Life Interupted

Jonah and the Whale in the Jami' al-tawarikh (c. 1400), Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jonah and the Whale in the Jami’ al-tawarikh (c. 1400), Metropolitan Museum of Art

Have you noticed that when life is going smoothly something happens to interrupt?  It can be something small like the phone ringing when you’re trying to finish a project.  It can be something much larger like a life-threatening disease or accident, severe weather (blizzard, tornado, earthquake), birth, death, loss of a job…  When you start getting a case of the ‘why me’ syndrome give some thought to these lives that were interrupted by God Himself.

Moses             2 forty year visits to the desert

Noah               Stop, drop and build a boat on dry land

Abraham         Leave everything and travel to an unknown location

Sarah              Baby at 90

Joseph            Dropped into a pit and sold as a slave

Mary                Suddenly pregnant

Dramatic and sudden interruptions happen all the time.  Case in point…Jonah.  He was living a great life but God wanted more for him.  So God told him to go to Ninevah.  Jonah wasn’t having any of that.  That city was known as the ‘Sin City’ of that era.  So, Jonah decided to run to another place.  Really!?  Did he really think he could hide from God?  Yes, he did.  While on that journey, in the opposite direction, the ship he was on was hit with a threatening storm.  Those on board determined it was Jonah who was causing the problem, so they threw him overboard.  We know the rest of the story…

Let’s look at this from a different angle.   This is a story of many miracles.  The first two are in verse one.

Jonah 11

First – God spoke!

Second – God allowed a person to hear His voice!

When He allows one of His creation to hear His voice it’s a huge privilege.  We often hear His voice and don’t recognize it.  The difference with us and Jonah is he knew exactly Who was speaking and choose not to obey.

Then, how do we know we’re hearing God?  How do we know He’s interrupting us?  Have you ever been listening to a speaker and the words seem just for you?  Have you been reading the Word and it’s speaking to your heart?  Henry Blackaby says we hear God through His Word, prayer, other Christians, worship, and life circumstances.  God talks to us often through the Holy Spirit living in us and He expects us to listen.

When we hear God what are we to do?  Easy answer, yet hard to follow through.  We’re to drop everything and listen.  He is saying I have a plan and I want you to be part of it.

The interrupted life is not always the big events I mentioned earlier.  It can be a crying child, a husband or wife’s attention, a new friendship, an unexpected phone call, a knock on the door….  God wants us open to His voice!  Anytime!  Anywhere!

He is calling.  Are you listening?

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Where Are You?

Oh, Jesus, where are you…

z1…when the violence in this world is creating fear and chaos all around?

 

z2…when my heart is aching from yet another stab in the back?

 

z3…when I recognize my sin is more than I can bear?

 

 

z4…when a child is so sick?

 

z5…when the love of my life is losing strength?

 

 

z6…when loneliness is pressing in like the darkness of night?

 

z7…when leadership is not showing faith in You?

 

 

z8…when resources are running low?

 

z9…when there’s no joy or delight in the day?

 

 

 

And He answered…

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:16

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.  John 14:14 

What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.  People who don’t know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works.  Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.  Don’t worry.  Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes, without missing out.  You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  Matthew 6:31-34  MSG

Heavenly Father, let your Word be constantly on my mind.  Draw me closer and closer to You.  Give me strength, courage and wisdom for all that happens.  Make it so in Jesus name.

Follow Me

fisherman

Peter was with Jesus from the beginning to the end…yes, we know that.  Did you know that his beginning started with “Follow Me” and ended with the same words?

When I was a child we often sang a delightful song with the words,”I Will Make You Fishers of Men”.   Even today, so many years past childhood, I can still sing the words and hear the melody in my mind.

Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee when he saw Simon Peter and his brother Andrew fishing in the lake.  He said to them, “Follow Me and we’ll fish for people.”  And so they did.  Further on down the road he came upon James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were in the boat with their father.  Jesus said the same thing to them,  “Follow Me” and they did.  That little story, in my own words, is found in Matthew 4:18-22.

Let’s travel three years into the future.  The four have followed Jesus faithfully, fully immersed in His journey.  They have watched Him closely, learned from Him, shared His words with others, been at the Cross with Him and He is about to return to the Father.  In this scene we find them once again by the side of a lake.  Jesus has cooked them breakfast and when they done eating He says to Peter, “Do you love me?”  Peter answers, “You know I love You!”  This went on two more times, each time Peter answered positively and Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep (or lambs)”.  It was very important for Peter to understand what his future was to be about, but something even more important is said at the end of this conversation.  Jesus tells him what his death will be like and then He says, “Follow Me!”  (John 12:15-19)

Why did Jesus say these words again?  He knew Peter so well and knew that he needed reminded that it’s not about him, that to follow Him, Peter would have to take himself out of the picture.  It’s the same message for us.  We are are to follow Him and forget ourselves.  From the beginning to the end of our relationship with Him it has to be all about HIM.

Heavenly Father, teach us to make this life all about You.  Teach us to put others first.  Teach us to serve those around us.  Oh, LORD, teach us!

No One Is More Important Than Jesus

These words of Oswald Chambers had a profound effect on me the first (and every) timehouse I read them.  I have many friends who mean much to me but not as much as my Jesus.  I have a loving family whom I adore but they don’t mean as much to me as my Jesus.  I have a church family that I think the world of but they don’t mean as much to me as Jesus.  God gave me the most awesome man on earth as a helpmate, but Jesus surpasses the love he has for me.  (Yes, he’s comfortable with that because he also knows that Jesus’ love for him is greater than mine.)  There is no one in this world greater than my  Jesus!

Our soul’s history with God is frequently the history of the “passing of the hero.”  Over and over again God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself in their place, and that is where we faint and fail and get discouraged.  Take it personally: In the year that the one who stood to me for all that God was, died–I gave up everything?  I became ill?  I got disheartened?  Or–I saw the LORD?

It must be God first, God second, and God third, until the life is faced steadily with God and no one else is of any account whatever.  “In all the world there is none but Thee, my God, there is none but Thee.”  Keep paying the price.  Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision. 

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest (Westwood, NJ; Barbour and Company, Incl, 1935), 195.

I thank my God every time I remember you.  Philippians 1:3

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Get Some Rest

baby rest

God says on the seventh day He rested from His work(Genesis 2:2) and since we are created in His image we need rest too.  In the 23rd Psalm David said, “He makes me lie down…”  Job’s friend Jophar gives him a crumb of reassurance saying, “You will lie down without fear…” (Job 11:19).  With great wisdom Solomon wrote these words, “…when you lie down your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:24b).  Jesus recognized the need for quiet rest when he said to the disciples, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)

In my career as a teacher and principal I learned just how important rest was.  Long hours and a great deal of stress do not help anyone’s health.  Burning the candle at both ends, ends up with nothing when the flames have consumed all the wax.  I finally came to my senses and retired early.  The job was consuming me and I heard the Spirit clearly say this is NOT what I want for you.  You see, even though I prayed every morning that I would keep Him close all day, when I walked through the school doors I quit focusing on Him and started focusing on kids, teachers, parents and all the issues and stress a high poverty, inner city, school brings.  I ended up quite ill from lack of rest, poor diet, and high stress.  When my awesome husband was hospitalized and in a chemically induced coma for 20 days from a Traumatic Brain Injury I had much time to pray, think, and reflect. The conclusion–my career was killing me.  Once the decision was made, a calmness came over me that I had not known before.  I knew without question this was exactly what God wanted.  I needed adequate rest and He already knew this was the only way I was going to get it.  Praise God! I listened! and rested!

God’s word says in the 23rd Psalm “…He makes me lie down in green pastures,…”  He doesn’t just suggest that we rest He makes us rest.  He created us and He knows what we need.  We have to pay attention and not try to do it our own way.  Remember what happened to Jonah?  God said go to Ninevah and say to them what I want you to say.  What did Jonah do?  He did it his way, ran away, jumped ship and ended up in the stinky belly of a whale.  When God says do it He expects that from those who say “Oh, God, You are my God”.  Now that’s not the end of the story.  God told Jonah, after he got to Ninevah, to walk the city, proclaim His word and then sit on the hill and rest.  There’s that word again.  REST!  He’s serious about it!

Heavenly Father, thank You! for making me aware.  You deserve my total, rested attention.  I want to do that.  Make my life more and more about You.  In Jesus Name make it so!

Added to and reposted.

 

Great Blogs on Christian Inspiration

I really enjoy reading Christian inspirational blogs.  Here a just a few of what I consider the best of what I’ve found so far.

eagle

Anne  @ Freedomborn is at the top of my list.  Her posts are thought provoking, full of scriptural reference, and from a heart that truly loves God.  She writes from Australia and shares the beauty and perspective that can only be from ‘down under’.

shandraWith Heart Wide Open    Shandra Harris writes with her whole Spirit showing.  Her motto-As for me and my blog, we will serve the Lord-is exactly what she does.

onethousandgifts-thumbAnne Voskamp who wrote One Thousand Gifts and is the inspiration for my One Thousand Gifts page writes at A Holy Experience.  She shares her life and thoughts in a pure and honest style that is quite refreshing.

Bible Love Notes1-Minute Bible Love Notes is a delightful, easy to read, informative, daily blog of basic Bible truths.

wordsmith

Butch Dean, The Wordsmith’s Desk, writes with the confidence of many years.  Whether his post is short or long he inspires with his simple and straight-forward comments.

I read many more than these but these are the ones I go to often.  Enjoy your visits and let me know if there are others I should be checking out.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Keep The Appointment

clocks

How often do we keep our God appointments?  Are we more likely to say…If I have time today…Maybe later…and then it’s time to sleep and we have had no or little contact with Him?

1 Samuel 13:14 tells us of the consequences for King Saul when he decided to go his way and not keep the appointment God had given him.

God is out looking for your replacement right now!  This time He’ll do the choosing.  When He finds him, he’ll appoint him leader of His people.  And all because you didn’t keep your appointment with God!    The Message

What was the appointment?  Samuel had told Saul to wait 7 days before attacking the Philistines at Gilgal.  At that time he, Samuel, would sacrifice to God and the battle could begin.  Saul waited the seven days, but in the meantime he was loosing his army to fear.  On the 7th day when Samuel didn’t show up immediately Saul took matters into his own hands and did the sacrifice himself.  Samuel showed up at the end of the sacrifice and said, “What on earth are you doing?”  Saul’s answer was much like our own when we feel we’ve waited long enough and have to take matters into our own hands.  Every time I decide I’ve waited long enough and it’s time to do it my way…there is a consequence.  The results are not the ones I wanted.  Saul’s consequence was not only the loss of his kingship but a serious bout of mental illness.

What is our appointment?  God only wants one thing of us.  He wants a relationship with us.  Each day I set aside specific time to spend with the Lord of my life.  I read His personal instructions to me (The Bible),  I talk to Him about my day, my thoughts, and lift others up (in prayer), and I sit quietly and enjoy the moments with Him (Psalm 46:10).  After reading the verse above, won’t you agree, it’s just to risky to miss the appointment.

Covenant

Several years ago the Spirit Sisters did a Bible study that asked us to write a covenant with God.  I did that, put it in my Bible, and forgot to open it at the end of the class.  Recently, I came across it again.  It has some powerful, convicting words in it that I can honestly say I haven’t really pursued.  That does not change my desire to do them or God’s desire to have me do them.

A covenant is a permanent agreement between people or groups that involves promises to each other.  God made covenants with Abraham, Noah, David, Solomon, Samson, and many others in the Word.  Daniel, Gideon, Paul, Ruth…made covenants with God.  Either way the words were meant to influence and last throughout time…and they have.

I hope you will read the one I wrote and that it will motivate you to a closer relationship with Jesus, the One and Only.  In fact, write one of your own!

Father, I am making this ‘covenant’ with You.

thumbnailCAW5ZPKYI will love You!

Fruit of the Spirit colorsI will let the Fruit grow and bear Fruit.

Jesus prayingI will honor You with my words and ways.

listeningI will listen for Your voice and obey.

serveI will serve You by serving others.

Thy WordI will put Your Words in my heart.

followingI will follow You!

Oh, LORD, give me the strength to go where You want me to go, to be what You want me to be, the courage to share You with others, and the wisdom to know how to reflect You in each life situation that comes my way.     (Signed–Marie, April 2, 2007)

I Needed The Quiet

I NEEDED THE QUIET

untitled

God says on the seventh day He rested from His work(Genesis 2:2) and since we are created in His image we need rest too.  In the 23rd Psalm David said, “He makes me lie down…”  Job’s friend Jophar gives him a crumb of reassurance saying, “You will lie down without fear…” (Job 11:19).  With great wisdom Solomon wrote these words, “…when you lie down your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:24b).  Jesus recognized the need for quiet rest when he said to the disciples, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)

In my career as a teacher and principal I learned just how important rest was.  Long hours and a great deal of stress do not help anyone’s health.  Burning the candle at both ends, ends up with nothing when the flames have consumed all the wax.  I finally came to my senses and retired early.  The job was consuming me and I heard the Spirit clearly say this is NOT what I want for you.  You see, even though I prayed every morning that I would keep Him close all day, when I walked through the school doors I quit focusing on Him and started focusing on kids, teachers, parents and all the issues and stress a high poverty, inner city, school brings.  I ended up quite ill from lack of rest, poor diet, and high stress.  When my awesome husband was hospitalized and in a chemically induced coma for 20 days from a Traumatic Brain Injury I had much time to pray, think, and reflect. The conclusion–my career was killing me.  Once the decision was made, a calmness came over me that I had not known before.  I knew without question this was exactly what God wanted.  I needed adequate rest and He already knew this was the only way I was going to get it.  Praise God! I listened! and rested!

Heavenly Father, thank You! for making me aware.  You deserve my total, rested attention.  I want to do that.  Make my life more and more about You.  In Jesus Name make it so!

Fishy Friends

fishermanMy dad was an avid fisherman.  As soon as the weather was warm enough to be on the lake he was there.  Of course, he taught all three of his girls the skills necessary to be fisherman.  Such things as putting our own bait on the hook, quiet conversation or no talk at all, and of course how to swim if we fell out or the boat capsized were patiently taught until we got it.  To this day all three of us still enjoy a quiet morning on the water.  In fact I can still filet and skin a fish.

Jesus was into fish too!  His first disciples were persuaded to follow Him by telling them they would become ‘fisher’s of men’.  In Matthew 4:19 we are not only told He said this but they followed immediately.  Then he walked down the road a bit and said the same thing to two more fisherman.  They followed immediately.  These four men Peter and Andrew, James and John became Jesus’ BFF’s!

Christ_feeding_the_multitudeJesus also used 5 loaves and 2 fishes to clearly show that He could and would provide for His people.  (My husband jokes that we will be served fish and chips in heaven, at the Great Banquet, because of the number of times fish is a part of the Story.)

When Jesus appeared to  the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee, before His Ascension, guess what He served?  Yep!  He was cooking fish and invited his friends to have breakfast with Him.  John 21:12-13

IchthusIn the first century church the fish symbol (Ichthus) was used by believers to identify themselves as Believers.  These friends of Jesus would ‘write’ the upper half-circle of the fish when they met someone and if that person finished the lower half-circle they were recognized as a fellow Believer.

Do you use a symbol to proclaim your belief?  Do you wear a cross?  Do you unashamedly carry your Bible?  Do people ask if you’re a Believer because of how you act or look?  Do you willingly talk about Jesus when someone notices what you’re wearing, carrying or modeling?  I take every opportunity I find to talk about my Jesus.  You can too!

Heavenly Father, shine through me.  Let others see Your love, faithfulness, joy, delight…when they see me.  Oh, Lord, let my life be totally about You!  Make it so in Jesus Name!