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Such Useless Things

September 14, 2016 Leave a comment

USELESSThe other day I was standing beside an elevator, having just pushed the Arrow Down button to call the elevator up to the second floor, when an elderly gentleman walked over and pushed the same button again. Then, he turned to me and said, “I know that was useless. The elevator won’t get here any sooner just because two people push it.”

At the grocery store, a little later that day, I tried to sign my name on a credit card scanner. After several attempts to make a semi-legible mark, the clerk waved her hand at me and said, “Oh, honey, forget it. Your signature won’t mean anything on there. That thing is useless.”

My day of useless things ended when I got home and tried to balance my checkbook. No, it wasn’t balancing the checkbook that proved useless. What was useless was pushing the “C” repeatedly on the calculator, clearing out the old amount before adding a new one. Like the gentleman at the elevator, I suddenly realized pressing the “C” a second time was an exercise in futility. The screen always went blank the first time I pushed it.

There’s a fourth useless thing we may be guilty of as well. It’s forgetting to worship our Creator. God reminds us of this in Isaiah 45:7 when He says, “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.”

Failure to acknowledge the God of the Universe, He who created light and darkness, who directs every aspect of our lives, is useless. In the same chapter in Isaiah, God says,” By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return:‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.” (Isaiah 45:23).

Finding Happiness

May 3, 2016 Leave a comment

stay away 2As I enjoyed an early morning quiet time on my patio recently, I became captivated by the play of light and dark, shadow and sunlight, across the foliage of my backyard. I had just been reading a devotional about mankind’s universal search for happiness. In the article, C. S. Lewis’ classic, Mere Christianity, is referenced, particularly this quote, “All that we call human history–money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

After reading this quote, I glanced up from my iPad and saw the patterns the early morning sun was drawing in my garden. Some flowers were in shadow, while others were in sunlight. The flowers highlighted by the sunlight looked “happier” than those flowers residing in the shadows. Why was that? Well, obviously, it was because the “happier” flowers were basking in the sun’s light, while those in the shadow were not receiving the sun’s full benefits.. 

Although I’m quite certain flowers do not experience human emotions, my garden’s shadows and sunlight illustrated the truth of my devotional reading. We all seek happiness, but as long as we remain in the shadows–substituting other people, pleasures, and pursuits for God in our lives–we will never be truly happy.

“You make known to me the path of life, in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11.

Turn your face toward the Son. Bask in the warmth of His Light today. 

The Garden God Planted

April 18, 2016 Leave a comment

gardenI planted my flower garden this week. As I was working the dirt and digging the holes, I kept reminding myself of how much I was going to love sitting on my patio this summer surrounded by thriving, flowering plants. I had to keep repeating this mantra because gardening is hard work.

In the midst of one of my many “rest periods,” I thought of the verse from Genesis 2:8, “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden.” That sounded good to me, especially the part about God doing the planting. When Adam and Eve showed up in Eden, they had a ready-made garden, because God had already done all the heavy lifting for them.

This concept of God “serving” or “working” for His children is present throughout the Bible; yet, most believers are taught the opposite. That is, as followers of Christ, we are urged to find ways to serve Him. While it’s true we are to “serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2), we are never to think our service toward God is anything He actually needs, that somehow He would be lacking something if we did not render Him our service.

In fact, when Paul was preaching to the Athenians, he tried to dissuade them from having such an attitude. He says in Acts 17:24-25, “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.” God doesn’t need anything from us, because he is the Giver of all things; He is the self-sufficient One..

The proper response to our Giver is to receive His gifts with an abundantly grateful heart, acknowledging we have nothing to give in return but our own utter dependence. Peter tells us to serve “as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 4:11).

The service that glorifies God is service rendered through Him alone.

Come And Dine!

March 12, 2016 Leave a comment

Thanksgiving table decorationI’ve discovered having a successful Quiet Time is a lot like having a dinner party.  To have a successful dinner party, you’ve got to plan well. I do that by asking myself several questions.  Who will I invite to the party?  What will be the main course?  What will I use for a table decoration? Will I use the good china or my everyday dishes?

It’s the same with having a daily devotional time. I have to plan for a successful outcome by asking some pertinent questions. What version of the Bible will I use?  Will I read the Bible through this year or study one book at a time?  Will I record my thoughts in a journal? What’s the best time for me to be alone with God?

I seldom have a party without something unexpected happening. There might be a quick solution to the problem, like making a fast trip to the grocery store when the ice maker stops working.  Sometimes, however, there is no easy solution, and things just don’t turn out the way you’d hoped, although your guests will probably not notice when things go wrong.

You need to expect the unexpected during your Quiet Time too. There will be days when the telephone rings, the dog needs to go out, or the kids wake up early. At those times, you might be able to resume your appointment with the Lord.  On the other hand, some interruptions don’t have quick solutions, and your daily devotional time may seem like a failure, although I doubt the Lord will ever feel your time with Him is ever a failure.

My most enjoyable dinner parties aren’t necessarily those rare ones where everything turns out beautifully. Instead, it’s the one where I forgot to make the gravy because I was hearing about my friend’s hurt feelings or the one where I decided to stop looking for the wooden salad bowl so I could hear a funny story from someone who never tells funny stories.

Having an enjoyable daily Quiet Time may not always involve high moments of ecstatic wonder or theological insight. A pleasing time with the Lord may be consumed with painful confessions or heartbreaking requests. Yet, in the end, the real reason for having a Quiet Time, like the real reason for the dinner party, is to set aside time in your day for sharing yourself with a friend.

Complimentary words from guests as they leave your home when the party’s over are always nice to hear. But, listen to these complimentary words from the writer of Psalm 119 after spending time with the Lord, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”(Psalm 119:103)

Pinhole Glimpses of God

January 21, 2016 Leave a comment

SpaceI love looking at NASA’s Hubble image of the day, and I’m drawn to any Pinterest image displaying views of outer space. My Astronomy board testifies to this obsession. But, I’m not a big Science Fiction reader, nor did I ever take a course in Astronomy.

I’m drawn to the heavens because I’m able to see the incredible beauty of God’s handiwork there. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above declares his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1.

Scientists tell us when we look at the heavens above our heads, even with the most powerful of telescopes, we’re only able to see a minuscule portion of the universe. Human beings can never fully grasp the vastness of the world our Creator has made all in order to display His glory.

I believe God intended it to be that way.

God created an incomprehensible universe because He is incomprehensible. The immense heavens reflect an immense God, giving us, at best, only the barest pinhole glimpses of a God of unlimited power.

Someone has suggested perhaps the Universe is just ONE of God’s thoughts. How mind-blowing is that?

Trying to comprehend the power behind a Being who can create the Universe is impossible for a finite human creature. It’s just as impossible to understand the grace of God in making provision through His Son for human beings to live with Him in His Universe forever and to enjoy a personal relationship with him.

Psalm 8:3-4 “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

What to know more about the possibility of a personal relationship with God? Watch the video below.

 

Three Useless Things We Do–And A Fourth!

September 30, 2015 Leave a comment

USELESSThe other day I was standing beside an elevator, having just pushed the Arrow Down button to call the elevator up to the second floor, when an elderly gentleman walked over and pushed the same button again. Then, he turned to me and said, “I know that was useless. The elevator won’t get here any sooner just because two people push it.”

At the grocery store, a little later that day, I tried to sign my name on a credit card scanner. After several attempts to make a semi-legible mark, the clerk waved her hand at me and said, “Oh, honey, forget it. Your signature won’t mean anything on there. That thing is useless.”

My day of useless things ended when I got home and tried to balance my checkbook. No, it wasn’t balancing the checkbook that proved useless. What was useless was pushing the “C” repeatedly on the calculator, clearing out the old amount before adding a new one. Like the gentleman at the elevator, I suddenly realized pressing the “C” a second time was an exercise in futility. The screen always went blank the first time I pushed it.

There’s a fourth useless thing we may be guilty of as well. It’s forgetting to worship our Creator. God reminds us of this in Isaiah 45:7 when He says, “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.”

Failure to acknowledge the God of the Universe, He who created light and darkness, who directs every aspect of our lives, is useless. In the same chapter in Isaiah, God says,” By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return:‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.” (Isaiah 45:23).

Three “Finds” That Will Help You Find Your Way

August 21, 2015 Leave a comment

Finding Your WayIt’s easy to lose your way in the world. Our modern world has a myriad of paths from which to choose, and we can explore them all, saturating ourselves with facts and philosophies and desires and practices and beliefs.

However, like hikers exploring a new trail, there are some precautions we should take before we head off into the unknown. Otherwise, we’re sure to lose our way. These practices should serve us well, whether we’re looking at a belief system, a career choice, a new set of friends or anything requiring our time, money, and effort.

First, FIND a way to have a Daily Quiet Time
Spend at least thirty minutes every day in Bible study and prayer. It doesn’t matter how you do this. There’s a Bible reading plan out there that will match up with anyone’s learning style and preferences. The important thing is to put yourself in a position where your Father in heaven can communicate His love, His plan, and His desires for you, and  in return, you can catch a glimpse of His Glory.

Second, FIND a way to meet with others to worship God
Praising, loving, and serving God with other people will strengthen and enhance an individual’s faith. However, being with others in a faith-based group isn’t always about the individual’s needs. It’s about a people who together desire to give glory, honor and praise to an Almighty Creator who sacrificed His only son to make such a relationship possible.

Third, FIND a way to express your faith
Our belief in God requires an outlet. Otherwise, stagnation sets in. This expression can take many forms, and it may be different according to personality types. For some, it may mean singing, speaking, teaching or preaching. For others, it may mean journaling, writing, serving, or counseling.

Jeremiah 6:16: Thus says the Lord: Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”

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