Friday, May 25, 2018

Loved by God

Since you are precious and honoured in my sight ... Isaiah 43:4 (NIV)

Loved by God
I enjoy watching sport on television and once heard a swimmer being interviewed. He said that though he spent a lot of time training, it was important to him to maintain his relationship with friends and family, because he wouldn't be swimming forever. I was pleased he realised this because so often it seems that all the athletes know is training/competing, training/competing and this becomes their whole life. When injury or circumstances prevent them from competing they are completely devastated because the source of their satisfaction and fulfilment is cut off.

Other examples of this is when a person, who finds their source of satisfaction and fulfilment in their job is made redundant. Or a person, who is totally dependent on their spouse finds themselves widowed. They are devastated.

As Christians we may feel shaken but we never need to feel devastated because of redundancy, injury or other crises. The reason is that our source of our satisfaction and fulfilment is in the Lord and not in people or circumstances.

If we were to become totally paralysed and never able to do another thing for the Kingdom of God, we would still be precious to Him. We are valued and loved by the Lord for who we are, not what we do.

Let's see ourselves from God's perspective, and know that we are precious and honoured in his sight. We are his beloved children. Accepting this truth, will enable us to seek our satisfaction and fulfilment in him. Susan Barnes

Friday, May 18, 2018

Losing Your Balance? Lean on Jesus

Losing Your Balance? Lean on Jesus
I am sitting here at the keyboard in the position of trying to go in to have a quiet time for over three hours now. I actually got to my QT place once and began praying. Then remembered someone I was supposed to write to on e-mail, which was triggered by my prayer list, and here I am back at the computer again. No, I didn’t follow my own instructions of having a paper and pen in my quiet time place to write down “distractions and things to do” for AFTER the time spent with my Jesus. Can you relate to me here, warts and all? Then I hear His whisper:

My Daughter, guard against being so easily distracted. Know that I love you and am working much on your behalf. Things aren’t often as they appear. Lean on Jesus and you’ll never be off balance for long. Know that I know and rest in that. Stand. I will, I move in perfect, harmonious timing. Be not dismayed nor discouraged. Allow Me to open and close doors. Receive My peace and joy. Delight in My world/work, wherever you are. Selah (pause and think calmly about that)

It seems like I just wrote a devotional about Mary and Martha. Lord, might this mean that I am not too tuned in yet? That I am reading and it is going “in one eye and out the other”, that I am still “Martha-ing” my way through life most of the time. Then please at least help me write addressing this occasion.

In Luke 10:40 it speaks about Martha being distracted. I know there are also places in this same Bible where it talks about Jesus loving Martha. Hum, maybe I should change my middle name from Lynn to Martha. I guess the very best thing to do would be to pray and ask the Lord Jesus to change ME, not my middle name. To help me not be distracted and going like a little ping pong ball from floor to wall to ceiling, to FOCUS and SIT. I wonder if they have obedience training school for us saints. OK. Back to Luke.

Martha was distracted by all the preparations. I can relate. Who else is going to straighten the kitchen, load the dishes and wash, scoop kitty boxes and feet those four legged furry critters? Not Mick, nope, he is off earning money to pay the bills.

Lord, I am RETIRED. How did I ever get it done when we were both working and taking care of my folks in two different facilities and their home before that sold? I am retired and seemingly having less time than I did back then. No we didn’t have teenagers thrown into the mix.

Back to Luke, Lord my sister has left me to do all the work. Well, that didn’t apply to us. My sister and her hubby had his mom and grandmother to take care of, kids and grandkids and they were working more than 40 hour weeks at jobs in Iowa.

Then my attention was drawn to Isaiah 41:10 and I think this is a rhema scripture for me having my own name, Marijo Lynn Martha, stamped upon it. It says basically that I am not supposed to fear, because God (creator of the universe!) is with me, little old Martha-y me. That He is my God, should I doubt like I sometimes do. No, I don’t doubt Him, it is me I sometimes have serious reservations about. He goes on promising that he will strengthen me and help me and uphold me with His righteous right hand. That is where the spotlight should be, not on me and my puniness but on Jesus and His victorious right hand. The right hand of His righteousness, that is quite a relief.

Moving right along we turn to Philippians 4:9 which speaks to whatever we have learned or received or heard to put it into practice (from the writer) and promising that the God of peace will be with me.

John 16:24 goes on and says that until now you have not asked anything in my name (Jesus' name) and that we are to ask and we shall receive and our joy will be complete.

Then Proverbs 3:5 comes into play next. We are to trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not to our own understanding … How many times have I thought I had it all figured out and then in hindsight saw how far off base I was, really. Marijo Phelps

Dearest Lord Jesus, I realize as I pause to pray that in writing this piece I have gotten into your Word and spent time with you. Thank you for the banquet of promises contained within those pages. Thank you that you are so creative in the ways you choose to speak life into our hearts. Thank you that right now I am purposing to stop, close the doors in my over busy mind and talk to you. And may all those reading this do the same. AMEN.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Lord, Is This a Good Time to Call?

Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. (Psalm 55:17 ESV)

Lord, Is This a Good Time to Call?
In the “good old days”, people dropped into our home at all hours of the day and night. Time didn’t matter much back then. The door was always open and the coffee pot was always on the stove. It was not necessary to make a phone call and schedule a visit. Visitors were always welcome. My family thrived on company.

Sunday afternoons used to be a favorite time for visiting. If one was absent from Sunday school or Church that morning, you were bound to get a visit (or two) from church family. It was that extra-special “helping” of love served by caring friends.

Things are different today. So many people work shift-work. Men and women of the home are usually both working. Visits must be prearranged. Phone calls are even made carefully so as not to waken a shift-worker.

It is not so with our Heavenly Father. Praise Him! He says come to Him morning, noon and evening and He will hear our voice. Beloved, He will also recognize our voice.

When I was young we used to have a “party-line” telephone. We had to be careful when we picked up the phone to see if the line was being used by someone else; and we had to courteously limit our time on the line. God is not only available morning, noon and night. His line is always open … no busy signals. He answers every caller personally; no "punching-in" extra numbers to get connected. E.J. Swanson

Father, Help me to realize that You are always available to me…all day and all night. I can cry out to You even in the midnight hour and You will hear. Truly You never leave me nor forsake me. Amen

Friday, May 4, 2018

Lord, I'm Done

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (MSG)
There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death, A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal, A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh, A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain, A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend, A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate, A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

Lord, I'm Done
Have you ever just had those times when you say, "I'm done"? A time when all the pressures of life, at that moment, have taken their toll on you and you have nothing left to give to the situation? I just recently had an experience like that. As I prayed and sought the Lord as to what it meant, I realized that it was not entirely negative. Surrender is not always bad. In fact, in our Christian walk there must be complete surrender and consecration before anything else will change. Personally, I realized that what I was really feeling and saying was "I'm tired of doing this in my own strength."

The author of Ecclesiastes had some insight to this thought process. He seemed to understand that everything (the good, the bad, and the ugly) has a purpose. Life cannot, and unfortunately will not, be a bed of roses all the time. I think I thought this kind of outlook was a lack of faith on my part; but God is showing me otherwise. If we look at the life of Paul, it doesn't take long for us to see the continual struggles in his life. He said it this way: "... {I have} been put in prison..., been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches" (2 Corinthians 11:23-28, New Living Translation).

Life was not a bed of roses for Paul. But what I love about his testimony is that regardless of all the adversities (brought against him or his own inward struggles), he never lost sight of God's grace and who he was in Christ. If we continue reading this passage in 2 Corinthians Chapter 11 and into Chapter 12, Paul goes on to say, "... I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Why would Paul boast in his weaknesses? Because when he (or we) boast in our infirmities, the door is swung wide open for us to boast of Christ, who took our infirmities. This word "infirmities" means feebleness (of body or mind); by implication malady; moral frailty (disease, sickness, or any kind of weakness).

The scriptures fully indicate that this was part of Jesus' ministry, "... thus He fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, 'He Himself took [in order to carry away] our weaknesses and infirmities and bore away our diseases'" (Matthew 8:17, Amplified).

When I resign, surrender, or in essense say "I'm done", am I not really just saying "Lord, I need your grace"? It is necessary for us to resign at times. Otherwise, we may be found guilty of taking the grace provided through the cross in vain. Whereas, we prefer to look only on the bright side of life, there are times that we must look THROUGH the hard times in order to appreciate the Light. If we look again at the words found in Ecclesiastes, this time only looking at the hard times, what will we find? There is a time "... for death ... {and a time} to plant, a right time to kill and ... a right time to destroy ..., a right time to cry... {and} a right time to lament ..., {a time} to abstain {from making love}, ... and another {time} to part {and} ... count your losses, a right time ... to let go, a right time to rip out and another to shut up ..., a right time to ... hate, {and} a right time to wage war..."

That's almost too harsh for me! But I can't continue going through life like an ostrich with its head in the sand, paying attention only to the things that are easy and fun. True growth in my life will take place when I willingly look at the hard parts and say, "Lord, I'm done." Pain can be my teacher, if I allow it to be.

Concerning these thoughts, I am encouraged by the scriptures. Jesus said, "So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:33). Paul said, "Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God)?" (Romans 6:16). The bottom line is: surrender is necessary.

The good news is that when we do finally surrender, God says, "My grace is sufficient for you." Then suddenly, through the eyes of grace, we can see the flip side: There is "... a right time for birth and ...another to reap, a right time to ... heal, {and} and another to construct, a right time to ... laugh, {and} ...cheer, a right time to make love and ...a right time to embrace ..., a right time to search and ... a right time to hold on ..., {and} ... mend, ...{a time} to speak up, {and} a right time to love {and} ... make peace." Daphne Delay