To Each Their Own Toil

Occupation 5.jpgGood day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

At the time of writing this devotion, I am experiencing a snow day in my school board with cancelled buses due to the cold, snowy, blowy weather out here in our rural community. After a bit of arranging for coverage by our local urban teaching staff, I sit here pondering the extent of my career and my importance to the programs and learners to which I dedicate my work day.  I find myself reflecting on such a thing after spending a weekend with wonderful friends, most of whom are now retired, except for my husband and I, and one other friend. In fact, it is this friend that has got me thinking about people’s toil, as well as, my recent readings through Ecclesiastes whose verses keep mulling around in my mind.

Let’s top up our coffee’s and I will share my thoughts…

To Each Their Own Toil

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher,“Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.” What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?… No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them. Ecclesiastes 1:2-3..11

 

A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?  Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

My toil – my work- is not overly difficult. I am not highly important, and the programs I serve would continue without me… and I am okay with that. I do not mind enjoying a snow day every now and again.

In fact, I am very thankful for my work. I am thankful for the opportunity to teach adults. I am thankful for the administration duties I have been given. I am thankful for the times I can encourage both learners and colleagues in their toil and endeavours. I am thankful for my work’s flexibility and the amazing staff that I am a part of. And of course, I am thankful for the wage I receive in order to work and serve in such a rewarding occupation. I guess you can say that I am finding satisfaction in my toil, as is stated above by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2.

occupation 7However, what about all those other jobs in the world that need to be done but that I wouldn’t want to do. What about those jobs that are in big urban, congested cities where travelling to and from work is a major part of your day and add on many hours to the work week. Or what about those jobs where you are basically on your own all day with no other person or daylight in site. Or what about those jobs that would have you managing many people and businesses, that require you to be indispensable due to the running of the businesses for consumers’ sake, where you are required to respond to emails and calls regularly, even while on vacation, because if you don’t, you could never catch up when you returned to the office the next business day.  For me, I would not want any of those jobs. I would not find satisfaction in the toil of any of them. However, someone has to do those jobs. People do do those jobs. In fact, it is the latter job that our friend, the other non-retired one, toils with.

occupatin 4As our group of four couples were preparing to head out for an evening-on-the town, I watched our friend as he finished up responding to a couple emails. Knowing the corporation he manages, I was thankful for his dedication and pride to the company, and his care and support of those he manages and serves. I wouldn’t want to be that needed, but for him, he is finding satisfaction in his toilsome labour. Yes, I know we need to think about balance in life – which is actually next week’s devotion – but he and his amazingly understanding wife make it work. She loves the company as much as he does and in their conversations, you can tell she supports him fully.

So although it may be very easy for people to judge others in the work they do or where they do it, or how much is required of them, I feel we need to give thanks for those individuals who do the work we do not want to do. We need to pray for them that they are finding satisfaction in their toilsome labour while still enjoying ‘eating and drinking’ with the ones they love. And maybe, just maybe, we could extend some people/companies some grace when things are a bit behind or overly hectic, in order to help make their toil a bit more satisfying.

Occupation 2Ultimately, Mankind has created these huge urban centres that take forever to get from one place to another, and these franchises that need to meet such high expectations from their customers – that’s you and me. So maybe next time, when we demand five star treatment and yet think to judge our neighbour because she’s walking around with a bluetooth stuck to her ear, we should think about the possibility that she may be the upper-management that the front desk clerk, to whom we’ve just made a request, has contacted in order to give us the 5 star immediate service we are expecting. Instead of judging, let’s extend a prayer on their behalf; a prayer of thanksgiving that they are doing such a job and a prayer for their personal satisfaction in their toil. We need people to toil in all god-pleasing occupations under the sun. No one toil is more precious than the other in God’s site. May God supply you with the satisfaction in all your toil. ….and Thank-you!

occupation 3.jpgPrayer: Dear Lord, may my toil be pleasing to you. Help me to see the joy and importance in my toil. Although I am serving others and at times it can be overly mundane or overwhelming, help me to see that in all my toil I am serving you. Bless my toil and grant me a feeling of satisfaction in all I do. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: Take time to think about the work and activities you have planned in your week ahead. Give thanks for them, and keep your eyes open to the blessings of contentment and satisfaction in your work. Also, as you go out and about, take notice of other people and their toil. Say a prayer of thanksgiving and God’s blessings over them as they cross your path throughout the week.

Dates

holding handsGood day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Last week we spent time together going over the order of relationships within a family: God, spouse, then children. The relationship that is the toughest for many to nurture, and easy to take for granted, is the relationship of husband and wife; one’s marriage. That is why I have come to believe that it is essential for every married couple to take time in their week do go on a date, in order to nurture and strengthen their God-given relationship.

Let’s top up our coffees and I’ll explain…

Dates

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Hebrews 13:4

 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.  Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil.  Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. Ecclesiastes 9:7-9

forever

I think most of us know that when it comes to relationships the order should be God first and children to follow, but somehow our relationship with our spouse gets misplaced. Happy, life-long marriages don’t just happen. No relationship just happens and continues without any effort on each participant’s part. I don’t know about you, but I want to enjoy my spouse and have a strong marriage, especially at this stage when my children are grown, family members are passing on, and he’s the only constant person around. Therefore, to keep a marriage strong, to keep your relationship with your spouse strong, it takes effort, intentional nurturing, and commitment.

pillow fightI remember the busyness of young children, then school-agers and then teenagers. All stages were crazy busy. In all honesty, when the children were very young, I can’t remember regular date nights out of the house, and I probably didn’t focus as much on our marriage as I could have. Although, there are two things we did that stand out to me during those times. We attended worship together on Sundays, and relaxed on the couch, once the children were in bed, in the evenings…. and believe me, I was big on having a scheduled bedtime. So at least, most Sundays and most evenings, we had some time together.

Then, as our eldest got to the age where he could oversee the others for an hour or so, we added to our schedule an inexpensive Saturday morning breakfast as our weekly date. It wasn’t a big, elaborate, expensive time away, but it was a time we both looked forward to in our week, to focus just on each other and our marriage, and it didn’t break the bank. I’m not saying that these little dates eliminated issues in our life and marriage. By no means! We have had our issues, our times of miscommunication and non-communications. However, these dates kept our friendship strong and our paths united.

happy old couplePeople change over the years and spending time with each other helps you to see and to know and to love those changes in your spouse and he/she in yours, and to continue to walk and grow and change together. Without making the effort to continue to nurture your marriage and learn of each other, it is so easy to grow apart; to think that the grass is greener and life more exciting somewhere, or with someone, else. Especially after the busyness of raising children is done, it is easy to feel like you’re left all alone with a stranger. However, don’t despair. It is never too late to get to know your spouse and begin the courting and dating all over again. And you may just find that the desires and changes you are seeking in your life, are the same desires and changes (s)he wants too. It just takes an open and honest conversation – or two or three – to share your feelings and dreams, to learn where each of you are at, and to begin to make those changes, together.

Today, take some time to reflect on where you are at in your marriage? When do/could you and your spouse schedule a two-hour slot in your week to spend together, just being together? Do you know your spouse’s most current dream or desire? What is yours? Does your spouse know this about you? Then pray that God guide your hearts to grow together in love and faithfulness towards Him, and love and faithfulness towards one another, and that he guide your conversations and activities with open-mindedness and compassion.

footprintsGod instituted marriage; the joining of one man and one woman to become one, until death. In the midst of new, young love and the honey-moon stage, marriage is easy. However, since each spouse keeps their own uniqueness, our days and life’s trail may look different than our spouse’s. Therefore, it is important to take the time to ensure you are both walking down the same path of life together even though there are two unique sets of footprints, which at times are going in opposite directions. Dates provide those times when you can both get back on the path ahead and walk side by side, together as one, as your union was created to be.

heart handsPrayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You desire to be my closest friend and my spouse to be my earthly life’s partner and closest friend. Please help me to give the attention to ____________ and our marriage that it deserves. Help me to be the spouse you so desire me to be and __________ to be the spouse you so desire him/her to be. Help us to share and listen to each other, and to grow and change together, one day at a time. Guide us this day. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: At some point this week, plan a little date. Then take some time to think about the blessings that your spouse brings to your life. At some point, perhaps on your date, share these qualities and ask what (s)he feels is his/her greatest desire at this stage in his/her life. Then share your greatest desire with him/her. If you are both open, reflect upon and share two positive adjectives to describe the qualities in the other person. Have fun!

Family – The Order of Things

Good Day Friends! I pray your week and weekend went well! Did you have the opportunity to share some of your time this past week with your parent(s): both earthly and heavenly? (An action item from last week’s devotion.)

familyLast week, I began sharing about my reflections on family. I spoke about the depth of a parent’s love for their child. Although the love of a parent for a child may be the deepest, it is not the relationship that should be the primary focus within a family.

Let’s top up our coffee’s and I’ll explain….

The Order of Things

 …A man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5

Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. Proverbs 17:6

The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them. Proverbs 20:7

At this point in my life, both of my parents are with the Lord, as well as two of my siblings. My children are grown and building their own lives and families. Many days it is just Rick and I, and I am so thankful for his companionship. However, kids youngwhen our children were young, it was easy to get caught up in the craziness of their lives and well beings. Time spent on our marriage could have easily been spent on the kids and other family obligations. In fact, some moms, whom I knew with children the same age as ours, focused strictly on the responsibility of raising their children. They felt their relationship and responsibility to their children was the top priority, and their relationship with their husband was secondary; that their marriage would ‘just happen’. Unfortunately, this way of thinking is not healthy for you, your marriage, your children, nor your relationship with the Lord. In fact, God commands us to first and foremost love and nurture our relationship with Him above all things. Then if we are married and have children, we are to love our spouses and nurture our marriages, and finally, together, love and nurture our children.

Bible with coffeeFirst of all, by personally loving the Lord first you are nurturing your relationship with Him. You are seeking His will for your life, your marriage, your spouse’s life, your children’s lives and seeking God’s guidance on being the spouse and parent He desires you to be. Your time dedicated to the Lord – devotions, corporate worship services, group Bible studies, prayer meetings or private conversations throughout the day – are all opportunities to entrust your life to Him. In this seeking, He always blesses.

couple.jpgSecondly, the commitment to marriage and family is first a commitment to God. To deny your commitment to them is to deny your commitment to God. Worshiping the Lord as a couple is so beneficial for each of you, your marriage, and your children. In so doing, you also witness to others the intimate bond of God’s grace in your own life and in your family’s life. Then, by nurturing your relationship with your spouse, you are building that bond and union of friendship and commitment to tackle whatever life may throw at you and your family. You and your spouse are on the same team, although at times it may not seem that way with miscommunication, disagreements, frustration and opposing opinions. It is actually during these times of discourse and resolve, when you and your spouse display the gifts of repentance and forgiveness; that your children observe and learn of unconditional love from an objective view point. Your relationship with your spouse and with the Lord is a witness to those around you but especially to your children. It is in these times that you are teaching them some of the hardest and most important lessons of life. Arguments happen. Sinful acts happen. But it is our response to each other in the midst of these events from which our children see and learn how to respond to similar situations in their own life.

So many people give up when things get tough in a marriage. It is easier to give up. However, by taking your concerns to the Lord, communicating with your spouse, making each other accountable, seeking help, and working through things, you are teaching your children what it means to be a Godly spouse and parent, and it involves love, grace, and in times of arguments, mercy, repentance, empathy and forgiveness. You are teaching them perseverance, self-sacrifice, and joy in the midst of suffering. There is no relationship you will have that will affect your children more than your relationship with your spouse.

disney-dinner2.jpgFinally, in raising your children, there is no better way than to know God is guiding your decisions. In those times where you fall short, He forgives you your shortcomings, and in His humility, you are able to seek your children’s forgiveness. Also, by having a united front with your spouse, as best as possible on this side of heaven, you can raise your children to the best of your combined ability in everyday tasks, as well as, raise them to see God active in your life as your friend and Saviour. There is no better witness that encourages them to seek the Lord, and walk securely in their own relationship with the Lord, than watching you quietly walking with and trusting Him daily.

Putting God, spouse, and children in their rightful order in your life nurtures and strengthens all these relationships for their good. May God bless you as you do so!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, you have given me instructions for the order of relationships in my life. You desire me to seek You first above all things, and I know that there is no better, trustworthy, faithful friend than You. Help me to grow in that trust, and to seek you throughout my day. Also, help me to love my spouse and to be his/her support and partner this day in whatever may arise. Finally, help us together, to be whom you need us to be for our children, …. and our family and friends. Guide our hearts and minds to be one with You. In Jesus’ Name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: If you currently are out of sync with any or all of these relationships, take time to reflect on one thing you, personally, can do to begin making things right. Begin with a change that involves only you. Do not force any change upon any of your family members. Right now this is between you and God, and He will affect others according to His will. Pray for His guidance as you try to make this change.

 

Parents

child & parentGood day Friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Last weekend we surprised my Mother-in-law with a surprise gathering for her 75th Birthday. It was an intimate gathering with having her husband and two children – my husband and his sister, their spouses, and those of their children that could make it, as well as Mom’s two siblings and their spouses. There were only a total 16 of us. Yes, we were few in number, as parties go, but boy was it special.

Over this past weekend, I experienced family members doing things and using their abilities to show their love to this very special woman who wears many names: Sis, Mom, Grammie, Gi-Gi, and I’m sure the list goes on and on. This family, like any other, is no extraordinary family. We all work hard or enjoy retirement, live with aches and pains, have difficult times and disagreements. We are just the average Joe family, however, this past weekend I saw a kingdom that was rich with love, joy, and care. No where on earth can a display of pure joy and celebration be as strong as with one’s ‘family’.

This unit of people called ‘family’ is so uniquely tied together with its genealogical history, shared experiences of life’s highs and lows, and personal sacrifices for the others. I believe, one’s family is the set of closest human relationships that we can have that depict God’s relationship with us, in particular, that of our parents.

Let’s top up our coffees and I’ll start sharing my thoughts…

Parents

 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.Matthew 7:11-12

Oh how parents love their children; they rejoice with them and their accomplishments, they cry with them when they cry, they cry for them when they endure difficult times, and they desire to shower them with blessings. There is no siblingsgreater love that someone can experience than that of a parent. There is the countless learning opportunities parents take to teach their children to be good citizens, to get a long with and treat well their siblings and others. Then there is the display of unconditional love that a parent gives with every stupid, unthoughtful, humanly innate sinful act of selfish disobedience that children commit, and although rightfully given consequences, they continue to be loved and supported. Finally, there is tough love; those times when parents stand back and watch their child experience something they desire, but where they will experience pain and/or disappointment, in order that a lesson is learned. Tough love is also those times when a parent must discipline and stand firm for their child’s own good.

parents

Have you ever thought about it? As a parent, have you ever thought about the depth of sacrifice you have endured for your child? Have you calculated the countless time, money and emotional sacrifice that you have spent on behalf of your child? No, because it doesn’t matter. As parents, we do what needs to be done. We love unconditionally our children.

sadThen again, have you ever thought about how much joy you feel when your child accomplishes something, or when they are simply happy. When their life is blessed, our life is blessed. Yet, conversely, when they endure pain and tough times, our hearts are burdened as if it is our own pain. I believe, there is no other relationship where the depth of this emotional transference is as deep as a parent with their child.

Finally, have you ever thought about how much it hurts when your child doesn’t come to visit you, or you don’t get phone calls, or when they can’t talk when you do call? It hurts. It hurts a lot!

There is no greater love among humans than that of a parent for their child. In the same way, our heavenly Father loves us, yet a cajillion times deeper and 100% perfectly. Even in our own sinfulness and limitations, we bless, train, care for and love our children, and we desire to share in their lives and their love. So, how much more does God do for you and desire from you, his child?

Now, let’s go over the Have you ever thought about it points by making some personal substitutions:

Have you ever thought about:

  • the depth of sacrifice God has endured for me, insert your name?
  • the countless time, money and emotional sacrifice that God has extended on my behalf?
  • how much joy God feels when I accomplish something, or when I am simply happy. When my life is blessed, God is blessed. Yet, conversely, when I endure pain and tough times, God’s heart is burdened as if it is his own pain.
  • how much it hurts God when I don’t come to visit him (in worship), or He doesn’t get calls from me (prayers), or when I can’t talk when he does call (knockings on my heart by the Holy Spirit)? It hurts. It hurts a lot!

worshipGod desires his children – you and me- to seek him, to acknowledge him as the giver of blessings, to share our ups and your downs of life, to learn of him through his Word, and to join him and his other children in worship, as one enjoys a family gathering. He died to redeem you from an everlasting separation from him, and he wants you to hold fast to the reality that Christ’s sacrifice has given you a heavenly home.

Only in the love of a parent can we come close to experiencing the love that God has for us, and it is just a drop in the ocean of the depth of love God has for each of us- for you and me. Thanks be to God for parents!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank-you for my parents. Thank-you for their love, support and (add your own personal details)…. Help me to always remember and to be grateful for all they did/do for me. Help me to take the time to show them my love and appreciation. Thank-you for being my heavenly parent; for loving and blessing me, guiding and watching over me. Thank-you for redeeming me from an eternity in hell, that my sins would have condemned me to, if it wasn’t for the sacrifice of Jesus. Thank-you for making me your child! Help be to always remember and be grateful. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection/Action: Contact your parents sometime this week just to tell them you love them and to thank them for all they have done/ are doing for you. If your parents have passed on, or if your parent(s) were not able to give you the love and support you so desired as you were growing up, know that God loves you now and unconditionally.  Go to God, lay your grief and depth of sadness and pain at being denied the personal love of a parent and let God heal you. Let him fill your life with all he has for you in Christ’s redemption. Then forgive your parent. Forgive them as a fellow sinner who had/has struggles and burdens of their own that enveloped them and kept them from being whom they needed to be for you. Finally, if you are the child that is caught up in life that keeps you from personally acknowledging your love and care for your parents, first turn to your heavenly father. Seek him and a change of heart. Then, do one thing – phone, text, email, visit, etc.- to show your love and gratitude for all your parents did for you growing up, and be their friend.

 

OUR BODIES

strong bodiesHello Friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Well, we are now two weeks into the new year resolutions. How are you doing? For many people, including Rick and I, the new year brings in a re-commitment to getting back on track with our food intake and exercise routine. For us, the first few months of the new year is a quiet time. It allows us to refocus our efforts after the busyness of the last few weeks.

Although making efforts to eat healthy and exercise are very good activities to have in our life, we can have very unhealthy attitudes towards our bodies, especially females.

Let’s top up our coffees and chat…

OUR BODIES

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16

In 2016, during an attempt to become motivated to lose some unwanted pounds, a group of us joined forces to become a weight loss support group for each other. We were joined together as a group of girlfriends on Facebook. During one of the initial posts, one of the members and dear friend posted the following which really has stuck with me. To this day it refocuses my thoughts when I get down on my physical self. It read:  You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:20 AMPC- Amplified Bible Classic Edition)

stainless-images-117705This passage, has made me reflect on how hard women are on themselves and their bodies. We are never happy with them; we constantly complain about one body part or another, we compare ourselves to the next person; and the almighty scale and mirror determine the extent of our joy in a day. This mentality and attitude is so wrong! I don’t know why we do it, but it needs to stop. Not only is this type of attitude calling God a liar; that He didn’t know what He was doing when He made each of us to be unique in attitude, abilities, desires and physical features, but it also allows Satan to have power over us in our day. He is sucking joy from us! Satan is playing with our thoughts and feelings by making us feel like blobs with extra width here or a thick roll there or saggy skin her with cellulite there, and these feelings allow us to feel worthless, ugly and unlovable. We can’t give him the power over who we truly are; uniquely hand crafted and dearly loved by our Creator and Heavenly Father!

peacock.jpgThe reality is that our bodies are blessings from God Himself; special one-of-a-kind gifts! We – you and me- were fearfully and wonderfully made, each and every unique feature of us. Then if that weren’t enough to feel special and dearly loved by the Lord, He came in the form of flesh and blood and willingly  sacrificed his own body for you and me so that He may have us spend eternity with Him. Therefore, although we are not perfect with how we treat our bodies due to our own sinfulness and the sin in this world, we need not lose sight of the reality that we are beautiful, and worthy, and loved dearly just as we are.

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This is a picture of some of the group. I didn’t have a photo with all seven of us.

As I reflect on each of the gals in our little weight loss group, I don’t see what we each feel. I see amazingly loving, caring, uniquely gifted women; I see their smiling, laughing, goofy-expression faces, and I feel the warmth of my heart as I think about them. Therefore, although it is not wrong to acknowledge when you need to be a little self-disciplined and get back on track with your food intake and exercise routines, may your thoughts not be ones of hatred towards your body, but of self-sacrifice and thanksgiving to the One who knows you better than you know yourself. The important thing is to acknowledge your body as God’s temple and honour it and treat it well, so that you can be as healthy as you can be internally – with the understanding that this ‘healthy’ will look different for everyone on the outside. Finally, remember…. You are loved! You are beautiful!

peoplePrayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Please forgive me for the feelings of disgust I have, at times, of this body that you formed, and for not treating it as your temple. You know every hair on my head. There is nothing that I am that you didn’t create. Thank-you for sculpting me as your creation and calling me your own through the shed blood and sacrifice of Your Son, my Saviour – Jesus. Give me the wisdom and willpower to treat my body well by the food I take in and the activities I participate in. May my body, through all I say and do, lead people to know You! In Jesus name I pray. AMEN

Reflection: If you have considered part of yourself less than desirable, give those feelings and thoughts to the Lord in repentance.  Present these aspects of yourself to Lord in prayer and thanksgiving and ask for contentedness and thankfulness, and the ability and wisdom to care for these areas as his temple.

Initiation

Good day Friends! I pray your first week and weekend of 2018 went well in God’s grace. Did you try to out give the Lord this week? (A challenge I presented last week.)  Well have fun with that! … and let me know if you succeed or not.

For this week I got thinking about clubs, gangs, etc. and the initiation tasks some groups require members to do. Have you ever thought about all the things people are willing to do to be initiated into a group or organization? It amazes me what people will do to belong to something they feel is important.

Let’s top up our coffee and I’ll share…

Initiation

wash

So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” But Naaman went away angry… Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. Kings 5:9-11a, 13-14

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:17-18

outhouse

For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Act 13:47

When my niece and God-daughter was dating her husband, his family had a ritual of initiating people into the family. The initiation task she was required to perform in order to show her desire to belong and her commitment to the family was to do a headstand over the toilet bowl. This she did for the sake of her relationship with the love of her life. This is such a cute story, but it did get me thinking…

What is God’s initiation task of us? Is it not simply to believe on Jesus Christ as our Saviour. To go to him and repent of our sins, of which he knows anyways. To give him our guilt. To love one another. To show commitment to our relationship with him, are we not simply required to lean on Him and to give Him our burdens? How simple is the request God has given us to belong to Him. In fact, He has done all the work. He has done it because He considers us- you and me- worthy of salvation!

And yet, so many turn their back on Him. Despite their loyalty and willingness to do ‘out-of-this-world’ stuff, they are not willing to take hold of the greatest ‘club’ ever!  Over the years, I have learned of many reasons why people are resistant to come to Christ…

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…But no matter the reason, I do know that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ, and nothing that a person has done or not done can change that. As long as they have breath in them, they can take up his initiation task to believe on Jesus as their saviour. Ultimately,  the reality is that eventually we all will be faced with the reality of the frailty of this life.

Thanks be to God, that He is patient and faithful! Pray for those precious souls in your life that can’t seem to take up God’s initiation task to follow Him; to believe that Christ took upon Himself the punishment I, we, they deserve in order for us all to be redeemed from our sins and to belong to God now and forever. He did it all! Be his light that shines his love and forgiveness in their lives. Pray that their hearts are softened to simply receive the gift of eternal life and an immediate relationship with the Lord!

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes on Him shall have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please be with those people in my life that seem to be resistant in taking up the challenge of acknowledging Christ as the one who has suffered the due price for their sin and lives to bring peace, love and salvation to their lives. Soften their hearts to receive your gift of faith in trusting that Jesus fulfilled the greatest initiation task on their behalf. Help me to live in His love; He in me and I in Him. Help me to be whom you need me to be for these and all people you place in my path. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: Think on all the different forms of initiation you have heard people do, or have done yourself. How did the anticipation of the initiation process make you feel? Now, reflect on the tasks that Christ requires of you to be a member of His family. Compare any of those human initiation tasks with the tasks that God requires. Give praise to God for His great mercies that He bestows upon us and the simple gift of faith. Now, list those souls in your life that do not believe that Christ paid the price and won salvation for mankind. Pray for these people and yourself. May you be his voice to share the hope of eternity when these people ask, even if is in their final earthly days. Trust that God is faithful!

Happy Hope-filled New Year!

2018Happy New Year Friends! I pray this past week has been filled will blessings for you and your loved ones!

2018: a new year, a new start, a new and long awaited change. For many, a new year brings about a hope for newness in their life. I have spent many a moment reflecting on the meaning and purpose and blessing that ‘hope’ is in one’s life. For some, hope is just filled with question marks and a feeling of defeat. For example, now is a popular time for people to start a new fitness schedule or diet in hopes of becoming more healthy. Others may hope for an engagement or a particular job or retirement or a positive diagnosis or…and the list goes on and on. However, hope doesn’t have to be endured with the uncertainty of the unknown and the expected sadness of defeat. Hope can be enjoyed with anticipation and trust, and the thankfulness of the high one feels during the process of attaining a long awaited goal.

I enter ‘hope’ with such joy now, but it was a lesson I needed to learn. Top up your coffee, and I will share…

Happy Hope-filled New Year!

“‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! …For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Matthew 25: 21..29

…We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,who has been given to us. Romans 5:3b-5

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

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When my husband and I, while engaged, were looking for our first home together, we viewed an apartment that was absolutely perfect. I loved it! We filled out the application with such great hope and anticipation that we would get this lovely little residence as our home. I prayed and prayed and prayed for God to bless us with this apartment. After waiting to hear from the landlord, for what seemed like eternity, we were told we didn’t get it. I was crushed, to say the least. Rick encouraged me to trust that God had a better place for us in mind, but I couldn’t see how there could be any place more perfect. However, I believed that God had heard my prayers and that he was faithful in answering prayers. It was the first time I began to think that maybe I don’t know what’s best for me. In any case, we continued to look and look and look. Finally, we came across one in an even better location for us, at an even better price, and, by the grace of God, this wonderful little apartment became our first home.

After we were settled into our new little home as Mr. and Mrs., I couldn’t help but reflect over the whole process that we went through to find this perfect little place. Although there was a great let down following the rejection of that first apartment, I couldn’t help but acknowledge that God guided us to a place even better. Had we took that first place I had fallen in love with, we would have never known about, nor experienced, the wonderful home and memories in our beautiful, little apartment that worked perfectly for us. Also, I reflected on the days of joy-filled anticipation while we awaited the news of acceptance. Yes, the rejection was sad, but the days of anticipation leading up to that was exhilarating. The whole journey, with its highs and lows, knowns and unknowns, became an opportunity to dance with God as he led and we followed. He knew what we needed even more than we did, and we took the whole process to him in prayer. We learned that God is faithful, whatever the end result.

mountaintopOver the years, I have experienced the let down of certain things that I have put my hope in, but I have also come to thoroughly enjoy the ‘high’ I feel while anticipating the outcome and the length of time that passes while in that feeling of euphoria which only brings me closer to God’s final outcome. Following that ‘high’ if the hope doesn’t become a reality and I must begin the search all over, I have come to trust that God is continuing to mold me and guide me to something better. I have learned that I do not necessarily know what is best for me, but God does. I can move forward but if God closes a door, I trust it is for my own good and the good of my family, and we will be where we need to be according to his will for our lives. He loves to bless his children, and bless them abundantly.

For God, it is not the outcome he desires from us, it is our relationship and trust in him that he cares about; it is the trusting him, learning from him, seeking him, that he loves, and it just so happens he continues to enjoy your company and obedience and trust by bestowing blessings. I have heard it said, and believe it to be true, that ‘you cannot out give the Lord.’ In other words, the more you sincerely, truly give your life to him, he will bestow greater things to you. It is like the parable with the words of the master to his servants, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! …For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” (Matthew 25: 21..29)

With all things we hope for, there is a process, and I have come to see this process as a blessing, as well as, a time where my life is fully in God’s hands and the final outcome is his call. I cannot depend or trust in my emotions or try to manipulate the circumstances, as I walk forward through the doors he opens. Eventually, I will be where I need to be and it will be good. No questions! No regrets! Not to mention that no matter what happens, I know that he has already taken care of the final goal of my life – a life with him for eternity, and that is a hope of complete certainty!

May your year ahead be one of complete trust and desire to seek Him and his ways.

Prayer: Dear Lord, You know me better than I know myself. In all that lies ahead this year, help me to trust you to guide me to where you need me to be. You know my hearts desires and I lay them before you. Thank-you for your faithfulness and grant me the patience to walk humbly by your side as you answer my prayers and lead me, even if it means you are calling me home to you. Help me to do this with all certainty and assurance! In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: May your resolution be to try to ‘out give’ the Lord. Try it. I dare you!

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Happy New Year..

May God’s grace and peace be yours today and throughout 2018!

Ready or Not…

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Merry Christmas Friends!

I pray your week and weekend went well, and that you are able to enjoy this most precious day, as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour!

Were you ready for Christmas day? Did you enjoy the advent season in preparing yourself and your home for today? Well, whether you did or not, Christ has come!

 

 

 

 

Yes, CHRIST HAS COME! This is a most profound event for mankind, for you and for me. For it doesn’t matter whether you were ready or not, Christ has come. He has come into all of our unpreparedness, our messy relationships, our fighting, our grief, our pain, our emptiness. Don’t you see: it doesn’t matter if you are ready, or if everything in your life is perfect. He still has come to love you, to forgive you, to heal you, to help you, to guide you, and to be your Saviour! So, let go of all worry, grief, pain, and chaos, and rest in him. Confess to him your guilt and sins, worry and pain, and let his forgiveness and renewal, peace and love wash over you… whether you’re ready or not.

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For to [insert name here] a child is born, to [me] a son is given, and [all my sins] will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (paraphrased from Isaiah 9:6) [He was born for me.] For, God so loves [insert your name here] that he gave his one and only Son, that [because I] believe in him, [I] shall not perish but have eternal life. (paraphrased from John 3:16) [Therefore I shall] come to [baby Jesus], weary and burdened, and [he] will give [me] rest. [I shall] take [his] yoke upon [me] and learn from [him], for [he is] gentle and humble in heart, and [I] will find rest for [my] soul. (paraphrased from Matthew: 11:28-29) Thank-you Lord Jesus!…AMEN!
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The peace of CHRISTmas be yours, dear friends, today and always!

Fair and Just

Good day Friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Christmas giftI have always enjoyed purchasing Christmas gifts for my family. Like any parent, I always have tucked away the thought that I should spend close to the same amount for each child in order to be fair. Although I do consider that to a certain extent when it comes to Christmas gift giving, I have found that life does not work that way. This sense of fairness and justice is something of a quandary these days.

Let’s top up our coffees and dig into this a bit….

Fair and just!

For gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair. Proverbs 1:2-3

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

christmas, dan bday, cuba 036My youngest son has always had a very strong sense of ‘fairness’. I remember, when he was in elementary school,  meeting with him and his teacher(s) because he stood up against someone who did not act fairly, even if that person was the teacher. His actions didn’t go over very well at times.  I learned by the senior elementary years to be proactive and to meet with the teacher at the very beginning of each school year. This meeting allowed me the opportunity to give a brief overview of my dear son, in order for the teacher to have a better understanding of who he was and where he was coming from. For the most part, it did help, and certainly opened the door for those teachers to feel free to communicate with me – at times quite regularly – to share something else he did or said, and whom he stood up for. Each time allowed us the opportunity to dissect his actions and review their appropriateness. Although it put him at odds with others in authority when he was younger, my son’s sense of fairness has attributed to him becoming a man of integrity and quiet wisdom.

referree fairness.jpgGod too has a deep sense of fairness. He is the perfect referee, and ultimate judge. He doesn’t show partiality. He expects obedience. He desires us to obey him and to trust him, even if he doesn’t tell us the whole story, or if we feel like we are walking with a blindfold on, or even if obeying him means we have to give up something we really want. What we might consider fair must first be weighed against the Ten Commandments and God’s truth. However, in so many ways, society has lost these guidelines for fairness.

headstonesGod’s fairness goes hand in hand with him being the ultimate judge. In fact, in his perfect judgement, God proclaimed that sin deserves death. Sin is serious business. God hates sin. Sin separates us from God. To be the perfect judge with ultimate fairness, we should not have any right or access to God. We are dead in our sins, and he holds us accountable. He requires sins to be punished and paid for. Oh how our justice system pales against God’s, where God’s laws – let alone common sense- are thrown out the window, and where no one seems to need to be accountable.

at the crossDespite what man’s justice system pronounces, God proclaims punishment for sin and he doesn’t let it slide, and that is exactly why Jesus had to be born. God knew we couldn’t be perfect and he knew his penalty for sin. So he sent the only one who could bear all those sins and pay the terrible penalty – death- for them, God himself. Was that fair? It may not have been fair for God, but it was more than fair for us. It was the ultimate act of grace, mercy and justice. Why? Because of his love for us, for you and me.

So, let’s not look at the next person and say that’s fair or not fair. All we can do is look at ourselves and our own personal relationship with the Lord, know his will, pray for his strength and guidance in all we say, think and do, and hold fast to that saving ransom that Christ made on our behalf, and give him thanks and praise.

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So this Christmas, even if you don’t get the gift you want or think you deserve, just remember that in Christ, you got way more than you ever deserve!

Prayer: Lord, thank-you for sending Christ to stand in my place at the judgement seat where my sins condemn me. Please forgive me and wash me clean. Help me to see the seriousness of sin and how much you hate it. Help me to walk in your ways, and that all I do is pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: Have you ever felt like you were being shafted; someone wasn’t ‘playing’ fair? How did you respond to the situation: with rebellion, with grace, with revenge, with mercy, or did you give it to the Lord? How did you feel after all the transactions transpired? In any case, give these situations to the Lord. Ask him to guide your responses towards others, but also to have the courage to be accountable for your own sinfulness. Finally, trust that God is guiding you for your good, and that in all things he is the ultimate judge of what is fair, or not.

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