The Question of the Day

My devotional reading posed a question that I could not answer in the limited space given! How do you sum up in only a few words such an all-encompassing question as In what ways has God shown you patience?

Oh my! Well. For starters, God has been so patient with my lack of consistency. It effects so much! I have struggled with inconsistency most of my life. Being the personality I am, I think I naturally have a compelling need to be accepted. We all do to one degree or another, right? But coupled with being raised in a home where one of my parents was a firm and sometimes harsh and demanding perfectionist himself created a deep and often times unfulfilled need in me. I so very much wanted to meet expectations, to “measure up.” Yet being inconsistent undermined and often eroded away the road that could take me to that goal.

Being inconsistent has led to a lifetime of not meeting expectations of my own, much less the expectations of others. Whether the expectations of others were real or only perceived would be another great question of the day! Suffice it to say I have not been consistent in prayer, in fervor for attending church, in housework, in quiet patience with my husband, in Bible reading…the list could go on and on. That is why one of my favorite and dearest attributes of God’s love for me—and He is the same with each of us — is His patience and being longsuffering. To me, longsuffering is the combined properties of His great love added to His great patience. Yes it is patience– it is His loving patience. It is God’s selfless love seeing the potential in this weak human and waiting for it to bloom.  Thankfully there has been some maturing through the ages, some improvement, and He certainly blessed me when He gave me the breakthrough of being daily in the Word.  It has been two years now of very few days missed spending time reading/listening to scripture.  What a blessing that consistency is!

I believe it grieves His heart so that He hurts when we do not live in all He has provided for us. After all, look at what it cost Him and His only Son to provide abundant life for us. They went through the agonies of the cross together, yet separated. God the Father cannot look upon sin. Yet to purchase our forgiveness, Jesus, who knew no sin, had to take upon Himself the sins of the entire world. So in the most agony-filled moment of Jesus’ life, God the Father had to turn away from and not help, not support, not show love to His only and dearly loved Son. What agony for both!

This was a horrific, painful separation of Father and Son. Yet they both were determined to love each other and us through the pain because they knew the death of Jesus on the cross was the only way to redemption from ALL sin, for all who would accept that wonderful gift of salvation. All this was done so that we might thrive in Him. All this was endured so we might know the joy and the fullness of the Holy Spirit operating in our life, of faith, hope, peace, joy, health, gentleness, strength…. that list too goes on and on. His selfless love forgives and draws us, forgives and challenges us, forgives and stands by us. He loves. He LOVES us. Oh what boundless love He has for us! I am grateful, thankful, and loving Him all the more for His patience and being longsuffering with me.

Thank You, my Father, my Lord, my Savior, my Comforter, my Guide, my Deliverer, my Healer, my Wisdom….my all in all. HOW GREAT THOU ART!

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Words Are Just Words, Right?

Today’s verse of the day in my Bible app is Ephesians 4:29  (KJV)
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
I got to thinking about just what corrupt communication is.  As a young person (way back when, right?!) I used to think this verse referred specifically to swearing and dirty jokes.  But in more recent years, I have come to think otherwise.
At Christmas we hear children being told that “Santa is making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty… or nice.”  I think perhaps we should have our own list based on this scripture in Ephesians.
So at the top of MY list of what I consider corrupt communication, yes I have swearing and dirty jokes.  Okay.  But what else could and should go on that list?
How about sassing?
Cleverly hidden insinuations?
Snide remarks.
Cutting comments.
Put downs.
Ugly comparisons.
Boasting.
Bragging.
Lying.
Deceitful sidestepping of the truth.  (those little white lies, right?)
Rude comments.
Superiority, even in the inflection of the voice (another form of put down)
Gossip.
Slander.
Backstabbing.
Tactless blurting rather than tactful sharing.
Grumbling.
Dismissals.
The list could go on and on.  And I am freely admitting I have to work at it to be free of a lot of these.
So what is the big deal, and why does it matter?  Because, 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.  Proverbs 18, (KJV)
We speak thoughtlessly, not considering that by our very words we are giving life or taking life… we are giving support or we are undermining…we are strengthening or we are weakening.
We do this not only to others, but to ourselves as well.  Think on this a bit!  Who speaks more negative into your heart and life than yourself?  Would you take the negative garbage you thoughtlessly sling at yourself from anyone else?  And why do we believe that garbage about ourselves?  We compare our worst with the best of others.  Unfair!!!  It is not true according to God’s Word, so whose report do we believe?
Let’s work at getting it right.  Let’s set a guard against thoughtless words and mindless self-talk!  Let’s stop with the unforgiving, hateful thoughts so we don’t have stuff there to spew in the next heated moment!  Sometimes at home is the hardest of all for me to contain my tongue and be kind.  I just ‘let ‘er fly’ … and then regret, have to ask forgiveness of God and my loved one(s) and then forgive myself.  Why do I need to guard my thoughts?  Because in Matthew 12:34b  (KJV) we learn that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
And lets not minimize the damage by claiming we were just kidding!  What is in the heart comes out when we speak, especially when something aggravates us.  So we must be careful what is allowed to remain in our system!  We need to cleanse our hearts, or in other words, keep short accounts.  Instead of holding grudges, nurturing hurts and recounting wrongs done, let’s deal with stuff, sort through our motives, be aware of and direct our focus to honorable thoughts, and clean up our act!  Philippians 4:8 and 9 in NKJV sums it up nicely:  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things arelovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
And again, in The Message:  8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
Lord, I thank You for this reminder today of ways to live in harmony and peace.  I pray that I have the mind of Christ this day, that I think upon the lovely, the good, the uplifting things.  Help me to look upon the negatives in myself and others with a heart of love and compassion, giving grace and forgiving, ever changing more and more into Your image.  Thank You for these blessings!  And may I be a blessing, an encouragement, a strengthening to my world.  In Jesus Name and for His sake I pray, and I receive this blessing!  Amen.  And AMEN!
Psalm 19:14King James Version (KJV)  14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Why Christmas?

WHY CHRISTMAS?

The closing line of a movie caught my attention. I quote: “GIVING IN ITS PUREST FORM EXPECTS NOTHING IN RETURN.” I got to thinking. While that may be so, what joy it brings when that same love flows reciprocally back to you. It may have been an act of kindness or an item given that you know your loved one is fond of. Whatever the gift, the love that prompted it is the true and lasting treasure. And certainly if we love someone, we want to protect them, so we give them our attention, our care, our nurturing, our best counsel and encouragement.

Before time began, God thought of us. He knew us entirely, and loved us completely. He knew what we would experience, yearn for, reject and respond to. He knew what we would gladly embrace; He knew our hidden thoughts and deepest feelings. Before we were, He was aware of what would be our insecurities and hopes, our failures and joys. He knew what dangers and temptations we would be susceptible to. Knowing us as He did, and loving us as only He can, He gave us His most prized and priceless treasure, His love gift; the gift of His only Son, Jesus.

Giving in it’s purest form “expects nothing in return”? Perhaps. But does not the heart long for acknowledgment from those it loves? Is there not pain when love is not returned? Is there not a sense of loss and sadness when a gift of love is overlooked, or worse yet, refused entirely? God loved. And because of that love, He gave. God so loved you, He so loved me, that He gave His one and only Son Jesus, to die for our sins. Why? So that anyone- you, me, whosoever would believe on His Son should not perish in eternal payment for our sins, but might have everlasting life.

But how much greater it is, when love is returned. God loved, so He gave. Does He demand we accept His gift and give Him our love in return? No. But what joy we can give Him by returning His love. Loving and giving, expecting nothing in return, is selfless and can be fulfilling. How wonderful when love is reciprocated, shared. And of course there is the benefit of eternal life rather than eternal punishment for us by receiving His gift!

Have you accepted God’s gift to you? Do you return the Lord’s love? He knows you in minute detail, and loves you infinitely, with a non-stop, regardless of us love, an everlasting love.

And that, my friend, is why we celebrate this holiday. That answers the question “Why Christmas?” Because, GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE. (John 3:16 New King James Version -NKJV)

What love! What a gift! Accept His gift of Jesus, who paid the price for forgiveness from your sins. Love Him back! It’s a win-win situation. We receive His love, He receives our love. Return that love He has given you, and pass it on to others needing to learn of and accept this awesome gift.