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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thankfulness Delight!

Each time a child is born, we look for the physical features most resembling the parents or siblings.  More than thirty years ago our son brought his daughters for a visit, I saw that the younger daughter resembled most closely the photo of my Mom’s baby brother, hanging on the wall.  It was amazing to see the similarity to her Great, Great-Uncle.  I gave thanks for the living reminder of the mystery of God from generation to generation.

         We celebrated Thanksgiving last week and a flash of insight came.  Giving-Thanks is every day when we belong and follow Jesus. Thanksgiving is tying up in a huge red bow the beginnings of our original image.   So God created human beings in his own image. Genesis 1:27.  To become in the image of God – what does it take?

         Have you ever wondered just what that can mean?  A simple heartfelt Thank You is a sign of respect, friendship leading to a relational and deep understanding. ‘In the image’ shows delight and caring beyond a casual, if I must. It is a first-cousin to delight and praise and love.   In the image of God means sacrifice, love, and giving.  It takes constant and unending living - living creatively.

         The Message, Galatians 6:1 – Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.

         These verses in this translation speak of living creatively.  To me, they also speak of living thankfully.  It speaks of humility, sharing and in need of forgiveness. 

         The Lord God is the One who created the universe that eloquently speaks to me of the loveliness in His creation.  A painter often paints valued art, choosing to –re-create that which the Lord God created.  I enjoy the swoop of the clouds, the intricate beauty of a flower, the constancy of glorious sunrises and sunsets.   

         The Gungor lyrics sing to me, You make beautiful things out of dust, You make beautiful things out of us. You make me new…in His Image!

         Thankfulness Dementia is when we forget the acts of kindnesses, prayers, caring friendships that we have received over the years from strangers, friends and family.

         We are unable to truly walk in another’s shoes, to know what they need unless we heed the nudge from the Holy Spirit within Who leads and guides us.  A teacher, I know, walked into another teacher’s classroom and hugged this teacher.  Years later the ‘giver of the hug’ had forgotten, but the recipient of the hug remembered years later.

         A family with three boys often wore ‘hand me downs’.  When the oldest boy acquired a new pair of shoes, the second boy, took the old pair of shoes and tried walking in his brother’s shoes.  He hoped wearing his brother’s old shoes would help him be more like his brother. 

         A new baby receives the delighted look of his parents and from God.  We, as babes in Christ, are looked upon by our Heavenly Father with delight magnified.

         For the Lord your God is living among you.  He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17
         Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Romans 12:9-11
         He will delight in obeying the Lord. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay. Isaiah 11:3
         Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Isaiah 58:14
             When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.”  Genesis 9:16
        She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” Matthew 26:12-14
         Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13

Thanksgiving is every day when you delight in the Lord Jesus
in your heart every moment of every day.



Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Golden List

    November 22, 2016
    The Golden List

    Thanksgiving! Why is it so difficult to find why to be thankful?  So often I remember the Ten AM Bible Study for the ‘Old People’.  Our minister, Jack, asked for prayer requests, the list became as lengthy as a child’s toy list at Christmas.
     Then Jack asked for praises and thank-you’s. A profound silence and furtive glances around the room.  We searched our hearts and minds for a worthy praise to be shared – a veritable ‘Yay – God’ happening.
     I realized how often I took the  ‘little’ every day praises for granted.  We expect air to breathe, health, sleep, food, a place to belong, and the fellowship we enjoy with our fellow Christian encouragers.
     We teach our children to say thank you, but often without the deeper understanding of the why of thank you.  The words become empty of gratitude and become simply ‘manners’ words.  When we teach our children the Who of the recipient of our Thank You – they begin to understand the love of God the Father, and Jesus the Son.
     The other morning I cracked an egg open. It contained an unexpected double-yolk.  Immediately a vivid memory picture of my Mom dancing in the kitchen, praising God!  One of Dad’s hens laid a double-yolker! Memories like pearls strung in my mind revealed the visit with Mom one evening on the back porch of home in Watonga, Oklahoma. As a girl, she discovered the first star of the evening and told her secrets to the star. Now, each evening I look for Mom’s star and praise God for her faith and life, and the blessings of the day.  On a cloudy evening, I smile and say to myself, “God must have given our star the night off.”
     One Christmas, Mom apologized. There is not enough money for any gifts.  She knitted one pair of mittens for my two brothers and me.  Mom gave us more than a gift of money, a pair of mittens or what money can buy that year.  She gave us the gift of a Christmas Day of family memories together – praising the Lord that we were together.  We played games and made candy, sang carols and celebrated the birthday of Jesus with love and His birth story in Luke 2.
     One of the Hallmark movies I saw recently pictured a poor man in a freight boxcar, writing with his finger in the air. When a teenager asked what he was doing, the man replied, “Making my Golden List of Gratefulness.”  “My Mom said to begin each day making a list of ten things I am grateful for,” he explained.
     We thank God one day a year with one eye on the food and the other eye on the score.  Meanwhile, God waits for our Golden List of Gratitude.  
     Without Him, we would have nothing, even the air we breathe.  In Him, we learn about true, everlasting love in Jesus. Through Him, we are enabled to reach out to others with serving, love, and gratitude.  With Him in our hearts, He strengthens our hope and our trust.  Because of Him we grow to be truly in the image of God, from the inside out.  On Him, my life is secure and each moment I can thank Him for guidance, protection, and faithfulness.
     Being Thankful is more than a word. Thankfulness is the entry to a life of trusting our God to shape who and what we become in God and how we proclaim our love in what we are given – Life! 
      Thanksgiving Day is every day.  The Golden List of praises and thanks changes us to see beyond our usual field of vision to see and love.

     “Our Lord in Heaven, Hallowed by thy Name.
     Your kingdom come. Your will be done
     On earth as it is in heaven.
          Give us day by day our daily bread.
          And forgive us our sins,
     For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
     And do not lead us into temptation,
     But deliver us from the evil one.” Luke 11:2-4

     They sang, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:12
     Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!  His faithful love endures forever. I Chronicles 16:34
     The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7
     It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. Psalm 92:1
     Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles. His faithful love endures forever.  Psalm 136:4
     Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward, he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. John 6:11
     We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Colossians 1:3
     Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. I Timothy 4:4
     And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20
     These gates lead to the presence of the Lord, and the godly enter there.  I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory! Psalm 118:20-22



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Grace Giver

      In the hush of the moment, the Elder prayed, blessing and praising God as our Grace Giver.  The more I thought of those two words, the more my heart overflowed with praise and adoration.  Until that moment, grace was simply a word to sing…in that moment I knew the Grace God gave us.
      How many years have I sung, Grace, Grace, Marvelous Grace and not really known the Giver of Grace? I did not know the depths of love that God poured into the Gift of Grace.  I did not know what to do with such a gift!
      The scientific world sees the world as spinning on its axis. Now I see the world spinning on an axis of God’s endless love. The kind of love we cannot see except in the hearts of those who delight in the Lord.  Why does our world seem to wobble when God’s love is not found in our hearts?
      Only God can be the Giver of the Gift of Grace. In our tiny world of Me-ism, we try to make sense of our lives each day without Him. We may order our world to suit us. We may be the “go with the flow” person who skims the surface of life, but never sees God’s purpose in our lives. Or, perhaps, we are aware of believing in God, having faith and living a life as a servant of Christ, giving our lives to Him.
      When I first heard the term Ambassador for Christ, I did not understand. I knew that an ambassador goes to another country to live among strangers. Yes, and we are Ambassadors for Christ when we know the Giver of Grace and when we embrace the Giver and His Gift of Grace. And we live in a world of those who do not know Him.
      We embrace Him by turning our hearts to the One who gave his life on the cross to make a bridge to receive God’s Grace. Being an Ambassador is living a life of God’s Grace so others can see His Gift in us.
      When we choose Jesus, we choose a life of service, love, and encouragement to others.  Long ago a teacher told us, someone is always watching us.  How we respond to life is our testimony. When we learn to accept Grace and let it change our lives, we are a reflection of God’s Love and His Gift of Grace.
The lyrics describe what it is like to His every day.
         You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
         You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
         I am strong when I am on your shoulders
         You raise me up to more than I can be.
  (Josh Groban)
     Recently I heard my husband, 91 years old now, and years into Lewy Body  Dementia, be an ambassador for Christ.  The Caregiver asked him, Are you ready to move to the bed?  He responded, “If we are with the Lord, we will be fine.” Even if he lives in the midst of mental confusion, he lives for Jesus.
      Dr. David Murray describes five ways that the gift of Grace makes our lives blossom into maturity in the wisdom of God.
         Grace Motivates – Gratitude creates energy to live for Him But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 1Corinthians 15:10 – Timothy, my dear son, be strong in the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:1
         Grace Moderates – Accepting that she is not perfect or can be. She accepts what is and is content in the Gift of Grace. Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22; Pray for us, for our conscience is clear and we want to live honorably in everything we do.  Hebrews13:18 – For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:21
         Grace Multiplies – Putting God first – and letting God give the increase.  I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. I Corinthians 3:6 – Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20
         Grace Releases – Realizing that God is sovereign in everything. Submitting to setbacks and problems, accepting them as tests of her trust in God’s control. Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! Matthew 18:21-22 –  In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:9.
         Grace  Receives -  Gratefully receiving  the grace of a weekly rest day, grace of sufficient sleep, grace of physical exercise, grace of family and friends, the grace of Christian fellowship. These are the ways God in Heaven provides to refresh and renew us. Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
         And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself. Acts 20:32
         Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:24
         But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him  to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. Galatians 1:15-16
          Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. Titus 3:7
         And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10