Luke 19: 40

 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

I’m sure you’ve heard this insult before. I know I have. In fact, I admit to saying it a time or two–mostly about my dogs. I’m not quite sure how it happens but it seems at any given time I have a really smart dog and then a not so smart dog. And, of course, the smart dog makes the not so smart one look even dumber.

Anyway, what about you? Are you dumber than a rock?

Now, don’t go getting on your high horse? I ask you that not to insult you but to make you think. Luke recounts the triumphant scene when Jesus enters Jerusalem during Passover week.  The Pharisees tell Jesus  to rebuke his followers for praising him.

Jesus’s response was to say even if they are quiet, the stones will cry out. All of God’s creation  know that Jesus is the Son of God, even those dumb rocks!

So again I ask are you dumber than a rock or do you cry out your praises to the Son of God? Is he the Lord of your life? Is He the one that gives purpose to your life?

So many of us struggle with a wide variety of issues. Perhaps, like me, you’re suffering physically. Or you’ve lost a loved one. Or you’re disappointed and frustrated with how life is going for you. Your first response may be to say that praising God in your circumstances doesn’t make sense.

But you would be wrong.

God is God in good circumstances and bad. He is the Creator of all. He sent His only begotten Son so that we may have life everlasting! And for that alone He deserves our praises.

As Easter approaches, this is a great time to recommit to God.

PS. In full disclosure, I need to admit that the idea for this devotion is not mine, but comes from my brother’s sermon yesterday. Thanks Herb for the idea!

1 Corinthians 3: 16

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 

I couldn’t let today pass by without some acknowledgement. Today is the 2nd year anniversary of me developing Bell’s palsy and from there being diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors. It’s been a long journey and it’s not over yet. In fact, it will never really be over since I can develop new tumors at anytime and anywhere. With the anniversary, my health has been on my mind. Actually, my lack of health and how I’ve contributed to that over the years.

I’ve been a just enough person when it comes to my health.

Just enough exercise to get by.

Just enough healthy eating to get by.

Just enough to get by, but not enough to actually get fit and healthy.

A just enough attitude when it comes to our body does NOT honor God. Our body is HIS temple. Doesn’t God deserve the very best? That’s a rhetorical question. Of course, HE deserves the very best!

My health has deteriorated a great deal over the past two years. The truth is I may never be as healthy as I was on March 31, 2012. I think of all the wasted years when I did just enough.  But…I am doing everything I can now to make my health be the very best that it can be, considering my circumstances.

My husband and I are working on making our lifestyle changes permanent instead of being on a “diet.”

As with all God’s principles, it’s what’s best for us. He always has our best interests at heart. He knows that by honoring our body, we will feel better physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If I could go back and give advice to my younger self, I would tell me to appreciate my good health and to do all that I can to keep it that way. To go way beyond just enough!

Honor God by honoring His temple.

 

 

 

 

THE REWARD

Posted: March 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

Ada Brownell is my guest writer today. She has been writing for Christian publications since age 15 and spent much of her life as a daily newspaper reporter. After moving to Springfield, MO in her retirement, she continues to free lance for Christian publications and write non-fiction and fiction books. You can find her blog at:  http://inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com Stick to Your Soul Encouragement

THE REWARD

Hebrews 11: 6

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” 

Why does it sometimes take so long for God to answer prayer?

In my book, Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, I tell the true story of Eddie Rickenbacker and his military buddies being lost at sea in 1942 when their plane went down. I am sure Rickenbacker, a Christian, prayed before, but one day when they knew they would die if they didn’t get food, he called for all the rafts to gather around for a prayer meeting.

The men bombarded heaven, and when Rickenbacker said “Amen,” a sea gull landed on his head. He reached up and grabbed a leg and the guys had a raw lunch, leaving only enough to use for fish bait.

The men received sustenance, hope they soon would be eating fish, and believed they would be rescued—and they were.

I remember many miraculous answers to prayer in my life. We had moved to Thompson, Utah, population 100, three bars, no grocery store except a few items sold in the bars, and no church.

I thought we’d missed God’s will for us. For a year I prayed. Then the Lord did a work in me and I told Him if He’d send a helper, I’d start a Sunday school. Within a week a lovely young Christian woman my age and her two little boys moved to town and we started a Sunday school in the schoolhouse.

One time when we moved from Arvada, Colorado to Pueblo, we’d prayed the Lord would help us sell our house. The realtor brought us the contract when we were loading the last few things in a U-Haul truck.

He’s done miracles of healing in our family. Gary, our oldest son, thought to only have a percentage of his kidneys working, found to be whole.

Doctors thought Gwen, our middle daughter, had multiple scleroses, but tests proved otherwise and she’s fine.

Doctors recently suspected our youngest son, Jaron, had leukemia because of consistently elevated white blood cell count. After prayer and retesting, he was negative for leukemia and the blood count was normal.

Another time, the hand of God shoved our car out of the way of an oncoming truck on an icy mountain pass as I screamed “Jesus, help us!”

God hasn’t always answered the way we wished. We lost our oldest daughter to cancer when she was age 31. But God’s comfort and peace was there. He doesn’t leave or forsake.

Keep praying. God is there.

 

PRAYER: Lord, give me faith to know you’re in all of our tomorrows. You made the world out of nothing and created us for your pleasure. Thank you Lord for your love and answering prayer.
©Ada Brownell March 19, 2014

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God handiwork, recreated in Christ Jesus, that we may do those good works which God predestined for us, taking paths which He prepared ahead of time, that we should walk in them, living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live.

WHY AM I HERE? Isnt’ that one of the big questions in life? Scholars and philosophers have pondered this question since the dawn of history. Apparently, they haven’t been looking in the right place–the Bible.  The Bible answers this question again and again. The above verse is only one example, but I love this verse.

It sounds so simple: God created us to do good works. He prepared a path for us. If we walk the path, we will have a good life. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, real life isn’t always so simple. Some of us make a wrong turn and miss that path. And how are we even supposed to even know what path to take? After all, there are a lot of paths out there to choose from.

What did God create you to do?

When God starts our heart beating, His touch lingers for just a moment.

And in that touch, He creates us to be us.

And in that touch, He creates us to be unique.

And in that touch, He gives us talents, interests, abilities and gifts.

And in that touch, He pours passion into our heart.

And in that touch, He loves us as no other ever can or ever will.

So, what’s the answer to the question of what does God want you to do? He wants you to do something you love. Something He gave you passion for. Something you are good at. Something you care about so much that you will spend hours and hours doing it and enjoy it.

That something is YOUR DREAM.

Your Dream is God’s Purpose.

Here is some really good news.  He gives us all that we need to accomplish it. So no matter how crazy your dream sounds to you or to every one around you, God wants you to pursue that dream. And it is when we do we are filled with a joy and peace that can’t be explained.

As we pursue our dreams, we are fulfilling God’s purpose for us. Some may not understand it; some will call it a hobby; some a waste of time, but focusing on our God-given dream is a divine task.

My dream was to be a writer. And after many years as God as my partner, I am living that dream. No, I’m not getting rich or famous, but people love to read my books.  And I still love to write them.  GOD IS SO GOOD!

So, take a minute and share your dream with us. What would you love to be doing right this minue?

 

Psalm 4: 8

In peace, I will lie down for you, Lord, alone makes me dwell in safety and confident trust.

So, yesterday I talked about jumping off the emotional roller coaster with all those emotional highs and lows.  They may be fun for a moment, but in the long run, it’s too exhausting.  I don’t want the roller coaster, I want God’s  peace, tranquility, contentment, and joy.  But I’ll admit, those things can be hard to find when you or a loved one is involved in a long-term journey with an illness or other adversity.

So, today’s post is short and sweet (just like me!).

I’m looking for some practical ways to jump off the coaster.

Here’s a few things I do:

1. When anxiety comes (and it will) I say a short sentence prayer.

2. I remind myself God loves me and He will work all things out for my good.

3. Focus on things I can change, such as better eating and exercise.

4. Listen to praise music.

5. Focus on doing something nice for someone else. I can’t do a whole lot right now, so  I make greeting cards and send them out to other people.

What do you do to stay more grounded in God’s peace and joy?

 

Psalm 31:15

My times are in your hands.

I hate roller coasters! Not only rollercoasters, but most any amusement park rides. I don’t have the time to tell you how many times I ALMOST got hurt on various amusement park rides, but that is neither here nor there.

Real life has ups and downs, just like a roller coaster. If we aren’t careful we can get  caught up in the cycle of all those exhilarating highs and those desperate lows. Some people may enjoy that ride, but I’m not one of them. I am not a drama queen. I don’t like drama any more than I like roller coasters.

Unfortunately, my life has been more like a roller coaster lately. As the two-year anniversary of diagnosing my bilateral brain tumors approaches, it seems as if those hills and curves are coming even more quickly. One day–good news. The next–bad. The next–worse and then back to good news. And at this point, it seems as if it’s never going to be done.  It just keeps going on and on and on and…..

The thing about roller coasters (and life) is that control is an illusion. The best we can do is buckle up, hold on tight, and go along for the ride. Life can get that way as well if we let it. We can start worrying about every little detail, not just in our lives but in the lives of the people we love. As if worrying about it can change the outcome. NEWS FLASH–IT CAN’T!

 I’m done with the roller coaster.  In fact, I’m jumping off the roller coaster! I am not  in control, but God is. All those emotional highs and lows are too exhausting and stressful. Certainly, not good for me or for you. Instead, I’m claiming God’s promises of peace and joy, no matter what the circumstances.

He promises me my times are in his hands.

I believe Him!  

 Philippians 2:12

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

This  verse has always bothered me, I thought salvation was a free gift.  So, then what’s this verse talking about?  Does it mean that we really do have to work for our salvation after we accept Jesus as our Savior?  

I prayed about it, asked God to clarify what it meant, meditated on it, listened to what others said it meant. I started to have an idea what it meant but it still wasn’t clear enough to be able to verbalize what it meant. 

As a speech pathologist and a teacher, I know if you can’t explain it to someone else then you probably don’t get it completely.

I also know prepositions can be very important. In this case the  words work out instead of work for are crucial to the meaning.  Anyway this analogy popped into my head.  Yes, I believe it was the Holy Spirit clueing me in.  Let me explain what I believe the verse means by using this analogy.

 

The City Slicker And The Farm

A city slicker inherits a farm from a distant relative. The city slicker owns that farm, free and clear. There is no doubt about that, he owns the farm. He doesn’t even have to pay taxes on it. It was all taken care of by his relative.

No one can take the farm from the city slicker. He doesn’t have to do anything to get the farm except to accept this wonderful free gift. He didn’t do anything to deserve the farm but thanks to his very loving and generous relative, it’s definitely his farm!

The city slicker is very excited about his new farm.  He’s telling everyone about this wonderful gift that he’s received but, alas, he’s never been a farmer before.  He doesn’t know the first thing about farming.  He doesn’t know how to use the tools and equipment.  He doesn’t know what to plant, when to plant, or how to plant. 

So, even though the farm belongs to the city slicker, he doesn’t know how to use the farm to its best advantage.  He doesn’t know how to make the most of his farm.

The city slicker has a choice. 

He can just enjoy knowing that he owns the farm or he can learn how to make the most of his new farm.  The choice is his.  Either way the farm belongs to him but if he chooses to learn how to farm, he can make the farm much more fruitful for himself and for others.

Becoming a Christian is the same way. We can choose to learn how to use our wonderful gift of salvation so that we can become more fruitful for God.  We can, also, choose to accept the gift but not dig further to understand the true meaning of God’s gift. We won’t be as fruitful and we may miss out on many of the blessings that God wants to give us.

 But we are still Christians even if we don’t unwrap all the generous gifts God included as part of the gift of salvation. A few of the wonderful gifts included under the multifaceted gift of salvation are God’s love, grace, forgiveness, an intimate relationship with him, wisdom and power to name a few. I could go on and on but time doesn’t permit it.

God in His great love and generosity wasn’t satisfied with just giving us a way to get to heaven someday.  He wanted to give us a way to overcome the world now.  So, how do we go about opening all these gifts? Through Bible study, meditation, and putting God’s words into action.

It may not always easy, but it’s always worth it!