Choose Wisely When Sitting Under a Tree

In chapter 13 of 1 Kings a prophet, a man of God, is sent to King Jeroboam in Bethel, to deliver a message of future doom for his reign as King.  God gave explicit directions on how the prophet would carry out and deliver the message. “He was commanded by the word of the Lord; “You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.”  Having delivered the message as instructed he now leaves the city via a different route, than which he came.  So far so good… ahh, but wait. Along the way the man stopped to sit under an oak tree.  An old prophet from the town, having heard all which took place between the man and King Jeroboam, now seeks to find the man of God.   Spying the man of God sitting under a tree, the old prophet asks, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” “I am”, he replied. “Come home with me and eat.” said the old prophet. “I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. I have been told by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.’ ”  The old prophet replied, “I too am a prophet, as you are.  And an angel said to me by the word of the Lord: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’ ” (But he was lying). The man of God went back with the old prophet to his home and ate and drank.

Oak treeHow many times have I known what God called me to do through prayer or His Word? How many times have I known, yet, let other things draw me away. Wouldn’t God have told the man of God of his change in plans? Yet, he does not inquire of God. He believes the old prophet and listens to the wrong voice. Perhaps the man of God is tired, and hungry; in a vulnerable position as he sits under the tree. Being unaware of his vulnerability he succumbs to the old prophets temptation.

The man of God had accomplished what God had called him to do. He had delivered his message, he had not eaten or drank and was returning via a different way. Here’s the wow… the task was not complete. He had not arrived back at his starting point; home. How many times after the initial victory do we say ahhh it’s done, when the task is not completely finished?

Is it possible the outcome could’ve been different? Had the man of God not stopped to rest under the oak tree, if he’d been advancing forward to the final destination as God directed, the old prophet might not have found him.  Or, he might have met the man of God well fed, his thirst quenched, at home safe and secure in the knowledge he had completed his task successfully.

boy with hands over faceMany times, just like the man of God, I get the first part of a calling by God accomplished; then I take a slight detour (I rest under a tree). I allow temptations to distract me. I listen to wrong voices. Before I realize it, I’m on the wrong path with the instructions of the Lord a faint memory.

Is there something in your life God has instructed, or is calling you too do? Are you working towards its completion or sitting under a tree?  Are you listening to the wrong voices? In the story above, the man of God paid for his disobedience with his life. Jesus ushered in a new era. Therefore we have forgiveness, grace and 2nd chances if we confess our sin (yes it’s sin) and then choose to get back on track.

Personally, I’ve had to confess my getting off track.  God has forgiven my disobedience. The question is, “Has my opportunity to accomplish what He called me too no longer an option”?  I pray it’s not too late.  Don’t let it be too late in your life.  Get back on track.  The continuing journey is only a prayer away.

Until next time
Be Encouraged

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Last Words

“How would you spend the last 24 hours of your life?”  I suspect in a flurry of activity, trying to put final wishes in order for loved ones. Jesus in his last hours, with his ticking clockDisciples, shared a meal together; a humble, tender teaching moment through a group activity; followed by walk through a vineyard which culminated in the Garden of Gethsemane. The following excerpts from chapters 13-17 in the book of John tell of those precious last hours.

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he (Jesus) now showed them the full extent of his love.  He and the Disciples are gathered around the table to enjoy a meal (known as the last supper). “The meal was being served. Jesus got up from the table, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that he poured water into a basin and began  to wash his disciple’s feet, drying them with the towel he had wrapped around his waist”. The very Son of God with complete humility and love washes his friend’s feet. (Those feet were yucky, dusty, stinky and sweaty from walking around the dirt covered roads and paths all day for sure).  You can feel the tenderness in the moment. Jesus washes all the disciples feet; including Judas’ whom he knows is about to betray him. Imagine loving your enemy as completely as you love those whom you adore. Jesus models love through humility; expecting we too will show the same for others.

Seated back at the table Jesus prepares his Disciples for life without him. My children, I will be with you only a little longer.  You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” “Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will the last supperdo even greater things than these…”   “I will not leave you as orphans…”  “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you”.  Jesus reiterates, “Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.”

The evening meal complete they leave the upper room and head to the Garden of Gethsemane. The conversation continues. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” My command is this; Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this – that he lay down his life for his friends. All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.  I tell you the truth; you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.  You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. Now is your time for grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. The Father himself loves you because you have loved me and believed that I came from God. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

They come to a vineyard and Jesus chooses this moment to illustrate a beautiful word picture. Place yourself in the moment. Picture the vineyard. Feel the cool, crisp night air; the smell of the earth, moist and fragrant with the scent of grapes.  Hear the silence, as conversation has ceased momentarily. See  Jesus as he reaches out, carefully lifting a branch laden with grapes. Hear his voice, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  Remain in vineyard in bible timesme, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. I am the vine you are the branches”. Jesus wanting the Disciples and us today, to understand the key to living without his physical presence, is to abide in his Word; staying forever connected to the one true God.

Having reached the Garden of Gethsemane, conversation between him and the Disciples is all but complete. Jesus prays!  1st he prays a prayer of surrender asking that God would be glorified, through the events which will soon unfold. Jesus is about to fulfill God’s ultimate purpose and his destiny. 2nd He prays for his Disciples . 3rd he prays for all believers. In these prayers the heart of Jesus and God the Father are revealed.

I hope you will take time to read all the chapters from which these excerpts were taken. They are beautiful and tender, filled with concern and passion for those whom Jesus loves.

You know you are about to die and time is of the utmost importance. What would you share?  How would you prepare your loved ones to carry on without you? What words, last instructions, would you give?

Until next time,

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Prayer Today Affects Tomorrow

Past Blog Friday. This blog was written 2 years ago today. Hope you enjoy.
Feel free to share if you enjoy.

Through the Bible Together

The Temple’s complete and the Ark’s resting in its place of honor. What a glorious day for the chosen people of God.  In celebration King Solomon prays a prayer of dedication.  There’s much to consider in his prayer.  For today let’s focus on 1 Kings 8:33-34 and 46-53.  (I have not included the whole passage due to space limitations – I encourage you to read all of the passage). Solomon prays, “When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and confess your name, praying and making supplication… then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people…. And if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive… then from Heaven your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea and cause…

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Prayer of Agur

A great reminder – Originally written June of 2011 – Timeless nevertheless.

I found the heart-felt prayer in chapter 30 of Proverbs inspiring.  “Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or, I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God.”  A model of prayer I should pray every day.  Agur states in verse 3, “I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One”, yet he prays to be neither rich nor poor; to have what he needs – nothing more – nothing less.

A man who does not know God prays a prayer which makes a woman who does know God a smidge uneasy. Let’s be clear, that woman’s me! I have no issue praying for neither riches nor poverty; that’s easy. Praying, “I have simply what I need”, brings uncomfortableness. The Proverbs 30-8uneasiness comes from wondering will God and I agree on what’s sufficient for my daily needs. The truth is I have an abundance of food and material goods; everything I need. That being the case I must ask the questions, “Why would praying this prayer make me uncomfortable”?  I’m uncomfortable because abundance has become my norm.  No, I’m not wealthy in the least, however, by poverty standards, I am extremely rich. There-in lays my uneasiness. I need to learn contentment in all circumstances, like the apostle Paul who stated, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12

Bottom line it all comes down to 3 things:

  • Trusting that God will supply all my needs Philippians 4:19
  • Trusting God loves me beyond measure. That he desires todo immeasurably more than all we (I) ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (me) Ephesians 3:20
  • Believe God wants only the best for me Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

I have some heart work and praying to do…

Until next time,
Be Encouraged,

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Time to Revisit Covetousness

Recently, I did a word study on a word not often used in today’s vernacular; the word “covet”.  Why a word study? Good question. While chatting with a friend, I shared my desire for life to be different. “I find myself watching others”, I told her. “As I observe people older than myself, who appear to have good health and the ability to move about freely, accomplishing with ease what I now find difficult or impossible, I find myself wishing for what I no longer possess”. I went on to say, “I know in my heart-of-hearts its sin, but what sin?” “Jealousy”, she asked? “No, I’m not jealous or envious of them; I simply wish I had what I once had. I expected life at this age would be different”. We’d been chatting for about an hour when she says, “Sandra, are you coveting? Is that what you’re doing?” Her question stopped me dead in my thoughts. Coveting? Now there was a new thought… “Hmm, I don’t know, I said; maybe. Not sure what it means to covet”. Well my friends, I’m guilty of coveting.

To covet: 1 – to desire what belongs to another, inordinately (beyond what is usual, normal or proper) in essence, to be fixated upon. Nope that one didn’t fit. 2 – to wish for, to yearn earnestly. The word yearning hit me between the eyeballs. Yearning … an intense desire to have something which one has typically lost or become separated from. In my case, the loss of health and the inability to do that which I once could do in the same way, etc. Oh my! That one fits.

Why does God warn us against coveting? When we covet we ignore the blessings and gifts God provides for his children. Using me as an example: When I’m wishing to turn back the clock to a time when I had fairly good health and I could walk with ease; no broken bones, no back issues, etc., I’m saying to God, “You’re not taking care of me as you promised”. “God, your provision isn’t good enough”.  I’m behaving as God’s chosen people, the Israelites did. They pined for what they once had; appearing to have forgotten God rescued them HealedWheelChairfrom cruel captivity and slavery. They’re so busy wanting the past they’re missing the promise of the future; the land of milk and honey where God was leading.

I really am grateful for all the Lord has done in my life and for the many blessings he has provided. I have no desire to follow, to be like, the Israelites. If you recall they ended up wandering in the desert for 40 years for their lack of appreciation and there covetousness of the past. May I learn from their sin, confess my own, ask for forgiveness and become the grateful, appreciative child I know God created me to be.

Perhaps it’s time we as a people revisit and examine our lives in light of the word, covet. I know I shall.

Until next time,

“And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness,  for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Luke 12:15

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A Heart Set on God

2nd Chronicles 12:14 states, “He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD.”  I did a word study on the phrase, set his heart on.  “To set one’s heart on something means: to desire it so much that not receiving it will “break your heart” (cause your feelings to be hurt so badly, you’re undone emotionally; undone to the point of crying, sobbing, and losing the ability to function)”. Did this verse convict my lackadaisical attitude… you bet!

I have a strong desire to seek God. Yet, from the above definition, I’m missing the mark by quite a lot. I’m not quite set on seeking God. My heart does not break. Often, I don’t even give God a second thought.  I simply go about my day and do what I do without much thought towards Him.  Seeking God cannot just be something I do when I find myself faced with an insurmountable situation. Seeking the Lord needs to be a way of life. My heart should break at the mere thought of a day without Him. I love that the definition says you are emotionally undone to the point of crying, sobbing and losing the ability to function.  In my life, let me tell you, that definition is a good one. When I do not seek Him moment-by-moment, when my heart is not set towards God, that is exactly what happens. I find myself emotionally undone, crying easily, more fearful and not functioning well.

Gold nugget 2It’s amazing how much smoother life goes when my heart is set right. In others words living life with an eternal perspective with my heart set on God, in all things and in all ways. Much as a person seeks and searches out treasure should be my thoughts and actions. My relationship with God is a treasure and I should treat it as such. After all it is what I prize most.

My heart aches for more of God in my life. The answer to my aching heart is found in the above verse. Now I ask the questions: What does a life look like whose heart is set on seeking God?  What will my life look like – how would my life change if I truly set my heart on seeking God, day to day, moment by moment?

Thoughts and questions to chew on today!

How about you? Have any thoughts on the subject?

Until next time
Be Encouraged

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Pity-Party to Praise

As promised another of my fav’s. This one was written two years ago, today. I am happy to report I’m doing better in the whining stage of life. Sadly, I still have some growing to do and often wonder will I ever become the grateful person I desire. You know, the one who sees the glass 1/2 full…. Enjoy.

Typically I save these more personal posts for my Reflection’s blog.  Today I felt led to post this one here; I hope you enjoy.

I’m tired of growing benign little annoying bumps (don’t ask) and weird dermatological anomalies. I’m tired of this whole aging process. I’m tired of hot flashes, night sweats and everything which goes with this season of life. I am tired of blood tests which come back abnormal. I’m tired of limited mobility. I’m tired of aching bones and joints just becauseIn a mood I’m getting older. I don’t like being on a first name basis with doctor’s and specialists. I’m tired of my energy expiring before the tasks of the day are done. I sure could use a few more hours each day too – I don’t get things done as fast as I used too. I’m tired of persistent dust, you know, the dust which reappears 10 minutes after you got rid of it. Why do I bother? I’m tired of never ending stuff. Seems like I’ve been downsizing forever. I’m tired of triple digit heat and no rain. I’m tired of the neighbors who feed the birds, which bring the pigeons who think my fountain is their bathtub. I’m tired of dust storms which make my patio uninhabitable. I’m tired of being undisciplined, both in my writing and eating habits. I’m tired of ______________, I’m tired of ________________, and the list goes on. Finally, I’m tired looking at this list.

Ever felt this way? Ever felt like life was simply hopeless, routine and without any merit? Do you just want to scream sometimes? Well as you can see, you are not alone! Life often gets us down, throws us curve balls, comes too fast, and lets us down. When this happens we do not have to be left without hope. We do not have to stay in the boat of “overwhelmness” to be tossed to and fro by the waves. In recent years, I’d have sat on the boat whining and crying, overwhelmed, wanting someone to rescue me. I’ve since learned I have control and choices in my life. I can choose to have a pity-party or I can choose to go to the Lord praising Him with a heart of gladness; changing my focus from the have-nots to the blessings. It’s not easy some days.

Changing the voice which says I’m tired of  _____ to the voice which says I’m thankful is powerful and well worth the effort! For example: when my body grows bumps and develops weird dermatological anomalies, or when my blood tests come back abnormal, I can say, “Lord, I am thankful and filled with gratitude you’ve provided me with doctors who know me by name, have great skill and who I trust. I’m thankful these tumors and such are nothing more than benign little nuisances.” “Lord, being in this season of my life brings a few challenges, but I am grateful for the opportunities, as I maneuver the aging process, to share with others what I’m learning. Yes, I have limited mobility, aching bones and joints; the good news…. I have mobility in spite of my physical limitations. I’m extremely grateful for your miraculous healing! I suspect without those limitations I would move at a fast pace leaving you in the wake of all my activity.” “I thank you that through many trials and situations I’m experiencing your faithful provision, fountainintervention and healing.”

“As for the dust and the birds… Lord, please forgive my ungrateful attitude. You provided my hubby and me with a wonderful home and great neighbors. Living in the desert I yearn for the ocean; you provided my fountain.  Here in the coolness of the morning I enjoy the sound of rushing water and my soul is refreshed; we have some great conversations here. I love the time spent together, enjoying the beauty found in nature, as you teach me how to draw near to you.” “I’m blessed by your Spirit who gifted me in this season of life to write; who’d have thunked”:) “As for being undisciplined… you and I are working on this together. Thank you for helping me see my being undisciplined is a form of Idol worship; ouch.” “I am blessed with great friends, a hubby who loves unconditionally and a beautiful white sugary cat which fits our personalities and lifestyle to a tee. Oh, Father, I’m blessed beyond measure and beyond anything I deserve.”

From pity-party to praise party; I feel better already.

Until next time,

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  Isaiah 41:30-31

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
James 1:16-17

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

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