Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why Did the Apostle Paul Give Us a List of 8 Things to Think About

Granddaughter Mya reading Who Is God? by Kathleen Ruckman
 You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you Isaiah 26:3a (NKJV).

I visited the home improvement store last week. I enjoyed the background music as I browsed the aisles. The cashier was listening, too, because as I checked out, she actually started singing the lyrics of the catchy tune that filled the airwaves.

Maybe that's when it got stuck in my head. I first noticed it as I waited at the traffic light. I was singing it in my mind. By the time I got to the grocery store, I was belting it outloud. It wasn't even a song I liked. That wasn't the end of it. It happened the next day, and the next. When I started writing this, it happened again.

Do you know what I mean? Haven't we all had songs stuck in our heads. We hear it on the radio in the car, or in church, or in the home improvement store, and at the most unexpected time, it plays over and over like a broken record. Unfortunately, negative thoughts, self-doubts, painful memories, and worry can get stuck in our heads as well. And like that song I was singing even though I didn't like it, those negative thoughts can play over and over again in our minds causing us to lose our peace.

For our mental and spiritual health, it's important that we control those negative thoughts. The apostle Paul has given us a simple list.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things...and the God of peace shall be with you" Philippians 4:8-9 (KJV).

Could he have been any more direct? Paul said "think on these things". I like the promise he gives. The God of peace shall be with you.

Do you have a favorite Scripture that helps you overcome negative thinking?

Melanie's rescued kittens in a box
Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you," John 14:27a.

Those of you who read Write Moments with God regularly will remember this is a devotion I wrote last summer.  It's been a favorite with readers. Feel free to leave your comments below.  I'd like to hear from you.  Be sure to visit this upcoming Monday when I will have the featured author of the month and book give away.

May His peace be with you.

Monday, January 28, 2013

What Does the Lord Require of Us?

Beautiful blue doors by Jeanne Henriques --  Collage of Life

“He has shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” Micah 6:8 (KJV)?
           My angry teenager yelled at me as she stormed into her room. “You would be happy
if I stayed in my room all the time and had no friends at all!” 

          That was definitely not what I wanted from her or for her. (Parenting teenagers is a

most challenging profession, but that's another story.)

Her accusation reminded me of the children of Israel’s to Micah.  They wanted to know if the Lord would be pleased with sacrifices of thousands of rams, rivers of oil, and their first born children. (See Micah 6)  Of course that was not what God wanted.  Micah stated that God had shown them what was good.
God brought the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, parting the Red Sea for their safe passage, and took care of them in the barren desert.  You would think they would have always remembered these mighty acts and His gracious acts of mercy.  Such was not the case.  God called for the mountains to be His witnesses against the people of Israel, and asked the people to testify to explain their disobedience to Him.  Had they forgotten all He had done for them?
We might ask ourselves the same question.  Have we forgotten all that He has done for us?
Sometimes I think we make serving God more mysterious and difficult than it actually is.  God doesn’t want extravagant sacrifices.  He wants obedience.  In my opinion, obedience greatly simplifies our lives.  He wants us to do justly (do the right thing), to love mercy (be kind), and to walk humbly with Him (aware that He is our God).  God does not ask for impossible sacrifices. Obedience is doable. 
And He never asks us to do anything that He hasn't equipped us to do. (See Timothy 3:16-17)
Do you think God's children today are sometimes as obstinate and histrionic as teenagers can be?
Delightful photo by Eileen DeCamp

Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt.11:30).

Help us LORD to do all you require of us and give us opportunities to testify of the wonderful things you have done.

I'd love to read your thoughts on today devotion.  Consider leaving a comment below by clicking on the pencil icon or the word comment.  Thank you so much for visiting Write Moments with God.  God bless you.   

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Will You Accept Your Portion of Inheritance from the Lord?

One of my coffee cups
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. . . my cup runneth over.  Psalm 23: 1, 5a

The 23rd Psalm is one of my favorite passages of Scripture for comfort and encouragement. I
read it in its entirety almost every day.  My cup runneth over makes me think of blessings
running over in abundance. 
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6 

I love the affirmation expressed by these words of confident hope.
This week, the word cup captured my attention and spurred me on a search. I'll share some of my questions with you.

What exactly is our cup?
I learned in the Psalms that the cup can be one of wrath and suffering, and then again one of salvation.  (See Psalm 116:13)  And it comes from the hand of the Lord.

In the hand of the Lord there is a cup . . . Psalm 75:8

Jeremiah 16:7 talks about a cup of consolation.

Is our cup then, our portion that we need from the Lord for a particular time?

As Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, he said . . .
O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:  nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. Matthew 26:39.

Jesus was exceedingly sorrowful, and praying on His face.  So that cup was a cup of suffering. He knew what he had to do, and He accepted it as the will of God.

When the band of officers came to get Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, Simon Peter drew his sword and slashed off the high priest’s servant’s ear. (See John 18:10-11).  Consider the words of our Lord to Peter.

Put up thy sword into the sheath:  the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

The cup then I perceive comes from the hands of God the Father, and it is His will.

Jesus said Shall I not drink it?  

Then who am I to question the portion that is given to me?

Whatever comes to us from His hand is our portion.  Be it salvation, abundant blessings, consolations, or suffering, it is His will for us at that moment in time.

And there is yet another cup I read of in the Scriptures—the cup of the new covenant.

We have Jesus’ words at the Last Supper.

In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For wherever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.  1 Corinthians 11: 26-27

He offers us the new covenant in His blood.

Will we accept the cup from His hand?

Jesus trusted God the Father and took the cup.  Will we not do the same?  Accept our portion that comes from the hand of God?  Knowing that He satisfies the deepest needs of our soul.

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup. . .  Psalm 16:5a

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6 
Thank you so much for visiting Write Moments with God today.  Might you consider leaving a comment?  I'd love to read what you have to say.  God's peace be with you. 
 Beautiful picture by Eileen DeCamp

Monday, January 21, 2013

How Worry Stopped the Clock and Inhibits Our Steps

Daddy's eighty-plus-year old clock made by William L.Gilbert in Winsted, Conn

Does He not see my ways, and count my every step? Job 31:4

The Lord counts our steps.  Job also said that God numbers our steps.  (See Job 14:16) 

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delights in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholds him with his hand.  Psalm 37: 23-24

These Scriptures are encouraging, especially when things may not be going the way we’d like them to.  Trust the Lord; believe His promises.  God will guide our steps when we commit our way to Him. (See  Psalm 37)

It is so easy to worry, especially when the task seems daunting, or the way seems long and difficult.  We tend to look at circumstances and project into the future.  Worrying about what’s up ahead, what might happen tomorrow, does not make our way easier.  It inhibits our steps.

What I’d rather do is trust in God’s grace and know that He will give me the strength I need to take one step at a time. 

I’d like to share a story of the little clock that stopped ticking when it was told how many times he’d have to tick in a year. . . a lifetime.
“How many ticks do you have to tick at a time?” the wise old clock asked.

“Why, only one, I guess,” the new clock answered.

“There now.  That’s not so hard, is it?  Try it along with me.  Tick, tock, tick, tock.  See how easy it is?  Just one tick at a time.”

A light of understanding formed on the face of the clock, and he said, “I believe I can do it.  Here I go.”  He began ticking again.

“One more thing,” the wise old clock said. “Don’t ever think about the next tick until you have your last tick ticked.”

I understand that was seventy-five years ago, and the clock is still ticking perfectly, one tick at a time.

No man sinks under the burden of the day.  It is only when yesterday’s guilt is added to tomorrow’s anxiety that our legs buckle and our backs break.  It is delightfully easy to live one day at a time! ~ Corrie ten Boom
This is an excerpt from Don’t Wrestle, Just Nestle by Corrie ten Boom. She’s no longer with us, but her testimony lives on. If you don’t know her valiant story and her writing, you really must read some of her life-changing books.
I copied that little story in a notebook over 30 years ago. I hope you will find encouragement from it as I have.

Trust God's grace and know He's right there with you every step of the way. 
I'd love to hear from you.  You may leave a comment by clicking on the pencil icon or the word "comment" below.  At the bottom of the page you can also click to share this on Facebook and Twitter.
And for those of you who love old clocks, my Daddy's clock still keeps perfect time, and it's been ticking a very long time. . .one tick at a time.  God bless you.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Is There Any Way We Can Know God?

Watching the kids on the playground--Quebec City Canada--June 2011

When my twins, Justin and Jonathan, were little boys, we had an ant farm.  It was fun to watch the tiny industrious creatures forever busy running their lives.  (Yes, my boys were that, but here I am referring to the ants.) These social creatures cooperated with one another building tunnels and chambers oblivious to our watchful eyes.  In their own universe (with no way to comprehend their marvelous masters) they lived their busy lives until they died too quickly, and the whole ant farm sat strangely still.  Our perspective gave us a good understanding of them, but there was no way they could fathom us.   
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers. Isaiah 40:21-22 
Like grasshoppers! Isaiah said. That perspective mirrors our own with the ants.
The truth is God is far above and beyond our comprehension. He knows us, His creations. We may try in our finite minds to conceive of Him, but in reality we have no basis of comparison.  God is marvelous and majestic.
Is there any way we can know Him?  God made a way for us when He sent us His son Jesus Christ.
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!  Philippians2:6-8
Our gracious heavenly Father sent His son Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, to live amongst us as a man, to understand us, to be our brother, our advocate, our Savior, that we might know Him and by so doing, know the Father as well.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7
Thank God for Jesus Christ. He makes a way for us to know God and to see God.  Thank God for my Savoir.  Otherwise, I might have lived and died as clueless as a grasshopper. . . or even as an ant.
Today I hope you will take the time to consider what a great big God we have, and what a wonderfully gracious thing He did by sending us His Son. God bless you. Thank you for visiting Write Moments with God. 
Might you consider leaving a comment?  I love to read what you have to say.  Click on the word comment or the pencil icon below for a space to write.  If this blog has blessed you in any way, please share on Facebook or Twitter so others can find this site.  You can click on that below as well.  Thank you.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Want a Closer Relationship with God?

Thanks to Marisel Jarrin Kleppen who shared the picture of her husband and son

And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

Without communication relationships die. I can’t remember where I first read those words, but to me they ring true.  In fact, I said them this week to a friend about her long distance relationship.  Telephone commercials remind us of the importance of staying in touch with our loved ones far away.  

Without communication relationships die. I’ve said this to myself recently and resolved to communicate more frequently with friends by cards and letters—hand written and mailed.  Communication is necessary for healthy relationships.

We know this certainly applies to human relationships, but what about our relationship with God?

We are God’s children, adopted into the family of God.  We call the Lord Almighty, our Father. Our relationship with God is the ultimate relationship.

And I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.  2 Corinthians 6:18
For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:26
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father". Galatians 4:6
And Jesus calls us His brethren.  (See Matthew 12:48-50)
We have a personal relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But how do we communicate with God? How do we keep the lines of communication open?

We go to Him in prayer.

In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.  Ephesians 3:12

Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Prayer is key to our spiritual relationship. Just as with any other intimate relationship, you need quality time together in order to nurture and grow that relationship.  Through prayer I draw close to God and He draws close to me.  Through prayer my soul communes with God. 

We can pray anywhere, about anything, at any time.  There is nowhere that we, as children of God, can be that God will not hear us.  We can commune with Him in our hearts or speak out loud. 

Are you taking advantage of this amazing privilege? Do you want a closer relationship with God?  Pray.
And he (Jesus) withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.  Luke 5:16

 Photo courtesy of Marissa Nicole Photography
Thank you so much for visiting Write Moments with God.  I invite you to leave your comments and add to the conversation. I love to hear from you. Click on the little pencil icon or the word "comment" below for a place to write your message.  God  bless you as you seek a closer relationship with Him. 

And now, to announce the winner of last week's book give-away.  Congratulations to Deborah McCarragher who will be receiving one of Jennifer Rothschild's wonderful books.  I know you will be blessed Deborah. 

Thanks to all of you who visited the blog and left comments.  It was a pleasure to read all the wonderful things you had to say about Jennifer Rothschild and how her writing has blessed you. It was very encouraging to me and I know it was to Jennifer as well. 

Thank you so much Jennifer for allowing us to get to know you here at Write Moments with God.  May God continue to bless every word that you write for His glory. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Consider the Lilies of the Field

Beautiful photography today courtesy of Eileen DeCamp--Blue Ridge Lavender

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin, Matthew 6:28b (KJV).

With six children, there is always something I could worry about. And with a hundred and fifty high school students on my class rosters, my head could spin about that. But wouldn't that be a waste of my time? Isn't that a lack of faith in God?

So much has been written about worry, I'm sure I can't say anything new. It's a part of the universal human condition. Jesus knew our condition when he gave us his principle for living worry-free.

"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto this day is the evil thereof," Matthew 6:34 (KJV).

Jesus spoke about worry in his Sermon on the Mount. Take therefore no thought for the morrow . . . . Don't worry about tomorrow. Don't even give it a thought. We're given only one day at a time.  Tomorrow may never come.
For the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself . . . . Tomorrow we can think about tomorrow's business.
Sufficient unto this day is the evil thereof. There is enough to deal with today.

We know His words.
We know our God is bigger than all our problems today and the ones that we might face tomorrow. Yet, it is a step-by-step walk of faith every day.
And when each day is done, it becomes that wonderful part of our story called the past. Once lived, it's done, saved for all eternity. If we trust Jesus to help us live each day as best we can, without worry, we can enjoy the treasure of a life well-lived. Trusting Him to take care of us just like he does the lilies of the field.

Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you, 1 Peter 5:7.

I know He cares for you, precious one. Be blessed with a carefree day.  You are so much more valuable that the lilies and the birds. I have to hang onto His Truth.

Might you consider leaving a comment below?  I love hearing from you.  Please visit again.

And leave a comment on the previous post regarding Jennifer Rothschild.  It's not too late to qualify to win one of her inspirational books!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Jennifer Rothschild -- featured author and monthly Book Give-away

Jennifer Rothschild is my guest author today. I was delighted to discover her writings this Christmas holiday, and I have since read two of her books, and  have two more waiting in my stack of must-reads.  I don’t know Jennifer personally; I usually do with my featured authors.  However, I was so blessed and encouraged by her powerful story, I wanted to introduce her to you right away.  (I apologize that there are no pictures.  Blogger is not letting me upload any today.  If you click on her name below, you'll see her picture on her website.)

Lessons I Learned in the Dark is challenging and inspiring. It's beautifully written and scripturally sound. Jennifer writes that it is "impossible to separate who God is from His word". In my opinion, that's reason enough for lots of Scripture. I like that she incorporates a lot of Scripture in her writing. This book perfectly illustrates Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". Jennifer gives some of her story, and some of the practical steps she took to learn to walk by faith, and not by sight. I loved her statement that "trust is a choice I make . . . trust is a risk I take . . . the journey is worth the risk". We could all benefit from the spiritual truths she presents. I was blessed and encouraged by her story. As soon as I finished reading Lessons I Learned in the Dark, I read Self Talk Soul Talk.

Self Talk Soul Talk could be a life-changer for many women.  What follows here are a few questions and answers provided by Jennifer Rothschild about that book.
What is soul talk?
Over the years, I have gradually learned what to say when I talk to myself, and that has truly made all the difference in my life. After years of struggling beneath the weight of my own slander and lies, I have learned to speak truth into my soul. It’s what I call soul talk.
How does soul talk work?
Everybody practices self talk, but few of us actually take time to think about the things we say to ourselves. The process is so natural we don’t even notice it. Amazingly, much of our self talk is false. The words we say shape the way we think about ourselves. They influence our emotions, our thoughts, and our decisions. They resurface in our conversations with other people. They can spur us on to live meaningful, productive lives, or they can drag us down to lethargy and despair. Soul talk is about replacing the lies you may have been telling yourself with the truth.
What kinds of struggles with self talk have you had personally?
My steady flow of disapproving thoughts and self talk once formed a constant stream. I badgered, nagged, devalued, and said cutting words to myself. At times, all those dark, negative put-downs have felt like a raging river, tossing me mercilessly until I thought I might drown in my own self-condemnation.
What was the physical setback that you faced in your teens?
At the age of 15, I became legally blind due to a disease called retinitis pigmentosa. Even though I received that difficulty with grace and resolve, the extra challenges of the disability and the knowledge that blindness was inevitable brought even more opportunities for me to struggle with negative thoughts and destructive self talk. For me, blindness is a circumstance that opens the door to a host of other bewildering issues. One of the biggest daily realities I face is the stress of not being able to drive, read, or enjoy independence.
What is the paradox of emotions?
If you try to think with your feelings, you’ll fall into all manner of false conclusions. Emotions are supposed to serve and strengthen us. Left to themselves, however, they enslave and deplete us. We need a thought closet well stocked with timeless truth, or we will clothe ourselves with the feelings of the moment.
How important is our spiritual well-being?
Hopelessness, fear and depression often grow out of unsatisfied longings. C.S. Lewis said, “If I can find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” We can try to fill the longing with relationships, religion, volunteerism, or just being good. But the deep ache from the bottom of our souls can only be satisfied in a relationship with God.

Is it healthy to remember the past? What memories should we revisit?
The real power of any moment is fully realized when it is remembered. The experience might have been painful or pleasant, but its intensity and meaning grow when we remember and reflect upon it. Remembering is essential to the health of our souls. So we must tell our souls to look back often. Memories store great anthologies of stories that tell us who we are. They become intimate reminders of our personal histories. However, tell your soul to look back only at what is profitable. Profitable memories are those that add to your soul wellness rather than subtract from it.
* * *
I know this is just a little sampling about Jennifer Rothschild's books.  She has written several others not mentioned here.  You can find out more about Jennifer and her books and Bible studies on her website. (Click on the highlighted words.)
Now, for an opportunity to receive a copy of one of Jennifer's books.

At least ten readers must comment and share in order for there to be a book give-away. So come on everyone. Join in. Follow these easy steps to qualify for the random drawing.

1. Leave a comment on this blog. (Include your name and email address if you want to be included in the drawing. I will use your address to contact you if you win.)  

2. Share this blog post on Facebook so your friends will read about it and visit too, tweet it if you have twitter, and mention the book give-away on your own blog if you have one.  It would be great it you would become a follower of this site, so you won't miss a single post. 

Complete these steps by 11:00 a.m. Saturday, January 12th. A winner will be announced here on Monday, January 14th, so be sure to check back to see if you've won.

Thank you for supporting my writing by reading and commenting on this blog. You are a blessing to me. Please come again. 

For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for well-being, and not for calamity, in order to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ISV


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Fit for the Flames -- Throwing out the flowers and resolving to abide in the Vine

Dead flowers thrown into the fire--January 1, 2013
The bright colors of my Christmas bouquet faded and the pristine blossoms wilted.  The once vibrant and fragrant beauties withered, and now they are without a doubt . . . lifeless. Their drooping heads over dried and brittle leaves were no longer of any use to me, so . . . I tossed them into the fire last night.  As I watched them burn, I thought. . . that’s me without God. 

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.  John 15:6

These are Jesus' words.
Think about it.  Jesus is our source of life.  He is our life blood.  He is the True Vine.  We are the branches that flourish and grow as long as we are connected to Him—abiding in Him.  If we become cut off from the source of Life, by our own choice or neglect or by never having connected to Him in the first place, we cannot sustain life.  We wither.  Strength and vitality fades away. 

Jesus said He came not only that we might have life, but also that we might have it abundantly.  (See John 10:10)

That connectivity, that abiding, is through a relationship with God.  We can have the abundant life that God wants us to have if we maintain our connection to Him.  It’s through that relationship that we draw from the boundless source of all things good. 

As we stay connected to Him every day, we bring forth fruit.  Beautiful delicious life-giving fruit.  All that we are created to be in Christ Jesus, all the good things that we go about doing each day--all the things that we do to His glory.  Jesus said we will bring forth fruit.

I am the vine, ye are the branches.  He that abideth in me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me ye can do nothing.  John 15:15
Photo courtesy of Jeanne Henriques

Can this be our New Year’s resolution?  To abide in the Vine?  And what might we do to maintain that connectivity to God in the everyday moments of life?
Might you consider leaving a comment?  I’d love to read your thoughts.