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Proverbs 21:21 (MSG)
Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind finds life itself – glorious life!

For months I have wanted to invite the new neighbors for dinner.  I say ‘new’, but they moved in last summer!  We’ve chatted a few times and I really like them.  I look forward to knowing them better.  I delay because my house is perpetually untidy and my dining room is my office.  Having guests requires a temporary relocation which is a bit of work.  I’ve been lazy for a long time.

Maybe it’s my guilty conscience, but in every translation of today’s scripture I see a distinctly proactive attitude.  You can’t avoid the action in ‘goes hunting for, chases, runs after, and pursues’ kindness.  Solomon, the wisdom writer, says don’t just be kind when a situation presents itself;  find ways to do what’s right.

Sigh.  I have failed.  But with God every day is new, so I just called with an invitation.  If I wait for my house to be put together, I’ll never have guests.  That’s not the point, right?  We’ll eat in the kitchen and our time together will be rich and glorious.  Of course I will make apologies, but my authentic self is not the greatest housekeeper.

How can you take action to be more kind?

To respond, click the title at the top of this email then click comment at the bottom of the blog.  If you’d like to comment privately, email [email protected]

Gushing

John 4:13-14 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this
water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never
thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him
will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The
first part of this verse is probably familiar. 
When we look to worldly possessions, success, popularity, or food to satisfy
our longing for happiness, we eventually need more.  The reward is temporary.  Only Jesus can quench the yearning we have
for fulfillment.  You’ve heard this.
I’ve
never really noticed the next sentence, but with the help of my handy dandy Key
Word Bible and Sunday’s sermon, I get a fresh image.  Jesus promises a gushing fountain coming from inside us.  When we quench our longings with Jesus’ words,
the presence of the Holy Spirit and God’s promises, we overflow with
satisfying, never ending life.  Doesn’t
that sound refreshing?
It’s the
gushing that strikes me.  Gushing is hard
to contain.  Gushing comes out all over
the place.  It can be messy and gets
everyone wet.  I know it sounds corny, but
I feel it.  I can’t contain my joy for
the Lord.  It’s why I write and encourage
you to immerse yourself in Scripture.  I
want this experience for you!  We need
more beautiful fountains!
Thanks for
your comments!  I love hearing your
thoughts!  To comment, click the title at the top of this email then click
comment at the bottom of the blog.  If you’d like to comment privately,
you can email me at [email protected]

Convicted!

1 Kings 21:23 (NIV)
And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs
will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’
My
group of ladies is reading Bad Girls of
the Bible
by Liz Curtis Higgs (who, by the way, was a fabulous speaker at
the 2013 Women of Faith conference). 
This week’s bad girl is Jezebel.  Do
you have any kind of reaction to that name? 
It’s not often used anymore, but I grew up thinking a jezebel was a
mean, nasty, witchy woman.  After the
Biblical bio, online dictionaries describe an
impudent, shameless, morally unrestrained, evil and scheming woman.  Sounds like the B word on steroids.  Got the picture?
So I
approached the story thinking “This will be a juicy read, but I’m not sure I’ll
learn anything.  We don’t have anything
in common.”  Was I ever wrong!  While I’m not a murderess or power monger, she
and I definitely share personality traits and attitudes.  OUCH!  I’ll
leave you guessing, but don’t ever assume you’re so much better than those jezebels.  God will humble you in an instant!  I stand convicted.  Snap the mug shot.
Are
you open to hearing God address your sometimes negative personality traits?
Thanks for
your comments yesterday!  I love hearing
your thoughts!  To comment, click the title at the top of this email then comment at the bottom of the blog.  If you’d like to comment
privately, you can email me at [email protected]

A Southern Gal

1 Corinthians 2:9
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no
mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.
I think
I’m a Southern gal.  I gravitate toward the
passion of authors and speakers with Southern roots – spirit filled and showing
it!  Not all the time, but some days I’m
so full of God’s spirit my heart could burst and I find myself soaring on eagle’s
wings.  I can’t describe it any other
way.  Those Bible writers knew what they
were talking about.  I run and don’t grow
faint!
This
breakthrough happened just before this blog started as a simple email sent to 8
friends.  I had just finished a study
that required daily guided Scripture reflection with a few questions to
ponder.  As a rule follower I thrive on an
assignment and deadline, so (almost) daily I spent time really thinking about
and applying God’s Word.  Not just
learning, but using it.  That assignment was
life changing.
I began
to feel a very real connection.  God had
already prepared me with lots of knowledge through study, but something
changed.  I believed the knowledge enough
to trust His promises and little by little, to lean on them.  And true to His Word, God filled me with more
than I could have imagined. 
And all
I want is for you to experience the amazing life He has prepared for you too!  I’d like to place my hands on your shoulders
and shake you!  God has exciting,
fulfilling, beyond amazing plans for you! 
Even if I keep quiet, the stones will cry out!  Let’s bring a little passion to New England!
I love to hear what you’re thinking!  Please leave a comment to get the conversation going.  If you’d like to comment privately, you can email me at [email protected]

A Pile of Stones

When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe.  Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan.  Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’”
Joshua 4:1-3 (NLT)
 
What’s with the pile of stones?  All through the Old Testament, stories end with the people erecting a pile of stones.  I used to think God would be angry about them
worshiping these monuments.  But they’re not worshiping the monument!  They’re
worshiping God at the monument which serves as a reminder of His action on their behalf.
 
The odd sight of smooth, round river stones piled one on top of another would have
drawn attention.  People would wonder, providing an opportunity to recount the story of when their powerful God parted the waters and led the Israelites into the Promised Land.  Many generations would remember that God generously provided.
 
God knows us well.  He knows we forget quickly and need physical reminders of His work in our lives – maybe a photo or trinket instead of a stone monument.  Remember often.  Then use the memories as a weapon to combat worry.  When your mind begins to fret, remember your powerful God has worked things out in the past and trust that He can and will generously provide again.

Puttering Along

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him.  This is the same mighty power that raised
Christ from the dead.
Ephesians 1:19-20 (NLT)
 
In God is Able, Priscilla Shirer paints an image of “a little old grandma-looking woman with gray hair and slumped shoulders that barely makes it over the steering wheel” putt-puttering along in a late model Mustang at 20 mph.  Got the picture?
 
It’s kind of cute and sweet, right?  But what a waste!  Think of all the untapped power, excitement and fun just waiting to be set loose in that car!  Instead of wowing admirers, the car and driver summon quaint, nostalgic thoughts – perhaps a bit sad.
 
The illustration could be a snapshot of what you and I look like as Christians.  But I’m not a gray haired old lady (yet)!  Shirer says we are:
 
Endowed by God with an enormous amount of power, yet tinkering along at a spiritual snail’s pace, taking up a lane but not really letting Him take us anywhere.  Trading adventure for what feels to us (deceptively) like complete control.  As
a result, not only do we miss out on feeling the wind of destiny and abundance
in our own hair, we also potentially clog up the pipeline of blessing for others coming up behind us.  We forfeit opportunities to show what happens when His foot is on the accelerator of our lives.
 
We were created to floor people when they see God’s mighty power at work inside us. Our juiced-up spiritual engines were made to purr with the joy and strength He provides.  We were meant to wheel into each day’s traffic with His high-octane ability and supernatural power coursing through our fuel lines.
 
What are you driving today?

No Worries!

Matthew 6:25-27 (NLT) -That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you
have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear… Look at the birds.  They don’t plant or harvest or store food in
barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. 
And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to
your life?

I struck a chord with yesterday’s
post.  Worry.  I haven’t received so many responses since launching this blog.  I hear you.  You worry! 
I understand because I’m a work in progress too.

God prepared me with a response in
that I’ve read several devotions about worry recently.  So let me pose a
few questions for thought:  Do you believe Jesus’ crucifixion saves you
from sin?  Do you believe God loves you
and has this power? 

In the Bible, God himself tells us
His power is infinite, limitless, and beyond our mind’s capacity to
comprehend.  Do you believe Him?  If God is able to forgive sin and has
infinite power, is He also able to provide for all your needs and save
you from
your little messes too? 

There’s a difference between
knowing intellectually that God is all powerful and living a life based on that
Truth.  Trust increases in baby steps as
you hand over one worry to Him and see that He resolves it (perhaps in a
surprising way – perhaps in a better
way).  This experience strengthens your
faith so you might consider allowing Him to guide you through another stress or
two.  Gradually you realize that God
really is in control.  He does
care.  He is involved in the details of your life.  Your knowledge is becoming belief, allowing
you lean harder into the Truth that God is able and you don’t need to worry so
much.

Fixing My Thoughts

Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one
final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and
pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and
worthy of praise.
For the
most part, I don’t worry.  Maybe that’s a
character flaw, but I’m a glass ½ full kind of gal.
Oh, I
used to worry!  I’d lie awake all night
stewing.  I’d concoct what-if scenarios and
imagine the worst.  I’d play out
potential reactions and solutions.  I was
stressed and I was tired and everyone paid the price.  At some point (I was probably in some Bible
study) I consciously decided to start trusting God – believing God was good and
capable and in control. 
I
decided I wouldn’t worry about anything that was out of my control – like other
people’s actions.  When I lay awake with
my head spinning, I prayed myself back to sleep and hoped God didn’t mind being
used as a sleep aide.  When I started thinking
about a problem, I determined to pray about it instead of stew.  Every time my mind wandered away from prayer,
I pulled it back into conversation with God. 
I fixed my thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, and pure.
It
worked!  I slept better, but over the
long term God changed me.  I am far more
relaxed about life now.  It’s not that I
don’t care about things, but I trust that God has a plan and eventually works everything
for good.  I try to see the silver
lining.
Do you have
more thoughts about what you lack than gratitude for what you have?  Are you more focused on your problems than
you are on our God who is able to work all things for good?  Can you see past a person’s flaws to see the
good?
Stop
staring at your problems and think about things that are excellent and worthy
of praise!

Mind Control

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of
your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their
needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Matthew 9:4 (NLT)
Why do you have such evil thoughts in your
hearts?
My
Bible has a huge arrow highlighting Ephesians 4:29 with a bold, all caps note “MY
GOSSIP SCRIPTURE”.  When I need
reminding, a quick flip through the New Testament does it.  I truly, truly try not to gossip.  I’m not perfect, but I just steer clear of
those conversations.  Is this good?  Absolutely! 
Is this enough?  Not by a long
shot, because what goes on in my head is a completely different story and just
as evil.  
Jesus raised
the bar of the Ten Commandments by saying the person who thought lustfully had already betrayed their spouse.  Jesus chastised the law abiding Pharisees for
being shiny clean on the outside but filthy on the inside.  Jesus cares more about our hearts and minds
than he does about appearances.  I think
Jesus’ example about lust is intended for all
the things we shouldn’t do.
I’m in
trouble!  You too?  How can we stop the not-so-Christian mental soundtrack?  Don’t be discouraged.  We’re human. 
We can’t do it alone.  Only the
Holy Spirit can transform our hearts so we look at others differently.  (We can help by changing our soundtrack to
play back God’s Word too.)  When we see
ourselves as undeserving recipients of God’s love and forgiveness, it’s then
possible to see God’s other imperfect children through His eyes – with undeserved,
unconditional love.
Transform
your heart first and you won’t have to worry about appearances. 

Our Soundtrack

Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)
Look carefully then how you walk, not as
unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are
evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but
understand what the will of the Lord is.
My last
words to you posed a somewhat rhetorical question:  How do we learn to rely on God’s wisdom and
not our own?
Scripture.  Scripture. 
Scripture.
We draw
closer to the heart of God by getting to know Him through His Word (and prayer).  God reveals Himself to us in the Bible.  Jesus is the very image of God.  To gain wisdom, we must have His words on the
tip of our tongue and at the forefront of our thoughts.
This
was my own, matter-of-fact answer.  But
God had more to say about that so it is no coincidence that I came across #TheJesusProject
by Ann Voscamp yesterday.  She writes beautiful
words about storing Romans 8 in her heart:
Memorizing His words, turning them over in our minds, in our mess,
like raw-cut, unearthed diamonds, this is what rotated us…
. It
is only the turning the lines of Scripture that turn me around.

Nothing else has the sheer
strength to do that.
Every line of God’s Word is like an axle — turning the soul
around, moving the soul forward.
Getting me
there.
Without it, my life has no forward motion — I just ram
hopelessly about in the same ruts.
For a year, I
worked at not letting time or tasks get in the way of letting the axle turn…
Come summer, Romans 8 was a
soundtrack playing loud and steady and sure in my head
: “There is therefore now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus…”
To-do lists could
yell at me at the end of the day. Emails lingered, piled unopened. Resolutions
splayed neglected. But
what the heart knows by heart can heal and hold the heart
, and
His Word would come again like the lullaby of a strong, rhythmic heartbeat to me
laying there wide awake… would come pull me close to thrum of the very
heartbeat of God: There is
therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…
To stay on track, every heart needs to know a soundtrack by heart.
Laying a life up against the chest of His Word, and hearing the
steady beat of His heart, is the only soundtrack that strengthens the human
heart.

Spend a few minutes to plant a quick Seed. Or stay longer and plant a whole garden.

Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts.  If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.
Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts. If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.

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