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Posts Tagged ‘devotion’


Decisions

Image by katietower via Flickr

Have you ever really thought about the decisions you make and where they might lead? And, I don’t necessarily mean the lofty great decisions we all make and take our time with.

There’s a scene that I love in the latest installment of the Twilight movies, “Eclipse.” In it the vampires from the ultra elite Volturi are standing looking down from a rooftop at an out of control newborn vampire army. The black caped Volturi are trying to figure out when the best time for action is, with the action being either they destroy the newborn vampire army and save the Cullen family, or they let them attack the Cullen family and possibly kill them, which is what the army was created for.

Jane, who is a petite blond vampire played by Dakota Fanning, tilts her head to one side as she considers her alternatives, then thoughtfully says, “Decisions, decisions.”

One of the reasons why I love that scene is it really shows how difficult and clear-cut some decisions can be. Pick choice A and you get consequence A. Pick choice B and you get consequence B.

There’s an old saying, ‘not to decide is to decide’ and that’s how some of us live, while others make very considered decisions about pretty much everything, while others of us live somewhere in-between those two extremes of letting someone else make our decisions and making every decision ourselves.

But, no matter how we make our decisions, it seems that most of the time in our lives once they have been made, we sort of float along not really thinking about the choices we make until there’s a definite negative consequence to what we decide, and, quite honestly in most cases that’s neither here nor there. We live with our decisions and the paths they lead us on because we really don’t know any different. This seems especially true when it comes to the things of God.

How many times do we decide to do something and not think about how it will affect our relationship with the Lord? Whether or not He would like us to do it? Or, basically even consult Him on anything except what we consider the ‘big stuff”?

I’ve talked to some people, that at some points in their relationships with the Lord, literally asked Him if they should make a left turn at an intersection, or a right. Although that seems a little extreme to most of us, it does make you think about the depth of that person’s closeness with the Lord and how that affects their decision-making.

Most of the time we miss the nexus between the decisions we make in our daily lives and how that affects our relationship with the Lord. Many times our decisions seem trivial, they don’t seem to have much of a consequence either way and the asking is just a way of including the Lord in our daily lives, a way of communicating with Him. While at other times, it’s absolutely amazing the clarity of the choice that we have, either we stay in the will of God, or we don’t.

Either way it’s all about the decisions we make and whether those decisions take us closer to the Lord, or further away.

“Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ He will quickly reply.”

Isaiah 58:9a

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Heart of pearls

Image by TheCleopatra via Flickr

The word faithfulness, or full of faith, draws up a myriad of images from the well of our memories. Some of those remembrances are full of light and love, radiating hope from their depths. While others are colored gray or black as we remember times when those we trusted to be faithful were anything but.

We remember other people’s faithfulness, and other people remember our faithfulness, or lack thereof. But, how many of us take time to recall and remember how many times the LORD has been faithful to us?

There are so many times in scripture that we are cautioned and warned not to forget what the LORD has done, how faithful He is. Many times this push to remember is accompanied with the reminder of the fact that He can’t be anything but faithful because being wholly faithful is not just a part of His character, it is who He is.

Let’s take the time today to remember the LORD and His faithfulness to us, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.

“For great is His faithful love to us; the LORD’s faithfulness endures forever. Hallelujah.”

Psalm 117:2

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Shopping, some of us love it, some of us hate it and some of us really don’t think about it at all, we just do it.

The shopping experience is an interesting one, especially if you’re on a budget and trying to stretch every dollar to the Nth degree. Take clothes shopping, sometimes you just need a shirt, it doesn’t matter what color it is or what style it is, you just need it. So you go looking through the racks and find one, then another, and another and all of them will fit the bill.

But, sometimes you’re looking for something in particular aren’t you? You need a black shirt to go with whatever, and it has to be in a certain style because otherwise it won’t match. It’s that kind of shopping that is draining because no matter how hard you look, if you can’t find that particular shirt, then the whole thing has been a wash.

Then there are times when the opposite is true. You think you have a lot of shopping options, but no matter how hard you look, you always come back to the same item, over and over, and, over and over again, until at last you just give up and buy it.

Sometimes I do a little shopping when I pray, and I would imagine that you do too. We keep going back to God with a question, problem or issue, hoping He’s going to give us a different answer from the one He’s already given us, then are surprised when it’s the same.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really like leadership positions, I try to avoid them as much as possible, preferring to stay in the Shadowlands, helping out behind the scenes. So, when I was first asked to lead a Bible study group, I wasn’t too keen on the idea.

So, I went to God in prayer and got a resounding ‘yes.’ But, I didn’t like that answer, so I let it lay quietly for a couple of days and went back again half hoping He would give me a different answer. He didn’t. It was still a firm ‘yes.’ So, I left it alone for another couple of days, all the while knowing that soon I would be trying to dodge phone calls from the teaching director who needed to know what I was going to do. Again, I went to Him, prayed about it, and again got the same answer. ‘Yes.”

My shopping did me no good, which isn’t surprising at all, after all God is God and He doesn’t change His mind. But we would still like Him to wouldn’t we? We all want a god who is going to behave himself, a god who is going to see we don’t want to do something and allow us to dictate what we will or will not do. We want a god who will let us off the hook.

But He’s not like that, He loves us too much to allow us free rein, and He wants a relationship with us too much to allow us to go shopping for an answer that will please us, instead of one that’s good for us. In short, there are times when we just have to accept that He is God and He knows what He is doing, and no amount of shopping is going to change that.

“But You are the same and Your years will never end.”

Psalm 102:27

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Wait, wait, wait. It seems like we’re forever waiting, doesn’t it?

When you’re young and you’re going on a vacation, wait was a word of torturous length. How many times did you ask your parents ‘when are we going to get there?’ and depending on what type of parents you had, you got different answers,  like  ‘we’ll get there when we get there’, ‘soon’ or ‘5 minutes’. Of course, they seemed to say ‘5 minutes’ every half an hour for hours, which made it that much more unbearable.

Waiting is unbearable at times. As adult believers we are caught between asking God ‘when?’ to sitting quietly looking out the window of our lives watching the scenery go by as we go about our daily busyness waiting for God to do what He has told us He would do.

But, He doesn’t tell us ‘5 minutes’, in fact, usually, He doesn’t tell us anything. We’re just supposed to trust Him that He will do what He has said He will do when the time is right, which seems a very long time after we think it should be.

Basically, he just tells us to wait for Him.

A friend of mine recently reminded me of the Amorites in Genesis 15, who God spared because the behavior that would lead to their destruction had not reached its fullness, as in, they were given more time until that fullness of time was complete.

There’s something to that fullness of time idea.

Whenever I think of fullness, I think of a balloon being blown up. The helium is slowly added to the balloon until it can’t possibly contain any more, making it full and able to float high. Whereas, before it’s full it just kind of hangs around your ankles not doing much of anything.

In our lives God has so much that He’s adding in that we just can’t see. Maybe you’re where you’re supposed to be and He’s working with another person to bring them to where they’re supposed to be before He will bring you together for His own purposes, and maybe you’re the one that needs the work, you just can’t see it. All you can see is the seemingly endless waiting.

It’s that fullness of time thing, and God is the only one who can see it and bring it about at just the perfect time. Our job, hard as it is, is to just wait as patiently as we can, trusting God to be God and trying to understand that His fullness of time is not our own.

“From ancient times no one has heard, no one has listened, no eye has seen any God except You, who acts on behalf of the one who waits for Him.”

Isaiah 64:4

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Ah coffee, I have loved the rich dark drink since before I ever tasted it.

Growing up in a household with English parents where tea dominated supreme, I was not exposed to coffee until I was about 9-years old. My mom had remarried an American, and not just any old American an American who was raised on a farm in the Mid-West where coffee reigned supreme. I will always remember smelling that wonderful coffee aroma for the first time after our households were combined.

I could hardly wait until I was old enough to actually drink it. Since that time, many, many years ago, I have become an every morning coffee drinker, running through the different phases of coffeedom. Drinking it black; with cream; with flavored creams; then making the coffee with flavored beans and grinding it every morning. We can get caught up in our own coffee rituals can’t we?

I have even gone from grinding the beans in a grinder, to seeing the advent of all-in-one grind and brew coffeemakers which are a wonderful progression in coffeemaking ease.  Even though they are wonderfully easy to make freshly ground brewed coffee in, these coffeemaker’s have to be cleaned which if you’re not careful can be a very messy endeavor.

So, I’m cleaning out the grinding part of my coffee machine, and after so many years of doing this I’ve got it dialed in, or so I think. I take the grinder over to the kitchen sink and carefully clean out every little part of it until it’s cleaner than when I pulled it out of the box. I carefully dry it to reinsert it into the coffeemaker, which is across the kitchen, turn around and stop dead.

There is a trail of ink black tar-like blobs on the kitchen floor leading from the coffeemaker to my feet. And, it’s not a spotty trail, a little blob here, another little blob there, no, these are huge blobs of dark black. They start right next to the coffeemaker, march down the cupboard, make their way across the kitchen before they stop right next to my feet.

They were so black they looked like great gobs of oil. I stood there incredulous because I couldn’t believe that I had walked across the kitchen thinking I was containing any chance of a drip, and somehow this oil slick of a trail ended up following me. I had no idea it was there the whole time I was happily cleaning the grinder and the filter basket. I just turned around and it was there behind me, black as night.

Then I realized this is what we do all the time in our lives, isn’t it? We happily go along our way thinking we have everything contained and thankful that God has helped us clean out all our bits and bits, while there’s a huge trail of black grossness behind us that we are happily oblivious to until God points it out to us.

And what’s the next logical step? We have to deal with it, and, really, we only have two choices, either clean it up with God’s help or ignore it.

The first is a lot of work and usually pretty painful too, while the second, well, the second eventually has us living in the emotional squalor of attitudes and actions not dealt with. Ostriches with our heads in the sand while our world has blown out around us, all because we continually clean out the same parts of our lives while studiously ignoring the oil slick behind us.

Living in emotional squalor of  is not a place where God wants us to be, and because He doesn’t want us to be there we shouldn’t want to be there either. The amazing thing is that He knows what it’s going to take to clean up that trail behind us, all we have to do is go to Him and be willing to deal with it. Not only that, but the reality is that He’s right there with us, holding on to us and helping us to clean up the mess.

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6

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God is faithful.

Three little words that mean so much to us when we’re in one of those valley’s, or in-between spots or climbing up the side of the mountain. But, do we really believe them?

We say we do, but how we behave and what we do when we’re in those rough spots in our lives reveals a lot about us and what we really think about His faithfulness. The reality is that He cannot be anything but faithful. It is an integral part of who He is.

The trouble is sometimes it doesn’t feel that way, does it?

It is difficult for us in our little insubstantial vapor clouds to wrap our heads around a faithful God, a God who can’t be anything but. We experience a lot of unfaithfulness in our lives and dole out a fair share of it too.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of a relationship you look at along the path of our lives – marriage, parent, friend, relative – everyone has been unfaithful in the little things, like  an ‘I’ll call you’ that never materializes because we get too busy, a ‘we’ll definitely get together for thus and such’ only to find that months have gone by and we haven’t even seen that other person let alone thought about them, or an ‘I’ll definitely get that done so you don’t have to’ only to find it totally ran out of our mind half a second after we said it. And, that doesn’t even touch on the bigger things.

And, that doesn’t even touch on our unfaithfulness to God in the little things, those niggly detaily things, like taking time out daily to pray or read one verse in scripture. Sure, we’ll show up at our places of worship once a week, sometimes even twice, but actually taking the time to be with Him everyday? We always have an excuse don’t we? ‘I’m too tired’, ‘It’s too confusing’, ‘I don’t know how to pray’, ‘He understands’.

We all have reasons for our unfaithfulness, but they rarely add up to an excuse.

God, on the other hand is always faithful in the little detaily things, as well as the big things. Manna and quail in the desert. Clothes and shoes that never wore out. Bringing His people back to the land He promised them. Reaching out to you and not letting go.

God is faithful, what an amazing and miraculous thing.

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.”

Deuteronomy 7:9

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“You tired cheese ball?”

Such is the way that my son and his friends relate to each other.

We were driving in the big blue beast, yet again, and my son’s friend who should get frequent flier miles for the amount of time he spends going back and forth from here to there with us, was in his usual spot in the back seat.

My son was tired, but not too tired to go to youth group. So, on the way he laid his head on the center console and it was that movement that brought the concerned question from his friend who has to my knowledge never slept or laid his head down in the car, and remember I’ve spent a lot of time in the car with him.

Now, at first glance you’d think that the way he phrased the question was derogatory, but no, it wasn’t it just was the way they relate to one another. I’m sure my son is quite capable of calling his friend a cheese ball or something else just as weird if the occasion called for it.

Even though it may not be something that you, or I, would call our friend when we were asking a question voiced out of concern, it is the way they communicate, and as long as it doesn’t go over the line, which it could, it’s okay because we all relate to each other differently. I’m sure in a few years cheese ball will not be the affectionate name of the day.

It made me think depending on where each of us is in our relationship with God, we all communicate with Him a little differently, don’t we? Hopefully not with disrespect (never a good idea remember who you’re talking too) but just a little differenlty. That’s okay because we are who we are in this season and because of that we relate to Him a little differently than we may in our next season.

But, the most important thing to remember is that we communicate with Him no matter what, even if it’s as basic as basic can be and we feel like we’re not relating to Him correctly and our words are all wrong. Because talking with Him, communicating with Him is part of the foundation that our relationship with Him is built on.

“Never stop praying.”

1 Thessalonians 5:17

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