Experience God’s Love

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.  1 John 3:1 KJV

See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know Him.  1 John 3:1 NLT

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  1 John 3:1 TNIV

The Lord woke me up at 4:30 this morning and I felt like I should go ahead and get up to see what he had for me today. 

So I was really tickled when my 31-day challenge verses included 1 John 3:1.  Picking a favorite Bible verse is harder than picking a favorite hymn, but this has to be mine. 

I love e-Sword for the PC (and would love to see them do an iPad app!) that allows me to show four translations in comparison:

I noticed that the “Behold” in the KJV isn’t translated in the NIV.  So it made me wonder.

The Greek is G3708 (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance – also provided in e-Sword).  and as I read through the meanings, I found that it can mean to stare, to discern clearly or to attend to.  But also, that “by Hebraism to experience.”  This seems significant to me.

“Experience this!  How great the Father’s love. . .”  or “Experience how great the Father’s love. . .”  Don’t just see it — experience it.

But how do we experience the Father’s love?    I feel a series coming on, but feel free to post how YOU experience God’s love.

Reflections on Obedience

    It is a fantastic fall afternoon in the Missouri Ozarks. I’m having trouble comprehending that a week ago I was visiting my older son and his wife in Phoenix and it was 100 degrees. But today I am enjoying the colorful trees and the crisp afternoon air that seem especially made for football and hayrides. I just had to sit outside despite the fact that inside is still a partially unpacked suitcase (from the trip to Phoenix) and the associated dirty laundry. So I thought I could be productive while I enjoyed God’s gift.

    I’m still on the mountain-top from a women’s retreat. And it’s not just because of the typical women’s retreat blessings that I’m thanking the Lord; you know, the blessings of fellowship, relaxed worship, an inspirational speaker and newly formed friendships. What great reasons for praise! Thank you, Lord, for all of these things. And thank you for allowing me to renew old friendships, as well. It was a sweet time in so many ways.

    The topic for the weekend was Quest for Romance. . .Intimacy with God. The cry of my heart has often been, “Lord, I want to know you more.” But just like so many others, I let other things that are much less important get in the way of knowing him better. And that is so unfortunate in that there is nothing else that will positively impact everything else I am and do. So the encouragement to spend the time it takes to be intimate with God was timely.

    I’m excited to use the 31-day challenge that speaker, Georgia Herod, gave us for developing a regular time with him. While my time is regular, I want to try the suggestions prescribed to give my time more focus. And yet, that was not the highlight, either.

    Thinking back on your walk with the Lord, is there anything that has brought you more joy than being obedient to the Lord’s call on your life? Whether it was simply sitting down to spend that committed time to him rather than let something distract you yet again or to take a complete step of faith in an uncomfortable direction, can you name anything that more meaningful in your relationship with Him?

    I think the Lord has been calling me for a long time to begin thinking about changing my “career.” I have worked in my family’s business for over 20 years and my job is a “known.” On the other hand, I love to write and have thought for quite some time that I would eventually like to write a book. More recently I have been considering starting to do some speaking. My husband and I had even talked about the time sacrifices that would most likely have to be made for me to establish myself as a speaker. And yet, I still hadn’t begun doing some of the things that it will take to become a writer or a speaker. And often, I think I was probably arguing with God about the feasibility of it all. After all, I’m not getting any younger; I don’t have a big, dramatic story to tell; my husband doesn’t like to travel; there are lots of other things I “should be” doing.

    On September 28 I journaled the following about listening: “I think I’m like someone who asks a question but then just keeps on talking. I keep asking the Lord, “What do you want me to do?” But I don’t think I’ve stopped talking (praying for others or explaining why one solution or another won’t work) to listen to what he has to say.” What I didn’t write, but was thinking was – today is the day I relinquish and say, “Lord, I believe this is what you’ve called me to do, so give me an opportunity and I’ll obey.”

    On that very same day, my brother/boss asked me to start working from home because we are growing and he needs the desk for someone else. I have telecommuted off and on over the last 15 years (even in the days of dial-up) so that doesn’t sound like that big a deal. However, I live 35 miles from work, so working from home frees up 90 minutes per day. In addition, my job doesn’t necessarily require that all my work hours be between 8 and 5, which will give me additional flexibility.

    On September 30 I had a voice mail from a women’s ministry leader at a church about 35 miles away asking me to lead worship at their women’s conference in October. Now isn’t that always God’s way? He had something in mind I hadn’t even thought of yet – leading worship rather than speaking.

    So my mountaintop comes as I return from that retreat where there was a great speaker, tender worship, renewed and new friendships, fellowship and exhortation; but even more than that, it comes from being obedient to the Lord and standing back to watch him at work.

    Father, I thank you for this opportunity and for all that you have planned for me. I pray that I will be faithful to all you have for me.

    

Cleaning House for the Ultimate Fellowship

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 5 years since our “baby” graduated from high school.  I wrote these thoughts down post celebration.  So now we’re down to an “empty nest” and one cat (and the occasional visiting racoon).  But we can still let the front porch get out of hand. . .

Ellis took on the front porch as a project as we prepared for Aaron’s graduation and the guests that would visit.  Of course, we have four dogs that spend a lot of time on the front porch.  And it serves as the “kitchen table” of the porch by collecting things that haven’t quite made it to their rightful storage place.

 When he finished working on it, it was wonderful – definitely a place you would feel comfortable sitting.  And there were plenty of places to sit.  He had not only cleaned off the church pew that we keep from the old FBC building that burned, but he had varnished it to shine it up a little bit.  The porch itself (the concrete) was clean of all dog hair, leaves, grass clippings and whatever other dust gathers over time.  It was ready for times of wonderful fellowship in the mild breezes of a Missouri May.

 That was May 10.  Today (May 30), I went out to do something and noticed what a mess it was already.  We’ve done a pretty good job of keeping things put away, but the stuff I swept off the porch was thick!  You would think we still live on gravel road.  And we DO still have the four dogs. . .There was dog hair, lots of dog ticks, heavy dust and parts of something chewed up by the puppies.

 What would it take to keep the porch as clean as Ellis had it a couple of weeks ago?  It would take cleaning it every day.  Isn’t that like sin in the life of a Christian?  Christ washes our sins as white as snow.  But then we sin again – maybe little sins – but they separate us from Christ and build up unless we are daily seeking forgiveness.  Who wants to sit and fellowship on a filthy porch?  No one.  And our fellowship with Christ suffers when there is unconfessed sin gathering like dust and dog hair.

Praise the Lord that when we desire cleansing, he is faithful to do it so that we can have fellowship with him.

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

If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!  Psalms 66:18-20 NIV

Being a Good Steward of Your Suffering

Bro. Mitch Wright used to quote a friend who admonished others to be good stewards of their suffering.  Having been through a divorce and being a single mother of two boys for seven years, it was a good encouragement for me.

I don’t know if everyone has them, but I suspect they do; times in life when you feel like you will always be the needy one and never able to be the one ministering and meeting someone else’s needs.  But if you learn what the Lord is trying to teach you, He will eventually give you opportunities to use the very situations that brought you so much pain to bless someone else.

Dennis Jernigan spoke of this in his blog recently, http://dennisjernigan.com/component/jomcomment/trackback/1383/com_myblog and it was a great reminder.  This is what Paul was talking about in Romans 8:28:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.   (Rom 8:28 NLT)

Share how God has used your difficulties to help others.

 

 

Part of listening is taking action

In the world of customer service or sales, people are usually listening for a problem that needs a solution.  As that presents itself and we have ensured understanding and asked any questions, the next step is being willing to follow-up or follow through.   In our prayer life, that is  to obey.

What good is it if we listen, but don’t take the action God is requiring?  Perhaps it is an external service or it could be an internal work he wants to do in us.   If we are only “hearers” and not “doers of the Word” (James 1:22), are we really listening?

As I was looking for scripture to back up this point,  I originally picked Psalm 119:47.  Psalm 119 is such a great passage of scripture – about scripture!  But in verse 47 the word ‘delight’  only means to look at and take pleasure.  It really doesn’t seem to lend itself to action.  But I read on to find verse 60, “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.”

Granted, there are times with people that just listening is all that is required.  Heaven knows that I am a “fixer” and have really messed things up at times because I thought I had to take action.

But listening to God is different.  When he speaks, he wants it to make a difference in us.  Are you listening?

Do not be dismayed

One of my favorite books in the Bible is Joshua. Over and over the Lord encourages him to be strong and courageous.

I am using a magazine I received in the mail in my Bible study right now.  In this month’ Tabletalk from Ligonier Ministries the lesson was on Joshua 1:9.  I needed this last Thursday, but there must be a reason the Lord gave it to me today.

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”  Joshua 1:9 (ESV).

So today I looked up frightened and dismayed in my e-Sword.  I have never had Hebrew lessons, so I know I’m missing some background, but it is still enlightening to get the root of the word being used.

Of particular interest this morning was dismayed.  In the NIV it is translated discouraged.

châthath (khaw-thath’)
A primitive root; properly to prostrate; hence to break down, either (literally) by violence, or (figuratively) by confusion and fear: – abolish, affright, be (make) afraid, amaze, beat down, discourage, (cause to) dismay, go down, scare, terrify.

That is really how I was feeling last week. . . beat down.  And I knew I wasn’t because I am God’s child.  And I knew that He was with me.  And I praised him in spite of it.  But Satan was still able to beat me down with all the negative circumstances.

There is no place that the Lord promises us ease, but He promises His presence and joy unspeakable.  And he promises that He will be with us wherever we go.

Thank you, Lord for revealing your presence to me.  Thank you for the victory that is waiting.  Help me be one of the spies that believes that you will provide all that you’ve promised us.  Help me encourage others.

What is our “Exodus”?

Many are the places in the Bible – both Old and New Testaments – where the inspired author refers to God’s work in the life of the Israelites.  Many times they start with Abraham and go at least through settling in Canaan.   For example:

 Then He remembered the days of the past, the days of Moses and his people. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit among the flock? He sent His glorious arm at Moses’ right hand, divided the waters before them to obtain eternal fame for Himself, and led them through the depths like a horse in the wilderness, so that they did not stumble. Like cattle that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. You led Your people this way to make a glorious name for Yourself.  (Isa 63:11-14 HCSB)

Perhaps this started when the Lord commanded in Deuteronomy 6:6-7,  “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. . .”  Later in the chapter he tells them that when things settle down and get easier, they will forget how they got to this promised land.

Now those of us who have grown up in church know the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses well.  And our children probably do, too.  But that’s not OUR story that we should be sharing, is it?   Have we forgotten how the Lord brought us to this place?  If we haven’t forgotten, do our children have a reference point for their own walk?

How often have you told your children or other family members about your salvation experience?  Have you told them even once?  As I write, I am not sure I have told my own story to my own children.  I have been more faithful to tell about how God has worked in my life through difficulty.  And this is important, too.  But, really, did I do it with my children as much as with others outside the family?

I am a empty-nester now.  I don’t have children in my home every day to tell my “Exodus” story to.  But I have grandchildren who need to know the Lord.  Who need to know the power of God to work in every are of their lives.  And it’s not too late to tell our boys and their spouses what the Lord has done in my life; to encourage them to walk with the Lord.

Let me encourage you as I learn myself – start today telling your “Exodus” story.  Don’t fail to teach the Bible, too.  But help them see that God is real, alive and working yet today.

What brings the Lord joy?

In John 15:11 Jesus told us that He came so that our joy could be full, complete, crammed to overflowing.  But have you ever wondered what brings the Lord joy?

I think it is safe to assume that if angels in heaven rejoice over one brought to salvation, then so does our Lord who paid the sacrifice for that one (Luke 15:10).

Jude 24 gives us one hint.  Jesus will have great joy when He presents us to the Father FAULTLESS.   The Master of the universe will rejoice in our presence and we can’t even imagine being in his.  “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy -” (Jud 1:24).

What about Zephaniah?  Really – that is a book in the Bible – between Habbakuk and Haggai.  “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).  There’s a lot of good meat in that scripture, but just take a few moments to imagine the King of Kings and Lord of Lords holding you close and singing over you with joy.

And as a parent I know that when my children were obedient it brought me great joy, so I feel safe in believing that our obedience brings our Father joy.

Father, how we thank you for the gift of you.  We pray that we would find joy in your joy and in bringing you joy by being obedient.

“Out on the highways and by-ways of life. . .”

goes the old hymn, Make Me a Blessing.  And that is definitely what I want to be – a blessing.  From time to time I have searched for a way to connect with other Christian women executives trying to find a way to balance all the roles in their life and ensuring the Lord is first.  I’m sure there are some blogs out there and I just didn’t find them, but if I can be a blessing to anyone by sharing my walk with the Lord, then here I am.

Have you counted your roles lately?  Or do you just wonder why you feel overwhelmed?  Here are most of mine:

  1. Child of God – there’s a few days of blogging in itself
  2. Wife of a fantastic husband, my best friend
  3. Mother of 2
  4. Step-mother of 3
  5. Mother-in-law of 4
  6. Grandmother of 7 (with one on the way)
  7. Daughter
  8. Church pianist and choir director with a passion for worship
  9. Executive in a privately held company with 100 employees in 3 locations nation-wide
  10. Friend
  11. Prayer warrior

Some days being all of this seems so easy.  And some days it seems absolutely impossible.  I’m sure you can relate.

So we’ll share scripture and thoughts.  You may disagree with some of my thoughts.  I will typically try to back them up with scripture.  Keep in mind that it is meant to be a blessing, so if you don’t find it so, then you may want to follow someone else’s blog.  Or, if you think I’m really off base, although you find me to typically be on base, then feel free to share your concern.

I hope  we can grow as we walk together with the Lord.