Your Blessed Work

lightstock_81604_xsmall_elizabethIt’s really easy to get mired down in the day to day work of life and lose sight of the blessedness of being called to work for the Lord. Our work differs, but whatever it is, it’s an honor to be called–to be entrusted with a job for His kingdom. Matthew Henry reminded me of this in his commentary of Ecclesiastes 1.

“…a commission is a tacit pardon. Christ sufficiently testifies his forgiving Peter by committing his lambs and sheep to his trust. “

The work He gives us testifies to our belonging to Him. That can give us great joy in our day to day endeavors. Undoubtedly, Satan wants us to doubt our happy reconciliation with the Lord and the importance of our obedience. Rejoice that we have for this moment, work to do, while it is day! We have the privilege to serve our Redeemer, the Lover of our Souls.

“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ ” John 21:15

 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” John 15:15

“And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” 1 John 3:23

 

With All My Mind

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How crowded is your mental space? It is so easy to fill quiet moments with a podcast, music, or a show.  I’ve begun to question whether I am spending so much time taking in information that I am not leaving room for my mind to ponder, to wonder, to pray, to praise, and to have the necessary space to be creative. Pondering, wondering, praying to God, praising God, and creating are all activities that a constant stream of media is slowly marginalizing in my life.

But it’s so eeeasy.

Kinda like being sedentary. It’s easy but the results are decreased health and well-being. It’s a rather fearsome thought to consider that while I may be busy on the outside, on the inside I am becoming flaccid.

Taking in information is a largely passive process. Doesn’t it often become our default activity when we find ourselves alone or bored? Media input can also fill a more insidious role when we use it to escape from real problems–which robs us of the emotional and spiritual growth that comes with working through challenges.

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  Matthew 22:37

So here’s a sobering question…. Are my media consumption habits curtailing my fruitfulness? After all, I only have one life here on earth. As the younger set like to say….YOLO. After that, I will appear before the Lord to receive from him my “due for deeds done in the body, whether good or evil.”

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” 2 Corinthians 5:9-10

I’ll never forget a plaque hanging on my neighbor’s wall when I was a child that just about made my pigtails stand on end. “Only one life will soon be past only what’s done for Christ will last.” I hadn’t really thought about the brevity of life at that point. I went home that day a more serious child.

And it’s ok to take how we live seriously, as we are told in Philippians 2.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

God has given us all good things–we need to enjoy them responsibly. Whether it’s food, sex, or entertainment, the Christian needs to bring all things under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

His Word tells us not to eat or drink in excess. It tells us sex is to be enjoyed within marriage. But what about entertainment…sports, newcasts (yes, that’s enjoyable for some of us), music, shows, etc?

I think it’s safe to say that if we aren’t finding the time to pray, meditate or read His Word, we have not devoted enough of our mental space to Him and are most likely crowding it with other things.

The key to fixing it? Ask. Ask Him where to change. Listen for the still, small voice that tells you to unplug for a while. And don’t ask like the rich, young ruler who walked away sad because He couldn’t give up what Christ asked him to.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5

My mind is pretty full…somewhat like a garage before the annual yard sale. But a few nights ago I heard a still, small voice ask me to unplug. So I did. And I heard Him, And a prayer for a friend rose from my heart. And I’m really glad I did.

 

Front and Center– Always

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Do you miss God? Sometimes He seems so far away.

How wonderful it is to know that even though we do not see God face to face now, we are before Him always–and we have the opportunity to bless him daily with our prayers. Here in Revelation the incense rises before the actual throne of God! The days can be very long and just to know that my prayers rise front and center before the Lord of all is a comfort. And what an encouragement too. My daily walks and prayers are sweet gifts to Him. And that’s pretty amazing!

“And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.” Revelation 8: 3-4

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!” Psalm 141:2

Thoughts on Prayer by Matthew Henry:

  • All the saints are a praying people; none of the children of God are born dumb, a Spirit of grace is always a Spirit of adoption and supplication, teaching us to cry, Abba, Father. Ps. 32:6, For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee.
  • 2. Times of danger should be praying times, and so should times of great expectation; both our fears and our hopes should put us upon prayer, and, where the interest of the church of God is deeply concerned, the hearts of the people of God in prayer should be greatly enlarged.
  • 3. The prayers of the saints themselves stand in need of the incense and intercession of Christ to make them acceptable and effectual, and there is provision made by Christ for that purpose; he has his incense, his censer, and his altar; he is all himself to his people.
  • 4. The prayers of the saints come up before God in a cloud of incense; no prayer, thus recommended, was ever denied audience or acceptance.
  • 5. These prayers that were thus accepted in heaven produced great changes upon earth in return to them; the same angel that in his censer offered up the prayers of the saints in the same censer took of the fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth, and this presently caused strange commotions, voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake;these were the answers God gave to the prayers of the saints, and tokens of his anger against the world and that he would do great things to avenge himself and his people of their enemies; and now, all things being thus prepared, the angels discharge their duty.

Pointing Your Compass North

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It’s true. Every day is an adventure, sometimes beautiful like a vista from a mountaintop. Other times, the trail is obstructed and we find that most of our day is spent climbing over the gnarled tree roots of our daily struggles.

That’s why the very best thing we can do every morning is set our compass afresh. It doesn’t take much to get our thinking off by a degree or two–and we all know the implications of wrong thinking can be great over time. Our own human heart misinforms us. Satan is ALWAYS waiting to misinform us. Others, in their imperfections misinform us. So there is no more important work than setting our hearts aright before we venture off on the day’s journey.

And nothing does that better than the Word of God.

It’s the beginning of a new year and the perfect time to scoot on over to your nearest Bible app and find a daily reading plan that takes you through the Bible in a year. A few months ago I realized that in the busyness of life, I was becoming rusty on my recall of certain Scriptures. Another reason to take myself back to the schoolroom.

For me, the best way to get the Word into my heart is audibly. On a walk. With my dog.

On my Bible app there is a button to press which reads the passage aloud. By the end of my walk I’m as convicted and encouraged as the Holy Spirit desires.  Sometimes I’m surprised at what details I had forgotten. Mostly, I am impressed with the awesomeness of God and find it easier to move forward in the day with the resolve to do my work well.

So find a reading plan and a routine that DAILY works for you. Below are some links to reading plans you might like. And may God bless you this New Year!!!

2017 Bible Reading Plans

You can check out plans on the “Bible” app by Life.church on your device  OR….

5 Day Reading Schedule:
www.bibleclassmaterial.com/Catalog/Mark%20Roberts/BibleReadingSchedule.htm

Ligonier Reading Plans: www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/

ESV Bible Reading Plans: www.esv.org/resources/reading-plans/

The Change Your Mind Plan: www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-to-change-your-mind1#When:08:01:00Z

God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment: jimhamilton.info/2014/12/03/read-the-bible/

Read the Gospels Every Day: www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/2016/12/19/2017-bible-reading-plan-read-the-gospels-every-day/
EBH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBC News: Tourists take Edinburgh street beggar to Sweden for Christmas

What a beautiful act of hospitality–something to help us remember that there are good people all around us. (As I write this in Uncle Harry’s Bagelry, I realize the person next to me is buying breakfast for someone of lesser means.) My heart is encouraged. I hope yours is to. Let’s pray that we see who God has for us to love this New Year.

Tourists take Edinburgh street beggar to Sweden for Christmas – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-38468558

The Lost Art Of Feasting

large_the-lost-art-of-feasting-retjrwiuArticle by

Executive Editor, desiringGod.org

 

We might suppose that overstuffed American bellies would hardly need any instruction on feasting. So many of us have grown so accustomed to having so much to eat. Then here comes Thanksgiving. Just put it on autopilot. Fasting is the discipline today that is grossly under-served; no need to consider feasting.

Not so fast. It’s true that fasting is sadly overlooked, and too often forgotten. And yet, perhaps counterintuitively, true feasting is also in decline through familiarity and lack of spiritual purpose. Most of us have never given any serious thought to what it might mean to feast with Christ-honoring intentionality.

We’ve grown dull to the wonder of ample food and drink through constant use, and overuse. When every day is a virtual feast, we lose the blessing of a real one. When every meal is a pathway to indulgence, not only is fasting lost, but true feasting is as well.

Feasting as a Spiritual Joy

The Bible is replete with the goodness of food and the holiness of feasting. God in his goodness made his creation edible. He made trees “pleasant to the sight and good for food” (Genesis 2:9), and created us to eat his world: “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food” (Genesis 1:29). Then after the flood, he extended the gift to eating animals: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything” (Genesis 9:3). But distinct from the kindness of God in everyday food is the special grace of a feast.

In the Old Testament, God structured the seasons and years of his chosen people with fast days and feast days. Then he sent his Son as the great culmination of his nation’s feasts. Now those who make up God’s multinational people through Christ are no longer under obligation to practice Israel’s ancient feasts and rituals (Colossians 2:16). They were “a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17). Christians are free to feast — or not to feast:

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Romans 14:5–6)

But what we’re not free to do is feast in a way that dishonors God. And forgetting him altogether is profoundly dishonoring. As Christians, we want to learn to feast in such a way that we’re tasting God’s supernatural goodness as we enjoy natural tastes.

Not the Same as Indulging

Feasting is not first about the food. It is foremost about the Godward celebration of some specific occasion together. Good food and drink, in abundance, come in alongside our corporate focus to accentuate the appreciation and enjoyment of God and his kindness. The heart of feasting is not the food itself, but the heart of the feasters. A true feast is bigger than the food — infinitely bigger. The center is God and his greatness and grace toward us in Christ.

For Christians, feasting is not the same as mere indulgence. There is nothing particularly Christian about eating and drinking more than usual. What makes feasting a means of God’s grace for nourishing our souls is explicitly celebrating Christ together in faith. Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Easter, a birthday or anniversary, when we feast as Christians, we celebrate the bounty and kindness of our Creator and Redeemer. Feasting in Christ is no mere physical event, but deeply spiritual.

Prepare the Way for Feasting

Good preparation for a good feast typically begins before the feast day — not only in our planning, but in our pattern of eating. When our normal daily consumption is characterized by sufficient restraint, then feasting is something we can rise to on special occasions, by faith and in good conscience, rather than being the baseline of everyday eating. If you’ve so overindulged leading up to the feast that you feel a need to count calories at the feast, something is not right. Daily restraint both keeps our stomachs primed for times of fasting (so we’re not miserably famished) and makes possible a kind of special indulgence on feast days.

But exercising self-control in eating and drinking as a habit of life is only a prerequisite to good feasting. For a big Thanksgiving dinner to honor God — and feed not only our stomachs, but our souls — we need a few simple, but significant, steps to make it holy.

continue reading here….rest of post

It’s Really Between Us and God

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Mother Teresa’s Anyway Poem

Based on a poem penned by Kevin Keith, this version resided on the wall of Mother Teresa’s Home for Children.

It reminds me that this life is essentially a journey between Christ and me. Understanding this is invaluable when we encounter nay-sayers, opposition, and misunderstanding. Or good things too…like success 🙂

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.