I was introduced to pottery in my high school art class. I was hooked the very first time I put my hands to the clay. Yes there were times I didn't get the clay centered on the wheel and it would all collapse, but oh how I enjoyed the process! I always told myself that someday I would own a pottery wheel and a kiln. Did it ever happen? No not yet.
I think of art class every time I read in the Bible about God being the potter. After having that experience with clay, I began to develop a clearer picture of God as our creator. Can you imagine having the ability to form the earth, humans and animals? And I thought it was fun just forming a clay pot!
Isaiah 64:8 Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
We are God's pottery. So are we just made and that's the end of it, or are we pieces of pottery still in the process of being formed like unfinished works of art?
Here are some of the steps to making pottery. 1) Find good clay to work with, 2.) Prepare the clay, 3.) Centering the clay on the wheel, 4.) Creating a form, 5.) Remove it from the wheel and begin to let it dry uncovered 6.) Let it dry covered, 7.) Trim and clean the piece 8.) Air dry again 9.) Fire 10.) Glaze 11.) Fire again.
There are a lot of steps in making something usable. So if we are the clay and God is the potter, how do all these step relate to us?
First I believe we have to choose to be moldable; be ready and willing to be formed. As we would not use contaminated clay to make something useful and beautiful neither can we allow ourselves to become contaminated by the evil and the negative things of this world. Contamination destroys the vessel.
2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
Second, we have to let the Lord prepare us, work with us, knead us, center us and mold us into His plan for our lives. He knows our personalities and gifts, He gave them to us. How willing are we to let go and let God?
Psalm 119:73 Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.
Third, we have to be patient as He is patient, it takes time to cure. Curing/drying can't be rushed. This step may take many years of testing, learning and growing in our faith to the point where we are moving closer to what we are suppose to be.
Fourth, the hard part, the firing. This process begins to make us so strong that we cannot be easily broken, and we can become very useable.. At this point we just don't shatter easily when put to the test. We begin to care less about things of this world that may have mattered at one time. We are becoming firmly planted in our faith. The firing is usually a difficult time in our life that we must struggle through. It tells us a lot about ourselves. It either makes us stronger or we become totally defeated, broken. It depends on who we put our trust in; ourselves or God?
Psalm 66:10 For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.
Fifth, so what about the glazing and the last firing? I believe the glazing process comes to us in our mature faith. We have either pushed into God's word and a relationship with Him so intensely that we become beautiful works of art at a young age or we have taken our time learning as we go. All in all, this process depends on what we are willing to put into it. So this step is about our long established, beautiful relationship with the Holy Spirit by spending a great deal of time in the Bible and in prayer. As we have done this, we added a beautiful color to our vessel- our spiritual life, our personality and presence. Most likely as life goes, we will face yet another firing process of testing and adversity, so we push deeper into the presence of the Lord. The whole process will make us beautiful in God's eyes and gentle and pleasing to others. This final firing reveals the beautiful color of the glaze and makes it shine.
The finished product. We are now a strong and beautiful vessel that holds the fruits of the Spirit. In my mind I see a beautifully painted and glazed clay bowl holding different kinds of delicious fruit and they all have different words etched in their skin. The words are the attributes of God, given to us through His Holy Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23. How beautiful!
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Maybe some reading this may think that by the end of a person's life they do not look like a beautiful glazed vessels of great value. That is correct, but that would only be the outward appearance. So what does God see?
1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
I know that at the end of my parents life their bodies were broken down and Mom's skin was paper thin. Never the less, they had been perfected by the Holy Spirit. They were beautiful on the inside. As a daughter, I did not look at them as others might have in their physical state. I looked at them through eyes of love, just as God does when he looks at us. When we can do this, with the Holy Spirit's help, we begin to see and really know each person. We begin to see them as a creative and beautiful vessel of God, at every age. Praise the Lord!
One last thought. We are all made for something different. Some for royal or high positions and some for positions of great importance but less visibility. I am fully persuaded that each person is very important to God. I believe each life is His divine masterpiece for eternal significance and that He loves us all the same.
Romans 9:21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
I challenge you to be delighted in whatever vessel you have been given. Cherish it, guard it and praise God for it because there is no one else exactly like you. Remind yourself everyday that you are a masterpiece of God, the potter. Say it out loud, own it, and draw strength from it.
Enjoy the journey,
Love is a word that is used in many different forms these days. I know that I have used it in an in-formal manner many times myself. Some examples are; I love these jeans, I love that car, or I love pizza. Really? After I said it the other day I thought, "seriously, do I really love pizza like I love my husband or my Lord?" It has become a habit, bad- I'm not sure, but it does depreciate the value of the word love. Why have we gotten away from the word like? Like is a good word, and like as a verb means: find agreeable, enjoyable or satisfactory. Gee doesn't pizza or a new article of clothing fit that bill? Today everything has to be over the top. It has to have a wow or shock factor, even our speech. Everything has to grab someone's attention. I think it has come from television and other forms of entertainment. We have all heard these things so much that we have bought into them, hook, line and sinker. We are captured fish with enough loose line not to notice the hook in our mouth. Without being aware, we are being told how to think, what to say and where to go. Think about it, wouldn't you agree that commercials do a great job at making us want to buy things and go certain places?
Well it's February the month set aside for acknowledging love so I thought I would write about it. Did you know that the word love is found 551 times in the NIV version of the Bible? Did you also know that the Ancient Greeks recognized 7 types of love? Love is truly a fascinating subject and the main ingredient in a fulfilled life.
Let me just briefly describe these 7 forms of love: Eros - Romantic love, passionate love. Philia - Friendship love, close friends even siblings. Storge - Love between parent and children Ludus - It is a playful, uncommitted love. Pragma - Love developed because of shared goals, interest or duty. Philautia - Self love. Agape - The extraordinary love of God for humans and humans for God.
So what are we to make of all these types of love? Well I did find it funny that in studying these 7 types of love, nothing was mentioned about food, cars or, clothes? Oops! Had to look for it anyway! No but seriously, most of us in a good healthy environment will use aspects of all seven. I believe the problem may come in to play when we put one or more forms of love, other than agape, in higher esteem than all the rest. They all need to be in balance. What I have experienced is that a well balanced loving marriage is passionate and you are each other's best friend. It seems to be pretty essential to have at least a few interests in common. It's very beneficial if each person will care enough about themselves to take good care of themselves for the other person, not just appearance but for their health as well. Each person should have a healthy self love. If a person does not love them self then it's hard to accept another's love, or if a person loves them self too much, they can be self centered. A healthy balance is crucial with philautia love. In a happy marriage you will find that people often laugh and do fun things together but they stay committed to each other. What I have also recognized, as a student of life, is that both parties have love to give because of the love they received as a child, or love they have freely accepted from the Lord that filled that void. Finally the most important of all, a wonderful marriage is led by God.
Psalm 36:7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Agape love is true, pure love from the creator of love Himself. We as mortal humans cannot even begin to wrap our brains around what that really means. We barely are able to demonstrate it to the human race. The fact of the matter is that we are unable to truly love unless we have some of God's love in us. We can't give away something we don't have. So how can people that don't know if they believe in God be kind and nice? I believe very strongly that they have been taught by people somewhere along the line that had God working in their lives. These people may not be fully aware of this but the fact remains, they are demonstrating the love of God by being kind and nice.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
This is the first and greatest commandment. . And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself."
So does Agape love make our marriages, friendships and our relationship with our children better? Yes it does, because God's love teaches us how to truly love and enables us to do it. All that we possess within us, comes from God, even our abilities. When we recognize His love and how it fuels, enables, instructs, satisfies and protects, we are then able to make every other relationship the better for it. It is of the utmost importance to nurture and embrace this most important Agape relationship for it is the blood supply, so to speak, of our joy and stability. It helps us through our life and it benefits every person we share love and kindness with. We must remember that we need to let Agape love lead us and keep the other 6 loves in a healthy balance.
At the end of the day, we need to ask ourselves, "What do I really love and am I living a healthy balanced life of love?"
I will pray a blessing of love for all that read this post. May you find the source of all love and happiness and may you bless others with your joy.
Happy Valentine's Day
I have to say 2017 was a pretty difficult year. I battled some health issues and I was in a car accident. We also had some serious problems with our house and had to purchase another and those were just a few things I struggled with in 2017. At times the struggles were all consuming and I felt like I could barely keep my head above water. One amazing thing I experienced last year, was the love and compassion I received from my wonderful husband, family and friends-people God put in my life-many for such a time as this. Who knew? I can now look back and see those things, not as adversities, but shifts in time for something better. They were little miracles for me and my husband. These experiences also gave me a better appreciation for life and the blessings I have been given. You know the poem, Footprints In The Sand? Well I can say the Lord definitely carried me this past year. He not only carried me, but shielded and protected me, what a miracle! That's what everyone said after they seen my car after the accident. Praise God!
Where do I find miracles?
I see the beauty outside my window-the miracle of nature and how complex and wondrous it is. I never, ever get tired of it.
People in and out of my life, sometimes there were challenges but that's life on earth, it will never be perfect, but I have had many perfect moments. What a blessing! I so love people!
Art, music, writing, medical, and spiritual gifts, to name a few- the God given talents of others, truly miraculous and amazing.
How complex our bodies are and how my heart has beat steady every day for 61 years, that's really incredible to me. No man made anything works that hard and that long so well.
Listening to the life stories of others, they are full of miracles. Everyone has a different experience, I find it fascinating.
Our ability to taste and smell and how they are sometimes linked to a memory, incredible!
The near misses in my life where I was spared; those times cannot be explained away, other than God's protection and grace.
The times where I was at the right place, at the right time. How did that happen? Doors that were opened for me (impossible otherwise) to enter into a great opportunity for an invaluable learning experience from God or a blessing.
People put in places to encourage me when I needed them the most, often strangers or people I just met.
Prayers that were answered in incredible ways-amazing, unexplainable ways.
These are everyday miracles and lately I started looking up, giving God a wink and whispering a thank you with a smile. Some situations are such a blessing that I feel the master's touch in my heart and it sends a thankful tear to my eyes.
I could go on and on but I think you get the picture. We may not see miracles because we don't know how to recognize them or maybe it's because we don't take the time to look. Whoever said a miracle is only a grand thing? A baby's birth, it's first giggle and smile, all miracles. Being able to walk and talk and love is normal for most of us but those things might be a miracle for someone else.
Miracles are everywhere, ask God to open your eyes and reveal them to you. When you witness a miracle or a blessing, wink at God and smile and whisper a thank you. Seriously, you will be blessed with a neat little lift in your spirit and joy in your heart. How long has it been since you smiled and winked anyway? You will enjoy it!
Take it a step further in 2018 and be a miracle for someone else, with God's help you can be. Ask Him to show you where and how. Ask Him to give you the ability to do it. He will. Just being able to be used by God is truly a miracle, don't you think?
This is what the Lord says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 NIV
You do not perceive it because you are not looking for it. Forget the former things and let Him do a new thing in you in 2018.
Happy New Year
This season brings joy to my heart especially when I remember my childhood Christmases and Christmas with our children. The music, the lights and decorations bring back so many wonderful memories. Somehow we work harder at making the time to get together and enjoy each other's company during this time of the year. I am very thankful for that.
When I really take the time to search my heart for what Christmas really means to me, I find that it is so much more than fun times and presents. Although I enjoy that, those things are only temporary. To me, Christmas has a deep down, spiritual meaning of peace and hope that fills my soul because of what transpired. What really did happen? A miracle, that's what. A miracle that was witnessed by many and wrote about in the scriptures. A miracle that continues to impact lives. An event in history that has eternal significance to all who will believe.
( NIV) Luke 2: 9-14 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying. "Glory to God on the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rest."
God came to man as a child in human form to live as we do, to experience the things humans struggle with and enjoy. Jesus grew up and took on the sins of man on the cross so that we are able to have eternal life. Although, we must choose to accept His wonderful gift of grace. That is the hope that fills me with peace, but it's so much more. It is more than a one-time event. If we choose to pray and read His word every day, it is a relationship with Him through the Holy Spirit. In that relationship, where we can find a direct connection to His peace, love and joy. It fills the longing in our soul, it is the well that never runs dry, the thirst that is satisfied, and the assurance that cannot be taken away no matter what happens to our body.
Wow, how many people do you know that need hope, joy or even love? How many people have been abused or betrayed by someone? How many people have no one or nowhere to go to get unconditional love and hope for the future? I also ask how many people do we know that at one time or another accepted Jesus gift of grace but never read the Bible or pray much and walk around no different than anyone else, without the joy of the Lord in their home or in their life? Christmas is a time for a new beginning. Christmas is a time to embrace the true meaning of the season and all the wonderful spiritual gifts the Lord has to give us.
The true meaning of Christmas is all about Christ, His history and His real-time ability to live in us and give us meaning, hope and love for us today and tomorrow. When we receive that, we then have love to share with others. What a precious gift. Let His name be praised, Amen.
May the Spirit of the Lord fill you, embrace you and protect you. May you reach out and begin to show love to others. May the fun of this season's activities be enhanced by the true meaning of Christmas.
Have a Very Merry Christmas
Little did I know when I wrote about trials and testing in my last blog I would be facing some very soon. I am very sorry that I have not kept up with my monthly blog this summer because we have been going through a situation that has made it difficult to do so. I can see the end of the tunnel and things will be better so hang in there and keep checking in. Maybe a comment once in a while will keep me going. Sometimes I'm not sure people are reading my blog anymore. Anyway if you are, hang in there with me and pray that things will get back to normal for me and my husband very soon.
Thank you for being my loyal readers and I hope you will return.
Trials are situations that test us or break us. I don't think a person can be alive and never have to face a trail of some kind. It could be a health issue or a financial, relationship or even a legal ordeal but we all have been through some kind of trial or another.
Trials are stumbling blocks in our path that we either learn to maneuver around or we stumble and fall. When we face them, we are forced to slow down. In that moment we can become very close to God. When backed in a corner, we are forced to evaluate our situation and the direction of our future. What better place for God to be! In those moments we have to choose, do we allow God to minister to us or do we allow Satan. It's really our choice, this will make a difference in what will happen to us tomorrow and the next day. How things progress from that moment on is up to us and who we will allow to lead us.
So do we allow the dark, hateful, anger of the evil one to fill us with bitterness and hate and possibly apathy-you know that, " oh well I'll deal with it later, it can't be that bad", outlook. Or do we turn our trials over to the one who made us and let the Lord go to battle for us by protecting and guiding us. Choices, it's all about our choices. Our whole life is about our decisions. These decisions determine what kinds of people we will be and what kind of life we will have. I am not talking about material possessions here, I'm talking about joy, peace in our hearts and hope. I'm talking about the love and respect of those around us and the deep- in-our-soul-satisfying relationship with Jesus Christ. These thing money cannot buy and possessions cannot fill.
When we get into a situation or trial what should we do first? Pray! No matter if the situation is by our own consequence or at the hand of another, God is there. I love what Kynan Bridges wrote in his amazing book, Unmasking The Accuser, How to Fight Satan's Favorite Lie "God never judges us by how we start out, but how we end."
I love that. How many of us can say we have never messed up by what we have said or done. By where we have allowed ourselves to go, or by who we let lead us? Many times it's been because we were ignoring that little voice that warned us, "oh I don't think this is right for you!" Nope we ignored it and impulsively stepped into a situation with both feet. So it's not where we started out but where we end up that counts. Let go back to the choices. Once we find ourselves caught up in something, have we thought about how we want this to end up? Are we going to learn something here? It sure didn't feel good, do I want to repeat it, or do I want to change some things? The answers to these questions will decide our future events.
Some of us are hard nuts to crack and we may go through the fire more than once. How do we make a change for good? I have a few suggestions. Remember, I am a student of life!
1. Pray - we will need all the help we can get from the Lord. Repent and ask for forgiveness. Pray Psalms 5:8 Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow. Remember our biggest enemy is Satan. Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
2. You know how boldly and impulsively we sometimes do the opposite of what our conscience warns us not to do? Now turn that around and use it in the right way. Take that quick impulsive response action and do the right thing quickly before your mind is changed by a deceptive force. If we can make a hasty choice that got us into trouble then we can also firmly make a choice to do good. Many times we will know after we have prayed what is the right thing to do, and maybe it's to pray more and be patient-not react, but sometimes it may be to react and do the right thing. Note: stopping and praying can be a impulsive right choice! Eventually is will become an automatic good habit.
3. Surround yourself with Christian friends, church, worship- Christian music. This will help you gather strength and feel surrounded by love.
4. Read and study the scriptures; read wonderful Christian literature. God speaks through people in their writing. Gather wisdom, guidance and develop a positive mind set.
5. Begin to make amends with the people you may have hurt or if someone hurt you, you will need to forgive them with Christ help. Maybe you will need to forgive yourself. Remember freedom comes with forgiveness. It is a gift you give yourself and your future.
6. Start a new future by making good decisions-prayed over decisions.
7. Cut yourself some slack, if you are doing all these thing, you are truly ready to start a new, remember it's not where you start but where you end up!
Look at it this way, failure can lead to success. Trials can lead us to something meaningful and lasting. Life is like inventing, we are learning as we go. If we never have trails what do we ever learn and how can we be more equipped and successful? Thomas Edison was fired from his first 2 jobs and made 1000 attempts at inventing the light bulb before he was successful. Now I hope in life we don't have that many show stopping, life altering trials, but the message is the same. Keep going, keep improving and learning and keep moving in a positive direction. God is our positive direction, for a relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ will matter now and for our eternity.
2 Peter 2:9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.
A challenge for us all:
Can we have compassion for others? Can we put it firmly in our mind that other people may be in the midst of some kind of trial as well? Can we stop and silently pray for those people that are acting out of frustration and anxiety instead of labeling them a difficult person or someone to dislike. This is hard, this goes against everything we feel but this is in line with what God has called us to do because prayer changes everything and God is in the salvage business. He will salvage our life and he will salvage theirs if we will have the guts to ask Him.
Read James 1:2-4
I love my friends, they are such a blessing to me. Having a special bond with another person in friendship is a true gift. It defies time, difficulty and long suffering. A true friend is a friend through the years and through the ups and downs of both of their lives.
Many of us make casual friendships along the way that bring us joy, but I want to talk about those friends that are as close as family members; those friends that invest their selves in your lives.
With long term faithful friends, there is a mutual and unspoken commitment to care and take time for the other. Even if days or months go by it's as if nothing has changed. Real friendships are genuine, there's nothing phony about them. A person can just be themselves. A true friend is loyal and keeps conversations private. They lift us up when others may be tearing us down and they are always eager to hear from us or spend time with us.
I look forward to planning a day with a friend. Just being in their company brings me joy. I have many friends and as I am writing this, I am thinking about all of them.
Each friend brings something different to our lives, just like our children do. All different, yet very special to us. I truly believe we can't have enough friends but sometimes I find that it's difficult to find the time to spend with each of them. It takes planning and work to call and set something up or send a card. There again, we get out of a relationship what we put into it.
I only had brothers so I don't know the joy of having a sister. Although I use to go to my friends house and her and her sister use to fight a lot and I would leave thinking, "I'm glad I just have brothers!" But that was when we were teens, maybe sisters can be close when they are adults. I know my aunts were close to my Mom so it is possible in some families anyway. My friends have become the sisters.
I have so many wonderful memories of fun times that I have had with my friends. I loved it when we laughed so hard that our ribs hurt. As a kid I remember: summer fun at the pool, playing softball, wading in the creek, riding bikes, fall football games, hayrides and parties. In the winter we went sled riding, ice skating on the pond and to school and youth group activities. When the spring came we were so happy to be able to go outside again-softball practice started and the countdown to summer vacation began. I will have to say we had a blast and it did not involve video games and very little television, just the sure enjoyment of friends and our imagination.
As an adult I have had some wonderful times with my friends as well. We have enjoyed, shopping trips, movies, concerts, lunches, and parties with our families. My friends are a wonderful distraction from the day to day grind of life. They are like medicine for my soul.
What a different time we now live in. It breaks my heart to see the drug problems, violence in schools and so much hate and bullying. I don't think, I know, it all has to do with so many walking away from God. When we have God as a moral compass, we are drawn to be kind and thoughtful and reject the very thought of harming ourselves or someone else. When the schools and parents quit teaching about God and His son Jesus Christ it all became a free for all and the evidence is all around us. I praise God I got to have a fun and safe childhood and that I had wonderful parents that taught me how to be a good friend, sister, wife, and mother. They introduced me to the Lord and that was a gift for my eternality and everything in-between. I was taught that PEOPLE MATTER and God loves them all. THEM ALL! Today, maybe some children are never taught these things so they have no idea how to be a good friend.
I have a few suggestions about being a good friend.
1. Spend time listening to your friend. There will be time to tell them what's going on in your life but be interested in what's going on in their life. True friends know the names of the people in each other's families and are actually interested in each other's life not just their own. In a friendship both parties matter equally. I have to say that I am a lot less close to the people that never ask about my life or my family but talk about themselves all the time.
2. Don't always make your friend be the one that calls, visits or plans times to do things. In order to keep a friendship going both parties need to work at it. It also shows how much you truly care for them.
3. Be a confidant for your friend and keep things private between you.
4. Be the support person for your friend, but be honest. If they are going down a very wrong path find a way to let them know what you think without being mean or hurtful. True friends will welcome honesty. Otherwise, lift them up in prayer and lift their spirits with joy, laughter, praise and compassion when needed. Be to them what you would want a friend to be to you.
5. Be willing to work for your friend, by that I mean, help them out when they are in need. For example, help paint, pack boxes to move, bring meals, or clean their house when they are ill or just had surgery. Watch their children so they can get away with their spouse or a friend sometimes. Possibly even buy them groceries when they lose their job or go through a rough spell. Be God's hands and feet. A true friend won't mind and will do it all with love in their heart.
6. Be willing to forgive. I don't know about you but I'm not perfect. Are you? I have days when I'm off and because of a headache or something going on in my life I just blurt out junk. Or what I say comes off sounding different than what I meant. Maybe I slipped and mentioned something I should not have. We are fallible we sin, we make mistakes. We need to forgive so we can be forgiven. Read Matthew 6:14-15 Isn't the friendship worth something? How would you want your friend to treat you if you stumble? But there is a warning in this Bible verse that needs heeding.
Proverbs 17:9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
Don't take advantage of your friendship by repeating offenses. Learn from your first mistake.
There are so many ugly things in life but there are many more beautiful things that come from God and a true friend is one of them. I wrote this a few years ago. "Friendships are the seeds that grow and bloom to make up my beautiful flower garden."
If you love God's gift of flowers like I do, that statement will make perfect sense to you. So tend your garden of friends and watch it bloom and your life will be blessed for it.
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
When I think of the word opportunity, I think of grand things like getting a fantastic Job, promotion or being able to go on a wonderful vacation to see and do amazing things. The word sounds too impressive for an ordinary everyday situation. Although, the dictionary defines opportunity as a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. When I read that definition, opportunity could just mean that I felt good when I woke up and the mop and bucket were side by side next to the detergent and the water. All the circumstances came together for me to be able to mop the kitchen floor! Not so grand, but necessary.
After a few years I began to recognize that every day is full of new opportunities. Yes many of them may have to do with the day to day ritual of cleaning up after myself, but for some people that function may even be difficult. This is where in the definition it says , makes it possible, changes things leaving some people without as many opportunities as others. Although, I believe as long as we are alive and our brain is functioning, we still have some pretty good opportunities; like being a prayer warrior or a person that mentors and encourages others.
There are four things that I have found that we may need to consider when an opportunity presents itself: 1.) Recognize it 2.) Be thankful for it
3.) Pray about it and 4.) Act on it.
There is no doubt that there will be jobs, new homes and other things that come up that we need to recognize and prayerfully consider, but we also need to be aware of opportunities where we can bring God's presence to others. Through day to day situations, we are often presented with chances to show His compassion and love, we just need to recognize them.
When we are able to set our self aside for a minute, we are then able to see the needs of others. Maybe we could help someone by cooking, cleaning, writing a thank you or get well card. We could carry in our car reusable bags filled with: a pair of socks, gloves, hat, personal hygiene items, a bottle of water, a protein bar and maybe a food gift card for a homeless person we may encounter. Maybe we could volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter. Opportunities!
One big step that took me some time to be able to do, was to ask a person if I could pray for them. Yes praying for someone at your home is very important, but when we can pray for them as they are there with us, that is huge. There is such a wonderful and immediate impact on a person and it becomes a blessing to them and it blesses us as well. It is awesome! The more we do it, the easier it gets but we need to always invite the Holy Spirit to be in that moment with us.
Be Thankful for Opportunities
Honestly, How often do we stop and say, "thank you Lord for that opportunity?" There again we may do that when big opportunities present themselves. How often do we even consider the small things and stop and say, "thank you Lord that I am able to go and do the grocery shopping and clean my house because I have the time and money and ability to do so", "thank you Lord that I have the opportunity to spend time with my husband, children and grandchildren", thank you Lord that you gave me the opportunity to show compassion to that person in need." The ability to do any or all of those things is more than some people have.
It is so easy to take our opportunities for granted , believe me I know. I have missed out on some pretty good opportunities to help someone because I THOUGHT I WAS TOO BUSY. Wow, later I felt like I was lower than a snake and asked the Lord to forgive me. He gave me an opportunity and I blew it. Living in an awareness of the Holy Spirit presence and in an attitude of thankfulness, will enable us to be aware of all our opportunities and give us the compassionate mindset to act on them when they come along.
Pray About our Opportunities
How important is prayer? Prayer is the foundation that stays attached to God as He moves on our behalf to change things because we pray. So if you can image a tsunami coming our way and we are firmly seated in the limps of a very strong tree while the water moves everything around us, that is prayer. It says in James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
I believe many people don't understand how powerful prayer is. When we are faced with a challenging decision or even an opportunity to help someone and we don't know what to do, we need to stop and pray right then, not later. We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us direction on how to proceed. We will never regret the time it takes to pray; in our head, on our knees or driving in our car. Maybe we will have to slip into a rest room for a minute or whatever. Just do it. Pray the powerful Lord's prayer or a prayer asking for what you need in that moment or something as simple as "God I need you now!" I have had some very surprising situations where God put in my mind right then what I needed to do and it changed everything.
Acting On Our Opportunities
I came up with this little quote for our church ministry table. "An opportunity can be a bridge that connects us to God, and God to other people through us. Opportunities to act:
Personal development: It is important to read and study scripture, join a bible study group, share group or prayer group. These things help us grow in Christ but for some reason we often step right over those chances and miss something wonderful. By taking the opportunity to prepare ourselves through study and prayer we are equipped to be God's hands and feet in the world where we can recognize needs and be prepared to act upon them.
Acting on opportunities to help others: We all have the chance to be a bridge for other people through compassionate acts of service and prayer that will encourage people to cross the bridge to Christ for themselves. All this could happen because we took the time to act on a divine opportunity. Action makes things happen, without action things stay the same. Just get up and do something! You have prayed, now go out and do. The more you do the easier it gets. As you bless others, God blesses you, He is so good like that.
Ephesians 5:16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
In summary, opportunities to do good are gifts we give the Father and we are blessed by the giving. There is a warning though, not all opportunities are from God, that is where discernment comes in. The more we know our Bible and the more we pray about our opportunities, then we will remain in the will of God and His best for our lives. There have been times that I acted too quickly and wished I had not. We must be spiritually aware and prayerfully cautious.
Entering into our Easter Season may we take the time to seize moments for the Glory of God and move into a intentional focus on our spiritual self.
I love children, they are so full of energy, laughter and smiles. There isn't anything sweeter than the sound of a child's laughter. To be a mother and have the privilege of enjoying those little arms and hands around my neck was a great source of joy. I believe being a mother was truly my highest calling and my greatest fulfillment. I remember being in the hospital and the doctor handing me my baby for the first time, wow! To me, it was what I would call, a heavenly moment. There were no words to explain it. It was a true gift from God.
With all that we read and witness in public, it is very clear to me that some people do not view their children ( born or step children) as a precious gift, but more of an annoyance or burden. My heart grieves for those children. I often pray for the abused and neglected. If it bothers me so, it must really grieve God. Sometimes I often ask myself, " whatever happened to that mentality that was born in us as it is in the animal kingdom, where parents would fight to the death to protect their offspring?" Where did it go? When did children, our own or other children, become such an inconvenience? How can someone look at a child and not see something precious? My only explanation is that the deceiver-Satan has blinded eyes and hardened hearts to what was meant to be a natural and beautiful thing, into a distorted view of a child resembling a broken toy or a piece of trash, or in some awful unthinkable way, something to be used. This breaks my heart.
Some people brought their babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. The disciples saw them and scolded them for doing so, but Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Remember this! Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Luke 18:15-17 (GNT)
My own childhood was pretty good. Even though my parents were in their 40's and I had 6 brothers several years older, I felt very loved and cherished. For a lot of that time I had my parents to myself. My brothers were grown and off on their own. Many of my nieces and nephews were closer in age to me than my brothers were. It is a blessing to be a part of such a large family.
I believe as parents we have the responsibility of molding our children into productive, nurturing and caring individuals that have the confidence that they are someone very special in God's eyes. They must know God has a purpose and plan for each person and that they were not a mistake no matter how they got here. Planned or unplanned all children are known and loved by God.
You created every part of me; you put me together in my mother's womb. Psalm 139:13 (GNT)
Children can be challenging, I know this full well, but we too were children once and sometimes challenging ourselves. I have always thought it had to be this way so that it would be easier to let our children leave when the time comes. It is a normal part of growing up and becoming individuals.
I strongly believe as a parent it is very important to be the wall, a strong guiding rail for our children. The wall that keeps them walking down a safe path to a good life. This wall would keep them from plummeting into the deep dangerous canyon on either side. Sadly we all know of kids that have fallen; some have lost their life and some can still be reached by God's almighty hand, but their life may be difficult. For some reason when I was a young parent, I always called myself the wall. The wall that guided them with wisdom and experience as they passed by it. The wall that provided shelter from the storm. Yes I remember them beating against the wall with all their might wanting to go to parties and other things that the Holy Spirit gave me an inkling that it was not safe or good for them. Yes there were arguments and so forth but I keep telling myself , "BE STRONG, BE THE WALL !" I know I received the strength to BE THE WALL through my time in prayer and reading the Bible. Like - F.R.O.G. - Fully Relying On God. Please know I'm not in any way saying the wall is abusive in any possible way. It is engaging and caring and observant, guiding and respectful but firm in its commitment to keep them safe.
Do you want to read the honest and raw truth? Well here it is: We can't be the wall for our children if we don't love them more than ourselves. We have to have that, I'll give my life for you love, or we won't put up a safety wall or even try to guard it. It takes hard work. To me, my children were worth every single ounce of energy I had to give. Was I always liked by my kids? LOL, what do you think? No one likes the word NO, but it's a life saving word in many cases. I have learned that being a parent it not all about being their friend as some TV shows portray, they can write any outcome in a script and make it look good. It is about being their guardian and mentor- establishing a close bonding relationship. This relationship comes about with a loving and intentional effort to seek daily communication. It also comes about by what we do with and for them. Being a real parent is important because their very future and how it will turn out is at stake.
So you may ask, "are my children's lives perfect?" I have to say no, no one's life is perfect; this is earth not heaven. What I can say with confidence is that they know and understand boundaries and consequences. They know what love feels like and they are able to give what they have been given. They know where to go to find the source of all hope, peace, guidance and love-God Almighty. I must say, God is the lighthouse and I am just one of his caretakers. Even though my grown children may get tossed about in a few storms they have been taught how to follow the light of the lighthouse. It's always there , always waiting to guide them safety back to shore. No matter what age we are, we are all children to God and in need of the light and love He provides that can relieve our panic when we get lost in the storms of life.
We do all this for the love of children but loving and caring for them is also
For The Love Of God.
There is a time in everyone's life when they make a choice to believe or not to believe that God exist. I image most of the time we begin to form an opinion by the time we are in elementary school. When I started thinking about writing on the existence of God, I began to put together in my mind all the things that have convinced me that God is real. There are three things that offer proof to me: the facts, the knowing, and the Bible.
Pretty Amazing Facts
Did you know that there are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body pumping blood through a heart that can keep going for 90 years or more in some cases? This blood carries essential substances, nutrients, oxygen and hormones to our cells and carries waste away. Another incredible fact: When a woman is pregnant, the placenta supplies the baby with adequate nutrition. Blood from the mother goes through the placenta then into the umbilical cord attached, before reaching the baby. It acts like a lung for the baby, allowing the transfer of oxygen. Once the baby has used the blood with the oxygen, the blood goes back to the placenta to get rid of carbon dioxide and picks up more oxygen. The placenta also ensures these waste products from the baby are released into the mother's circulation, which in turn are disposed of through her urine. It also helps to protect the baby from infections because it keeps the mother's blood and baby's blood separate by acting as an effective filter. http://www.childmags.com.au/pregnancy/pregnancy/5385-the-role-of-the-placenta-in-pregnancy
Think about all the different animals and birds, there are so many varieties! They are so beautiful and intricately made. Look at the plants that cover the earth, some provide food for us, they provide oxygen and many other things we need. They are so colorful and fragrant. Now think about the oceans, lakes and mountains. What about the amazing sky , the sun, the rain and snow, the changing seasons. It's all orchestrated so perfectly. Year after year the plants and trees and animals know just what to do. Pure perfection! Music to the eyes and ears.
Knowing these and other incredible facts makes it absolutely logical to me that nothing less than an intelligent designer created all that we see and all that we are in our bodies. There is no way anything so complex could come from any kind of big bang theory or any other explanation of how the earth began. Another interesting detail is that humans are pretty intelligent but they cannot duplicate any of the things God has made without first possessing a piece, seed or DNA from something he has created.
The big bang theory is the most popular of all the other theories about how the earth began. Many years ago I heard this example and I want to pass it on to you.
Suppose you had a watch and you dropped it on the floor and it broke into a hundred pieces. How many years would it take for those pieces of the watch to somehow jump back together and begin working perfectly? Can you conceive it ever happening? Don't you believe that logic would confirm in your mind that it would take an intelligent and gifted watch maker to carefully fix and reassembling the broken pieces of the watch?
Knowing God Is Real
Now what about the' knowing' feeling that there is a God? Have you ever heard someone say, " well I know God is real, I feel His presence." Many people that have never established a relationship with God do not understand that sentence, so let me give you an example.
Let's say you have a pain in your body. You are tested every way possible and there seems to be no test that proves you have a reason for it.. The fact is no one else but you that can feel it. People either believe you when you say you have this pain or they don't. Some may buy into it and others may say, " you're making it up to get attention" or "you're crazy because you know they ran test and nothing proves that you have a reason for your pain." Oh but you know it, you feel it, it's as real to you as your breathing. Now let's relate it to our relationship with God through His son Jesus Christ. When He comes to live in us (by our invitation) it is a similar situation, without pain of course . We know He's there, we can tell the difference in the way we feel, the way we think and the way we choose to act. There is a peace, comfort and joy that's different than anything the world offers. No one around us can feel what is in us, it's not a visible thing. When we try to tell others about it, some will believe us, some people will think we are making it up, and some may say we are crazy, but we know that we know it's real.
The Bible is called the living word of God. It is full of all the details of how the world was formed and the history of mankind. It is full of wisdom and examples of God's love for us. As I read it, I feel God's presence through the Holy Spirit. When I spend time in it, I receive something different each time. Many times it is something that I should know on that particular day. To me it is the third proof that God exist.
When we look at the complexity of everything, the knowing of God the Father, Jesus the son and the Holy Spirit, and what we receive from reading His Holy Bible, there is no other conclusion for me to arrive at than-YES THERE IS A GOD
When a person makes a decision about God then they also must make one more decision; to accept Him or reject Him. When people put off that decision till later, sadly often for some, death comes too soon and they never get the opportunity to choose. That would be the worst mistake a person could make.
A few suggestions:
Study the Bible.
Genesis 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Open your eyes and see, smell and taste- let the earth teach you.
Job 12:7-9 “Who doesn’t know that the Lord does things like that? Ask the dumbest beast—he knows that it is so; ask the birds—they will tell you; or let the earth teach you, or the fish of the sea.
Ask God to reveal Himself to you-pray.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
I think it is possible that we may need God's help to believe. As the verse says, no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. We have faith because God gives us the ability by drawing us to Him; we are able to love and trust because God gives it to us. We just need to pray for what we need and let God do what he does best. The story of God could not have continued through the centuries without His presence continuing to make Himself known to us.
Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.
I'm praying for all that read my blog. Let me know what you think of my thoughts. There is so much to write about and share. I do so with great joy. I do so because my creator enables me to, and I am grateful. This February may you find a new love in Jesus Christ and receive a new heart to share with others.
Who is Sally? I have been very happily married for 31 years and we have four grown children and 7 grandchildren.