Not a Religious Plod, But a Living, Spirited Dance

Each day I make a cup of coffee. Then I open and shut the Keurig on the same pod and brew another one. I mix the two together and add cream and sugar. I pour it into a stainless steel water bottle. The remainder goes into my cup. I pour out a half a cup at a time. I have hot coffee, just the way I like it, as I write.

(Thank you, Paula Adam, for telling me to brew both cups and mix them together! You should be frugalfish!)

Since switching to the Keurig, we both have cut back to 2 cups a day. That was one of our goals.

You would not believe how much I look forward to that first cup of coffee! I’ve burned the top of my mouth and my tongue many times. I was pretty proud of myself for cutting back…until last night’s sermon…

“Do we crave God’s Word more than coffee? …We partake of God’s nature when we eat God’s Word. …Revelation 10:8-9, ‘…Go take the little scroll…Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.’ (New Living Translation) …The Word of God is good for correction…” Pastor Monte Knudsen, 6-6-18

I felt like I had been hit in the gut! I don’t crave God’s Word like I crave my coffee!

When I read the Bible it always tastes sweet. But when I chew (meditate and think) on it, I feel sick to my stomach! The Word is correcting me. It points out the things in my life that are contrary to God’s nature.

I dislike sharing my faults and failures. Last night, I realized Pastor Monte does it twice a week – and on Facebook Live! Thank God, preaching is not my vocation!

The synonyms of vocation are: calling, life’s work, mission, purpose, etc. We read a few verses today about doing our work and fulfilling our calling.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-6, “All this trouble is a clear sign that God has decided to make you fit for the kingdom. (6) You’re suffering now, but justice is on the way.” The Message

* * * * * * *

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, “Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time – pray that our God will make you fit for what He’s called you to be, pray that He’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with His own energy so that it all amounts to something. (12) If your life honors the name of Jesus, He will honor you.” The Message

* * * * * * *

2 Thessalonians 2:15-17, “So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. (11) May Jesus Himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, (17) put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.” The Message

God never planned for our vocation as work or drudgery. The secret is to find your calling in your job. Give your best work when you are on the clock. Be the employee of the month every month. That honors God.

But on your breaks, lunch, before and after work, fulfill your calling. Reach out to your coworkers. Everywhere Jesus went, He was doing good, (Matthew 9:35; Acts 10:38).

Being a good person is not our goal; being a God-person is. The more Word we think on, the more of God’s nature manifests.

Paul gave the Thessalonians several instructions on how to live:

1 Thessalonians 4:1, “One final word, friends. We ask you – urge you is more like it – that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance.” The Message

* * * * * * * *

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, “Stay calm; mind your own business; do your own job. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts. (12) We want you living in a way that will command the respect of outsiders, not lying around sponging off your friends.” The Message

* * * * * * *

1 Thessalonians 5:13-14, “Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. (14) Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on…” The Message

* * * * * * *

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Be cheerful no matter what, (17) Pray all the time; (18) thank God no matter what happens…” The Message

* * * * * * * *

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, “Now, friends, read these next words carefully. Slow down and don’t go jumping to conclusions regarding the day when our Master, Jesus Christ, will come back and we assemble to welcome Him. (2) Don’t let anyone shake you up…” The Message

Pray. Twice Paul said, “Pray all the time!” We will never fulfill our calling, our destiny, without prayer.

“Dear friend, never go out into the danger of the world without praying first. …You have failed to pray, and you will suffer as a result. Temptations are waiting to confront you, and you are not prepared to withstand them. …When we give in to laziness, moments of prayer that are missed can never be redeemed.” Frederick William Robertson in “Streams in the Desert” June 6

* * * * * * * *

“…We’re all called as gospel ministers, no matter what our job or vocation. I’ve met some of the poorest, most destitute people in the world, and some are powerful evangelists for the Lord. They all have one thing in common with the late, amazing Billy Graham: When you meet them, you know they’ve spent time in God’s presence. That makes all the difference, no matter what our station in life.

…So, what does it mean, exactly, to have God’s nature in us? It means we don’t have to try to be holy; we are holy, by virtue of His presence in us. We don’t have to try to be acceptable; we are made acceptable by Him. We don’t have to try to be good; we already are good by His divine nature, which resides in us through His Spirit.

…Here is yet another aspect of God’s presence in us; having the mind of Christ. No matter what mental battles we face, our stance is always one of victory, because we live and move in God’s presence. Even on our worst days we’re held together, propped up, and put at peace by the life and mind of Christ within us. Yet breaking chains is only the beginning of Jesus’ work in us. The more time we spend with Him, the more He prepares us to do His works. ‘The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil,’ (1 John 3:8).“Intimacy with God – Out of His presence Come the Works of Jesus,” by Gary Wilkerson, World Challenge Pulpit Series, May 21, 2018

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Showing You Step-by-Step

June 5, 2018, 4:30 a.m.

I couldn’t sleep and neither could Derek. He was thinking about buying a particular house.

“… ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign…’ Isaiah 7:11. …There is no reason why we should not ask for great things. Without a doubt, we will receive them if we ask in faith, having the courage to wait with patient perseverance for Him and meanwhile doing those things that are within our power to do. It is not within our power to create the wind or to change its direction, but we can raise our sails to catch it when it comes.” “Streams in the Desert” – June 5

I told him about buying our home. The most important thing is – location, location, location! And how we prayed for 10 months before we closed on it.

My conversation took a downward turn. I realized it when Derek said, “Shouldn’t you be talking to Dad about this?”

Oh, smack!

I read my Bible and saw I would need to share it. (Can’t I just post to instagram.com/frugalfishorg/, God? At least there I may look clever. I don’t want to write about my failures!) 

Being a mature, obedient Christian…

…I took a nap.

Yeah, I was avoiding and procrastinating. (In my defense, I only got 4 hours of sleep on Sunday.)

When I got up, I read, “One Thousand Gifts”

“… ‘For God does speak – now one way, now another’ (Job 33:14 NIV). One way His finger writing words in stars (Psalms 19:1-3), His eternal power written naked in all creation (Romans 1:20); and now another way, the sharp Holy Writ on the page that makes a careful incision into a life, blade words that kindly cut the tissue back to where soul and spirit join, tenderly laying bare the intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).” “One Thousand Gifts”  – Ann Voskamp

That blade did a little work on me this morning! I did not like what it exposed! I did not want to share it. Then, I remembered my most read posts are usually the most humbling or embarrassing.

I still procrastinated. I picked up the “World Challenge Pulpit Series Newsletter” Mom had dropped off…

“As a ministry leader, I occasionally ask myself and my co-laborers: ‘Why are we here? Why do we do what we do? What’s our purpose?’ …The answer is ‘We’re here to minister to Jesus.’ …I’ve seen a terrible pattern…It began with the church-growth movement, a phenomenon that birthed the idea that corporate strategies could advance the kingdom of God. …their purpose… ‘We’re here to get bigger, to expand, to bring in more.’ …” “Intimacy with God – Out of His Presence Come the Works of Jesus” by Gary Wilkerson, “World Challenge Pulpit Series” May 21, 2018

Smack, again!

I can’t share a failure just to get more readers! It relieved me, that I didn’t need to share details. But also saddened me. I forgot my purpose – to show you the Bible speaks to your life every day.

I decided the best thing I could do was…

…Catch up on email.

I was afraid of what God would show me – so I started on the bottom.

“Does God use broken people to do big things? I believe He does. But you’ll never see it happen if you don’t look beneath the surface. We imagine what we could be if we had no weaknesses. We’re blinded to what we could become if we embraced our weakness as an opportunity to showcase God’s strength. I know you have that thing you wish you could do better. …But sometimes, what God leaves out is just as important as what He puts in. It’s what teaches you to rely on Him. …It’s what forces you to pick up a pen and use what you have for the glory of God.” “What God Didn’t Put in You is Just as Important as What He Did” Steven Furtick, In an email dated 9-28-17

Double smack!!

My only recourse was to…

Read Facebook.

A memory from a few years ago was the first thing I read:

“God doesn’t ask us to do hard things only once. He asks us to do it again and again until it is easy.” #whateverittakes 6-2-2016

I procrastinated the day away. But at 4:30 a.m., on June 6th, it was all there waiting for me. God used several sources to teach me. He is a good Father.

“1 Thessalonians 2:11-12, ‘With each of you we were like a father with his child, holding your hand, whispering encouragement, (12) showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into His own kingdom, into this delightful life.’ ” The Message

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Live as You Were Meant to Live

I hope my post didn’t wake you last night. I didn’t finish it until 11:30 p.m. I cleaned up the kitchen, started the dishwasher, and dropped into bed at midnight. Waking up at 4:45 am as usual was a shock! Though I am grateful for this discipline.

“Daily discipline is the door to full freedom, and the discipline to count to one thousand [gifts] gave way to the freedom of wonder and I can’t imagine not staying awake to God in the moment, the joy in the now.” “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp

* * * * * * * * *

Proverbs 10:17, “Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” New International Version

I thought my night was short until I read about Paul and Silas! Beaten black & blue and shackled, they were in a dark prison. An earthquake broke their shackles and opened the doors. But it was too dark to see their way out. They shared the gospel with the jailer and stayed up all night!

Acts 16:30-31, “… ‘Sirs, what do I have to do to be saved, to really live?’ (31) They said, ‘Put your entire trust in the Master Jesus. Then you will live as you were meant to live – and everyone in your house included!’ ” The Message

* * * * * * * *

“…God works in darkness. …There may be a great work occurring in your life when things seem their darkest. You may see no evidence yet, but God is at work. …” “Streams in the Desert” June 4th

* * * * * * * *

“…So, if I say, ‘God wants you to win,’ and you’re in a cycle of defeat, that might contradict your experience or your reality, and therefore, you reduce God to a coping mechanism for your losses. …I believe He’s gonna eventually let me see victory…because…God wants me to win.” “This Might Contradict Your Experience…” 1 Min Motivation, Steven Furtick

* * * * * * * * *

“We beat it down a gravel road in a cloud of dust, and I looked over at the billboard that the van Veens had planted back in their woods. I asked Dad why anyone would bother putting a sign up in their woods if no one could make out the words. He looked at me squinting, and my mamma made me an optometrist’s appointment.

Next time we drove by the van Veens’ words in the woods, I wore glasses, horn-rimmed frames. And I saw the words as clear as a bell and I read them plain: ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ (Acts 16:31 King James Version).

The woods spell out words. I need a lens to read them.

Every dark woods has words. And every moment is a message from The Word-God who can’t stop writing his heart.” “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp

Maybe all I need is a new lens to understand what God is trying to show me. Or just clean off my present lens. Many things cloud our “glasses.” We can’t see because of past hurts, resentment, unforgiveness, etc. There are others around us who have smudged “glasses,” too. We must never give up on them!

James 5:19-20, “My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.” The Message

* * * * * * * * *

Acts 17:2-3, “…he preached to them from the Scriptures. (3) He opened up the texts so they understood what they’d been reading all their lives…” The Message

* * * * * * * *

Acts 17:20, “…Explain it so we can understand.” The Message

* * * * * * * *

Dear Father God,

Give us the right words to say when the opportunity arises. May we never give up hope on our friends and family.

In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Amen

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Live Well, Live Wisely, Live Humbly

“When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong, sooner or later does. …Just as a hospital collects the sick under one roof and labels them as such, the church collects sinners. …” The Message Introduction to the Book of James

Sin is like diabetes. Daily Bible reading and prayer are your insulin. But we all had “kidney failure” so to speak. Going to church is our dialysis. Every few days we get our heart cleaned out.

“…So Christian churches are not as a rule model communities of good behavior. They are, rather, places where human misbehavior is brought out in the open, faced, and dealt with….” The Message Introduction to the Book of James

We face our failures – and with God’s help, set strategies to keep from repeating them.

“The letter of James shows one of the church’s early pastors skillfully going about his work of confronting, diagnosing, and dealing with areas of mis-belief and misbehavior that had turned up in congregations committed to his care. …Wisdom is not primarily knowing the truth, although it certainly includes that; it is skill in living. For, what good is truth if we don’t know how to live it? …James carried the nickname “Old Camel Knees” because of thick calluses built up on his knees from many years of determined prayer. …Prayer is always foundational to wisdom.” The Message Introduction to the Book of James

There would be fewer knee replacements if we spent more time on them in prayer.

James 1:2, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” The Message

Now I am a little afraid to go to church!

James 1:3-4, “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. (4) So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” The Message

Whatever test is coming, I will need to endure it with patience!

James 1:22-24, “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! (23) Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, (24) walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.” The Message

Guilty. I am easily distracted. I need to make action notes with my sermon notes.

James 1:25, “But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God – the free life! – even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” The Message

Cool. My actions will be rewarded!

James 2:12-13, “Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. (13) For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.” The Message

Note to self: Be kind. Show Mercy.

James 2:14-18, “Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?

(15) For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved

(16) and say, ‘Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!’ and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup – where does that get you?

(17) Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

(18)…You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.” The Message

It’s time to leave for worship practice before church. Time to put my faith to work!

* * * * * * *

The keyboard monitor didn’t seem to work well in practice. I decided to use earphones – just in case. We started the service and nothing came out of the monitor. Thankfully, the synth came in and off we went.

Still no monitor. I thought the sound man had left my channel muted. I was a virtuoso. I hit 10 or 12 glissandos, a little rock and roll, and several jazz notes.

Nothing. The synth led the next 2 songs. When I came in on my part, I hit it hard. At the end of the third song, I even waved at the sound man. Still nothing.

I was to lead the fourth song. The guitar player was gone and wasn’t there to cover for me. I played the intro – NOTHING!

I ripped the earphones out of the keyboard and pushed the volume up to the max. The external speakers on it, (which were muted by the earphones), were loud enough for the leader to hear.

I grinned at the worship leader on the drums. He mouthed, “Make Rachel play the synth.” She came in and we finished worship.

The lay pastor came forward. (We are to turn our instruments down while he talks.)

Suddenly, the keyboard came through the system. My nephew, Brayden, put it best, “All service I couldn’t hear the piano. Then it was as if I fell into a piano!”

I had the keyboard as loud as it would go. The sound man had the channel as loud as it could go. It was an explosion of keys!

It turns out there was a short in the soundboard. That is why the keyboard kept disappearing in the monitor! It refused to work all through worship. The poor sound man tried everything. Then it decided to work at the most inopportune time!

James 3:1, “Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards.” The Message

Teachers teach about what they know. I know about being tested!

James 3:2, “And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths.” The Message

Have you met me?

James 3:5, “A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it!” The Message

* * * * * * *

“Over time, small things make a huge difference. …How often do you put your trust in the wrong thing. …Faith is not talking to God about your mountain; it’s talking to your mountain about your great God. …Most people don’t do great things. They do small things well and that changes everything.” Pastor Monte Knudsen, June 3, 2018

* * * * * * *

James 3:13, “Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts.” The Message

I spent the rest of the service concerned for the sound man. It’s a thankless job. After a service, he may have 2 people talk to him. One will say it was too loud and the other will say they couldn’t hear. I expected he would be stressed out.

I was wrong.

After the service, he quietly made his way to the platform. He calmly explained about the short and promised to report it. (Shout out to Cam, the sound man! You should have been a doctor – you work well in a crisis.)

James 3:17-18, “Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced.

(18) You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” The Message

I need to apologize to all the sound men I’ve worked with before. (Why, oh why, did I start a blog?) When things went wrong, as they inevitably did, I blamed them. They didn’t have any more control over things than me. God is in control. I learned my lesson.

James 4:1-3, “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again.

(2) They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it. You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not?

(3) Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.” The Message

Ouch.

James 4:7-10, “So let God work His will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper.

(8) Say a quiet yes to God and He’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field.

(9) Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over.

(10) Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” The Message

The only way to get on my feet is by getting back on my knees.

“Even though we follow Christ’s command, we should not expect to escape the storm …Christ may delay coming to us during our times of distress, but it is simply so our faith may be tested and strengthened. …’With Christ in my vessel, I smile at the storm.’ Christ said, ‘Let’s go over to the other side’ – not ‘to the middle of the lake to be drowned.’ ” Daniel Crawford, “Streams in the Desert” June 3

Christ didn’t bail me out during the first song. But I weathered the storm and I’m stronger for it.

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Ready to Do as God Says?

Mommy: “Are you glad it’s the last day of school?”

First Grader: “I wish it were the last day of college!”

Grandma: “Then you have to go to work.”

Daddy: “And you don’t get summers off!”

We all want our “learning season” over now! We want the rewards and promises of God today! But God doesn’t work that way.

Psalms 33:11, ‘The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.’  But we must be prepared to wait on God’s timing. His timing is precise, for He does things ‘at the very time’ He has set. It is not for us to know His timing, and in fact we cannot know it – we must wait for it. If God had told Abraham while he was in Haran that he would have to wait thirty years before holding his promised child in his arms, his heart might have failed him.” Streams in the Desert – May 24

God didn’t show Abraham how long he would have to wait. But, He showed Paul exactly what would happen to him.

Acts 9:16, “And now I’m about to show him what he’s in for – the hard suffering that goes with this job.” The Message

Paul accepted the job with all its suffering. Why? This was the job for which God created him. Before he misdirected his burning desire and zeal for God. Until he followed God’s plan for his life, he was always searching. It was an itch that would not go away – an unquenchable thirst. He had to do something!

“…written by a wise man of old, Jean Pierre de Caussade: ‘When one is thirsty one quenches one’s thirst by drinking, not by reading books which treat of this condition.’ If we are dying of thirst, passively reading books about water quenches little; the only way to quench the parched mouth is to close the book and dip the hand into water and bring it to the lips. If we thirst, we’ll have to drink. I would have to do something.” “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp

This is why reading books about the Bible do not satisfy like reading it for yourself. Even singing songs from the Bible do not quench your thirst for the Word of God. You have to read and study it. Ask God to show you things in it.

Back to Paul – how could he accept that assignment knowing the suffering to come?

Acts 9:31, “They were permeated with a deep sense of reverence for God. The Holy Spirit was with them, strengthening them. They prospered wonderfully.” The Message

Paul was not alone. God treated everyone the same. He strengthens anyone who treats Him reverently.

Acts 10:34-35, “God plays no favorites! (35) It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from – if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open.” The Message

We would do well to follow the example of Abraham and Cornelius. They showed us how to wait properly.

Acts 10:31, “He said, ‘Cornelius, your daily prayers and neighborly acts have brought you to God’s attention.’ ” The Message

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.