Quit Focusing on the Handicap

My devotions scared me a little today! The verse God gives me is sometimes a warning. Many times, there is direction or answers to a dilemma. Not today, the subject was on tests.

My first test came before church and I went down in flames! It’s a test I have faced before and failed. The next time I will pass!

Not all tests are bad. The questions on my second test were:

“Do you believe Me?”

“Will you trust Me?”

“Will you place faith over your fear?”

I was reading the “Prayer of Jabez for Women” by Darlene Wilkinson. David ordered a pizza and left to pick it up.

“Do you believe Me? Pray that prayer.”

I prayed, “Bless me!!!!! Enlarge my territory. Keep your hand on me. Keep me from evil to not cause others pain.”

“Will you trust Me?”

I finished reading the book and realized David had been gone for a long time. Of course, Satan was right there putting fearful thoughts in my head. “He’s been in an accident. The police will knock on your door any minute to tell you he died.”

“Will you put faith over your fear?”

I quoted 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear but…of power, love, and a sound mind.” And, even if David died, then, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

The garage door opened. He was back.

“They gave our pizza to a D. Fisher. They had to make another one. It was free!”

Yes, free pizza is a blessing! But the greater blessing is the verses to combat fear!

2 Corinthians 9-10, “I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. (10) Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size – abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so, the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” The Message

July 7, 2019: 2 Corinthians 12-13.
“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

The Simple Purity of Your Love for Christ

She grabbed my shoulders and said, “I want what you have! Give me some of that!”

“Some of what?”

“That ‘I don’t give a %$&@!'”

Shocked, I said a weak prayer and then walked away.

I had just left church. I carried the “unexplainable peace” that is the result of worshipping God. It wasn’t that I didn’t care – I cared deeply – but worship raises you above the sewer.

She had been slogging through the muck and listed everything that went wrong and the reasons why. I had just been with Jesus. She was looking down and I was looking up.

I couldn’t give her what I had. She had to get it for herself. How? Sing praises.

When Paul and Silas were in prison, after a severe beating, they sang praises to God. (See Acts 16:16-40.) Worship not only raised them above their circumstances, but it also broke the jail open. Praise and worship make a way where there is no way.

This past week I started singing before my devotions. (I should have done this all along!) That song stayed with me all day.

On July 4th, I sang every patriotic song I could think of. It’s how I express my love to Jesus.

When we first start walking with Jesus Christ, we are overwhelmed by His love for us. We respond by loving Him back.

Nothing bothered us because we were full of love for Jesus. We smiled constantly and probably irritated those around us!

But life creeps in, we don’t sing as often. His love never fades but we don’t express our love for Him. Then we sink into the muck.

Worship is a river. We need to stay in the center of the current. There are quicksand and mud on the banks. It will only drag us down. But the current will pull us to our destiny.

Are you bogged down? Get back in the river of worship. Return to your first love – Jesus.

2 Corinthians 11:3, “And now I’m afraid that exactly as the snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ.” The Message

July 6, 2019: 2 Corinthians 10-11.
“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Living in a Small Way

You know I am task-oriented. I love marking items off a list. The longer the list accomplished, the better I feel about myself. When I can’t mark anything off, I feel small.

2 Corinthians 6:12, “The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way.” The Message

I underestimate the amount of time a task will take. And I try to fill every minute knocking items off of my mental list. The result? I was habitually late.

It got worse when I had children. I remember flying into the church with 3 small children on a Wednesday night. The head usher met me at the door.

“You’re late.”

“It’s okay. They can’t start without me.”

(I was the only piano player.)

How arrogant I was! How ashamed I am now! I didn’t realize the damage I was inflicting.

2 Corinthians 6:6, “…don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated – or not – in the details.” The Message

Thank you, God, for forgiving me. Thank you, usher, Pastor, and congregation for putting up with me.

The good news? God still loves me.

July 5, 2019: 2 Corinthians 6-9.

“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Becoming Brighter and More Beautiful

I admit I’m a wimp. A book can give me nightmares. I had to read “Auschwitz Lullaby” by Mario Escobar during daylight. I read a chapter on my morning breaks.

But today is a holiday! We had no plans and I decided to finish the book. What better way to observe the 4th of July than by reading about a family whose freedoms were taken away?

From the very first chapter, Helene won small victories. They arrested her husband while he was still in his pajamas. She convinced them to let him get dressed. She got out his best suit and changed from her work clothes to a traveling suit. She was allowed to pack a change of clothes for them and all 5 children.

2 Corinthians 2:14, “…In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade.” The Message

In Auschwitz, she had greater victories. She saved 2 barracks full of people from death. Miraculously, after several months, she was allowed to visit her husband for a few minutes. She had a choice – give in and become like the others or choose to help wherever she could.

2 Corinthians 3:18, “…And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him.” The Message

The book was humbling. How many times have I chosen to complain? How many times have I rehearsed incidents where I was wronged? How many times have I placed the blame on others?

God is teaching me as I volunteer in the E3 Cafe. The building was purchased from a grocery store. It is rented out to the public.

Each week, the Cafe Team comes in, washes the dishes we will use, cooks for the evening’s event, washes the dishes, and wipes everything down. Some nights we don’t get out of there until 9:30 or 10:00 p.m.

A volunteer made lemonade in the cafe kitchen for the tent service. She and I visited during ice cream night. She saw the sinks and suggested we dump Clorox in them.

I explained that we have done more than that!

We have used:

  • Baking soda and vinegar
  • Commercial degreaser
  • Magic Erasers
  • Commercial stainless-steel cleaners
  • Cameo stainless-steel cleaner
  • Non-scratch scrubbers
  • Plastic scrapers

There is only one thing that works – Elbow Grease!

I have scrubbed and scraped the left sink for 6 weeks! Wednesday, I pulled out my big gun.

“Ladies, I brought my chain.”

Several had worked on the sinks with me. A few gave up. The mold returns each week because there are layers of grease stains in which to grow.

My chain is square-shaped with links and a ring on one corner. I use it to clean my cast iron skillets.

A new volunteer was curious about the chain. We poured bleach over the sinks and rinsed them. Then we sprinkled Cameo on them. We took turns using the chain to dig the grease off. She worked on the middle sink.

I would love to tell you the sinks are bright and shiny. They are not. But Heather and I know the places where the grease stains used to be. Next week, I will bring my Cameo and chain and hit them again.

Each week I see improvement. The specks of red paint are gone. The line of hard water from one faucet is gone. The rust stains are gone. And the raised grease spots have been dug off.

That sink is like my life. When people look at me, I am not bright and shiny with success. But God is working on me. He’s scrubbing and scraping off bad habits. He’s removing junk others threw on me – like the red paint.

He keeps working. He won’t let me mold or rust. He never gives up and neither will I.

2 Corinthians 4:1, “Since God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times.” The Message

The summer is one-third over and I’m still working on the same sink! I had hoped to “spring clean” the cafe to surprise Candi when she returns in the fall. I don’t know if I’m going to make it! But I learned something important from Helene – stick to your routine.

In the last chapter, the Nazis are determined to cover up their horrific “experiments.” They transfer the healthy people to another concentration camp. But Helene knows too much. Her family is not on the transfer list.

Will they sneak out through the tiny space by the sauna? Will they die in the gas chamber?

The Nazis brought them some bread and sausage.

“Eat slowly, children.”

July 4, 2019: 2 Corinthians 2-5.

“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

I Didn’t Trim in Any Way

“Do I give too much information?”

“Should I have left out some details?”

“Maybe I should omit the questions?”

“Are my thoughts in parenthesis unnecessary?”

When I finished yesterday’s post, I thought it was too long. I questioned different ways to trim it. Then I read a chapter in my latest library book – “Auschwitz Lullaby” by Mario Escobar.

There may come a day when I will have to hide the Bible verses in my posts. Only those reading the “Relevant” Bible Reading Guide will “see” the verses. I decided to publish all of it.

Acts 20:20, “I didn’t skimp or trim in any way.” The Message

God knows my questions. He answered these questions over a thousand years ago. (And they say the Bible isn’t relevant.)

It’s difficult reading books about people who endured the concentration camps during World War II. Those who survived the Holocaust said, “Never again!” And yet, there are “Holocausts” going on in many countries today.

This week I received the “Voice of the Martyrs” magazine. On the front cover was a beautiful lady. Every time I walked by that magazine I thought, “She is my sister.” I pray for my sisters and brothers in other countries.

Paul talked about his suffering. He didn’t dwell on it. He spoke of the healing comfort God always sent.

2 Corinthians 1:5, “We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of His healing comfort – we get a full measure of that, too.” The Message

 

July 3, 2019: 1 Corinthians 16; Acts 20; 2 Corinthians 1.

“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Give Yourselves to the Gifts God Gives You

Three gifts God gave me were decorating, organizing, and decluttering. I changed my routine to use those gifts early in the day.

What if I didn’t watch the clock?

What if I gave all my attention to the task before me?

* * * * * * *

We have an extra large bookshelf. It was built-in when we bought the house. We had to remove it to insulate. It’s at the bottom of the stairs now.

I cleared the top shelf on Monday and switched lamps. I needed the brass, candlestick lamps on the buffet. (They were too tall for the bookshelf.) I put a smaller metal lamp with a navy shade on one side and a kerosene lamp on the other. I filled a glass block with a string of white lights and placed it in the center.

After filling a window with clear vases, I decided to get the rest of my glass and crystal out of boxes. Today, I set a tall, lidded, crystal candy jar on one side of the glass block. On the other, I set an “egg plate,” put a dessert plate upside down on top, and placed a smaller, lidded candy jar on top. I put a flameless tea light in each candy jar.

I have coffee-table-sized books on decorating, household hints, needlework, and crafts. I don’t have a coffee table! 🙂

I stacked them in two piles between the lamps and candy jars. There were 2 books that extended beyond the shelf. I stood them up on the pile and leaned them against the wall. Both piles measured 15″ and I know only God could arrange that!

I sat on a chair and admired my work. The other 3 shelves were a mess. The 4th level is empty. We had so much rain this spring that many basements flooded. As a precaution, I moved the books up off of the lower shelf. Our basement stayed dry. (God gets credit for that, too!)

I considered stopping but decided to keep working. I assigned the 1st shelf for the Encyclopedia set, (Don’t laugh, they’re pretty!), and the antique books David inherited from his grandparents. I centered the Encyclopedias and put my favorite, topiary-shaped bookends on each side.

Grandpa Lester had a set of self-help books, carpentry, plumbing, auto repair, etc. I turned them vertically. I used funeral Bibles in wooden cases as bookends for the other antique books. I centered the large family Bible on the middle shelf.

I designated the second row of shelves for hardcover books. The medical books extended beyond the shelf. I angled them and leaned them against the back of the bookcase. I stacked the Dale Carnegie Course books in the center and angled the atlas with 2 other extra large books on the other side.

Then I went through my books and pulled out my favorites. I filled the other 2 sections of the 2nd shelf with hardcover books and organized the paperback books on the 3rd shelf.

Three hours and 3 boxes later, it all fit and I quit. I’ll just take a case of books with me every time I go to “Stuff Consignment Store.”

1 Corinthians 14:1, “Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it – because it does. Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you.” The Message

 

* * * * * * *

Three new people started following frugalfish.org. Woo-hoo! It’s hilarious because I wrote my last post in 2017. I visited their blogs to thank them.

One blog talked about God as a “higher power.” They spoke of meditation and prayer as if they were the same thing.

  • Prayer is a conversation with God.
  • Meditation is talking to yourself. (We are to meditate on scripture.)

Today I read about God’s Glory. He reveals Himself in nature. The sun is a picture of God. The sun’s rays represent His Glory.

The moon is a picture of Jesus Christ. He reflects God’s Glory. He spent time in darkness apart from God just as the moon darkens to a sliver during the month.

The stars are a picture of the Holy Spirit. They are everywhere! When the sun is down and before the moon rises the earth is lit by star shine.

1 Corinthians 15:40, “You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies – sun, moon, stars – all these varieties of beauty and brightness.” The Message

 

July 2, 2019: 1 Corinthians 14, 15.
“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Complex and Often Misunderstood

David brought home more exterior primer. I wanted to paint the metal window wells inside the house. (We decided to use exterior paint because that metal gets really hot and really cold.)

On Friday, I wiped the metal and the window sill with vinegar. An hour later, I primed them. Saturday, I painted 2 coats of white exterior paint. Then I washed the windows and broke one handle off. (Sigh. That was not the plan.)

If I’m a curtain hanging in a basement window, I will keep my area clean. I will maintain and improve my area. I will work slowly and deliberately. When I don’t, things break.

1 Corinthians 12:1, “This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable.” The Message

The curtains hanging in the basement are not seen as the ones hanging in the living room. But they are more important!

I shower in the basement! I would not mind someone seeing me sitting in the living room. I would be horrified if someone saw me in the shower!

The Body of Christ works the same way. The most important workers are providing protection for the most vulnerable. I’m talking about nursery attendants and children’s workers.

They are key because children decide if the church is a happy place based on their ministry. Without children, our churches die. For many, it was a children’s worker that introduced us to Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:18, “…As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where He wanted it.” The Message

* * * * * * *

1 Corinthians 12:27, “Only as you accept your part of that body does your ‘part’ mean anything.” The Message

 

July 1, 2019: 1 Corinthians 11-13. “2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

 

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Humble Hearts Can Help Us

“Is my life aligned with God? … A car that is not aligned damages its parts. The right direction protects you from damage.” Pastor Monte Knudsen, June 30, 2019

Is this why we avoid church? We are challenged to examine our lives to see if we are aligned with God?

* * * * * * *

Today is the last day of the County Fair. David met our son Luke and took our granddaughter Olivia on some rides.

Many fairs have a “fun house.” The mirrors are distorted to make you look tall, short, skinny, or heavy. Going to church is like going to a “fun house.” Only at each seat is a full-length magnifying mirror.

It’s easy to see the faults in others when I avoid looking in my own mirror. If I center my attention on God, I don’t see other people’s struggles. When I humble myself before God, He points out areas that need work.

I know my weaknesses and tried to strengthen them. It doesn’t work. Only God can change me. He does it gradually, little by little.

1 Corinthians 8:1-3, “…but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. (2) We never really know enough (3) until we recognize that God alone knows it all.” The Message

I would love a miracle. I want God to make my weak areas strong immediately! But those habits are ingrained. I must replace them with new habits. When I constantly turn away, I move out of my rut.

It takes time.

1 Corinthians 8:7, “…an imagination and conscience shaped under those conditions isn’t going to change overnight.” The Message

June 20, 2019:1 Corinthians 8-10. “2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

 

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Simple, Genuine, Unpretentious

The stitching was so old I was able to tear it out by pulling the fabric apart. I can’t even remember where or when I bought these sheer curtains.

Years ago, I cut them in half and zigzagged the raw edges to make four panels. Recently, I sewed them back together, folded them in thirds and hung them in the basement windows of the laundry room.

I loved how they let in so much light. The sheers I used in the other basement windows darkened the rooms.

After removing my stitches and ripping out the hem, I ironed the sheers. I measured a 2-1/4 hem to match the header and pressed them.

The basement windows are 13″ high. I measured 13″ from the side, folded it over and pressed it. Then I folded the excess over and pressed that side.

I zigzagged the raw edges from the former hem. Then I stitched the new hem. I turned the panel and hemmed the excess fabric.

Back downstairs, I lay the panel sideways over the tension rod in the window. The double thickness gave privacy and the extra material from hanging it horizontally filled the window nicely. I love the result!

1 Corinthians 5:8, “…simple, genuine, unpretentious.” The Message

Those curtains could represent my life. I was 2 panels hanging in one place. I was sure I would never move from that one place.

When God moved me from being the church administrator, He cut me in two. When I was no longer the daycare bookkeeper, that cut me in two. But God zigzagged my raw edges.

It took a year to write my first Bible Reading Guide. Then I started this blog…and another one – frugalfish.org. I was folded in thirds, hanging in a basement.

But God is always doing something new. Just like those curtains, I was turned, steamed, ironed into a new shape, and multiplied to cover more area. Now I post to Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

God uses us as we are: single, married, or widowed, working at home, or outside the home. He redesigns us but never loses our pieces.

1 Corinthians 7:17, “…God, not your marital status, defines your life.” The Message

June 29, 2019: 1 Corinthians 5-7. “2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

 

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Look at Things from God’s Point of View

The view of a city from an airplane is vastly different from the view on the ground. We see tall buildings and small buildings. Looking straight down the pilot sees squares.

We look at others the same way. We think they are bigger and better. But God looks at our hearts. If hearts could be viewed like lights in a building, we would see people differently.

“That’s a big building, but abandoned.”

“The skyscraper has many floors but no lights.”

“The railcar diner is red hot with light!”

We would head straight to the diner! Oh, to have God’s point of view.

“…you will learn restraint and not rush into making judgments without knowing all the facts. It’s important to look at things from God’s point of view…” 1 Corinthians 4:6. The Message

June 28, 2019: 1 Corinthians 2-4. “2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

 

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