God Is Interested in People, Not Religion

Yesterday, I got up at 4 am, and after devotions, went to the Fairfield square. It was “Kiwanis Kid’s Day.” They set up a huge tent and serve pancakes. You can enjoy sausage, juice, milk, coffee, and all the pancakes you care to eat. (Later there is a parade and other events.)

This fundraiser is well attended. We saw people we haven’t seen in years. It was fun catching up with neighbors and acquaintances. I invited one young lady to church. I am not trying to make her religious, I want to see her more often.

Zechariah 7:6, 9, 10, “And when you held feasts, was it for me? Hardly. You’re interested in religion, I’m interested in people. (9) …Treat one another justly. Love your neighbors. Be compassionate with each other. (10) Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor. Don’t plot and scheme against one another – that’s evil.” The Message

Life is about balance – spend time helping others and spend time with your family. Work hard but enjoy the “fruits of your labor.”

Psalms 128:1, 2, 6, “All you who fear God, how blessed you are! How happily you walk on his smooth straight road! (2) You worked hard and deserve all you’ve got coming. Enjoy the blessing! Revel in the goodness! …(6) And enjoy your grandchildren. Peace to Israel.” The Message

Remember, you have a purpose. God planted goals, projects, and dreams in us. A full life means we work on them. They give us a reason to get up each morning.

“Giants can be tangible or intangible: the things we haven’t overcome because, seduced by fear, we think we can’t. They can also be unattainable goals, unfinished projects, or unfulfilled dreams – the ‘loose ends’ of life that keep us mired in mediocrity…”

“The Word for You Today,” September 16, 2018

Write down your goals, projects, and dreams. Pick a day in the next month or so to work on each one. Take small steps. Do the first thing, and then the next, and the next.

How do you eat a stack of pancakes? One bite at a time.

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

#bible

Justly and Fairly

A storm hit as we drove into Ottumwa for our anniversary dinner. The wind was pushing the semis on the highway.

There was road construction on Main Street – the detour took us by the high school. A football game just ended and the traffic was thick. I watched a youth climb over the chain link fence to retrieve his water bottle. As he climbed back over, I prayed his ride was nearby.

David turned on the local radio station and they were urging everyone to take shelter. We weren’t sure where to go. I directed him to where I thought the restaurant was. We drove right by it.

The tornado siren went off. We pulled over at 2nd Street Cafe to get out of the storm. After 2 minutes, we decided we didn’t want to celebrate there.

Back in the van, David realized he was almost out of gas. He drove to Pennsylvania Avenue where the gas station had a canopy. He used the pump next to the building where the canopy almost reached the roof. While I waited, I called “Appanoose Rapids” for directions.

Turning on the correct street, we drove through the alley and parked under the bridge. The radio predicted hail and downed trees. It was raining as we rushed through the parking lot. The rain came hard after we sat down. Tornadoes hit North English, Parnell, and Williamsburg.

But, why wasn’t I terrified? Normally, I would be yelling at David to get me somewhere safe. I didn’t even yell at him for almost running out of gas. That would have been exciting in a tornado.

I realized my steps of faith last week helped me overcome my fear. It no longer held me in a paralyzing grip. I would rather live in peace. God is in control. I’m His favorite – as are you.

* * * * * * *

I felt confident when I opened my Bible today. Then God showed me a new area to work on – getting along with family members.

“…the twins Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25-36)…came out of the womb fighting. Jacob…the people of Israel, Esau…the people of Edom. …They had a long history of war and rivalry. When Israel was taken into exile…Edom stood across the fence and watched, glad to see her old relative get beat up. …But the last line…Israel…is…saved from the injustices of the past and taking up a postion of rule…But instead of doing to others what had been done to them…they are…taking over the reins of government and administering God’s justice justly. …On the Day of Judgment, dark retaliation and invective do not get the last word.” The Message Introduction to Obadiah

* * * * * * *

Obadiah 1:21, “The remnant of the saved in Mount Zion will go into the mountains of Esau, and rule justly and fairly, a rule that honors God’s kingdom.” The Message

Studying Proverbs 14, I found this gem in the cross-references.

Proverbs 19:11, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” New International Version

* * * * * * *

Proverbs 19:11, “Smart people know how to hold their tongue; their grandeur is to forgive and forget.” The Message

We are good at forgiving our family members but not at forgetting. When offended, we bring up every offense from before. We know which family members to share the latest hurt and who will agree with us. We don’t mention it to the ones that will disagree with us.

“Peacemakers…make excellent therapists and mediators… But sometimes they’re inclined to seek peace at any price, use their relational skills to blend in, and avoid taking the initiative or assuming risks because of their undue attachment to comfort and security. They often suffer from ‘terminal niceness’ when courage is what’s really required.” The Word for You Today

Am I keeping the peace or enabling one to continue in an unhealthy manner? Is my silence interpreted as agreement? Am I a doormat because everything I say or do is used against me? I need courage. I guess I am still facing my fears.

Dear God, Help me be just and fair. Amen.

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

#bible

Don’t Run from Trouble

“You are writing for yourself. …If it amuses you – put it in.”

“On Writing Well” William Zinsser

I just wrote a post about facing my fear. Yet, I was afraid to publish it! What if so-and-so read it. They might get mad. I decided to read today’s verses first.

Lamentations 3:30, “Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The ‘worst’ is never the worst.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“Paul withstood not only the tests that came while he was active in his service to Christ but also the tests of solitude during captivity. …Through it all, he saw only the hand of God at work. To him, the prison became a palace, with its corridors resounding with shouts of triumphant praise and joy.

Forced from the missionary work he loved so well, Paul built a new pulpit – a new witness stand. …What precious messages of light came from the dark shadows of his captivity.”

S. C. Rees, “Streams in the Desert,” August 27

Paul didn’t run from trouble. He treated each new circumstance as a new opportunity.

I cannot write each post thinking of a possible reaction. I have to share my experiences and how they correlated with a verse I read. I have to stop over thinking everything!

“At their best, loyalists help everyone else become better. …Loyalists often perceive God as hard to please, so their signature sin is fear.

Jesus told of three servants who were each given a sum of money to invest. …The ‘takeaway’ in Christ’s parable is that God reserves His harshest judgment not for those who try and fail, but for those who fail to try because they give in to fear.”

The Word for You Today, August 27

Nothing risked, nothing gained.

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

#bible

The Transforming God

“The Enneagram” was not an article I expected to see in “The Magnolia Journal.” Written by Chris Heurtz, it made me curious enough to go to the website, enneagraminstitute.com. When I realized it cost $12.00, I decided I didn’t have time to take it. Then I read my devotional.

“In his book Signature Sins: Taming Our Wayward Hearts, Dr. Michael W. Mangis identifies nine of these patterns using an ancient system called the Enneagram. …it’s thought to have originated out of consideration of the seven deadly sins and the fruit of the Spirit,…To help you become more self-aware and build a defense against your particular area of vulnerability. …” The Word for You Today

Building a defense for my vulnerable areas is a good idea. I’ve tried conquering them on my own unsuccessfully.

Jeremiah 30:1-2, “God’s Message, the God of Israel: ‘Write everything I tell you in a book. Look. The time is coming when I will turn everything around…’ ” The Message

One area is my health. I battle sinus headaches, allergies, atopic dermatitis, and asthma. The headaches have been persistent this week.

Jeremiah 30:17, “As for you, I’ll come with healing, curing the incurable…” The Message

I want to be healthy, productive, inspiring, and hopeful. Transformation – that’s what I want! Only God can transform.

Jeremiah 30:22, “…God will create a new thing in this land: A transformed woman will embrace the transforming God.” The Message

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

 

#bible

God Will Stir Up Fresh Hope

I started with soup cans. The weight-lifting exercises were not difficult but I could only complete them with 10.5 ounces. After a few weeks, I moved up to 2 lb. weights.

I realized I was rushing through the movements and needed heavier weights. David offered to pick up 5 lb. weights.

Then my future daughter-in-law left her glasses here. My son asked me to take them to her. She works across the road from Wal-Mart. I decided to shop while on that side of town.

I leisurely strolled through the aisles picking up items as I went. The last thing I picked up was the weights. I tried some and found – 5 pounds are heavy! I put them back and bought 3 lb. weights.

Ezekiel 30:24, “I’ll make the arms…strong…” The Message

God knew I could not handle 5 lb. weights. He knew I could hurt myself. He made arrangements for me to buy the weights, not David. I will increase the weights at a steady pace.

“Once we learn to wait for the Lord’s leading in everything, we will know the strength that finds its highest point in an even and steady walk. Many of us are lacking the strength we so desire, but God gives complete power for every task he calls us to perform. Waiting – this is the secret of strength. And anything that does not align with obedience to Him is a waste of time and energy. Watch and wait for His leading.” Samuel Dickey Gordon, “Streams in the Desert,” August 16

Yes, God is my trainer! He knows how much I can handle.

Matthew 11:30, “I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“It’s not about who you are, but Whose you are! That day God revealed His name to Moses as ‘I am.’ His name is the solution to every problem and the answer to every question.” “All In,” Mark Batterson, The Word for You Today, August 16

God wants to take care of you, too. Eight times today we read the phrase, “(They’ll) realize that I am God.” (See Ezekiel 29:5, 9, 16, 21; 30:8, 19, 25, and 26.) He wants to give us a future and a hope, (See Jeremiah 29:11).

Ezekiel 29:21, “And then I’ll stir up fresh hope…” The Message

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

#bible

How to Live Well and Obediently

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Ezekiel 16:8, “…I took care of you, dressed you and protected you. …” The Message

Does this mean I can stay in bed?

Galatians 6:5. “Take responsibility for…your own life.” The Message, The Word for You Today, August 11, 2018

I guess not.

* * * * * * *

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Ezekiel 17:24, “All the trees of the field will recognize that I, God, make the great tree small and the small tree great, made the green tree turn dry and the dry tree sprout green branches. I, God, said it – and I did it.” The Message

* * * * * * *

Ezekiel 19:14, “…(This is a sad song, a text for singing the blues.)” The Message

I have a choice. I can sing the blues or wait for God to make my dry branches green.

* * * * * * *

Monday, August 13, 2018

Ezekiel 20:9, “I acted out of who I was, not by how I felt. And I acted in a way that would evoke honor…” The Message

* * * * * * *

Ezekiel 20:11, 12, “I gave them laws for living, showed them how to live well and obediently before Me. (12) I also gave them my weekly holy rest day, my ‘Sabbaths,’ a kind of sign post erected between me and them to show them that I, God, am in the business of making them holy.” The Message

God is not in the business of making me happy. He’s in the business of making me holy.

“Nurture the root and you’ll always have fruit.” Beatty, Melody. “More Language of Letting Go.” (Center City, MN: Hazeldon, 2000). 223-231

* * * * * * *

“How can we have rain without clouds? Our troubles have always brought us blessings…Our Lord’s love letters often come to us in dark envelopes.” Charles Spurgeon, in “Streams in the Desert,” August 13

* * * * * * *

“What if God wants to show you His strength? …How did He strengthen you, Paul? Through letting me struggle. I saw His strength through my struggle.” “Strength Through Struggle,” 1:Minute Motivation, Steven Furtick

Today:

  • Remember Who God is and everything He is doing will bring honor.
  • I cannot act based on how I feel.
  • Am I breaking God’s law – eating healthily, drinking water, rest?
  • Examine my “roots.”
  • Look for the blessings in the clouds.
  • Keep struggling and God will show me His strength.

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

#bible

Above the Dome

“In the small town of Seadrift, Texas during World War II a church posted the pictures of soldiers in their town who were going off to war. There were 52…five of them were brothers. It was the Psalms 91 promise of protection that the prayer warriors prayed over those young men…and not one of them died. …God had them literally bombard heaven. And one by one, every Seadrift soldier returned safely from the battlefields of Europe, the South Pacific, and the Far East, in spite of…hundreds of thousands…that were lost on those battlefronts.” (p. 195) “Psalms 91,” Ruth, Peggy Joyce and Angelia Ruth Schum. Peggy Joyce Ruth Ministries, 2010, quoted on prayerineverycity.com 

I pray Psalms 91 over David, myself, my children, my extended family, church family, the Pastors, missionaries, our town, the soldiers, policemen, firemen, and paramedics. I pray a hedge of protection around these that the spirit of suicide cannot penetrate; cancer cells can not live within; that gives us safety when we travel; and protects our marriages.

As I prayed yesterday, I saw a clear dome over my head and body. There is no fear under the dome because God’s Word protects me.

Was that my imagination? I wasn’t going to mention it in my post. Who would believe me? Then I opened my Bible.

Ezekiel 10:1, “When I looked, oh! Above the dome over the heads of the cherubim-angels was what looked like a throne, sky-blue, like a sapphire.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“We know the will of God when we read and pray the Word of God.

5 Questions to Know If We’re Hearing From God

  1. Does what I’m hearing line up with Scripture?
  2. Is what I’m hearing consistent with God’s character?
  3. Is what I’m hearing confirmed through messages at church or in my quiet time?
  4. Is what I’m hearing beyond me?
  5. Is what I’m hearing pleasing to God?

Lysa Terkeurst, “5 Questions to Know If We’re Hearing From God,” Proverbs 31 Ministries, August 9, 2018

* * * * * * *

“You let too many thoughts dominate your mind. …God never called you to second guess yourself; He called you to trust in Him. …I’m going forward in faith…and I’m brave in my heart. …My heart is steadfast. My spirit is secure. His promises are true. His Word is everlasting.” “Go Forward in Faith,” 1:Minute Motivation, Steven Furtick, Emailed 8-9-18

* * * * * * *

“Pastor and author A. W. Tozer wrote: ‘God is above, but He’s not pushed up. He’s beneath, but He’s not pressed down. He’s outside, but He’s not excluded. He’s inside, but He’s not confined. God is above all things presiding, beneath all things sustaining, outside all things embracing, and inside all things fulfilling.’ “ The Word for You Today, 8-9-18

Why pray God’s Word? Because it puts us under the “dome” of God’s protection. It’s for regular people like you and me – not just angels.

This week has been a trial. I am assured that God is over me. He walks beside me during the dark times.

“Comfort is not given to us when we are lighthearted and cheerful. …when we experience even the thickest darkness, we must remember…the comforting drops of heavenly dew fall only after the sun has set.” “Streams in the Desert,” August 9

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

#bible

No One Was There to Help Me

I’m posting this today before God asks me any more embarrassing questions!

* * * * * * *

This summer has been difficult for our worship team. After our bass player died, we found a young man to help out. He lives an hour away and cannot commit to every Sunday.

Our guitar player finished college and started his career in Des Moines. Joe came back, but his schedule makes him unavailable for many weeks. Rachel, our synth player, was unavailable for 4 out of the last 5 weeks.

That left me.

Between the 2 keyboards, I can cover the synth and the bass. I learned a few “lead lines” for when we didn’t have a guitar player. But I’m tired.

Isaiah 63:3, 5, 6, “I’ve been treading the winepress alone. No one was there to help me. Angrily, I stomped the grapes;… (5) I went ahead and did it myself, fed and fueled by my rage. (6) I trampled people in my anger…” The Message

After my devotions today, God nudged me to finish watching a movie. I thought, “That can’t be God!” 

I argued with Him, “I don’t watch TV during the day!” He persisted and I gave in.

I got out a jacket from which I plan to remove the lining. I turned on the movie and started basting the edges of the jacket. (I don’t want it to lose its structure. I will use an invisible stitch after the lining is gone.)

There were only 5 minutes left of the movie. It was a classic fight scene. After the hero knocked the bad guy out, his wife entered the room.

“Steve, you look awful! We’ve got to get the wagons through the pass today. What about our schedule?”

“Come ‘ere, you,” Steve replied. THE END.

from the movie “Bullwhip”

The movie ended but I was only partway around the jacket. I shut off the DVR and listened to regular TV.

“You’ve got to tell him!” said Barney Fife.

“I have to wait for the right time,” replied Andy Griffin.

from “The Andy Griffin Show”

* * * * * * *

“We enjoy the blessings of change, but not the process of change. We’re creatures of habit. We form our habits, and our habits form us. …The truth is, without change there is no growth. When you have the right attitude every experience – positive or negative – becomes an opportunity for progress.” The Word for You Today, July 19, 2018

When I finished basting my jacket, God asked me some hard questions:

  • Do you run over people?
  • Do you stick to your schedule instead of following God’s leading?
  • Do your relationships trump your tasks?
  • Do you wait for God’s timing before you speak?
  • Are you forming good habits?
  • How is your attitude?

I see room for improvement.

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

There are Difficult Times Ahead

My plan was to arrive early at the bridal shower.

  • My daughter called asking me to turn on the iron.
  • I told David I was going to Wal-Mart afterward for watch batteries. (My fitness tracker gives me a rash in the summer.) He asked for a battery for his desk clock. We tried the ones I had on hand and the minutes slipped away. I taped the battery he needed to the back of the package I had. Then I put it and my watches in my purse.
  • As I parked, I received a text that my sister was running late.

I hurried into the shower feeling like the worst mother-of-the-groom ever! The mother-of-the-bride met me at the door and gave me a hug. She just laughed when I apologized for not coming early. The bride-to-be was gracious, too. She said she arrived later than planned.

The food was amazing: “Build-your-own-parfaits,” mini Quiches, coffee cake, bruschetta with tomatoes and parsley, and bruschetta with strawberries, blueberries, and mint leaves. I took a big bite of a fruit bruschetta and heard Rachel say, “There are some people I would like you to meet.” I chewed furiously and prayed there were no mint leaves stuck to my teeth!

Her mother gave her a silver spoon from her grandmother’s collection…(She lost her grandmother when she was 5)…and the baby bonnet that she wore home from the hospital. Her aunt made it out of a handkerchief. You clip the stitches and have something old to carry in your wedding. She cried and everyone teared up with her.

I gave her the same glasses as my sister-in-law and another guest. I really felt like crying! (No, we did not plan it.)

Instead, I put my foot in my mouth. Not just once, but at least 3 times. I dug a hole, and when I tried to fix it, the deeper I went!

After the shower, I went to Wal-Mart. My favorite watch wouldn’t work – even with a new battery. I still have a white watch for summer and a black watch for winter. It’s funny; I thought I needed that fitness tracker.

I consoled myself with a trip to the library. I checked out as many books as I could carry.

“Sometimes you have to give up things you thought you wanted before you reap the rewards of the things you least expected.” Wanda E. Brunstetter in “The Discovery Saga Collection”

Finally, the verse I read this morning made sense.

2 Timothy 3:1, “Don’t be naïve. There are difficult times ahead. …” The Message

* * * * * * *

“Pebble Beach, on the California Coast, has become quite famous for the beautiful pebbles found there. The raging white surf continually roars, thundering and pounding against the rocks on the shore. These stones are trapped in the arms of the merciless waves. They are tossed, rolled, rubbed together, and ground against the sharp edges of the cliffs. Both day and night, this process of grinding continues relentlessly. And what is the result?

Tourists from around the world flock there to collect the beautiful stones. They display them in cabinets and use them to decorate their homes. Yet a little farther up the coast, just around the point of the cliff, is a quiet cove. Protected from the face of the ocean, sheltered from the storms, and always in the sun, the sands are covered with an abundance of pebbles never sought by the travelers.

So why have these stones been left untouched through all the years? Simply because they have escaped all the turmoil and the grinding of the waves. The quietness and peace have left them as they have always been – rough, unpolished, and devoid of beauty – for polish is the result of difficulties.

Since God knows what niche we are to fill, let us trust Him to shape us to it. And since He knows what work we are to do, let us trust Him to grind us so we will be properly prepared.” “Streams in the Desert” –  July 7

* * * * * * *

“We often assume we’ll only have peace when our situation changes. Then like Gideon we learn that inward peace doesn’t depend on altering our outward circumstances; it depends on believing God is with you and experiencing His inner peace.” The Word for You Today

* * * * * * *

“There must be an assignment on your life and so He doesn’t take you up out of it, He gets in the fire with you. …I’m not gonna take you out of the storm, I’m gonna see you through the storm!” “How I Know You’re Important,” 1 Min Motivation, Steven Furtick

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

Refuse Inane Discussions

My dad was a character. He loved giving his friends and family a hard time. A battle of wits was a favorite pastime.

We all inherited his wit. He found in his children a worthy opponent. As adults, we sometimes got the best of him. He always ended those discussions with 1 word…

“Stifle”

Stifle could mean several things:

  • I’m losing the battle and want to end the war.
  • You’re talking too much.
  • I don’t want to discuss that subject.
  • Your voice is too loud.
  • Don’t talk in here, (the car, church, etc).

If Dad were alive and had a Facebook page, I’m sure that would be his comment on many posts – “Stifle!”

2 Timothy 2:23-24, “Refuse to get involved in inane discussions; they always end up in fights. (24) God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“If we as Christians are going to be a witness in this culture, we must change the way we speak – not only about one another, but also about the world around us.” “The Timeless Voice: Civility is more than manners, it’s the gospel in action” Greg Baker, The Family Leader

* * * * * * *

Proverbs 11:12, “Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.” New International Version

* * * * * * *

“You’re to stand – not fight. …Our human methods get in God’s way.” The Word for You Today 7-6-2018

* * * * * * *

“Living a life of faith often requires us to leave things alone. If we have completely entrusted something to God, we must keep our hands off it. He can guard it better than we can, and He does not need our help.” A. B. Simpson, in “Streams in the Desert” July 6

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