baby girl!
~
Is your house built upon the Rock?

Will you pray with me?
We thank You, Father, for being our rock of refuge and strength.  Build in us a sure foundation of faith.  Let our trust in You ever be rock-solid.  Amen.

Readings
Psalms 85, 86 or 91, 92
1 Samuel 2:1-10
Ephesians 2:1-10
Matthew 7:22-27 


 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"The Little Lord Jesus, no Crying He Makes . . ."

Hebrews 2:17
For this reason he had to be make like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.


Can you picture the nativity scene?  Not the pristine, angelic one displayed on Christmas cards.  The real one . . .

The human one . . .

Pastor Wallace tells us about a Christmas Eve sermon he preaches in one of his former churches.  His hope is the congregation will see the God of the whole universe as coming into the world fully human.

Messy birth.  Exhausted Mary.  Frantic Joseph.  Wailing Jesus.

No silent night here!

Hungry baby.  Helpless baby.  Dirty diapers and all.

Little.  Baby.  Jesus.

Crying, He makes.

When the members are filing out after the service, Wallace greets each one at the door.  He notes, with some concern, the scowling face of an elderly lady who is coming down the aisle.  She is glaring at him.  He's grateful her eyes aren't daggers!

"Pastor Wallace," she says coldly when she reaches him, refusing to shake his hand, "how dare you talk about Jesus that way!"

"In what way, Miss Jean?"

"You know, the way you did just now.  Like He isn't perfect.  That he cried and soiled himself like ordinary babies.  Shame on you!"

"But, Miss Jean, don't you believe that Jesus became fully human so he could understand us and love us even more?"

"Human, yes, but He's still divine.  And, no amount of your preaching will ever convince me He had dirty diapers!"

I think Mary would disagree with Miss Jean . . .
 ~
When was the last time you held, or fed, or changed an infant?

Will you pray with me?
Thank you, Father, for sending Your precious Son, Jesus, into this world, fully human and fully divine.  Through Him, our High Priest, we are reconciled to You, once and for all, and all our sins are washed away.  Amen.

Readings
Psalms 8, 47 or 24, 96
Daniel 7:9-14
Hebrews 2:5-18
Matthew 28:16-20 

We're Going Home

Luke 6:37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven. ...