Humble Pie

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Romans 12: 3-8

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For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

The book of Romans was created as a way for Apostle Paul to speak to the Romans about what God had instructed them to follow.  Paul, or known then as Saul, was once a Pharisees, an important member of one of the societies of Judaism. Interestingly enough, he was first against Christians and especially those whom were disciples.   But by the grace of God, he was saved and now preaching to Jews and Gentiles alike.  First an opinionated, rule following, self righteous man and here in this book to the Romans, completely humble accepting his God given fate.

The amazing blessing of humility.  So few will ever attain in completeness.

I wore a really cool shirt back in third grade.  It said, “It’s hard to be humble when you’re GREAT!”  On one ordinary day I walked into this classroom and my teacher spied the words in which I forgot were even printed on my shirt.  She looked sternly into my eyes making me think I did something horribly wrong, and said, ” So, what does humble mean?” Stunned, perplexed, confused I stared blankly at her waiting for her to give me a clue to what she was saying.  No luck.  

I sit here today still wondering what that word really means.  I hear it in the quietness of the morning and night.  It rolls around allusively capturing my attention.  For so long I saw it as a weakness.  A human doormat.  A spineless way of responding with low expectations. Was this what Paul wanted for the Romans?  Did he really know it would provide greatness and amazing expectations?

Through Jesus, God has given us many blessings and one that rains true to my everyday is forgiveness of sin.  When I function in this fast paced, answer driven world, I often feel a sense of entitled emotions, justified actions, and expected recognition.  This is sin.  Plain and simple.

God wants me to serve, serve with a humble heart.  This service needs to represent beauty that looks like Jesus.  It’s working for the joy and not expecting anything in return.  The only return is bringing people closer to Him.

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

Balancing

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Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

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There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes is a book of wisdom literature in canonical (religious/important) Jewish and Christian Scripture.  It means preacher or member of assembly in Greek.  It was written in poetic style to let the reader know that life is meaningless without God.  These particular verses speak about life and what will come or has already come.  It gives you a glimpse of what every human on earth will encounter.  Like it or not.  How do we carry on?  How do we temper our insatiable appetite for more and a need for less?

As a child, I loved going on the see saw.  My friend on one side and I on the other.  Both of us happy to see how long we could keep the other high in the sky.  I learned that if I keep my legs spread when I hit the ground, I could hold her up longer.  It caused me to sit back further and then she moved forward.  I became heavier in what began as equal.  

I picture a see saw.  One side sits our challenges, regrets, and tribulations, and on the other side sits our successes and joys.  On top of the  fulcrum sits the cross of Christ; steadily balancing ever so quickly to fall.  At ground level waiting patiently in the grass ready for us to pick up are bricks.  These bricks are so nicely placed by Satan.  They have labels such as but not limited to; self confidence, hopelessness, overly active, bitterness, frustration, fun, and doubt.  This is the see saw of life.

As we go through this life of joys and tribulations, we will often grab a brick  desperately clinging to it.  If in a season of tribulation and bricks are added, we get weighed down and the cross falls.  If in a season of joy and bricks are added, then we lose the cross again.  Our center is when life with both can be balanced by focusing on completeness in Christ.

There is beauty in our lives here on this planet.  Christ has died and God has forgiven our every sin; sins of joy and sorrow.  We have the choice to pick up the cross and begin anew each day.

Jeremiah 29: 11-13 NIV

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Mirror Mirror

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Ecclesiastes 1: 1-11 NIV

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The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem:

“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?
Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

Ecclesiastes is a book of wisdom literature in canonical (religious/important) Jewish and Christian Scripture.  It means preacher or member of assembly in Greek.  It was written in poetic style to let the reader know that life is meaningless without God.  As I read line by line, I am profoundly moved by its simplicity and grandeur.  It is like looking at the stars and thinking about the universe and knowing we are just a mere speck.  It’s there simply for us to take in, but too big for our minds to even comprehend.  Are we here for a purpose, or are we just shadows drifting about leaving no mark?  

What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.

This particular verses 3-4 caught my attention and made me ponder my life as a wife, mother, daughter, and teacher.  Why do I toil over making my husband the right dinner, making sure my son has all the necessary items to start his school year, making sure my parents know I love them, making sure my students learn all the information they need to be successful?  To toil means a long strenuous fatiguing labor.  Fatigue is what I have when these “jobs” I give myself become what defines me and takes extraordinary amounts of effort, time, and thought.  Is this why I am placed on this earth?  Is this what my destiny should be?  Or is there something greater I am missing?

My legacy will come and go.  My son will carry on and what will he do?  Will he labor and toil too?  The answer lies in the following verse.

11 No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

If no one remembers the former generations and those to come, then maybe this life we live on earth is not about our image we view of our selves in the mirror.  The image we want to mold and shape to alter our hollow selves. The adjustments needed to our attitudes, relationships, and physical bodies.  Maybe our lives are here to provide what is needed to others beyond that mirror.   The life I live needs to have purpose and meaning.  To do this, I need to carry on something that was given to me as a child of God.  The gift of love, forgiveness , empathy, and grace.  

I can take these gifts and apply them to all areas I define myself.  Then as I present each one, the legacy I leave is an imprint of God.  The love of Christ carries on to each generation, and the world can then change and become new.  

Revelation 21: 3-4 NIV

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Worry Stone

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Matthew 6: 25-34 NIV

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25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew, one of the apostles, chosen by Jesus to spread Christian religion, was a tax collector.  This was not a job for the fainthearted, but those who didn’t mind stealing.  He would have been taking money for Caesar and taking some for himself.  This was a common practice among tax collectors at this time.  But when he met Jesus and witnessed a miracle, he put all of this aside and joined Him in spreading the good news.  Just amazing!

Letting go of everything you cling to and joining Jesus.  

My grandmother was known for one thing and it was commonly discussed during dinner, and that was worrying.  As a kid, I thought that it was something you end up doing as you grow old.  You just worry.  She even had a stone purchased for her from Ireland.  This stone we called her worry stone.  She would place it under her thumb and support it with her other fingers.  Then she would rub it back and forth with her thumb to take her worries away.  Her stone was practically worn so that a few more rubs and she would have had two.  

Growing up my perception was that if you worry about “it” enough you may just be prepared if that worry should happen, or worrying may even cause it not to happen.  This perception crept into my day to day living.  I would worry over guests coming and need to prepare the day before.  I would worry about others and their well being constantly.  I would worry I wouldn’t be able to accomplish a task and begin to make myself frozen in fear.  I would worry about worrying too much.  It became habitual.  

Could I let go of what I was holding on to?

I realized I was not in control and that no matter how hard I thought, pondered, obsessed, and worried, it wasn’t going to change the outcome.  God is in control and I needed faith.  The faith that Matthew had to let go of what he knew, a life of wealth stolen from others.  I can only imagine the worry he had over who would take what wasn’t his to own.  No one can take away what was given; the love of Jesus.  I need to trust that He loves me, and wants to take care of my every need.  Only then will I have peace.

Phillippians 4:7 NIV

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  

I Got This

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Psalm 81:13-14 NIV

13 “If my people would only listen to me,
    if Israel would only follow my ways,
14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies
    and turn my hand against their foes!

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Psalms are beautifully written hymns depicting different time periods in Israel.  Each psalm is placed in a book, which has a theme or message to God’s people.  Psalm 81  is God’s message at harvest or The Feast of Tabernacles.  This feast in Jerusalem was a celebration of God’s blessings on the Israelites.  It also symbolized the Exodus and how they traveled living in tabernacles or tents.  This event is a time of joy, so why did the author have everyone singing words of correction?  

As I read these words, I began to see myself in my old bedroom during my childhood.  I am fuming, and holding back anger.  Thoughts of revenge seep in my soul and I begin to imagine myself bigger, stronger, and braver.  Conversations in my head sound like, “I’m going to take up karate.  I will learn some moves.  Then I will be able to take on anyone who messes with me.  No one will ever bother me again.”  

I felt this way because I was bullied.  Kids laughed, teased and sometimes touched me to take my confidence.  This did’t happen that often, but often enough that it stripped me of my strength.  I felt inferior, weak, and afraid.  I thought the only answer was to bring brute strength to their party.

Where was God?  As an adult and faithful believer, I now see the error of my ways.  I tried to take on my enemies all by myself.  Kept it all hidden in hopes that in a simple move, I would be David and take on Goliath (without God of course).  

In Psalm 81 it says we need to listen and follow God.  That means hear and do.  The Israelites were excited about the celebration and most likely going through the motions preparing for the day.  Did they hear God?  Did they follow God’s will?  I am sure like you and I they got caught up in the feelings of excitement, stress, and duty during the preparation.  They had difficulties and arguments over how the day should proceed.  They were human and like all of us, forgot God’s message.

God is telling them if you are with me and doing as I say, then I will take on your enemies. You will not need to worry about revenge.  I got this.

Psalm 18:30

As for God, His way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.

July 22 Devotional: How To Win an Argument – Pro 15:1

This is something I needed to hear!

e-Royal


July 22 Devotional: How To Win an Argument – Pro 15:1

A gentle answer deflects anger,
but harsh words make tempers flare. Pro 15:1

This is a devotional with Pastor Royal Farris. This ‪#‎PrayTheBIble‬ devotional will post M-F ay 6:30am CST on the Life Connection Church FB page.
Please join Royal and do this together. Please share with others and your comments will be appreciated and receive a response.

I like to prepare my heart with a template of The Lord’s Prayer

Recognize God as my Father In Heaven. What do you want to say to Him this morning.
May Your name be kept holy and above everything else.
May my focus be on Your Spirit and Your work today.
Give me what I need today both physically and spiritually.
Forgive me of my sins. Point out my sins I do not see or deny.
May I forgive those who…

View original post 52 more words

Digging Holes

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1 John 2: 15-17 NIV

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15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

John wrote this letter to the Gentiles in his time because they were walking away from God and the belief in Jesus.  Modern views were entering the church and caused people to step away from the belief of Jesus and all that God had to offer.  John wanted all to know the love and light of God.

It has been a wonderful summer and I have gotten to enjoy many days on the beach.  My son loves to dig holes in the sand and fill them with water.  He usually digs holes near my chair, which is not near the water.  His frustration heightens when he runs to get water from the ocean in his bucket and fills the holes.  He watches in dismay while the water disappears.  “Where did it go?  Why won’t it stay?”  I usually shrug and tell him that sand will absorb the water quickly.

Just the other day he came to the realization that if he digs holes near the water ‘s edge, then he could have a hole of water.

This caused me to think about how I dig holes.  My holes have been people, places, things, and ideas which I depend on filling the missing places in my heart.  I at times pour all my water in a hole hoping the joy and fulfillment will come, but to no avail I end up empty.  I end up frustrated and at times confused.

When I walk closer to the living water and begin digging my holes there, I start to become filled and it stays.  The closer I walk to the water, the closer I am to God. Filled with His will for my life.

Hebrews 10:22

22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

NO!

nothanks

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1 John 5:14 NIV

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

James 4:3 NIV

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Numbers 36:6 NIV

This is what the Lord commands for Zelophehad’s daughters: They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within their father’s tribal clan.

During the time of the wondering Israelites, God listened to Moses and answered.  The answer was to their question and concerns.  It was specific to the situation, the time period of current laws and expectations, and addressed God’s will for them.  It shows us that God hears us and responds.  The answer they received is not our answer. I’m sure if we had a similar question or concern today, the answer would be totally different.

It was a slow morning and my son was sitting on his floor looking at his drawers wondering if he would get dressed.  I walked in to inspire him to get ready so that we could get going with our day.  He looked distressed and I kindly asked him to get dressed.  He turned to me and said, ” I have a question, but I’m not going to ask it.”  I looked at him confused and then he said, “I’m not going to ask it because it will be the same answer I always get.  Why would it be any different today?”

This statement made me think of how I see my requests to God.  I keep asking, sometimes get a “No!” and then just give up defeated.  Does this mean I shouldn’t keep asking?

Everyday brings a new step in this walk of faith.  God wants us to move differently every second.  His answers will be different depending on the situation, time period, and what He has planned at that moment.

Psalm 18:30

As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.

Somewhere In The Middle

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Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

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Paul writes to the gentiles of his time and wants them to realize the errors of their ways.  The world is full of sin and ways that are not meant to be followed.  He wants them to see things differently, a little more black or white.  When you see situations differently, a choice can be made.
My son attended a birthday party. A group of children were gathered excitedly around a candy claw machine.  One after another children played the machine and eating the one piece of candy it dispensed.  My son ran over to me as he waited for his turn and reported  that the candy claw machine was jammed. It was giving you as many chances as you want without paying! (Said with extreme excitement). I stopped him and asked what I’m sure was a dreaded question,”Is that right or wrong taking the candy?” He stepped back with extreme frustration written on his face. He began to mumble and changed the topic. I asked again and in a huffy voice he said, “It’s not right or wrong, it’s in the middle.”
He walked away from playing it, but made me think about my heart. How many times do I look at situations the same way. Oh, how hard it is to look through life with Jesus’s eyes.

Large Glass of Water

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Numbers 33 NIV

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33 Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. At the Lord’s command Moses recorded the stages in their journey. This is their journey by stages:

50 On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jerichothe Lord said to Moses, 51 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. 53 Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. 54 Distribute the land by lot, according to your clans. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one. Whatever falls to them by lot will be theirs. Distribute it according to your ancestral tribes.

55 “‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. 56 And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.’”

The Israelite people have been traveling for over 40 years!  Yes, forty years. I have been on this earth for forty-four years and can’t imagine constantly moving, yet I follow in their footsteps. Constant motion, always questioning, and maybe unbelieving my path.

One sunny day I sat at my serene back patio listening to the birds chirping and feeling the warm sun on my face.  My husband stepped out to say, “Hey!”, but I turned and told him how thirsty I was due to the heat.  I said, “Can I have a large glass of water from the fridge?”  He smiled begrudgingly and walked back into the house.

Five minutes later (that was a long walk to the kitchen) he handed me a small kid cup half full with luck warm water from the faucet.  Did I not say, “Large glass with water from the fridge?”  Yes, this was done with a snappy tone.  He looked at me and chimed, “Be grateful you have the water and if you drink it I will get you more.”  He then closed the door quickly so not to hear my smart response.

Funny, but this is me with God.  How often do I hear him, roll around what He said, go into the kitchen maybe become distracted or just lazy and doubting His need, half remember what was said, make up what I can remember, and then give Him what’s left.  Here God… here is what you wanted.  Oh, that’s not what you wanted, well that’s what you get, and hope you like it as I run the other way.

The Israelites followed, but doubted God the whole time wondering if He could really deliver.   If they only believed, listened with dedication and determination, they would have been in the promised land a lot earlier soaking up all of God’s love.

Let’s listen, believe, and deliver God’s will.  Then we wouldn’t need to find words to cover up the mess we made.

Daniel 9:9

9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him;