When In Doubt… DON’T

Many years ago a former pastor gave me a piece of advice that I’ve kept in my mind and heart.  When in doubt…DON’T!  This four-word sentence has had a huge impact on my decision making.  When I’m even the least bit uncomfortable with a choice I ponder it carefully.  I question, will it have a positive or negative impact?  Will it support or tear down?  It’s amazing what an influence these four words have had on my life.

Here are a few more don’ts:

  • DON’T judge people for the choices they make when you DON’T know the options they had to choose from.
  • Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind DON’T matter and those who matter DON’T mind. ~ Dr. Seuss
  • DON’T give up! Great things take time.
  • DON’T talk about me until you have talked to me!
  • DON’T do it!

How about these from the Word:

  • DON’T worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6
  • DON’T panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. Isaiah 41:10 (MSG)
  • Tell everyone who is discouraged, be strong and DON’T be afraid! God is coming to your rescue. Isaiah 35:4 (CEB)
  •  Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we DON’Tgive up. Galatians 6:9 (NLT)
  •  That is why we DON’T give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

Do you have a favorite quote or Bible verse about the word DON’T?  I’d love to add them to my collection.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

 

 

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

Voices

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Do you hear voices….?  We all do!  All those thoughts and ideas that roll around in our minds, competing for first place, sometimes shouting, others whispering, making us the person we are at the moment …  Most importantly, in all the clamoring and cacophony, are you hearing God’s voice?  God’s voice needs to be the loudest ‘voice’ we hear.

How to really ‘hear’ God’s voice…that is really the question.

Create a place of stillness.  Psalm 46:10 tells us to be still and know Him.  He can’t be heard above the din of the world and the thoughts that go with living in it.  Quiet your mind and your heart.  How does that work?  I have a window in my study that my reading chair faces.  All I have to do is look up and out and there is a tree that personifies God’s creation.  Every season, spring, summer, winter, fall, it’s there.  A spirit of peace, calm, assurance, love, descends to my spot and I know He is God.

Cultivate an attitude of trust.  There is no way to hear God’s voice if we don’t trust that His voice is the only one we want to listen to.  Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in Him with our whole heart.  (Not just a piece of it but every part of it.)  It goes on to say (my words) don’t trust your own understanding (thoughts).  Our culture teaches an attitude of independence that contradicts the dependence on God that allows us to totally trust Him.

Learn of Him.  Do you really know all there is to know about God and His Word?  Probably not!  None of us do.  I suspect that if you’re reading this you want to know more.  Psalm 32:8 tells us, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”  Did you get that?  He wants to be our personal teacher.  Not only that, He already knows what we need to hear and learn.  Wow!  A personal, life coach!  All that’s required of us is to HEAR Him.

Pay attention!  Block that voice that says quit wasting your time on that stuff.  There’s a report that has to be written before the day is over.  There’s laundry, lawn mowing, dishes, dusting, and a zillion other chores and distractions.  Hebrews 2:1 tells us that we must pay closer attention to what we have heard (about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Word).  If we don’t we’ll start drifting off.  We have to use all we have at our disposal to ensure that we are really listening.

It is totally possible and probable that you already know the sound of His voice.  Give it your total attention.  He wants you to hear Him.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Abba, let me hear Your voice.  Let me know and trust You.  Take away outside influence and noise so that my attention can be totally on you!  Make it so in Jesus name.

alatsee-968598_960_720This beautiful song reflects this post beautifully.  Just click on the picture to listen.

 

 

This post is in support of Holley Gerth’s new study, https://player.vimeo.com/video/152491133“>You’re Already Amazing Life Growth Guide.  It will be released on March 1st.  Watch for the review!

6 Ways To Raise Your Standard of Living

Every time I read through the Bible  I find new and usable insights.  Isaiah is telling the Israelites to get their act together because their lives are not what God expects. In the middle of Chapter 33 I came across six solid, Biblical ways to have a life that God will bless.  (BTW, I don’t try to read through in a year.  I like to do it at my own pace, without the pressure and stress of specific assignments.)

Raise your standard of living

1 – Live right.  Simply said make the right choices.  Know God’s voice and really listen.  As Proverbs 3:5 says, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding.

2 – Speak the truth.  The concept of truth is in so many verses but my favorite is in the 10 Commandments.  Exodus 20:16 says no false witness.  In other words, don’t lie.

3 – Despise exploitation.   How about some synonyms here; misuse, abuse, unfair treatment, oppression.  Take a stand on these issues.  This world is full of people who mistreat others.  Don’t let yourself get caught up in thinking your way is the only way.  Only God’s way is the only way!

4 – Refuse bribes.   If you ______ , then I _________.  Bribes are not always about monetary gain.  Actually, in the simplest way to explain, a bribe tries to get a person what they want by whatever means they can.

5 – Reject violence.  This one is so simple, but so hard to accomplish in this world.  Can you walk away from television, computers, movies, books, magazines, newspapers?  Can you walk away, not read, not listen.  It will be hard, but if you want to raise your personal standard of life then you may have to take a serious, personal inventory of what you a reading, seeing, and hearing. Then make the hard choice to reject violence.

6 – Avoid evil amusements.  Entertainment, pleasure, interest. Essentially we are to avoid those activities that cause us to sin or fall into sin.  There are several lists of these types of activity.  Check out 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:3-6, or Revelation 22:12-15.  Then do what you have to.

Your standard of living and my standard of living are two different things.  I think we can agree that if we add these six to that standard we can be ‘safe and stable’, ‘nourished and satisfied.”

Oh, LORD, I live in this world.  I know what You want. Help me to take a stand.  Help me to model what is right.  Plant your Word in my heart, nourish me with it, guide me to a healthy, satisfying, moral life.  Make it so in Jesus name.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

You can also find this post in Ponderings and Prayers.

Words

Open Mouth

Have you have gotten caught up in the moment and said something you wish you hadn’t?  Are there times when you wish someone would put a bridle on your mouth and completely control your words?  Are there times when you wish you could sleep all day, hide, play computer games that take over your mind…? Then, guess what, that makes us all normal and still forgivable and lovable.  The real question is…How do we overcome these times?

First, we must realize we are as much an at fault sinner as the one we directed our words toward.  God knows that!  He knew when He breathed the Word.  The Bible is full of admonitions, both Old and New Testament, to guard our words.

Second, we must ask for forgiveness and then follow through with a change of heart.  I can get on my knees 50 times a day, some days 500, and ask for forgiveness but unless I decide, with God’s help, to change, the words are empty.

Then, and the hardest of all, is to ask for forgiveness from the one who has been harmed by the words.  Unlike God, they may choose to be unforgiving.  If that happens give it back to God and continue mending the relationship.

There is a delightful children’s song that says: Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.  Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.  For the Father up above is looking down in love.  Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.

Psalm 19:14  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.

Heavenly Father, creator of all words and languages, Lord of my life, forgive me for words hastily spoken.  Control my words (and thoughts) toward or about others.  Let my life be acceptable to You.  Make it so!

Attention!

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How does God get your attention?  Does He quietly grab you in the calm of a new morning?  Does He speak through another person on a life issue?  Does He give you a ‘DeNozo’ (a tap on the head to say – – really?!)

Why does He need to get our attention?  In the day-to-day stuff of living we tend to start depending on ourselves to much and He needs to remind us who is really in control.  Through the phone ringing, dishes, laundry, taking the cat to the vet, mowing the lawn, waiting in line, daily issues He wants us to remember He is there.

So, then, how do we react?  Are we angry, irritated, grouchy, grumpy….  When these attention grabbing issues happen we often display whatever is in our hearts/minds at that point.  Proverbs 23:7 reminds us that what we think is who we are.  Jesus said in Luke 6:45 that a man speaks out of the nature of the heart.

Long Lines for the Bus

Do we consider these reminders of God’s control as a part of our daily joy?  James 1:2 says to consider it pure joy when we face trials of any kind.  Imagine what might happen if you’re having one of those days where the irritations start upon waking and just continue to pile up and you remember to ‘consider it pure joy’.  Would that change our behavior, demeanor, and attitude?  Hm-m-m-m-m–m-m

More than anything God wants us to become totally dependent on Him for every one of life’s issues.  He wants us to come to Him when we’re tired of the drama and the interruptions.  He is waiting to hear every good and bad part of our day.   He wants us!

Almighty, Most Holy Father,  my life is Yours.  I place all my good and bad in Your hands.  Take control of all today’s issues.  Let me find joy in everything that will happen.  Let me know Your Presence.  Keep me connected to You in every part of this day.  Make it so!

Staying Power

Luke 15:4  “Remain in Me, and I in you.”  Remain, stay, abide, survive, (to) last.  These words reflect the power in the concept of this verse.  When I am connected to my Jesus, He is connected to me.  While I am waiting on Him, He is waiting with me.

A beautiful, old hymn says this very well:                                                         Abide with me, fast falls the eventide;                                                            The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.                                                   When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,                                                       Help of the helpless, O abide with me.                                                              I need Thy presence every passing hour;                                                         What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?                                     Who like Thyself my guide and stay can be?                                             Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

Stay with God…through dishes, dust, and laundry…and watch the Spirit show up.                                                                                                           Stay with God…through hurts, losses, cruel words, and sadness of this world…and watch the Spirit show up.                                                            Stay with God…when there is not enough time to do it all…and watch the Spirit show up.                                                                                                 Stay with God…                                                                                       Heavenly, glorious Father, I want to stay with You no matter what.  Walk with me and teach me, guide me, forgive me, and make me more like You.  Make me aware of the Spirit throughout this day.  Keep me totally focused on You, my God and my King.  I lift this prayer in Jesus name…Make it so!

Peace

I’ve really been spending a lot of time searching my heart for what God really wants of my life.  This has really caused me some restless nights and a lack of peace.  I have followed through with leaving my career as an educator, knowing He was very clearly speaking to me about this.  As for what’s next…I am still praying on that.  I know he will make it very clear when He’s ready and not until He’s ready.  I love you all and covet (I know I’m breaking one of the Commandments but I think He really understands this) your comments and prayers.  I am so blessed by you.In several of the churches I attended as a child (We moved a LOT!) the pastor would use the words of Philippians 4:7 (And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.) as a benediction. To this day, when I hear these words an indescribable blanket of peace settles over me. Paul uses these words to describe the blessing we receive when we rejoice in the Lord, are gentle in our relationships, give our worries to the Lord, pray and give thanks for everything. When we obey and give in, through, and too His Name, peace is indeed ours.

Ah, Lord, God, let the peace that escapes our understanding invade our lives today.  Let us see it, feel it, and show it to the world around us.  Make it so!

Not Again

What does work when we’ve managed, once again, to jump into the ‘sin-pit’?  We can be the most disciplined believer on the face of the earth, we can have had enough life experiences that we should have seen it coming, we can know our Bible so well that good choices are second nature to us, BUT when the perfect personal sin is dangled in front of us and looks like the best apple on the tree…So what is our protection?  Knowing His Word so well that we can use it as a guide in all situations (2 Timothy 3:16).  Developing  a life habit of prayer in all situations (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  Understanding that we are totally, completely, covered in His blanket of loving forgiveness (Song of Songs 2:4). Taking refuge in the shadow of His loving and merciful wings (Psalms 17:8).  Yes, we will sin.  Unfortunately, that’s a guaranteed result of life in this fallen world.  Paying attention to the Spirit within can help with that.  When we are about to say or do something we shouldn’t, there is more than likely a prodding or consciousness that we should not follow through with it.  I believe that this is the Paraclete, the Counselor, the Spirit of Christ, living in us, wanting what is best for us, trying to warn us that what we’re about to do is not in line with what is expected of us as part of the Kingdom.  We need to learn to listen to this voice.  A dear friend once told me to keep this in mind…When in doubt, don’t.  That small command has worked for me…when I let it.

Heavenly Father, speak to me.  When I am about to sin, speak to me.  When You know I need to hear You,  speak to me.  Open my ears, mind, and heart to hear the sound of Your voice.  Oh, Lord, speak to me.  

Make it so!